Tag Archives: chili

“Cleansing” Chipotle Black Bean Chili

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One single day. That’s how long I had to wait after New Year’s before I heard a friend declare: “Oh man, I need to do a cleanse!” That’s a new record – last year it took three whole days to hear that proclamation. “Cleansing” has become an annual tradition among guilty gorgers who’ve spent the past month consuming their body’s weight in butter, chocolate cake and grandma’s rum-balls. Yeah, as if drinking cayenne pepper-laced hot water and eating tree bark for a week is actually going to roto-rooter their arteries, scrape down their intestines and magically make the 952 brownies they ate disappear.  (Well, perhaps if the last one they ate was a special “Dr. Chocopotomus’ cosmic brownie,” something like that might seem downright feasible, just like tap-dancing neon salamanders wearing Viking hats. But I digress…)

I don’t mock my friends too mercilessly for wanting to do these bizarre cleanses. Because at the root of it all is the desire to be healthier, and that’s awesome! For those who have had one too many cookies, I like to suggest a solution that’s much tastier and less likely to singe your eyeballs or leave twigs in your teeth: try eating delicious vegan meals for a week.

In honor of my friends who, like clockwork, are about to ask me for some quick, easy, appetizing and “cleansing” vegan dishes, here’s one of my favorites: chipotle black bean chili. This recipe takes all of 15 minutes to make, it’s filling, and it’s scrumptious in all of its smoky, hearty glory.

Research has shown that cleanses – like the cayenne lemon-water fad or the popular juice ‘detox’ – don’t actually do our bodies any favors. In fact, in addition to making people exceedingly cranky (which dramatically increases the risk of being smacked upside the head), they can also be very damaging due to the inherent nutritional imbalances of the cleanses. But nutritious high fiber foods – like black beans – are like a pipe cleaner for your intestines. (Sorry – that was a rather unpleasant visual). The key is to eat beans year-round, not just until the holiday guilt has worn off. And lucky for all of us, this yummy chili will make you want to eat beans every day of the week. Especially when it’s followed by magic brownies. (Kidding!)

Happy New Year!

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Cleansing Chipotle Black Bean Chili
Serves: 4
From fridge to table: 15 minutes

Olive oil for sautéing
1 onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
3 14.5 oz cans organic black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (14.5 oz) organic crushed tomatoes (preferably fire-roasted)
1 ½ tsp ground cumin
a handful of fresh tomatoes, chopped
½ cup water
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 tbsp canned *chipotle puree *
1 tbsp rice vinegar (seasoned or unseasoned)
Smoked sea salt
Tortilla chips (for those who aren’t ‘cleansing’)

*Note – to make the chipotle puree: buy a can of “chipotle chilies in adobo sauce,” which you will find in the Hispanic food section of the grocery store. Put the entire contents of the can, including sauce, in a blender and whirl until smooth. Scrape into an ice cube tray and freeze it. Take out a cube whenever you need it.

To make chili:

Heat a soup pot over medium-high heat, add some olive oil and cook the onions and garlic until the onion is translucent and starting to brown. Add beans, tomatoes and their juices, cumin and ½ cup water; bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, to blend flavors, about 10 minutes. Stir in cilantro, chipotle puree and rice vinegar. Add smoked sea salt to taste. Serve in big bowls and crumble some tortilla chips on top if you’re feeling frisky. Enjoy!

(By the way, credit for this recipe goes to a magazine I read in my dentist’s office about 10 years ago. Unfortunately I can’t remember the magazine, nor can I remember how much of the original recipe I used, but I’d still like to say thanks to that magazine for combining black beans and chipotle, which is a brilliant combo!)

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The Devious Vegetarian: “Drunken Soledad O’Brien” Stili (a stew/chili cross)

Behold: I am a devious vegetarian genius!

Continuing down the road to duping my meat-worshiping husband into becoming a vegetarian, I took a brilliant detour that led me to BoozeTown. As you may have figured out by now, I will gladly exploit John’s weaknesses in order to create a veg meal that suppresses his urge to make a face, is packed with protein and healthy ingredients, and that also helps him forget about his “meat deprivation.” That means that I have to chef up foods that are so delicious and satisfying that they blow his mind. With goals so lofty, can you blame me for playing dirty? I think not.

But I must admit, this stroke of culinary intelligence almost makes me feel like I’m cheating. The secret was to think of what John loves most in this world. The answer: beer. Not just any beer, but super strong IPA. I realized that if I could successfully combine beer with vegan ingredients, I might just create a masterpiece that he’ll not just love, but that he’ll actually ASK me to make him in the future. And thus, the “Drunken Soledad O’Brien Stili” was born.

Like it’s namesake, this Stili has a little bit of everything in it. Think of it as a cross between a chili, a stew and a pub. It’s got a spicy Cuban flair, hearty American microbrew beer, and some potatoes to satisfy John’s Irish stomach. By the way, what the heck ethnicity is Soledad O’Brien? Is she African American? Scottish? Hispanic? Lemurian? All of the above? My guess is that her beauty is in her funky blend, and the same holds true for this rich, delicious, beer-infused stili.

The carnivore verdict? One taste and John’s face lit up. With dancing eyebrows, he exclaimed: “Oh Mah Gawhd. This…is…awesome!” I hope you and your converting carnivore like it, too!

Time to table: about 45 minutes

Serves: 6 hungry people

2 tbsp olive oil

1 large yellow onion, finely chopped

1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 jalapeño pepper, chopped (with seeds)

1.5-2 lbs small, creamy-tasting potatoes, chopped into 1” cubes (such as Yukon Gold creamers or fingerling potatoes) (I used some misshapen Finn potatoes that I grew in our garden)

1 tsp smoked sea salt

freshly ground pepper

1 tbsp high quality chili powder

12 oz. microbrew dark beer (I used 21st Amendment’s “Back in Black IPA,” one of John’s’ faves.)

