If this doesn't scream "fall" to you, I don't know what will (except maybe football and knee boots).

Chili and cornbread.  Two of my favorites.  This chili recipe in particular is one of my favorite chili recipes I've ever tasted.  Not only is it easy (which is key) and keeps well (also key) but it tastes like just chili.  Nothing fancy, no secret ingredients.  I had a Christmas party a few years ago -- very laid back, but pretty big crowd -- and needed something easy and yummy to serve.  A friend gave me this recipe and trusting her culinary skills like I do, I didn't even do a test run.  Good news: I wasn't disappointed.  Neither were any of the guests.  Several even told me I should enter it into a chili contest.  I think at the end of the day, people like just plain chili with, of course, whatever toppings they prefer.  I topped mine with raw cheddar cheese.  And I dipped my cornbread into it.  (Make sure you save enough cornbread for cornbread milk later!).  Delish.

The day after I made this chili, I took some of the leftovers to lunch at work.  A guy I worked with told me he doesn't like beans in his chili. I personally like beans, for their flavor and their nutritional value, but if you're like he is, no big deal.  Just leave the beans out.  Beans or no beans, it's sure to be a hit whether you're making it for your family or for a tailgate or for a party.  So make a pot of chili and find the silver lining in the cold weather that's headed our way.


1 yellow onion, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped

4 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin
1 1/2 pounds grass fed ground beef
1 large can diced tomatoes, with juice (I use organic)
1 large can tomato sauce (I use organic)
2 cans beans, drained (kidney, pinto, great northern -- your choice)


Saute onion, celery, and bell pepper in a large pot until soft, stirring occasionally.  Add chili powder, cumin, and ground beef, stirring to combine.  Cook until the ground beef is no longer pink. 

Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, and beans. 

Stir to combine.  Reduce heat to low and simmer no more than 2 hours.  Enjoy!

Pumpkin Spice Hot Chocolate (or Mocha)

***Addendum: I've recently changed this recipe.  Instead of pumpkin spice I add a few drops of peppermint extract.  I also add a few drops of peppermint extract to the whipped cream (if I do whipped cream, which I don't always do).***

Just last week the hubs and I had the following conversation:

(As per the usual, the hubs was trying to be funny.  Bless his heart, he married the only person in the world who doesn't think he's that funny.  But I think it keeps him humble!)  It's true, though.  I was in line at Starbucks and for some reason I got a huge craving from their pumpkin spice latte.  Maybe because it was the first grey day in awhile.  It just looked like fall outside, and what tastes more like fall than pumpkin?  But I stuck with a regular latte.  Whole milke, espresso, and honey.  Can't go wrong with that.  Although I usually love a Starbucks latte, I was pretty disappointed that day because I couldn't get pumpkin spice out of my head so the regular latte seemed bland.  Alas, being committed to eating non-processed ingredients requires sacrifices, right?

Wrong!  Imagine my delight when I got to the office that very day and saw a post on one of the blogs I follow for . . . wait for it . . . pumpkin spice hot chocolate!  Very exciting!  I couldn't wait to try it.  Two nights later the hubs (who doesn't like chocolate -- what is WRONG with him???) was out of town so it was the perfect opportunity.

Community (like a modern day Saved by the Bell.  And who doesn't love Saved by the Bell?) and pumpkin spice hot chocolate.  Perfect evening home alone.

Ingredients (adjust to your own flavor preferences)

2 teaspoons honey
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (found on the baking aisle of most grocery stores)
1 - 2 teaspoons unsweetened dark cocoa
1/2 - 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup milk (preferably raw, if not lightly pasteurized whole milk)
homemade whipped cream topping*
Optional: 1 shot espresso, which will make the drink a mocha)

* Homemade whipped cream is so easy!  Pour cream into a small bowl and whip with a handmixer until it is stiff.  If you prefer sweet whipped cream, stir in some honey after it is stiff.


Pour milk into a small saucepan and warm over medium heat.  Mix together the honey, cocoa, and vanilla in a mug.  Add hot milk (and espresso if desired).  Top with whipped cream.  Serve immediately.

Black Bean Soup

For the past 10 days, if I haven't had to be at work I've pretty much been in bed with a t.e.r.r.i.b.l.e. cold, which explains my lack of blog posts.  So sorry!  But I do mean terrible. 

