Butternut Squash Chili – Meatless and Gluten Free

Ever have an occasion when you’ve had to bring in a dish to share? At the preschool, we take turns bringing in lunch once a month. This month was my turn. I decided to make Butternut Squash Chili since it’s one of my favorite recipes (adapted from Butternut Chili at Gluten-Free Goddess ) and feeds a lot of people. Not only do I think it tastes great, but it’s so visually appealing with all the colors of the vegetables. Did I mention it’s meatless and gluten-free?

I’m hoping the teachers will enjoy this chili as much as I do. So, here I come with my big pot of chili and announce to the teachers this is our lunch today. I could see the skepticism on their faces. Meatless chili with butternut squash, you’re kidding, right?

Then, the reviews came in – it was delicious! I actually had a friend tell me later that she was afraid to try it. However, since she trusts my cooking, she tasted it. She immediately asked for the recipe – how great is that?

Now, there are a lot of ingredients involved in making this chili. I don’t know about you, but if there’s a lot of ingredients to a recipe, I sometimes feel like a chicken with it’s head cut off and keep wandering around gathering and chopping. So, I’ve developed a system for this recipe to be more efficient:

Measure the spices and set aside.

Chop the celery, red and green peppers and toss into a bowl. Measure 2 cups of squash (add more if you wish). Keep the red onion separate.

Open all the cans. Drain and rinse all the beans together.

Have the prepped ingredients as close as possible as they are all added at the same time after the spices, garlic and red onions are cooked in heated olive oil for 3 minutes.

After all the ingredients are added, bring to a boil and simmer for an hour (or until the sauce is thickened and vegetables are soft).

5 from 1 vote
Butternut Squash Chili
Butternut Squash Chili
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
1 hrs
Total Time
1 hrs 20 mins

A delicious meatless and gluten free chili.

Servings: 8 Servings
  • 2 Tbls. extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. ginger
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, cored, seeded and diced
  • 2 cups butternut squash, cubed
  • 3 cups vegetable broth, gluten free
  • 1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 1 4 oz. can mild diced green chiles
  • 2 14 oz. cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 14 oz. can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 Tbls. balsamic vinegar (check label to make sure gluten free)
  • 1 Tbls. honey
  • 1 8 oz. shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 8 oz. sour cream
  • corn tortilla chips
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the spices and garlic and stir for a minute. Add the onions and stir for three more minutes.

  2. Add the remaining ingredients. Cover the pot and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer covered for an hour for the flavors to meld and the sauce to thicken.

  3. Garnish: Top with cheese, add sour cream and serve with corn tortilla chips.


Happy eating!

Did you try this recipe?

Let me know how it turned out for you! Leave a comment below and share a picture on Instagram with the hashtag #wistfullywarped.







Make Your Easter Table Special With This Easy Floating Easter Centerpiece

Easter Centerpiece

Easter is almost here! Are you hosting an Easter meal? Are you concerned about a centerpiece for your table? Here’s an easy Easter centerpiece that will make your guests think you are genius!


  • Mug or tea cup
  • Saucer or small plate
  • Fork
  • Moss
  • Figurine
  • Assorted flowers
  • Glue gun

Whenever I come up with some idea for a project, I always scout out thrift stores. Since I volunteer as a cashier for the Dorcas Shop in Cary, NC, that is always my first stop.  I found a beautiful cup ($.25), plate ($.50), fork ($.25), bunny figurine ($.50) and a scarf ($1.00) I thought would be fantastic for this project.

Next, I made a trip to my local craft store to find some flowers to add to my design. So far, I have a color pallet of white, yellow and green so I knew I wanted to add some flowers which would compliment and contrast this pallet.

After assembling all the supplies, it’s time to start creating!

The first step is to bend the fork so the tongs sit on the plate and the handle fits against the cup at the desired angle.

Add a large quantity of hot glue to the center of the plate and position the fork into the hot glue. Hold the fork until the glue starts to set. After the glue sets, cover the fork with more glue to secure.

Add a large quantity of hot glue to the center of the cup and position the handle of the fork. Hold the cup against the fork until the glue sets. Add more glue to secure the fork to the cup.