1 – 15 oz. can stewed tomatoes (I like Muir Glenn since it’s organic and has much more of an authentic tomatoey taste the other canned tomatoes)

3 – 15 oz. cans of beans (I used black beans, pinto and aduki, but really, you can use whichever are your favorites)

1 cup vegetable broth

1 tbsp chipotle sauce **

2-3 tbsp maple syrup

½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped

**(Chipotle sauce is super easy to make. Just buy a can of “chipotle peppers in adobo sauce” – in the Hispanic section of most grocery stores – and just blend the whole thing until it’s smooth. Wow, the flavor is smokey, deep, lush and delicious, and it adds so much to dishes like this. I like to freeze my leftover chipotle sauce in ice cube trays so that it’s easy to use in the future.)

In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook for three minutes, stirring frequently. Add red pepper, garlic and jalapeño and stir/cook until the onion is translucent. Add the potatoes and stir/cook for 3 minutes. Add the smoked sea salt, pepper and chili powder and stir well to fully coat ingredients. If you don’t have smoked sea salt, seriously, buy some – it adds so much depth of flavor! I buy mine from SpiceHound.com – I like the alderwood smoked sea salt. Note: it’s important that you add the salt before the beans. Why? Because salt stops beans from cooking and keeps them intact. If you don’t add it, the beans will turn to mush -blahkkk.

Add the beer and stir for a couple of minutes to boil off some of the alcohol. Add the tomatoes, beans and broth. Bring to a boil and allow to boil for about 5 minutes, stirring often to prevent the beans from scorching on the bottom of your pot. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 30 minutes or until the potatoes are tender, stirring often. Taste the chili as it cooks and you’ll see that the flavors deepen as it cooks. Once it’s almost ready to serve, add the chipotle and maple syrup, stirring well, and allow to cook for 5 minutes more. Then remove from heat, add cilantro. Serve with a couple of tortilla chips crumbled on top, and of course, beer or a margarita. Enjoy!

The secret to fooling the carnivore: Mexican Mole-style Chili

I tried the up-front approach to turn John into a vegetarian, but that failed miserably. (But I must admit that when I attempted to serve him quinoa, the look of horror on his face was pretty entertaining.)   So I’ve had to resort to trickery.  I’ve learned that the key to fooling a carnivore and his stomach is to serve incredibly hearty, filling, flavorful meals.

My friend Rhonda sent me the following Chili Al Mole recipe, which is a truly delicious Mexican mole-style chili that’s rich, satisfying and has some secret ingredients (cinnamon and cocoa) that open like a flower in your mouth. I strongly recommend serving this chili with a nice cornbread crumbled on top since it adds just a hint of sweetness and an interesting texture that truly completes this filling meal. And as it happens, I also have a fantastic recipe for a deeeelicious vegan cornbread that’s accented with honey and sage.

This meal is a little more involved than my typical 30-minute or less dinners, but I think it’s worth it. The look of ecstasy on John’s face definitely makes it worth it for me, as does the fact that this is a “whine-free” dinner – hurray! I hope you like it!

Rhonda’s Chili Al Mole (from Vegan with a Vengeance)-

Olive oil – 1-2 tbsp

Onion – 1 large, chopped

Jalapeno – 1 small, minced < only if you like heat in your chili >

Red bell pepper – 1 large, chopped

Garlic – 3 big cloves, smashed

Chopped / diced tomatoes – 3 cups of fresh diced tomatoes, or 2 cans diced <when I use canned, I like using Muir Glen chopped fire-roasted tomatoes with chipotle, which adds a lot of flavor>

Molasses – 3 Tbsp

Pinto beans – 1 (14-ounce) can, drained

Black beans – 1 (14 ounce) can, drained

Vegetable broth – 2 1/2 cups

Cocoa powder – 3 Tbsp

Chile powder – 2 Tbsp

Cinnamon – 1 tsp

Cumin – 1/2 tsp

Preheat a large pot (at least six quarts) over medium-high heat; add and heat the olive oil. Add the onions and peppers and sauté for two minutes, then add the garlic. Cook for 8 minutes, until onions are soft. Add the chili powder, cinnamon, and cumin, stirring constantly for another minute. Add the tomatoes, cocoa powder, and molasses. Stir to blend, then add the beans and vegetable broth. Cover and bring to a gentle boil, then lower the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching. Allow to sit at least 20 minutes before serving.

While it’s sitting, prepare cornbread – this adds so much to the chili, it’s crazy.

Honey-Sage Cornbread:

This is a vegan cornbread recipe adapted from one I found on food.com (which apparently was created by an 11-year-old – impressive!)  It’s quite good, especially with my little additions of honey and sage. It’s simply divine on the Chili Al Mole.

2 tbsp ground flax seed

6 tbsp water

1 cup flour

1 cup cornmeal

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup honey

2 tsp fresh sage, finely chopped

4 tsp baking powder

3/4 tsp salt

1 cup soy milk

1/4 cup olive oil

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray 8 inch baking dish with oil.

Bring water to boil in a saucepan. Add the ground flax seed, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer the ground flax seed in the water for 3 minutes or until thickened, stirring occasionally. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix together flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt until well combined. Add the ground flax mixture to the bowl, along with soy milk, honey, sage and oil. Beat until just smooth. Pour into baking pan and bake for 20-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for 10 minutes, then turn out of pan and continue cooling for an additional 10 minutes before serving.