What Life Dishes Out A Gluten Free and (almost) Vegetarian Cooking Blog

November 29, 2010

Magical Mushrooms & “Meaty” Vegetarian Chili

Filed under: Recipes,Soups,Vegan,Vegetarian,Veggies — Tags: , , , , , , , , — admin @ 7:27 pm

Mushrooms are magical.  No, not those kind of mushrooms.  I’m talking about the regular ones.

Minced and cooked, these gems can stand in for meat, bringing an earthy, almost meaty flavor and texture that is way more authentic tasting than any processed soy granules.  Healthier, too!

When I set out to make Chili last weekend, I searched the web and found numerous Vegetarian Chili recipes, and a few called for mushrooms.  It was one of those “Aha Moments”.  I knew that instead of the bag of TVP in my cupboard that I’d had in mind, I’d be using the giant package of fresh mushrooms in my refrigerator. 

Another component of many of the vegetarian chilis were vegetables not traditionally used for chili, like zuchinni and corn.  But I wanted a chili that looked and tasted like real chili.   So, I did what I do best…I adapted.

This recipe is loosely based on an Emeril Lagasse recipe for Vegetarian Chili, which can be found here.

You’ll need:

2 Tbsp Canola Oil

1 large Onion

2 medium Bell Peppers – Red or Green

4-5 cloves Garlic

2 Serrano or Jalapeno Peppers

20 ounces fresh Mushrooms

2 Tbsp Chili Powder

2 tsp Cumin

1 1/2 tsp Salt

1/4 tsp Cayenne

1/4 tsp Pepper

3 large Tomatoes

2 – 15 oz cans beans – I used Red Kidney and Black

1 – 15 oz can Tomato Sauce

1 cup Water

What to do:

Prepare vegetables.  First, chop onion.

Chop Bell Peppers.

Mince Serrano Pepper (remove seeds if you don’t like it very spicy) and Garlic.  I used a food processor to get them very fine.

Chop Mushrooms into very small pieces (think burger meat size).  Again, I used my food processor to make this job easy. 

Chop Tomato.

(Oops!  No photo – sorry!)

Rinse and drain beans.

In a large stockpot, heat Canola Oil.  Add Onions, Peppers, Serrano and Garlic and cook until onions start to become translucent.

Add Mushrooms to pot. 

Cook for a few minutes, then add spices and stir for 30 seconds before adding tomato, beans, tomato sauce, and water.

Cook chili over medium heat, stirring often for about 20  30 minutes before serving.

Serve garnished with shredded cheese and sour cream (if desired), beside a hunk of Cornbread or Tortilla Chips. 

This was so Yummy!  The mushrooms really did a great job standing in for the burger meat.  I never would have known the difference, except maybe for the lack of grease!

While were on the subject of mushrooms, have you ever seen a Fairy Ring?  I had always been told that when you found a ring of mushrooms in the grass, you knew the fairies has been dancing there the night before.  

 See?  Mushrooms really are magical.

We were out playing tennis at a nearby park one day last summer and as happens frequently with unskilled players like us, the ball kept going over the fence (never mind that the fence reaches practically to the sky, we somehow managed to still hit it out of bounds over and over again).   During one ball retrieval trip, I spotted this ring of mushrooms and called everyone over to take a look.  My friend snapped this photo, which I just love.

To learn more about fairy rings and their true cause, check it out here.  I, however, am going to hang onto my belief that it really is a mark of the fairies’ recent visit.

September 22, 2010

Spicy Szechwan Peanut Sauce with Grilled Chicken, Brocolli and Peppers over Pasta

Filed under: Appetizers & Dips,Pasta,Recipes — Tags: , , , , , , — admin @ 7:23 am

I developed this recipe a few years back and since then, this has been a favorite in our household and a regular part of our dinner rotation.  I am constantly passing the recipe along to friends who dine at our house and the dish finds itself falling into their regular repetoire as well.  Not only is this an easy and tasty sauce to be served over pasta or rice with stir fried vegetables and chicken, but it also makes a fabulous dipping sauce for raw veggies!  

 

You’ll need:

For Sauce/Marinade:

2/3 Cup Peanut Butter (Smooth or Crunchy)

8 Tbsp Soy Sauce (Bragg’s Liquid Aminos are Gluten Free)

4 Tbsp Rice Vinegar

1-2 tsp Cayenne Pepper (depending on heat desired)

1-2 tsp Jarred Crushed Garlic (You can use fresh but be sure it is minced very fine or put through a garlic press)

Cold Water (up to 1/2 cup as needed)

For the Pasta Dish:

4 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts

16 oz. prepared Pasta – Gluten Free or Otherwise (I like Rotini)

1 cup Brocolli Florets

1 Red Bell Pepper, cut into chunks

Snipped Chives (or sliced Green Onions)

What to do:

First, make the marinade/sauce.

Put all sauce ingredients, except water, into a bowl.

Mix with a wire whisk to incorporate.  It’s gonna seem hard to mix at first, but just keep wiggling that whisk and the Peanut Butter will start to break up.

You’ll find that as you continue whisk, the sauce will become thicker. 

Once it is thick and smooth, add water a bit at a time, and continue whisking.  You want it to reach the consistency of very heavy cream.

You can serve this immediately or refrigerate for later use.  The sauce will thicken up when cold, but is easy to thin again by bringing to room temperature or, if you are in a hurry, adding a bit more water.  The cayenne will become stronger as it sits, so be careful not to add too much if you are taste testing.  You can always mix more in before serving if you feel it needs it.

Now, grill your chicken.  You can separate out some of the sauce and spread the marinade over the breasts while cooking, or if you have time you can let the breasts sit with marinade on them in the refrigrator for a few hours.  It’s up to you!    Just don’t contaminate the sauce you will be using later with raw chicken!  That’s yucky and just plain dangerous!

Set the chicken aside, and it’s time to cook your veggies.

Heat about 1 Tbsp of Oil in a Wok or Saute pan. 

Stir Fry Peppers and Brocolli (this dish is also great with sliced carrots) until cooked, but still somewhat crunchy.

Okay, it’s time to eat!

Place a portion of cooked Pasta on each serving plate, and top with vegetables and a sliced grilled chicken breast.  Drizzle with the sauce and sprinkle with snipped chives. 

Toss your plate contents together a bit, then take a bite and get prepared to be hooked! :-)

I frequently make this vegetarian-style, without the chicken.  My kids also love this sauce over plain cooked spaghetti and it’s an easy thing to keep on hand so they can throw a plate together on their own.  My husband has been know to go through a pound of cut carrots in a couple days dipping into this sauce!   Even folks who say they don’t like Peanut Butter ask for this sauce when they come over.  Try it, and please tell me what YOU think!

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