Chilly Weather Chili

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The past few days, I’ve been thinking of those living in New York that have been hit with an unimaginable amount of snow. While many in the Midwest might feel the need to complain about the bitter cold (late fall) temperatures, in comparison, we’ve certainly got nothing to complain about.
As the cold winds begin to blow down the length of Lake Michigan, I often turn my attention to chilly weather recipes that seem to comfort us as we make our way through a season of bitter cold and snow.
This Chilly Weather Chili recipe fits the bill as the spicy notes bring their own kind of warmth to the tummy. The recipe makes a nice sized pot of goodness that can be easily scooped into serving sized containers and kept frozen for a quick future meal.

Chilly Weather Chili

3 lbs lean ground beef
1 (29 ounce) cans tomato sauce
1 (29 ounce) cans kidney beans ( with liquid)
1 (29 ounce) cans pinto beans ( with liquid)
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 cup diced green chili pepper
1/2 cup diced celery
3 or 4 medium tomatoes, chopped
2 teaspoons cumin powder
3 tablespoons chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper
2 teaspoons salt
2 cups water

In a large (thick bottomed) pot , cook ground beef over medium heat until no longer pink; drain. Combine beef with the remaining ingredients, and bring to a simmer over low heat. Continue to cook while stirring every 15 minutes, for 2 to 3 hours.

Caramelized Butternut Squash Cubes

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I’m a fan of simplicity and this autumn recipe really couldn’t be any easier…
A few days ago, my boss arrived to the office with a box full of assorted squash that she had picked from her garden. She admitted neglecting the overgrown weeds in and around the produce and to her surprise, had found a plethora of ripe, fresh squash that she couldn’t possibly eat on her own. She placed the box on the reception desk with a note encouraging employees to take whatever we wanted. I was elated and quickly rummaged through the produce looking for the best of the bunch.
I guess the hardest part of this recipe is getting the thick skin off of the flesh. Carefully use a knife to trim away the light colored skin keeping the cut side of the squash flat against the cutting surface. Scoop out the seeds and cube the firm flesh. In a short while, get ready for a fantastic side dish!

Caramelized Butternut Squash Cubes

3 butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons brown sugar, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, toss cubed squash and olive oil until well coated. Arrange squash on an 11X17″ baking pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 20 minutes until golden brown and slightly caramelized.
Remove from oven and sprinkle evenly with brown sugar; return to the oven, continue baking for 5-7 minutes or until fork tender.

Two-Ingredient Pumpkin Muffins

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I’m not kidding…just two ingredients quickly mixed together makes for a batch of terrific tasting pumpkin muffins! Yes, that’s right, I said two ingredients…
I needed a quick morning lunch box treat this week and I turned to the quickest muffin recipe I could think of, the Two-Ingredient Pumpkin Muffin recipe. Quickly mix a can of pumpkin with a cake mix and pop it in the oven. In less than 20 minutes, you’ve got a great little snack. While I used the Butter Pecan Cake Mix in my recipe, the spice and vanilla flavored cake mix work well too. Pop in the lunchbox, bake for an autumn bake sale, or share with co-workers for an office carry-in.
If you’d like to spruce up the recipe a bit, sprinkle with powdered sugar or a light glaze with chopped nuts. As I have mentioned in earlier posts, I love to top my cakes and muffins with a pre-package flax seed oatmeal mix and that is what I did here. …Quick, easy and oh, so yummy!

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Two-Ingredient Pumpkin Muffins

1 (18.25 ounce) package butter pecan cake mix
1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease muffin tins with a light coating of cooking spray or insert paper liners. In a large bowl, combine the cake mix and canned pumpkin until well blended. Evenly distribute into prepared muffin cups.
Bake for 15-17 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool and serve. (This tastes even better as the muffins sit for a couple of days.)
Optional: Top with oatmeal topping, powdered sugar, or powdered sugar glaze.

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