Butternut Squash Chili 

At the risk of jinxing it all, it finally feels like Fall here in Southern California! I’m so happy that it’s finally cool enough for scarves and boots and sweaters. I mean, we still don’t get the leaves changing or anything like you see other places, but I’ll take it! Hopefully the 85/90 degree days are over for now.


Fall weather also means yummy, comforting Fall foods, like chili. You are all probably going to get sick of me posting chili recipes (like this one… and this one… and this one…), but let’s be honest. Chili is such a perfect cold-weather dinner. It’s also perfect for feeding a crowd and you can make it in your slow cooker. And you can pretty much just dump everything into the pot and leave it alone until it’s done. It’s such a lazy meal, but the results are always so scrumptious and satisfying. And, if you make it right, it can be a really healthy meal too.

This particular version actually started off as a vegetarian chili, but we had about ½ pound of ground beef that I needed to use, so I just threw it in here. You can easily leave it out and keep it vegetarian friendly, though. It’s so flavorful, no one would miss the beef, I promise. 

I was pretty bad at measuring for this one (sorry!) so I’ll give you approximates. What’s so nice about chili, is you can put in more or less of all the ingredients based on what you like. Chili recipes are more methods than hard and fast rules. 

Chipotle Butternut Squash Chili

serves 8-10* 

*not exaggerating

2 Tablespoons olive oil (since I added ground beef to mine, I didn’t use any oil)

2 bell peppers, diced small 

1 small onion, diced small

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1 butternut squash, cubed (shortcut: buy the pre-cubed squash. It will make your life so much easier)

1 15 oz can black beans, drained

1 15 oz can kidney beans, drained

1 15 oz can diced tomatoes

1 tablespoon cumin

1 tablespoon chili powder

2 chipotle peppers

2 tablespoons adobo sauce

1 ½ cups vegetable broth (or chicken broth is fine too)*

¼ cup cornmeal*

Salt to taste

*optional. I’ll explain below.

I made this in my slow cooker, but you can just as easily do it on the stove top. You prep it the same way, you just keep it on a low simmer for a few hours, stirring regularly.

If your slow cooker doesn’t have an insert that can be used on a stove top, just use a pan for the saute part and transfer it to the slow cooker insert. Mine can be used on the stove top, so that’s how I’ll write my instructions. OK, finally we get to it!

 

Over medium heat, add your olive oil, bell peppers, onion, and garlic. Add a little salt and saute until soft. (I omitted the oil and browned my beef instead. Then added the veggies). Then add your squash, beans, tomatoes, cumin, chili powder, chipotle peppers, adobo sauce (that the peppers come in), broth and a little more salt (to taste).


Please keep in mind that the chipotles and adobo are very spicy. I found this dish to be VERY spicy, so add more or less depending on how spicy you like things. You can always add more later.

Set your slow cooker to low for 8-10 hours (or high for 4 to 6). The longer this sits, the better it tastes, so don’t worry too much about the time.

Let me explain the cornmeal really quick before we finish this up. I checked the chili when there was about 2 hours left. It seemed really watery to me, so I added some cornmeal to thicken it up. It worked and it was delish. I would think that you could also just lessen the amount of broth you add so you don’t need the cornmeal. I only put the broth in because it seemed like it needed it at the beginning.


When you are ready to serve, just fill up your bowls and top with your favorite chili toppings!

Pumpkin Chili

I am so impatient. It’s October but it’s still summer weather here. I need Fall! I need seasons!! Well, I can’t wait anymore. Hot weather, be damned! I needed to make some chili!

A couple years ago, some girlfriend and I got together once a month for a Foodie Club. You know? Like a book club with food and recipes. It was a lot of fun and I’ve been thinking about starting it up again. But I digress… 

I came up with this recipe for our chili themed night and it was a big hit. It’s tasty and super healthy. Only about 300 calories per serving (1cup serving) 

It makes a ton too, so lots of leftovers or even freeze it for later!! 

Now, just add this to the pumpkin everything craze!! 

Pumpkin Chili

2 pounds ground turkey (you can use beef if you want, but it will change the end calorie count)

1 medium onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic minced

1 green bell pepper, diced

1/2 can (15oz) canned pumpkin

2 (14.5 oz) cans diced tomatoes

1 can kidney beans, drained

1 (12 oz) bottle of chili sauce (found next to the ketchup)


1 cup beef broth

2 Tablespoons of chili powder

2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

2 teaspoons brown sugar

1 tablespoon cumin

Salt and pepper to taste

In a large stock pot or dutch oven, brown turkey. Just before it’s done, spread the turkey out to the edges and add a teeny bit of olive oil (“teeny” is the technical chefy term, here) if you need it for the pepper, onion, and garlic. 


I used two of my favorite kitchen short cuts here: pre-diced onions and pre-minced garlic. BIG time savers! 


Anyway, once the veggies have started softening, mix them in with the meat and add your seasonings: chili powder, pumpkin pie spice, brown sugar, and cumin. And mix well.


