Make it Your Own

Remember not too long ago when our girls were all home and we had a baking day?  It was so fun but figuring out what to feed everyone on days like that always perplexes me.

I don’t want to take away from having fun and visiting by making a labor intensive meal.  As the kids have gotten older they are more vocal than they were as kids saying they never did like this..or that.  Kayla is a vegetarian so that throws a wrench into some plans too.

We have come to the conclusion that chili is a pretty good option for our family.  I do it a little different so that everyone can have something to their own tastes.

I brown 1 1/2 pounds of ground beef browned with a whole onion

Then is a seperate pot I mix these ingredients:
2 15 ounce cans of beans- I’m not picky whatever is here.
1 quart of my homemade salsa
1 can of beer
chili powder to taste depending on the salsa

I have Kayla pull out whatever amount she wants saved for her then I mix in the hamburger.

That’s when it gets interesting…. See?When the kids were little to stretch chili for our family of seven, I started making rice on chili days.  Some of the kids don’t like soups so they often put rice in the bottom of their bowl and then put the chili over top.

We’ve gotten so that some of us add shredded cheese over the top of all of that.  That’s my bowl in the photo below.


Hubby is a straight up chili guy.

Notice sour cream in the photo above.  Kelli doesn’t like anything spicy so she puts sour cream in her chili with rice to calm down any spice.

Some add more spice or Tabasco…some have rice, some don’t.  It’s everyone’s preference which takes any pressure off of me.

So with six people at the table to eat chili, no one ate it the same way.  We had the little boys for lunch too and chili isn’t something either of them like so I made grill cheese sandwiches to go with the chili.

That left some of the adults dipping their grill cheese in their chili.

I’m so glad that I’ve come up with a few meal options for times when the kids are all home that meet the wants of everyone at the table.

Do any of you have any dishes you fix when everyone is home that can be varied like this?  I’d love some more ideas in my arsenal.

…and inquiring minds want to know…how do you eat your chili?

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33 thoughts on “Make it Your Own

  1. Cynthia Bartz

    My mom mixed in a handful of choc chips. Tones down the acidity of the tomato’s. I like it mild, hubby likes it hot, son likes it with sour cream and cheese. I toast English muffins or English muffin bread.

  2. Connie

    Growing up in SE Iowa……My mom never put anything out of the ordinary in her chili We lived in Texas for a while and it was served on Fritos and topped with sweet relish. I now live in SE Minnesota and a few years back an elderly friend of mine invited me down for chili. She served bowls of chili topped with sour cream and cheddar cheese. OH MY! I thought how am I going to like this?? BEST. CHILI. EVER! I never make chili,now without having sour cream and cheddar cheese in the house.

  3. Linda White

    I’m definitely a chili topper. Chopped sweet onions, cheese, sour cream all on top. Although I don’t make rice with chili, I know I would love that, it sounds so good!! Maybe I will next time!

  4. Norma

    We have a bit of the same, Jo.A vegetarian daughter, some really like meat. I sometimes make baked spaghetti with and without meat. It’s great as leftovers. I also make stir fry-two pans of veggies,one has chicken. On the chili topic I grew up having macaroni added. There were six kids so that’s how my mom stretched it. Great with cheddar and sour cream.

  5. Nell

    Saltines, sour cream on top after the cheese is in the bottom and stirred in to melt thoroughly. . . :) Also have tried a few white chicken chili recipes off the web. Those are a big hit.

  6. Dot

    I like a very simple Southwestern style chile (with an “e” at the end, not an “i”!). My mother found the recipe in a local California newspaper at least 50 years ago; it was said to be Barry Goldwater’s favorite. It uses dried pinto beans, onion, garlic, canned diced green chiles, taco sauce, canned tomatoes and comino (cumin) seeds. Adding ground beef is optional. I don’t add any toppings.

  7. L

    My mother always served it on rice to extend it. Her secret ingredient was Campbell’s tomato soup because my brother didn’t like chunks of tomato in his chili. I still put a can of Campbell’s tomato soup along with a can of tomatoes in my chili!

  8. Stacie Young

    We have 6 children, 4 are grown and have significant others. So we are 12 strong at this point and meals are always on my mind when any or all of the kids show up. Some of our go-to’s are white chili, loaded baked potato soup, world famous baked ham sandwiches, and lasagna. As the kids say, anything you make Mom is the best, they can be sweet sometimes, haha!! Regarding chili, we like it with corn bread, sour cream and sharp cheddar. Sometimes we add oyster crackers if I don’t have corn bread on hand.

  9. Penny Holliday

    Minestrone soup! No meat ~ never seen a recipe that includes meat. & mostly use several varieties of canned beans & add sm amount pasta ~ whatever beans & pasta I have in pantry w/ garlic toast or if requested grilled cheese sandwich.

