Memories and healthy recipes for your dinner table.

Hearty Chili: Recipes for Fall

From many failures, comes success. For a few years, I have used a chili recipe I found in a Cooking Light cookbook. My husband liked the recipe at first, but … he had a few requests. He did not like the large pieces of tomato and wanted more kidney beans. So, I increased the beans from one can to three and decreased the diced tomatoes by one can and pureed them before adding them to the pot.

Then, one night I went to a friend’s house for a girl’s night out and she served chili. She found her recipe in a Betty Crocker cookbook. In addition to the Kidney beans called for in the recipe, she added a can of white beans and a can of black beans. The next time I made chili, I decided to try adding the extra beans plus some lentils. The response was “this is great!”

My problem is, I get bored of the same recipe after a while and while Stephen could go on eating the same chili year after year.  I was determined to make it better. Tonight, Stephen wanted chili for dinner, but I was out of a few ingredients. I had to make my own Chili Powder and I only had enough Italian sausage for a dish I was making for company this weekend. I omitted the brown sugar, replaced the jalapeno with red pepper flakes and reduced the sausage to three links. The original recipe calls for 1 1/2 cups Merlot or other fruity red wine. I have always used apple juice that I make fresh with my juicer. This time, I decided to reduce the amount of apple juice and add a little chicken stock to give the chili a little more flavor.

3 to 6 oz hot or mild Italian sausage
1 pound ground turkey
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cups onion, chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup green pepper, chopped. I like to add a bit of red and yellow too
2 Tbsp chili powder
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1 1/2 Tsp dried red pepper flakes or 1 jalapeno
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 Tbsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 bay leaves
2 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes
2 Tbsp tomato paste
3/4 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup apple juice
1 (15 oz) can kidney beans, drained
1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained
1/2 cup lentils
Shredded cheddar cheese

Cook sausage and turkey until done. Remove from pan. In the same pan, saute onion, garlic and green pepper over medium high heat, until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the spices, stock, juice, tomatoes, paste, beans and lentils. Bring to a simmer then, reduce heat to low. Simmer, covered, for one hour. Uncover and simmer for an additional 30 minutes. To serve sprinkle with cheese. Serves 10.

I was out of Chili Powder, so I made my own. This version really gave the chili the kick I was looking for. 1 teaspoon each paprika, cayenne pepper and oregano. 2 teaspoons each ground cumin and garlic powder.

I just have to mention a friend of mine recently won a chili cook off contest. She has never made chili before, but has a palette for flavor. She threw in a bunch of spices that sounded good to her and a bar of chocolate.