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January 31, 2011

Game Day Chili Buffet.. and more!

There will not be a Super Bowl party at my house. I did, however, have a playoffs party last week when my Chicago Bears faced off against the Green Bay Packers--a game that determined who would go on to the Super Bowl. As you may have guessed, the Bears did not win. I could continue sulking, or I could share with you all of the delicious vegan food that kept my fellow Bears fans' tummies satisfied despite the very unsatisfying game. If you are having a vegan Super Bowl party, here are lots of ideas for you!

The main event was a chili buffet, but we'll get to that in a minute. My guests started the afternoon with a variety of appetizers.

Most of my guests were omnivores so my aim was to impress with vegan versions of several game day classics, starting with Tempeh Hot Wings. I served these with celery, carrots, and Isa's low-fat, ranch-style "Sanctuary Dressing", from her newest cookbook, Appetite for Reduction. The wings and dressing were gobbled up in no time!

Next up, vegan 'tater skins -- a first for me! These were made with Steve in mind, a potato skin fanatic. I followed Claryn's recipe, and they turned out awesome.

By special request, I made up a platter of Bianca's Deviled Tofu. These disappeared in no time per usual!

Always a crowd pleaser, and so easy to make, I had to include Kim's Hot Artichoke Dip with pita chips. There are never leftovers of this dish!

And somehow after all of that we had room for the chili buffet! I served this cornbread as a side dish on the buffet line. I had two pots of chili keeping warm on the stove, the black bean version pictured above (recipe to follow) and a White Chili as well. In a small crock pot set on low was a double batch of queso dip (changed up by pureeing it rather than leaving the tomatoes chunky, which was awesome by the way). I also cooked up a pound of whole wheat macaroni noodles, so chili mac would be an option.

I chopped up a tray of chili toppings which included cilantro, jalapenos, tomatoes, baby spinach, green onions, and avocado. On the side I put out a container of tofutti sour cream and a bowl of corn tortilla chips. The chips presented yet another option, chili cheese nachos. It was fun seeing what the guests chose to put in their bowls, and no two bowls were alike. Being the good blogger that I am I assaulted my guests with my camera to capture some of the bowls in action.

Mitch wasn't messing around! He smothered his chili in baby spinach, sour cream, and queso. I spy a few jalapenos on there too, and who knows what else he is hiding under there!

Chris had a little bit of everything in his bowl, good man! His chili met in the bowl with some baby spinach, jalapenos, cornbread, sour cream, and tortilla chips.

Kerry kept it classic, topping her chili off with green onions and tomato, with a little cornbread on the side.

Candace got her mac n' cheese fix by tossing some noodles with queso and sprinkled it with spinach and jalapeno, no chili needed in this delicious bowl!

Steve went for a deluxe chili mac by layering noodles, queso, and chili and topping it off with sour cream, tomatoes, cilantro, and jalapenos. Good one!

I only captured about half of the bowls, but you get the idea! The chili buffet turned out great. It seemed like everyone enjoyed personalizing their bowls, and most went back for seconds.

When all hope of winning the game was lost, I decided it was time to break out the cake to revive the solemn party. It did raise our spirits, if only for a little while. This recipe is from The Joy of Vegan Baking, and it is definitely one I will return to.

The party was a success, except for the whole Bears losing thing. This new chili recipe was the greatest success. My goal was for it to be flavorful, but for it to not overpower the accompaniments. Mild enough for those who can't tolerate heat, yet not too boring for those who love it. Considering this, my chili was the game-winning touchdown!

Game Day Chili for a Crowd
Serves 10-12

1 large white or yellow onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
3 tbsp medium hot chili powder (or more to taste)
2 tsp oregano
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 bay leaf
dash cayenne (optional)
4 15 oz cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 4 oz can diced green chilis
1 15 oz can of tomato sauce + 1 can of water
1 32 oz can petite or regular diced tomatoes, with liquid
1-1/2 cups frozen corn (or 1 can drained and rinsed)(optional)

Heat 1/4 cup of water in a large pot and add onion. Saute for about 3 minutes and then add the garlic. Continue to saute until the onion is softened.

Stir in the spices and saute for 1 minute, stirring continuously. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Turn heat to high to bring to a boil, then lower heat to simmer and partially cover the pot. Slow simmer for 30 minutes. Remove bay leaf. Serve hot with queso, over noodles, on top of nachos, or straight up with your favorite toppings.

January 24, 2011

Super Veggie Lentil Taco "Meat"

I am celebrating!

What, you ask?

I have been vegan for a whole year, no biggie! Well it is a big deal actually, so it's a good thing that this super veggie lentil taco meat knows how to party fiesta! It was a week long fiesta, in fact. Made on a Monday, this recipe made enough delicious leftovers to eat for lunch at work all week.

My favorite uses for the super veggie lentil taco meat was on taco salads and in lettuce wrap tacos, but it is very versatile and adaptable and could be used in place of the premade "meat"' crumbles in many recipes. For Italian flavors, drop the chili powder, cumin, and lime juice and sub in basil, thyme, and sage. Like I said, these lentils know how to party.

I should also mention that this recipe is perfect for hiding certain veggies from the certain people who don't like them. I had not originally planned to partially blend the mixture, but decided to last minute when my mushroom-hating brother stopped by for a bite. Success! He did not detect the mushrooms, and I loved the resulting texture. I could not be happier with this winging-it, weeknight dinner (and the lunches that followed).

One year vegan and loving it. I can honestly say my life gets more delicious by the day!

Super Veggie Lentil Taco "Meat"
(makes about 3 cups)

1 cup brown lentils, rinsed and picked over
1 medium yellow onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 large bell pepper, chopped (any color)
1 cup sliced mushrooms (any kind)
1 carrot, peeled and sliced
2 ribs of celery, sliced
1-1/2 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp oregano
1 bay leaf
dash cayenne
2 cups vegetable broth
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp lime juice

Heat 1/4 cup water in a large skillet. Saute onion for 3 minutes. Stir in the garlic, bell pepper, and mushrooms and cook for another 3 minutes. If the pan starts to dry up and the contents start sticking, add a tablespoon or two more of water. Add in the lentils, carrots, celery, chili powder, cumin, paprika, oregano, bay leaf, and cayenne, and saute for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in the broth and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to medium low and cover. Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. If the mixture starts drying out, add 1/4 cup water or broth.

Remove from heat and carefully drain off any extra liquid (a little bit of liquid is fine, excessive liquid is not desirable). Remove bay leaf and stir in tomato paste and lime juice. Transfer to food processor or blender and pulse a few times, until a crumbly texture is achieved--do not puree. Serve hot.

Makes six 1/2 cup servings, which could be used to make 12 tacos, 6 burritos, 6 taco salads, or 6 nacho platters.

January 3, 2011

Best of 2010

What a year!

I went vegan.

I traveled to India, NYC, Spain, and Amsterdam.

I got engaged.

And I ate! Here are my 10 favorite recipes from 2010. Click the images to go to each recipe.

Broccoli Salad

Alicia's Vegan Queso Dip

Creamy Garbanzo-ball and Wild Rice Soup

Thai Corn Bisque
Amazing Homemade Vegan Bacon

Thai Tempeh and Kabocha Pot Pie
Pumpkin Black Bean Chili

Joanne's Colby Cheez
Smoky Chipotle Split Pea Soup

New Year's Stew

 Happy 2011!