Now, the fun begins! Hot glue the moss to the cup, down along the fork and onto the plate. This is now the base of your arrangement. Arrange the figurines and flowers until you have an arrangement you’re happy with. Use hot glue to adhere the figurines and flowers in place.

I used my scarf and came up with this:

Then, I recreated the arrangement with moss and this is how it turned out:

Which do you like better?

Happy creating!



Did you try this project?

Let me know how it turned out for you! Leave a comment below and share a picture on Instagram with the hashtag #wistfullywarped.



Italian Meatloaf with Fresh Basil, Sun Dried Tomatoes and Provolone

This is meatloaf like your mother never made. I really hated meatloaf until I came upon a recipe in Cooking Light from August, 2000. Yes, I’ve adapted and made this recipe for that many years. It’s that good. It also makes the most phenomenal meatloaf sandwiches.

Meatloaf With Fresh Basil, Sun Dried Tomatoes and Provolone
  • 1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
  • 3/4 cup onion, finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup fresh basil, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup shredded provolone cheese
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and spray a broiler pan with cooking spray.

  2. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Use your hands to mix and shape into a loaf. Spread a thin layer of ketchup over the entire loaf.

  3. Bake for 1 hour or until an instant thermometer registers 160°F. Let stand 10 minutes before slicing.

During all those years of meatloaf making, I also discovered how to craft them into works of art. No kidding, apparently I can’t help playing with my food. I’ve gotten a little crazy with my meatloaves. What does that mean? Here are some examples:


Maybe there’s an event your participating in and want to show your excitement and support. What better way then with a meatloaf?




Or, perhaps someone came to visit and you had a great adventure touring a historical monument. This is my ode to the Battleship North Carolina.




Then, there was the time a friend gave me a pound of ground meat. I used it to sculpt his portrait. Mashed potato hair! I had to use M&Ms to replicate his blue eyes.






How’s this for the best “get well” card ever? Mashed potatoes, slices of cheese and crumbled bacon made this extra delicious.






When you’re visiting your parents and they live in another state, make them a state-shaped meatloaf for dinner!





To commemorate the Last Supper, use sweet potatoes, russet potatoes, red onions, and sugar snap peas to turn your meatloaf into a complete meal.



Dinner is always exciting at my house. Happy eating!




Did you try this recipe?

Let me know how it turned out for you! Leave a comment below and share a picture on Instagram with the hashtag #wistfullywarped.



Heart In A Cupcake – A Cupcake With A Surprise Inside

Do you love to share your love through baking? Well, this is a special treat. Perfect for Valentine’s Day or any other day to show your love. The outside is cute, but there’s a heart in this cupcake!

These are chocolate cupcakes with a pink vanilla heart inside, topped with raspberry buttercream frosting and decorated with a Royal iced mini-sugar cookie. Okay, I admit this is a bit over the top. This will take two to three days to complete all the steps. (Not two complete days – that would be crazy.) You can always decorate with something than the sugar cookie. Pink or white pearlized nonpareils would be just beautiful.

However, since I made them, I’m going to give you the complete instructions and you can decide which direction to take your treat.

The first step is to make the sugar cookies:

Since Royal icing takes at least a day to dry, make and decorate the cookies the day before. OR, even better, make them days ahead of time and store them in an airtight container in the freezer.

If you’ve never used Royal icing before, check out  Sweetopia. She has great tutorials about using Royal icing and I always follow her guidelines.

Sugar Cookies With Royal Icing
  • 1 cup butter
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, sifte
Royal Icing
  • 1 Tbls. Meringue powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Meringue powder
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 3 Tbls. warm water and add more water to desired consistency
  • Pink Gel Color
  1. Cream together the butter and sugar.

  2. Beat in the add and vanilla.

  3. Slowly add the sifted all-purpose flour until well combined.

  4. Chill the dough 3-4 hours.

  5. Preheat the oven to 350°F. On a floured surface, roll out the dough to about 1/4" thickness and cut with cookie cutters.

  6. Bake for 8-10 minutes and cool completely before icing.

Royal Icing
  1. Beat all ingredients on low speed for a few minutes until incorporated. The icing should be thin enough to "flow".

