Recipe: Bacon, bean & bells chili

Bacon Bean & Bells ChiliSeems like it’s been a while since I posted something actually related to food, doesn’t it? Bacon bummer aside, that is. Must be my preoccupation with the ski house that we rented with some friends for the winter. I know, right? Ski house. We went up last weekend to get things settled, and I can already tell we’re going to have a heck of time both on and off the slope. Our group is awesome, the snow season looks far more promising than last — and I have a feeling we’re going to hit the jackpot when it comes to slow cooker recipes that feed a small army. It might just be epic. I’ll keep you posted.

Back to the food. Here’s a quick and dirty post on a super simple chili recipe that I tested last night when Chris mentioned wanting something “hearty” for dinner. We strolled Trader Joe’s, browsed their canned chili selections, and then decided that, duh, a homemade version sounded tastier and more satisfying. No misunderstandings, I LOVE Trader Joe’s and have run into only a handful of their prepared foods that I wouldn’t purchase again in a heartbeat, but no matter how tasty it might be when heated, there’s just nothing attractive about opening a cold can of chili. Unless you’re into that thhwwuuuuuck sound it makes as it exits the can. Personally, it just doesn’t do it for me. (Why, then, am I not bothered in the least by releasing a gelatinous brick of Spam from it’s rectangular aluminum home? I couldn’t tell ya.)

Bacon Bean & Bells Chili

Regardless, a chili recipe like this can take as much or as little time as you’ve got to make it. Last night, it took maybe 30 minutes to pull the whole thing together, but if it had to simmer on low for another hour, it’d be just as delicious — and maybe even more so. Of course, if you want to pull out all the stops and stock this thing full of your favorite chili meats, feel free. In this particular recipe, I like the pure porcine flavor of good ol’ smoky, salty bacon. And it doesn’t hurt that I usually have all of these items on hand, so this is an easy one to go to when you haven’t taken the time to grocery shop, defrost, etc.

In short, it’s easy. It’s filling. And if I might add, it’s really freaking good with a grilled cheese sandwich. A little whole wheat, sharp cheddar, pepper jack and some garlicky butter? Yeah buddy.

Bacon, Bean & Bells ChiliBacon Chili & Grilled Cheese
By Emily Stoffel
Cooking time: 30 mins | Serves: 4

Note: Nearly all the ingredients here, including the canned goods, came from my local Trader Joe’s. Any beans and tomatoes will do, but using the suggested seasoned varieties really allows you to get that all-day simmered flavor in just a few short minutes. The added 1/2 tsp salt is also optional, as many canned goods are already high in sodium. And seriously, if you didn’t already read the snippet above, you really owe it to yourself to enjoy this with a fancied up grilled cheese alongside for dunking. 


  • 1/2 lb Trader Joe’s Bacon Ends & Pieces (or thick cut bacon), diced
  • 1 yellow onion, diced, plus extra for serving, optional
  • 2 green bell peppers, diced
  • 1 15.5 oz. can organic pinto beans, lightly drained
  • 1 15.5 oz. can Cuban spiced black beans (or other seasoned black bean), lightly drained
  • 1 15.5 oz. can fire roasted tomatoes with green chiles
  • 1 T chili powder
  • 2 tsp Mexican oregano
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red chili flakes
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt, optional
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 T olive oil
  • shredded sharp cheddar cheese for serving, optional


Add olive oil and bacon to a cold Dutch oven and bring to medium-high heat to render bacon. Cook, stirring occasionally, until bacon begins to crisp up on edges, about 5 minutes. (Increase heat if necessary.) Add onion and pepper and stir to coat in fat. Sweat veggies until just tender and onions are beginning to become translucent, another 5 minutes. Add all spices except bay leaf, stir, and fry spices for 30 secs to 1 minute until combined and fragrant. Stir in beans, tomatoes and bay. Bring to a boil uncovered, then cover with lid, reduce heat to low and simmer for at least 15 minutes or up to an hour. Serve topped with optional cheese and onions.

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Ruining, running and weekends gone awry

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