One year ago today, I had a Twitter conversation with Summer Heacock (@fizzygrrl), Emily McKeon (@ERMcKeon) and my now-agent, Jessica Sinsheimer (@jsinsheim) that kind of changed my life in a way I didn't expect. We were talking about food, and favorite pumpkin recipes (because pumpkin is the best ingredient ever and November requires creative pumpkin recipes). I mentioned my Crock Pot Pumpkin Souffle, and Summer, Emily and Jessica told me that I should be sharing my delicious recipes with the world. So the next day (one year ago tomorrow), I posted my first Crock Pot Gourmet recipes for Meatball Stew and Pumpkin Souffle. And the response has been overwhelming. In the past year, I've posted many other delicious Crock Pot creations, as well as some favorite recipes that can be cooked without a Crock Pot. Today, I'm celebrating this delicious anniversary with a mouthwatering Pumpkin Cranberry Chili.
You will need:
2 lb. dry beans (or 8-15oz. cans of beans)
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. garlic powder
2 Tbsp. chili powder
2 Tbsp. baking cocoa
1 large can pumpkin
1-5oz pkg of Craisins
2-15oz. cans diced tomatoes (I like the kind that have green chiles in them)
1 large onion, diced
I prefer to use dry beans when making chili for two reasons. First, I control all of the seasoning. I don't have to worry about my dish being over-salted, etc. And second, it's much cheaper. But if you aren't comfortable cooking with dry beans, or you don't have the time for these first steps, canned beans work just fine, and you'll still get a healthy, delicious dinner.
Wash your dry beans, and cover them with water. (The water should come up at least 2 inches above the top of the beans. You want them to stay submerged even after they've begun to expand.) Soak them overnight (or for at least 4-5 hours). I like to place the beans (still in the colander I used to rinse them) into a very large silver mixing bowl (or a clean and sanitized sink, if I'm using my mixing bowl for something else) filled with cold water.
Place the beans into your 7-quart Crock Pot (if you have a 3 or 4-quart Crock Pot, you can easily cut the recipe in half) with fresh, cool water. (Fill the crock until the beans are covered with 1/2 to 1-inch of water.)
The beans will continue to expand as they cook, and will look something like this:
Add the tomatoes, Craisins, onion and pumpkin.
I like to stir in the onion, Craisins and tomatoes first, then carefully stir in the pumpkin. (The extra juice from the tomatoes makes it easier to stir in the pumpkin.)
Continue to cook, on low, for 4-5 hours, or longer. Now that you've added the tomatoes and cranberries, you don't have to worry about the beans getting any mushier as they cook, so you can easily keep the chili simmering all day long, and the flavors will simply continue to meld together.
Serve as-is (my favorite), or top with your favorite chili toppings (cheese, sour cream, corn chips...)
We like to use the leftover chili the next day for things like Chili Omelettes and Chili Cheese Fries or served over the top of spaghetti noodles for a delicious Chili Sketti.