Sunday, February 12, 2012

Crock Pot Chili

This recipe is one of my favorites for several reasons. First, it's a filling, hearty, vegan meal. The ingredients are very basic and the prepping is minimal. It makes so many leftovers that I usually end up freezing a Pyrex container full to thaw when I'm sick and have no interest in cooking. Best of all, it's made in the crock pot. I love having the sense that dinner is "done" when it's not even noon yet.

I made the chili this weekend when Andrew and I had friends over. The kitchen turned into a disaster area pretty quickly. Andrew was brewing two batches of beer and I was teaching Yvonne how to make blue moon orange cupcakes. After an hour or so it was hard to believe there was countertops and a table underneath all the mess, so I was especially relieved that dinner was already made and the crock pot was already cooking.

The ingredients of this chili change every time I make it. It's a versatile recipe, so I basically use what I have available. This particular batch came out great, probably the best it's ever been, so I better write this down before I forget. Andrew agrees, he said this was the most "amazing" it's ever tasted. Derek said it tasted just like the one he makes, which has meat, and Yvonne said she didn't even notice that meat was missing. I guess this is a good recipe to make for meat lovers and animal lovers alike.

Crock Pot Chili
Serves at least 8

  • 2 Tbsp. oil
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and cut into strips
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into strips
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced
  • 2 medium sized yellow onions, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 10 oz. frozen spinach
  • 1 15 oz can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15 oz can of red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15 oz can of chick peas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 yellow squash, diced
  • 30 oz can of diced tomatoes
  • 2 6 oz. cans of tomato paste
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 6 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp. ground cumin
  • 1 Tbsp. oregano
  • 1 Tbsp. parsley
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  1. Saute the oil, peppers, onions and garlic in a pan until the peppers start to soften, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the spinach and saute until mostly thawed, just another 2 or 3 minutes.
  3. Add to the crock pot along with the rest of the ingredients. 
  4. Cook on a low setting for a minimum of 4 to 5 hours.

If you plan on serving this to kids who don't like or can't handle "spicy", mix everything in the crock pot except the chili powder and cumin. Transfer some to a pot and cook slowly on the stove top. Add the chili powder and cumin to the crock pot and continue cooking. This isn't very spicy to begin with, but my toddler cried for about an hour after he ate it the first time he tried it. I felt so terrible!

Sticking with a southwestern theme for the day, I also made guacamole. I came to love the stuff in college when my mom always sent me back to school with a batch after coming home for the weekend. In a college dorm it was pretty hard to come by fresh tomatoes, garlic, onions, peppers, etc.. so I improvised and used salsa. Some people, especially you die hard guac fans, would think this is cheating, but it works. It's my go-to recipe for a quick easy snack or for last minute company. 

Easy Peasy Quacamole
Serves 4

  • 2 avocados
  • Juice from 1 lime
  • 2 Tbsp. salsa
  1. Cut the avocado in half and remove the seed. 
  2. Scrape out the flesh into a bowl.
  3. Add the lime juice and mash to the desired consistency using a potato masher or a fork.
  4. Stir in the salsa.
  5. Serve with tortilla chips.

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