Secret Ingredient Chili and Cheddar Herb Beer Bread.

After enjoying what was probably our last few days of Indian Summer, it’s been a dreary weekend here in Chicago  It’s dark and rainy just all around blah.  Days like this just kill my motivation to do anything other than sit on the couch and tend to my frontier on Facebook (I know, it’s an unhealthy addiction).  But there I was, standing in front of an empty refrigerator with a hungry family waiting to be fed.  While the Fruitaholic napped (and the Husby played his video game), I dragged myself to the grocery store to pick up a few things to get us through the night.  On these chilly Autumn evenings, nothing hits the spot better than a big bowl of warm chili.

Helping me feed my obsession to any and all flavors of Fall, I added a “secret” ingredient to this batch of chili: Pumpkin.  I say it’s a “secret” because the Husby is starting to put his foot down whenever I mention the word pumpkin in relation to food.  We’ve had Pumpkin Lasagna, Pumpkin Meatloaf Muffins, Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes, Pumpkin bread (from a box mix) and Pumpkin Seeds, and there’s at least one pumpkin dish on my menu for next week.

The Husby’s reaction to the first bite?  “Mmmm, this is really good, what’s in it?”

I’ll never tell…

“Secret Ingredient” Chili

– 1 Lb. Ground Beef or Ground Turkey
– 1 Package Sweet Italian Turkey Sausage, casings removed
– 1 Onion, diced
– 2 Cans Rotel Tomatoes
– 1 Can Pinto Beans, drained and rinsed
– 1 Can Dark Red Kidney Beans, drained and rinsed
– 1 Can Canellini Beans, drained and rinsed
– 1 Can Pumpkin Puree
– 16 oz Stout Beer (I used Guinness)
– 1 Tbsp. Chili Powder (or more, to your preferred level of hotness)
– 1 Tbsp. Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
– 1 Tsp. Cinnamon
– 1 Tsp. Sugar
– Salt and Pepper, to taste

Brown ground beef over medium high heat until browned, then drain.  Repeat with sweet italian turkey sausage.

Add diced onions to a skillet with 1 tbsp oil, and brown until slightly soft, about 5 minutes.

Combine all ingredients in a large pot and mix well.  Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to low.  Simmer for 90 minutes.

Serve over elbow macaroni and top with sour cream, cilantro and a generous amount of cheddar cheese.

I served this chili with a loaf of Cheddar and Herb Beer Bread.  It was quick, easy and really flavorful.  It was really good for sopping up the chili left at the bottom of the bowl.  The great thing about beer breads is that you can customize them however you want, using whatever herbs, spices and other additions to suit your liking.  I followed this recipe exactly because I still have some rosemary and thyme growing in my backyard.

Cheddar and Herb Beer Bread – from Joelen’s Culinary Adventures

– 3 Cups Flour

– 2 tsp. Baking Powder

– 1 tsp. Salt

– 1/4 Cup Sugar

– 12 oz Beer

– 1 tsp. Chili Powder

– 1 tsp. Chopped Fresh Thyme

– 1 tsp. Chopped Fresh Rosemary

– 1/2 tsp. Black Pepper

– 1 1/2 Cup Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese

Preheat oven to 375.  Combine all ingredients and pour into a greased loaf pan.  Bake for 50-55 minutes.

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