Autumn Chili

Hello foodie friends 🙂

I intended on posting this recipe last week while it was still technically September soups month here on Fig and Basil, but somehow the weekend got away from me 😦 I feel a sense of guilt when I have been away from writing for too long. Not that I assume you are all fading away to nothing from lack of food inspiration but I trust that you at the very least look forward to them!

And if I could place blame for a moment, I would have two words…Breaking. Bad.

I finally caught up with the rest of the planet and began binging in this series. I am hooked and only half way through Season 4 (so nobody tell me what happens ;)) At this point I am convinced that Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul are merely characters played by Walt and Jess to throw us off their real identities! But there is no need to indulge in my crazy

Fall is definitely here and surrounding us all with change. Change in the air, change in the trees, change in our clothes and if your immunity health has also changed (for the worse) then you are not alone. Almost everyone I come into contact with these days is getting a cold, in the midst of a cold or just getting over a damn cold.  The writing is on the wall, this time of year it is so crucial to take care of your health!

Besides getting a regular 7-9 hours of sleep every night and drinking a tonne of clean, filtered water, the single most important thing is your diet. So lets focus on what is beneficial to our immune systems.  It’s quite simple really, you cannot get enough of seasonal fruits and veggies this time of year.  And Mother Nature is no dummy! It is no coincidence that it’s harvest time for most fruits and veggies. Apples, squash, tomatoes, cucumbers, strawberries, beans, kale, pears…everything your body needs is being provided exactly at the right time. But lets not confuse the pumpkin spice latte as a seasonal necessity 😉


Chili is definitely a recipe that has been around the block a few times. Everyone has their version and it has been tweaked a thousand times. Therefore I am not trying to reinvent the wheel but perhaps provide you with an inspiration to add another ingredient to a well-loved dish. Acorn squash is a perfect pairing for chili and provides a huge boost of nutritional benefits. This winter squash not only has anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and insulin-regulating properties but for this time of year it is an awesome source of Vitamin C.  And as an added bonus acorn squash is a great source of fibre and low in calories.


I couldn’t make this next recipe more autumn-ish if I tried 🙂

The colours and the ingredients scream FALL!!!


Autumn Chili w/acorn squash

Prep time: 45 mins

Serves: approx. half of the Breaking Bad cast (6-8 badasses)


3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 med yellow onions, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced or grated

3 portobello mushrooms, chopped

15-20 cremini mushrooms, finely chopped

1 tbsp dried thyme

2 tsp cumin

2 tsp chili powder

1 acorn squash, peeled and chopped into 1/2″ pieces

2- 28oz cans of high-quality tomatoes (I use one crushed tom and one whole peeled tom but use whatever combo you like)

1- 28oz can pinto beans, drained and rinsed

1-14oz can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 whole cinnamon stick

1/8 cup raw sugar

2 avocados, peeled and cubed

handful of fresh cilantro for garnish

  • heat olive oil on medium heat in your best soup pot. Add onions and garlic and sauté for 3-5 mins.
Quick Tip: using a microplane to mince the garlic is super fast and easy

Quick Tip: using a microplane to mince the garlic is super fast and easy

  • add in the mushrooms and cook for another 5 mins. Toss in thyme, cumin and chili powder and stir.
  • add squash, stir and cook for about 3-5 mins.
  • finally add in the remaining ingredients (except for avocado and cilantro) plus using one of the tomato cans add a half a can of fresh clean water. Turn up temperature to med-high until you get a gentle boil. Place on lid, lower heat down to med-low and cook for about 15 mins. Remove cinnamon stick and season with sea salt and pepper.
  • Serve in bread bowls and finish with fresh chopped avocado and cilantro.


Dinner Re-vamped

Well, back to the wonderful rhythm of my life this week!

Somehow without even doing anything at all (or maybe because of not doing anything at all!?!) my “to-do” list has grown since before the spring break. Funny how that works. I was just digging through a drawer looking for my camera charger thingy and came across an abandoned “to-do” list from several months ago…and in reading through it I realized that there were still things that I hadn’t done on that list. So…maybe its not just my procrastination but maybe (just maybe) its the list itself! Perhaps lowering my expectations on what I am capable of doing could help me accomplish more!!! I will do some experimenting on that theory…next week 😉

This week I am heading for a small trip out east to visit my nephew and nieces. Ahhhh, Ottawa in early April— too late for ice sculptures and too early for tulips. What will we do? I guess all the pressure will fall on my family’s shoulders to entertain us.

For this past week the pace has been at full speed and planning meals can be almost too much some days. Having all that beautiful leftover food from our holiday meal in the refrigerator has managed to carry us through the week. But it’s not what you think! I have only reheated and served the exact same meal one time. The others have been (surprisingly) well-disguised re-vamps with very little effort on my part 🙂

Earlier in the week I took the leftover Maple Glazed Sweet Potatoes (see recipe in New Traditions blog) and tossed them with cooked Soba noodles. Adding in caramelized onions, sauteed garlic, toasted pine nuts and some olive oil, red pepper flakes and salt and pepper. I popped the sweet potatoes onto a baking sheet and broiled them in the oven to re-heat and add even more of a crispy exterior. It was delicious!


Then on Wednesday, after finding some stunning watermelon radishes in my grocery basket…


I utilized the leftover quinoa by adding lightly sautéed radishes (I used a small amount of olive oil and salt in a pan and sautéed for about 5 mins each side) and a scrumptious portobello mushroom “steak”. Now I know what you are thinking- Cooked radishes?  Yes, cooked!  Even though I LOVE raw radishes, cooking them is equally fantastic.  It becomes amazingly sweet and takes away that sharp spicy taste that a fresh, raw radish is famous for. You must try this at home!


The mushroom steak is a recipe I have been making since first becoming a vegetarian. It’s a Tal Ronnen recipe from his cookbook The Conscious Cook. Incredibly easy, it just requires the time for marinating. And marinating is the secret to a well prepared portobello steak. It infuses so much flavour and transforms the texture from rubbery to “meaty”. Here is the cooking instructions from Tal Ronnen’s cookbook;


sea salt

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 shallots, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 cup dry white wine

1 1/2 tbsp white wine vinegar

4 portobello mushrooms, stemmed and gills removed

1 tbsp dried thyme

  • Place a large pot over medium heat. Sprinkle bottom with a pinch of salt and heat for 1 minute. Add the oil and heat for 1 minute, being careful not to let it smoke. This will create a nonstick effect.
  • Add the shallots and garlic and cook for 5 mins. Add the wine, vinegar and 1 cup of water, bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 20 mins.
  • Add them mushrooms and cook for 1 min. Pour the mushrooms and liquid into a shallow container, cover, set aside to marinate for 1 hour.
  • Sear the mushrooms: Remove from marinade and press between paper towels to remove excess marinade. Sprinkle with crushed peppercorns, salt, thyme, pressing the seasoning into both sides of the mushroom. Discard the marinade. Place a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat and heat for 1 min, then add the mushrooms in one layer, working in batches if necessary. Cook until browned and crisp, 2 to 3 mins on each side.

Have a great week! And visit me on Instagram (figbasil) or Twitter (@figandbasil) to find out what kinda trouble (and food) I discover in our nation’s capital 🙂