Vegetarian Chili – A Crossover for Dinner and Breakfast

It’s been quite a while since my last post, but the holidays were a whirlwind…a very fattening whirlwind. Jake and I have decided to be your stereotypical New Years resolutioners and are trying to start eating healthy again. I promptly went to trusty Pinterest and began pinning all sorts of new healthy recipes. One of them was a vegtarian chili. We happened to pretty much have all the ingredients on hand, so I decided to try it last night. It was good and even better the next day as an open-faced omlet topping. Just add a dollop of sour cream and mmmmm….

Here’s the link to the recipe.

I ended up using black beans and canellini beans becaue it’s what I had available. Otherwise, I would’ve chosen a more typical chili bean, like kidney. I also ended up using one can of whole peeled tomatoes (the Cento San Marzano can) and a box of Pomi chopped tomatoes. This worked out just fine. I also had some butternut squash that was likely only to last a little longer, so I decided to add it to the recipe. This helped, too, because I didn’t have any corn as suggested by the recipe.

I figured the cubed butternut squash might take a little longer to cook through than the other diced vegetables, I decided to throw these in the pot first and cook them for about five minutes. Once they started to cook through a little bit, I took them out and set them aside while I continued on with the recipe.

I sauteed the onions until soft and then added in pressed garlic and the seasonings. I ended up with a somewhat thick mixture.

I then added the remainder of the vegetables to cook down until a little soft. Then, I added in the tomatoes, allowing that to simmer for about 20 minutes. Then, I added in the rinsed beans and added salt to taste. I ended up adding a bit more of the other seasonings, as well, to taste.

Finally, I served in a bowl with a dollop of sour cream and some grated smoked gouda. Feel free to add whatever toppings you like or serve with tortilla chips on the side!

Overall, this dish was easy to make and probably could’ve been easily adapted for the crock pot or the pressure cooker. This made a very healthy portion. We packaged up some of the leftovers and also used some for breakfast the next day. We cooked up a couple of eggs and used the chili as a topping. Of course, we added another dollop of sour cream on top 🙂

Also, I have to say that the chili was even better the next day, after the flavors had a chance to really meld together. If you have the chance to make this ahead of time, I’d say go for it!

Enjoy.

Sincerely,

Fu’d

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Roasted Cauliflower and Chickpea Pitas

This was soooooo good! I made this meal once before, but I changed it up a little this time. I used a recipe from Pinterest (surprise, surprise) as my basis. (Here’s the link to the recipe.) The results were delicious. It was really filling, but I was still craving more.

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The Filling

The recipe calls for two heads of cauliflower. I had one large head, which was more than sufficient for Jake and I who like to eat a lot. First, I cut up the large head of cauliflower and cut off/discarded any really large pieces of the stem. Feel free to keep them if you like, but I wanted to make sure I had enough room filling the pitas to use all the florets.

The recipe also calls for 2 cans of chickpeas. I only used one – drained and rinsed. I put the drained chickpeas on a paper towel, took another paper towel and patted them down, then rubbed my hands around a bit over the towel and chickpeas. This is so I could dry them a bit and also loosen some of the clear shells around them. I picked those away and discarded them. (Don’t go crazy doing this – you could be there forever and drive yourself nuts trying to peel them all away.)

I decided to add a few chopped mushrooms, as well.

With all that in a large bowl, I drizzled some olive oil and added the seasonings. I mixed it around and did a little taste test. I ended up adding some more Garam Masala. I actually also decided to add some cumin and turmeric.

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I spread the filling out on two large baking sheets so there wasn’t too much overlapping and put them in the oven. I would suggest the middle rack. The recipe calls for the oven at 425 degrees Fahrenheit, but I found that to be too hot – I was getting more of some burnt pieces than browned pieces (and my sensitive smoke detector went off, ugh), so I turned the oven down to 400 degrees Farenheit.

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Jake wanted some shrimp, so I planned for two shrimp per pita. I seasoned them with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and paprika. I then cooked them on the stove with a little butter.

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The Spreads

The Pinterest recipe includes directions on how to make an avocado cilantro lime dip. I didn’t feel like going through the trouble of all that, so I made a modified version. It was just one avocado smashed with some plain Greek yogurt, salt, pepper, lime juice, and some thinly sliced red onion.

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The other spread was a carrot sriracha hummus that I bought at our local grocery store. The brand name on the hummus is Lantana.

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The Pita

I also just bought pita from our local store. The brand is Joseph’s – it is a Flax, Oat Bran, and Whole Wheat pita and only 50 calories per pita! These were the smaller kind – only about 5″ in diameter or so. Feel free to use whatever pita you want, though – most kinds should work great.

