Tri-pepper chili and cornbread

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We are at my in-laws house for the holidays this year, and one of Jon’s longtime friends came over for dinner, along with his beautiful family. I offered to make dinner for the entire group, and decided to make tri-pepper chili and vegan cornbread.

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I started off by making the cornbread using this great recipe from Pickles and Honey. This cornbread is amazing and is liked by both vegans and non-vegans alike! After the cornbread cooled, I sliced it up into big squares perfect for dipping and crumbling into the chili.

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I started the chili by sautéing diced onions and minced garlic in some olive oil. After the onion was softened, I added in some ground cumin and coriander, toasting the spices until they were flavorful. Next went in diced tomatoes – lots of them! Fortunately, Kathy (Jon’s Mom) whipped out her electric can opener to help me out, so all I had to do was pour in the diced tomatoes along with the black beans.

While the soup came to a simmer, I chopped up red, yellow, and orange peppers (hence the tri-pepper) which all went into the soup, along with some vegetarian “beef” crumbles.

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Since I was cooking for a group, I was very restrained with my use of hot sauce, chili peppers, and red pepper flakes. So that everyone could personalize the spiciness based on their taste buds, I diced up jalapeños and green onions for toppings. There was also shredded cheddar for the non-vegans.

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The chili made for a great meal for Jon and his friend to catch up over, followed by several games of Zombie Dice that were lots of fun for everyone!

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Hot Sauce!

I was recently inspired to try making my own homemade hot sauce. Given my love of spicy things and how easy it was, I’m not sure why I haven’t tried it before!

I started off by buying a big bag of hot peppers from the farmers market. After receiving a suitable warning from the farmer “you know those are spicy, right?” I knew my hot sauce was off to a good start. Once I got the peppers home, I washed them off and removed the stems.

The peppers all went into my Cuisinart with a good amount of salt. The Cuisinart did its job of mincing everything together, and then the mixture all went into a glass jar to ferment overnight.

After letting the minced hot peppers sit overnight, I added a good amount of vinegar to the jar. Over the next week, the peppers hung out in the vinegar releasing all their flavor and spiciness. At the end of the week, I used my handy immersion blender to blend together the hot sauce. Jon got to try it out tonight on quesadillas, and said it was spicy and flavorful. I think we are both glad there is a big jar of hot sauce for future meals!

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Quesadillas with tomatillo salsa

At the farmers market last weekend, Jon and I had a great quesadilla from one of the stands. Even better, the stand was selling their tortillas. Of course, I couldn’t resist buying some and using them to make my own quesadillas this week.

I started off by making a tomatillo salsa. I chopped up lots of tomatillos (also from the farmers market), some fresh corn, and jalapeños. I mixed all this together with tabasco sauce, lime juice, and red chili flakes, then let it sit so all the flavors would mix together.

Next, I sautéed onions, peppers, jalapeños, and garlic with oregano, chili pepper flakes, salt and pepper. I also added in some veggie “chicken” chunks, then added a little vinegar to add some nice sharpness to the mix. After the veggies were soft and flavorful, I was ready to assemble the quesadillas.

I heated up my cast iron skillet, then placed a tortilla in it to heat up. Each tortilla was topped with a small amount of vegan cheese, fresh corn, and the veggie mixture. The outside of each tortilla got brown and crispy (no extra fat added!), the vegan cheese melted, and all the flavors combined together.

After all the quesadillas were finished, I served them topped with the tomatillo salsa. Even though they weren’t quite as good as our farmers market quesadilla, they were still delicious!

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Philly Cheese “Steak” Sandwiches

Cheese "Steak" Sandwiches with Homemade Fries

Cheese "Steak" Sandwiches with Homemade Fries

Bread Dough Ready to Rise

Bread Dough Ready to Rise

The other night I decided to make philly cheese steak sandwiches with homemade fries. I started off by making homemade whole wheat bread…this is pretty basic with water, yeast, salt, and flour.

Seitan Marinating

Seitan Marinating

While the bread was rising, I started off by marinating the “steak” for the sandwiches. Obviously, I was not going to use real steak for these sandwiches, so decided to use seitan which I think absorbs sauces and marinades really well. I added worcestershire sauce, oregano, salt, pepper, and a little soy sauce to the thinly sliced seitan.

Bread Fresh out of the Oven

Bread Fresh out of the Oven

While the bread was baking, I started preparing the potatoes for the baked fries. I sliced potatoes thinly, mixed them in some olive oil, sea salt, and freshly-ground pepper, and then put them in the oven to get all crispy.

Onions and Peppers Sauteing

Onions and Peppers Sauteing

Next, I started preparing the onions and peppers. I thinly sliced an onion and red pepper and then sauted them in olive oil and oregano.

Seitan Cooking with Onions and Peppers

Seitan Cooking with Onions and Peppers

Once the onions and peppers were soft and flavorful, I added the marinated seitan to the pan to cook.

By now the fries were also done baking. I sliced the bread in half and topped it with the seitan/onion/pepper mixture. Jon’s sandwich got a piece of vegan cheese on top and went into the oven to try to melt (the cheese was not very successful at melting!). Served with the crispy homemade fries, the sandwiches made a delicious (but somewhat messy) dinner!

Yummy Homemade Sandwiches and Fries

Yummy Homemade Sandwiches and Fries

 

Pizza – Great After a Long Hike

After spending several hours out in the sun and wind today, I decided to make pizza for dinner tonight to refuel. Jon and I went on an 8-mile hike. It was a beautiful day to be outside!

Sharptail Ridge

Hiking at Sharptail Ridge

A favorite kitchen toy...the Kitchenaid Mixer

A favorite kitchen toy...the Kitchenaid Mixer

After getting cleaned up at home and hanging out for a little while, I started dinner with one of my favorite kitchen toys, my Kitchenaid mixer. I mixed my pizza dough with water, yeast, salt, whole wheat flour, whole wheat pastry flour, and olive oil. After churning away in the mixer (with almost no help from me!), the dough was ready to rise for a while.

Pizza Dough Rising

Pizza Dough Ready to Rise

When the dough was ready, I chopped up some (vegan) sausage, onions, and red peppers. After slathering the dough with spicy barbeque sauce, topping it with the veggies, some vegan cheese, and some spices, it was ready to bake.

Veggies all chopped

Veggies Chopped and Ready!

Pizza Dough

Pizza Dough Rolled Out

Pizza being topped

Pizza Getting Pizza-d!

After baking for about 20 minutes, it was dough-y and cheesy goodness! Of course, we had to have some greens to go with the pizza, which I topped with a homemade vinaigrette made with white peach balsamic vinegar and blood orange olive oil from EVOO Marketplace – that will make a normal salad taste gourmet!

Dinner was so good it gave Jon the hiccups!

Salad with Vinaigerette

The healthy bit of dinner...salad with homemade vinaigrette

Homemade Pizza

Homemade Pizza with BBQ Sauce, Onions, Peppers, and Vegan Cheese