Magazine Recipe Review: Slow-Cooker Vegetarian Chili with Sweet Potatoes

I am always cutting recipes out of magazines and never actually making them.  In fact, I have an entire file dedicated to “Magazine Recipes.”  Lately, in an effort to expand our culinary horizons, I have been trying to make at least one new recipe a week.

This week, due to an abundance sweet potatoes and bell peppers sitting our refrigerator, I chose Slow-Cooker Vegetarian Chili with Sweet Potatoes from Real Simple Magazine. I served it over basmati rice, which I made with an infusion of fresh squeezed lime.  It was wonderful meal for a cool, rainy night.

My husband is a picky eater.  He would argue on that point, but I stand by my statement.  Before making the recipe I presented it to him for ingredient approval.  He does not love sweet potatoes like I do, but he signed off on the dinner and out came my Crock-Pot.

I love my Crock-Pot. If I could cook in it every day, I would, but our refrigerator would be overflowing with leftovers we would never finish.  I inherited my father’s aversion to leftovers, though I am getting better, especially if I cooked the leftovers in question.  I will rarely eat food I bring home from a restaurant meal, with the exception of pizza.  A Crock-Pot meal needs at least four hungry people, so I try to make recipes two people will enjoy twice!

Boomer waited for our finished bowls and enjoyed his sampling while watching Monday night football.  Below, he is intensely focused on the Bears and Packers.  He is for the Packers, but he inherently knows they will not win.  For those of you who do not know, Boomer is named after the former New York Jets quarterback, Boomer Esiason.  He has been an avid football fan since his first move to New York in 1995.

Boomer, a red tabby cat, Licking Dinner Bowl

Boomer enjoying dinner leftovers

After licking the bowl and watching the Packers go down in a gallant defeat …  he went to bed, without washing his chin, hoping Aaron Rogers makes it back to the Packers starting line-up soon …

Boomer, a red tabby Persian, napping

Boomer napping after licking … with stuff all over his face.

I had to throw in a little Boomer moment.  Everyone seems to enjoy him, especially me!

I basically made the recipe a directed, except for the addition of a red pepper (because I had one lying around).  It has a very Indian feel to it overall, which we both liked.  It would be excellent served with a side of naan bread.  My husband had two bowls, which is a confirmation of success!

The recipe is quite spicy, so if spice is an issue for you I would cut the chili powder down a bit.  When I make it again, I will double the sweet potatoes as I really wanted more.  The recipe says to serve it with tortilla chips, sour cream, scallions and radishes.  I made the rice and served with just scallions for my husband and sour cream and scallions for me.

A healthy way to get lots of vegetables on a cool night.  If I were giving out stars, I would give it four out of five.

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My Brother-In-Law

Mark and Jonathan: August 12, 2007

My brother-in-law passed away suddenly and without warning last Tuesday, May 1st.

He was a devoted husband to his wife and soul mate, Debbie, and her two beautiful children, Emily and Justin.

Debbie and Mark: August 12, 2007


I do not believe I can write a fitting tribute to Mark,  except to say that every time I was with him, we had a great time.  He loved riding roller coasters more than any grown man I had ever met.  He was a big kid at heart and inspired the kid in you when you were with him.  He was full of joy, and full of life and regardless of circumstances, his zest for life and his love for those he cared about always came through.  I wish geography had not kept us from knowing each other better.

My husband wrote a beautiful tribute to his brother, and that is what I will post here in his honor:

I’m writing this note at the end of a chaotic week of unfathomable loss after the passing of my brother, Mark.  Suddenly and without any warning.  He was 48.

Some of you knew him, some of you didn’t; I wanted to reach out to all of you days ago.  But the news was too terrible.  The wired world of electronic communication can ironically enable private pain, making it easier to hide and avoid the kinds of conversations rare in the age of mobile phones, email and texting.  But it wouldn’t have mattered.  The words didn’t come anyway.

I simply cannot believe I am writing these thoughts about someone who was far more than a central part of my life.  There’s not a single vivid memory of any of my formative and even later years in which he does not play a principal role.  We shared every experience, every encounter and every occurrence of only siblings from a not-so-large immediate family and not a big extended one.

He doesn’t have to be enlarged now, greater than he was in life, but I wish that he be remembered as a sincere and decent person of true talents and the most genuine nature.  He was utterly without guile.  He possessed none of the dark cunning of manipulative people.

He was warm and welcoming.  He was caring to the point of emotion.  More than the “shirt-off-his-back” kind of guy, he would give you the enthusiasm of his convictions.  If he liked you, you had a loyal and devoted friend who might even brag to people who didn’t know you about how terrific you were.  If he loved you, he was all that and more: Part bodyguard, part advocate, part follower, part fan.

Mark was no individualist — he was an idealist.  He preferred the company of others of shared purpose and belief.  He could be inspired, and, in turn, he could inspire others.

He had breathtaking gifts.  Without any real formal art lessons, he could sketch with charcoal, paint with oils, etch glass by hand.  In mere hours, he could build stunningly detailed models.  I once saw him pick up a pen and script calligraphy just from an invitation he’d seen before.

These were no family traits.  I can barely hand-write.

For many years, we had lived on opposite sides of the country and saw each other less and less.  And I took to describing him in different ways to friends and acquaintances, but always with one common detail: My brother has a great, big heart.  I thought that summed up civility, kindness … even honor.  That was him.

Mark could be generous to a fault and loyal to a point beyond that, but even these ostensible flaws are derived from admirable virtue.  This is because his heart held his finest qualities.  So he offered his heart first and always and to many.  Ultimately, his heart failed him.

The flood of memories is overwhelming, but one recollection returns again and again.  I don’t know why.  When we were eight and 12 years old, we were standing in line at a grocery store where we had walked to pick up items for the weekend (kids did that then).  A man looked at us and said, “You two don’t really look alike.  But you look like brothers.”

We were different in many respects, but alike in big ways.  He should be remembered for what was best about him.  And I will remember to be more like his good and gallant ways.

Jonathan Wilcox
May 6, 2012
Woodland Hills, CA


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