Not only did I realize this week that I’m getting older, but I did some reflecting on how my life differs from many of my peers because I’m not a parent. After lunch with a college girlfriend who has an infant son (he’s cuter than cute by the way), I got to thinking about how amazing she is for all the moving parts she juggles. She’s amazing at her job and is consistently recognized as one of the top performers within her company. Her role as a loving wife and mother is admirable, as she always puts those two special men first in her life. She takes care of their family, despite how hectic it gets or tired she may be. The time she gets to herself is limited, yet she never complains.
And then there’s me. I can play in the kitchen for five hours, cooking a grandiose meal if I want. My alarm clock is simply my phone, not a hungry little one. I can take long baths while reading a new novel without being disturbed. A spur of the moment cross country trip is possible, no planning necessary.
It got me to thinking….. Am I selfish? Unmotivated? Should I be doing more in my spare time because I don’t have a family? Am I rude for saying that my less gets a little stressful at times? Comparatively speaking, my schedule has nothing on that of mother.
But I had to remind myself, we all have a lot going on in our lives. And there’s no reason I should be ashamed that my life is different than others.
There’s no right or wrong, good or bad, just differences. We should stand tall and be proud of the decisions we’ve made that ultimately make us happy, no matter what that’s comprised of.
I have a wonderful full time job that I love dearly and work hard, specifically with this project. Brian, he means more to me than I can explain and I try to be the very best partner to him every day. My cat, well, I’d snuggle her all day long if I could. On the side I’m the social media manager for a lovely winery, owned by an amazing couple who treats me very well. I volunteer for groups like Slow Food Minnesota to share my passion for local food, farmers, and community. I spend numerous hours recipe testing and writing for the cookbook. And then I write here, in this space, because it’s my outlet.
You see, all of our lives are filled with beautiful, yet sometimes tiring days. That’s where this spicy Pumpkin & Black Bean Chicken Chili comes in. It’s quick enough to whip up on a weeknight in 40 minutes and hearty enough to fend of the hunger pains from a day of running around. Extra hot salsa and a good dose of chili powder give it some zip that’s sure to warm you up on a frigid night. And don’t be scared of the pumpkin flavor being overpowering. You actually can’t really taste it all, but I added it for the thick, creamy texture it gives. Stovetop or slow cooker – it’s your choice.
And don’t forget, we’re all amazing in our own way.
Pumpkin & Black Bean Chicken Chili
Serves 7-8 people
2 cans black beans, drained but not rinsed – lightly mash the beans from one can and keep the others whole.
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes with garlic & onion
1 15 oz can pure pumpkin puree
3/4 c hot salsa (I used Archer Farms Spicy Salsa Roja)
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into dice sized pieces
1 4 oz can mild diced green chiles
2 to 2 1/2 c water
1/2 c diced green pepper
1 ½ T olive oil
2 t chili powder
1 t cumin
3/4 t salt
1/2 t garlic powder
Juice of one lime
Fresh cilantro, avocado, & grated cheese for serving
In a large stockpot, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Stir in pepper and sauté for 3-4 minutes until softened. Add in chicken, chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, salt and cook on medium heat for 6-8 minutes, stirring, until chicken is no longer pink. Pour in beans, tomatoes, salsa, chiles, and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce hit to a simmer. Stir in pumpkin puree and cover the pot, letting cook on a light simmer for 25 minutes. Stir occasionally. When ready to serve, stir in juice of the lime and taste to adjust salt level is needed. Place in bowls and top with fresh cilantro, avocado, and cheese for serving.
Slow Cooker directions:
In a large stockpot, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Stir in pepper and sauté for 3-4 minutes until softened. Add in chicken, chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, salt and cook on medium heat for 6-8 minutes, stirring, until chicken is no longer pink. Transfer to slow cooker and turn to low heat setting. Stir in beans, tomatoes, salsa, chiles, 1 cup of water (note that this is different than if you are making it on the stovetop), and pumpkin puree. Attach cover and let cook on low for 1 ½ hours, stirring occasionally. When ready to serve, stir in juice of the lime and taste to adjust salt level is needed. (You can keep it on warm if you plan to make it ahead of time.) Place in bowls and top with fresh cilantro, avocado, and cheese for serving.