Thursday, February 18, 2010

Vegetarian Black Bean Chili

You know that song about the cat that just keeps coming back? Well, that's what winter seems to be doing to us. Oh, how I thought that Spring was in the air. Things were warming up. No more frost. Beautiful green fields. We went away for a trip to Rome, and I had expectations that we would return home to flowers peeking through the ground. When we landed in Amsterdam, there were no flowers - just frost and ice...and snow. Guess I will have to hold off bringing my open-toed shoes out of storage a little bit longer.

In the mean time, I will make the most of the chilly weather and enjoy some Vegetarian Black Bean Chili. I love Chili. It is a perfect cold-weather-comfort-food. That said, I am quite picky about my Chili. It needs to be smooth, thick (but not too thick), deep flavor, full of good stuff and no meat. Unfortunately, I find a lot of vegetarian chili's are too....froofy. So I found one of my favorites and changed it up a bit! Unfortunately, my computer crashed so there is no photo to post, but I can assure you it looks and tastes delicious!

The original recipe, if you're interested, can be found HERE

Vegetarian Black Bean Chili

1/2 cup water
1 medium onion, chopped
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 small bell pepper, seeded and finely diced (I used half red and half orange pepper)
1/4 cup tomato paste (four big spoonfuls)
 1 15-ounce can black beans, undrained
1 15-ounce can kidney beans, undrained (or use two cans of black beans)
1 4-ounce can diced green chilies OR  2 green chilies, finely chopped (*See note)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tbsp chili powder
optional: cocoa powder **see note

Heat the water in a large skillet or pot. Add onion, garlic, and bell pepper. Cook over high heat, stirring often, for about 5 minutes or until onion is translucent. Add tomato paste, beans and their liquid, chilies, cumin and chili powder. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes, or until flavors are blended. (Insiders tip: Chili is one of those dishes that does get better with time. The longer you let it simmer, the stronger and smoother the flavor will become. 15 minutes is the MINIMUM time, but I usually leave it about 45 minutes.)

* I buy a jar of whole green chilies, that way I can add as much or as little as I want. You have more control over the spiciness of the Chili this way
**Yes, you CAN put chocolate in Chili. This will add a very deep, slightly sweet flavor to the chili. We love it, however, not everyone is a fan. If you want to try it out:
      -add one teaspoon - stir - allow to sit for 1-2 minutes - taste - repeat if desired until you reach the amount that works for YOU.

Happy eating!
Stay warm.


Thursday, February 4, 2010

Dating Rx....prescription needed!

I have a confession to make.

Hubby and I never dated before we were married.

Crazy, right? Now, before you begin thinking that Hubby and I married as complete strangers, let me give our little 'Boy Meets Girl' story in 10 simple steps:

1: Boy meets girl
2: Girl and Boy become friends, then best friends (...this continues for over a year)
3: Boy leaves for an internship in Texas
4: Girl stays behind and continues University
5: Boy receives job offer to work in Germany
6: Boy realizes he is madly in love with Girl
7: Boy buys ring and hops on an airplane to visit Girl
8: Boy takes Girl to the mountains, gets on one knee and pops the question
9: Girl says "Yes!"
10: Boy and Girl get married 3 months later

Bonus Step: Boy and Girl hop on airplane and move to Germany 2 days after 
wedding (a little stressful eventful)

Somewhere between when we met and when Hubby proposed, we fell in love. Because we were best friends we knew the good, the bad and the ugly in the other person and didn't want to live without it. Perhaps it was the time apart that allowed us to realize it. Since getting married, we have had fun "dating" each other as Husband and wife, but we have run into a problem:

We are running out of fresh, fun and romantic date ideas!

So, I thought I would put it out there for you all to see, hoping that you would have some wonderful tips or tricks on dates. A dating prescription, if you will.

When pitching ideas I ask that you please keep the following symptoms in mind:
- Dates cannot begin until after 7pm (bedtime for Little Man)
- We get around by bike
- Babysitters are nearly impossible to get as we don't live near family and all of our friends have small children of their own. The few babysitters available split their time between MANY families
-Due to the previous point, we will need more suggestions for 'Home-Dates' than for 'Going-Out-Dates'

Any websites, tips or tricks that you have to share would be greatly appreciated.

To get the ball rolling, here is a site that always has a few cute ideas. It's called Love Actually. I made their Valentine's Day Countdown which I LOVE and can be found HERE.

Thanks in advance for the prescription.