Mom’s Best Vegetarian Chili

I always try to stay neutral with my favorite season because I think they all bring something important to the table and each have equally enjoyable aspects, you know? BUT I have to say… there really is something special about the fall. I try to play it cool every year, as if I’m not that obnoxious girl that is giddy with the anticipation of cooler temperatures and a change of wardrobe. Nevertheless, I’m the giddy girl. I can’t even deny it. I love getting out my sweaters, my jackets, and my boots. I take pictures of leaves. I buy most any pumpkin-flavored product they put on the market. I eat candy corn. You know the drill.

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The arrival of autumn signals the arrival of the time for all things cozy – mulled wine-scented candles, bonfires, apple cider, and best of all, chili!

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Chili is definitely a “cozy enhancer,” shall we say. It goes well with football games, card games, movie nights, etc. My mother has developed an amazing vegetarian/vegan chili over the past couple of years. She’s pretty much got it down perfectly!

Chili is also a great way to use beans, which are wonderful things! Eric and I always keep cans of black, red, and garbanzo beans in our cabinet because they always make for a quick and hearty meal. If you happen to have the time to make a fresh pot of beans, that’s also wonderful! It just takes a little time.

Beans of any sort:

Soak beans overnight in large bowl of water.

Rinse several times and then put beans in large pot and fill/cover with water (about ½ inch over the beans)

On medium heat, slowly (I mean, slowly) bring beans to a boil.

–       I emphasize slowly because beans boil over easily and make the stinky-est mess ever! You don’t want to have to deal with that on your stovetop, so just be patient.

–       A layer of foam will form on top of the water. If you want to be sure to avoid it boiling over, take a spoon and scrape this foam off and dispose of it.

Once the beans have reached a boil, turn them down to low heat and cover. Let them cook for 1 ½ – 2 hours. Stir occasionally.

Add 1 – 2 tsps of salt when finished.

If you have the time to do this / if you remember to soak your beans the night before, fresh beans are delicious! In the chili I made today, I made the red beans fresh this morning. The black beans and garbanzos I use are from cans. Canned beans will always work equally well for any bean purpose! Especially for chili :)

Mom’s Best Vegetarian Chili (from the kitchen of Sally Bennett)

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 onion, chopped

2 carrots, chopped

1 red pepper, chopped

3-4 cloves of garlic chopped

1 28-oz. can of diced tomatoes

2 Tbsp tomato paste

1 tsp basil or oregano

1 Tbsp + 1 tsp chili powder

1 ½ tsp cumin

½ tsp black pepper

½ tsp cayenne pepper

2 tsp salt

2 tsp brown sugar

1 quart of vegetable broth or broth from beans (I prefer broth from beans – so much easier! And don’t sweat trying to figure out whether it’s exactly 1 quart or not. As long as you add all of the liquid from the cans or broth from cooked beans, there will be plenty of liquid!)

2 cups (1 15-oz. can) cooked small red beans

2 cups (1 15-oz. can) cooked garbanzo beans

2 cups (1 15-oz. can) cooked black beans

2 zucchini squash, chopped or shredded

Saute onion, carrots, and red pepper in olive oil.

Add garlic and cook veggies until soft.

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Add tomatoes, tomato paste, spices, broth, and beans.

Simmer for 30-45 minutes (until flavors are blended)

(Please pardon our horribly dirty stovetop)

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Add chopped zucchini and stir.

Excellent served with cornbread.

Delicious with lots of freshly-squeezed lime juice on top.

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Have a cozy evening, folks!

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Fettuccine Alfredo with Brussel Sprouts and Peas

Fact: Brussel sprouts are probably my favorite vegetable of all time. They get a bad rap all the time, and I honestly can’t understand why. They’re just tiny cabbages… What’s so scary about that?

Speaking of food groups I’m obsessed with, I’m a sucker for anything involving noodles. To me, noodles equal comfort. If you’re having a bad day, noodles. If you’re having a good day, noodles. If you’re going to the beach, noodles (in a plastic sandwich bad). If you’re pulling an all-nighter, noodles. You get the picture.

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The dish I prepared today is one of my absolute favorites. I’m also a sucker for anything Italian, but as you know, it’s hard to come by any Italian dish that doesn’t include gobs and gobs and cheese, which poses a couple of problems for a vegan. This meal is a great example of how being vegan doesn’t mean you have to give up those delicious creamy comfort foods. There are ways to still get that creaminess without dairy products, thankfully!

Nutritional yeast is a brilliant way to get a cheesy flavor and texture. That is what I will be using in this pasta to achieve that good Italian signature creaminess.

Fettuccine Alfredo with Brussel Sprouts and Peas (adapted from VeganFling)

1 12oz. package of fettuccine noodles

8-12 oz. of brussel sprouts (about half a bag, more if you love them as much as I do!)

