The Family Table

Educating Families About the Benefits of Family Meals

Forgiving Fall Favorite: Chili

10-26-15 Chili Family Table Post Graphic

There’s nothing like checking Martha Stewart’s monthly calendar in her “Living” magazine to make me feel like an underachiever.

“What? Martha’s been out pruning the boxwoods AND still had time to dust the taxidermy?”

Although I may never live up to Martha’s standards of home life, fall somehow brings on a big old wave of overachieving to my world. Something about the changing seasons and the cooler weather makes me want to feather my “nest” – get everything all organized inside and out, spend a few last week ends tidying the yard and biking with the kids, carve up some jack o’ lanterns, and revel in my self-proclaimed domestic goddess status.

With all that overachieving going on, I’ll admit I do sometimes need a little help getting a meal on the table.  (It seems winter is more my season for earning cooking goddess status).

Enter… my humble crockpot. I’m pretty sure Martha wouldn’t touch one, but mine goes into heavy rotation come fall. It may be stained, it may not have a fancy time delay or warmer function – but it definitely gets the job done.

One of my favorite fall crockpot meals is chili. Simple. Filling. Healthy. Delicious.

I especially love chili because I can easily tweak the recipe with ingredients I have on hand.

Leftover corn from last night? Add it to the pot with some black beans and Mexican spices.  Voila! You’ve got a southwest twist!

One sad little hamburger patty nobody ate? Crumble it right into the pot and that’s one less thing to cook.

Only have ground turkey and white beans? No problem! Still delicious!

When you find a basic chili recipe that suits your family, mixing things up is easy and offers some variety.  I usually try to make a double batch so I’ll have plenty to freeze for an easy meal when I’m in a pinch.

The night before, I cook the meat with some onion.  Or I skip the meat altogether and use a heftier mix of red kidney beans – no stovetop required.  I add the meat and/or beans along with all the other ingredients to my crockpot. Typically I like to double down on the veggies to kick up the health factor another notch. I refrigerate the crock overnight. The next morning, before I head to work, I set the crock pot to low and return home to find dinner cooked and waiting for me – almost as if I had my very own live-in Martha Stewart!

If you find your chili is too thick, simply stir in a bit of water to your desired consistency.

Finally, set the table in true Martha fashion with a stunning display of fall foliage to accompany a simple salad or fruit, and maybe some cheese and crackers.  That’s dinner!

Now, off I go. My taxidermy collection is not going to dust itself.

Recipe of the Week: Classic Chili

(This is a basic chili recipe to get you started. Experiment! Find out what ingredients your family prefers. There’s no wrong way to prepare chili and it’s very difficult to screw it up!)


Eileen Ahlersmeyer

Director of Development and Operations

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