Thursday, October 29, 2009

Sweet Potato and Chocolate Chili

Pin It
The cold weather makes me want to slow cook hearty stews. This one is very unique -- rich, sweet and spicy. If you're not into the sweet and spicy combination, this is not the dish for you. But if you are, this one will surprise you.
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped
  • 1 26-ounce can of diced tomatoes
  • 3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into chunks
  • 2 15-ounce cans of black beans or kidney beans (or one can each)
  • 1 tablespoon of chocolate
  • 2 tablespoons of chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon of brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin
  • 1 teaspoon of dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup of vegetable stock
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
In a large lidded pot, sweat onion, celery and carrot in olive oil with a dash of salt until vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes. Add diced tomatoes, vegetable stock, sweet potatoes, beans, chocolate, chili powder, brown sugar, cumin, oregano, and cinnamon. Turn heat to medium low. Cover and cook until beans and sweet potato chunks start to fall apart, about 45 minutes. Adjust seasoning. Serve on a bed of wild rice, with a dollop of sour cream and/or chives on top.

The dish was inspired by a recipe from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, by Mark Bittman. I added some spices and sweet potatoes to give this dish more complexity. Initially, it will taste sweet and rich. Then the heat from the chili powder will come through. It is probably not something that everyone will love. But it's just the thing for those who want a sweet and spicy kick for Halloween.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Butternut Squash Soup

Pin It
It's been a busy month. Between the moving and the traveling, I haven't had a ton of time to cook. Instead, I had a lot of chicken wings and pizza. After a while, it can get pretty tiring. So I decided to make some soup using butternut squash, which is commonly available in the fall. I wanted to showcase the natural sweetness of the butternut squash and enhance its delicate flavors. So I chose to use milder herbs and spices like thyme and turmeric that will complement the flavors of the butternut squash without overpowering it.
  • 1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and diced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 medium carrot, diced
  • 2 celery ribs, diced
  • 1 large clove of garlic, minced
  • 2 sprigs of thyme
  • 1 large potato, peeled and diced
  • 1 small 1-inch knob of ginger, peeled and minced
  • 2 teaspoons of turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons of brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 4 cups of vegetable stock
  • salt to taste
In a large lidded pot, sweat onion, carrot and celery with a dash of salt in butter and olive oil until the vegetables are soft, for 5 minutes. Add ginger, garlic and thyme and cook until fragrant, about a minute. Add butternut squash, potato, turmeric, brown sugar and vegetable stock. Cover and cook on medium low heat until butternut squash pieces are soft, about 30 minutes. Adjust seasoning.

While the soup is hot, blend vegetables together using a standard blender or an immersion blender until the mixture is smooth. Serve as is, or with sour cream or chopped parsley on top.

The soup has a velvety texture and sweet, mild flavors. You will get a hint of ginger, but mostly, it will taste like the butternut squash. Warm, hearty and vibrant -- it's the perfect soup for fall.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Tomato Cannellini Stew

Pin It
We unearthed a crock pot (also an ice cream maker... the plot thickens!) during the move. It's just the perfect tool to make a warm and hearty stew for a rainy night.
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 15-ounce cans of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 medium tomatoes, diced (I used some awesome heirloom tomatoes found at the local farmer's market)
  • 1 28-ounce can of diced tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons of sun-dried tomatoes, diced
  • 1 1/2 cups of vegetable stock
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • pesto (optional)
Sweat diced onion in olive oil until softened, about 5 to 10 minutes. Add all the ingredients to the crock pot (you'll need at least a 4 quart crock pot for this). Cook on high for 3 hours and low for 3 hours. Serve with pesto mixed in.

If you don't have a crock pot, sweat onions in a large pot until softened. Add the remaining ingredients. Cook on medium low heat until the beans are soft and start to break down. Stir occasionally. Serve with pesto mixed in.

This creamy and tomato-y soup is easy, but so delicious. It warms you for the inside out on a cold and rainy day. It takes just 5 to 10 minutes to prep. And, if you have a crock pot, it allows you to prep it, leave it and come home to hot stew.