  10. DebMac

    Hubby’s recipe: 4 15 oz cans of dark red kidney beans, 4 15 oz cans of tomato sauce, 1 lb burger, chili pepper, red pepper and black pepper to taste
    . Serve with grated cheese, saltines, fritos. It can be increased or decreased w/o much trouble. This is big hit with family at winter gatherings. No vegetarians but this is one of three meals entire extended family will eat.

  11. Karen P

    When I used to be able to eat it, homemade corn bread on the bottom of the bowl then chili with some hot peppers on top. Yummy!

  12. Jolyn Olson

    We’re around 30 when everyone is home. Lasagna is a must, baked potato bar, chili and also chicken wild rice soup, chicken enchiladas, sloppy turkey on a bun. I try to do some of the cooking ahead of time.

    Growing up we always called it chili soup. Eating at a restaurant one time I asked for it that way and the waitress laughed. I had to grow up and try to remember to call it chili.

  13. Jolyn Olson

    We’re around 30 when everyone is home. Lasagna is a must, baked potato bar, chili and also chicken wild rice soup, chicken enchiladas, sloppy turkey on a bun. I try to do some of the cooking ahead of time.
    Growing up we always called it chili soup. Eating at a restaurant one time I asked for it that way and the waitress laughed. I had to grow up and try to remember to call it chili.

  14. Susan the Farm Quilter

    I like my chili spicy and thick, not like soup. I put cheese on top and sometimes sour cream. For my big family dinners (7 kids, 3 married, 6 grands) I always seem to make lasagna. It contains meat, but you can substitute lots of vegetables in the sauce and leave the meat out and it won’t be missed.

  15. Janet Melanson

    Dearest Jo and your whole wonderful family….Happy New year..I wish for all of you good health…. happiness… prosperity…and new adventures for 2019……I’ve enjoyed every word of your blog ….thank you … Janet from Canada

  16. Candy

    We always eat chili with rice underneath and grated cheddar on top. My absolute favorite is to have tortilla chips with melted cheese on top to scoop up the chili … YUM! Can’t do that much anymore … too many calories that I don’t need, but oh do I love it!

  17. Robby H.

    Chili is great for this because you can have toppings like cheese and sour cream, sometimes we have scallions, chopped jalapenos, olives, guacamole or diced avocado. So many options! We like ours with cornbread, or if the cornbread is dry because it isn’t fresh, it sometimes gets crumbled on top like crackers. When I was a kid, at school we always had cinnamon rolls on the menu with chili. It sounds weird, but the little bit of sweetness helps anyone who has too much heat and the touch of cinnamon is a nice addition to the chili flavors.

    I make a big pot of minestrone for church sometimes. I make the whole pot vegetarian and then near the end, I pull out some for the vegetarians and add cooked Italian sausage for the meat lovers. Sometimes, we toss in cheese tortellini to give it more bulk and both meat eaters and non can enjoy that. We serve it with a green salad and garlic bread.

  18. Cathy

    I have a burrito/taco bar when my family is home. I fix taco meat and carnitas that I make ahead and freeze. Then when they are here I warm up the meat, make rice in the instapot, have the lettuce, olives, tomatoes, onions chopped up ahead of time, then add cheese, salsa, guacamole, tortilla chips, soft taco shells.
    Then they can make burritos wraps, burrito bowls, tacos, taco salad or quesadillas. They all love it! We have 8 grandkids all under 10 years and 8 adults. It’s their favorite. We usually have enough leftover for lunch the next day. I’m all for meals that suit everyone. Chili is another great meal for that.
    Have a Happy New Year!!

  19. Elle

    The winner in my family always seems to be lasagna. When a vegetarian is coming, I pull out some sauce to make them a 2 serving dish. I have a terrific authentic Italian recipe and it’s always a hit! I make a triple batch and fill 2 disposable lasagna pans with a triple layer.

    Homemade mac n cheese is also a winner. I steam broccoli and roast chicken breast for add ins. Again, it serves a vegetarian nicely. I fancy it up with smoke gouda/cheddar cheese mixed. oh so tasty!

  20. Marsha B

    I like my chili over macaroni with cheddar cheese and sour cream on top. My husband likes his with corn bread. With our cold weather in NM this week chili sounds good

  21. Lisa

    I agree with Janet M from Canada! I used to add 1-2 tablespoons of butter (the real thing!) to my chili but now substitute low fat Tillamook sour cream (cholesterol issues). I’ve had chili over rice, pasta, and taco chips. We called it “haystacks” when the base was taco chips and layered lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, sour cream, olives, etc. so basically the chili is used like taco meat. Yummy. The family was home for 5 days over Christmas and Taco Soup (make and simmer 1 hour or dump it in the crock pot) and Instant Pot mac and cheese were hits. For lunch we also love grilled cheese with canned or homemade clam chowder!

