OK. You’ve researched and experimented, and now you have at least one chili recipe that you love. You invite friends to chili night dinner parties often. Sometimes you sponsor a chili bar and set out several chili pots with different heat levels. You also set out all the chili sides and toppings: rice, cheese, extra peppers and onions, and some wonderful crusty bread, anything you can think of to go with your wonderful meal. Or perhaps you just made a pot of your favorite chili to warm yourself on a cool autumn night.
If you’re anything like me, that pot of chili was huge. You probably have enough left over for at least one meal, if not two or three. So what do you do with the leftovers?
Luckily, chili will freeze very well, so you really only have to pack it away in some freezable storage containers and put it away for a rainy day when the chili urge hits you again. But does that have to be the end of it?
Of course not. Chili is a very adaptable dish. Here are a few suggestions of other wonderful ways that you can make that chili pot stretch into several days of chili bliss:
Make chili lasagna! Use your favorite lasagna recipe. Make it according to the recipe’s directions, but use your chili in place of the sauce and/or the meat. You can switch your mozzarella for Mexican blend or Velveeta, or leave it the way it is. You can also try garnishing the top of your lasagna with some chopped fresh cilantro or a light dusting of chili spice. Experiment with it until you find the taste you love.
Make a southwestern casserole. Drain a little of the liquid from your chili, then add corn, diced tomatoes, chopped onions and hot chili peppers. Toss in some grated cheese and blend gently. Then top with biscuits and bake until the biscuits are brown and the cheese is bubbly. Rest about one half hour, or until the cheese is set to you satisfaction. Serve with a nice green salad.
Make a chili pie. Use a store bought pie shell, or make your own. It doesn’t matter. Place your pie shell in a round pie pan. Add a tablespoon of tomato paste to the chili, or add a spoon full of cornstarch so the soup will thicken. You can also add some extra meat or cheese if you want. Then put the other half of the pie shell on top and pinch it down. Bake like you would a meat pie and remove from the oven when the shell is brown and crispy.
Make a chili salad. Create a bed of salad greens. Add some tomato, onion, cucumber and fresh peppers, whatever you like in a salad. Then pour a cup of chili on top. Add cheese or salsa. You can also add some tortilla chips or strips.
Make a burrito. This is so easy. Put about two tablespoons of chili in the center of a tortilla. Add cheese if you want it. Then tuck the ends in and fold over. Then just bake or fry.
Make refried beans and use in dips or tacos. Put a little oil in a frying pan. Mash the chili with a potato masher or put it in a blender. After the chili is mashed, heat it through. Then serve in a taco shell, or add it to sour cream or salsa for an interesting dip.
Make chili tartlets. This is a great appetizer. Make tartlet shells by pressing filo dough or puff pastry sheets into a pan for small muffins. Spray the shells lightly with cooking spray or baste lightly with olive oil. Bake shells until golden. Remove from oven. Put a square of Velveeta or other cheese in the middle of the shell, then top with a quarter cup of heated chili. Yum!
Make chili Pizza. This should be fairly self-explanatory, but in case it’s not, all you need to do is to get a pizza shell, top it with chili and lots of mozzarella cheese. Add any of your favorite pizza toppings and bake the pie to desired doneness.
Stuff tomatoes or peppers with a mixture of chili and rice. Bake until bubbly, or cook on top of the grill. Top with bread crumbs before baking if you want a crusty top, or add croutons when you take them out of the oven.
Make a sweet chili dessert. Add cinnamon, a teaspoon of sugar, pineapple pieces and raisins to a cup full of chili for an unbelievable sweet treat.
For snack time, make a chili filled bread roll. Take one loaf of thawed bread dough and press it flat on a cutting board. Spread chili and some chopped sweet onion in the center. Leave about an inch all the way around. Roll the bread dough and pinch the ends so that the chili does not bleed out. Then raise and bake according to the package directions. Again, you can add any complimentary chili items you like to the chili in the center, such as some chopped fresh cilantro or a layer of roast beef or sliced chorizo. When the loaf is done, allow it to rest for an hour before serving.
Make chili stuffed potato skins. Take some left-over baked potatoes. Cut in half and hollow out the skins. Add chili and cheese to the skins spray lightly with cooking spray, and bake until the tops are browned. Allow to cool about fifteen minutes. Then add a dollop of sour cream and some chopped green onion.
Make a vegetable soup. Add any kind of frozen mixed vegetable to the chili and heat through. My personal favorites are diced potatoes or some broccoli Normandy. Such an easy way to make such a healthy soup!