Friday, October 28, 2011

Turkey Pumpkin Chili

I know what you're thinking (cause I thought it, too!) when you saw the name of this recipe: Pumpkin? In chili? Guh-Ross! But my friends, it's good. Really good!

First off, you don't taste the pumpkin! The spices completely neutralize the flavor. Secondly, the pumpkin adds a wonderful silkiness to the chili. Similar to how it would feel if you melted a block of Velveeta into it. Thirdly, pumpkin is sooooo good for you. Extra nutrition for you family, and they won't even know it!

I served this with corn bread. Yum! To make this vegetarian, just leave out the meat and add another can of beans and more veggies.

Turkey Pumpkin Chili
Source: Whole Foods

2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
2 jalapenos, seeded and finely chopped, optional
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 lb. ground white or dark meat turkey
1 (14.5-oz.) can diced tomatoes, with their liquid
1 (15-oz.) can pumpkin puree
1 cup water
1 tbsp. chili powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
Salt and pepper to taste
1 (15-oz.) can kidney beans, rinsed and drained

Heat oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Add onion, bell pepper, jalapenos, if using, and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until tender, about 5 minutes. Add turkey and cook until browned. Add tomatoes, pumpkin, water, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and add beans. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes more. Ladle chili into bowls and serve.

Tip: Whatever you do, make sure you use plain pumpkin, NOT pumpkin pie filling. Yuck!

Quick Start with MSPI Mama: This is one of my Quick Start recipes.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Beef Curry

I am always on the lookout for simple and delicious recipes that are made with ground meat. Why? Because it's inexpensive and thaws quickly when I pull a pound from the freezer and need to get dinner on the table quickly. I have my usual repertoire of tacos, spaghetti and hamburgers, but that gets old really quick. So it's nice to try something new.

This recipe from Whole. New. Mom. is unbelievable! The first time I made it, I nearly swooned! If you've never had curry, please, please, PLEASE try it! So stinkin' good! And it's easy and made with ground beef. Seriously simple stuff here.

The recipe is also easily adapted to the foods you like or have on hand. You can use any type of ground meat -- turkey, chicken, pork, venison. (It would be really good with wild game because the spices would help disguise the gaminess of the meat.) Or leave out the meat all together for a vegetarian version. Clean out the fridge and use a variety of vegetables. Carrots, cauliflower, green beans, asparagus, etc. would all be good in this. Just make sure you chop the vegetables to the size of peas. The version pictured below was made with ground turkey, asparagus and a handful of peas. We loved it!

Beef Curry
Source: Slightly adapted from Whole. New. Mom.

2 tbsp. oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 lb. ground beef (or other ground meat)
1 ½ tbsp. curry powder
2 ¼ tsp. salt
⅛ tsp. pepper
⅛ tsp. cinnamon
⅛ tsp. ginger
⅛ tsp. turmeric
3 cups tomatoes (about 1 ½ 14-oz. cans)
3 potatoes
3 cups combination of vegetables, chopped to pea size
Hot cooked rice

Heat oil in a large pan. Add onion and garlic. Cook until onion softens. Add meat and cook thoroughly. Add curry, salt and spices. Stir well.

Dice potatoes (keep the skin on). Add potatoes, tomatoes and vegetables to the pan -- unless you are using peas. Bring to a simmering boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 25 minutes, or until potatoes are done. Add peas to pan and heat through.

Serve over rice.

Quick Start with MSPI Mama: This is one of my Quick Start recipes.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Crock Pot Ham and Beans with Quick Corn Bread

Crock pot recipes are all the rage right now. And why not? We're all way too busy to be slaving over the stove every evening. And now that fall's chilly weather upon us, crock pot meals are comfort food at its best. And an added bonus? Recipes like these are super inexpensive!

Crock Pot Ham and Beans
Source: Adapted from

1 lb. dried great northern beans
3 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
1 large onion, chopped coarsely
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. black pepper
1½ tsp. dried parsley
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
2-3 ham hocks
6 cups water

Sort beans and soak in enough water to cover overnight. (Quick soak method: Sort the beans and place them in a saucepan with 2-inches of water to cover. Bring pan to a boil, boil for 3 minutes, then cover and remove from heat. Allow to sit for one hour after boiling -- don't lift the lid.) Once beans are soaked, rinse, drain and then place them in the crock pot.

Add remaining ingredients to the crock and stir together. Place lid on crock, and cook on low for about 8 hours, or until beans are tender and creamy. Remove ham hocks from beans and allow to slightly cool. Remove ham from the bones and add meat back to the beans. Adjust seasonings to taste. Skim any excess fat, if necessary, before serving over corn bread.

Freezer Instructions: Place cooled-down mixture in a freezer-safe package. Freeze. When ready to use, thaw mixture in the refrigerator for 24 hours and then reheat in a pan on the stove. (If you don't have the time to allow the mixture to thaw completely, you can still go ahead and reheat from frozen, however the beans will likely break down. They'll still taste good, just be a little mushy!)

Quick Start with MSPI Mama: This is one of my Quick Start recipes.

