Fall and winter tables are often graced with favorite recipes for stews, soups and other hearty fare.
Chili has long ranked as a favorite comfort food for family dinners, tailgating, football viewing parties and competitions.
With its multi-textured flavors and the use of various spices, meats, vegetables and other ingredients, there's a chili to suit almost any appetite.
"It's a great fall food," said Bethany Jensen, whose chili recipe took top prize in the recent Ogden Dunes Chili Cook-Off. "There are so many different variations of chili you can make."
Jensen's chili, a vegetarian dish, was one of 19 recipes tested during the competition. Over the past year, Jensen said she experimented greatly with her recipe and added different ingredients and other spices to a longtime favorite chili recipe to come up with a totally new concoction.
Ranking as winners in the Ogden Dunes competition were Jensen for the Overall and Vegetarian Division; Bernadette Slawinski for Runner-up Overall and White Division; Dennis Black for Classic Division and Best Decorated Area; Phil Jankura for Hot Division; Katelyn Dixon for Youth Division and Maha Shahwan for Fan Favorite.
"Experimenting with various ingredients is a great opportunity to get out of your comfort zone," said Jensen.
Other region chili fans battled it out in Munster recently during the Munster Chamber of Commerce's second annual Chili Challenge held at The Center for Visual and Performing Arts in Munster.
Winners for that contest were Best Decorated Booth: 1st Place: Theatre at the Center. 2nd Place: Planting Possibilities; Peoples Choice/Best Chili: 1st Place: Hartsfield Village. 2nd Place: Planting Possibilities; Chefs Choice/Best : 1st Place: Hartsfield Village. 2nd Place: New York Life.
The third annual Chili Cookoff during the Lansing Autumn Fest was also held recently. Taking top honors in that competition were first place, CSI Chili by Debra Hunt, who won last year; second place was Chili Willie by Bill Wild; tie for third place were Nancy Osborn and Brenda Zamudio. People's Choice award went to Chili Willie.
Try the following chili recipes.
BETHANY'S BLUE RIBBON VEGETARIAN CHILI
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons dried oregano
1 tablespoon Sriracha or to taste
1 teaspoon with salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 red bell peppers, chopped
2 jalapeno peppers, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 (4-ounce) cans chopped green chile peppers, drained
2 (12-ounce) packages vegetarian burger crumbles
3 (28-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
1/4 cup chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cocoa powder
1/2 tablespoon ground black pepper
1 (15-ounce) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15-ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup frozen corn
Cilantro and shredded cheddar cheese for garnish
DIRECTIONS: Heat the olive oil over medium heat. Stir in the onion, and season with bay leaves, cumin, oregano and salt. Cook and stir until onion is tender, then mix in the celery, bell peppers, jalapeno peppers, garlic and green chile peppers. Add to crockpot with remaining ingredients. Cook on low 6-8 hours.
The following recipe for Black Bean Chili is from porkbeinspired.com
BLACK BEAN CHILI
1 1/2 pound boneless sirloin pork roast, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 15 1/2-ounce cans black beans, drained
1 cup onion, chopped
1 cup yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 cup salsa, thick and chunky
1 15 1/2-oz can diced tomatoes, do not drain
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
Sour cream, garnish
Cheddar cheese, shredded (garnish)
DIRECTIONS: Combine all ingredients except garnishes in 3 1/2-quart slow cooker. Cover and cook on low heat setting 7 to 8 hours. Top individual bowls with sour cream and Cheddar cheese. Serves 4