Polenta Chili Pie
Leftovers for Lunch!
Chickpea Burgers
One Clam “Happy Tuna” Salad

My favorite meal replacement!

 

 

 

raw fit

I love to eat, therefore I love to cook. My commitment to plant-based, whole, nutrient dense foods keeps me healthy and unworried about my weight. I exercise regularly too. But as I get older I notice I do have to watch my caloric intake – mainly, I can’t indulge in Red Rabbit Cooperatives amazing vegan doughnuts or the incredible baked goods my friend Kaylee creates (at Thrice/Thai Fresh in Austin) as often as I could’ve in my 20s and 30s. Because I eat well and exercise I definitely look and feel much younger than I am.

During the holidays I went overboard with baking and creating decadent and rich vegan dishes for friends and family. I ate my way through the holidays with abandon and enjoyed every bite. Then after New Year’s I enrolled in The Bar Method’s 6 week challenge. I wanted to trim off the extra 5 pounds leftover from too many cashew cheeses and maple date treats! And guess what? I won second place by losing 10 pounds and 10 inches! I couldn’t believe it myself. Everyone wanted to know, how did I do it? I’ll tell you….

In addition to amping up my exercise (Bar Method classes alternating with power walking) I cut out sugar and cut down on all the rich foods I’d indulged in. I added more greens, seeds, and beans, and cut back on dishes made with flour, oil, and nuts. I also discovered Raw Fit by Garden of Life. I have used their Raw Protein powders before in smoothies, and have also enjoyed their Raw Meal. But the Raw Fit was a game changer.

Since January my husband David and I have been using Raw Fit for breakfast. We make a shake using one scoop in coconut water and we add a tablespoon of chia seeds and a spoonful of Maca powder. We have noticed that it not only keeps us satiated for hours but it also gives us incredible energy! My workouts have never been stronger. We also use the Raw Fit if we get hungry between meals. It’s really prevented us from snacking and also helped us cut down on our portions at meal time. David has also slimmed down enough to wear clothes he hasn’t worn in years!

I love Raw Fit’s clean and healthy ingredients. It’s vegan, raw, and loaded with plant-based protein made from beans, seeds and grains. It provides the body with essential vitamins, minerals, nutrients, and probiotics and contains green coffee extract which is known to boost metabolism and aid in weight-loss without the caffeine stimulant.

I have tried many vegan protein powders on the market and have never been satisfied enough to stick with any one. Until now! I am grateful to Garden Of Life for creating Raw Fit, a delicious, nutritious and life-style supporting product. I can’t recommend it enough!

I also regularly use Garden Of Life’s raw vitamin line Vitamin Code. I take their B Complex, B12, and D3 every day!

 

Warm Quinoa and Kale Salad with Meyer Lemon, Sultanas and Toasted Pine Nuts

IMG_1850This is a great one pot meal. It’s my go to for lunch or dinner because it takes 20 minutes or less to make and it’s fresh and delicious. I have seen variations of this theme (one pot quinoa and kale) because they go so well together. If you can’t get meyer lemons, use regular ol’ lemons! I like to utilize the dried goods in my pantry and you can too!  Replace the sultanas with currants, regular raisins or chopped dried apricots or figs. Replace the pine nuts with toasted pistachios, pecans or walnuts, or even pumpkin or sunflower seeds. You can add chopped scallions, chopped onion, or minced shallot. Fresh herbs would go nicely, and even steamed broccoli or green beans. But the recipe here is simple and delicious, so give it a try!

2 cups quinoa (I like the triple washed)

3 cups water

1 head lacinato/dinosaur kale, washed, dried, de-stemmed, and chopped or shredded (you can use curly kale if you prefer it!)

1/4 cup toasted pine nuts

1/4 cup sultanas (golden raisins)

Juice and zest of 1 meyer lemon

1 T olive oil

sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

Add quinoa and water to a small pot on high heat. When it comes to a boil, turn the heat down to low, cover and cook for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and fluff with a fork. Add kale and cover for a few minutes to allow the kale to steam. Add pine nuts, sultanas, lemon juice and zest, olive oil, salt and pepper. Mix well and serve warm or room temp.

