Beef and Bean Chili

The moment the weather switched to cooler temperatures instead of the warmer summer weather we’d been having – I was struck with a chili mood.  I know you can really eat chili any time of the year, but I personally usually only enjoy it during the fall and winter months because it’s warm, homey and comforting.
I make a homemade chili because homemade chilis are just the best in my opinion. I know there are shortcut routes like packets of seasoning, but I personally am not a huge fan of those because you can’t control the flavor (or heat).  Depending on my mood I increase the amount of chili and cumin in my dish – but this is typically my go-to “safe” chili to make when having dinner guests over. This is a larger recipe, but when I make chili I make a large pot to have to serve, for lunches and to freeze. It’s a hit, a crowd pleaser and it’s very filling.  The dish is versatile and great as leftovers (to store in the refrigerator or to stick in the freezer) and it can easily be transformed into chili mac.
You could also double your serving to 2 cups and increase the points plus value for a 2 cup serving to 8 points plus values.
Serves 17. 1 cup serving. 4 Points Plus Values.
          1 2/3 lb 93% lean ground beef
          1 large onion, chopped
          2 medium bell peppers (1 red, 1 green), chopped
          2 tbsp minced garlic
          29 oz. Red Kidney Beans (do not drain)
          29 oz. Pink Beans (do not drain)
          14 oz. tomato sauce
          28 oz. canned diced tomatoes
          2/3 cup water (optional)
          1 tsp black pepper
          1 tsp salt
          1 tsp garlic powder
          1 ½ tsp oregano
          3 tsp cumin
          3 tbsp chili powder
Place a large non-stick pot (soup/stock pot) over medium high heat.  Spray the bottom of the pan with non-stick cooking spray, add in ground beef and break up with a spoon. Season meat with black pepper and salt. As the meat begins to cook, add in onion and minced garlic.  Cook until the onions start to sweat down and begin to change color (slightly translucent), then add in the green peppers. Cook until the meat is browned and no longer pink.
Add in can of sauce, diced tomatoes, kidney beans (with brine) and pink beans (with brine). Stir to combine.  Sprinkle in seasonings – chili powder, cumin, oregano, garlic powder – stir to combine.
Depending on the consistency of your chili you can now add in the 2/3 cup water, or you can even reduce it to 1/3 cup.
Lower your heat to medium low, cover and let simmer for 30-60 minutes.  Feel free to adjust your flavors at this point – if you like a spicier chili, add more cumin and chili powder.

Pumpkin Oatmeal

With fall upon us I had a strong inkling for pumpkin oatmeal. With that, I decided to whip up a pot of pumpkin oatmeal to have on hand for the week.  I have seen pumpkin oatmeal recipes for the crock pot but they involved chunks of real pumpkin in it.  Since canned pumpkin is readily available to me I decided to venture down a different path.  I did google pumpkin oatmeal and I found a recipe by Aarti Sequeira from the Food Network. I used that as a stepping stone for my oatmeal and adapted it to the flavors I would like in my oatmeal as well as keeping an eye on the ingredients I used because I didn’t want my oatmeal to be astronomically high in points plus values.
I have to say the end result is pretty delicious. Its pumpkin flavored, but mildly sweet and I can have a variety of different serving sizes depending on my hunger at the time (1 1/4 cups = 6 points plus, 1 cup = 5 points plus or 1/2 cup = 2 points plus).  The thing I like about the dish is that it can be adapted to how you like your oatmeal – whether you like it wetter or dryer, you can increase or decrease on the additional water I added at the end.    The whole recipe made 5 cups of oatmeal.
Serves 5. Serving Size – 1 Cup.  5 Points Plus Values.
          14 oz pumpkin puree
          2/3 cup skim milk
          1/3 cup unsweetened almond milk
          1 cup water, plus 2/3 cup reserved
          1 tsp pumpkin spice
          1 tsp cinnamon
          1 tsp brown sugar
          ¼ cup sugar free maple syrup
          ¼ tsp salt
          1 ¼ tbsp honey
          3 packets Equal (optional)
          2 cups quick cooking oats
In a large pot add pumpkin, milk, almond milk, brown sugar, 1 cup water, cinnamon, maple syrup, salt, cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice.  Turn flame on to medium heat and blend pumpkin together with the remaining contents until blended smooth and starting to bubble.
Once bubbling add in the quick cooking oats and stir to combine. When combined drizzle in the honey and stir to combine.  Depending on the thickness, slowly add in some of the reserved 2/3 cup water and blend water into the oatmeal until absorbed.
Taste the flavor of the oatmeal and if not sweet enough for your liking, sprinkle in 3 packets of Equal and stir to combine.  Allow the pot to simmer for 1-2 minutes before turning off the heat.