Monday, September 26, 2016

Netflix and (Pumpkin) Chili?

Hi! It’s been a while! Sorry I’ve been gone so long – it’s hard to find time to blog these days but now that the cooler months are upon us and the urge to get back into the kitchen is strong, I promise to try and be better about it.

If you follow my Instagram (@Mitsy4400) you’ll see pictures of everything I’ve been making lately. Nothing has garnered quite as much attention or requests for a recipe as my recent pumpkin chili experiment. Not wanting to disappoint my adoring fans (Hi Mom!), I decided I'd blog the recipe! 

I have to say – I can’t take full credit for it. Last week at work, during one of our G-chat sessions to help the workday pass quickly, my BFF mentioned that she had a pumpkin chili going in her crock pot. She sent me the recipe  and I was intrigued. But it somehow didn’t seem like enough – you know me – even if it was enough when can I ever leave well enough alone? Plus, my husband has been going through a bit of a rough patch lately while we wait for the factory to send him a new part, so we have to be super careful about his diet. Low sodium is key but we have to balance a whole bunch of other factors including getting him enough protein and ensuring he gets all the nutrients he needs on a regular basis. Bulking up the chili with extra veggies is great for both of us. It gives him the nutrients he needs and makes it healthier for me too.  

A few notes before you go forth and have a Netflix and Chili night:
  •  I used homemade pumpkin puree that I had in my freezer since last autumn. It’s not nearly as thick as the stuff you buy in the can so if you use canned, you may need to add more stock to get the consistency you want. All depends on if you want a thicker or thinner chili.
  • To crush the whole peeled tomatoes with your hands, dump the can into a large bowl and squish away. It’s messy as all hell (don’t put your face too close to the bowl b/c you can’t always control the eruptions and could take a hit of tomato juice in your eye) but it’s SO. MUCH. FUN. to cook this way. Just make sure your hands are clean first – or if they’re not – don’t tell anyone!
  •  I used a homemade, no salt added chicken stock. If you’ve got it great – if not, boxed or canned is fine. I like the no salt added b/c I can control the sodium but if you’re husband isn’t awaiting a part and you don’t have high blood pressure go ahead and use whichever stock you like!

·         Don’t hold me too fast to the measurements of the spices. I don’t measure when I cook. Use what you like – if you want more cumin, add it. If you think coriander has a place in your chili, then go for it – this is just a rough estimate of what I ‘thought’ I used.
·         If ground beef isn’t your thing, you can easily substitute ground turkey or chicken here. Or – if you want to go fully vegetarian, substitute Textured Vegetable Protein or a mix of your favorite beans! This can work so many different ways so have fun and get cooking!

Pumpkin Spice Chili
Carrot – 1 large – cut into small dice
Celery – 2 stalks – cut into small dice
Onions – 2 medium – cut into small dice (I used one yellow and one red)
Garlic – 6-8 cloves, rough chop
Red Bell Pepper – 2 – cut into small dice
Zucchini - 2 medium - cut into small dice
Olive Oil – 2 tablespoons

Lean Ground Beef – 2 pounds
Pumpkin Puree – 2 cups (NOT Pumpkin Pie Filling!)
Whole Peeled Plum Tomatoes – 1 28 oz. can – crushed with your hands
Stock (chicken, beef or veggie) – 1 cup

Chili Powder – 2 tablespoons
Cumin – 2 tablespoon
Dried Oregano – 1 tablespoon
Ground Tumeric – 1 tablespoon
Cinnamon – 1-2 teaspoons to taste
Bay Leaves – 2
Cayenne Pepper – ¼ teaspoon (more if you like it hot – leave it out if you don’t want heat)
Salt & Freshly Ground Black Pepper to taste

    1. Heat olive oil in the bottom of a large, heavy bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Add carrots, celery, onion and saute until softened about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, bell pepper and zucchini and continue to cook for another 3-5 minutes until all of the vegetables are soft and translucent.
    2. Add the ground beef to the pan (with the vegetables) and break it up as it cooks. Continue cooking until the meat is completely browned and no pink spots remain.
    3. Lower the heat to medium and stir in your pumpkin puree. Allow to cook for one minute. Then add tomatoes (with their juice) and stock and stir.
    4. Add your spices and stir. Bring the whole pot to a boil and then lower it to a gentle simmer. Simmer on the stove over low heat, covered for an hour to an hour and a half (I like to let my chili go as long as possible). Then for the last 30 minutes, take the lid off – if your chili is too thin, this will help reduce some of the liquid and thicken it. If your chili is too thick, add a bit more stock at this point to thin it out.
    5. When the chili is done, remove the bay leaves and serve topped with a dollop of sour cream or Greek yogurt, shredded cheese and lots of fresh cilantro.  It makes a lot and freezes beautifully for those soon to be here chilly evenings!


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