Family, Food, Humor

Award-Winning Chili that God Would Approve Of


Back in December, I wrote about how people found my blog in 2018, and one of the searches was “award-winning child cookie recipe” which is just silly.

And messed up as well.

But it was as I was typing this blog post that I remembered that search and thought, WHOA, WAS IT A PREMONITION OF WHAT WAS TO COME??

Because a few weeks ago, I won.

A major award.

Man Wearing Blue Suit Jacket Beside Woman With Gray Suit Jacket


Okay, maybe not necessarily major but it was indeed winning and when I win at anything, it is purely by accident.

I won a chili cookoff.

At my church.

I beat out five other chili’s that were entered, so it wasn’t like there were hundreds of chili’s but I won, so let me savor this.

So in typical me-fashion, I wasn’t supposed to even be cooking chili, to begin with.

Long story long, our church has a very small congregation.

Like, we could literally pull a Dugger and hold “church” in someone’s family room each week but instead, we go to an actual physical church and fill up 10% of the sanctuary.

It used to be a packed full house church back when church was “required” and not “extracurricular” as it is nowadays.

We had hundreds of members who attended regularly, our four Sunday School classrooms were full, and you had to fight to get a good seat.


We have 50 attend on a good day (probably Easter), those classrooms are now storage closets and we hold Sunday School in the upstairs kitchen.

And no one is fighting to get the good seat unless the good seats are in the back four pews, then yes, we are indeed fighting.



I must say, it is kind of sad to see the remnants of what used to be within our church.

But let me tell you why we go: the people within the church.

Oh sure, we love God and love that we are teaching our kids about Jesus but it’s really about the fellowship for our family.

We have been attending this little church for over 11 years now and it is our church family that keeps us coming back each week.

But about six years ago, we stopped going. Lots of different reasons but we just drifted away with the hopes of finding a larger church with more children’s programs even though our own children weren’t really complaining.

Did we ever find that church? No.

Did we even try to find one? Also no.

We got into a routine of enjoying our lazy Sunday mornings and kind of forgot about our little church,

It was after not attending regularly for two years, that I had an “experience” of sorts.


Low Angle Photo of Concrete Cross Under Clouds


It was during a lunch out at my local Panera (on a Sunday no less) with a friend, when I saw one of our old church family members and we got to talking.

It felt so uplifting to see this person but I went on with my week as usual.

The following day, I was walking into our local grocery store when I ran into yet another church family member.

I even said to church member #2 about running into church member #1 the day before and how I felt like it was a sign from God to go back.

We have been going since that “experience”.

Could it have been a coincidence? Of course.

But for this skeptic by nature, I was convinced it was God’s plan to get my butt back in church.

Not for the church’s sake but for our souls’ sake.

Now, I know a lot of people who have been burnt (pun kind of intended) by churches and I always think about that when feeling like we possibly need a bigger and better church.

I know a lot of churches that look good from the outside but have a really ugly inside, but ours is just really good on the inside.

So what if it doesn’t fill the pews each week? It makes our souls feel full after attending each Sunday, and THAT is why we keeping going back.


Meat Dish


Back to the real reason you clicked on this post: my award-winning chili ahem.

So our church occasionally needs to run fundraisers to help out for the greater good such as Heifer International and Public Action to Deliver Shelter (PADS) but sometimes we also need to fundraise to pay for things like the electric bill in February or fixing the basement floor from flooding and so on.

Our church has been having a chili cookoff for years and it is usually a great way to fundraise and a great excuse for fellowship as well.

My husband decided to run this year’s cookoff with another church family member because he has run a couple of golf outings successfully in the past for our church and felt up to the task.

There were planning meetings, a “committee” had to be set up, and sign up sheets were created.

But then, a week before the cookoff, I noticed two of the names of chili chefs were crossed off on the sign-up sheet and we suddenly had an issue of not having enough chili cooks and that is a huge problem because the name of the fundraiser was CHILI cookoff.

So in panic mode, I signed my name on the line to be one of the chili chefs even though I am really not known for my chili.

I mean, I have made some great chili in my time but it’s not something people know about me.

I am more known for things like creating dessert quesadillas out of Old El Paso tortillas and peanut butter.

Or Rolo cookies but using cake mix not actual individual ingredients because it takes too much time.

You know, things half-ass in nature.

Chili is not one of those things, however.

But I needed to take one for the team and so I got my ingredients from Aldi, made my chili the day before, and also made sure I washed my hands while prepping everything.

