Monday, October 6, 2014

Summer Meets Fall: Zucchini Cheddar Muffins & Hearty Pumpkin Chili

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This time of year on the Eastern Shore is kind of weird weather-wise. The calendar and the chilly evenings convince me it's time for sweaters, mulled cider and roasted squash, yet during the day it still can get pretty balmy and have us in our t-shirts.

Still, I couldn't help but give this decidedly fall-centric chili recipe a try. It might seem a little odd to include pumpkin in a savory dish like this, but think of it like a squash. It is such a versatile vegetable that deserves more than being baked into pies one day a year (which I love, of course!). The pumpkin in this chili isn't really a strong flavor, but brings a smooth heartiness that's impossible to resist. It also pairs really well with the smoky flavor of the chipotle chili powder we're addicted to in my house.

You can't have chili without some type of bread to sop it up with, so instead of my usual cornbread I tried a recipe for cheesy garlic zucchini bread and converted it into muffins. I loved being able to use late-summer zucchini to complement such a fall dish and these little muffins are addicting! You can bake it in a loaf pan for more of a bread, just keep an eye on the baking time.

What are you favorite fall flavors? I, for one, can't wait to start digging into fall pie-baking this year. I love pies and am completely copying a dear friend of mine in her quest for baking more pies this season. With all the delicious apples flooding the farmer's markets around here, I'm pretty sure an apple one is on the horizon. My husband, also a lover of pie, is thrilled to bring back our old tradition of "Friday Pie Day", where I would bake a pie every week back when we were dating. I keep reminding him that I won't do it every week...but at least once a month or so we'll do Friday Pie Day, so share some of your favorite pies of the season and keep me inspired!

I found the recipe for Cheesy Garlic Zucchini bread on Emily Shares, she adapted it from an original Joy of Cooking Recipe. The only change I made was to bake it into a muffin (and mini-muffin) pan. If you do this, it takes about 30 minutes instead of the 50 minutes it will in a loaf pan. They are perfect paired with soups, salads or even used to make little sandwiches with deli meat and mustard.

I found the original recipe for the pumpkin chili at Julia's Album, but have tweaked it a bit to make it my own. Check it (and the printable) below.

Hearty Pumpkin Chili

1 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 large onion (diced)
3 garlic cloves (minced)
1 can of pumpkin puree (if using your own homemade version, just use about 2 heaping cups)
1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
1 15 oz can of diced tomatoes (low or no sodium)
1 15 oz can of black beans (drained and rinsed)
1 15 oz can of garbanzo beans (drained and rinsed)
1 tbsp. cumin
1 tbsp. chipotle chili powder (or use smoked paprika for less heat)
1 tsp. ground coriander
Salt & pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil in a large dutch-oven style pot on medium heat. Once the oil is shimmering, add in the onion and garlic, stirring while cooking to keep the garlic from burning, and cook until the onion just starts to soften. Add in a few pinches of salt and pepper.

Add in the pumpkin, canned tomatoes, vegetable stock, black beans and garbanzo beans. Stir well to combine. Add in the spices and salt & pepper to taste.

Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 20-30 minutes. Serve garnished with cheese, sour cream, sliced scallions, crispy tortilla strips or your other favorite chili toppings.

Printable Recipe

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