Weekend Baking + Guest Bender: Mara from What’s For Dinner?

by Jenn (eating bender) on March 15, 2010

#TGIM! Did you all remember to Spring forward? Gotta love losing an hour of the day… 😉

Another Monday is upon us — they always come around quickly, don’t they?!

There are many good things about Monday, but one that’s become more and more apparent lately is the fact that it means hardly any leftover banana bread.

Every Saturday, Bobby and I buy a gigantic bunch of green bananas. By mid-week, roughly a quarter of them are gone. By Friday, they are just ripe enough to make a few batches of whipped banana oatmeal. By Sunday, they’ve turned completely black on the outside, perfectly mushy on the inside and are that just-right consistency for Nicole’s banana bread.

By Monday, the loaf is half way gone, thanks to a certain someone’s voracious appetite (it’s not me)!

This fact makes me happy :)

While I was in the kitchen getting various types of flour all over myself, I tweeted to check out what others have been baking over the weekend.

Anyone else? Leave a link to your baking recipe in the comments section!


Speaking of delicious recipe creators, today I am delighted to bring you a Guest Bender from my close friend and “neighbor” (seeing as how we are both Chicagoans), Mara from What’s For Dinner? She is going to share a recipe on the subject that she clearly knows well — delicious dinners!


Chili: It’s What’s For Dinner

Hi Eating Bender readers! My name’s Mara, and I write a little blog called What’s For Dinner? I’ve have the pleasure of becoming Jenn’s friend over the last year or so, and I’m so excited to be a Guest Bender!

I have a bit of a “thing” with making chili. See, when I was a little kid, our birthday parties were chili parties. My mom would make 2, 3, or sometimes 4 different pots of chili of varying spicinesses (is that a word?), different meat content (always beef, turkey, and vegetarian, even before vegetarian was “cool”), and always with the obligatory toppings. Little bowls of condiments were always scattered around the living room and kitchen, full of cheese, sour cream, white onion, green onion, and sometimes hot sauce. I have an attachment to chili.

When I first started to cook, a simple chili recipe was always a success…except when my pot (yes, I had on pot) started losing its non-stick coating and I burnt a batch. My simple chili is as follows:


  • 1 lb. lean ground beef , turkey, or meat substitute
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 2 Tbsp. minced garlic
  • 2 29 oz. cans crushed tomatoes
  • 1 29 oz. can dark red kidney beans, drained
  • 1 29 oz. can light red kidney beans, drained
  • 1 14.5 oz. can Ro-Tel
  • 1 14.5 oz. can salt-free corn, or same amount corn kernels
  • 1/4 c. hot chili powder
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil


Heat olive oil in a large pot. Add garlic, onion, and pepper, and cook until onion is translucent. Add your protein and brown thoroughly. Add all ingredients except the corn, bring to a simmer, and then reduce heat to low. Cook about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the corn, stir well, and cook until the corn is heated through. Serve!

Then, I started making variations. There is a vegan chili with adobo and bulgur now, as well as a delicious recipe for chili mac. But I was on a mission. I wanted the perfect chili that I could make time and time again, and finally, after dozens of tries, I think I’ve got it.

Introducing: Chili Con Carne y Frijoles (Chili with Meat and Beans)


  • 2 lbs. beef, cut into 1″ chunks (I used top round)
  • 1 32 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes with jalapeños, drained
  • 1 6 oz. can diced jalapeños
  • 1 medium white or yellow onion, diced
  • 2 14 oz. cans dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 14 oz. cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. garlic powder
  • 3 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 2 tsp. cumin


In a large slow-cooker, place the meat, tomatoes, and peppers. Stir well. Add beans, spices, onion, and vinegar. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. Serve and enjoy.

So there you have it Eating Bender readers… my adventures in chili. Cook, enjoy, and happy topping!


She is fabulous, isn’t she? It’s crazy to think that we met just over a year ago at a meet-up with Rose and another foodie friend at Thai Spoon + Sushi. We’re also coming up on the anniversary of our full day foodie adventure — I think we’re going to have to find a way to celebrate!

Speaking of anniversaries…

Tomorrow is Eating Bender’s two year blogiversary! Yet another example of time flying. These past two years of blogging have quite frankly been the two biggest years of my life. I’m so glad I’ve been able to share this time with you. Expect a sappy post tomorrow :)

But first, let’s answer a question for Mara: what’s your favorite chili topping?

