Pumpkin Spiced Chili

Since you all really do care what I ate for lunch, we’re taking a break from the lists of books I haven’t read.

This past weekend we planned for a lovely fall supper. Except that it was 75 degrees. Too bad! The groceries were bought. Taken from Culinary School of the Rockies, we had Pumpkin Spiced Chili. I highly recommend making a double batch. Might do it tonight since the high today will be 44. Forty-four degrees Fahrenheit, maybe Autumn arrived?

Serves 4-6

1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 cup chopped onion
½ green bell pepper, chopped
½ yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 jalapeno, finely minced
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 pound ground turkey
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 (14.5 ounce) can red kidney beans
2 cups (1 14.5 ounce can) pumpkin puree
1 ½ Tbsp medium chili powder
½ Tbsp cumin
¾ tsp salt
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
Cayenne pepper to taste (at least 3 good shakes) or 1 Tbsp Siracha sauce

For Garnish:
¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
½ cup shredded cheddar cheese
½ cup sour cream


  1. Heat oil in a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat.
  2. Sauté the onion, green bell pepper, yellow bell pepper, jalapeno, and garlic until tender, about 10 minutes. Make room in the center of the skillet, add turkey and brown about 10 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, beans, and pumpkin. Season with chili powder, cumin, pepper, salt, and cayenne or Siracha sauce.
  3. Reduce heat and simmer at least 20 minutes.
  4. To garnish, serve each bowl of chili topped with cheddar cheese and a dollop of sour cream sprinkled with cilantro.

We paired it with Carlson Vineyards’ Laughing Cat Sweet Baby Red, it was wonderful (thanks for bringing it Judith & Scott!) as well as Abita’s Pecan Harvest Ale. Sounds like a good pairing, right? If you don’t have Abita in your neck of the woods, I’m sure any Fall Harvest beer would do.

We finished the meal off with Peant Butter Pumpkin Brownies. If you make nothing else, make the brownies. You will not be sorry.

A New Love

Sometimes I surprise even myself. I like brussel sprouts!! I think brussel sprouts get a bad wrap. There’s a whole discussion board about why people hate them. Personally, I hadn’t had them in years until a friend served them at her house. And now? Now I LOVE THEM. They won’t replace my beloved beets (oh how I love the beets) but there’ll be more brussel sprouts at our house.

Have you tried (or retried) a food recently and surprised yourself with your like for it? What’s the best food that the rest of us probably aren’t eating?

No Dinosaurs Here

I’ve read many people’s posts about how 2009 will be better. How they will be better in 2009. Their inspiring plans to improve their lives. And I thought, what will I do? What are my resolutions? I have many, but none that leave the sanctity of my own head.


But! I did find a way today in which I am different than a year ago. A good positive change: my buying decisions.

I have two small children. Small children like chicken nuggets, it’s a fact. Until recently I fed my children some dinosaur shaped nuggets that I found at Costco. I think they were $10 for eleventy million nuggets or something. Then a friend mentioned the sodium content. Copy. Dino nuggets not to be replaced due to high sodium content. Today I wanted to stock some nuggets in my house. While shopping I found some and checked the sodium, too high. I headed over to the frozen organic kids section (the kids are neither frozen nor organic, the food is) and looked at Ian’s brand. I was satisfied with the sodium content but not the packaging. I know that I need more than 2 servings of chicken nuggets (not at once, but in the time before they expire it seems highly likely my kids will partake in the nuggets). So, here I am in the frozen food section trying to figure out what to do. I’m willing to buy the Ian’s – I just want a larger option so I have less overall packaging. (in the end I purchased the 2 serving box and will look for a retailer with a larger offering).

Another example, there are two brands of laundry detergent that I prefer to purchase. Today they were priced the same – I chose the one in the smaller bottle thinking that it’s less material to recycle.

A year ago I would have purchased on price alone. Or price and some other factors, but probably not packaging. And the laundry detergent? Last year as long as it was sans perfume, I was all for it. Now I like my soaps natural and antibacterial-free.

So, there you have it. One way in which I am better at the end of 2008 than at the start: I’m consciously trying to reduce our waste through unnecessary packaging. And I’m noticing manufacturers that are reducing their packaging too. While I am not in the market for carseats I saw that Cosco is packaging their seats in a reuasable plastic cover rather than a ginormous cardboard box. They have the added bonus of getting more seats on the shelf in less space. One company that surprised me with some of their packaging is Method. Their baby hair + body wash has an enormous plastic lid. I am sure it is recyclable, but wouldn’t it have been better to not make it in the first place?

Since I’ve completely abandoned any hope of a coherent post, the Asus Ecobook has a bamboo (rather than plastic) shell. It’s beautiful to look at and a sustainable material.

What packaging has surprised you recently? Did you really expect to buy those brussel sprouts in a clam shell? What packaging is fantastic in its minimalism and recyclability? What have you bought just because of the package?

Fake Fudge

Mr Lady is having a recipe contest. And, I’ve decided you all should benefit from my mad cooking skillz. Ahem. So, here’s installment one of some number of “Cooking with Cat.”

Each Christmas time I host a cookie exchange (Amy used to do it, then she moved, and now I do). Anyway. Each year I make yummy yummy peanut butter fudge. Everyone loves it. Everyone wants the recipe. I only divulge the ingrediants after they swallow.

Hmmm, there’s a chocolate version too.

So here it is, in all it’s glory:

1/2 lb Velveeta cheese
2 lbs powdered sugar
3/4 cup butter
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 cup peanut butter

Melt first 3 ingredients together in microwave. Add remaining ingredients. Knead like bread dough until you can no longer see the sugar. Roll candy with a glass. Spread into greased pan. Refrigerate until set. Cut and enjoy!