Polenta Chili Pie

IMG_1705I was craving chili. I was craving a casserole. So I made this polenta chili pie and it was oh-so-satisfying! And oh-so-easy too.

Begin with your favorite chili recipe (I offer two here on my blog and I also love theppk.com’s meaty beany chili recipe. It has a pinch of clove in it which takes the flavor to the next level!)

Next, cook up a cup of dried polenta according to the instructions on the package (I used Bob’s Redmill).

Third step is a creamy cashew cheese for the top. I modified Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s roasted red pepper cashew cheese which she uses for macaroni (her pizza mac ‘n cheese) only I replaced the Italian spices with Mexican spices.

Spoon chili into an oven safe casserole dish. Spread the cooked polenta evenly over the top. Smooth the roasted red pepper cashew cheese on top of the polenta and then stick the whole thing under the broiler until the cheese begins to bubble. Remove from oven and let sit a few minutes before serving. Delicious!!!

Here’s how I made the roasted red pepper cashew cheese for the top:

3/4 cups unroasted cashews, soaked in water for 2 hours, then drained
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 small yellow onion, diced medium
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups vegetable broth
1 1/2 tablespoons organic cornstarch, tapioca starch or arrowroot powder
1 tablespoons nutritional yeast (optional)
1 roasted red pepper (I roasted my own but you can also use jarred)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 tsp dried oregano

1/2 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp dried basil

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground mustard
1/2 teaspoon turmeric

Preheat a 2 quart sauce pot over medium heat. Saute onions in oil with a pinch of salt for 5 to 7 minutes, until onions are translucent. Add garlic and saute for 30 seconds or so, then transfer to a blender or food processor.

Drain the cashews and add them to the blender along with the vegetable broth, corn starch, nutritional yeast, red peppers, tomato paste, oregano, basil, salt, mustard and turmeric. Blend until very smooth. Scrape down the sides every 30 seconds or so and test for smoothness.

Transfer the sauce in the blender back to the sauce pot where you cooked the onions. Turn the heat up to medium and let cook, stirring very often, until thickened. This should take between 10 and 15 minutes.

 

Party Food! Dips and Pate Your Guests Will Love…

DipsI love to entertain around the holidays and even though our friends and family are omnivores I still only prepare plant-based food. My goal is always to win them over with flavor! Here are three of my favorite holiday dips which are great on crackers, crostini, or crudités, that I served up this morning on Fox 7′s “Good Day Austin; Clean Eating” segment with Loriana Hernandez.

This lentil walnut pate is from two of my favorite vegan restaurants. Angelica’s Kitchen in New York City has been serving delicious and healthy food for over 30 years. I was a regular customer when I lived in Manhattan in the 80s. Shortly after I moved to southern California in 1989, Real Food Daily opened and it was a huge step in raising awareness of gourmet vegan fare. Much to my delight owner/chef Ann Gentry had incorporated the lentil walnut pate I used to love at Angelica’s kitchen only she gave it a little more pizzazz by adding fresh thyme and a drizzle of tofu sour cream. The recipe here is almost exactly the same as Real Food Daily’s, though I changed the measurements of some of the ingredients slightly and I offer options for the mirin and the miso (after having to improvise a couple of times!). I thought of making up my own, but why mess with success? This is truly a party hit and one of my favorites!

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Lentil Walnut Pate with Dilled Tofu Sour Cream on Rice Crackers
3/4 cup brown or green lentils
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 cups walnuts, toasted
1 T olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 T mirin or sherry or marsala wine
1/2 cup loosely packed basil or 1 T dried
1 T umeboshi paste
2 T yellow, white or barley miso
1 sprig fresh thyme, destemmed and chopped
freshly ground black pepper to taste
Rinse lentils, place in 2 quart sauce pan and bay leaf and cover with filtered water by 2 inches. Bring to a boil, cover lower heat and cook until soft, about 25-30 minutes. Strain and set aside.
Meanwhile dry toast walnuts in pan or on cookie sheet in oven until golden and fragrant. Allow to cool.
Saute the onion in olive oil on medium heat until soft and translucent, add garlic and saute a few minutes more. It’s OK to allow onions to get a golden or brown. Stir in mirin or sherry to deglaze, remove from burner and set aside to cool.
Combine lentils, walnuts and onion mixture in food processor with remaining ingredients and process until smooth. Spoon into pate mold or bowl and chill until ready to serve.
Use ice cream scoop to form a mound on plate, drizzle with tofu cream, and garnish with thyme twigs.
Tofu Sour Cream:
1 container vacuum packed, extra firm silken tofu
1 1/2 T umeboshi vinegar
1 T olive oil
1 tsp mustard powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried dill or 2 T chopped fresh
Blend everything but dill in food processor. Transfer to bowl and stir in dill. Chill until ready to serve.
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Herbed Cashew Cheeze served with Bagel and Pita Chips