1 cup of frozen peas

1 cup dry cooking sherry

Salt and pepper to taste

The Sauce:

1/2 red onion diced

3-4 cloves of garlic minced

1/4 cup of nutritional yeast

1/2 tsp of salt

1 1/4 cup of water

1/3 cup of peanut butter

2 Tbsp of tahini (surprisingly, the Whole Foods 365 brand tahini really affordable and good quality!)

2 Tbsp of almond milk

Juice of one large lime

1 Tbsp of olive oil

Cook fettuccine in boiling water and drain. Set aside.

To prep brussel sprouts: cut off bottom part and peel of outer layers (anything that looks dirty or wilted). Then cut down the middle.

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On medium high heat, put a small amount of olive oil in the bottom of a large pot. Place brussel sprouts (cut side down, if possible) in the pot. Let them cook for 5 minutes.

After 5 minutes, add 1 cup of dry cooking sherry and salt and pepper to taste. Warning: the sherry will begin to evaporate very quickly on high heat, so turn heat to low-medium heat before adding it to the pot. Once the sherry is at a soft boil, cover the pot and let it simmer for 8 minutes.

After 8 minutes, add the frozen peas to the pot. Let them cook all the way through. Then, if there is any liquid remaining in the pot, strain the vegetables and add them to the pot of fettuccine.

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In a blender or food processor, combine onion, garlic, nutritional yeast, salt, water, peanut butter, tahini, almond milk, and lime juice. Blend ingredients together until smooth.

Pour the sauce into a pot and allow to cook on low heat for about 5 minutes. Stir in the olive oil.

Pour sauce over noodles and vegetables. Mix everything together.

EAT UP!

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In this house, a meal often seems incomplete without Cholula Hot Sauce. This pasta is no exception. Chipotle Tabasco will also be acceptable. We are advocates for the use of any hot sauce on any kind of food at any time of day.

At our wedding, we provided every guest with a small bottle of Cholula to take home (with tiny silhouettes of our faces included, don’t worry). Evidently, not everyone took their bottle, because we have an endless supply of Cholula at the moment. I don’t hate it.

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Our small army of Cholula bottles. (Photo credit: Love Is A Big Deal – the best wedding photographers of all time!)

Whidbey Island Quinoa Salad

My momma is the reason I cook. She has always been able to create magic in the kitchen, a trait that she comes by honestly since my grandmother is the queen of southern cookin’. Momma is always making up new recipes and exploring new ways to be vegan. She inspires me (and everyone else who knows her) on a daily basis.

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For this week, I decided to collaborate with my momma for this recipe. My parents just got home from a three and half week trip in the Pacific Northwest and the Canadian Rockies. When they got home, momma made up this recipe based on a dish she had at a restaurant on Whidbey Island in Washington State during their trip. Of course she didn’t write down what she did the first time she made it, so we recreated it today in order to document the yumminess so that others can enjoy it!

So, without further ado, I present to you…

Whidbey Island Quinoa Salad (or the Everything but the Kitchen Sink Quinoa Salad)

Prep time: 45 minutes

The Quinoa:

1 ½ cup of quinoa

1 ½ cup of water

2-3 Tbsp of lemon juice

1 ½ tsp salt

Ground pepper to taste

When you’re buying quinoa, it’s nice to buy it pre-rinsed if possible. However, if you can’t find it or just don’t want to spend the extra money (because it’s usually the organic fancy kind), it’s an easy fix!

Soak 1 ½ cup of quinoa in cool water for about 15 minutes.

In a fine mesh strainer, rinse the quinoa with cool water until the runoff looks clear and clean.

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Combine the clean quinoa with 1 ½ cups of water.

Add lemon juice, salt, freshly ground pepper.

Turn on medium heat and bring quinoa to a simmer.

Once the quinoa is simmering, cover and reduce heat to low.

Cook for 30-35 minutes.

When you can see that all the water has been absorbed, remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes.

Allow quinoa to cool in a large mixing bowl for about 10 minutes before adding the rest of the ingredients to the bowl.

These instructions are adapted from the Low Fat Vegan Chef – she has tons of awesome recipes and ideas. You should definitely check out her blog!

While the quinoa is cooking, get chopping on these veggies!

The Salad:

½ red onion diced

2 cups frozen green peas

2 cups frozen corn

1 red pepper chopped

1 carton of cherry tomatoes quartered

1 small cucumber chopped

1 small zucchini chopped

1 14 oz. can of water-packed artichoke hearts chopped (Trader Joe’s brand is great and cheap!)

1 cup of craisins

1 cup of walnuts chopped

1/3 cup of good quality Balsamic vinegar

Cracked pepper and salt to taste

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Thaw frozen peas and corn in hot water or in the microwave before adding to the salad.

When quinoa is cooked and cooled, add all ingredients to large mixing bowl.

Add 1/3 cup of Balsamic vinegar, along with cracked pepper and salt to taste.

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Serve chilled if you have time to wait. But really, it’s a yummy dish any way you serve it.

Garnish with a sprig of parsley.

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The great thing about this dish is that even with a hungry husband or hungry kids waiting at the table, it will last for several meals!

Big thanks to my mom for, first of all, motivating me to be a better cook! And secondly, for helping me out on this blog post. You really are the best :)

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