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Monday, September 20, 2010

Vegetarian Chili and Cornbread

Until I came across Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP) a decade ago, home-made chili was plain old pinto beans cooked in spicy broth and thickened a bit by mushing some of the cooked beans in the pot,

Since that first time I made a five-alarm chili with cornbread for D's birthday, Chile and Cornbread have become a favorite at home, an inseparable pair in my kitchen. Not the five-alarm kind for me or the kids, though.

Beans and lentils, packed with nutrition, are easy to incorporate in daily diet. This chili can be cooked overnight in a slow cooker. On working days, this used to be my preferred method.

Soak and pressure cook the beans and save them in the freezer (measured into smaller portions so I don't have to thaw the whole batch) during the weekend or whenever I can work it in. Throw the beans, onions, tomatoes, spices, TVP or minced Wheat Meat, together with enough water into the slow cooker and allow to simmer overnight; or start it in the morning before heading off to work and have it ready by dinner time that evening.

There are wonderful cornbread recipes on the web. But here I add my signature flax meal and nutritional yeast. For a quicker version of chili, I sometimes use McCormick™'s Original Taco Seasoning Mix and canned pinto beans with TVP. Otherwise a blend of ground spices work well to adjust the flavors to taste.

Ingredients
For the chili:
½ cup TVP
2 cups cooked pinto beans
1 medium onion, minced
2 or 3 Roma tomatoes, diced
2 or 3 cloves of garlic, minced
chopped cilantro for garnish
spices:
2 to 3 Tbsp McCormick's Original Taco Seasoning Mix
-OR-
1 tsp each of : chili powder, paprika, oregano, cumin powder, coriander powder, onion powder, garlic powder (adjust to taste)
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp canola oil
salt to taste

Preparation
  1. Heat the canola oil in a pot, sauté the onions, garlic, add the spices and tomatoes and stir till spices bloom a bit, throw in the rest of the ingredients, cover and simmer on medium-low for about 45 minutes, stirring on and off and checking that there is enough water.

For the Cornbread
¼ cup flax meal
¼ cup fine cornmeal
½ cup all purpose flour
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp baking powder
1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tsp salt
1 egg
3 Tbsp Smart Balance Omega™ Butter Light
¼ cup milk (plus a few tablespoons more as needed)

[The quantity makes about 6 regular size muffins or a dozen mini muffins]

Preparation
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 375° F and spray or brush some oil in the muffin pan and keep handy
  2. Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl, stir to mix well; cut in the butter till incorporated; then add the milk a little at a time while stirring/whisking to make a thick yet flowing pancake-like batter
  3. Pour the batter into the muffin cups about 2/3rds full and bake in 375° F oven for about 15-20 minutes; check half-way and turn the pan around; it is done when a toothpick inserted comes out clean

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