Mine has to be the cheese. I love when it gets all melty and gooey with every bite!


{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

1 eatavegan March 15, 2010 at 6:31 am

Happy two years, and cheers to many more to come, especially if they are as adventure-filled as your blogging life has been lately! Congrats!


2 Mara @ What's For Dinner? March 15, 2010 at 7:09 am

I cannot believe it’s been a year since our foodie adventure! We need another one STAT!!! Love you girlie!


3 Jessica @ How Sweet March 15, 2010 at 7:11 am

That chili looks absolutely wonderful with the avocado on top!


4 Erica March 15, 2010 at 7:14 am

Hey girl! Don’t you just LOVE it when you make something up and the boy just gobbles it down and praises how good it is? One of my favorite things. MARA! Your chili looks out of this world good. I love the avocado on top. My favorite topping is jalapenos


5 Amy @ Second City Randomness March 15, 2010 at 7:24 am

I can’t believe I never thought to throw avocado in the mix??!?! Amazing!

I’m pretty standard with my comfort food for the most part- I like to top it with some cheese and crumble some cornbread over it- yum!


6 Run Sarah March 15, 2010 at 7:48 am

Your banana bread looks fabulous! I love avocado or Greek yogurt on chili.


7 Lauren @ Eater Not a Runner March 15, 2010 at 8:58 am

That looks sooo good. I love chili :-)


8 *Andrea* March 15, 2010 at 9:33 am

The banana bread looks delicious! my mom is NOT a baker/chef but the one thing she did bake for us when we were little was banana bread..so warm and comforting to me!

my fav chili topping is probably a slab of delicious cornbread!


9 Whitney @ Lettuce Love March 15, 2010 at 10:45 am

That chili looks great! I love that Mara added avocado — I have never thought to do that!


10 glidingcalm March 15, 2010 at 12:26 pm

this post makes me happy for so many reasons!!! yay Mara and Bender!!!

ahhh 2 yr blogging anni tomorrow!? crazy , isn’t it?!


11 Stef @ moretolifethanlettuce March 15, 2010 at 2:33 pm

i’m convinced that the main purpose of weekends is to enable more time for cooking/baking…fabulous creations!


12 schacalieu March 15, 2010 at 2:40 pm

Love it, I made chili yesterday!


13 BroccoliHut March 15, 2010 at 2:49 pm

Chili is one of my all-time fave foods, so I am looking forward to trying this!


14 John March 15, 2010 at 3:32 pm

You just had to say chili and I was going to like your guest. I’ve only topped my chili with two things in my life..cheese and crackers.


15 MarathonVal March 15, 2010 at 6:22 pm

I’m glad I’m not the only one that buys a boatload of bananas every time I go to the store… I literally buy at least 2 or 3 huge handfulls and eat 1-2 a day plus I love to have some frozen for banana soft serve!


16 kaitm March 15, 2010 at 6:26 pm

Mmm I love chili!! I always top mine with cottage cheese because then I get the cheesy goodness with an almost sour cream taste at the same time…delish!


17 Anna March 15, 2010 at 6:28 pm

MUST make that banana bread! Although I eat so many bananas in oatmeal and smoothies that I rarely have any brown ones lying around! I guess I need to buy double the amount next time.


18 Spiceaholic March 15, 2010 at 7:29 pm

Yum, I’m loving the banana bread and chili! I need to put both of these on my “to-make” list!


19 ksgoodeats March 16, 2010 at 6:42 am

Great guest post, Mara!! When I was younger we had chili all the time but we never ate it with any toppings. In fact, when I started seeing people eat cornbread and chili I felt like I missed out on something great. I LOVE cornbread!

That banana bread looks insane! I need to bake up a loaf ASAP!


20 Gena March 16, 2010 at 7:46 am

Mara is extremely fabulous! Great post.


21 April Rueber March 16, 2010 at 7:20 pm

Chili just makes me want to curl up and read a good book by a warm glowing fireplace. Or maybe watch a good movie. Anyway – my fave chili topping is LOTS of crackers. I actually have more crackers in my bowl than chili. Yum, yum. I just love the crunch.


22 Michelle March 16, 2010 at 9:17 pm

I love your blog!!


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