Tempeh Two Bean Chili

So I know that in my last post I made all of these declarations about how I was going to be showering you with quick meals for the week that will keep your hangry self from imploding as soon as you walk in the door from work/school/saving the world, one canker sore at a time.  I know that I said that, but I have to digress for one post. You see, last week it dipped down into the 20s in Boston! Okay, it was actually the 50s, but that’s too goddamn cold for September and everybody knows it. Cold temps = hot soup. That’s just the way it is. I know every food blogger from here to Kathmandu is making pumpkin cakes and drinking PSLs, but this week I just had to put on my long underwear and make chili. YOU’RE SO AHEAD OF THE SEASON, IZZY!

I know, blog reader, I know.

 

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But this chili is RULL GOOD. So, I don’t know, bookmark it for the first really cold weekend and make it then. Or if you’re my mom and aren’t familiar with bookmarking, print it and stash it away in your recipe box until November. No, mom, I won’t tell you how to print.

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The great thing about this recipe is that it’s stick-to-your-ribs-keep-you-warm-for-winter filling. The tempeh is so good and protein-filled and makes for a very hearty meal. Serve it with a hunk of bread and you’re all set for hibernation mode.

What’s that? It’s only September? Oh, shit.

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Tempeh Two Bean Chili

The fun thing about this chili is that you can really use whatever beans you want. I’ve made it three ways: black + pinto + chickpeas, black + cannellini, AND black + decker.

(Serves 4)

  • 2 Tablespoons olive or coconut oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper (red or yellow)
  • 1 package tempeh, crumbled
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 4 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 4 cups vegetable stock (or water + season to taste)
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen corn
  • 2 cans black beans
  • 1 can bean of choice (kidney, pinto, cannellini, chickpeas. Just don’t use navy beans. Those strike me as weird.)
  • 1 Tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 Tablespoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • chopped scallions (optional, for garnish)

1. In a pot with a nice, heavy bottom warm oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and onions and sauté for 6-7 minutes, or until it starts to sizzle and the onions begin to turn golden. Add the chopped pepper and sauté for another 4-5 minutes.

2. Add the tempeh. Spread it throughout the pan and cook over medium heat for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. I told you this wasn’t a very quick meal. Once the tempeh has golden brown bits, add the tomato, vegetable stock, corn, beans, tomato paste, and spices. Cook uncovered over medium-low heat for another 15-20 minutes. The soup will thicken up and turn very hearty. Garnish with scallions and serve hot.

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HangryMeals Part I

Last week I went to a Red Sox game with my friend Hannah and rather than paying a single speck of attention to baseball (the obvious choice) we spent a lot of time talking about food. Okay, the majority of the time. Specifically, Hannah was curious what tips I had on cooking while juggling work, spending time with Ben, and general being a human being. I spit her the wisdom that I had, then got thinking. I put a call out on Facebook asking if anyone would be interested in a series of tips and recipes devoted to quick I-just-got-home-I’m-so-hangry-FEED-ME meals. A lot of you responded that you’d be interested, so consider this the first #hangrymeal guide! This week I’m talking about writing a shopping list; next week I’ll get into some of my recipes for making dinner fast for those of us who are prone to becoming hangrypants.

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I don’t think it’s a groundbreaking discovery to say that one of the keys to quick weeknight meals is preparation. I am skeptical when I see long Pinterest posts about “quick DIY meals for the week!” which involve about six hours of preparation on Sundays. I may have more time on Sundays than I do mid-week, but I (someone who loves to cook!) still don’t want to write off half of my glorious, lazy Sundays to making 25-step enchiladas.

So my advice is to shop wisely (THANK YOU CAPTAIN OBVIOUSPANTS). Make a list, check it twice, find out who’s naughty or nice, then go to the grocery store. I am going to start with dinners, but if you feel strongly that I include more on breakfasts and lunches, let me know! Below are some of ma main tips on meal planning and shopping to avoid spending a lot of doll hairs:

  • Include a star ingredient. When planning a meal, I always try to incorporate a “key” ingredient that adds some substance to a dish. Yeah, we could eat stewed kale every day… but would we want to? Star ingredients in my book are: tempeh, tofu, seitan, lentils, beans, hearty vegetables (sweet potatoes, potatoes, mushrooms, eggplant, cauliflower, etc)
  • Vary color & texture. Build this into how you plan a meal. This will not only make it look sexy as hellllll, but it’ll make you want to eat it more AND probably include a wider variety of food groups (and nutrients). I like sprinkling chopped nuts or seeds on top of stir-fries and curries, and try to include some kind of green, yellow, or orange vegetable in most dishes that are lacking color
  • FLAVA FLAVE. A lot of vegan/vegetarian ingredients are naturally sponge-like in their ability to absorb flavors. Think: tofu, potatoes, rice, quinoa… Go for strong, potent ingredients and don’t be shy! I start almost every dish with onions and TONS of garlic. Fresh ginger, spice blends (such as curry powder), and fresh herbs go a long way too. Most dishes benefit from acidity in the form of citrus zest or juice. Condiments like hot sauce, Dijon mustard, and soy sauce add pop where it’s necessary. These are pantry staples and if you don’t have them, go get them!
  • A few more pantry staples that I love: coconut milk, vegetable bouillon, tomato paste

Okay, now that you have a sense of what you want to include in your meals, you can start making a list of what to get for the week. This week, I made a trip to the farmers’ market and a trip to Stop & Shop. Ben and I switch up our grocery runs between there and Market Basket, Trader Joe’s, and the occasional trip to Whole Foods. This week at Union Square Farmers’ Market I got: potatoes, corn, swiss chard, peaches, tomatoes, an onion, sweet potato, peppers, and squash.

On our Stop & Shop run we got this stuff (I threw in a couple things I’d grabbed at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods to give you an idea of what freezer items we buy):

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Our go-tos are: rice, beans, pasta, frozen fruits and veggies (I LOOOVE frozen stuff, I’ll talk more about this later), tempeh, hummus, cereal, dairy-free milk, nuts, frozen burritos (Amy’s are the best). Not pictured are other favorites: peanut/almond butter, jam, lentils, oats, crackers for the hummus.

This about covers our week in groceries that we shop for. I’m planning to make a trip to our favorite bakery (Iggy’s!) some time today or tomorrow to grab a loaf of bread and half a dozen bagels.

My plan for the week is to make:

-vegan roasted red pepper pasta

-coconut summer squash curry (loosely this recipe)

-cannellini bean and chard stew

-BBQ tempeh stir fry with peppers and onions

One night this week we’re going out to dinner with some friends, so that’s built into this. For those interested in budgeting, this haul from the farmers’ market and grocery store cost about $80 for two people. We usually spend somewhere between 50 and 80 per week, depending on how much we need to replenish things and whether we go out or not. How much do you spend per week on groceries?

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The Only Vegan Blueberry Muffin Recipe You’ll Ever Need

Last spring Ben and I sat across from each other at my kitchen table making a list of places to move. Very first on the list was Prague.

The plan was to go and teach English, drink beer, and scrape together whatever money we made to eat and travel and be vagabonds for a year. The more we looked into the reality of plane tickets and TOEFL certification the more we realized this plan was half baked. Or not even half baked… totally raw.

We moved down the list, crossing off places that required visas, immunizations, or borderline (okay, complete) tax evasion and finally landed on Boston. I grew up in the area, riding the MBTA and booing the Yankees at Fenway, but I had lived in Wisconsin for five years and moving to the east coast would be a totally new experience for Ben. Never mind the fact that a bigger city meant more opportunity for young college graduates and we would both be about 1,000 miles closer to our extended families and wicked bad drivers.

I remember telling my mom that we were moving to Boston. A few days later I started receiving copies of the “G” section of the Boston Globe (which features restaurants, arts, and entertainment) and little notes like “we’ll go there together!” and “MFA exhibit opens in June!” scribbled in the margins. Someone was a little giddy.

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When I told people I would be moving back to the 617 area code most asked how often I planned to see my parents. I staunchly replied once every two weeks, maybe less. But as soon as we arrived my twice-a-month guideline turned into at-least-once-a-week. My parents are actually the bomb.com and it’s not doing anyone a favor to cut off gin and tonic-filled Sunday afternoons or impromptu blueberry muffin deliveries. (My mom has recently perfected the art of vegan baking substitutions and respectfully asks whether I would like her to bring over some muffins or cake. The answer is obviously always yes).

I’m not positive Ben and I will be in Boston for the long run, but for now it’s great. Yesterday was my mom’s birthday and we were able to celebrate with her, which was special (and pretty pleasantly drunken). The list of perks of living near my parents goes on and on, but some are really hard to beat. Muffin anyone?

  • 1/2 cup Earth Balance (or other non-dairy butter)
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 flax “eggs” (2 Tbs flax meal + 6 Tbs water)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 cups blueberries (mash 1/2 cup with a fork)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar mixed with 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
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Preheat oven to 350*

1. Make the flax “eggs” by combining ground flax seed and water. Set aside until it reaches a gel-like consistency (this usually takes about 3-4 minutes).

2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder, nutmeg, salt) and mix well. In a separate bowl, combine the wet ingredients (margarine, vanilla, almond milk, and prepared flax “eggs”). Pour the wet into the dry and stir well to incorporate. Mix in the blueberries.

3. Grease a muffin tin with baking spray or a bit of coconut oil. Pour the batter into the tray so that the muffin slots are about 3/4 full. Pop the tray into the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the centers are firm.

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