This dip I came up with as an alternative to scallion cream cheese. I love a good bagel with cream cheese and this works great if you don’t eat dairy. It’s also great on crackers and with veggies. Much to my delight I discovered a similar recipe by one of my mentors Chad Sarno in his book with Kris Carr “Crazy Sexy Kitchen.” Only his is slightly more gourmet and very delicious so I have included it here as well. You will notice they both contain the same base of soaked cashews, an acid (lemon, vinegar) and salt.

In a blender or Vitamix combine:

2 cups raw cashews or cashew pieces, soaked for at least 2 hours to over night and drained

2/3 cup water

1/2 a large lemon, juiced (about 2 tablespoons)

1/8 cup nutritional yeast

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp sea salt

2 capsules probiotics, empty into blender and discard capsules (I used PB 8 but you can use whatever brand you’ve got or skip this if you don’t have any and it will turn out fine!)

Blend until smooth, transfer to bowl and stir in:

2 scallions or green onions, white and part of green, minced

1 small shallot, minced

2 -3 Tablespoons of flat leaf parsley, chopped small

Chill in fridge at least an hour before serving. Great on crackers, crostini, sliced baguette, crudités, toasted bagels and as a sandwich spread.

Variations: Try adding other fresh herbs like tarragon. Or basil and thyme. Or cilantro and mint. Or olives or capers. Change it up to match your other dishes!

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Chad Sarno’s Crazy Sexy Artichoke Aioli Dip

Base: 2 cups raw cashews, soaked in water for 4 or more hours and drained

1/4 cup water, plus more as needed to blend

2 T olive oil

1 T apple cider vinegar

1 1/2 T lemon juice

1 T agave (I actually use less or none at all as I find it a little too sweet otherwise)

2 cloves garlic

3/4 tsp sea salt

Blend everything on high in blender or Vitamix until smooth and creamy, Stir in the following to 1 cup of the above base:

1/4 roughly chopped jarred or canned artichokes (I use the kind packed in water)

2 T chopped fresh tarragon

2 T chopped fresh parsley

1 1/2 T minced shallot

1 T lemon zest

Chill and serve! Delish…

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This recipe is so easy and in addition to making a great party dip, it’s also a yummy wrap or sandwich filler.

Roasted Red Pepper and Almond Spread on Crostini

2 large, whole roasted red peppers (jarred or roast your own red bells)

1 cup whole raw almonds

1 chopped garlic clove

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

*optional – You can also add 1/8 teaspoon cayenne

1/4 cup coarsely chopped oil cured black olives
Put all ingredients except olives in food processor and pulse until blended but still a little chunky (like the consitency of chunky peanut butter). Transfer to bowl and fold in chopped olives. Serve on crostini, crackers or crudite.

Pumpkin Date Cake

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Pumpkin Date Cake

Roasted Kabocha or Kuri Pumpkin:

2 medium Kabocha squash or Kuri Pumpkin (or one of each)

Instructions:

Heat oven to 350. Cut squash in half, scoop out seeds and pulp and discard. Rub inside and out with olive oil. Place cut side down on parchment lined baking sheet and prick skin side a few times with a fork. Bake 30 minutes to 1 hour until flesh is soft and cut side slightly caramelized. Cool and remove skin and discard.

