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Vanessa Druckman

Vanessa, also known as Chefdruck, is a foodie, writer and mom living in Chicago with her husband and four children. Whether you're planning a holiday dinner party or small impromptu get together with friends, Vanessa has easy menu ideas and helpful tips to minimize your time in the kitchen so you have more time to spend with your friends and family. Vanessa's personal blog can be found at chefdruck.com

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Party Foods

chilli con carne

Chili con Carne is one of my favorite dishes to serve to a crowd during basketball season. This party recipe is a snap to prepare, and on a cold winter evening, a big pot of chili is greeted by shouts of pleasure by guys and gals alike. Once their bellies are full of beans, tomatoes, and ground beef, friends can really settle in for some serious basketball watching and hanging out.

Chili Con Carne is Always a Slam Dunk

I like to serve chili as a toppings bar, so everyone can customize it to their liking. I offer raw onions, freshly grated sharp cheddar, Cheez-It crackers, and sour cream in fun little bowls. All of the toppings really round out the dark red of the chili. There are millions of different chili recipes out there, and I like to give the guests at my party the freedom to make my con carne chili creation their own.

In addition to the chili recipe, I keep things simple, yet colorful and healthy, by rounding out my main course with a Strawberry Spinach Salad, or a colorful Sundried Tomato Goat Cheese Spread.

For dessert, I serve a different type of toppings bar: a Brownie Rainbow Pie surrounded by different types of ice cream flavors, fudge, caramel, whipped cream, and sprinkles. The dessert brings out the kid in all of my guests.

When the basketball game is over, I wave goodbye to my guests knowing that I'm sending them home full and happy, with my chili con carne recipe in their thoughts.

Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Total Time to Serve: 60 Minutes

Servings: 8


  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2 pounds of chuck ground beef
  • 3 14.5 oz cans of chopped tomatoes, preferably fire roasted
  • 2 tablespoons of paprika
  • 1 tablespoon of dried oregano
  • 1/2 tablespoon of ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon of chili powder
  • 2 cans of red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • salt and pepper to taste (I use 2 teaspoons of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper)
  • 1 Box Sunshine Cheez-It Original crackers or your favorite flavor


  1. In a small stockpot, heat your olive oil. Add in the onions, garlic, and red pepper. Saute until soft, about 7 minutes. Add in the ground beef and saute until browned, stirring frequently to break up clumps.

  2. Pour in tomatoes, cumin, paprika, chili powder, oregano, brown sugar, salt and pepper. Cover and simmer for 40 minutes.

  3. Stir in the kidney beans and cook for another 15 minutes. The chili is then ready to serve. It will also keep in the refrigerator for the next five days to be reheated and served. It also freezes well. 

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