Saturday, January 15, 2011

Chili and Chilly!

Hey guys! So sorry I haven’t been posting lately. School is back at full swing now and the days get pretty hectic!  I have, however, been documenting my baking and cooking adventures so I have a lot to share.

First I wanted to talk about a vegetarian chili (!!) I made a couple nights ago.
In my family, chili is all about the meat, so I knew it would be tough to create a chili that wouldn’t have the meat lovers calling foul. As I went searching for a good recipe, I found so many chilis that just didn’t pass as chili for me. I’m sorry, but corn has no place in a chili and I have never heard of serving chili over pasta or rice?! I also really wanted to experiment using TVP (textured vegetable protein) as kind of a “ground beef” knock-off in the soup and to add a little chew.  I ended up not finding a perfect recipe but was able to base my recipe off of this one from the whole foods website.
I served the chili with my favorite corn bread recipe, which I will share with you guys down below.
Doesn't that chili look amazing?! And, of course, I used the lovely "brownie pan" for the cornbread. It works perfectly for this (and cut the cook time down by 15 minutes!).

This soup was so easy to put together. It takes a while to cook but you can just walk away while it simmers. The good thing about this soup is that you don't have to think about it too far in advance because it takes much less time then some other chilis, and there's no worrying about having to defrost the meat.
I sauteed up some (okay, A LOT) vegetables with a little olive oil to start.
I love the colors..
Cook them for 10 minutes. You don't want them to brown, though.
Here's after they're all cooked and ready for the next step. Look how much they cooked down!
"One way ticket to flavortown" as Guy Fieri would say..
For the spice factor this soup uses chipotle peppers in adobo sauce that you can find in the Mexican food isle at most grocery stores. They will be in metal cans. Along with the peppers this soup has chili powder,cumin, oregano, and of course salt as flavor and spice agents.

Mix those guys in..
Mmm.. I could eat it just like this...
Then add water, fire roasted diced tomatoes, and a little sugar. You can use normal diced tomatoes, but I found fire roasted diced tomatoes at the store and figured they would add a nice flavor. I tried a piece straight out of the can and wow! They have little bits of char on them; mmmm. 
That simmers for 45 minutes while you walk away (:
Come back and add what the chili is all about, the beans!

 In this picture you can kind of see what the TVP looks like, if you're unfamiliar with the stuff. It kind of resembles flaky bran cereal that can be reconstituted in equal parts water to TVP. It is essentially defatted soy flour. Sound appealing yet? :D

After you add the beans and TVP, you just let it simmer for another 30 minutes. Now would also be the ideal time to put the cornbread in the oven. Then.. you guessed it, walk away!
Oh but make sure to taste it first to test if it needs any more spice or salt.
nom nom nom
Maybe just a couple more "taste tests" know, you never can be too sure..
During all this I was prepping my cornbread for the oven.
Into the brownie pan it goes for 18 cute little squares :D

This is by far my favorite cornbread recipe ever. This will make a cake-like cornbread as opposed to a denser one, which is what I prefer, but some people like the denser version better. This is also more sweet than savory which is, once again, what I prefer.

Corn Bread
Adapted from All Recipes
1/2 cup applesauce
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 cup lowfat buttermilk
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 tsp. salt
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease an 8 inch square pan.
  2. Heat applesauce until hot in large skillet. Remove from heat and stir in sugar and honey whisking until some of the sugar has dissolved. Add eggs (sugar mixture should not be hot at this point, but if it is then let it cool enough so it won't cook the eggs) and beat until well blended. Combine buttermilk with baking soda and stir into mixture in pan. Stir in cornmeal, flour, and salt until well blended and few lumps remain. Pour batter into the prepared pan.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
I make this cornbread all the time and it always come out a winner.

By now you're probably wondering "Where's the chili recipe already?!" and wonder no more!

Here’s my recipe:
 Vegetarian Chili
Adapted from Whole Foods
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 large green bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
1 large red bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons finely chopped chipotles in adobo sauce
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1-2 teaspoons chili powder (depending on how spicy you want it)
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 (14 ounce) cans fire roasted diced tomatoes, with their liquid
3 cups cooked red kidney beans, drained (two 15 ounce cans)
1 1/2 cups cooked black beans, drained (one 15 ounce can)
½ cup Textured vegetable protein

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions, carrots, celery, peppers and garlic and cook for 10 to 12 minutes, until vegetables are softened but not browned. Add chipotles, oregano, cumin, chili powder and salt. Stir to blend. Add tomatoes, sugar, and 2 ½*** cups water. Gently simmer over low heat, uncovered, for 45 minutes. Add beans and TVP and simmer an additional 30 minutes. Garnish individual bowls with green onions or plain greek yogurt, if desired.
***If you omit the TVP, then reduce the amount of water to 2 cups.

If you don't have TVP it's not a big deal. The TVP wasn't the star and the soup will be amazing with or without it. I will probably still add it whenever I make it because I liked its texture in the soup and its nutrition factor.
My bowl!
See the TVP bits?
Garnished with greek yogurt because that's how we roll in this house. In fact we never buy sour cream and just use greek yogurt in all of its applications. I have to catch my family members when they say "Pass the sour cream" at the table because they forget that its yogurt! Also, they didn't say "please", but I'll let that pass(:

Now on to how the soup tastes: 
WOW. I was worried that this soup wouldn’t live up to my parent’s soup but it was on a league of its own! Though both soups were chilis, this one was more all about the beans and the vegetables while the other one was more all about the tender meat. I absolutely loved this chili and want to make it again very soon, especially with this cold weather. Also, I loved the spice!! If you don't like spicy foods, however, you might want to only add a scant tablespoon of chipotle peppers in adobo.
 A++ dinner.
I also wanted to share with you a guys a little list of snacks/combinations I have been enjoying lately.
First up- Dates + Almond butter!
The perfect sweet and salty combo...
I first discovered the awesomeness of dates and almond butter probably about half a year ago and have never looked back. Melt in your mouth. Weirdly, the combo doesn't taste as amazing when you use other nut butters.
Another great combo... carrots and almond butter!
Eaten while watching "Worst Cooks in America"; love that show!!
Once again, carrots and any other nut butter just won't do it! Its got to be almond, a little goes a long way, too.
Pretzels and mini peanut butter cups!
 I found the perfect ratio is two pretzels to one PB cup. Can you tell that I dig the sweet and salty combination yet?
And lastly, lemon curd with blueberries!
recycled photo
I have enjoyed this combination in the form of muffins, on blueberry banana bread, and just plain with greek yogurt! I'll be one sad child once all the lemon curd is gone.

What's some of your favorite combinations?

More posts coming soon!

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