Thursday, January 15, 2015

Taking off the Chill with Vegetarian Chili and Cornbread Muffins

 I've been trying to stay on the ball with cooking and having lots of left overs to take to work for lunch, but also to have on the evenings that we don't get home until 5:30 or later, which seems like most days. I'm sure I have said it before, I hate the cold! Last week it was so cold here in Maine that some schools were canceled. In Portland it was only 11 degrees below zero, but a little further north it was 35 below! In order to try and stay motivated to be active, I have signed Zsuly up for swimming lessons, hip hop and ballet at the YMCA. This past weekend we went ice skating on the pond at Deering Oaks Park. It was chilly! We only made it one way across the pond and back before our toes and fingers felt like ice cubes. 

Then there are those magic moments of winter, like yesterday. It snowed all morning and into the afternoon. It was the perfect light and fluffy snow that made everything quiet and slow. I took a short walk at Fort Williams Park in Cape Elizabeth, it was so peaceful, just what the doctor ordered to slow me down and remind me to appreciate my surroundings. Below the crunching sound my boots made in the fluffy blanket of snow, I would unexpectedly slip, falling a few times, from the slick ice beneath. But it was like meditative heaven. I could hear the muffled foghorn off the coast, the frigid waves rhythmically crashed on the shore below. I felt like I was captured in a black and white photo from forgotten times. I could almost hear the echoes of children's laughter bouncing off the stoney walls of the ramshackle mansion on the hill. I really needed those few moments to remind me of what it is I enjoy about winter. 

Here are a couple of recipes to warm up your chilly bones. I will post the cornbread muffins separately, please don't miss out on them, as cornbread and chili go together like coffee and cream. 

 Quick Vegetarian Chili


  • 4 cans beans, drained (2 kidney, 1 black, 1 garbanzo) 
  • 2 medium onions, chopped fine
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 can 28-ounce crushed tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 2 tsp. chili powder
  • black pepper to taste
  • 3 Tbs. EVOO
Step 1: 
In a medium stock pot, sauté onion and celery until onion is translucent. Add green pepper and garlic, sauté another couple of minutes. 

Step 2: 
Add beans and let simmer on medium-low heat about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally as not to burn. Add spices. Let simmer another 5 minutes. 

Step 3: 
Add tomatoes, simmer uncovered for 20-30 minutes. 

Top with grated cheddar cheese, chopped romaine leaves, dollop of low-fat plain yogurt, sliced avocado, cilantro leaves, and a wedge of lime. Accompany with the cornbread muffins. 

Notes: This is plenty flavorful, but remember, I made it with my 4 year old's taste buds in mind. Too make this even more flavorful or picante, you may want to add a bit more cumin and 1/4 tsp. of cayenne pepper. You could also sprinkle with chipotle chili flakes to add heat and a nice smokey flavor. 

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