  22. Carol Lorraine Stearns

    HOmemade mac and cheese if a favorite. My sister takes all of the veggies and fruit from her fridge that is limp and ready to toss. She also adds frozen veggies. Then stuffs it all into a pot and covers with water. Simmers it several hours until she gets a really thick broth. No animal stuff in there, just produce. Then the broth is used in soups or stews and is quite tasty. I always simmer bones from a chicken or ham bone to make broth. It goes in the freezer for soups. Made the tastiest ham and bean soup recently. The ham was salty and very flavorful so did not need any seasoning.

  23. Debbie Burgess

    When I was growing up in PA Dutch country, it was mild chili with beans and ground beef, often served over a big baked potato or a mound of mashed potatoes, with buttered white bread slices to sop up the sauce. Now I make my chili spicier and serve it with toppers. Chopped raw onion, sliced pickled jalapenos, shredded cheddar, and sour cream are our favorites. Corn bread or corn muffins take the place of white bread. I have an easy and yummy recipe for a chili casserole with cheese and cornbread topping thst feeds a crowd if you want it.

  24. pam

    I like mac and cheese with mine! Just put mac and cheese in the bottom of your bowl. I use the creamy cheese kind from a box. Nothing fancy

  25. Janine Baker

    Because I was an Army brat, we only shopped once a month. When we had chili, my Mom always cooked rice and had that under our chili, which went farther that way. My husband however does not care for alot of rice, so I make Johnnie cake and he has cake & oyster crackers. My son & his wife put the cake on bottom of bowl, top with chili & then sour cream & shredded cheese. So, I’ve had it lots of ways.

    When I want to have a big meal for lots, I make either mac & cheese or Taco soup in the crock pot. Cooks all day, feeds lots and is warm & yummy!

    Happy New Year to you. Wishing you & your family health, wealth & Happiness for this new year! Thank you for all you give to us, we so appreciate it and don’t always say so.

  26. mpv61

    I like rice under it to cut the spiciness and to stretch it. I put sour cream on top, partly to cut the spiciness and partly because I like the temperature difference and the flavor.

  27. Gladie

    Ah fixing for a crowd! What a treat! I like to have plenty of eggs and basic meats on hand. I make a basic menu plan…not so much as when to fix it but what to fix. Flexibility is the key
    This is what happened at our house when 14-18 people were here for 6 days. For us we were working around small kids used to Eastern time as well as our usual dairy farm routine…Kelly is nodding her head…she knows all about that! Be prepared to eat in shifts…why? hungry kids are cranky…feed them!
    Sat night…huge ham paired with scalloped potatoes (could be Mac&cheese) with a favorite broccoli salad (Annie’s). Also cooked cauliflower…only because it needed to be cooked.
    Sun…Oyster stew and chili complemented with veg relish/cheese trays and two roasted chicken and leftover ham.
    Monday…fixed a large beef roast–planned a pot roast, but roast was still frozen so baked some sweet potatoes and boiled some potatoes. After potatoes were cooked and drained I added butter…lots of it…and a packet of Four seasons Italian seasoning mix…if little ones don’t like this portion some out with just the butter…Parmesan cheese is a nice addition as well. That night for supper we had soft shell tacos with left over roast and chicken…tomatoes, lettuce, cheese, peppers, and salsa for toppings. Beef all gone.
    Chicken noodle soup was made with left over chicken and great broth from the deboned carcasses with carrots and peas added to “extend” the soup. Still some leftover chili to eat.
    Extra ham was added to scrambled eggs or breakfast burritos. Pancakes also on the breakfast menu. (French toast with my breadmaker bread is also a bit hit.) An overnight hashbrown/egg/ham crockpot was made for both households (Farmer son up the road) for breakfast. Did I say I had a huge ham…still have the ham bone in the freezer for soup!
    Leftover chili over leftover scalloped potaoes or boiled potatoes were great, too.
    Other times I have had several pounds of hamburger cooked up. It saves a step at crunch time. Meatballs are also favorite around here and can be made ahead of time…and yes lasagna too. Stroganoff a big hit as well. I know this is somewhat meat centric. As you respect Kayla’s wishes, she will respect yours as well. You have learned how to adapt and adjust…i.e. gluten issues. Soon you will develop your own cooking rhythm as the family dynamics change. For me I am so fortunate to have helpful hands in the kitchen…a routine has developed there as well which I so appreciate!
    Happy New Year!

  28. Cat S.

    We make Nachos for a varied crowd – taco seasoned ground beef, refried beans, cheese, salsa, sliced olives, diced onions, diced bell peppers, corn chips / tortillas and shredded lettuce. According to taste, it can be meat based, vegan, low carb (taco salad), finger food (use tortillas for make quesadillas), etc. Also, it works well on nights where people show up at different times, as each person can melt their cheese in the microwave as their plate is ready.

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