Sunday, October 30, 2011
Mama's 3-Bean Chili
One of my favorite home-cooked meals to make (and eat!) is chili. I remember eating my mom's chili and loving her recipe. One evening in high school, I even decided that I wanted to be in charge of making dinner and decided to recreate my her chili recipe. I had everything all set out on the counter ready to get started. I read the first step of the recipe and realized... I have no idea how to chop an onion. I called my mom, as she was still at work at that time, asking her how to chop an onion. She must have done a good job of giving directions on chopping that onion because I still remember that batch of chili and was so proud of myself for being able to make something as good my mom's chili! For the record, I do now know how to chop an onion. It is definitely something I struggle with still for some reason, but for the most part, I manage to get the thing diced up alright.
Over the years, I have tried so many chili recipes. None of them quite match my mom's chili, so I kinda gave up on recreating that taste. Part of the reason could be that I don't eat meat, and most likely, the taste that's missing is the actual meat. But I didn't let that stop me. After all those recipes I kept testing out just didn't have that hearty home-cooked taste I was looking for, I decided to take matters into my own hands. One day, I just threw a bunch of stuff together on a whim and hoped for the best. Boy was it!
My little family sat down to dinner, and Tiffani asked me, "Is this a new recipe?" I told her their wasn't a recipe and that I just put things together that I thought would work. Since I had tried so many different recipes, I had a good sense of what was essential in a good chili. So Tiffani told me that it was the best chili I had made yet and that I needed to write it down right then if I could remember everything that I put in it. Luckily, I could.
I usually make this in a big soup-pot, where I heat the onions and soy crumbles (ground beef substitute) until the onions are transparent and the crumbles are thawed completely. Then at that point, I would add all the other ingredients and let simmer for at least 45 minutes (hour and a half at best!). But this time, I was feeling a little lazy, and that was just all too much work (of course, I'm joking), so I decided to make this in the crock pot. I wanted dinner to be ready as soon as I got home from work so we would have plenty of time to head over to Wheeler Farm Pumpkin Days afterwards. So without further ado, let me tell you just how easy this crock-pot vegetarian 3-bean chili is.
Mama's 3-Bean Chili
1/2 onion, diced
1 can black beans, rinsed
1 can chili ready beans, not rinsed
1 can great northern white beans, rinsed
1 can corn, drained
1 can tomato sauce
1 can diced tomatoes
1.5 cups vegetable stock
packet of chili mix
1 Tablespoon chili powder
1/2 Tablespoon cumin
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 package of soy crumbles* this time I used Quorn brand - Boca brand is also good
1 bay leaf
Since I was using the crockpot, literally all I did was dump everything in, stir it together, and set it on low for about 6 hours. It couldn't have been any easier!
When the chili is all finished simmering or stewing in the crockpot and you're ready to serve, don't forget to fish out the Bay Leaf! No one wants to eat that! In our family, we like to top our chili with a healthy dollop of sour cream and some shredded cheddar cheese. Crumble a few saltine crackers in there (or Cheese-It's if you're my 5 year old), and you have one yummy bowl of warm-you-from-the-inside chili!*Of course, this does not have to be a vegetarian chili. You can brown up some ground beef rather than the soy crumbles and toss that in instead. Your choice. My goal here is to be able to show you just how easy it is to change up a normally meat-packed meal into something family friendly and vegetarian. Yes, I may use a lot of convenience-type ingredients, but c'mon, I'm a full time working mom, and I don't have all the time in the world. I still want to be able to provide something healthful to put on the table every night though. I know that there are a lot of vegetarians out there who are having to cook for the meat-eating spouses and children, and lots of those family members don't really want to eat quinoa, nutritional yeast, and tofu scramble all that often, if at all. My hope is to be able to show fellow busy moms (and dads!) that meat is very versatile, and that it's not the end of the world for your taste buds if you want to cook a meatless meal or two.