October. It’s the beautifully inviting front porch entrance into a season of cooler temperatures, holidays, and time with those we love. To me, October is all about the anticipation of what’s to come, yet in all honesty, I’m not really that great at waiting.  But when October is paired with pumpkin spice, fall scented candles, sweaters, changing leaves, and celebrations, I have all the patience for the wait ahead! As Anne of Green Gables says, “I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”

Ditto, Anne. I couldn’t agree more.

This is also the season when those of us in the south emerge from our summer hibernation of the air-conditioned indoors to the crisp autumn air of the outdoors. We begin to eat, breath, and, yes, sometimes sleep, outdoors.

And when it comes to outdoor dining, a nature-inspired fall tablescape will elevate any gathering.  I love the simplicity of utilizing what you already have on hand, from a basic flannel scarf as a table cloth to acorns and greenery from your own outdoor surroundings. And of course, pumpkins for that fall accent. It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. In fact, simplicity allows your table to stand out while still blending in and sets a welcoming platform for great food and conversations. And isn’t that the real reason why we gather in the first place?

 

When it comes to the food, chili is a must!  A warm bowl of chili layered with your favorite toppings on a cool autumn night is just the epitome of fall.

But chili is one dish almost as controversial as politics.  We each have our favorite toppings and our favorite recipe, and we don’t always see eye to eye.  But that’s exactly what makes chili so fun and a great dish to be shared with family and friends!

This recipe is our family’s favorite.  It’s a hint of sweet, a subtle kick of chipotle, a healthy amount of beans and beef, and loads of flavor.  I personally love the classic grated sharp cheddar cheese, Fritos, and diced onion, but I recently love the addition of cilantro, sour cream, and freshly sliced jalapeños. It’s a bowl of delicious!  Make your favorite cornbread to go on the side and you have a complete meal….

…And an even better reason to gather outside under the cool fall sky. Happy October, friends!

Southern Chili

This is our family's favorite chili. It's taken a lot of attempts (and disagreements) to get it the way we all love it, but it has a hint of sweet, a subtle kick of chipotle, a healthy amount of beans and beef, and loads of flavor. This recipe most definitely needs to be doubled!
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time45 mins
Course: Main Course, Side Dish, Soup
Cuisine: American
Keyword: chili
Servings: 8
Author: Lauren Jones

Ingredients

  • 5 pieces uncooked bacon chopped
  • 1 large yellow onion diced
  • 1 large green bell pepper diced
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 2 tsp brown sugar packed
  • 1 T chili powder
  • 1 T ancho chili powder optional
  • tsp smoked paprika
  • tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp salt
  • tsp cayenne pepper
  • ¾ cup beef broth
  • ¾ cup beer darker beer preferred
  • 15 oz dark red kidney beans drained and rinsed
  • 15 oz black beans drained and rinsed
  • 9 oz diced green chilis canned
  • 1-3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce chopped
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • 1 T Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp liquid smoke

Instructions

  • In a large pot or Dutch oven, cook bacon over medium high heat until cooked through. Set aside on a plate lined with a paper towel. Keep about 1½ T of bacon grease, and drain any excess.
  • To the pot with bacon grease, add the onion and bell pepper, and cook through over medium to medium high heat until softened and onion is translucent, about 5 minutes.
  • Add garlic and cook no longer than 30 seconds. You want the garlic to be fragrant, but any longer, it may burn so keep a close eye on it.
  • Add in ground beef, breaking it into pieces with a spatula as you cook. Continue cooking over medium to medium high heat until it is partially browned with a little pink left.
  • Into the the beef mixture, add in brown sugar, spices (chili powders, paprika, cumin, onion powder, black pepper, salt, cayenne) and stir until combined.
  • Add in remaining ingredients of beef broth, beer, kidney and black beans, green chilis, chipotle peppers, tomato paste, Worcestershire, and liquid smoke. Stir well to combine.
  • Add bacon back into chili and bring to a boil for about 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
  • Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Stir the chili occasionally throughout. The flavors will really develop and the chili will thicken during this time.
  • Serve with your favorite toppings of choice!

Notes

Toppings:
-Shredded cheese (I prefer sharp cheddar)
-Diced onion (sweet or white are my favorite)
-Fritos or corn chips
-Tortilla chips
-Chopped avocado
-Sour cream
-Cilantro
-Sliced fresh jalapeños
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