Vegetarian Chili

December 25, 2008 By: Megabeth Category: Main Dishes

This vegetarian chili recipe has been crowd tested and crowd approved. I’ve served it to meat eaters at a pot luck without revealing that the chili had no meat in it.  They didn’t even realize anything was “amiss” and were raving about the taste. It’s now time to reveal my secret ingredient: beer. Try to choose a flavorful pale ale. Steer away from light beers (no flavor) and thicker stouts (too much flavor).

The ingredient list does look long; however, preparation couldn’t be easier.  It’s all about combining the ingredients into the pot and letting it simmer. The reason why this particular recipe works is that the various flavors and spices are given a chance to be layered through the cooking process.

Vegetarian Chili
by Megabeth

8 oz package sliced small portobello mushrooms (or white mushrooms)
1 12 oz package vegetarian “ground beef” crumbles
1/2 onion, chopped (optional)
2 garlic cloves, minced
olive oil
1 1/2 t chili powder
1 1/2 t garlic powder
1 1/2 t onion power
1/8 t cayenne pepper
1 packet (1.13 ounces) organic taco seasoning
2 15 oz cans organic dark kidney beans (drained)
2 15 oz cans organic light kidney beans (drained)
1 11 oz can organic canned corn (drained) (or 1 cup frozen corn)
2 10 oz cans diced tomatoes and green chilies
2 6 oz cans organic tomato paste
3/4 cup peanut halves
1/2 cup beer
shredded cheese and sour cream for garnish

– Pour a little olive oil into bottom of large pot and add garlic. Heat oil and garlic on medium heat. Add mushrooms and saute until mushrooms are softened. (Note: If using onions, saute onions first, then add mushrooms after the onions have had a chance to soften up.)

– Add “ground beef” into pot. Stir occasionally until heated through.

– Add chili powder, onion powder, cayenne and about 1/2 of the chili seasoning while the “ground beef” is cooking.

– Add kidney beans, corn, diced tomatoes, tomato paste and peanuts.Stir to combine, then add rest of chili seasoning. (Note: I did not add peanuts to the chili in the picture below as I didn’t have any on hand…)

– Cover and turn heat to low. Allow chili to simmer on the stove for at least a 1/2 hour. The longer you let it simmer, with occasional stirring, the better. Towards end of cooking add about a 1/4 cup of beer.

– Scoop into bowls and serve with shredded cheese, sour cream and tortilla chips.

Acorn Squash Stuffed with Vegetarian Cajun Sausage

September 29, 2008 By: Megabeth Category: Main Dishes

The acorn squash recipes I encounter usually swayed towards the sweet side. In fact, brown sugar seems to be the pairing of choice. After some digging, I was able to find several recipes that had more of a spicy flavor – specifically a cajun taste. I adapted a recipe that used andouille sausage. However, since vegetarian pre-flavored andouille sausage flavor does not seem to exist, I mimicked that flavor by adding smoked paprika and thyme. Onions, red beans and brown rice round out the flavors in this recipe.

Acorn Squash Stuffed with Vegetarian Cajun Sausage

2 acorn squash
Cajun or Creole seasoning (Emeril’s Bayou Blast)
olive oil
1/2 tube vegetarian sausage or 3 vegetarian sausage patties (Lightlife Gimme Lean ground sausage)
1 small onion, chopped
1 small tomato, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup cooked brown rice
1 14.5 ounce can red beans
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
pinch of cayenne
salt and pepper to taste

– Preheat oven to 375. Meanwhile, wash outside of acorn squash and prick several times with a fork. Microwave squash for 45 seconds on high. (This will make the squash easier to cut.)

– Cut squash in half and remove seeds and pulp.

– Lightly spray baking sheet with cooking spray. Sprinkle cajun seasoning on acorn squash and place cut side down on baking sheet. Place in oven for 45 minutes or until soft on the inside.

– While acorn squash is baking, drizzle some olive oil in saute pan and place over medium heat. Crumble sausage into saute pan and add onions. Cook until onions are softened and sausage is cooked through. Add garlic and cook a little more. Add chopped tomatoes, kidney beans, paprika, thyme, cayenne, salt and pepper to taste. Cook a few more minutes until heated through. Finally, add brown rice.

– When acorn squash has finished cooking, scoop sausage mixture into acorn squash and sprinkle with additional cajun spice mixture, if desired.  Place stuffed acorn squash back into over for an additional 10 minutes or until mixture is heated through.

I think I even surprised myself with how good this turned out. I had plenty of the stuffing remaining which was able to stand alone as a leftover. The stunning colors of the acorn squash and the presentation of this dish make it a strong contender to prepare when guests come over. (You could prepare the stuffing ahead of time and refrigerate, then bake the squash the day of your event, re-heat the stuffing and serve.)

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