Slow-Cooker Turkey Pumpkin Chili

Chili2Last weekend I logged onto my school account with the intention of tackling my Intro to Philosophy homework. It was a Saturday afternoon, and doing homework sounded about as appealing as ripping off my fingernails one by one. Sorry for that not-so lovely image. Anyhow, I scrolled down to the assignment feeling oh-so-motivated, and what to my wondering eyes should appear but….the totally completed, already submitted assignment! I suddenly recalled that I had done the assignment right after class a few days prior to avoid the torture of doing homework on a Saturday. Way to think ahead, Wednesday-version-of-me! I felt like giving myself a hug right then and there. Best. Feeling. Ever.

Who doesn’t love that spectacular feeling of setting out to complete some dreaded task and then realizing that you already did it? It’s like a gigantic birthday and Christmas present all rolled into one. The only problem is that you have to forget the original event in order to be happily surprised later on, which is something that doesn’t happen to me all that often. Sucks to have a good memory, right?! Hah.

The great thing about slow cookers is that you can prepare dinner at an earlier point in the day (with a broad time span, since you can choose whether to cook on high or low) and then walk in the door at dinner time to a hot, homemade meal. When I’m hungry, I’m hungry, and it’s so nice to have food waiting for me when I can’t make it home until later in the evening.Chili4

This Turkey Pumpkin Chili is wonderful for so many reasons: not only is it a fantastic, flavorful chili (one of my favorite foods in the world), but it’s also quite healthy and requires very minimal prep work. You just have to brown a pound of turkey and then throw all the ingredients into the slow cooker. I suppose there’s also a slight bit of chopping involved, but for all intents and purposes this is a highly-doable meal for any busy weekday! Since I cook for one and the recipe makes a fairly large batch, I had leftovers for dayssss, and the chili also freezes really well. You can go the more traditional route and serve it with cornbread, or you can do what I did and spoon it over half of a roasted sweet potato. That combo=heaven in a bowl!

Maybe you’ll even get lucky and forget that you have a Crock Pot full of chili waiting for you, and you can experience that awesome feeling of having one fewer thing on your to-do list! Just don’t forget about the chili completely, because then bad things could happen….I feel I should include that as a disclaimer so you don’t go blaming me for your melted Crock Pot or something of similar nature.

I highly recommend adding this Turkey Pumpkin Chili to your dinner rotation! Its warm spices and plethora of hearty beans/turkey/veggies make it the perfect meal for chilly fall evenings, and it practically makes itself. Enjoy!Chili3

Slow-Cooker Turkey Pumpkin Chili

Makes about 6 servings

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 pound lean ground turkey

2 large garlic cloves, minced

1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced

1 medium onion, diced

1 bell pepper, diced

1 15-oz can kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1 14.5-oz can diced tomatoes (with liquid)

1 15-oz can pure pumpkin

1 & 1/2 cups water or broth

2 tablespoons chili powder

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the ground turkey, garlic, and jalapeño, and cook until the turkey is browned on the outside (it’s fine if the inside is still pink). Transfer the mixture to a slow cooker.

Add the rest of the ingredients to the slow cooker. Give it a few stirs to break up the pumpkin, and cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 4-6 hours. Top with shredded cheese, avocado, and/or sour cream if desired.

Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. The chili also freezes beautifully.

(Recipe adapted from Table for Two)

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Two-Bean Turkey Chili

IMG_8720I know it’s August, and therefore summer, and therefore most likely broiling hot where many of you live, but I’m posting a recipe for chili today. Yes, it may feel a bit backwards to see a pot of chili simmering on the stove in the middle of August, but sometimes it’s fun to be backwards. Plus I just really, really love chili.

While it’s true that chili is one of my very favorite foods (add cornbread to the mix and we’re entering the realm of my top 5 favorite meals ever), I didn’t actually make this particular chili to be eaten. At least not right away. You see, I’m heading off to the wondrous world of college in just a few short days, leaving behind a pair of poor little empty-nested parents. I keep picturing them wandering around the house in a state of mourning, peering sadly at my stripped-down bed and noting the absence of all my neurotically-labeled “Emma” items in the fridge. (Hey, if you lived with an extremely active 18-year-old brother who, along with his equally active friends, regularly raided your fridge, you might start labeling your food, too!)

Anyway, my mind keeps drifting to all the things that will be different after I’m gone. Who will bake an endless amount of pumpkin-oriented treats throughout the fall? Who will my dad play Scrabble with now that the only other Scrabble-lover in the house is gone? Who will my mom watch soap operas and romantic comedies with now that my brother is leaving? Don’t worry, just kidding on that last one. My mom hates soap operas.

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One thing I do know is that I seem to be the only member of our family who was bitten by the cooking bug, at least during the school year. After a long day of teaching, the last thing my parents want is to come home and make an elaborate anything that takes longer than 15 minutes for dinner. Especially next year, when they’ll have no starving children to feed, minus our food-obsessed beagle. So I cooked up a giant pot of one of our favorites, Two-Bean Turkey Chili, and froze it in gallon-sized zip-locks to be thawed and reheated at my mom and dad’s leisure. With just the two of them, I figure it will be at least three meals’ worth. Now I know that they’ll at least have a few days where they can come home to a hot, homemade, no-fuss meal. Of course, my mom will probably start crying when she sees the bags of homemade chili in the freezer. It’s just their nature, those mothers of ours.

Since I already had the chili made, I figured I might as well post the recipe since it’s so darn good! It’s hearty yet healthy, well-seasoned yet mild, and really hits the spot on a chilly evening. Packed with ground turkey, two kinds of beans, rich tomatoes, and warm spices, this chili can do no wrong. Tuck the recipe away to pull out when the weather cools down, or make it now if you can’t wait! I wouldn’t blame you.

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Two-Bean Turkey Chili

Serves about 6

1 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil

1 pound lean ground turkey

1 medium onion, diced

2 large garlic cloves, minced

1 medium yellow or red bell pepper, seeded and diced

1 15-oz can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 15-oz can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed

2 14.5-oz cans diced tomatoes, undrained

2 15-oz cans tomato sauce

1 Tbs chili powder

1 & 1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/4 tsp dried basil

1/4 tsp black pepper

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp brown sugar

Directions:

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Sauté the ground turkey, onion, and garlic until the turkey is cooked through, breaking up the meat along the way. Drain off any excess grease and add the bell pepper to the pot. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until the pepper is softened. Add in the beans, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, and spices; stir well.

Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, then reduce to a low simmer. Simmer the chili for at least 15 minutes and up to 1 hour (the longer, the better for texture and flavor). Make sure to stir the chili occasionally, scraping along the bottom. Serve with shredded cheese, chopped red onion, sour cream, crushed tortilla chips, and/or cornbread.

(Recipe slightly adapted from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe)