Chili Cook-off

October 28, 2008

Guess who won Best Chili at the church cookoff on Saturday? Maude and Ralph Blair. That’s who. (Yay Ralph and Maude!!) And the photo you see is Maude sporting the trophy apron.

Here’s the chili story. 8 years ago. When the Blair family only had two kids and we lived in a little house in Utah, we won the Fall Chili Cookoff at our church. To anyone who knows my meager skills in the kitchen, this was surprising news. Especially considering the recipe used as the basis for the chili was found on the back of our generic chili powder bottle. I made a few adjustments (I doubled the garlic and spices), but otherwise, followed the recipe exactly. Here it is (with my adjustments):

1 lb ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped

2 tsp garlic, chopped

3 8 oz. cans tomato sauce

2 16 oz. cans kidney beans
2 T cumin

2 T chili powder

Brown the ground beef with the onion and garlic. Drain the fat. Add the rest of the ingredients (don’t drain the beans) and simmer for 30 minutes. Or all day.

Pretty basic. But we now call it the Blair’s Award Winning Chili. And that makes it sound fancy. Sadly, we ended up making it so often, that we got sick of it, and stopped making it altogether. And kind of thought our chili-making days were over. In fact, for this year’s chili cook-off, I signed up to bring corn-bread instead. But then I heard whispers that they might be low on chili, so we decided to pull out the old recipe and whip up a pot.

I got the meat and onion and garlic going and Ralph and Maude started asking if we could add some “secret ingredients.” Like what? says I. They pull out a packet of taco seasoning, a packet of ranch dressing mix, and a packet of creamy pesto mix. Can we add these? I had a quick vision of seeing the entire congregation die of sodium poisoning and said, well, we’ve already got garlic happening — both the pesto mix and the ranch mix have lots of garlic and could be okay. Why don’t you pick one. They picked the ranch.

We added the ranch and the beans and the tomato sauce and let things simmer a bit. Then we tasted. They wanted more spices. I recommended some cumin and chili powder. They sniffed both of those and gave their approval. We decided it needed a bit more salt. They asked if we could add black beans. Sure, why not. They asked if they could add garbanzo beans. Ummm. No.

Then Ralph decided we still needed one more secret ingredient. He suggested cream cheese. Cheese is always a good thing, so we added a couple of spoonfuls and let it simmer for a few hours, until it was time for the party.

And honestly, it really was delicious. Plus it confirms what I’d already suspected: that Ranch Dressing is one of the greatest American inventions. Rivaled only by the cotton gin and assembly line.

Here’s Ralph and Maude’s Recipe. They call it “Three Bean Chili Deluxe:”

1 1/2 lbs ground beef

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

2 heaping tsp garlic, chopped
3 8 oz. cans tomato sauce

2 16 oz. cans light kidney beans

2 16 oz. cans dark kidney beans
16 oz. cans black beans
1 entire packet of Ranch Dressing powdered mix

1 T cumin

1 T chili powder

1 t salt

2 spoonfuls of the secret ingredient

Brown the ground beef with the onion and garlic. Drain the fat. Add the rest of the ingredients (don’t drain the beans) and simmer for 30 minutes. Or all day.

Related Posts with Thumbnails

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Mark and Loralee Carey October 28, 2008 at 10:30 am

Chili really is the perfect fall food. Thank you for sharing your recipes. The last ward chili cook-off that we had, mine didn’t win, and according to my husband it was only because it got eaten up so fast that there was none left to judge! Check out the link ‘edible encounters’ on my blog. I will try to add the recipe this week.


2 Amber October 28, 2008 at 10:42 am

I was searching around for a good chili cook-off recipe and I happened upon this post. And then I laughed because it sounds like you’re LDS. Perhaps we are the only ones in the world who have chili cook-offs every fall? :-)

Thanks for the recipe!