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I assembled all of the pitas ahead of time, mostly to get a good photo!  Otherwise, I would’ve served it tacos or a fajita style so that we could create our own custom pitas with all the fixings. In the end, this was really good and really filling. Although I wanted more of this, I didn’t even want snacks after dinner, like I usually do! 😉

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Happy eating!

Sincerely,
Fu’d

Vegetarian Cottage Pie – Set It & Forget It

I really love cottage and shepherd’s pie. I can practically eat an entire casserole dish of it on my own, and all in one sitting. If you’re wondering what the difference is between cottage and shepherd’s pie, you’re not alone. Before someone recently brought it to my attention, I thought I had been making shepherd’s pie all these years. However, shepherd’s pie is traditionally made with lamb and cottage pie includes other meats, typically beef.

The way I made this a couple days ago is seriously the new way to cook one of these pies. In this case, I used a vegetarian ground beef. Because of this, I was able to eliminate pre-cooking the meat and I cooked everything in one step in my InstaPot pressure cooker. However, given the many talents of the pressure cooker, I imagine you could get away without pre-cooking real ground meat, too. (I just haven’t tried it. If you do try it, make sure the pressure cooker is set to cook long enough to fully cook the ground meat.)

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Here are the ingredients I used for the “meat” mixture:

  • 1 carrot (medium diced)
  • 1 small onion (chopped)
  • A couple of sliced mushrooms
  • 3/4 cup frozen peas
  • Corn kernels from one ear of corn
  • 12 oz package of vegetarian ground beef
  • 2 Tbsp cup water
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)

Here are the ingredients I used for the mashed potatoes. Increase the amounts if you like or want more mashed potatoes on top than a thin layer.

  • 5 small potatoes (cubed)
  • 1 pat butter
  • 2 Tbsp almond milk (any kind of milk you prefer for mashed potatoes is fine)
  • Sour cream (optional)
  • Salt, pepper, garlic powder, freeze dried chives (to taste)

I stirred all the “meat” mixture ingredients (except the water) together in the InstaPot. I decided to add a tiny bit of salt and pepper. The vegetarian beef I got seemed to already be seasoned, so I didn’t want to be too heavy handed. I sprinkled the water over the top. The water was to add some moisture to the pressure cooker while everything cooked. I patted the mixture down at the bottom to compact it a bit. I left it relatively flat on top, but made a little divot in the center. I’ll tell you why in a moment.

Next, I got a piece of tin foil and made it into a semi-bowl. I placed this in that divot. This was so the sides of the bowl would stay somewhat in tact during cooking and not allow any of the liquid for the mashed potatoes drip out the sides. In the tin foil bowl, I added all the mashed potato ingredients. I didn’t even bother mixing it up.

I put the lid on the pressure cooker and set it to “Bean/Chili” at normal pressure for 25 minutes. If you’re using a veggie beef like me, you could probably get away with 15-20 minutes. If anything, the potatoes would take the longest to cook and that should still be plenty of time.

Once the cooking was done, I did a quick release of the pressure and opened the lid. At this point, the potatoes should be fully cooked through. I dumped the potatoes from the tin foil directly on top of the “meat” mixture. I smashed it right on top and flattened/spread it across. I opted sprinkled some Parmesan cheese on top.

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I also found that the amounts of liquid I originally used made it a little more watery than I’d like, so I set the InstaPot to saute and let some of the extra liquid boil away. This made some of the juice boil up to the top, which I didn’t mind. It gave it a nice rustic/hearty look and brings some of that flavor to the top. Plus, it only took a few minutes and it was literally zero effort.

Finally, the cottage pie was served. We had extra avocado we needed to use, so we added that and a dollop of sour cream.

This is the first time I’ve made this dish in this way, so there is surely some room for improvement. At the very least, I hope this gives you some ideas on how to make your dinner prep and cooking more efficient and still delicious!

Sincerely,
Fu’d

Lazy Eggplant Parmesan

I am a savory foods lover. Yes, my statement is very definitive. Put a cake and lasagna in front of me and lasagna gets the “W” every time. And although the end of this summer has been unseasonably hot, I still have fall peaking into my mind. Those two reasons together make for the perfect excuse to start cooking up warm and hearty dishes.

This post is about a lazy weeknight eggplant parmesan dinner. What makes this dish lazy/genius is that the eggplant does NOT have to be breaded and pan fried like it does in most other recipes. It saves infinite amounts of time and effort. And guess what – the difference at the end for an average person like me is practically undetectable. Plus, load it up if you want more substance/flavor or load it down if you want something lighter and healthier.