Yes, the fudge glue is velveeta. And no, there’s no cheese flavor to the fudge. Where would it get the cheese flavor?

I Knew It

I’ve always known that I’m cutting-edge. But today my girls Abbey and Amy validated my assertion that deep down you all want to be me.

Dwell Linens

I am a huge fan of the Dwell Studio line for Target. Well, actually I’m a fan of Dwell Studio. It just so happens I can afford it at Target. And doubly afford it when it’s on CLEARANCE.

I like using cloth napkins. I even let the kids use them. The kids get at least two uses out of a napkin. Let’s be honest here, they’re only using one side to wipe their mugs. And since I didn’t spend an arm and a leg on them I don’t sweat it. If they don’t come quite clean in the wash, well – I just won’t give that one to a guest. But since these are off-white I’ll keep preschooler paws off them for awhile.

We can eat like grown ups on matching placemats that don’t have the alphabet or Sesame Street on them. These, for now at least, will be my fancy company linens. And for 1/2 price! Not that I think my company is only worth $1.99, but that leaves more money in the coffers for the expensive drink.

The scratches on the dining table can be covered with the runner. That right there is saving the cost of a new dining table. Too bad I’ll soon need new dishes to match my clearance linens. What’s the chance I’ll find those on clearance too?

I can’t believe what a grown-up dining room we’ll have. Matching linens. Paint on the wall. Linens coordinate with the drapes. My plan is slowly coming together. Now, if I had only intended it this way from the start …

Firefly, Like the Bug

It occurs to me that I don’t know my audience at all. I give you great drink recipes and not a single person is all “hells yeah.” But I give random opinion on someone else’s topic and people are congratulating me.

Weird. I assumed my cult was made up of the habitually inebriated.

Speaking of being habitually inebriated … Joss had the recipe for what sounds like a wonderful concoction. She went so far as to name it Best Drink of Summer (the SO FAR edition).

WINNER, best drink of summer (so far): Golf Club to the Head
Invented by Amy-Go, true friend and cocktail genius, and her husband Kevin.

1 part Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka
2 Parts fresh squeezed Lemonade

I dutifully went to the liquor store tonight. I wanted to go yesterday in celebration of Sunday liquor sales becoming a reality in my state, but I accidentally took a 3 hour nap instead. Anyway … I went to the liquor store and stood in the vodka aisle. It was both sides. Filled. Top to bottom with vodka. Now, I don’t know what you do with vodka but I sure as hell don’t normally drink it. My martinis? Dry gin, a little dirty, two olives please.

So I did what any normal person would do – I used lifeline and phoned a friend. And said, “go to Joss’s website and find out what sort of vodka I am supposed to buy.” And he said, “Wha? Huh?” Then I did some spelling. Then he told me “Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka, like the bug”. I said, “like the MOVIE.” (Yes people, this IS the excitement that is my marriage.) Thankfully, he let me have the reference even though I am now seeing that it was the TV show, Serenity was the movie. Damnit, I hate it when I suck at cultural references that I should know.

So sad. I live in a giant square state in the middle of the Union that doesn’t have Sweet Tea Vodka. We do, however, have big plans with a senator from Illinois.

Nectar of the Gods

I love Port. For this I blame Peter. The first time I enjoyed tasty, tasty Port was at Gallagher’s at New York New York in Las Vegas. It was a Sandeman’s Reserve. Before kids, we would sip luscious Port from pretty little cordial glasses. Port can be an experience, like I assume Brandy or Scotch is. Or it can be a mix-in to lemonade. We’ve been having this delicious summertime drink for a few years now. But last night I branched out to lime-ade. I cannot recommend it. It didn’t make the Port undrinkable, but it didn’t do much for it either. Don’t get me wrong, I still finished mine.

Don’t waste your good Port on this drink. We usually have a jug of Fairbanks Port on hand. If you’re going to splurge, buy good lemonade. In the end though, I’m not sure you can taste the difference. And after the first one, you’re not going to care.

We actually ran out of the cheap Port (that sediment in my glass is from me trying to get the last drops from the bottle) and I had to use good Port in the limeade. I cried a little on the inside. It’s like sharing the dark Ghirardelli chocolate with kids. They don’t give two shits. They just want candy. Lemonade doesn’t care about the quality of Port, it just wants to be mixed in with it.

Mix 2/3 lemonade with 1/3 Port – or 1/2 and 1/2 … measuring shmeasuring. Mix. Tastes best outside on a warm summer’s night.

Who Are You Calling a Tart?

If you’re here because I was the first commentor on Bossy’s Ten Word Tuesday, welcome. If you’re here because you usually swing by – good to see you too.

When I hear “tart” I either think of that girl in high school, who was not me, or a sweet dessert. But a beet tart? Sounds a little … repulsive? What’s next, brussel sprout pie?

But! It’s fantastic. Amy and I have had it twice together. Once on a fluke and once on purpose. The second time we were actually seated at Cheesecake Factory when we remembered we wanted beet tart. So we left. It’s not like we had actually ordered yet.

From Rioja’s menu:

Asian pear and beet roasted tart, puff pastry shell, glazed red beets, carmelized onions, goat cheese mousse, shaved Asian pears, hazelnut vinaigrette, beet reduction

Next time, oh there will be a next time, I’ll discreetly whip out my cell phone and take a picture.

I love, love beets. And who doesn’t love goat cheese? Never in a million years would I have created this concoction on my own. One supposes that’s why I’m not a chef. But the combination of the tangy beet, the sweet pear and the creamy cheese is amazing. The flavors don’t blend into one giant flavor.; you can taste each individually. And it comes in a cute pastry shell.

Cookies of the Devil, Still

Know what’s even better than Samoas? Still having them in June.

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