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.

July 12, 2010

A Passage To India – Part 1: Spicy Lentil Dal

This recipe came from a good vegetarian and fellow-homeschooling friend of mine, when our families were doing an Indian Feast as part of our Unit Study on the country.   I loved this dish immediately!  I pretty much demanded the recipe and have made it nearly weekly since.  It’s full of so many really good-for-you foods like Turmeric, Garlic, Onion and of course, Lentils.  This versitile dish can be served as your main course over Basmati Rice, or as a spread on freshly baked flatbread, or as a dip for chips! 

What you need:

2-3 cups Vegetable Broth

1 cup dried Lentils, well rinsed

1-2 Tbsp Canola Oil

1 Large Onion

3 cloves garlic

1 tsp Yellow Mustard Seed

1 tsp Cumin

1 tsp Turmeric

1/2 tsp Crushed Red Pepper

1/2 tsp Coriander

1/2 tsp Black Pepper

1/2 tsp Salt

1/2 Cup Coconut Milk

1 Tbsp Tomato Paste

Juice of 1 Lime

What to do:

In a medium saucepan, cook lentils in 2 Cups Vegetable Broth over medium heat until tender. 

While lentils are cooking, chop onion.  There is an easy way to do this:

Cut off stem end of onion.

Then, cut in half from root end to cut end…

…and remove outer skin.

Ooooh…they’re NAKED.

Now, cut in about 1/2 inch slices, but not all the way through to the root end.

Then, turn onion and slice the opposite direction.

Keep going…

TA DAH!  Chopped Onion – quick and easy!

Now, chop garlic. 

I can’t recommend an easy way to do this, but my preferred method is to ask my hubby to do it for me. 

He likes to play with knives anyway, just like my boys.

You can also use a garlic press or even jarred garlic, as those are my two back-up plans in the event he isn’t around and I am feeling too lazy to chop it myself.

I think my favorite step in this recipe is measuring all the wonderful, aromatic spices into a small bowl. 

It always makes me feel as if I’ve created a masterpiece.  Isn’t it pretty?

Now, heat the canola oil in a large skillet, then add the onions and garlic to the pan.

Saute for just a minute or two.  Then, add the spices. 

Warning:  This is going to smell really good.  You may need to grab a quick snack at this point, since this won’t be ready for a while.

Stir the spices around and continue to saute until your onions are translucent.

Then, add the coconut milk, tomato paste and lime juice to the pan.

Then, add the lentils.

It is with the utmost regret that I tell you I don’t have a photo of the remaining steps.

I will get better at remembering to take photos while cooking, I swear.

I just get so carried away with the cooking part to remember the photo-taking part.

I’m just not good at multi-tasking, I guess.

Again, I’m truly sorry.

Okay, so add the cooked lentils and let simmer until thickened.  You actually may have to add some vegetable broth at this point if the lentils have soaked up all the juice.  I usually add about another cup of liquid, and then let simmer until thickened back up.

Save the rest of the vegetable broth in the refrigerator (I buy mine in a 32 oz container) because you are going to need it for tomorrow’s recipe.

Fortunately, I did have sense enough to take a photo before I ate.

The Spicy Lentil Dal is up there between 12 and 3 o’clock, sitting happily atop Brown Basmati Rice, and beside Spicy Green Beans, and Indian Cauliflower.   I’ll be posting those recipes in the next two parts of this series, coming over the next couple days, so please check back!

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