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I originally found a similar recipe years ago that was meant for the slow cooker. (Unfortunately, I don’t have that recipe, but I found a simple one if you’d like to try it. Click here for the Crock Pot Eggplant Parmesan recipe.)

What I did is simple. I don’t specify exact amounts here because I eye-balled it and used ingredients I had laying around the house. And like I mentioned before, load it up or load it down – use the ingredients to your taste.

Ingredients

  • Eggplant
  • Tomato Sauce
  • Garden Tomatoes
  • Mozzarella Cheese
  • Italian Style Bread Crumbs
  • Olive Oil
  • Dried Seasonings – Basil; Oregano; Salt; Pepper

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Directions (Summary)

  1. Slice an eggplant, season the slices, and pre-cook (if desired)
  2. Layer tomato sauce at the bottom of the baking dish
  3. Add the following layers in this order:
    • Pre-cooked eggplant slices
    • Breadcrumbs
    • Freshly sliced tomatoes
    • Tomato sauce
    • Dried seasonings (to taste)
    • Mozarrella cheese
  4. Repeat steps 3 – 8 at least one more time

Directions (Comments & Photos)

Slice an eggplant, season, and pre-cook

I used one medium-sized eggplant, sliced. I sprayed the slices with a little olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper. I then popped them into my air fryer for a bit to soften them up. I only did this because I wanted to reduce my overall baking time later. Use more eggplant if you want to create more layers.

If you don’t have an air fryer, consider getting one! I’m a bit biased, as I love mine. (You can read about it here: My Air Fryer: Convection Perfection.) Otherwise, go ahead and bake the slices for a little bit in the oven. If you want to skip the pre-cooking all together, try slicing the eggplant thinner and bake the assembled product a little longer.

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Layer some tomato sauce

I blended some canned San Marzano tomatoes last week to make a margherita pizza and  froze a cup of the leftovers. I defrosted it to use as the sauce in this dish. I recommend you use more sauce than I did. Canned pasta sauce or jarred sauce would work just fine.

I used a 9″ x 13″ glass baking dish. Spray your baking dish first and then layer a little bit of the sauce at the bottom. This probably isn’t necessary, but I always like to put a little coating first.

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Add the rest of the layers and repeat

The rest of the steps from here on are easy peasy.

Layer the pre-cooked eggplant slices so the bottom of the dish is covered. Some overlap  of the slices is OK.

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Then, sprinkle some breadcrumbs. Use as much as you like, but I recommend enough to just barely cover the eggplant slices. I went light on the breacrumbs, as you can see from the photo. Use a little more for more flavor.

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Place some tomato slices over the top. This is a completely optional step. Most eggplant parm recipes don’t use tomato slices like this, but I was given some fresh garden tomatoes. Not only did I think it was a good opportunity to use them up, but I also wanted to counteract the fact that I didn’t have a lot of tomato sauce.

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Pour some of the tomato sauce, making sure to cover any of the areas or cracks that the tomato slices don’t cover. Sprinkle some of the dried seasonings over the tomatoes and sauce. If you have fresh basil, use it! I didn’t have any on hand, so I just used what I have in the spice cabinet.

Spread some mozzarella cheese. I recommend using shredded mozzarella so you can get more even distribution. I had pre-sliced mozzarella in the fridge from last weekend’s pizza, so I tore pieces and evenly distributed. This inadvertently helped me keep the dish light because I didn’t have copious amounts of cheese to saturate throughout.

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Lastly, repeat all those layers at least one more time. If you have more ingredients or want to make it thicker, repeat a third time. Note: I have extra seasonings at the very top because I actually forgot to add seasonings on my second sauce layer and decided to add them after the fact. (See? That’s how flexible this recipe is!)

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I covered my dish with tin foil and baked at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes. I took the foil off and increased the temperature to 425 degrees so that I could get some of the golden brown color on the cheese. This will probably take 5-8 minutes or so, but keep an eye on it. You can even choose to broil at the end instead.

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The photo (below) of the eggplant served in the dish is actually 2 servings piled on top of each other. Since my assembled eggplant parm was 2 layers high, the total served portion is 4 layers.

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We had leftovers with just the two of us, so I actually used them for dinner tonight. I paired it with the leftover quinoa salad from Labor Day, and served some air-fried kale on the side. Can’t forget that drizzle of sriracha. Mmm. My favorite!

Good luck!

Sincerely,
Fu’d