Jeanette - Off The Cuff

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Blogger at: and -- My name is Jeanette, and I was born in Sweden, but unlike the famous Muppet, I am not a professional Swedish Chef. I actually studied design and photography. I also was a freelance indie-rock critic for several magazines from 1998-2005, and had an in-house PR company for a while. Cooking is in my DNA--my dad's brother was a chef and their father was a pastry chef, my mom's mother was a caterer, who published a cookbook of traditional Finnish breads and pastries when she was 92. Everyone else in my family loves to cook, and we're not afraid to experiment. I have a yen for interior design and remodeling.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Sweet Potato Chili

Well, well, well... Happy 2012.  Undoubtedly, it will take me the next 8 months to figure out how it is 2012. I'm not the swiftest one to get used to writing  the new dates on checks or correspondence in general.  A couple of years ago (so, maybe 2009) I was writing a check at the grocery store, and I started to fill in the date box with 1996.  NINETEEN-NINETY SIX.  What? It wasn't even 2006, let alone 1996.  Brain-fart.  (Oh, I don't suppose it's appropriate to use the word fart in a post about a bean-based recipe, but  ha ha ha... it has now been typed, and I'm too lazy to delete it.)

Remember last year (okay, about 8 weeks ago) when I promised, in a moment of delusional grandeur, that I would post 3 or 4 chili recipes in a week's time? And remember how that didn't happen at all? And remember how I then thought I could muster up 3 or 4 chili recipes in a month? And remember how that didn't happen at all either? (But remember how I instead filled that gap with a delicious and easy pumpkin ice-cream pie? And a recipe for falafel!  And even a little tutorial all about spices and herbs? And lo, even some tips about onions?) 

Please think of those few blog posts that I did manage to squeeze in despite the hectic holiday vortex we all get sucked into ... (and lest I be misunderstood, this was an entirely wonderful Thanksgiving and Christmas season with lots of family, fun and FOOD, all lovingly prepared by my mother and mother-in-law!)  And forgive me this egregious delay in the chili-recipe trifecta that I meant to share with you.  Tonight, I was about to make my standard black bean chili with cilantro -- when two things happened. 1. I remembered my  failure to deliver what I had promised two months ago.   2. I realized that I did not have any kidney beans in my pantry. 

So I did what any good Off The Cuff cook does.  I decided to reinvent my chili a little bit.

And here it is.


1 lb ground beef, or turkey

1 small yellow or white onion, diced (see my onion chopping tips above!)
1 small sweet potato (I had the garnet kind), peeled and chopped into 1/2" cubes
1 red bell pepper, diced

2 fifteen-oz cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 fifteen-oz can of garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 fifteen-oz can crushed tomatoes
1 six-oz can of tomato paste

6-8 oz of water

1 dried chipotle pepper

1/8 tsp of ground arbol chili pepper (or more if you like really spicy food!)

1/2 tbsp salt

1/2 tsp crushed red peppers  (or more...)

2 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp cinnamon

Plain greek yogurt  and cilantro leaves for garnish


Preheat a skillet to medium high, and brown all your ground beef or ground turkey.  Towards the end of the cooking time, toss in chopped onion, and diced sweet potato and cook until onion is translucent, and sweet potato has started to soften and brown slightly.  Remove from heat, and set aside.

On the same hot burner, put a large stock pot or Dutch Oven, and sautee the bell peppers on medium high heat for a few minutes until they start to turn soft, and have a few scorch marks, which adds a nice smoky flavor.

At this point, add a little water, and start scooping over the beef, sweet potato and onion mixture.

Place the chipotle pepper into the water, and submerge it under the ingredients to allow it to immediately start simmering and releasing flavor.  If you wanted to do this ahead of time, you could also preheat the 8 ounces of water, and soak the pepper in that first, before adding it to the chili.

Next, dump in all other ingredients, and let it simmer until sweet potatoes are softened, and flavors have melded a while.

Serve with corn bread, or tortilla chips if you have 'em.  Me, I just ate it with some Greek yogurt and cilantro stirred in since that is what I happened to have and let me just say that the yogurt adds a very good tang to offset the savory, sweet, and smoky flavor of this chili.

PS.  Santa Hubby gave me a tripod for Christmas so I think I can finally start taking slightly better photos of my food now.  (At least better in terms of angles and compositions-- there's still the unfortunate lack of daylight in my kitchen when I am making dinner... maybe I just need to start doing all breakfast foods so that I can shoot in the morning.   Now there's an idea!)


  1. This was super yummy! Lamentably, I had no chipotle pepper; I may pick one up later and make it that way for Nathan and me. The smoked paprika from Costco is really nice in it. I also added corn, for the kids' sake (the love corn). It was great to just prep all the ingredients the way you described, and then throw it in the crock pot on low while I went to the gym. We came home for a yummy dinner! Thanks for sharing, Jeanette!

  2. I'm glad you liked it! I think it was a hit here, too - we had left overs for a few days and enjoyed it. Did you try it with yogurt or sour cream stirred in? I'm sure it would be great with shredded cheese too!

  3. This sounds yummy! If only my kids could have tomatoes and cinnamon... I think chili is pretty much out for them, unless you can send me a tasty no-tomato chili recipe. At any rate, it sounds (and looks) deliciously thick and filling--perfect for a winter meal! I think every time you make it, you should give a prize to the person who isn't paying attention and so mistakenly bites into the chipotle pepper.