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Surviving Dinnertime With Chili and Girlfriends (Recipe Included)

It’s cold-ish here in Texas. Which has me thinking about warm bowls of (as my husband calls it) meaty-beefy-cheesy-spicy chili. There are two very specific memories that come rolling in when I’ve got chili on my mind. One involves feeding hungry football teams back when my boys played in high school. The other centers around a group of moms, raising kids, feeding families, and just trying to be less overwhelmed in the mayhem of motherhood. Let me explain.

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Mealtime and Corporate Moves

During the vortex years of caring for many littles, who apparently need to eat no matter how mom feels that day, I realized something. Mealtime warranted somewhat of a plan or else mama was going down and taking everyone with her. So, I began figuring out ways to feed my people and not lose my sanity. I call these tools in my toolbox of surviving hangry meltdowns… And those that come from the kids as well. One of these tools, I learned from a friend that I made while living in Dallas.

Dallas… now that relocation was not for the faint of heart. It was our fastest company-move turnaround to date… sixteen fast and furious months!

This new friend and I, met through a homeschool community when she asked me to start a once a month cooking club with her. Um, you had me at club!

The wonderful and weary years of mothering these babies. Circa 2003

You see, this was an intense leg of our journey in corporate moves. It was packed with both treacherous terrain and unexpected blessings. Including yet not limited to, birthing my fourth baby just 18 months after my third. Trying to homeschool the oldest two and find some sense of community. Attempting to hold it together while my husband managed a brand new assignment at work that was fierce and left us all feeling as if the mothership came and snatched him up like an episode of Aliens.

Don’t get me wrong, the fact that my husband had a great job and God blessed us with a precious family was beyond what we could have imagined. We were so very thankful for all that God had provided. Still, at times, in the thick of the mayhem, our gratitude wained.

Needless to say, I was desperate for all manner of mama clubs and a little help in figuring out mealtime during the upheaval.

Once a Month Cooking Club

So, here is what we did…

We each, in our own kitchens, spent an afternoon batch cooking… the same recipe. So like 10 pans of chicken enchiladas, or pulled pork sandwiches, OR pots of chili. Then everyone would show up at my house with their batch of freezer meals, all labeled complete with instructions, and start exchanging. Of course, we made sure to sit down and eat dessert (duh), like real grown-ups, while the kids would play and run amok. Just whatever.

Then we would head home with our souls fed from fellowship our freezers full of meals. Ten different meals to feed all those people at our dining room table. Five o’clock would roll around and… The heavens would open up and the glory of the Lord would shine through.

One particular month, a slew of us all turned up to our “once a month cooking club” with chili! This was prior to our “hey what is everyone making” coordination. Still, we. did. not. care. And we discovered a myriad of ways to serve chili that month! Mamas are amazing like that.

This little club soon turned into much more. It became friendship and support between a pack of young mamas trying to feed and care for all their babies, while learning to thriving during a busy season. Though we are all scattered across the country now with big ‘ole grown up kids, many of us keep in touch, and yes, still share cooking tips!

So, now you know why I think on this hard season with more fondness than pain… And chili.

Classic Chili

Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Servings: 8


  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 onion diced
  • 1 lb Ground Beef
  • 1 lb Italian Sausage I used mild
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tbsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 2 cups beef bone broth
  • 1 15 oz. can fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1 can Rotel tomatoes
  • 1/4 tsp xanthan (keto) or masa for thickness


  • Heat oil in dutch oven on medium-high. Add onion and sauté until translucent.
  • Add ground beef and sausage and cook until brown and crumbled. Drain off fat.
  • Add garlic and cook while stirring for 2 minutes
  • Add tomato paste and stir until combined
  • Add chili powder, cocoa powder, paprika, cumin, oregano, salt and pepper. Stir until well combined.
  • Add bone broth, fire roasted tomatoes, and Rotel. Stir until combined. You can add beans here if you like.
  • For thicker chili: add xanthan gum or masa to a small jar along with a couple of ladles of chili liquid. Put the lid on. Shake until well mixed. Add mixture back to chili and stir until thickened.
  • Allow flavors to mingle and chili to thicken over medium low heat for 10 min.
  • Top with: shredded cheese, sour cream, green onions, or jalapeños.


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