Festive Fall Chili


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What is it about the changing of the seasons, specifically fall, that feels so exciting, yet calming? Even though Grace has recently decided to go on another one of her infamous nap protests, the weather is making this a bit more bearable. We have been getting outside at every opportunity, which seems to curb both of our tiredness and allow us feeling recharged. Additionally, the windows have been open all week letting natural light in and cool air blowing through our home. Maybe that’s why for being so sleep deprived, this Grace is still as active and perky as ever.

Grace this is your mother: I actually need and enjoy a nice nap every once and a while. Plus when you nap, it allows me to do necessary things like shower.  I know… the world is too fascinating! You’re busy trying to figure out how to put your shoes on your feet and sneak over to Carly’s water bowl. You’re too determined to try to figure out how to get into the fridge and pull everything out so you can eat it. When I put you in your crib and take you away from those things, you just stand, with your little short tubby legs holding you up, peeking over in protest and curiosity. I’ve been caving more and more, telling myself you’re only a baby once. Maybe it’s teething,  or some developmental milestone. Or maybe you’re just growing up. 

 

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Luckily, while Chris was glued to the television on Saturday (from the hours of 3pm to about 11pm) watching football,  I made a huge batch of chili for us and some friends to eat off of for the week. Both Grace and I have been enjoying it tremendously. Instead of just the usual beans, tomatoes and ground beef,  I love adding squash, sweet potatoes and a ton of aromatic spices, like cinnamon and cloves for a real festive flavor.  Additionally, there are some great (albeit messy) finger foods in chili so babies can eat up. To cap off the weekend, Sunday night we enjoyed this outside in the backyard next to our first fire of the season. Grace gladly shared her meal with Carly who was torn between chili and all the pecans falling from our tree. I look forward to many more relaxing Sunday evenings like this one. Enjoy the recipe and let me know if you give it a try! -Addie

Fragrant Fall Chili:

Serves: 10+

Ingredients:

  • 3 small butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided use
  • 2 tablespoons cornmeal
  • 1 and 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon cloves
  • 1 teaspoon coco
  • 1 vidalia onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 bell peppers, diced
  • 4 small sweet potatoes, cubed
  • 2-32 ounce canned diced tomatoes
  • 2-15 ounce can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2-15 ounce can navy beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1-15 ounce can tomato sauce
  • Water to thin

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • Coat cubed butternut squash in 2 tablespoons of the oil then toss with corn meal and spread out evenly on a baking sheet. This step is not mandatory but will help the squash hold its shape in the chili rather than turning to mush and getting lost in the dish. Bake squash until tender but still holding its shape, about 25-30 minutes.
  • While squash is roasting, get the chili going. Generously season the ground beef with the spices and cook in a large soup pot on medium high heat until caramelized and brown. Your kitchen will smell divine. Once cooked through remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Keep grease in pot to serve as your cooking fat.
  • Add a little olive oil to the pot if needed, then add the onion, garlic, bell peppers and sweet potatoes. Cook until sweet potatoes begin to brown, stirring occasionally, about 20-30 minutes.
  • Next, add the diced tomatoes. the beans and the tomato sauce.
  • Fill up one to two empty cans of water and add to the chili, more or less depending on your preference.
  • Add the meat back to the pot and once finished roasting, stir in the butternut.
  • Let simmer on low for 25-30 minutes (or more if you have patience), taste and adjust the seasoning. I always end up adding more spices at the end so never know exactly how much seasoning I use. For this, I was very generous with the cinnamon, chili powder and coco. Everyone was pleased.
  • Serve with corn chips or crumbled corn bread and lots of cheese.

Happy Fall!

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