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Erase chills with big pot of chili

With winter winds just around the corner, now is the perfect time to gather up some recipes that can erase the chill, even as you’re scrambling to decorate the house, shop for gifts and plan your holiday menu.

Chili is an excellent option, not only because it is so versatile – you can personalize it to suit your own tastes – but also because it is deceptively simple.

It cooks all day, so it tastes like you slaved, but tossing spices and other ingredients into a slow cooker is so easy you’ll have dinner done in less than 30 minutes.

“Every December, I host a tree-trimming party. I serve chili with cornbread and lots of good wine. It’s a wonderful party, and it shows how much adults like to play,” the late Maya Angelou once said.

While we don’t have her chili recipe, we do have one that brings a big dose of flavor to the table.

It features ground turkey instead of beef for a healthy twist, although you can use beef if you’d like, as well as three different colors of kidney beans to dress up the dish. You can simmer it in a pot on the stove, but using a slow cooker requires less time in the kitchen, freeing you up for snowball fights, sledding or other seasonal fun meant to bring out your inner child.

Spicy Chili

For the Chili...
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 yellow onions, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 pounds lean ground turkey
  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 3 (15-ounce) cans kidney beans, dark, light and white, rinsed
  • 1/4 cup chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper or a pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped pickled jalapeños or green chiles, drained
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt

In a medium skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the onion, peppers and garlic along with a pinch of salt and sauté until veggies begin to soften. Add the tomato paste. (This adds depth of flavor in a big way). Add the ground turkey, season with salt and pepper, and cook until the turkey is completely browned and no pink remains.

Meanwhile, add the tomatoes, beans, chili powder, cumin, cayenne to your crock pot. (Add more spices if you desire.) Add the turkey mixture and enough water to give you the desired chili consistency.

Cook on low for six to eight hours, adding the jalapeno peppers in the last 15 minutes of cooking. Taste and season with salt if needed.

Serve in crocks with cilantro leaves, shredded sharp cheddar cheese, additional pickled jalapenos and sour cream.

Classic cast-iron skillet cornbread makes a perfect side.

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