This week my aunt is in town from Kansas City! She usually is only able to make it out here about once a year, and unfortunately she has to leave on Thanksgiving morning so last night I invited the family over for dinner at my place. I would almost always rather cook and be in my own home than go out, but sometimes I have a hard time figuring out what to make for people with such a variety of tastes. My dad is vegetarian and Steve is a meat-a-tarian, and my grandma is, well, old. I really love spicy foods, but sometimes I worry that it will be too spicy for someone older. Not sure if that even makes a difference?
Anyway, a few weeks ago, Lauren posted a recipe for Pumpkin Sweet Potato & Black Bean Chili. I was immediately intrigued and tried it pretty soon after. Let me first say that Healthy Food For Living is probably my favorite recipe blog. I have absolutely loved every recipe I have ever tried and her substitutions have introduced me to several things that I now do on a regular basis. If you’ve never read her blog, check it out. However, when I made this chili the first time it was a little bit of a kitchen flop. You see, I had also recently seen a recipe for chili that you top with unbaked cornbread and then throw in the oven so the cornbread bakes on top. Well, the chili takes at least an hour to set and then the cornbread takes like 40 minutes so by the time it went in the oven it was 8pm and I was hungry enough to start chewing on my left arm. Well I decided it was done before it was and the cornbread to chili ratio was not working. I mean, I LOVE carbs but there was so much bread to so little chili and the bread was not really cooked and although I knew the chili recipe was good because everything tasted good, it was definitely NOT something I would share on here haha.
Last night, I used my brain a little and made cornbread muffins instead 😉 I followed Lauren’s recipe almost exactly with the exception of adding adding some canned green chilis (I’d already opened the can for the cornbread, so I figured might as well), adding a can of corn, and using half regular black beans and half cuban style. I also doubled the recipe because I was cooking for 6.
The chili was delicious. *Almost* perfect. The one thing I would change next time is I would either boil/bake/microwave the sweet potato chunks for a few minutes first to cook them through slightly, or I would put the whole thing in a crockpot and let it cook on low probably all day long. Some of the sweet potatoes were cooked enough, but some of them were not quite as soft as I would have liked, but no one seemed too bothered by it 🙂
For the corn muffins, I took a box of Trader Joe’s cornbread mix, 3/4 cup reduced fat buttermilk, 1 egg, 1/2 can medium heat green chilis and 1/2 cup pumpkin. Mixed everything together, transferred to muffin tins and baked according to directions on the box, although muffins definitely cook up faster, so you have to keep an eye on them.
The nice thing about this meal is that even though the chili takes a while to cook, once you put everything together, it just does the rest of the work on it’s own which gave me time to visit with the fam.
Annnnnndddd Janie brought over our Chanukah/Christmas present super early!! She reads the blog so she knew exactly what I wanted!
Do you remember how long I’ve been wanting this flamingo light?!?! Since last year!!! Obviously, I was ecstatic! I’ve said it a million times, but I am the easiest person to shop for. It doesn’t take a lot to make me happy, and I love presents so much that pretty much anything with a little bit of thought, I go over the moon for. Janie is actually a really fantastic gift giver. Last year, she got us holiday martini glasses that I can’t wait to break out this year–perhaps an eggnog martini is in my future 🙂 She also got us this
Steve and I almost bought that ornament and actually when I was at Target yesterday with Bethany I almost bought the flamingo. So glad we didn’t buy either! Thank you Janie for the amazing kick off to the holiday season!
After dinner we had some cranberry bars for dessert, and took some family pics.
After I looked at this photo, I started complaining about my double chin. All the sudden in pictures, it appears without fail. I have to be super careful about my angles because I’m vain and I do in fact care about it. As I started complaining, my dad suggested I try his neck exercises.
“You see how I tighten in the most tensed position?” Oh yes, there is no arguing about tightened and tense position hahahaha. My dad is ridiculous and now you can see where I get my silliness from. My mom is actually pretty silly too. I didn’t stand a chance!
We spent the remainder of the evening loving on the puppies.
Can you see the photographer dog favoritism? Poor Winnie always seems left out of all of the pictures 🙁 If I was in control of the camera, there would be shot after shot of Winston in all his glory! 🙂