Saturday, October 31, 2009

Entertaining In An Instant

My husband was home this week recovering from back surgery. Believe me, this type of surgery has changed remarkably over the years, and recovery is somewhat easy. Last Saturday afternoon J and L called to see if they could visit the patient. John, of course, said yes and made plans for later in the day.

Earlier that day I had made a mushroom spread fragrant with lemon zest, thyme leaves and Pecorino cheese to have on hand during the weekend. When J and L arrived bearing gifts and good cheer, it was easy to slice up some dry Italian sausage and top some crostini with the mushroom spread as J opened a bottle of wine.

Soon we received a phone call from T and J asking if they could come to see John. Of course they could. When they arrived they joined us in another bottle of wine and some crostini.

As late afternoon turned into evening, it became apparent that we needed to think about dinner. Fortunately, I had made a large pot of chili that was sitting in the refrigerator. I pulled it out and began to heat it up. As I heated it, I searched the fridge to see what else could round out this meal. There were tortillas to heat up and cheddar cheese to grate. There were even some cinnamon biscotti in the freezer for dessert.

There is a lot to be said for having a well-stocked pantry--but there is more to be said about having good friends that feel comfortable enough to show up and go with the flow.

This recipe for Pumpkin Turkey Chili was posted on by Kristen Swensson. This is my variation. Perfect for a chilly fall day.

Pumpkin Turkey Chili
Serves 4-6

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 red or yellow pepper, chopped
1 4-oz. can chopped green chiles
1 clove garlic, minced
1 pound ground turkey
2 cups (1 14.5 oz can) diced tomatoes, roughly pureed
1 19 oz. can cannellini beans
2 cups (1 14.5 oz can) pumpkin puree
1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Ground black pepper
Cayenne pepper to taste (do not skip this)
Pinch cinnamon

Saute the onion, bell pepper, green chiles and garlic in oil until tender--about 10 minutes. Add ground turkey and brown about 10 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, beans and pumpkin. Season with chili powder, cumin, salt, pepper, cayenne and pinch of cinnamon.

Reduce heat and simmer at least 20 minutes. As with all chilis, this is even better after it sits for awhile.Thin with a little water if it becomes too thick. Top with cilantro, sour cream, or grated cheddar cheese, if desired.

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