How to Stay Cozy: Warm Chili Dinner

Every Halloween, my mom cooked chili. Steaming hot chili with oyster crackers floating on top. It was served in red, orange, ochre and brown ceramic bowls. Even the colors of the dishes were warm. We would eat the chili to warm up before dressing in our costumes to go trick or treating in the crisp autumn air. Now, for me, chili is forever linked with cool fall evenings. I crave this chili when the nights get cold and the leaves start turning color.

Today I’ll share the chili recipe, plus tips to make an autumn dinner feel warm and comfortable, in partnership with the “Keep It Cozy” campaign.

Autumn Chili Recipe


  • 1 pound ground beef (as a vegetarian household, we substitute with MorningStar Grillers Crumbles or Beyond Meat Beefy Crumbles for vegetarian chili)
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 can condensed tomato soup (sometimes we use fire roasted diced tomatoes)
  • 2 16 oz. cans of red kidney beans
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (optional)

In a bit of oil in a deep skillet or big saucepan, brown the beef and cook the onion, garlic and chili powder until the onion is tender.

Add remaining ingredients. Simmer uncovered for 15 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Makes 4 servings.


Chili Ingredients

We like to add fire roasted corn to the recipe. And serve it with sharp aged cheddar cheese grated on the top. I also love chili powder from Penzey’s or a flavorful chipotle chili. It has rich savory flavor without tongue-burning heat. But mostly, I try to keep the chili close to mom’s original recipe. There are a bazillion chili recipes out there, but there’s nothing like the original favorite food that you enjoyed as a child.

Cozy Color

Color can go a long way to creating a cozy feeling. Darker warm colors like red, terra cotta and paprika, olive green, even navy, all work together to make meals feel like comfort food on chilly days.

Autumn-hued bowls look great with the chili, such as these from Wayfair:

Autumn Color Dinnerware

Top to bottom:  Fiesta Soup Bowl in Paprika | Brimson 4-Piece Pasta Bowl SetFiesta Pasta Bowl in Sage | Fiesta Chili Bowl in Cobalt

Bowls that are labeled for cereal, pasta and soup can work just as well for chili.

Copper Flatware

Copper, a warm color metal, is a great accent for cozy fall tablescapes. Use copper color in flatware, cups and chargers:

Copper Tableware

Top to bottom: David Shaw Silverware, Antique Flatware Set | Vintage Solid Copper Cocktail Mug | Copper Charger Plates

Autumn Color Table Runner

I love to decorate my dining table with unexpected, different things like a table runner made from kimono fabric. I find kimono fabrics on eBay. They’re about 14″ wide — perfect for table runners! Here’s a silk kimono fabric with autumn leaves and colors that I shared in a blog post several years ago:

Wouldn’t the bowls and copper pieces shown above look great with this fabric as a table runner? Add candles, pumpkins and acorns, and you have a cozy autumn table.

Hot Cocoa

Is there anything cozier than a big mug of hot cocoa? Okay a fireplace is pretty cozy. But a mug of hot cocoa, you can cuddle it in your hands. My favorite hot cocoa powder is from Droste and I love marshmallows from Williams-Sonoma. The hand-crafted marshmallows are expensive so they are a rare indulgence, but soooooooo good.

Be a little greedy and make cocoa in an oversized mug! There’s more space for more marshmallows, and more warm mug to cuddle with in your hands!

Hot Cocoa Combo

Top to bottom: Droste Cocoa PowderWilliams-Sonoma Handmade Marshmallows | Mint Pantry Drexel 20 oz. Mug

The Droste Cocoa Powder is a rich powder. You add sugar to the powder in a mug. Then, pour in just enough hot milk, a few tablespoons, to melt the powder and stir it into the consistency of paint. Then, pour in the remainder of the milk and stir. Add a few marshmallows if you’d like and sprinkle some cinnamon.

Dimmable Lighting

Dimmable lighting is perfect for the dining room. You can blast the light real bright when you need it, like when kids are doing homework or you’re doing a crafty DIY project on the dining table. When you want moody ambiance with lower light, you can have that just by dimming the light.

I really like the style of this dimmable chandelier at Wayfair. The quatrefoil design is flexible — it can go with my global nomadic style (quatrefoil pattern is common in Morocco and India), it can go well with modern farmhouse style, or even rustic mountain or “up north” cabin style.

Dimmable Chandelier at Wayfair

Bennington Candle-Style Chandelier 

Candle Wall Sconce

I like to light candles for ambiance and fragrance. With curious cats in the house, I have to be careful with candles. One of our cats will go and sniff the flame and then his whiskers start smoking! We don’t want things to get that cozy!

If you have pets and kids, you can still have candles. Put them high up, like on the wall as candle sconces, or on fireplace mantels. I really like this candle wall sconce for safety reasons because you can place the candle high up, and there’s also a glass hurricane:

Three Posts Glass Wall Sconce

It’s big enough to hold a substantial, tall 3″ diameter pillar candle, and should cast a nice cozy glow on the wall.

You can find candle wall sconces in many different styles. Here are a few more options:

Brayden Studio Metal Candle Sconce at Wayfair

Iron and Wood Candle Wall Sconce at Wayfair

Top to bottom: Brayden Studio Metal Sconce | Lark Manor Iron and Wood Candle Sconce

My cats don’t go on the dining table (at least not while I’m looking!) but you never know if they’ll get curious when they see a candle. So I feel better hanging candle wall sconces. Let’s keep fire where it belongs — in the fireplace and on candles only!

It All Adds Up To A Cozy Dining Room

My own dining room has many of these elements. I have a dimmable chandelier, candle wall sconces in a Moroccan style, and the walls are painted a warm cozy paprika color. We have some deep orange plates and olive green touches for the table. I can tell you, sitting in there feels like a warm embrace, perfect on colder fall and winter days!

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2 Responses to How to Stay Cozy: Warm Chili Dinner

  1. Art Finkleton

    Your chili recipe sounds ideal for a quick meal before going out trick or treating on a chilly evening.
    Also, previously I wasn’t aware of the Beyond Meat brand of vegetarian products, but their burgers look deliciously tantalizing. Thanks for the tip.

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