the best beef & bean chili

I'm a big chili fan, especially during the cold fall and winter months. I love all kinds of different versions of chili -- vegetarian bean-filled kinds, white chicken chili with green chilies, or versions with nontraditional meats like chorizo. However, there is something to be said for that good old all-American ground beef and bean chili, am I right? Ya know, the kind that you eat while watching a football game, topped with shredded cheese and sour cream, and served with cornbread and a cold beer? Yep, that's the one.

So that's what this chili is, but I promise it's anything but boring. I would even like to go ahead and call this THE BEST in the category of traditional beef and bean chili (at least... of the many I've tried!). It's based off of a classic Bon Appetit version, but I (obviously) chose to shake things up a bit. Specifically, I amped up the flavors with chipotle peppers in adobo, a bit of cocoa powder, two types of beans, and extra jalapenos. Mmmhm. Then obviously topped it with hand-grated cheddar cheese and a scoop of sour cream. Perfecto!

I wasn't planning on blogging this recipe (hence the single, sad picture) since it's such a "standard" dish, but it was just too good. It's one to keep coming back to!

By the way, this chile is a healthy dish, chock full of protein and fiber. I'd recommend using grass-fed beef and all-natural, high-quality ingredients. Then, you can feel good about enjoying a big bowl of it (EVEN IF you add some decadence on top... let's live a little!)

Disclaimer: This chili is pretty spicy. My husband and I both agreed that it is actually THE PERFECT amount of spiciness (and we take spiciness ratings pretty seriously). However, if you're sensitive... be careful. Take the seeds out of the jalapenos or chill with the chipotle peppers in adobo. Or don't, and sweat your way through it like me! That's the best way.

:) Enjoy!

Spicy Beef & Bean Chili
For 8-12 servings

-1 tbsp olive oil
-1 large onion, chopped
-4 fresh jalapeno peppers, chopped (including seeds)
-6 garlic cloves, chopped
-3 or 4 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (from canned), chopped
-2.25-2.5 lbs ground beef, 90% lean
-1/4 c. chili powder
-2 tbsp cumin
-1 tsp paprika
-2 tsp salt
-1 tsp pepper
-1 tbsp cocoa powder
-1 tbsp sauce from the chipotle peppers in adobo
-1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
-1 15 oz. can kidney beans, drained (but not rinsed)
-1 15 oz. can pinto beans, drained (but not rinsed)
-2 to 4 cups beef stock or water (or a mix of the 2; use 2 cups for thicker/beefier chili, 4 cups for thinner/more "broth." I usually use a little over 2 cups because I like thicker chili)

Toppings (optional):
-Shredded cheese
-Sour cream
-Sliced green onions
-Crushed tortilla chips or tortilla strips

-Heat oil in a very large pot over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook until soft, about 5-6 minutes. Add the jalapenos, garlic, and chipotle peppers and saute for 1 minute.
-Add the beef. Cook, breaking up and stirring meat regularly. Once completely browned, add the spices and cocoa powder. Mix to combine.
-Add the adobo sauce, tomatoes, (including juice), beans, and broth. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil.
-Reduce heat and let chili simmer for 60-90 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

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Thai pumpkin peanut soup

Helllooo friends!

I'm just popping in with a MUST. SHARE. recipe. Sometimes I make and eat things that I simply can't imagine not adding to my electronic compilation of recipes in the blogisphere.  This was one of them!

Thai pumpkin peanut soup. Soooo creamy. Soooo flavorful. It has one of our favorite fall/winter veggies - pumpkin! - plus traditional Thai flavors - coconut, curry paste, peanut, lime juice, a bit of fish sauce. This soup is a wonderful cold weather meal. It's creamy, spicy, and oh-so-flavorful.

A little story to support its awesomeness: I told my husband what we were having for dinner the afternoon before I made it - "pumpkin soup, plus some crusty fresh bread on the side" - and his response was, "Oh... okay... um... can you make sure there's plenty of bread?" Ha! He's not a huge fan of soups, especially vegetarian soups, so I guess the thought of pumpkin soup did a whole lot of nothing for him. But when he tasted it? I heard "MMMMM! Oh my god mmmmmm! This is unreal!" He could not stop raving about it as he devoured the bowl, then had more for lunch the next day. He has since asked for me to make it again. It really is that good.

Give it a try! It may look kinda fancy (why thank you) but it's really easy, and ready in 30-45 minutes, if you have a blender!

Thai Pumpkin Peanut Soup
For 4 servings

-1 can organic pumpkin puree
-1 can coconut milk
-2 cups organic chicken stock
-1/4 cup natural peanut butter
-2 tbsp thai red curry paste (find in the international aisle)
-2 tbsp butter
-1 small onion, roughly chopped or sliced
-2 cloves garlic, roughly minced
-3 tbsp honey
-1 tsp fish sauce
-1 tbsp lime juice
-1 tbsp sriracha (more or less based on your spiciness prefs)
-Salt and pepper

Toppings (optional):
-2 tbsp plain greek yogurt mixed with 2-4 tbsp almond milk (or milk of choice) until desired pour-able consistency is reached - this helps cool down the spiciness factor
-Fresh cilantro OR a handful of cilantro blended in a food processor with 2 tbsp each of olive oil and red wine vinegar (as pictured) - this adds some nice acidity

-Melt the butter in a medium or large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for another 30-60 seconds.  Add the red curry paste and cook for about a minute, stirring. Add in the pumpkin and continue stirring for another minute.
-Pour in the coconut milk, chicken stock, peanut butter, honey, fish sauce, lime juice, and sriracha. Add a pinch of salt and pepper. Stir to combine the ingredients. Turn heat to high and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring regularly.
-Carefully pour the hot soup into a blender. Cover and puree until completely blended. Return to pot. Continue cooking over low heat for 3-5 minutes until ready to serve. Add more salt and pepper to taste if needed.
-Pour into bowls and top with desired toppings.

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