I made a really great pot of chili last week totally off the cuff, right down to the chili powder mix. It was during one of last week’s snow days, so when I realized I was out of chili powder, there was no heading out to grab some. I knew I’d read somewhere chili powder was fairly easy to make, so I did a little googling and a quick hunt through my cookbooks and came up with something. I scribbled myself a note on a scrap of paper and stuck it to the side of my vintage “dispensette” with a Hello Kitty magnet, which is my new favorite way to organize myself.
I find it really works as an organizational tool, both as a note holder and for my rolls of wax paper, aluminum foil and plastic wrap.
I meant to take pretty pictures of the final chili, but these were the best I took:
Neither of which are interesting or attractive. Let’s face it, vegetable chili, while made with colorful ingredients (butternut squash, red bell peppers, tomatoes) does not photograph well on a winter’s eve in my small, dark house. It may have also gotten eaten before I could really spend some time photographing it, which is just another reminder of what a half-assed food blogger I am. Sigh. It tastes good even if I don’t bother to take pretty pictures. Trust me on this.
The inspiration for the chili came from Edie. She’d had something similar at a friend’s house the night before and when I asked if she had any ideas for dinner, she told me to make a pot of chili using that butternut squash in the fridge. It was one of those moments where she spoke with so much confidence of my ability to just whip it up, that I went for it, because you know I never stand down a dare and those moments of her thinking I can do ANYTHING don’t happen quite as often as they did when she was say, three.
It turned out quite well. I may never again buy chili powder, that’s how easy this was to just whip up. The key to this soup was letting it simmer a few hours – I think this could be a good recipe for a crock pot dinner (although to be honest, I’m still sort of intimated about winging it with that particular kitchen toy. Anyone have tips they want to offer?). I went easy on the cayenne pepper, so there wasn’t much kick to the chili, but that can be easily remedied. This is definitely a chili I’ll be making again and so should you. It’s quite lovely on a cozy winter evening with a nice hot loaf of bread straight from the oven.
Butternut Squash Chili
1 onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
a few cloves of minced garlic
1 small peeled and diced butternut squash
3 small cans diced tomatoes (I used 3 pint jars)
2 cans of beans, drained (I used pintos)
2 cups corn
4 tsp. paprika2 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper (or more!)
Saute in olive oil, stirring for about 5 minutes. Add bell pepper and saute a few minutes more or until pepper is softening. Add garlic and chili seasoning, stirring until the spice becomes aromatic. Add butternut squash. Coat the squash in the spice blend and cook over low heat, stirring constantly for about 3 minutes while squash softens. Add tomatoes and 4-6 cups water or broth, adding more salt if needed. Bring to a simmer and simmer for 15 minutes. Add beans and corn. Simmer over low heat for another 20 minutes or until the squash is tender and the corn is fully cooked. Check chili for seasoning and adjust as needed. Serve with grated jack and cheddar cheeses and a dollop of sour cream.