Monday, September 28, 2015

kind words and chipotle turkey chili

Take a deep breath in. Let it out.

Do you have a mantra you sometimes say to yourself? Lately I've been repeating, Slow down and open your heart.

Slow down. And open your heart.

About a year ago, after a longer than expected period of dedicated attempts, I got pregnant. I was in the best and healthiest shape of my life and thrilled to begin a 10-month (lifelong?) journey of slowing down, opening my heart, and taking care of myself for the sake of another.

Being pregnant was at once humbling and empowering. In many ways, the growth of this tiny person was out of my control. By design, my thinking and worrying and preparing was largely unnecessary and unwanted negative attention. Take care of yourself and get out of the way, my body said. Rest and give us your love. I was overwhelmed and grateful for the awareness that our little baby was his own wonderful person, growing on his own trajectory. My job was to nurture and love and get out of the way. (And yes, of course, take those prenatal vitamins...)

The most impactful moment of my pregnancy, and one I will never forget, was an early 6-week ultrasound to check on baby's growth. We didn't expect to see a heartbeat so early, but there it was visible on the screen. A tiny, miraculous, flashing grain of rice. His beating heart. I had only known I was pregnant for a week or two and had no time to commit extra resources or worry. And yet here he was, beating and loving away on his own. And for the remainder of the pregnancy, I was continually humbled by how strong that little man was and is.

We delivered our son a few weeks early at 5 lbs 2 oz. He arrived to overjoyed and excited parents with work to do (to gain weight) but with vigor and skills to help show us the way.

The hot early summer gave way to a mild August and we spent hours watching him while he wiggled outside in the humid air. Thousands more hours wrestling to get the hang of feeding, swaddling, burping, lullabies, and other cumbersome acts of new parents.

Weeks later, we are still awkward, but moving slower and more confidently. Baby knows what he needs and we follow his lead.

Finley is a joyful, patient, and curious baby and a gift in our lives. Every day we are enjoying getting to know the person he is and will grow up to be.

A year ago, my mantras helped me begin a new chapter of my life at peace and unafraid. I didn't know what would happen or how I would feel. Is this the right path? Will I ever be a mom? How will I spend these next years of life? I was full of budding hope. These words helped me make room and let go of my fear.

If you're a new parent, a hopeful mom, or seeking to make other big changes in your life, I hope these messages resonate with you. Slow down and open your heart. Take care of yourself and let go. Just add water and sunshine. See what blooms. I am cheering for you.

In the midst of all these changes, I haven't forgotten that (suddenly) it's fall and we need heart-warming, belly-filling recipes to go with these kind words and football weekends. I'm sharing with you my favorite recipe for a spicy turkey chili that is easy to make and tasty. 

Admittedly, it's not gorgeous to photograph.  But please enjoy a warm bowl as part of whatever care you need this season.  The recipe follows.

Chipotle Turkey Chili
Adapted from Food Network Kitchens

1 pound ground turkey (dark or light is fine)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 chipotle chili in adobe, coarsely chopped, plus 1 tablespoon adobo sauce from the can (alternatively, use 1/2 teaspoon chipotle chili powder or more to taste)
1 (12-oz) Mexican beer, preferably Negra Modelo amber if you can make it happen
1 large (28-oz) can diced tomatoes
1 (15 1/2-oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
Scallions, cilantro, sour cream, and grated cheese for serving

In a large dutch oven or stock pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onion, garlic, salt, and spices and allow to cook for several minutes until the onion is translucent. Stir often and be careful not to let the garlic turn brown.

Turn up the heat to medium high and add the turkey, tomato paste, and chipotle pepper and adobo sauce.  Use a wooden spoon to stir and break up the ground turkey as it cooks.  Allow to cook until the turkey has completely lost its pink raw color, about 5 minutes.

Add the beer and simmer for 6-8 minutes to reduce the liquid.  Add the tomatoes with juice and the beans.  Stir.  Simmer uncovered for 10-15 minutes more to allow all the flavors to combine.  Taste and add more salt or hot sauce if needed.

Serve with chopped scallions, cilantro, sour cream, grated cheese, and Sunday night football.

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