Valentine’s Day Dinner: Heirloom Chili Recipe

So I was thinking about Valentine’s Day last week and thought at the time I would be working two jobs with little time to cook – and honestly, who wants to cook on Valentine’s Day? At the same time, delivery pizza seemed like a cop-out.

And then it hit me: chili in the crockpot.

Valentine's Day Chili

A few weeks ago, I made my great-grandfather Czarnecki’s recipe for chili and the family loved it. When I talked to my mom, she reminded me that there was a secret ingredient missing from the cookbook, and I knew I had to make it again soon.

So tomorrow, I’ll be whipping up a pot of this fabulous dish and promptly forgetting about it until it’s time to serve. Expect a full blog post with pictures to follow.


  • 1 lb. lean beef
  • 1 clove of garlic (substitute 1/2 tsp. garlic powder or 1/2 tsp. minced garlic)
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped (about half of a medium onion)
  • 2 cups red beans (1 lb. can)
  • 2 cups peeled tomatoes (1 lb. can)
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon “Accent” (optional)
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 can beef gravy (10 oz. can)
  • 1 square baker’s chocolate (or other >60% cocoa chocolate, approximately 1/2 oz.)

Brown beef in pan and chop as it cooks. Add onion and cook until onion is transparent. Add all ingredients to crockpot (5 quart or larger) including liquid from beans and tomatoes. If desired, smash the tomatoes as they cook. Cook on low about 8 hours or high about 4 hours or until chili is thick. Makes enough chili to serve 5-6 in 5-quart crockpot.


  • Serve chili over elbow noodles (or other small pasta)
  • Mix in crumbled cornbread or scalloped corn
  • Top with sour cream or cheese (in Wisconsin, we do both)

Feel free to join me in making chili, or comment with what you’ll be making for Valentine’s Day dinner!


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