Wet Ingredients:

11 dried medjool dates, pitted

2 cups roasted kabocha squash (aka Hokkaido Pumpkin)

1/3 cup grade B maple syrup (+ 1 tsp for drizzle)

1/2 cup melted virgin coconut oil (+ extra for baking dish)

2 T fresh lemon juice

1 tsp alcohol-free vanilla (Frontier or 365 Brand)

Dry Ingredients:

1 cup chickpea/garbanzo flour

1 cup almond meal/flour

1/4 cup tapioca flour

1 T baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp sea salt

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 and lightly grease 8×8 baking dish with coconut oil.

Place dates in large bowl and cover with boiling water to soften. Drain well, add squash and mash together so that chunks remain. Add maple syrup, melted oil, lemon juice and vanilla.

In separate bowl, whisk together all dry ingredients. Add to bowl with squash mixture and fold gently to combine, making sure not to over-mix. Pour into prepared 8×8 baking dish and drizzle with tsp maple syrup. Bake for 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean (edges of cake should begin to brown). Remove from oven, place on rack and cool completely before slicing or removing from dish.

Variations:

Drizzle top with Chocolate Ganache: heat 1/2 cup non-dairy milk in pan, stir in 10 oz. bag of semi-sweet vegan chocolate chips or chunks, 3 T maple syrup. Allow to sit while cake cools and drizzle over top. OR let cake set a couple of minutes, drizzle on top and serve warm – delish!

Can add toasted chopped pecans to mixture. Can also add nutmeg and/or Allspice to batter for the holidays.

Roasted Mushroom Risotto

 

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Risotto intimidates me. Cooking it that is, not eating it! I have only made risotto once before this many years ago. What kind? I don’t know. It was unmemorable in every way and my arm was sore afterwards from all that stirring!

In any event, today I had these gorgeous chanterelles and creminis in my fridge and they needed cooking, so I decided a risotto was in order. I perused Tal Ronnen’s book “The Conscious Cook” and also happened to see Chad Sarno this afternoon and got to pick his brain a bit. Chad’s advice paid off; toast the rice in the oil really well before adding the liquid and make sure the liquid is hot. Game on!

Here’s how it went:

Soak 2 cups raw cashews for 2 or more hours.

Drain cashews. Add cashews and 1 cup water to blender and blend until smooth and creamy, adding more water as needed and scraping down sides until a thick cream forms. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 400.

Mushrooms – 4 – 6 cups cleaned and trimmed (I used combo of chanterelles and creminis  which I sliced leaving the smaller chanterelles whole) so all the ‘shrooms were the same size.

Olive Oil and Earth Balance Buttery Spread

Start and finish the mushrooms while the risotto cooks: Toss mushrooms with a little olive oil and sea salt (I happen to have some excellent truffle salt I bought at the Farmer’s Market in Portland, OR thanks to Julie Hasson’s recommendation) and a couple pats Earth Balance spread on a cookie sheet and put on middle rack in oven.

Toss mushrooms every 5 minutes until caramelized, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven, loosely cover with foil and set aside.

Risotto:

3 shallots chopped

2 garlic cloves minced

sea salt

2 T olive oil

1 T Earth Balance spread

2 cups arborio rice

1 cup dry white wine

6 cups veggie stock (I used homemade)

1 T nutritional yeast

1/3 cup cashew cream

1 T truffle oil

1 T chopped chives

While the mushrooms are roasting:

Preheat veggie stock in pot on stove so it’s hot and then set the burner on low.

Preheat another pot on the stove on medium for your risotto. Sprinkle bottom of pot with a little salt and heat for one minute. Add oil and Earth Balance spread, then shallots and sauté a few minutes until soft and fragrant. Add garlic and cook another minute more. Add rice and stir frequently, coating with oil. Keep stirring about another 10 minutes until the rice grains are opaque except for a little white spot in middle. Add wine and stir until all liquid is absorbed. Add 1 cup of stock, a sprinkle of salt and stir until absorbed. Repeat this process one cup of stock at a time until all the liquid is absorbed and the rice is cooked through. After about 30 minutes of this the risotto should be done. Stir in nutritional yeast, cashew cream, and truffle oil and cook another minute or two until blended and hot.

Spoon individual servings into wide bowls, place several roasted mushrooms in mound in center and sprinkle bowl with chopped chives. You can also drizzle with more truffle oil if desired.