Photo from here

Ok, that's not really me.  But it might as well be because that's what I felt (and probably looked) like.  I typically have a freakish immune system.  While the hubs gets sick several times a year, I've had one cold in the past five years.  One.  Until 10 days ago.  10 days ago made the second cold.  And I guess my immune system wanted to make up for the last five years of hard work because it really shut down.  The hubs had had the same cold two weeks prior.  I kept asking him what he needed me to do for him.  What could I do to make him feel better?  His response: "Just don't ask me to rub your back or your feet.  That's all I need."  (I'm not sure if that makes him really sweet or me really high maintenance.  But that's neither here nor there).  Well, when I broke down with the cold, I needed much more than that.  (I guess it means I'm high maintenance).  I obviously needed him to scratch my back.  And of course I needed him to make me grilled cheese and soup.  For some reason that's all I wanted to eat when I was curled up in bed.  Sweet hubs obliged.  Until he went out of town.  Then I was on my own.  Although, thank goodness my dog Janey was at home to lie around with me.

Yes, she sleeps on a pillow.  Cutest dog ever.

So while the hubs was gone, I went to the grocery store to see what kind of soup I could find.  Naturally I looked at the canned soups because I just didn't feel up to cooking much, but even the organic selection had sugar in it.  Why does everything have sugar in it???  Then I remembered this very easy black bean soup recipe I had at home.  Better yet, I already had all the ingredients on hand.  Even better still, it's almost as easy as warming up soup from a can.  It was just what the doctor ordered.  Figuratively speaking.  Try it and let me know what you think.  It might even make you excited about the inevitable colder weather coming.  Might being the operative word. 


2 15-ounce cans organic black beans, undrained
1/2 cup salsa (fresh and local if you can find it)
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 cups free range chicken broth
shredded cheese
organic sour cream
chopped green onions
chopped fresh cilantro


Place beans and liquid in a medium saucepan. Partially mash beans with a potato masher. (Full disclosure: I couldn't find my potato masher so I used my hands and it worked just as well). Place over high heat. Stir in salsa, chili powder, and chicken broth. Bring to a boil. Ladle into bowls. Top with cheese, sour cream, onions, and cilantro, if desired.

(Recipe slightly adapted from Cooking Light, October 2003)

Enchiladas Fantastic

***Addendum: a friend saw this recipe on here and tried it the first time following the directions exactly.  The next time she made it, she left out the cream cheese.  She said it was equally delicious both ways.  I haven't tried it without cream cheese, but I trust her, so I'll try it that way next time I make it.***

This recipe is one of my favorite go-to recipes.  I pronounce it "enchiladas fantistique!" in my head for some reason.  Who knows why.  Regardless of how you pronounce them, they really are fantastic.  They're easy to make and can be frozen and then cooked individually (which is why they're a good go-to).  I haven't made them recently and then happened upon the recipe again last week and remembered how much I like having them on hand. 

Perfect example of why: last night the hubs was teaching yoga (singer-songwriter, carpenter, yoga instructor...I mean is he a renaissance man or what???), and I knew he'd be hungry when he got home at 8:00.  Dinner was a quandary, though, because I was leaving at 7:45 to meet my sisters to play "use it or lose it" in one of their closets with my friend over at  (She has a business on the side and for a mere $25/hour she'll go through your closet with you, help you decide what to keep and what not to keep and put together outfits for you.  She did it for me a few weeks ago and in one hour came up with about 12 v. cute outfits I would never have put together.  At $25/hour that's much cheaper than buying 12 new outfits.  Y'all should check her out!)

But back to the hubs' dinner quandary last night.  Turns out it wasn't a quandary after all.  Since I had these delicious go-to enchiladas in the freezer, I just pulled a couple out, popped them in the oven when I left, and he was there to get them out 20 minutes later.  Voila!  A hot meal waiting on him and I wasn't even home.  Crisis averted! 

Then today at about noon I got this text message from him:

Given that I was asking him something totally unrelated to his dinner last night (or apparently his lunch today) I guess he'd agree that I need to start making them regularly again.  If you don't believe the hubs, ask my friend from Texas.  I took a batch to her family when they moved houses (we all know moving is the w.o.r.s.t.).  The hubs said taking a TX family enchiladas wasn't a great idea since they were, no doubt, Mexican food snobs.  And who can blame them, right?  I guess he was wrong because she emailed me and asked me for the recipe.  She especially loved that they have spinach in them.  "Sneaky veggies are the best," she said, when feeding children.

