I apologize for my absence from blogging for the last week, but it’s hard to write about cooking when you haven’t been doing any. We’ve been going through a family crisis (not serious, just time-consuming) that began last Friday, and since then, the whole family has been completely exhausted, both mentally and physically, and no one has been up for cooking, so we’ve been eating take-out and packaged foods–neither great food nor healthy food. When you’re that tired, you don’t really care what you put in your stomach. To give you an idea of how bad it’s been, here are the past few days’ dinners:
Friday–Papa John’s pizza (veggie, no cheese–vegan)
Saturday–Taco Bell (bean burritos, no cheese–vegan)
Sunday–Gimme Lean sausage burgers (E and I) and Tofu Pups with canned chili (D)
Monday–Red beans (from a can) and rice (I actually cooked the brown rice!)
What’s really sad is that we had plans last Friday to join our local veg meet-up group at Cool Al’s for the best veggie burgers in the world but had to cancel. Oh, the joys of parenthood! (Sorry to be mysterious, but E has threatened to disown me if I breathe a word about what happened on my blog; suffice it to say that the situation, while still time-consuming, is under control.)
Until last night, I hadn’t really cooked anything since my omelette last Thursday morning. But I was determined to make the time to cook us a healthy meal, and I’d been planning this chili for about two weeks. It’s actually a very easy recipe, once you prepare the butternut squash.
I used to avoid recipes with chopped, uncooked winter squash because it seemed like so much work to peel and chop it. But I’ve found it’s very easy to handle if you first cut the squash into sections and then use a serrated peeler to remove the skin. First, slice off the stem at the top. Then, cut the squash in half crosswise, just at the base of the “neck.” Then stand each half upright and slice it in half vertically. Use a grapefruit spoon to scrape out the seeds in the cavity sections, and then cut them in half again. Peel each section, using the peeler or a good paring knife. Then chop into cubes.
Gold Rush Chili
I used a canned, organic blend of pinto, kidney, and black beans, but you can use any kind of beans you like in this mild but richly flavored chili. If you’re using home-cooked beans, use about 3 cups. This makes a very thick chili. Cook over low heat and try not to add any extra water unless absolutely necessary.
- 1 butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 1 tablespoon mild chili powder
- 1 1/4 teaspoons ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons Mexican oregano
- 1/8-1/4 teaspoon chipotle chili powder (or to taste)
- 2 15-ounce cans diced tomatoes
- 1/2 cup water
- salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 2 15-ounce cans beans (see note above), drained
- 3 green onion, sliced (for garnish)
- Prepare the butternut squash (see discussion above), and set it aside. Heat a large, non-stick pot over medium-high heat, and add the onion and bell pepper. Sauté until the onion is translucent and the pepper is soft, about 7-9 minutes. (You may add a little water to prevent sticking.) Add the garlic and sauté for 2 more minutes.
- Add all the seasonings, and stir well to coat the vegetables. Stir in the tomatoes (and their juice), water, squash, salt, and pepper. Cover and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for 20 minutes.
- Add the beans, and adjust the seasonings, if necessary. Cover and cook until the squash is tender but not falling apart (about 40 minutes). Serve in bowls, garnished with green onions.
Preparation time: 10 minute(s) | Cooking time: 1 hour(s) 10 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 6
Makes 6 servings. Each contains 284 Calories (kcal); 1g Total Fat; (3% calories from fat); 11g Protein; 64g Carbohydrate; 0mg Cholesterol; 825mg Sodium; 12g Fiber.
Serving suggestion: I like to serve this with plenty of steamed vegetables (broccoli and cauliflower) or a large green salad and some baked tortilla chips or crackers for added crunch.
Kid-friendly note: E opted to take the leftovers for lunch today, so this one gets a thumbs-up from her.