Disclaimer: I would have added some dried and rehydrated mushrooms and their soaking water early in the cooking process to infuse the pot of risotto, but our 9-year-old son is mushroom-phobic. He loves truffle though, so I decided to infuse the pot with truffle oil and just add the roasted mushrooms to mine and my husband David’s bowls. Everybody was happy!

Leftovers for Lunch!

IMG_1698I don’t like to waste food. So when I am planning a meal I try and go through the fridge to use up anything I can and add it to our meals before beginning a new recipe from scratch. A couple nights ago I made baked yams and russet potatoes with sautéed greens for our family meal (we also had roasted brussels sprouts but they are like popcorn and were gone before I even got the potatoes on the table!). I usually bake an extra yam or potato so I can have one on hand for a quick lunch. Today however, I had one whole baked yam, half a baked potato and 1/4 of a piece of roasted kuri squash in the fridge. I also had a bag of pre-cut, pre-washed organic dinosaur kale from Trader Joe’s. Here’s what I did:

1) Got the bamboo steamer going.

2) Scooped the flesh out of the potatoes and threw into the Vitamix.

3) Tossed the potato skins with a little olive oil, salt and pepper and threw them in the toaster oven on 400.

4) To the Vitamix I added hemp milk, about a Tbsp nutritional yeast, 1 – 2 T tahini, 1/8 tsp garlic and onion powder, 1/4 tsp salt and pepper, 1/4 tsp nutmeg and turmeric and blended it all up, drizzling milk until it reached a smooth and creamy consistency.

5) While the “sauce” was blending, I threw 1/2 a bag of kale into the steamer to cook. I like my steamed kale al dente so I just steamed it until it wilted.

6) I spread the kale on a plate, surrounded it with the potato and yam skins (which were now nice and crispy!) and poured the sauce over everything. I always keep some tamari roasted seeds in a jar, so I sprinkled those on top and Voila! Yummy lunch. Healthy, delicious and quite pretty too!

 

Pumpkin Mac N Cheeze

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Pumpkin Mac ‘n Cheeze with Crispy Sage Garnish

1 cup soaked raw cashews or raw cashew pieces

1 – 2 T olive oil

1 medium roasted kabocha squash (aka green Hokkaido pumpkin) or Kuri Squash (red Hokkaido)

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/3 cup nutritional yeast

1 cup non dairy milk (plus more as needed)

3/4 tsp sea salt

1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper

1 T dijon mustard

1/8 tsp ground nutmeg

optional: T olive oil

1 lb Tinkyada or other brand brown rice elbows or quinoa pasta, cooked according to instructions on package

Breadcrumb Topping

Homemade:

Pulse 1 large garlic clove in food processor until minced. Crumble 4 pieces brown rice bread (I use Food For Life) and pulse until size of breadcrumbs. Pulse in rest of ingredients until mixed.

OR

3/4 cup Gluten Free (GF) panko breadcrumbs (Ian’s brand available at Whole Foods and other markets)

For both:

1/8 cup nutritional yeast

1/4 tsp garlic powder (omit if using fresh garlic and homemade breadcrumbs)

1/4 tsp sea salt

1/8 tsp dried sage

pinch ground nutmeg

1 – 2 T melted Earth Balance vegan butter or olive oil

Garnish:

10 – 12 crispy sage chips (see recipe below)

Instructions:

Rinse and pat dry about 12 – 20 fresh sage leaves. Set aside uncovered to ensure all moisture is gone by the time you are ready to cook them.

Heat oven to 350. Cut squash in half, scoop out seeds and pulp and discard. Rub inside and out with olive oil. Place cut side down on parchment lined baking sheet and prick skin side a few times with a fork. Bake 45 minutes to 1 hour until flesh is soft and cut side slightly caramelized. Cool and remove skin and discard.

While the kabocha is baking, heat a skillet on medium heat. Add 1 Tblsp olive oil and saute onions until soft. Add garlic and saute a few minutes more until soft and fragrant. Remove from heat.

Cook pasta, drain (reserve 1 cup pasta cooking water and set aside), rinse with cool water to stop cooking. Put drained pasta back in pot and drizzle with a little olive oil and stir to prevent clumping.

