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Got (Leftover) Chili? Here's What to Do!

Winter cooking around here means a few things:

Soup.

Homemade pizza.

And of course, chili.

Nothing says “warm me up” better than a big pot of chili cooking away on the stove. We love it.

Thing is, no matter how many second (or third) helpings we consume, there is always some left over. What to do? Of course, you can just re-heat it and have it again later in the week. Or freeze it for a future meal. But there are lots of creative ways to use that leftover batch, as chili is more versatile than you might think!

Here are just some of the many delicious ways to reinvent your chili:

* Top a baked potato, along with shredded cheese and sour cream.

* Bake up a zesty twist on stuffed peppers: mix chili with cheese and cooked rice, and top with shredded cheese before baking.

* Thin it out slightly and serve over pasta.

* Layer with cheese and tortillas for a quick “lasagna.”

* Make the best nachos/chili dogs/seven layer dip/Sloppy Joe’s ever.

I could go on and on — and I’m sure you could too! But this is, hands down, my family’s favorite way to eat leftover chili — so much so that it is often more eagerly greeted than the chili itself!

chili mac and cheese bake

Something magical happens when the chili, cheese and pasta bake under the cornbread, and I guarantee you will want to make this dish again and again. Whenever I make chili I always reserve enough for this recipe — I store it in a flattened Ziploc bag in the freezer, so it’s at the ready for an easy (and delicious) weekday meal!

Chili Mac and Cheese Bake
adapted from How Sweet It Is

1 1/2 c. uncooked whole wheat elbow macaroni
1 c. flour
3/4 c. cornmeal
3 T. sugar
1 T. baking powder
1 t. salt
1 egg
6 T. unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2/3 c. milk
2 c. shredded cheddar cheese
2 1/2 – 3 c. leftover chili (thawed if frozen and slightly warmed up)

Pre-heat the oven to 425. Lightly grease a 9 x 9 baking pan.

Cook the pasta according to directions, reducing cooking time by 1-2 minutes. Drain and set aside.

While pasta is cooking, prepare cornbread batter: whisk flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. In another bowl lightly beat the egg. Continue whisking and add the melted butter and milk. Combine wet and dry ingredients till just incorporated (mixture will be lumpy).

Spread drained pasta evenly on the bottom of your pan. Top with the cheese, followed by the chili. Finish by spreading the corn bread batter evenly over the top, spreading with a spoon or spatula.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until cornbread is golden brown and cooked throughout (a toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean). Serve immediately.

Need some inspiration?

Pumpkin Chili
Vegan Chili
Smoky Texas-Style Chili
Chili-Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
And 20 more delicious recipes!

Read more from Sheri on Donuts, Dresses and Dirt
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