There's a Chil(i) in the Air

Friday, October 29, 2010

I don't know about you, but it's finally hit me that Fall is here!  Truth be told, this is probably my favorite time of year.  With the cooler temperatures, the beautiful colors, the fabulous apparel choices, and of course, the recipes I can make, what's not to love?!  And with Halloween approaching this weekend, I may not have any ideas for a costume, but you can bet I know what I'll be cooking.

As a child, every Halloween my mother would make chili for my brother and I to have for dinner before we ventured out for a night of trick-or-treating.  To this day, I still associate Halloween with my mom's chili and cornbread, so to me, there is no other choice for my dinner on October 31st.   It's part nostalgia; part craving for a hearty meal.

 My mother made a traditional meat chili with beans, but there are so many delicious options out there to try.  I've made a mean turkey chili in my day (you can substitute turkey meat for ground beef in any recipe), and one of my best girlfriends does things with a vegetarian chili I didn't think were possible, so there are no limits as to what you can do!   This is a perfect dish for beginners or low-maintenance cooks, too.  You essentially throw all the ingredients into one pot and let it simmer away.  How easy is that?!?  Chili is also a fabulous make-ahead meal.  The flavors are able to "marry" and develop more with a day or two in the fridge, so if you're short on time during the week, you could put it together on a Sunday afternoon and bring it out for Wednesday's dinner.  Magic!  To make things a little more social, you can turn your chili into a party.  Invite your friends over and have a buffet of fixings to add, like cheese, onions, cilantro or parsley, sour cream, jalapenos or crackers...  You name it, you can mix it in.  Just don't forget something cold to wash it down with.  ;)

So have I sold you on the merits of chili?  I hope so.  Just don't be afraid to dive into the chili pot.  It's a hearty meal that's simple and delicious.  Two of my favorite things.

Do you have any favorite Fall meals?

**Years later I asked my mother why she always made chili for Halloween dinner, and she told me that as a working mom, she could put it together on the weekend, store it in the refrigerator during the week, and warm it up on Halloween night.  This was especially handy since Halloween is often on a weekday and with 2 kids anxious to start trick-or-treating when the sun went down, time was not on her side.  What can  I say, my mother is a genius!**

1 comment:

Becca said...

I completely agree! Nothing tastes better than chilli that has been simmering gently on the stove for a whole day. I've even eaten leftover chilli straight from the fridge - is that bad?

In winter, I also love a creamy thai curry. Oh, and stew with dumplings!