Saturday I invited Trac and Andrew over for dinner. One reason is that Bill and I really enjoy their company, and two, why would I want to suffer alone in case my vegetarian dinner took a nose dive right in the toilet. You know you only share really bad food with really good friends.
Okay, so the menu included: Chunky avocado salsa, sweet potato & pinto bean chili, and apple crisp for dessert. I have never chopped, diced, cubed and minced so much produce in my life. I even have a blister on the side of my thumb (I say proudly, chest puffed out, chin held high). Trac brought over polenta for the chili and soy ice cream for the dessert.
Earlier that day I threw a pot a meat chili on the stove for Bill because I knew there was no way on this God's green earth he was going to eat the sweet potato chili...and I was right.
Trac brought her three pups over for a play date. Cosmo and Angus had the BEST TIME EVER. Cosmo's favorite game was going up and down the stairs like the neurotic dog that we have come to know and love. We counted at least 13 trips. This is the first time I have ever seen Cosmo with somewhat of an expression. Angus, their fox terrier was having a blast bouncing around and investigating every nook and cranny of the house and trying to figure out where the cats were hiding. In their secret safe domain my dear Angus. Mal, found his favorite bed in the family room and just chilled.
Back to the menu. I served the avocado salsa and it was pretty damn tasty! I am feeling hopeful at this point. Then I pulled out the chili. And you know what? It was delicious. There was no vomiting, there were no tears of trying to force down a mouthful of crap. No I am shocked. Could it be that I am turning into a cook? Maybe? Possibly? The sweet potatoes turned out perfect - not mushy like baby food, but soft with a tineey bit of firmness and the spices were very nice. We didn't need the rice with the chili like the recipe called for, but we had Trac's polenta and it was great with the chili. The salsa AND the chili turned out great. Now I am feeling cocky -- mostly due to the wine, not my cooking. I pull out the apple crisp. Wholly Mary Mother Of Earth it was out of this world (in my humble opinion). It was hot, sweet, and crispy with the soy ice cream melting all around so you get that hot and cold all at the same time. It damn near made me wet myself it was so good. Again, this maybe due to the wine, but hey, this is the first all homemade meal from start to finish that people didn't want to hide pieces of food in our plants or retch. It is always a good feeling to serve a non-retchable meal.
Bascially this long blog is to prove the point that these recipes are so easy, that if little old me can make them there is help out there for all those people afraid to go vegetarian for fear of having to cook. It is possible.
Courtsey of the Clueless Vegetarian cookbook
Chunky Avocado Salsa
2 lrg ripe avocados
1 sm. red onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp lime juice
1 med tomato, seeded and finely chopped
1 fresh jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 tsp salt
Cut the avocados in half, remove the pit and peel them. Dice the avocado flesh and dump it into a bowl. Add all the remaining ingredients, and toss to combine without mashing.
Sweet Potato and Pinto Bean Chili
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 med. onions, chopped
2 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1 cup vegetable broth
2 med. sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 28oz can diced tomatoes
2 19oz cans pinto (or other beans, drained and rinsed)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp crumbled dried oregano
1/4 tsp cayenne (or more like me to taste)
1/2 cup chopped frest cilantro
Heat the oil in a large saucepan or dutch oven. Add the onions and cook, stirring, over med. heat until the onions are soft - about 5 mins. Add the chili powder and the cumin and cook for another minute or so. Add the vegetable broth and teh cubed sweet potatoes, reduce the heat to low and cook, covered, until the potatoes are almost tender - about 10 minutes.
Add the tomatoes with all the juice from the can, the beans, salt, oregano and cayenne. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then let simmer until the potatoes are completely tender - about 20 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in the chopped fresh cilantro.
Serve with rice or corn bread.
Since it is apple season here in CNY I had picked a sweet (jersey mac) and a tart apple (granny smith) for the crisp, but you could use any type of fruit.
6 cups prepared fruit
1/2 cup sugar
3 tbsp cornstarch
1 cup flour
1/2 cup vegan margarine
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
In a large bowl, toss the fruit with the sugar and cornstarch. Dump in a greased 8-9 inch square baking dish.
In food processor or in a bowl with a fork or pastry blender, combine flour, butter and margarine, brown sugar and cinnamon. Mix and mash until the mixture becomes moist and crumbly. Sprinkle evenly over the top of the fruit in the baking dish. Bake at 375 for 35-45 minutes, until the fruit is bubbly and topping is browned.