Monday, October 14, 2013

Pumpkin & bean chili

I don't even know where to begin with this chili, other than it's utterly perfect material for a Monday.  It was my shining star and literally saved the day last week.  A day when nothing seemed to go according to plan.

(On a slightly related note, my coworker recently printed and posted this on her office door.  So true!)

Anyway, my day ended up being all kinds of discombobulated.  Nothing terribly bad happened, but things just went awry.

-I woke up 30 minutes before my alarm and was wide awake.  The worst!

-At work, I set up our dancing pirate skeleton only to discover the power cord was nowhere to be found.  There go the jollies we'll get when someone walks by Mr. Bones, and his motion sensors make him come alive and start rattling and singing.  A lifeless Halloween prop isn't much fun.

-I forgot to pack socks and went to the gym anyway.  Have you ever done that?  Sockless running = mildly uncomfortable and kind of gross.

-I started thinking about dinner (right after eating lunch) and realized that I never got dinner started in the slow cooker.  Fail.

-Oh, and did I mention I invited a friend over for said dinner?  Yup.  Not that she wouldn't have been content with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or take-out... especially take-out.  She really, really loves take-out.

-I loaded detergent and dirty clothes into the washer only to discover there was no money left on my laundry card.  No money = no wash.  Thankfully, I had a few dollar bills hidden in my wallet (what I call the emergency parking/ice cream fund), so I quickly ran downstairs to replenish my card.

-When I finally got home to make dinner, I realized the sweet potato I grabbed in haste at the grocery store was, in fact, a white flesh sweet potato rather than an orange one.  I did not want this and am ashamed of what I did next -- I threw it away.  I almost never throw food away, so the shame I felt made things worse yet.

With some quick thinking, I added a cup of pumpkin puree to the chili, set it to simmer and walked away.  I thought, "If it's awful, we'll get takeout.  Or just eat cereal."

Can you guess what happened?

This chili was awesome.  It was warm and comforting and full of flavor from the literal harvest of vegetables in it.  And I swear it had magical healing powers.  With eat bite, I felt myself forgetting each and every little annoyance and inconvenience of the day.

We ate it heaping bowls of it (with the cutest mini corn muffins, obvs!) while curled up on the couch in our sweatpants, talking about the latest Kardashian drama, and thanking our lucky stars that we married two of the good guys.  It was the perfect end to an otherwise confusing day.

Well, maybe not totally perfect.  Some of the cornbread muffins stuck to the pan and were decapitated when I tried to remove them.  But we ate those anyway.  Because broken cornbread muffins taste just as delicious as whole ones.

One year ago: Pumpkin enchiladas
Three years ago: Shrimp & white bean cassoulet

Pumpkin & Bean Chili
-makes 6 servings

1 (15-ounce can) black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15-ounce can) kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 (28-ounce can) diced tomatoes, excess juice drained (some is okay)
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 medium red onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tablespoon chili powder
1 Tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 Tablespoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Corn bread, sour cream, cheese, or Fritos for serving (optional)

In a large stock pot, combine all ingredients plus 1 cup of water over medium heat.  Simmer, partially covered, for 30 to 40 minutes until peppers are tender.  (Slow cooker instructions: Same ingredients into the crock pot.  Cook on low for 7 to 8 hours or on high for 3 to 4 hours.)  Season to taste.  Serve with toppings of choice and enjoy!


  1. Haha, I loved reading about your crazy day. Even though, I'm sure you didn't like living it until that lovely chili!! I must try pumpkin in my chili!!

    1. What's that saying? The sweet isn't as sweet without the salty :)