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For a Chili Day

Well, true to the inspiration of this blog, I am sharing real-life kitchen adventures and mishaps! It seems like a common kitchen "mishap" of mine is just getting WAY.TOO.EXCITED. And as a result, tending to start too many projects at once! This often means I choose a recipe, read the ingredients, and step on the gas, forgetting something my mom always taught me:

It really helps so much to read the whole recipe before you begin (or at least give it a healthy skim!). This can help you feel more confident, more prepared, and generally does make the cooking/baking process feel more fun. If you haven't tried it, give it a shot and see what you think!

This recipe is such a fun one-it's a riff on chili, of course, but there is one ingredient that will almost definitely surprise you...pumpkin! I first had this dish at an event put on by the Nutritional Science department at Texas Tech my first semester in college. This was actually before I declared my major in Nutritional Science. I think I chose well, given my interests, don't you?

Without further adieu, here's the breakdown:

Pumpkin: It's rich in vitamins A and C, and is a super easy addition to many recipes. In this one, it adds a richness that I absolutely love. Not only that, it also gives the chili such a beautiful, vivid color.

Turkey: Turkey definitely had its heyday in the late 90s as a health food because of its natural leanness, and that's fine. And, ground beef is nutrient dense also (read: choose the proteins you like, get a variety of them, and you are doing just fine)! If you're like me and don't prefer ground turkey in everything but like it as an occasional protein option, you can enjoy it in a flavorful dish like this. This recipe is definitely good with turkey, but it could easily accommodate ground beef or even chicken if you wanted to get creative. If you do decide to make it with turkey, you can use either ground turkey breast or regular ground turkey-up to you! When browning it, you may want to add a bit of water to the pan to break up the meat more easily. It will look something like this...

Green Chiles: This is for my New Mexico friends. Hatch green chiles are such a great way to add a kick to a chili (or any other dish, really), and for me, they're nostalgic because of my various trips to Ruidoso, Albuquerque, and Las Vegas, New Mexico. And y'all, New Mexicans love their green chile.

Turkey Pumpkin Chili

1 Tbsp canola or olive oil

1 cup chopped yellow onion

1 can (4 oz) chopped green chiles

1 garlic clove, minced

1 lb ground turkey breast

1 can (14 oz) diced tomatoes

1 can (15 oz) red kidney beans (rinsed and drained)

1 can (15 oz) pumpkin puree

1 1/2-2 1/2 Tbsp chili powder

1/2 Tbsp cumin

3/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper

Cayenne pepper to taste (if you're new to cayenne, start with 1/4 tsp and add from there)

Cheddar cheese, chopped avocado, sour cream, etc for topping

1. Heat oil in a large dutch oven or stew pot over medium-high heat. Saute the onion, garlic, and green chile until tender, about 10 minutes. The onion should be golden brown.

2. Add ground turkey breast and brown for about 10 minutes, until thoroughly cooked. It's helpful to add a bit of water to the pan while doing this, both to keep the turkey from drying out and to help break up the meat as it cooks.

3. Stir in tomatoes, beans, and pumpkin. Season with chili powder, cumin, salt, pepper, and cayenne.

4. Reduce heat and simmer at least 20 minutes. The longer you can leave the chili simmering, the better the flavor!

5. Garnish with grated cheese, avocado, sour cream, or any other favorite chili toppings and enjoy (I like mine with Fritos and grated cheddar most of the time)!

Variations: For a vegetarian version, add a second can of beans (your choice) in place of the turkey. Or stir in one can sweet kernel corn, or add 1/2 cup each chopped red and green bell pepper when sautéing the onion.

Enjoy the Chili weather!

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