Pumpkin Chili (2021)

Spice up autumn with this recipe for pumpkin chili on cornbread waffles.

Every year, the week before Halloween, we host a little pumpkin carving party. Since I'm an enthusiast of inexpensive, nearly effortless entertaining, I'll be making pumpkin chili for our pumpkin party. I just get it in the pot in the morning to have a super simple supper ready in the afternoon. This scrumptious recipe feeds a crowd, smells divine and always gets raves.

It's the perfect chili to serve on Halloween because it's family-friendly comfort food with lots of protein to counter all the trick-or-treat goodies. And just look at all these veggies! There are tomatoes, peppers, onion, beans, chilies and, of course, pumpkin. It's practically virtuous!

One thing you'll love about this pumpkin chili is that it's exceptionally thick, more like a stew really. If you want to serve the chili as soup rather than stew, just add a can of beef, chicken or vegetable broth.

Ordinarily you'd serve cornbread or corn muffins with chili, but to give this a little va-va-voom, let's serve it over cornbread waffles. Doesn't that sound ridiculously good? Yes, indeed!

EASY PUMPKIN CHILI

Yield: 8 servings Prep: 20 minutes Cook: 4 to 8 hours

This chili can be made in a crock pot or on the stovetop. It comes together really quickly; other than browning the sausage and onion, most of your time will be spent opening cans.

1 tablespoon olive oil

16 ounces sweet Italian sausage

1 sweet onion, chopped

1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste

2 bell peppers, any color, chopped

1 (14.5 ounce) can tomato sauce

1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes

1 (28 ounce) can pure pumpkin puree

2 (14 ounce) cans beans of your choice, rinsed and drained

1 (4 ounce) can of green chilies

2 tablespoons chili powder

1 tablespoon cumin

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1. In a stockpot, or a medium skillet if using slow cooker, heat the olive oil and brown the sausage with the chopped onions until sausage is nearly cooked through. Add the tomato paste, mix it all together and continue to cook until the tomato paste is lightly browned and caramelized in spots.

2. If you're using a slow cooker, place in the meat, onions and tomato. Add remaining ingredients to the slow cooker and give it a good stir. Set on HIGH for 4-5 hours or LOW for 8 hours.

If you're cooking on the stovetop, add the rest of the ingredients and simmer on lowest heat, stirring often, for 4 hours.

3. Serve chili spooned over cornbread waffles garnished with sour cream and shredded cheese.

Substitutions: If you'd like, you can substitute turkey Italian sausage or make this vegetarian by using an Italian seasoned meat alternative. This recipe calls for fresh bell peppers, but feel free to substitute one (14 ounce) bag frozen bell peppers, or use frozen pepper and onion blend, and omit the sweet onion.

CORNBREAD WAFFLES

Yield: 6 waffles Time: 15 minutes

There is a time and place for baking from scratch. This isn't one of them.

1 (8.5 ounce) package corn muffin mix

1 egg

3/4 cup milk

2 tablespoons butter, melted

Preheat your waffle iron. Blend all ingredients together (batter might be lumpy, but that's OK). Proceed to make waffles according to your waffle iron's directions. It's incredibly easy, but take credit for being a culinary genius anyway.

Whether you're carving pumpkins, craving pumpkin or just watching leaves fall, there's nothing better to spice up your autumn than this pumpkin chili.

Lifestyle expert Patti Diamond is the penny-pinching, party-planning, recipe developer and content creator of the website "Divas On A Dime -- Where Frugal, Meets Fabulous!" Visit Patti at www.divasonadime.com and join the conversation on Facebook at DivasOnADimeDotCom. Email Patti at divapatti@divasonadime.com

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