There should be a word for the sensation of spending time outdoors in the exhilarating cold and then walking into a warm cozy room. Preferably a room with a crackling fire. Sloughing off layers and putting the kettle on to boil. You still can’t quite feel your nose, but can smell something delicious simmering on the stove.
This is my ideal winter day. For me it is difficult to fully enjoy being cozy, without first being un-cozy. Sounds a bit counter intuitive, so let me explain. Anyone who has ever gone on a backpacking trip can attest to the intense joy of summiting a mountain top, or reaching the alpine lake where they plan to camp for the night. There is a rugged wonderfulness in rolling out a sleeping bag upon the hard earth and waking up in solitude surrounded by nothing but untouched nature. There is also an ecstatic joy in the first shower you take upon returning home, when you watch a couple days worth of dirt spiral down the drain.
In the winter there is a childlike giddiness in being outside in the snow, then just as you begin to loose feeling in your extremities you get to go back inside and eat a warm meal, and it feels simply amazing. Much better than if you had simply been inside all day. Similar to how we shower all the time yet it takes a solid camping trip to make us appreciate the modern marvel of plumbing.
So be it skiing, snowshoeing, or simply shoveling out the driveway, the next time you plan to be out in the cold make this butternut squash & jalapeno chili for dinner. It’s hearty and warm, with all the familiar flavors of classic chili and the unexpected twist of sweet squash and spicy jalapeno. The beans contribute that punch of protein we all need, while the butternut squash brings antioxidants and immune boosting vitamins to an otherwise veggie deficient dish. I’m all about sneaking in more veggies! You can make this a day in advance, as it reheats beautifully. Then all you have to do when you get back inside is put a pot on the stove! Happy Winter!
Butternut Squash & Jalapeno Chili
- 1/2 of a medium butternut squash
- 1 onion
- 5 cloves of garlic
- 1/2 jalapeno
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp chipotle
- 1/3 cup tomato paste
- 1 cup black beans
- 1 cup pinto beans
- 1 cup kidney beans
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- Dice onion and add to large pot with a pinch of salt and olive oil over medium heat.
- Peel, deseed, and cube butternut squash, add to pot, stir every few minutes or so.
- Dice garlic, and add to pot.
- Deseed and finely chop jalapeno, add to pot.
- Allow vegetables to soften then add cumin, paprika, chipotle, and tomato paste.
- Cook together for about 5 minutes to allow flavors to develop.
- Add beans and broth, allow mixture to come to a light boil then reduce to a simmer for 25-30 minutes.
- Serve warm, it’s wonderful over brown rice topped with grated cheddar cheese or next to corn bread and a baked potato.