• Katie

KT’s Kitchen: My First Attempt at Making Chili

Updated: Oct 5, 2019

I hope everyone is enjoying the start of October! I kicked off the spookiest month of the year by achieving two of my culinary goals: making more use of my CrockPot, and making chili. For my first October dinner, I killed two turkeys with one bean, so to speak.


If you’re more of a “skip-the-story-show-me-the-recipe” kind of person, feel free to scroll down.

The idea to make chili for dinner came to me in the morning, which meant two things: I had to use whatever was already on hand, and I had to have a back-up plan. For the former, I hoped for the best, and the latter, my back-up plan was Chinese takeout.

I looked up a few different recipes for “lean turkey chili,” “healthy slow cooker chili,” and similar variations. Every single one called for too many ingredients that I simply didn’t have. That’s when I decided I had to go off the grid. Before you ask yourself if you should keep going and whether or not my efforts paid off, the answer is YES! I now have my own go-to chili recipe! And hopefully, by the end of this post, so will you.

But first, let's go back to a time in my kitchen where things were a little less certain...

I initially settled on the following ingredients:

One zucchini squash; one pound 99% lean ground turkey; one (huge) portobello mushroom; one 28-ounce of crushed, unsalted tomatoes; half of a yellow onion; and one can of black beans, drained and rinsed. All products from Trader Joe's.

A couple of additional ingredients also made their way into the final product - more on that in a bit.

I began by chopping and sautéing my onion, using non-stick cooking spray:

Once it began to brown, I added my turkey, breaking it up in the pan:

While this magic was sizzling away, I prepped my other ingredients. I washed and chopped my zucchini and mushroom, and drained and rinsed my black beans:

Meanwhile, my turkey was browning:

It was almost done but not quite finished - can you spot where the turkey is still pink? Let me know in the comments!

Not long after this photo was taken, I transferred the turkey and onion mixture into the CrockPot. For some reason, I had a feeling I was going to forget to spray my CrockPot before I put all my ingredients in .. luckily, that wasn’t the case!

So in the ingredients went!

Once all the ingredients were in, I realized I did not have enough liquid in there. I didn't have any canned chopped tomatoes handy, but I had another can of crushed tomatoes, so in it went! I also threw in two large, whole cloves of garlic.

I set my CrockPot to low. The setting says eight hours, but I knew it wouldn’t need any longer than six - if that.

At this point, I added in an arsenal of spices - chili powder, cumin, black pepper, onion salt … I taste-tested several times during the day. Also during the day, I added a few drops of a secret ingredient … hot sauce. Yep, that’s right. I didn't taste it much by the end, but maybe next time I’ll try more.

After four hours, the veggies were cooked to a consistency of my liking. I wasn’t ready to eat just yet, so I set the CrockPot to “warm” until I was.

Meanwhile, I cooked some spaghetti squash to serve with it.

Here’s the final product:

I was so nervous for how this would turn out, but it was delicious! I am glad I opted to serve it with spaghetti squash because that helped to round out this fall-esque meal.

Because of how this recipe essentially just fell together, and my nerves surrounding the whole dinner, I aptly decided this dish has to be named, “KT’s Hope for the Best Healthy Chili.” And as for the ingredients? Everything but the kitchen sink.

… For a more *defined* ingredient list, here’s the recipe!

KT’s Hope for the Best Healthy Chili

Makes 5-6 servings

Prep time: 25 minutes

Cook time: 4 hours


1 pound 99% lean ground turkey

2 28-ounce cans crushed tomatoes

1/2 yellow onion, diced

1 portobello mushroom

1 zucchini squash

1 28-ounce can black beans

spices to taste (I used: cumin, onion salt, chili powder, garlic powder, crushed red pepper flakes, sricha black pepper)

optional: dash of hot sauce

  • In a sprayed pan over medium to high heat, sauté onions 2-3 minutes or until translucent

  • In the same pan, add ground turkey, using a spatula to break it up to ensure it browns evenly

  • While the turkey is cooking, prepare other ingredients: wash and chop portobello mushroom and zucchini squash, and drain and rinse black beans

  • Prepare your CrockPot either with a liner or by spraying the bowl

  • Once the turkey has browned, add turkey and onion mixture to the CrockPot, along with the chopped vegetables, beans, two cans of crushed tomatoes, and any spices of your choosing (and hot sauce, if you like!)

  • Cook on low for four hours or until vegetables reach desired consistency - I taste-tested throughout the day and added more spices as needed

  • Serve with rice, pasta, spaghetti squash, cornbread - whatever you like! Cook any additional side dishes while the chili is cooking.

  • Enjoy!

What's your go-to CrockPot recipe? What about your favorite fall dish? Let me know in the comments below!

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