3 --r October 28, 2008 at 10:49 am

That’s stellar! Congratulations to your chili cooks!
It’s nice that you actually had a “recipe” when you were done. I tend to make chili the same way (just throw things in until it seems “right”), but I never write anything down, so it’s never the same way twice. it’s usually pretty tasty though. :)


4 erin wilson October 28, 2008 at 11:04 am

I love their enthusiasm! The chili sounds incredible and when I get off this diet I will probably make this first! And yes, Ranch dressing is surely one of America’s best…one day I’ll write on my blog about my life long love affair with Ranch dressing and anything ranch flavored that began in 8th grade…it was the beginning of the end :)


5 KJ October 28, 2008 at 11:38 am

Hee Hee…I have an “award winning” chili recipe, too. SInce, of course, church cook-offs are the absolute final word in culinary standards ;) Yay for the kiddos,.


6 Chloe's mom October 28, 2008 at 11:40 am

Ralph and Maude – You Rock!


7 Ginger October 28, 2008 at 11:50 am

I have a “taco Soup” recipe that uses ranch dressing. I love it….and everything with ranch dressing for that matter.


8 Julianna October 28, 2008 at 11:56 am

Who made that sporting apron? I have to confess that we did not win our chili cook off but since you had to keep the trophy and return it next year I’m OK with that. I wouldn’t handle the pressure of keeping a gold sprayed ornamental trophy for an entire year…it would wind up in the garbage, forgotten until the guilt at next October’s cook off!

Congrats Maude and Ralph…will you help me next year and then maybe I’ll win!

Seriously, I LOVE the apron.


9 Little America October 28, 2008 at 12:11 pm

just in time for my ward party tomorrow night. Thanks


10 Tammy October 28, 2008 at 12:53 pm

Mmm! I can’t wait to try it out. Thanks for sharing! I love the apron too! Nice.


11 sara October 28, 2008 at 1:00 pm

oh man, they got one of the really burned iron ons. bummer. travis insisted that the fabric of the aprons was sub-standard… too nubby… to adhere to the iron on.

i put up some pictures of it today over at lewisgirls, if you’re interested!


12 Becca October 28, 2008 at 1:22 pm

Sounds great. I’m looking forward to trying it out. My husband’s theory is that anything with a “secret ingredient” is going to be good, so I’m sure he’ll love it too.


13 Kristie October 28, 2008 at 5:14 pm

whew. i was looking for a recipe for our chili cook-off this weekend. But don’t worry, I will definitely give credit to Ralph and Maude.

incidentally, my husband, two boys and I are moving to westchester this weekend. I dare say we will be in the same neck of the “ward” woods.


14 liz stanley October 28, 2008 at 6:03 pm

i heard maude and ralph won! fabulous! also, heard the table decorations were really nice you did, gabby (which i know is more important to you anyway)


15 Denise October 28, 2008 at 8:48 pm

I really love this story. Cooking with my kids is so fun. I’m going to have them try Ralph and Maude chili.


16 R-Eight October 29, 2008 at 9:58 am

Yea for Ralph and Maude! I use that recipe from the Stanley Family Cookbook when I make chili. Yummy!


17 Bekah October 30, 2008 at 2:56 pm

Should’ve known Travis and Sara were behind the aprons. When is he going to make an appearance as a guest dad?

Just made the chili for our cook off tonight. It’s my first time and I’m really hoping the cream cheese puts me in contention.


18 Hubert de Pinot-Chambrun November 2, 2008 at 12:00 pm

I presume this chili is better than the noxious schtuff that the father of Ralph and Maude tasted with me at an eatery called “One Man Band” in Pleasant Grove, Utah in September. I applaud the Blair family for redeeming my views of Utah cookery by bringing their chili to the East Coast. I remain a bit skeptical, however, about the pre-eminence of Ranch Dressing.

A fan in Washington, DC


19 lisa (lost pezhead) February 15, 2009 at 8:47 pm

hey design mom! do you have any cute ideas for awards for chili/chocolate cookoff?? i’m on activities committee! i wish there was an etsy shop with some cute awards certificates…best chili, spicy, most unique!


20 lisa (lost pezhead) February 15, 2009 at 8:48 pm


where did they get those awesome aprons printed from!?!


21 Karyl October 31, 2011 at 2:58 pm

Wow, that’s so creative of Ralph and Maude. I’m inspired to try this recipe next week (have to find the ingredients first) or I’d make it now….. :-) I’m impressed–so creative at such a young age already! Way 2 go!


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: