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Vegetarian Lentil Chili

‘Tis the season for the comfort of one pot meals. If I owned a crock pot, I imagine it would get a lot of use right about now. Honestly I don’t know where the transition was that happened between summer and full-blown fall time. The windshield glass of our car was frosted over the other morning. Today my husband turned the heat on in our house. Winter’s coming… truthfully, I don’t mind.

Stews, chilies, casseroles – it’s what I think of once the weather gets cooler. The beauty of a lentil-based chili is that it requires no previous soaking, unlike dried beans. You can throw it together with much less planning (which, sometimes, is entirely necessary). The following recipe is a very straightforward, easy, vegetarian chili. While the ingredient list may seem long, there’s nothing complicated about it.

 

Vegetarian Lentil Chili

Ingredients:
2 tbsp. oil
1 large white onion, diced
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
¼ tsp. red chili pepper flakes
1 small green bell pepper, diced
1 tbsp. chili powder
2½ tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. smoked paprika
1/8 tsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups red lentils
2- 14.5 oz. cans fire-roasted diced tomatoes, with liquid (or fresh if you prefer!)
1 tbsp. fresh oregano, minced
½ tsp. liquid smoke
1 tsp. vegan worcestershire sauce
3 tbsp. tomato paste
1 tsp. light brown sugar
1 bay leaf
5 cups broth
salt and pepper


Directions

In a large stock pot, sauté the diced onion, minced garlic, and chili pepper flakes in the oil, until the onion is translucent (5-7 minutes). Add the green bell pepper, chili powder, cumin, coriander, smoked paprika, and cocoa powder. Cook over medium-high heat until the bell pepper softens (5-6 minutes).

Add the lentils, tomatoes, fresh oregano, liquid smoke, tomato paste, worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, bay leaf, and broth. Stir to combine everything well. Add salt and pepper to your liking (keeping in mind you can always add more once the chili has cooked for a while – the broth will add some saltiness and the flavors will come together more distinctly as the chili cooks). Cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook for an hour, stirring occasionally.

Check the broth level of the chili occasionally while it cooks, adding more broth as needed (or water). Uncover the pot and cook for an additional 30 minutes. Taste and add more salt and/or pepper to your liking.

Serve hot with toppings such as sour cream, shredded sharp cheddar cheese, minced parsley or cilantro.

Cheesy Herby Scramble

First of all, let’s just put it out there: it takes about 30 minutes of initial complete utter silence and 2 or 3 cups of coffee for me to be a “morning person.” It’s a love hate thing. Once I’m up at the butt crack of dawn (or, say, 6:30 am) and actually awake, I love being up. I feel much more productive throughout the day and I thoroughly enjoy the gradual shift in cold morning temperatures to warm mid-mornings. Even when I was in school, I didn’t mind having to be up early, so long as it wasn’t this urgently rushed affair.

School has started, which means regular bedtimes, wracking my brain for ideas for home-packed lunches, and early hour breakfasts. I’m lucky and seem to have worked out a schedule with my husband I adore: I take care of setting the coffee maker to go off in the early morning hours, pack Silas’s lunches the night before, and then Dad handles breakfast in the morning, allowing me to sleep in. It’s heavenly.

On the weekends, though, we have football games. Early *&^%ing football games. So weekly, I try to relearn the graceful art of being a morning person and get up to make a hearty, energy-fueling breakfast. The typical athletic breakfast around here includes eggs, oatmeal, pancakes, veggie sausage, fruit. The following recipe is more or less my go-to egg scramble. Sometimes I use different herbs (whatever’s growing out in the garden, or available in the kitchen), or incorporate other cheeses, peppers, sundried tomatoes, mushrooms, spinach, garlic, etc. It’s difficult to mess up a scramble, so long as you’re using good tasting and quality ingredients.

 

Cheesy Herby Scramble

Ingredients;

6 eggs
3 Tofurky breakfast links, cut into ¼-inch thick rounds
1 tbsp. garlic butter *
¼ cup milk
1 tbsp. fresh basil, chopped
1 tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
1 tbsp. fresh marjoram, chopped
2 tsp. fresh oregano, chopped
1 tsp. dill
¼ cup shredded sharp white cheddar cheese
2 tbsp. grated parmesan cheese
2 tbsp. feta cheese
salt and pepper, to taste

* To easily make garlic butter, melt one stick of butter. Mince 6-7 cloves of garlic, then stir into the melted butter. Pour into a small container, cover and refrigerate until re-solidified. Use as desired.

 

Directions:

Crack the eggs into a mixing bowl, then beat until frothy and pale yellow in color. Heat a medium-sized nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Add the garlic butter and let it melt. Sauté the Tofurky sausage in the butter until crisp and browned on the outsides.

Whisk the milk into your eggs, along with the basil, parsley, marjoram, oregano, dill, and a good amount of salt and pepper. Whisk the mixture thoroughly, trying to incorporate air into them (for fluffier eggs). Pour the eggs into your melted butter and browned Tofurky sausage, and let them cook for a minute or two, until the bottom of the eggs begin to set. Sprinkle in the cheeses.

Use a spatula to gently push one edge of the egg towards the center of the pan, tilting the pan to allow any liquid to move underneath the set portions. Repeat with all the other edges, until there is minimal liquid left. Continue stirring the eggs gently, until all the uncooked parts become more firm. Try to keep a good portion of the eggs in larger curds. Transfer the eggs to your serving dish or plates once the eggs are set, but still fluffy, soft, and moist. Serve hot, optionally topped with more fresh chopped herbs.

Serves about 3 or 4.