In a blender, Vitamix or food processor combine milk, onion mixture, soaked cashews, roasted squash, nutritional yeast, salt, pepper, nutmeg and mustard. Blend until smooth and creamy, adding more liquid if necessary (but don’t let it get thin).

Stir squash mixture into pasta, drizzling a little pasta water in to ensure all the macaroni elbows get coated with mixture. Spoon pasta into a 9×13 oiled casserole dish and smooth top evenly with back of spoon or spatula.

In a bowl combine all breadcrumb topping ingredients. Evenly spread over pasta, cover loosely with foil. Place casserole dish in already heated (350) oven and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and put under broiler for 1 or 2 minutes at end until breadcrumbs are toasted golden (keep a close eye on it as will brown very quickly).

While pasta is baking make sage chips:

Heat 2 T olive oil in sauce pan. Lay 3 or 4 sage leaves at a time in hot oil and press with fork to keep flat. Allow to cook 5 seconds or so. They will sizzle a bit. Turn and cook for another 5 seconds or so. Place cooked leaves on dry paper towels to drain. The leaves should be crisp and still green (not brown). Sprinkle with sea salt.

When pasta is done baking, remove from oven and garnish with sage chips.

Note: Recipe works great with regular (not GF) pasta and breadcrumbs.

Variation: Drizzle with white or black truffle oil after removing from oven – OMG, yum!!

Amma’s Apple Pie

applepieFew things in my life are more comforting and rejuvenating than a visit to my Mom at her home in the mountains of upstate New York in the autumn. The air is crisp, the foliage surrounding her property is a panorama of gold, orange and red, and the trees in the orchard are dropping their fruit by the bushel. Mom and my stepdad Tony gather them up, leaving enough for the deer, and spend days making apple sauce, apple cobbler, apple cider, and my favorite apple pie. The ingredients are few but the flavor is heavenly. It’s the best apple pie I have ever eaten.

When my son was just learning to talk we decided to let him choose what he would call my Mom. Without any prompting he came up with Amma which means “mother” in India. Most people know of Amma the hugging saint (I’ve been hugged a few times and it is blissful!). At such a young age my son intuited my Mom’s nature. She is loving and kind and compassionate and a living boddhisattva. And perhaps that is why her pie tastes to magical – well, that and the apples picked fresh from her tree!

Amma gave me permission to print her recipe here. I confess, I have messed with the recipe with disastrous results (I tried making it “healthier” by using 100% whole grain spelt flour and it lost its magic, trust me). I recommend sticking with the original recipe unless you are gluten intolerant, then look for the best gluten-free pie crust mix you can find (my friend Julie Hasson is rolling out her own line and I am quite sure it is wonderful just like her Native Bowl food cart in Portand OR).

Amma’s Apple Pie

Make the filling first

Filling:

10 – 12 cups apples, peeled and cored and sliced thin (more for a high pie, less for a flat one)

4 T of arrowroot or other thickener

2 rounded tsp cinnamon

1 rounded tsp nutmeg

1/2 t cardamom

1 – 1/2 T lemon juice

1 T lemon zest

1 cup maple syrup

 

Mix all ingredients and allow to sit while dough is chilling.

 

Pie crust:

1 and 1/2 cups organic whole wheat pastry flour

1 and 1/2 organic white flour

1 cup plus 2 T of Spectrum vegetable shortening (or 2 T Earth Balance spread, or combo)

6 – 8 T of ice cold water

2 t fresh lemon juice

1 t salt

Make pie crust:

Sift flour and salt in large bowl. Cut in shortening until consistency of coarse meal. Add water and lemon juice stirring in. Gather crust into a ball, adding a bit more shortening if too dry. Divide ball into 2 smaller balls, wrap each in saran and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.

Roll out crust, press into pie plate and fill, top with other crust, and crimp edges. Cut small hole in center and cut four slits in crust.

Baking time: 450 for 10 minutes, then 350 for 45 minutes to 1 hour (until crust is golden and apples are bubbly). Place pie plate on cookie sheet before baking.

