Sunday, November 18, 2012

Sunday Funday

Matt and I kicked off Sunday with a visit to the Y. I hit my shoulders, legs and core and finished up with a fat burning session on the elliptical, thus making good on my self-imposed “30-day work-out commitment."

Sundays are always spent together but for the past five weeks, Matt's been taking a drawing class at a local art school in Bethlehem (a gift from me). Today was his last class. In the 15 years we've been together, I've never seen him draw anything more than a sketch of a home renovation project. Each week, I'm more and more blown away by his talent. For his latest "work of art," he surprised me with a drawing of the chapel where we married (Historic Village at Allaire). Simply stunning. 

While Matt was channeling his inner van Gohe, I spent the day doing one of the things I love most -- cooking.

Chili always seems to make the perfect dinner on Sundays in fall and winter. My go-to recipe has been Emeril's Vegetarian Chili (which I “veganize”) but I was excited to try Kris Carr’s recipe from her new book crazy sexy kitchen.

What I love about this chili is the consistency -- it’s incredibly hearty with a combination of beans (black and kidney), potato, vegetables (onion, zucchini and kale) and ground seitan. (Seitan is primarily made of wheat gluten. It has a meatlike texture that makes it a good choice for people transitioning to a plant-based diet and looking to recreate dishes that traditionally include animal products. This is actually the first time I’m cooking with it. I generally avoid transition meats because they are processed. I added it today because Matt LOVES it so I thought it would be a nice treat. And … I was right!)

As it simmered, the chili gave off a wonderful aroma and the taste was spot on. The chili powder, cumin seeds and garlic came together perfectly. The maple syrup added just a touch of sweetness, which balanced the jalapeño pepper. The end result was a bean chili that I will absolutely try again and again.

Oh ... while the chili was cooking, I whipped up some baked kale chips. A wonderfully healthful snack that quickly becomes addicting. Don't say I didn't warn you!

Here are the recipes for both.

Crazy Sexy Bean Chili

1 ½ tablespoons cumin seeds
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 white onion
5 garlic cloves
1 jalapeño, finely diced
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 ½ cups of ground seitan (or tempeh or finely diced mushrooms)
1 zucchini (diced)
Two 15-ounce cans black beans
One 15-ounce can kidney beans
One 14-ounce can crushed tomato (San Marzano recommended)
2 cups water
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon sea salt
½ bunch fresh cilantro (minced)
1 cup kale, chopped
Dice avocado (optional)

Toast cumin seeds in a dry soup pot on medium heat for 2 minutes or until you smell the robust aroma.

Add olive oil, onion, garlic and jalapeno. Stir consistently until the onion is golden and translucent.

Add the chili powder, seitan, zucchini and potato and stir well. Sauté for 3-4 minutes, stirring to avoid sticking.

Add beans, tomatoes, water, maple syrup, sea salt and cilantro. Cover and reduce heat to low, allowing to cook 20-25 minutes or until potatoes are tender.

Remove from heat and stir in kale.

Serve hot. Garnish with diced avocado.

Baked Kale Chips

Bunch kale
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 teaspoon of sea salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Using a knife or kitchen shears, carefully remove the kale leaves from the thick stems and tear into bite size pieces. Wash and thoroughly dry kale with a salad spinner. Drizzle kale with olive oil and sprinkle with seasoning salt.

Bake until the edges brown but are not burnt, 10 - 15 minutes.

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