  2. Add small amount of gel color and mix until blended. Continue to add gel color and mix until desired color.

  3. Using a piping bag fitted with a #2 tip, outline the cookie. In a zig-zag manner, fill in the outline with the frosting. Shake the cookie gently so the frosting flows. Tap down any points in the frosting with a toothpick.

Next, make a vanilla cake to cut the hearts out of:

Pink Vanilla Cake
  • 6 Tbls. unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 large eggs (crack 3 - mix up, measure 1/2 and save the other 1/2 for another purpose
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup + 2 Tbls. + 2 Tsp. whole milk
  • red food color
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

  2. Sift all dry ingredients and set aside.

  3. Cream the butter and sugar in a stand mixer until fluffy.

  4. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix completely.

  5. Add a bit of the dry ingredients at a time, alternating with the milk. Mix until each addition is fully incorporated before adding the next. Scrape down the sides of the bowl periodically during this process.

  6. Mix in the red food coloring 2-3 drops at a time until desired shade of color is reached. The color will lighten while baking, so keep that in mind.

  7. Continue beating the batter on medium-high for another 30 seconds.

  8. Pour about 1 1/2 cups of the batter into a nonstick or lightly greased 9-inch square baking pan. (Yes, there will be batter left over.) Bake for about 20 minutes or until tester comes out with a few crumbs. Allow the cake to cool completely.

After the cake is cooled, loosen the cake from the pan by running a knife around the edges and carefully invert the pan onto a cutting board. Use a 2-inch heart shaped cookie cutter to cut hears from the cake. Set the hearts aside while mixing up the chocolate cake batter.

On to the chocolate cupcake batter and adding the pink vanilla cake hearts: I tried using my favorite chocolate cupcake recipe, but it didn’t work well for this project. The mixture is too liquid and the heart cakes ended up floating, and, well, just don’t use that recipe. I tried this one from Taste of Home and it worked great.

Chocolate Batter And Making A Heart In A Cupcake
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup baking cocoa
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup strong brewed coffee, cooled
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Using a non-toxic marker, make a small dot on the edge of 12 paper liners and place in a standard muffin tin with all dots facing the same direction.

  2. Cream the butter and sugar in a mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla until well incorporated.

  3. Combine and sift the dry ingredients. Gradually add to the creamed mixture alternating with buttermilk and coffee. Beat well after each addition and scrape down the sides of the bowl often.

  4. Spoon in 1 1/2 Tbls. of batter into the prepared tins. Place a heart in each cup - the bottom of the heart pointing down and the front of the heart facing the dot on the cupcake paper. Press the heart gently into the batter. Carefully, cover the heart with another teaspoon (or a little more) with more batter. Make sure the batter covers the heart - but do not overfill as the goal is to crown nicely and not go over the edge of the tin when baked. (You will NOT use all of the cupcake batter.

  5. Bake for about 20 minutes until toothpick inserted (not in the center as that's where the heart is and already baked!) comes out clean. Do not over bake. Cool completely.

Are you still with me because we still have to make frosting!

Finally, we’re going to make Raspberry Buttercream Frosting: I like tons of frosting, so this recipe will generously cover 12 cupcakes with some left over.

Raspberry Buttercream Frosting
  • 3 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 or more tsp. liquid from frozen raspberries
  1. In an electric mixer, cream the butter on medium-high speed.

  2. Turn the mixer to low and slowly add the sugar until all is incorporated.

  3. Add vanilla and raspberry liquid and beat for another few minutes until light and fluffy. Do not add too much liquid or the frosting will not be stiff enough to pipe.

Finish: Frost the cupcakes using a piping bag fitted with a #6B tip. Add a mini-sugar cookie.

To see the heart inside, look for the dot on the cupcake liner and cut the cupcake in half parallel to the dot.

What to do with the left over batter and frosting? Add some of each into lined muffin tins and bake for 18-20 minutes. Pip on a dollop of frosting and add a mini-sugar cookie. Go with the theme, “Mixed Up Over You.”

Happy baking!



Did you try this recipe?

Let me know how it turned out for you! Leave a comment below and share a picture on Instagram with the hashtag #wistfullywarped.