[i forgot to take a picture of my chili but you can see what it should look like at seriouseats.com where i got the recipe from.]
i think the other issue was that i doubled the recipe and it turns out i used too much chicken broth, which made the chili too soupy (despite mashing up the beans as the recipes suggests), so i added another can of beans ... without adding more spices (although i did salt + pepper accordingly). for the most part, however, this is a super-simple (especially if you use pre-cooked chicken), tummy-warming, and filling dish, which i will probably make again.
i served it with corn chips and the leftover cheddar from the shepherd's pie. next time, i'll prep some onions, cilantro, and avocado as a topping.