Start your engines………..Chili Cook off!


You might say when Fall rolls around, it is a good time for chili, and a Chili Cook Off certainly fit the bill at our friends, Angela & Owen’s Annual Chili event.  Each of the competitors prepare their own brand of chili at home and bring it to the host’s home to share, compete and enjoy. It is known that chili originated in Texas around 1967, I suspect with the Hispanic influences and the pungency of the chillies, this soon became an American favorite.

 In Owen’s words,
“The chili cook-off was inspired by a similar event I attended in San Francisco about seven years ago. I was in town visiting a friend who was all encompassed with his latest chili recipe. I helped with the recipe and was invited over to the event. This cook-off was a much grander affair, which had been going on for ~15 years since the host’s college days. Attendees came from across the country to compete and I thought that was incredible. Approximately 20 chilis were available for tasting and the grand prize was a golden trivet. When I informed Angela of this story, we were determined to host our own cook-off. While ours is smaller in scale, we are hoping to eventually get up into the 10 chili region with competition between our closest friends. We also love the idea of a traveling trophy with inscriptions of past champions. While derived from another event, we are trying to make Chili con Compton our own”.

We are still enjoying some gorgeous Fall weather here in the Mid-Atlantic region of the USA and the day of the event was brilliant with gorgeous sunshine, fall colors, leaves swaying in the wind, children trampling through the fallen leaves and a smell of chili in the air.  What could be better! 

We were the first to arrive with our contribution and were greeted by our hosts putting on the finishing touches to their hard work.   The covered porch leading to the backyard was just the right spot to host this annual event.  The burners were warming nicely, and when each guest arrived, they made up a clever name for their dish and handed it in. Just above the window were 2 red trivets, these were prizes for the People’s Choice Award and a floating trophy for the Judges’ Chili Champ  Award  (seen below.)IMG_1582


Here are a few of the chili contributions, some had real fiery heat like the” Walker Texas Ranger,” others were unusual like the “Good Goat Almighty” featuring what else…… but yummy goat, still others had some Fall veggies like butternut squash added to the mix.  We all got to sample an array of wonderful chili dishes.  Although I did not win the Chili Champ trophy awarded by the judges, I did walk away with the People’s Choice Award, and won a trivet.  The Walker Texas Ranger won the trophy. To accompany the chili, we also had some great variations of cornbread, biscuits, cheddar and jalapeno muffins and good old homemade mac and cheese.  What a combination of great comfort foods for a beautiful Fall Day. 


With the heat of the chili and a slight nip in the air towards dusk, this outdoor fire pit kept us toasty warm through the night. 

My contribution to the Chilli Cook-off was the “3 C’s chilli” – chipotle, cinnamon and cocoa.  Adding some butternut squash gave it an element of Fall color and taste.  The chipotle chili powder and whole chipotles in adobe sauce, added smokiness and packed a mean punch to this recipe, whilst the addition of cinnamon and cocoa gave it a nice surprise.  I adapted this recipe from a fellow blogger’s site, Bourbon & Brown Sugar.  You can click on her webpage and find more wonderful recipes here.

Chipotle Cinnamon Chili with a touch of Cocoa

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion (medium or large), diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups butternut squash
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
  • 1/2 cup beef stock
  • 1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
  • 1 heaping teaspoon chipotle chili powder (less if you don’t like it fiery hot)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped chipotle in adobe sauce 
  • 2 heaping teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 – 14oz cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 can kidney beans rinsed and drained
  • 1 can black beans rinsed and drained 
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 3 rashers of turkey bacon chopped
  • 2 celery stalks cleaned and cubed
  • 1 green pepper diced 


Toss the onion, garlic, butternut squash, celery, green pepper, and chopped turkey bacon with two tablespoons olive oil.  Spread on a cookie sheet, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Roast in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes, until it begins to brown slightly.