I do that all of the time but especially now because as I was making my soon-to-be award-winning chili in our kitchen, my husband was on the phone with the county health department and was in fear that the chili cookoff that he volunteered to run for the first time, was in the process of being shut down.

It turns out that if you are serving chili to the public, you need to have made the chili on premises.

Of the church.

That no longer has a functioning stove.

It was while Mike was a flurry with stress, anxiety, and having numerous conversations at once, that I was whipping up my soon-to-be award-winning chili with the agility of a fancy chef making chili out of ingredients from the Aldi.

As one does.

It was completely unlike me to throw out phrases like IT WILL BE JUST FINE, HONEY! and I AM SURE IT WILL ALL COME TOGETHER! and WE GOT GOD ON OUR SIDE! all while dicing, slicing, chopping, and browning.

Now, if you know me at all you know that this is completely unlike me.

I have diagnosed Generalized Anxiety Disorder.

I’m pretty sure that my middle name on the birth certificate says “riddled with anxiety”.

But with all of the stress going on around me, I was calm.

It was like I was having an out of body experience.

I even responded to his worry-infused texts the day of the cook-off thusly:





I give you all of this backstory because I need you to understand the duress I was under while making this chili.

It really should be named Kari’s Award-Winning Chili (infused with stress for more flavor!)

So to be completely forthcoming, it isn’t “my” recipe.

I found it on Pinterest years ago, and when going back to find it to give the recipe to Rebecca (who was there, ate it, and asked for the recipe even before I won), it was nowhere to be found.

The original pin didn’t even link to a website but rather had a screenshot of a recipe card with the recipe on it which makes me think Pinterest got rid of the original pin because they don’t like pins that lead to nowhere.


Sorry, God for using your name in vain but it just worked in that sentence.



So as not to be a paperback novel, the health department showed up to our sparkling clean (but barely functioning) kitchen, the cookoff wasn’t shut down, chili was served, was voted on, and the votes were tallied.

The running joke is that the people who tallied up the votes were my husband and a politician.

So I won legit-like.

Anyhoooooooo, here is the recipe for my award-winning chili that I have tweaked a tiny bit (probably how I won, don’t mean to brag YES I DO.)



Award-Winning Chili That God Would Approve Of

This chili won first place in our church chili cook-off! Hence the name.

  • 2 pounds ground beef ( browned and drained)
  • 2 large green peppers (chopped)
  • 3 celery stalks (chopped)
  • 1 heaping tbsp. minced garlic or four cloves of garlic (chopped)
  • 1 can Ranch style beans* (not drained)
  • 1 can dark red kidney beans (drained )
  • 1 can Rotel (not drained)
  • 1 can stewed tomatoes (not drained )
  • 2 cans plain tomato sauce (15 oz each)
  • 1 package chili seasoning
  1. *If you aren’t able to find ranch style beans, just use one more can of the dark red kidney beans, which is what I did for the chili cook-off.Brown the ground beef. After browning, add all of the ingredients (including the beef) to a large stockpot on the stove. Simmer for up to three hours to blend the flavors.

    I add salt and pepper to taste before serving.

    I also make it the night before to let the flavors set and then heat up on the stove top or in a crockpot, before serving.

    Serve with Frito chips, sour cream, hot sauce, chopped raw onion, or green onion; oh the possibilities!

    This recipe is also amazing for chili dogs too!


Go forth and eat this knowing that God would want you to.


14 thoughts on “Award-Winning Chili that God Would Approve Of”

  1. I’mmaking this one soon because I am a chili lovin’girl. Even though I live in Florida where it’s too dang hot to be eating chili.

    I’m with you. These days church is about the “family”, the fellowship. Of course these days I don’t darken the doorsteps of a church or most anywhere for that matter, but if I did…I’d be attending the church we used to be involved in for many,mamy years. The one that also has seen better days (congregation size wise) and now has about 50 members. The one our bio children were born into. I would write more but my phone is getting all screwy. No worries! My bday is later this month and I’ve asked for an ipad. 🤞


    1. I would still eat chili if I lived in Florida too! Chili is comfort food for me.
      Friend, I would be shocked if you were able to get to church with all you’ve got going on.
      Also, yay for a possible iPad!!


  2. Yep, definitely a sign if I ever saw one and if it feeds your soul and eventually other hungry tummies, all the better. This looks delicious and now I want a chili cheese dog.