A Tale Of Two Chilies

4 Pepper Lentil and Tempeh Chili with Winter Squash.IMG_1653IMG_1664IMG_2041

Autumn is flirting here in Austin with cool mornings and evenings, leaves quivering off trees and runners in hoodies quickening their pace on the hike and bike trail. Halloween decorations adorn shop windows, pumpkin recipes are taking over the blogosphere, and school buses are rattling past my house each morning. I love the Fall and can hardly wait to wear jeans and boots and my new faux leather jacket! I especially love hunkering in with a steamy bowl of chili or stew, the fire crackling in the fireplace, and my sweet kitty Ringo snuggled in my lap.

I am craving soups and stews and spicy warming foods. Comfort food. I love a good bowl of chili and have several different versions I make. I love kabocha squash, also known as Hokkaido pumpkin, and have a surplus in the kitchen from some recipe testing. Kabocha is dark, and sweet and rich and toothsome and features well in vegan dishes. Here is a chili recipe I came up with last year when I had a a bunch of fresh peppers in my kitchen and didn’t know what to do with them. Following my fancy chili recipe is a classic, no-fail veggie chili recipe I make regularly. Two recipes:

*Note: If you are avoiding soy you can omit the tempeh in both recipes. In the Classic Chili recipe you can omit both the tempeh and Tofurky Meatless ground and replace them with 1 1/2 – 2 cups cooked brown lentils.

Recipe One: 4 Pepper Lentil & Tempeh Chili with Winter Squash

Ingredients:

1 T olive or grape seed oil
1 medium to large onion, small dice
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded stemmed and minced (if you want heat leave some seeds)
1 medium poblano pepper, seeded stemmed and chopped
1 small (or half large) red bell pepper, seeded stemmed and chopped
1 small (or half large) green bell pepper, seeded stemmed and chopped
1 pound roma tomatoes chopped
2 T chili powder blend
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 medium kabocha (or other hard squash such as acorn, butternut or delicata) seeded and chopped
1 8 oz. package multigrain tempeh, chopped small or crumbled
1 cup brown or green lentils, rinsed and strained
1 bay leaf
2 – 3 cups water or unsalted veggie stock, enough to fill level with all ingredients
1 T tomato paste
1 tsp salt
1 T tamari

1/2 to 1 tsp. sweetener such as coconut sugar, agave, brown sugar or molasses

pinch fresh ground black pepper
pinch cayenne to taste or hot sauce of your choice
variation, add: 1 ear fresh corn (or one cup frozen)

Garnishes: fresh chopped cilantro, avocado and blue corn chips, lime wedge.

Heat oil in heavy bottom pot, medium to medium high heat. Saute garlic 30 seconds until fragrant and sizzling, add onion and peppers, cook until slightly soft. Add tempeh and saute 5 to 10 more minutes. Add chili powder, cumin, paprika, and oregano and stir to coat veggies. Add tomatoes and mix well with veggies and seasonings, simmer until tomatoes begin to break down a bit, 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in lentils, squash and water or stock, bring to boil, cover and lower heat and simmer 30 minutes until lentils soften. Stir in tomato paste, salt, tamari, fresh corn and pepper, simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally 15 minutes more until flavors are blended and corn is cooked. Adjust seasonings.

Serve hot garnished with chopped avocado and cilantro and chips for dipping.

Recipe Two: A Classic Veggie Chili

1 large onion, chopped
1 green pepper, seeded and chopped
Several cloves of garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 package tempeh, crumbled

1 packageTofurkey ground beef

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon ground oregano
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon ground basil
1 tablespoon chili powder

1/2 tsp salt
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Several tomatoes, depending on size, chopped (use the ripest most  red tomatoes)
2 cups red kidney beans

Saute onions, green pepper and garlic in olive oil until soft.

Add tempeh (and any other fake meat you are using) and brown.

Combine spices together into a mixture, then add to ground meat.

Add red wine vinegar.

Add tomatoes and let simmer, until tomatoes cook down (20 to 30 minutes).

Add kidney beans and cook for a few more minutes.

Serve over white or brown rice. Garnish with vegan queso or Daiya cheddar cheese, onions and vegan sour cream. Makes great Frito pie!