Update: From now on, I’m calling this chili “award-winning,” because I gave the recipe to my friend, Christine from I Dream of Clean – and it won first place in her church’s chili cook-off! Woo-hoo!

The first day of spring brought sleet and snow, and I took advantage of the weird weather by making chili one last time.

Award-Winning Seven-Can Chili

I’m not opposed to chili in the summer, but Mark has this thing about hot things in hot weather. He doesn’t drink coffee in the summer either. [He’s weird.]

As I was pulling all the ingredients out of the pantry, I remembered that I’ve never posted my chili recipe. [Don’t be confused – like I was. I have written about canned chili and its use as a necessary ingredient to homemade burritos. But that’s a whole other story.]

Chili is really one of my favorite things to fix, especially now that I’ve mastered it. In addition to Mark’s seasonal chili preferences, he’s also pretty picky about the level of heat, the meat to bean ratio, and the thickness of the soup (and how it’s not a soup, because he doesn’t like soup).

So figuring out the exact chili that we both like was a bit of a challenge.

I can’t promise that our chili compromise will work for you, but it definitely works for us. And it’s super easy and healthy, too! (Yes, that’s right, folks! Chili is a miracle food!)

Easy, Healthy, Budget-Friendly Chili

Award-Winning, Cold-Weather Chili

1 ½ lbs ground beef, browned
1 large can tomato sauce
1 medium can tomato paste
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can diced tomatoes with green chilies
1 can chili beans
1 can dark red kidney beans
½ packet hot chili seasoning
½ packet mild chili seasoning

Dump it all in the Crock Pot and cook on high for two hours (or low for four hours).

A few secrets:

Don’t substitute another can of kidney beans for the chili beans. If the store is out of chili beans, just don’t make chili. Seriously. I tried it and could not figure out why the chili was so bland. It was the lack of chili beans.

Also, if you find this chili too thick for your tastes, you can thin it out with another, smaller can of tomato sauce. When I’m planning to freeze and re-heat this chili, I always add the extra sauce.

Remember my tip for chopping onions in bulk and freezing them? What about my bulk beef browning? (I know. That doesn’t sound right. But I couldn’t resist the alliteration. I’m weird.) If you do these things ahead of time, making this chili literally takes 5 minutes.

Easy Slow Cooker (and Award-Winning) Chili Recipe

Unless you have a Pampered Chef can opener that is smarter than, well, you. And in that case, it might take 10 minutes.

Easy Slow Cooker (and Award-Winning) Chili Recipe

And last, but not least, I don’t stop at draining the fat off my hamburger. I actually rinse it. Some people (ahem, husband and sister-in-law, ahem!) think this is weird. I think it’s smart and healthy. You decide.

So, there you have it. The medium heat, appropriately meaty and beany, not too thick or thin, this chili is just right for the last big snow of the winter.

How do you make chili? And do you eat it in all seasons – or just the cold ones?? Or, if you don’t like chili at all [weird], how did you celebrate the first weekend of spring?

This post will be linked to Mouthwatering Monday, Tasty Tuesday, Tuesdays at the Table and Tempt My Tummy Tuesday. It will also be linked to Ultimate Recipe Swap at Life as Mom, because chili is one of my favorite things to make for a crowd! It will also be linked to Ingredient Spotlight at Eat at Home.

Come join Soup-a-Palooza with TidyMom and Dine and Dish sponsored by Bush’s Beans, Hip Hostess, Pillsbury and Westminster Crackers!

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