It was nearly 20 years ago when I first wrote a recipe for Snow Day Chili. That was the first chili I ever made as an adult which was not from a can. Several years later, I journaled about my updated chili titled, Snow Day Chili – Part Deux.

I am a big fan of chili, mostly because I am a lover of beans, and spice. I love that it is so flavorful, satisfying, works well with various toppings and can easily feed a crowd.

I don’t usually feed a crowd when I make chili however. When entertaining, it seems much too pedestrian to serve for as little as we entertain. Although, last year, right after Christmas, we hosted an après ski party that consisted of three kinds of chili, a whole host of go-withs, and numerous (quantities and types of) drinks. We had hoped it could be an annual *thing* but then, well you know the rest; COVID-19 decided to put the ka-bash on that idea (for now).

So here we are in February, one long year later, and not so long after Punxsutawney Phil came out of his blasted burrow and yet again, proclaimed us to have 6 more weeks of winter. Varmint.

It had been a mild winter thus far, so to speak (as long as we don’t speak of the larger world affairs). So 6 more weeks of status quo seemed doable to me.

The sun has been coming out more often and it has stayed lighter out even almost past 6pm, at least enough to notice a change in the right direction. This is the time of year when I usually begin to see the end of the cold and begin dreaming of once again living outdoors more often than living in the confines of a dwelling.

Our garden still had greens and living things. Our Rhododendrons began blooming and it was exciting to think of pulling off the covers to our patio loungers and spiffing up the surfaces that have patina from the harsh conditions of our Pacific Northwest weather. The tropical beach that we missed visiting this year would soon be substituted with kayaking on a lake, basked with sun.

Tom kept informing me of an upending forecast for snow; as it usually does sometime far too long past Christmas. I couldn’t imagine that this year it would. The forecast came and went with no snow and more sunnier days. Finally a breath of relief for a soon to be Spring dream.

As that little boy that cried wolf, Friday came around and yet again Tom swore this time it would snow. I looked outside and while hoping per chance, maybe, I just couldn’t imagine it would.

I woke up early Saturday morning to the sound of Winston’s usual high-pitched bark indicating it was time to relieve himself from his 3rd late-night snack. I stumbled out of bed scooping him up and carried him to the back door, when I noticed it was brighter out than usual and as I stepped onto the deck. I then realized why. Snow was piled so high that I was wet up to my shins as I carried him down to the yard to under his canopy where it was clear. Or clear-ish.

That night, grilling burgers had been planned for, but in light of this new predicament, I decided it was time to bring out my journals and look up my snow day chili recipe instead.

I found it on page 118 of volume 4, and after reading it through beginning to end, I decided that I was apparently much too fussy back then. This recipe needed a rewrite and so rewrite is what I did.

So, I now offer a simpler plan.

Snow day is for PJ’s!

Can we make snowball soup? Dad says we just need to bring it inside!


Snow Day Chili, an Update

A classic chili made with beef and beans. Feel free to add additional vegetables such as bell peppers and zucchini to round out the nutrition. As with most hearty stews/chilis/soups, it is best served the next day, but can be enjoyed right away too.  

I enjoy a thick dollop of sour cream and diced avocado, but it is also wonderful to top with grated cheddar or mozzarella and scatter in chopped, green onions and cilantro as well or instead. 

  • Author: Stacey Bender



1 1/2 cups mixed dry beans

1 bottle beer

2 cups water

1 TB veal demi glace

1 tsp ancho chili powder

1 TB ground cumin

1 tsp adobo sauce from chipotle chilis

1 wedge lime squeezed of juice

1 tomato, diced

2 TB olive oil

1 1/4 lb ground beef

Sea salt and pepper for seasoning

1 tsp ground chipotle chili powder

1 red or white onion chopped (approximately 2 cups)

35 cloves garlic, chopped

1/2 raw jalapeño, seeds and stem removed, chopped

2 stalks celery, chopped (approximately 1/2 cup)

2 carrots, peeled and chopped (approximately 1/2 cup)

2 (14 1/2 oz) cans diced tomatoes

1 large jalapeño, roasted over flames or under broiler, skin on, stem and partial seeds removed, chopped


Put beans though tomato ingredients in pressure cooker and cook on high for 18 minutes

Heat oil in a sauce pan and add beef with a sprinkle of sea salt and pepper. Let brown without stirring for approximately 10 minutes or until it is brown and is no longer sticking on the bottom side. Stir and add onions letting all brown another 5-10 minutes, stirring once or twice.

Add garlic, celery, carrots and peppers. Continue cooking over low until they begin to tender, approximately 15 minutes.

Add the cans of tomatoes along with the roasted pepper and bring to a simmer. Adjust seasonings as needed.

When the beans are done and pressure is released, add 2 tsp salt and a drizzle of olive oil. Let sit for 1/2 hour or so the take in the seasoning. Taste and adjust as needed.

In a large, oven-proof vessel, combing the bean mixture with the meat mixture and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally.  

Cover the vessel and transfer to the oven to let cook for 1 hour or more to develop flavor. Uncover and continue to let thicken until your desired consistency.  



If you don’t have a pressure cooker, you can soak the beans overnight and let cook over the stove until just tender (approximately one hour).


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Dreaming of Spring (and butterflies and squirrels, oh my)!