Pumpkin chili, in the blink of an eye.

November 1, 2017

Okay, where did October go? How is November already here? On top of our normal chaos, October was filled with a few surgeries, teething, costume making, family in town, more teething, and Halloween parties. It flew by in the blink of an eye. I’ve already settled on the fact that I still have A LOT of work to do in order to keep a consistent posting schedule and properly manage my time with this blog. I thought I’d reward you (extremely patient readers) with my pumpkin chili recipe to make up for my infrequent activity. This chili is part of our fall traditions, has a very special place in our tummies and can be ready in the blink of an eye.

Trick or treat! Since Tyler refuses to wear any hat or accessory, I came up with a duo costume for us: Harold with his crocheted purple crayon and I was one of his “drawings”. Mila has known since the end of September that she wanted to be Anna from Frozen… so that was easy and I enjoyed making her hat/hair. Jon wore Tyler’s Olaf hat I made last year… another costume done (even though it was a little snug on his head).

I was not expecting October to be such a crazy month, but when does someone not say this? Seriously though, it was definitely different than the usual chaotic norm. Our month started with Jon getting PRK eye surgery. Even though the eye surgery was elective and planned, the recovery from PRK is no joke, especially 2-3 days post-op. I will say that I’m now pretty envious of the fact that in the blink of an eye (sorry, I’m done using this phrase now), he doesn’t need glasses or contacts in order to see a few inches in front of his face. Although, I will say his recovery experience is making me reevaluate even going to a consultation to see what procedure I might qualify for.

T seeing J wo glasses
Tyler could not stop staring at Jon and we realized that he has always worn his glasses for 95% of Tyler’s life.

While we weren’t expecting the 2-3 days post-op to be as brutal as they were, the “life happens” part came a week later. Jon got a surgery double-whammy and found out he had to have a gum graft procedure and they had an opening just a few days later – also not a pleasant experience. He’s the guy that rarely ever gets sick, so it’s been tough to watch him go through two surgeries in a month and experience some pretty painful days and nights. Poor guy still is waiting for that vision to get to where it should be and we’re hoping his eating capabilities get back to normal by Thanksgiving.

To keep life interesting (insert sarcasm here), Tyler decided to cut a new tooth every 2-3 days this month. He turned 14 months last week and cut his 14th tooth to celebrate. We never knew what teething was with Mila. The only time we knew she cut a tooth is when she was eating or we brushed her teeth. Tyler, on the other hand, doesn’t sleep well and goes through this cycle of intense irritability, fevers, bleeding gums and more than his usual excessive drool until that stubborn tooth cuts through. He’s extra cuddly though, which is definitely the upside (I keep repeating this to myself even through the sleep deprivation). Those of you that have a kiddo that has issues teething, I feel you. I really feel you. Kids should just be born with teeth. Period.

Okay, let’s get cooking. This pumpkin chili has actually been a lifesaver this month in terms of still giving my family a healthy dinner even when “life happens”. Here are a few things that are helpful to know about me when it comes to cooking:

  • I get inspired by recipes but rarely follow them exactly.
  • If a recipe asks me to measure, I usually end up eyeballing it. I will say I do measure when I bake (most of the time…).
  • I substitute or add ingredients to pack in the flavor and/or health factor (or try to make do with things I have on hand if I don’t have exactly what a recipe calls for).
  • I try and make things as healthy as I can for my family – I don’t add salt while I’m cooking (but season after the fact for the adults), I try to use natural sweeteners instead of sugar, I throw in “greens” when I can, etc.

However, I realized that when it comes to blogging and wanting to share recipes with you, I need to actually write stuff down (duh… right?). Well, this month, I actually wrote this recipe down (huge accomplishment), followed it each of the three times I made it this month, and I even learned how to make a cool printer-friendly version for you (you’re welcome!). I’m also not aspiring to be on Food Network anytime soon, so I don’t have fancy step-by-step pictures or anything, usually because when I cook, my prep needs to be done during snack or nap time so the clock is on.

This guy likes to be at my feet, especially when I’m in the kitchen. When it’s not snack or nap time, you can find him here.


