Sweet Potato-Black Bean Chili with Goat Cheese

Not-too-spicy vegetarian chili

Not-too-spicy vegetarian chili

We usually have at least one vegetarian sharing Thanksgiving with us, so I like to have a an interesting meatless main dish on the table along with some traditional side dishes – that way no one feels like they’re missing anything.
And personally, while I like trying a new turkey preparation every year – whether it’s brining, stuffing or not stuffing, oven-roasting or grilling, my enthusiasm for the bird wanes when it lands on the table. I’d much rather fill up on the colorful array of vegetables instead.
Plus, everyone knows that all Thanksgiving fixings taste better the next day, so having a pot of chili on hand is a good thing, vegetarian or not. There’s nothing wrong with some tasty chili in bowl, with a gravy-drenched turkey leg on top.

Sweet Potato-Black Bean Chili with Goat Cheese

Serving Size: serves 4 - 6


2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium red onion, sliced

1 teaspoon fine sea salt

3 crushed garlic cloves

1 teaspoon each ground cumin, coriander, smoked paprika

1/2 teaspoon each ground black pepper and ground chipotle

4 cups peeled and diced sweet potato (about 2 large)

Vegetable stock or water

1 tablespoon pure maple syrup

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 (14-ounce) can black beans

1 (14-0unce) can pinto beans

1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese

Warm tortillas


  1. Heat the oil in a large (6-quart) pan or stockpot. Add the onion and cook until softened and just beginning to brown; stir in the salt and garlic and cook about 1 minute or until the garlic smells good.
  2. Sprinkle in the spices and ground black and chipotle pepper, stirring to dissolve in the oil. Add the sweet potatoes and pour over enough stock or water just to cover them. Cover the pot and cook over medium heat until tender (not mushy), about 20 minutes.
  3. Add the mustard, maple syrup and beans (including their liquid) to the pot. Bring to a simmer and cook uncovered another 10 minutes or so to blend the flavors. If you like your chili more soupy, add more stock.
  4. Serve in bowls topped with some cheese with warm tortillas alongside.

Parmesan-Crusted Brussels Sprouts


This is a great time of year if you are a fan of Brussels sprouts – my hand is raised! – their season is brief and they taste so sweet and delicious when they’re super-fresh.

My local grocery store sells Brussels sprouts on the stalk every year around Thanksgiving, and I’ve grown to prefer buying them this way. Since you can pluck them off right before you want to cook them, they couldn’t be any fresher than if they’d grown in your own backyard garden.

I’ve always been intrigued by the unusual beauty of Brussels sprouts;  I love their miniature cabbage-like form and their distinctive taste, a combination of cauliflower and broccoli. And like cauliflower and broccoli – their siblings in the Brassica family – they take well to roasting and tossing with good Parmesan cheese – one of my favorite methods to use on any sturdy vegetable.

In addition to this rustic Italian-style recipe, I’ve recently given them the Julia Child treatment on my other blog, Dinner with Julia, where I prepared a recipe for Brussels Sprouts Braised in Butter and Cream from Mastering the Art of French Cooking.  Even if you are a confirmed Brussels sprouts avoider, you might change your mind after a taste of these buttery nuggets.

Brussels Sprouts on the stalk

Brussels Sprouts on the stalk

Parmesan-Crusted Brussels Sprouts

Serving Size: 4 side-dish servings


1 pound Brussels sprouts

Fine sea salt

Extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese


  1. Trim the Brussels sprouts of any yellowing leaves. Bring 3 quarts water to a boil; add 2 teaspoons salt and the Brussels sprouts.
  2. Boil for 5 minutes. Drain and toss in a large bowl with enough olive oil to coat the cheese.
  3. Arrange them on a shallow pan and place under a hot broiler about 4 inches below heat source until golden, 1 or 2 minutes.
  4. Serve hot.




Cranberry Orange Buckle


I like to hoard cranberries in the fall, since it seems like they totally disappear after the holidays. I’m not sure why more grocers don’t stock them in the freezer section, but I can never seem to find them there.

Cranberries freeze perfectly so I try to put a few pounds away in the freezer. Every now and then I throw a handful into a strawberry-raspberry smoothie and bake some into muffins and quick breads.

This recipe comes from Rustic Fruit Desserts,  a cute little book that I first saw at my sister-in-law L’s house last summer. She lives in Portland – lucky duck!- and we celebrated her birthday in July with a beautiful handmade cake from Baker & Spice, owned by co-author Julie Richardson.

It’s the kind of bakery that you want to live around the corner from, where they make everything in small batches using  great ingredients and local, seasonal produce. How sweet is that!

I’m not much of a dessert eater and even less of a fussy dessert maker, so this cookbook is just my style. The recipes are all simple to make and rely on whatever fruit happens to be in season.


I think my favorite part of this cake is the crunchy top; some of the berries burst open and blend with the sugary vanilla crumbs to make a nice, sweet-tart pop when you take a bite.

Cranberry Orange Buckle

Yield: 1 9-inch square cake


2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

5 teaspoons pure vanila extract

2 teaspoons baking powder

Grated zest of one orange

2 eggs

1/2 cup plain yogurt or sour cream

2 cups (8 ounces) fresh or frozen cranberries


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and butter a 9-inch square baking pan.
  2. Pulse the brown sugar, 2 tablespoons of the butter, 1/2 cup of the flour, 3 tablespoons of the granulated sugar, 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and 2 teaspoons vanilla in a food processor (or in a bowl using a fork or pastry blender) until coarse crumbs form; set aside for topping.
  3. Sift the remaining flour, salt and baking powder into a bowl.
  4. Cream the remaining butter, remaining sugar and orange zest in a bowl with a handheld mixer or in a stand mixer until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time followed by the vanilla. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and reduce mixer speed to low; stir in 1/3 of the flour mixture and half the yogurt. Repeat, ending with the last third of flour. Stir in 1 cup of the cranberries.
  5. Scrape the batter into the pan, spreading it evenly and distribute the remaining cranberries over the top. Sprinkle the reserved topping over the cranberries.
  6. Bake 45 - 50 minutes on the middle rack, or until light golden brown and top is firm.