Chili for Dummies

I grew up with cool parents. While my friends’ parents bonded with them over dinner and cooking lessons, my parents bonded with us over Tootsie Roll and marshmallow fights (when my parents moved, we found countless fallen soldiers under the living room furniture). It was a blast, and my friends were always jealous.

Cooking just wasn’t a big part of our family life. Result? I have an awesome relationship with my parents…and I was fairly clueless in the kitchen when I moved out on my own. To be honest, I was fairly clueless until my husband took pity on me and started teaching me.

I can proudly say, however, that I brought two superb recipes to our relationship. One is a delicious sausage-cheese-bagel-heaven-in-a-dish breakfast, and the other is a fool-proof chili. Thanks, Mom :)

This recipe is a great starting point for folks who aren’t comfortable in the kitchen. I don’t think we’ve made this chili the same way twice, and it’s never been bad. This is even a little tweaked from Mom’s version. She uses some V8 instead of the salsa, taco seasoning packets, and no carrots. Mom’s will probably always be the home base of chili in my mind, but I have my “own” for my family now.

What’s one of your favorite fool-proof recipes?


  • 1lb ground beef (or whatever meat you want)
  • 2 onions (roughly chopped)
  • 2 cans tomatoes (diced, 15oz)
  • 1 can Rotel (or your favorite salsa)
  • 2 1/2 cups carrots (fresh, frozen, whatever; chopped)
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons cumin
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 3 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 4 cups beef stock
  • 2 cans beans (kidney or pinto)
  • corn tortilla chips
  • shredded cheddar

Cook beef and onions in stock pot over med-high heat until beef browned; stirring regularly (season with salt).

Reduce heat to medium. Add tomatoes, Rotel/salsa, garlic, cumin, chili powder, and carrots. Stir.

Add stock and allow to cook covered over medium heat for about an hour (until carrots are soft); stirring occasionally.

Add beans about 15 minutes before serving.

Serve over tortilla chips and topped with cheese.