Then, add the rest of your ingredients: pumpkin, tomatoes, beans, chili sauce, broth.


Mix together and bring to a boil for  a minute then let simmer for about an hour. The longer this sits, the better. Just make sure to stir occasionally so it doesn’t burn on the bottom.


This is such low calorie, you can too with a little bit of cheese and a dollop of plain Greek yogurt.

Now serve yourself a bowl and soak up the Fall! 

Chili

I’m sure you were all on the edge of your seat after my previous post, so I thought I would let you know the good, oh-so-important news: I did get my slow cooker. My mother-in-law gave it to me for Christmas (see? I was right about that box I saw!) and it is every bit as glorious as I hoped it would be.

You can use the insert on the stove top to cook anything that may need to be precooked beforehand (like ground beef or searing meat), it has a timer you can set so you really can set it and forget it. No more “Wait, what time did I start that again?” Also, once the time is up, it automatically switches over to the “warm” setting so it stops cooking! It’s pretty magical and I highly recommend it to any and every one.

Of course, I had to use my new toy as soon as possible, so we had some friends over for game night and I made a big pot of chili. It was perfect for the cold El Nino weather we’ve been having.

There seems to be at least 7,000 recipes for chili out there. Everyone has their own special twist to it and most are really good. I don’t think even I make it the same every time, but this one is a pretty basic recipe that was warm, comforting, and delicious.

Here is my basic chili recipe. It makes a lot, so be prepared for leftovers, which is perfectly alright with me! It also freezes really well.

1 green bell pepper, diced
1 yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 pounds ground beef
2 ½ tablespoons ground cumin
4 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2 15 oz cans diced tomatoes
2 15 oz cans kidney beans, drained
2 15 oz cans water

In a skillet (or the insert of your crockpot, if you can), heat up the olive oil and add the pepper, onions, and garlic until almost soft. Then add the ground beef and cook until brown. Drain off rendered fat. (Fun fact: I forgot to do this step, so after it was all cooked, I had the fun task of skimming it all off the top. It worked out, but man that was tedious!)

Put the meat and veggies in your slow cooker, and add cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper, tomatoes, and beans. Mix together. Then fill up one of your 15 oz cans with water twice and add it to the mix.

Cook on low for 8 hours or high for 6.

Top with some shredded cheese or your favorite chili toppings and make your favorite cornbread recipe (here is mine).

I don’t have a “final” picture because right as game night was getting started our power went out! We ate chili and played Cards Against Humanity by candlelight. You’ll have to trust me that food looked and tasted quite delicious!!

White Bean Chicken (or Turkey) Chili

So, it’s officially the middle of October, and here in Southern California it is in the upper 80s/90s. I mean, seriously. I understand Indian Summers and what-not, but it’s the middle of October, for crying outloud.
I’m ready for my boots and scarves. I want to eat soup already! I’m not asking for much, here. Just some crisp, cool air. A fall breeze. Someday it’ll be here. Right?   

Because I don’t want to wait any longer for “appropriate” weather, and in an effort to move Mother Nature along a little bit, I decided to go ahead with some Fall recipes anyway, starting with this chili.

It’s a well-known fact (that I may or may not have made up) that chili is quintessential Fall food. It is delicious, comforting, and you can make it a million different ways. I tend to just call this one White Bean Chili because sometimes I make it with chicken and sometimes I make it with turkey so since the meat changes (depending on what’s on sale), I just stick with the beans, which always stay the same.

 

2 tablespoons olive oil

½ an onion, diced

4-5 cloves garlic, minced

2 pounds ground turkey or chicken (whichever you prefer)

2 tablespoons cumin

1 teaspoon chili powder

2 cans white kidney beans, drained (you can use cannellini beans too, if you like the beans smaller)

2 12oz jars of salsa verde

2 cups low-sodium chicken broth

shredded Monterey jack cheese, for serving

sour cream or plain greek yogurt, for serving

In a pot over medium heat, add your olive oil, onion, and garlic. Cook until just starting to soften and the garlic becomes fragrant.

  

Secret kitchen confession: I LOVE these bags of frozen chopped onion. It saves so much time and they are inexpensive. I only use what I need and put the rest back in the freezer, eliminating food waste.

  

Back to the chili…

When the onion and garlic are soft, add the ground meat. Stir often to break up any large chunks. Let the meat cook over medium high heat until almost cooked through. It should be mostly white. If you see some pink still, that’s OK, it’ll finish cooking later.

Add the cumin, chili powder, beans, salsa verde, and chicken broth. Mix well. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for about 30-45 minutes uncovered.

  
    
  

Serve with cheese and a dollop of sour cream or greek yogurt.

don’t forget the cornbread!


 This chili has a good flavor, but it is pretty mild. If you want, you can add a jalapeno or other pepper with the onion and garlic if you wanted to kick it up a little bit.

Also, this may seem like it makes a lot of chili, and that’s because it does. This chili freezes beautifully. Put as much as you want into a freezer-safe bag or container and just thaw it out before you reheat it on the stove.