Quick Corn Bread
Source: Adapted from Kroger Corn Meal package

¾ cup corn meal
1 ¼ cups flour
¼ cup sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
1 cup rice milk
1 egg, beaten
¼ cup canola oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease an 8- or 9-inch round pan. Blend all dry ingredients. Stir in remaining ingredients until dry ingredients are moist. Pour batter into greased pan and bake 20 to 25 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. 

Monday, October 17, 2011

Pumpkin Muffins

My first-grader, Libby, came home from school a few weeks ago in a panic. "Mom! Mom! It's my teacher's birthday this weekend. We HAVE to make her something." I quickly thought through the options of things I could make, taking into account what ingredients I had on hand, and quickly settled on these Pumpkin Muffins. (The recipe makes two dozen muffins, so we were able to keep half the recipe for ourselves. Yay!) Libby and I mixed them up, baked them and then sent them off to school the next day.

Evidently, they were a hit with Libby's teacher. If you love pumpkin-flavored treats, this will make you very happy!

Pumpkin Muffins
Source: Adapted from my trusty "Betty Crocker's New Cookbook"

1 16 oz. can pumpkin puree
1-⅔ cup sugar
⅔ cup canola oil
2 tsp. vanilla
4 eggs
3 cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground cloves
½ tsp. baking powder

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease muffin tins and set aside.

Mix pumpkin, sugar, oil, vanilla and eggs in a large bowl. In a second bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients. Pour flour mixture into wet mixture and stir until combined. 

Pour batter into prepared muffin tins. Place in oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes in the pan on a wire rack. Loosen muffins from pans and remove to wire rack until completely cool.

Tip: I adapted this from a Pumpkin Bread recipe. To make bread instead of muffins, divide mixture between two 8-inch loaf pans. Bake for 50-60 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack before removing loaves to wire rack to cool completely before slicing. ... Make muffins. They bake and cool much faster!

Quick Start with MSPI Mama: This is one of my Quick Start recipes.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Spicy Honey-Brushed Chicken Thighs

I love it when I can make one meal for my family then turn around and revamp the leftovers for an entirely different meal a few days later. Case in point, this recipe: I threw in a few more chicken thighs and saved the leftovers for soft tacos. No muss, no fuss. Just perfect!

The original recipe calls for ½ teaspoon of red pepper. I only used half that -- in order to keep my family from disowning me -- and I've listed that here. Adjust the recipe to your personal preference.

Spicy Honey-Brushed Chicken Thighs
Source: Slightly adapted from Cooking Light

2 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. paprika
¼ tsp. ground red pepper
8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
Cooking spray or canola oil -- use oil for Quick Start
6 tbsp. honey
2 tsp. cider vinegar

Preheat broiler.

Combine first six ingredients in a large bowl. Add chicken to bowl; toss to coat. Place chicken on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray or brushed with canola oil. Broil chicken 5 minutes on each side.

Combine honey and vinegar in a small bowl, stirring well. Remove chicken from oven; brush ¼ cup honey mixture on chicken. Broil 1 minute. Remove chicken from oven and turn over. Brush chicken with remaining honey mixture. Broil 1 additional minute or until chicken is done.

Quick Start with MSPI Mama: This is one of my Quick Start recipes.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The all new MSPI Mama ... and a brownie, too!

Welcome to the fully revamped MSPI Mama! Yes, the blog has been quiet over the last few weeks, but I've been feverishly redesigning the site to make it more user-friendly. (I'm still working out a few kinks and updating a few things, so please be patient as I finish things up.) For those of you who are reading this post in an RSS feed or via email, make sure you hop on over to the site to see everything! While there, check out a few of my favorite things:
  • Recipe Index: I've finally compiled a full list of all my recipes (more than 300 of them!) and organized them according to type of recipe. Hopefully, this will help you in your menu planning and make it easier to find recipes.
  • Web Resources: I've compiled a list of websites that have been helpful to me over the years. I've even included links to restaurants' allergen and ingredient information!
  • Grab a Button: For those of you who have a blog of your own, let the world know you're a proud MSPI Mama by adding my button to your site. If you do, drop me a line letting me know, including a link to your blog, and I'll link back to your site! Link Love!
  • Quick Start: Check out my full list of Quick Start recipes! 
And speaking of Quick Start, this brownie recipe is super-duper easy (almost as easy as a mix!) and completely free of dairy and soy. Perfect for Quick Start. What better way to celebrate the redesign than chocolate!

Enjoy the site. I hope you like it!

Source: Slightly adapted from

½ cup canola oil
1 cup white sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 eggs
½ cup all-purpose flour
⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
¼ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x9-inch baking pan. In a medium bowl, mix together the oil, sugar and vanilla. Beat in the eggs. Combine flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt; gradually stir into the egg mixture until well blended. Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan. 

Bake pan for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the brownies begin to pull away from the edges of the pan. Let cool completely on a wire rack then place in refrigerator to cool down even more. The brownies are best when they've had time to cool and develop their flavor!

Quick Start with MSPI Mama: This is one of my Quick Start recipes.