The Monthly Recipe: Homemade Very Veggie Chili

Homemade Chili

When I was growing up, our family chili recipe was very simple – one chopped onion, a pound of ground beef, 28 ounces crushed tomatoes, 3 15-ounce cans of dark red kidney beans, salt, and a tablespoon or so of McCormick’s chili powder.

Then a friend told me that she grated carrots into tomato based things like chili to add more veg and my chili has been developing ever since. I love red bell pepper, but my husband can’t stomach it. I found riced cauliflower was a fantastic way to hide more veggies in it. Black beans and corn have been other options over the years. Here’s the latest version.

Be warned, it makes a BIG pot, but I love taking it to work for an easy and flavorful lunch and we don’t mind leftovers. It easily serves the three of us for two meals.

Also, watch out for the type of chili powder you use – I’ve picked up two chili powders recently and found they were blends, one with added sodium. I’m used to a fairly mild but completely chili based powder. Also, if using a hot chili powder, like McCormick’s Chipotle Chili Powder, I use half as much. I also cook low sodium so all products are reduced, low, or no sodium and we are used to that. Adjust to your tastes.

Homemade Extra Veggie Chili


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and coarsely grated or finely chopped
  • 1 pound ground beef or venison
  • 1 package of riced cauliflower (I like to precook this according to package directions, but it probably isn’t necessary. It just make take a few extra minutes to bring the pot to a boil.)
  • 1 15 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 15 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 1 can dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt


  1. Spray a 4 quart or large soup pot with cooking spray and pour in the olive oil. Heat over medium low heat.
  2. Dice the onion and add to the pot.
  3. Grate the carrot in and stir it around.
  4. Cook on low for about five minutes then push the veggies toward the sides of the pot.
  5. Turn the heat up to medium.
  6. Put the meat in the center and chop it up with a spatula or large spoon, stirring in the onion and carrot as you go. (I like to get the meat fairly fine and the veggies help break it up.)
  7. Brown the meat thoroughly, stirring regularly, about five to 8 minutes.
  8. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir thoroughly. (If it isn’t “soupy” enough for your taste, just add another cup of water and it will loosen up but not really lose any flavor.)
  9. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to simmer.
  10. Simmer for about an hour.
  11. Check for seasoning and adjust as necessary.
  12. Serve as is or with grated sharp cheddar cheese, sour cream, avocado or guacamole, and/or tortilla chips.

The Sunday Recipe: Cream of Asparagus Soup

I know, I know, it’s past time to let the asparagus go, but it looked pretty good, my daughter loves it, AND I was trying to come up with smooth recipes for her because she just got braces. I’d also seen a cream of asparagus recipe somewhere recently and here we are.

After looking at several recipes online, I combined a few according to our tastes to get this one. It was simple and hit the spot for us. In fact, I think I’ll be using this method to make creamed soups with some other vegetables soon.

I often don’t have chicken broth on hand, but I keep a broth base powder in the cupboard that is low sodium and used that in preparing this recipe. It tasted just fine.

I think this would be interesting to try keeping dairy free by using olive oil and coconut milk. I imagine it would work fine.

Cream of Asparagus Soup


  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup chopped onion
  • 1 pound asparagus
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 c. low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream


  1. Break the woody part off the end of the asparagus stalks.
  2. Chop into ½ inch pieces.
  3. Rinse and drain.
  4. In a heavy pot over medium heat, melt butter.
  5. Add onion and cook until translucent.
  6. Add asparagus.
  7. Season with garlic, salt, and pepper.
  8. Cook 5 minutes.
  9. Add broth and bring to a boil.
  10. Lower to simmer and cook, covered, 15 minutes.
  11. Blend with an immersion blender. (If using a regular blender, cover with a towel instead of the regular lid.)
  12. Add cream to puree in pot and bring to preferred temp over low heat.
  13. Enjoy!

The Sunday Recipe: Salsa

This recipe is adapted from one in an old copy of Country Woman magazine that my grandmother had kept. It was submitted by “Diana Murphy of Black Earth, Wisconsin” and printed in the November/December 1999 issue. I changed up the amount of onions, type of peppers, and reduced the amount of tomato paste.

Note: When chopping hot peppers, like jalapeno, it is wise to use gloves, but if your hands are in good shape, no cuts, and you can remember NOT to touch your face, you should be fine.