Bottom line: try these enchiladas.  I think you'll end up keeping them in your freezer, too.  Easy and good = win win.


1 pound grass fed ground beef
2 cups fresh salsa, divided
1 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
2 teaspoons ground cumin, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 8-ounce package organic cream cheese
12 whole wheat tortillas (7-inch)
1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes in juice
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
optional toppings: shredded lettuce, black olives, diced avocado, sour cream


In a large skillet, cook ground beef until no longer pink, breaking into small pieces with a spoon.  Drain and return to skillet.  Add 1 cup of the salsa, the spinach, 1 1/2 teaspoons of the cumin, and salt.  Cook and stir 5 minutes or until most of the liquid has evaporated. 

See?  Sneaky veggies!

Add cream cheese, stirring just until melted.

Spoon about 1/3 cup of the filling down the center of each tortilla. 

Roll up and place seam-side down in a lightly greased 13 x 9-inch baking dish. (*At this point, I usually freeze them and disregard the rest of the recipe.  Because I typically cook one or two at a time, I don't fool with the tomatoes but just top them with salsa after they are cooked.  The only real difference is that the tortillas are crunchy instead of soft. See note below about how best to freeze.  If you choose not to freeze them, follow the rest of the recipe).

Combine tomatoes and remaining 1 cup of salsa and 1/2 teaspoon cumin.  Spoon over enchiladas.  Bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until hot.  Sprinkle with cheddar.  Return to oven for 2 more minutes.  Top as desired.

*To freeze: line enchiladas up on a cookie sheet (making sure they don't touch each other) and place in the freezer. 

After they're frozen put them in a zip lock bag.  They can then be pulled out individually or all together for cooking.  To cook frozen enchiladas, put them directly into the oven from the freezer.  The cooking time is basically the same, maybe 5 minutes more for the frozen ones. 

Potato Salad

The hubs and I are headed to dinner at some friends' house, and I was tapped to bring a side dish to go along with pork tenderloin.  I still have a lot of potatoes left over from our summer csa...

photo from here I knew I wanted to do a potato side dish.  Typically I would go for roasted potatoes to go alongside pork tenderloin, but for some reason I was craving this potato salad instead.  Perhaps it's because it's football season and potato salad is a standard tailgating dish.  Or perhaps it's because I haven't had this particular potato salad in about a year (when a friend of mine served it -- hi Lauren!), and I remembered how good it is.  I don't know where she got the recipe but I do not that I'm still thinking about it a year later.  Either way, this potato salad won, and I'm taking it along to dinner with friends.  Fingers crossed they like it!

The eggs are the secret ingredient (except not so secret since you can see them!).  They add a creamy texture without adding more mayonnaise.  Not that we're not mayonnaise eaters in our family.  Because we are.  But it's still nice to have something a little unexpected in the potato salad.  The sweet relish also gives it a nice sweet and tangy flavor without being overpowering.  Bottom line: delish. 

So whether you're going to eat with friends, going to tailgate, or just have a lot of potatoes left over from your summer csa, you can't go wrong with this recipe.  Enjoy! 


2 lbs new potatoes
3/4 cup mayonnaise (not "light" and preferably organic)
2 tablespoons yellow mustard
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar (or regular vinegar if it's what you have on hand)
4 heaping tablespoons sweet relish (or more!)
2 eggs, hard boiled and smashed
1/2 white onion, diced
1 teaspoon celery seed
salt, pepper, and paprika to taste
dash of Cajun seasoning if you have it (I didn't so I left it out and it was still v. delish)


Put potatoes in large saucepan and cover with water.  Bring water to boil and boil potatoes until tender about 20 minutes. Remove from water, cut into cubes, leaving skin on, and put in large bowl.

In a small bowl add mayonnaise, mustard, vinegar, sweet relish, celery seed, salt, pepper, and paprika (and Cajun season if you're using it.  Stir to combine.

Add mayonnaise mixture, onion, and eggs to potatoes.  Stir carefully (you don't want potatoes to mash!).  Cover and place in fridge until ready to serve.