Chillin’ with Award-Winning Chili!

LOCATION:  In our tiny house in Mission, Texas
WEATHER:  Really nice.  Highs around 70 each day.  Sunny.  Cool at nights – great for fires in the firepit

There is a lot going on in our community, Retama Village.  In addition to community events, we like to invite small groups over for happy hour.  When the weather is nice, we take our dining room table outside.

One evening this week,  we invited some couples over for sundowners (the African word for happy hour).  Two of the couples, and we, shared our experiences in South Africa with another couple preparing to go there in a few months.  Soon, the conversation led to other favorite trips.  One couple said that they would like to return to do a boat cruise in France.  Before we knew it, the 8 of us agreed to rent a small yacht to cruise a French river next fall!

Yesterday was Retama Village’s “First Annual Chili Cook-Off”.  I was one of 15 entrants.  We gathered in the clubhouse and everyone sampled the chilis.

Then, we voted for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place.  Surprise!  I won 2nd place!

Some people have asked me for the recipe.  Here it is….

Note – I took this from an online recipe, then modified it to our taste.  The recipe yields 4-5 servings, but is easy to double, triple, or even quadruple (which I did for the cook-off)


2 15-oz can of white beans or 1/2 pound of dry white beans
1-2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion diced
1/2 green bell pepper diced
1/2 poblano pepper diced
2 cloves garlic minced – divided
1/2 jalapeno minced (more or less to taste
4-oz can chopped green chilies – don’t drain
2 teaspoons oregano
4 teaspoons cumin – divided
2 teasponns chili powder – divided
1 teaspoon cayenne
1-2 bay leaves
garlic salt
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, diced in small cubes
3 cups chicken stock
1 beer (optional)
Hot sauce to taste
4 oz cream cheese
4 oz heavy cream
1 1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1/2 bunch cilantro finely diced


If using dry beans (which I did for the cook-off), soak them overnight.  Drain, cover with hot water and a bay leaf and garlic salt.  Bring to boil, then simmer about 2 hours.  Drain.  If using canned beans, just drain the beans.  Set aside.

Saute onions, green pepper, and poblano pepper until soft.  Add garlic, canned green chiles, cumin, chili powder, and cayenne, and cook additional minute.  Set aside

In a big pot, brown chicken in olive oil and finish off with the rest of the cumin, cayenne, oregano, and chili powder.  Add chicken broth (and beer, if desired). Add the onion mix.   Bring to a boil, then simmer for 20 minutes.

Add the cooked, drained beans and cook 15 more minutes. 

Add heavy cream, cream cheese, and some of the Monterey Jack cheese.  Cook until  cheese is melted.  Salt,  pepper, and hot sauce to taste.  (At this point, I put it in the crock pot to keep warm until serving.  Not necessary if serving right away).

Serve with shredded cheese and cilantro. 

After the chili contest, we made a fire in the firepit and invited new neighbors (from Ontario) over.  A beautiful evening basking in my chili glory!!

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