When you have about 15 minutes left on roasting the veggies, start the rest of the chili.  Coat the bottom of a dutch oven with a bit of olive oil, add the ground beef and cook until brown, breaking up the meat as it cooks.  Drain off excess fat, add the beef stock and worcestershire sauce, cooking for a few minutes until much of the liquid is absorbed by the meat.  Add the roasted veggies to the beef.  Add the chipotle chili powder, cumin, chipotle in adobe sauce and cocoa powder and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Add tomatoes and cinnamon stick.  Bring to the boil over high heat, then lower to a simmer for 2 or more hours, stirring occasionally. Serve with grated cheese, sour cream, green onions and chopped cilantro if desired.  

I’m bringing this chili to Angie’s  infamous Fiesta Friday party. There’s a birthday in the house, so there will be extra pop and cheer! Happy Birthday Angie, our dedicated Fiesta Friday hostess.  I can’t wait to present my dish and see who all will be contributing this week.  Thanks to our co-hosts Suzanne and Sue for taking us all on.   


41 thoughts on “Start your engines………..Chili Cook off!

    1. Thanks Angie, yes some awesome flavors going on in that chili eh? Would love to try your SIL’s Angry Orchard version, it sounds pretty fiery hot just by the name :). Happy Birthday again, celebrate all weekend long!


  1. Loretta, your contribution could not have come at a better time, as the weather is changing and we are craving dishes such as stews and chili. My husband loves chili so I would like to take home a container for him!!! Also, congratulations on winning the People’s Choice Award for your creation, how exciting and fun! Thank you for bringing this exotic and unusual (in a good way!) chili for us guests and hosts to enjoy!


    1. Thanks Sue, one “doggie bag” coming right up for your husband :). Thanks for your comments, the chili was pretty extraordinary I’d say. Thanks too for co-hosting this wonderful party. Happy Fiesta Friday to you!


  2. Loretta – beautiful chilli and with butternut squash too, oh wow 🙂 so happy for you that you got the people’s choice award (which we all know is the best anyway 🙂 )


  3. Sounds delicious Loretta! Made one last night with ground turkey along with pumpkin and spice (savory)-love fall cooking and especially chili!


    1. Thanks Arlene, I normally use ground turkey too, but I remember last year’s ground turkey and chorizo did not go down as well as the “real red meat” :). Yes,, I too enjoy Fall cooking and baking.


  4. Oh my goodness! What a brilliant idea for a party! Congratulations on winning the People’s choice award! I would love to host that kind of party here in the UK! I’d also like to cook your recipe though I am unsure if I can get Chipotle in Adobe sauce in this far flung corner of Cornwall!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Patti, yes they do have some unusual celebrations here in the USA. I too love Chili Cook-off parties, they are huge all over N.America, some on much grander scales. Too bad about the Chipotle in Adobe sauce, it adds some fire to it for sure, and really added some heat to the chili. The next time I visit the UK, I’ll bring some over 🙂 Tonight, we are going to a bonfire/beer party. ARound this time of year, bonfires are pretty popular in people’s backyards, and with seasonal beer served and munchies.


  5. Sounds like such a great event Loretta! And congratulations on winning the People’s Choice Award too – whoo-hoo!!! I love a bit of chilli – especially with garlic bread – and that is a complete throwback to my Canadian days! This sounds great, though, with the chocolate and the squash – I’d like a generous helping please!! Happy Fiesta Friday!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I love a chili cook-off! We have one every year in October at our county fair. I love chili and what fun it is to sample different types. Great pictures and post! Now I want some chili today! :)Happy Weekend!


  7. Would you believe I only had my first chilli this year? Couldn’t believe what I was missing out on, and this sounds like such an awesome chilli to try and make at home!


    1. Wow really? Your very first chili? How did you like it? There are so many types that one can make, I try vegetarian ones often too. Chili is pretty popular in N. America, but not as much in other parts of the world. Where are you?


      1. I moved to the US from Australia this year :). I actually never ate beef until this year – so I have my husband to thank for my new love of chilli. Your recipe sounds amazing! Really want to try it out!

        Liked by 1 person

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