It’s Summer! Let’s Make Chili!

Is it spelled chilli or chili? What do you have to say about it, Grammar Girl? Really, I’d like to know but the search feature on your site is waaaayyy too confusing. I ain’t got no time for that. Ain’t nobody got time for that. I’m going to spell it C-H-I-L-I. Y’all just live with it.

Anyway, do you know that I have an award-winning chili recipe? Yes, I do. Actually, I was given second place. I was robbed, I tell you. I WAS ROBBED!

It all started when my daughter’s school was hosting an oyster roast and chili cook-off fundraiser. I don’t normally volunteer for things like this, but I eat oysters like they’re an aphrodisiac or something. Also, my friend recently had her own chili cook-off in which she made this KILLER Thai Coconut Chili. The plan was to ask her for the recipe and then submit it for the oyster / chili cook-off fundraiser. Of course, I’d win with this recipe.

[SIDE NOTE: At this time, my kid attended an über rich, slightly snotty private school. Don’t worry, I was not über rich to afford the tuition, which was more expensive than most of the universities in my state, but I qualified for 75% tuition assistance. See, being poor has its perks.]

[Names are changed to protect the offender.]
ME: Hi Cindy! I hope you’re doing well. How are the kids and hubby?
CINDY: Great, thanks. How are you? What’s going on?
ME: Oh, nothing really [acting shy-like]. I was just wondering if you’d give me that wonderful, to-die-for, Thai Coconut Chili recipe. I’m hoping to enter a chili cook-off.
CINDY: That’s cool. You know, Mary just asked me for that same recipe. She’s going to enter it in a chili cook-off too. Hey, don’t your girls go to the same school?
ME: WHAT?!? Oh, that’s okay, I guess. Well, I’m sure Cindy will win then. [Thinking to myself: That brat! My kid is older and has been attending this school longer, therefore, the recipe should be mine. MINE! Mary’s days are numbered].

I decided that plotting and executing Mary’s demise might cause me to be incarcerated. I figured that a chili recipe was not worth it. What else could I do? Well, I had to find an even better chili recipe. I scoured my foodie magazines and found this awesome Sweet Potato & Black Bean Chili from Eating Well. “PERFECT!,” I thought. “All those fancy-smancy, skinny, botox-laden moms will love this! I’ll make sure they know it’s vegetarian too and I’ll give it an exotic name, ‘Moroccan Sweet Potato Chili.’ Yeah, it’ll give Mary a run for her money. Wait! What if I enter two recipes?! Yeah, that’s even better!”

Two recipes it was. I submitted the Moroccan Sweet Potato Chili and the easiest-pieciest chili recipe that I make all the time. (I’m almost embarrassed to tell you that it’s a Ragu recipe.) I tweaked the recipe and changed the name. I couldn’t call it Ragu chili. (Marketing and branding is almost as important as the product itself, right?! Well, if I learned anything at The Blog University, I’ve learned that is true.) I called it Everybody Loves Chili Chili. Yeah, that’s the ticket. It was catchy and it was a convo starter fo’ sho’. Mais alors, if I’ve said it once, I’ve said a million times:


Anywho, it was time for the cookoff. The Moroccan chili was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. I served it with pita bread and greek yogurt. I was sure to impress those tummy-tucked, chin-lifted mommies. Heck, I was going to save them hours in the gym with this recipe. The dads would love my Everybody Loves Chili Chili and it’d go great with oysters. My set up was s-w-e-e-t: tiny-checkered table clothes (not plastic), wooden serving utensils, clothe-wrapped serving pots, decorated signs with the names of the chili choices. So many people LOVED the Everybody Loves Chili Chili. I know because they told me and I served it all before everyone else emptied their chili crock pots. The Moroccan Chili, uh, not so much. Another dear friend served her famous vegetarian chili. It turns out that people don’t want to eat vegetarian when eating chili. Presentation does not matter in this case. Meat matters.

I kept looking over at Mary’s table. Her presentation was no where as nice as mine. No. Way. But, she served her Thai Coconut Chili almost as fast as I served mine. “Well, we’ll just have to wait and see how it goes,” I thought. The announcement of the contest winner was still about an hour way. Time to mingle and eat oysters. Oh, how I love oysters. I don’t care that they look like cow boogers.

I chatted it up with my friends. We were having a great time but I had to run out to my car because my kids needed something. Of course! I missed the announcements. Just my luck. (If you ever see me waiting in line at the grocery store register, don’t get into my lane. It never fails that I will be there 10 minutes longer than anyone else. Never fails.) Yes, I missed the announcements. I missed, “And the winner is EVERYBODY LOVES CHILI CHILI!!” [A few seconds pass.] “Uh, Everybody Loves Chili, you’re the winner! Come on up!” [Crickets chirp.] “Last call for Everybody Loves Chili.” [The season changes]. “Okay, our winner is . . . THAI COCONUT CHILI!!!”

I return to the event only to have someone come up to me, “Hey, didn’t you make the Everybody Loves Chili Chili? I think you won.” “What?! [Making my Miss America face.] Wahoo, I knew I’d destroy Mary, er, I mean, I knew I’d win. Thanks for telling me.” I headed up to the judges’ table and proudly announced that I was there to collect my prize. “Well, we called your name but you weren’t here. Here’s a $25 gift card for participating.”

NNNNNNNOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! I can’t believe this. Mary did NOT deserve this. She didn’t even find this recipe on her own. She borrowed it from someone else. Nevermind that I was going to do the same thing. That’s not the point.

That all happened in 2010. I’m still peeved. I probably need to talk to a therapist about this.

Maybe it will help heal me if I share the recipe. Would you like the recipe to my award winning chili? You can click on the Ragu hyperlink above if you want to stick to the original, but here’s my variation.


  • 2 lbs ground turkey
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 1 big jar or 2 small jars of your favorite Spaghetti sauce
  • 3 15 oz cans red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 small bag of frozen sweet corn
  • 1 pack of taco or italian seasoning mix
  • 3 or 4 bay leaves (I don’t know why, but you’re supposed to put bay leaves in crock pot dishes)
  • lots of shredded new york cheddar cheese to top


1. Brown the turkey meat and drain. I add light salt, pepper and oregano in the oil first and then add the meat to brown.
Brown the meat.

2. While meat is browning, add beans, corn, onion and seasoning into crockpot. (This picture shows sweet onions instead of red onions. I used what I had on hand.) Turn crock pot onto HI setting.
Add beans, onions, corn and seasoning.

3. Add sauce, meat and bay leaves. Stir.
Add sauce, meat and bay leaves.

4. Let crock for about an hour. When you start to feel the heat, turn setting to LO and leave for 4-6 hours.

5. Let cool for about 20 minutes. Add cheese and serve.
Eat!I like my chili thick, but you can add water or more spaghetti sauce if you prefer a thinner chili.