The first time I made this recipe, I left the seeds from ONE jalapeno in and it gave the salsa a nice heat that crept up on you. This time I seeded the peppers but didn’t worry if a few seeds got in, for a nice, mild, sweet, salsa.

Originally, I also used Poblano peppers instead of bell peppers. This time the grocery store only had the Italian equivalent so I used those. Substitutions are a good thing, especially when someone in the family is allergic to bell peppers.

This made me about 9 pints of salsa. A great recipe for gift giving!



  • 18 cups quartered peeled fresh tomatoes (60 to 80 Roma tomatoes, depending on size.)
  • 4 Large onions, chopped
  • 4 good size Poblano chile peppers, seeded and chopped.
  • 9 jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped
  • 6 sweet banana peppers chopped
  • 2 cups vinegar
  • ¼ cup sea salt
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 Tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 can of tomato paste


  1. Combine all ingredients in a large kettle and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring once every five minutes.
  2. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for two hours. Stir occasionally.
  3. Jar or cool and freeze.

The Sunday Recipe: Creamy Cucumber Salad


Creamy Cucumber Salad

Our garden has produced a plethora of cucumbers this year and I just can’t keep up with it, but I’m not big on pickling. Here’s one way I use them up. Traditionally the cucumbers are salted fairly heavily and pressed to sweat the juice out before being mixed with the dressing, but I just use a little salt and a short sweat then drain and toss. I prefer the cucumbers a little more on the crisp side. The thickness of the cucumbers is also a matter of personal taste. If the seeds are too big in the cucumbers, I quarter them the long way and slice out the seeds. We’ve had some pretty gnarly looking cucumbers this year that taste just fine after they are peeled. Miracle Whip also works in place of the mayonnaise just as well. This goes particularly well with spiced grilled meats, such as Spiedies or Shawarma.


  • 3 medium cucumbers or 2 seedless cucumbers
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • A few pinches of sea salt
  • 1 sweet onion, such as Vidalia, sliced thin. (optional)


  1. Peel the cucumbers.
  2. Seed, if desired.
  3. Slice cucumbers to desired thickness, ¼ inch or less.
  4. Layer in a bowl, sprinkling with a pinch of salt after each cucumber.
  5. Place a plate and something heavy on top. (I used the glass bowl I intended to store the cucumbers in for the weight.)
  6. Allow to sit for up to thirty minutes or just while you mix the dressing together.
  7. Mix the rest of the ingredients together in a small bowl. (If you prefer a really creamy salad, you can double the dressing ingredients.)
  8. Drain the cucumbers.
  9. Stir the dressing into the cucumbers.
  10. If using the onion, stir that in too.
  11. Serve or chill until ready to serve. (A few hours to chill produces the best result.)
  12. Enjoy.

The Sunday Recipe: Zucchini and Red Bell Pepper Melange


Zucchini and Red Bell Pepper Melange

I remember serving this to my father many years ago, it was one of his favorite things that I cooked. I was surprised and elated when my young daughter loved it. She was the one who dubbed it “Veggie Melange.” If you have the option, get a red bell pepper with four ‘lobes’ on the bottom, they are better for cooking.


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 medium sweet red bell pepper, cored and diced
  • 1 medium zucchini squash or 2 small, chopped in about ½ inch chunks
  • 1 – 15 ounce can diced tomatoes (no salt added, or leave out the salt below)
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder (or 2 cloves of crushed garlic added in with the onions)
  • ¼ teaspoon of sea salt
  • Pinch of sugar


  1. Spray a large skillet with cooking spray and pour in the olive oil.
  2. Allow to heat on medium while you dice the onion.
  3. Saute onion while you core and chop the bell pepper.
  4. Add the bell pepper, give it a stir, and turn the heat down a little bit, medium low now.
  5. Dice the zucchini and add to the pan. Stir and cover.
  6. Cook for 5 minutes.
  7. Stir and cook another 3 minutes.
  8. Add the diced tomatoes and seasonings. Stir and recover.
  9. Simmer 5 minutes.
  10. Stir and simmer another 3 to 5 minutes.
  11. Add anything you would like from options below and enjoy!

Optional —  Add a cup or two of cooked pasta or tortellini, add some chopped up leftover meatloaf, some meatballs, or Italian sausage. Stir in some cheese. These days I tend to serve it with Italian sausage but my daughter likes to stir in some cottage cheese.