    I had to laugh at the text exchange because the stress induced chili reminded me of an old episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark “The Tale of the Dangerous Soup” with Neve Campbell where the chef’s secret ingredient in his $100 per bowl was fear he got from trapping people in his dungeon and a gargoyle would suck the fear from them. “It knows…what scares you!” Tell me I’m not the only one who remembers that. Top 5 episodes from that show for sure. If you want to peep it, (


    1. How have I never heard of this show??
      Chili cheese dogs were a hit at the cook-off.
      Do you know I had never had a chili dog until I was in my 40’s??
      It’s part of the reason I need to be on a “healthy living” regiment.


  3. Congratulations on your chili win! I don’t make chili often, but when I do, I make it up as I go. I like to be creative with it. I do use ground beef, but sometimes I throw in some bulk sausage, as well. My two secret ingredients (well, not anymore) are beer and just a wee bit of cocoa powder – for depth. No mixes for me…I use chili powder, cumin, oregano and pepper. Sometimes a little bit of red chili flakes. That’s one thing I love about making things like chili or soups, etc….you can experiment with them and change things around, depending on what flavors you want or level of spiciness, etc.

    Church…that’s a loaded subject! I went to the same church my entire life up until about 6 years ago. So many reasons why I left. But like your church, ours was/is small, too. The congregation is more like family. I still keep in touch with a few people I was especially close to and I do miss a lot of the people, but that is not where my heart and soul are at right now. I am more spiritual now instead of “religious” and am open to learning all that encompasses that. Last month, I even went to a Quaker meeting! I actually really liked it. I’ve also been to some Buddhist classes and meditations and really liked those, too. I have no desire to “join” either of these religions or any religion in general, but opening my mind and expanding my spirituality has been my journey right now.

    OK, so now I’m craving chili…and I want shredded cheese on top of mine, too. 🙂


    1. OMG, a Quaker meeting?? In our area?? I want details!! Maybe we need another soup lunch soon. 🙂

      Also, I didn’t even mention about the chili I actually voted for (no, I didn’t vote for myself)! It had cinnamon, clove, and sugar and it was AMAZING. Not award winning but amazing anyhow. I KID.


  4. OK, first of all GOOD FOR YOU, for actually entering into a competition like this. My anxiety spikes just thinking about YOU doing it. And congratulations on winning said competition!! You are such a rockstar. Every time I think you are a rockstar, you show me how you are even more of a rockstar than I originally thought. It’s amazing, and inspiring.

    Also, I could so see you in the kitchen slicing and dicing. You are the warm center of calm, while everything else around you stresses. I absolutely love that. And heck, maybe you need to add competitive cooking to your list of stress-relief activities. Who would’ve thought?!


  5. Well this looks delish, and congrats on your win. Love the voters were husband and politician, so it was legit. Ha! I have my own chili recipe that we are very, very big fans of over here. I have all the ingredients bought to make it this week, but I forgot about Ash Wednesday and no meat Friday, so that might impact my menu plan. We switched to a Catholic Church that we can walk to (but has no school) back when we pulled the kids out of Catholic school. Long story, but the pastor decided he wouldn’t give us any financial assistance for our SIX kids! Hello, did anyone pick up on ‘Catholic’? Aren’t we all meant to welcome children, and all that?! Oh, I should not have gotten started here. Anyway, we put the kids in public school as was necessary because health care was so changey and not as profitable. Can I say how happy I was when Coach’s company was sold and he was a partner? Um, if we had been part of that ridiculous school, they would have enjoyed a bit of a generous donation, but since they hadn’t stuck it out with us and our neediness, well? Just picture me doing my best Julia Roberts imitation in Pretty Woman, when she goes into the store that wouldn’t’ let her shop there because she didn’t look classy enough: ‘Big mistake!’ (directed at the horrible pastor).


  6. This brings back memories from when I was in high school! My friends and I attended a chili cookoff (funny for me to be attending since I was going through a no meat phase!) but we still had a great time and I remember the guys (my husband) chowing down on chili trying to figure out which was best and why. I don’t often use a recipe when I make chili and tend to just throw a bit of this and that into the pot while hoping for the best. This sounds tasty and congrats on winning!!


    1. Chili is usually a fan favorite and you’re right about just throwing stuff together. Usually, it turns out pretty good. But I can attest that this is my favorite chili recipe. It actually won me over by saying it tasted just like Wendy’s Chili. It doesn’t but it is so good.


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