Red Lentil Chili

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Yesterday was cold.

I had the day off from my clinical job, but I had some other work to do that was going to require some time in front of the computer. Because I had day-off brain, I kept finding things to do instead of sitting down to my to-do-list items. Naturally, one of those things was to make soup.

Red Lentil ChiliI was thinking about making red lentil soup from this recipe, but I was also sort of in the mood for chili. So…this happened. Because red lentils cook so quickly, this comes together in no time at all. It’s the perfect weeknight dinner for the wintertime.


  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 medium butternut squash, cut into small cubes
  • 1 c red lentils, dry
  • 4-5 cups water or veggie broth
  • 1 24-oz can crushed or diced tomatoes (I used fire-roasted)
  • 3 c spinach, fresh or thawed from frozen


  1. Heat olive oil in a large stock pot over medium heat.
  2. Add onion, garlic, and celery. Cook a few minutes until fragrant and onion begins to turn translucent. Add spices and cook another 2 or 3 minutes.
  3. Add squash and lentils. Toss well. Cook a few minutes to coat and then add water. Raise heat and bring to a boil. Lower heat and allow to simmer 10 minutes.
  4. Add tomatoes and spinach. Simmer another 15-20 minutes.

Enjoy hot topped with a little goat cheese—or, you know, slightly more traditional chili toppings. This would also be great over brown rice or quinoa.

What’s one of your favorite cold-weather weeknight meals? 


Thursday Things: Randomness as of Late

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1.) Someone posted this video on Facebook the other day, and I just had to share. Cheers to positive body image and a f*** you to impossible beauty standards perpetuated by the fashion industry.

2.) My sister is hilarious. The other day she randomly asked me my favorite dinosaur and then to guess hers (I should have gone with my gut instinct on the first try, but brontasaurus seemed too easy). Our text conversations are often like this. dinosaur

3.) Speaking of dinosaurs, who told men that adding “-asaurus” to online dating profile names was a good idea? Also baffling: the insertion of “taco” into said usernames. Because nothing says, “romance” like extinct, supposedly-cold-blooded creatures and…tortilla-wrapped salty things? I’m confused. Where have all the #kalemales gone?

4.) I spent the better part of Monday night trying to decide whether I had appendicitis. Eventually, I said, “Jess, it’s 2-f***ing a.m. If you can’t motivate yourself to get out of bed to hail a cab to the ER, you’re probably fine.” I also figured that, worst case scenario, my appendix had already burst, so may as well get some rest to fight off the potential for sepsis. I guess this is what eventually happens to hypochondriacs who work in health care. Of course, I still ran down the list of nearby hospitals in my head, deciding which ones were more appealing than others based on who I knew who worked there and what the food was like. Since most appendectomies are done laparoscopically now, patient stay is pretty short, but still.

5. I made chili again, only this one featured black beans and a can of salsa verde.

6.) When I began the process of clearing bad energy and promoting the flow of good energy in my apartment, I was told to hang art featuring “pairs” of things in my bedroom area. This photo by LA artist Claire Oring gave me “I want to go to there” chills. Yes, I first saw this at Urban Outfitters, but when I couldn’t stop looking at it, I knew it was the right thing, hipster retail-dom aside.

Hanging art is not my specialty…Claire Orig photo

…but eventually, with the help of a pencil, straight edge, a hammer, and nails, I managed. It was almost as satisfying as that time I set up that IKEA coffee table by myself. Definitely as satisfying as that first time I made a soufflé when I was 23 and realized, “Oh. Hypothetically speaking, I can do this whenever I want. Sweet.”

What’s on your mind this Thursday? Do you have a favorite dinosaur? Are you a hypochondriac? 

Chicken Chili

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Though it’s easy to complain about schizophrenic weather patterns and to whine about the chill when the pendulum swings back toward Seasonal December temps, there are some definitely bright points about it being balls cold outside.

1.) Boots. I heart boots so much.

2.) Soup, stew, and chili.

chicken chiliThis recipe came together when I was cleaning some stuff out of the cabinet one night recently. You can totally leave out the chicken, as it’s filling as is, but if you have some pulled chicken fresh from the slow-cooker, it makes a wonderful addition.


  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced (can omit)
  • sliced peppers, about 2 (I used about 2 cups of frozen, thawed)
  • 1 15-oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 15-oz can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3-4 c water
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • extra cumin if desired
  • a few drops liquid smoke (optional)
  • ~1 c pulled chicken, preferably organic (optional)


  1. Heat olive oil in a large pot. Add onions and garlic. Cook until onion is soft.
  2. Add peppers, tomatoes, water, sauce, beans, spices, and liquid smoke. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 10 minutes.
  3. Add chicken (if using) and simmer another 30-45 minutes. Serve hot and topped with shredded cheese or other desired toppings.

I’m sure this would also be awesome with a little boozy something or other cooked in. Maybe I’ll try it with wine sometime. I know chili is often made with beer, but that would necessitate buying beer I’m not going to drink so…

What’s your favorite chili recipe? 

Alex's Chili

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It would have been nice if my school had cancelled classes before I woke up for lab, but oh well. At least now I can get some backlogged work done and maybe take a nap later. This week has been a little too busy, and I used up all my cooking-as-procrastination points yesterday, so I have no excuse not to cross a few things off the to-do list. Oh well, at least I have some kick-ass chili and cornbread to look forward to.

After receiving an email from my friend Alex about this amazing-sounding chili the other night, I just had to try making some myself. It sounded much livelier than the sweet potato and black bean chili I’d been planning on making. Unfortunately, my beloved sketchy markets were out of a lot of things, so I had to make a few adjustments.

Alex’s recipe:

First I braised a lb of chicken and set that aside and put in 2 3/4 cups of onions with chili powder, garlic and then added a red and yellow pepper, a full jalapeno, and then tomatoes, blackstrap molasses, tyme, basil, cumin, chicken stock, masa harina, and then garbanzo, adzuki, black and kidney beans… it was good with or without the chicken. Very satisfying. I placed it over brown rice and a small amount of jalapeno cheese.

My make-do interpretation:

¼ cup olive oil

1 large onion

4 cloves garlic

2 jalepeno peppers

1 red pepper and 1 orange pepper

1 can each black beans, kidney beans, pink beans (low sodium)

1 32-oz can crushed tomatoes

2 tbsp blackstrap molasses

¾ boullion cube dissolved in ¾ cup boiling water

1 cup leftover tomato sauce

a few sprigs of thyme

cumin, chili powder, salt, pepper to taste


Chop the onion, garlic and peppers (including jalepeno) either by hand or in a food processor. Sautee for a few minutes.

Add the beans, tomatoes, boullion, crushed tomato, tomato sauce, molasses, and spices. Bring to a boil and then turn heat down and cover.

Simmer for an hour or so.

Chris got in on the act and whipped up some cornbread, which we threw in the bowl and poured the chili over. There was also some cheddar cheese involved. It was the perfect thing on a miserable day…