Anyway, here’s the recipe (I promise, it’s chili time). I wouldn’t say it’s sweet, but would say it’s a warm flavor if that makes senseIt’s hard to describe but even if you’re not a pumpkin fan, you should definitely give this chili a shot (or even use pureed butternut squash or sweet potato). The pumpkin flavor is so subtle and it’s pretty flavorful even with only a few ingredients.

In anticipation of Jon’s eye surgery, I whipped up a double batch and stocked up my freezer. It’s perfect to have on hand for any future dinner emergency that might come up but it’s also one of those recipes that gets better over time (I’m not a big leftovers fan… this is an exception). With the holidays and busy season approaching, it’s a healthy dinner that you can just defrost and heat up.

The chili is straight forward and a more detailed (and printable!) recipe is below, but here’s the rundown:

  • First, brown the ground turkey in a dutch oven or soup pot, then add chopped bell pepper, onion and spices.
  • While that cooks away, work that can opener to open the pumpkin, beans, and tomatoes.
  • Add all of your canned goodies – drained/rinsed beans, all that lovely pumpkin, and diced tomatoes with their juices.
  • Top it with some chicken stock and let it come to a bubble. When it does, turn it down to low, put the lid on and walk away. Let it simmer for a minimum of 30 minutes but if you let it simmer even longer, your home will smell amazing.
Chili with cornbread
Finished chili ready to eat – I usually serve it with my spinach-cornbread muffins.

This is always a winner with Mila and Tyler. Mila is my pickier kiddo that usually asks for all of her dinners to be “deconstructed” but this one soup is an exception. Pro tip – schedule bath night on the evenings you make this (trust me).

Hope you enjoy one of our family’s fall favorites and I’d love to hear from you about what you think! In the meantime, I’ll keep working on that blog time management thing. I will say I am starting to post a little more on Instagram, so you can follow me there for some more “frequent” updates (maybe you’ll even see some of my other recipes there in the future, like those spinach-cornbread muffins…). Thanks for sticking around!

[recipe title=”Pumpkin Chili” servings=”6-8″ time=”prep 20-30 min, simmer 30-60+ mins” difficulty=”easy”]

This is the perfect fall chili – easy to prepare and also a great make-ahead* recipe. This is for you fellow pumpkin lovers. And if you’re not a huge fan of pumpkin, this chili may just convert you.


  • 1 lb lean ground turkey (I use 99% lean)
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped (I prefer yellow, red, or orange for this recipe)
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/8 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 (15 oz) cans of beans, drained and rinsed (I use a combo of red kidney and white beans, but black and pinto beans are good too!)
  • 1  (15 oz) can of pureed pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix, just plain ol’ pumpkin)
  • 1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup chicken stock (or broth – veggie broth is fine too!)


  1. In a dutch oven, heat 1-2 tbs of extra virgin olive oil over medium-high heat. Add ground turkey and break up with a wooden spoon. Stir occasionally until cooked through.
  2. While turkey cooks, chop onion and pepper and then add to the pot. Cook with turkey until slightly softened.
  3. Add spices – chili powder, cumin, paprika and pumpkin pie spice. Stir until combined.
  4. Add drained/rinsed beans, pumpkin and diced tomatoes (do not drain tomatoes – just dump whole can into the pot) and chicken stock, stir until combined.
  5. Cook over medium high heat until chili begins to bubble. Once bubbling, turn heat to low, cover and simmer for at least 30 minutes. I usually simmer it for an hour or more, stirring occasionally (every 15-20 minutes or so).
  6. Serve with desired toppings (cheese, dollop of Greek yogurt, your favorite cornbread or corn chips). Season with salt** and pepper to your desired taste and enjoy!

*This chili freezes really well and is easy to double. You could also even do this in the crock pot – just cook the ground turkey before adding to crock pot with rest of the ingredients and cook on low for 5-6 hours or high for 3-4. 

**I generally don’t add salt while I’m cooking until the very end – this is so I can control salt intake for my kiddos. 


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