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Chili Bar: Fit for a Team Dinner

If you’ve read some of my dinner bar posts of the past, you know that I love serving meals this way. No matter what the age, every child that comes to my Dinner Bar seems to like the independence this meal service option provides.

This week I am test-driving a Chili Bar, something I am planning to serve to the Girl’s Swimming & Diving team at our high school. The night before a major swim meet, one parent hosts a team dinner. The entrée is the responsibility of the hostess/host, along with one other parent, and the sides are donated by a variety of parents. It’s a nice tradition and certainly a team-building event.

chili bar with toppings

Often, the girls are served pasta, but I wanted to change things up a bit this year, so I am offering chili as the basic entrée, with macaroni noodles and tortilla chips as a building base, and lots of toppings.

Why chili? This chili recipe showcases beef and beans, both terrific sources of protein and iron. For young female athletes, getting enough iron in the diet is always a priority.

The beef and beans will offer a much-needed source of protein to help their muscles recover and repair themselves (they will be coming in from a 2-hour swim practice); it will also “fill them up” so they will be satisfied.

Adding the pasta and tortilla chips gives the girls an option to build more carbs into the meal by piling the chili on top of macaroni (this is how my mom served chili when I was young) or opting for a chili nacho theme.

You may raise your eyebrows at the suggestion of beer in the recipe, but the alcohol burns off in the process of simmering.

Beef, Bean & Beer Chili

Beef, Bean & Beer Chili
Yields 18
A protein- and fiber-packed chili fit for any sports team or athlete.
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Prep Time
10 min
Total Time
40 min
Prep Time
10 min
Total Time
40 min
  1. 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  2. 1 medium onion, chopped
  3. 3 celery ribs, washed and sliced
  4. 2 pounds ground beef (90% lean or higher)
  5. 1, 15-ounce can of red kidney beans
  6. 1, 28-ounce can of diced tomatoes
  7. 2, 15-ounce cans of tomato sauce
  8. 1, 4.5-ounce chopped green chilis
  9. 1 cup of frozen corn
  10. 1, 12-ounce can of light beer
  11. 2 Tablespoons of chili powder
  12. 1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  13. 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  14. ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  15. 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  16. salt to taste
  1. In a large Dutch oven, sauté onion and celery in olive oil, until soft.
  2. Add ground beef, and cook thoroughly.
  3. Drain and rinse beans; add to the pot.
  4. Add diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, green chilies, corn, beer, and seasonings. Stir to blend together.
  5. Simmer with lid vented for 20 to 30 minutes.
Jill Castle

Chili Bar toppingsToppings:

Sliced green onions

Sliced black olives

Chopped tomatoes

Diced red onion

Jalapeno peppers

Shredded cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses

Sour cream


For the Chili Bar:

Set the Dutch oven on a hot pad, along with a ladle for serving.  Set out toppings in small bowls with spoons. Set the tortilla chips and macaroni noodles on the side for variety.

What are your favorite chili toppings?

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