When most people think about chili, they picture stick-to-your-rib meat stews with chunks of tomatoes, hearty beans and smoky flavor. While I love this sort of chili (reminds me of home), it’s not my favorite.
For the past several years, we’ve a had chili get-together when the weather even barely hints that it’s time to slip on a warmer coat or an extra layer. It started when I first moved to Birmingham. Every year for the first three chili nights, I’d have a vegetarian to cook for and would make a big pot of some of the tastiest meatless chili. Chock-full of all kinds of beans, peppers, onions and even carrots, it was just as filling and satisfying.
This sort of opened me opened me up to different chili varieties. We decided to have a combination chili night/pumpkin carving, and I wanted to do something different. I had no vegetarians to cater to, and with two other meat dishes due to be present, I settled on a creamy white chili from Eat, Live, Run. I’d only tried two others in my lifetime, and I was anxious to try a new recipe.
I started by placing a few chicken breasts in the slow cooker, covering them with chicken broth, seasonings, garlic and green chilies. Craig added the onion later the next day so they would cook down some. A few hours before serving, I removed the chicken from the pot and shredded it, then mixed it back in, also added about three cans of white beans. It smelled AMAZING. Right before our guests arrived, I added the reduced-fat sour cream and half-and-half.
I stretched the recipe a little, not completely doubling it. One problem I encountered: too much broth. I think I could have fixed that by either skimming some off in the morning after the chicken cooked overnight, or by adding a can of pureed beans. Or maybe even some potatoes?!
To go with all the soups, I made some Pumpkin Poblano Muffins, a recipe from one of my very favorite websites, Broke-Ass Gourmet. The recipe is fairly simple, and the only change I make is to use whole-wheat flour.
Start with a poblano pepper. I always slice mine in half, then quarters, and remove the seeds and membrane. From there, I slice it into strips and then into a nice dice. WARNING: Make sure your hands are very well washed—I burned the shit of the inside of my nose and the corner of my eye. It hurt like a bitch. Mix the wet and dry ingredients separately, then combine them, and lastly, fold in the pepper. I made about 12 muffins with this recipe.
And then the finished product:
Then there was spicier meat chili with beans (thank you, Craig and Jonathan):
Let’s get down to the sweet pumpkin carving magic that was made on Craig’s back porch. In attendance were Jen, Jason, Nadria, friend Emily, me, Jonathan, Reagan and Craig (the last three did not carve…LAME!).
I had two pumpkins: a normal-sized one and this little guy that I had specific plans for.
Jason spent some time crafting this lovely owl:
Uh, I just told you who, it was Jason who carved it.
Nadria worked long and hard (TWSS) on this masterpiece:
Jen finished her sassy pumpkin fairly quickly.
And as for my pumpkins?
Last year, I made this incredibly complicated sun design, and we took a picture…which Jonathan promptly lost track of. The year before, it was a candy corn, and before that, one of my favorites: Alfred Hitchcock.
Do you carve pumpkins for Halloween? Do you go for scary or fun? One of the best parts about carving: seeds! We roasted several. More later!