Sunday, December 11, 2011

Warm and Cozy

As Fall melts gently into Winter, I can feel a new chill in the air. We are trading in thick sweaters for winter coats and my mind turns to ways to keep all of us warm inside and out on these chilly days. Some of my favorite tummy warmers are soups, stews, and chili's. Not only are these delicious meals fast and simple to prepare; leaving more time in the evening for other activities, but they are hearty and filled with the bounty of vegetables and grains that we come across in this season. One of my favorite meals is Chili and Cornbread. The sweet and spicy aromas of this meal cooking in my kitchen takes me back to my mothers' kitchen on rainy days where she warmed my siblings and I body and soul as I aim to do for my own brood. In the spirit of happy belly's and happy hearts I share these recipes with you.

 Vegetarian Black Bean Chili with Lentils and Corn
2 Cups Corn
141/2 ounces black beans
2 roma tomatoes diced
6 cloves garlic chopped
1 small red onion
3-4 shallots
2 cups lentils (I used red, green, and brown but any one will do)
4 cups vegetable broth/stock or water
2 tablespoons cumin
6 tablespoons chili powder (less if you prefer a milder flavor)
2 teaspoons thyme
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Avocado, Cilantro, Cheese, and Hot Sauce to Garnish
 Boil 4 cups of water. Pour water over the 2 cups of lentils in a separate bowl and let sit while you prepare the following. In a large stock pot, put the 2 tablespoons of olive oil and heat over medium heat. Saute the onion, garlic, thyme, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper. Cook until the onions start to become clear. Drain lentils. Add the lentils, tomatoes, and stock/broth or water to the sauteing onion mix. Bring to a boil then lower heat and let simmer until the lentils are tender. Add the corn and black beans stir and heat until all is fully heated. 

Oven Baked Cornbread 
11/4 cups cornmeal
21/2 cups milk
21/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs beaten
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1-2 cups of finely shredded cheese (I used mozzarella but any cheese will do)
unsalted butter
In a medium bowl, mix all of the dry ingredients. Beat the eggs gently. Combine the eggs, milk, and oil. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry mixture until the ingredients are well mixed. Let stand for 10 - 15 minutes (until it starts to get almost doughy or yeasty in appearance). While the mixture is standing, preheat the oven to 400 degrees farenheit. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9x13 baking dish pour in the batter. Sprinkle the cheese over the entire top of  batter and place into the oven for 30 minutes. 

Hands down my favorite oven baked cornbread recipe; the bread is very springy, light, and the cheese adds just enough subtle flavor to be delicious. And when paired up with the Vegetarian Chili this meal is the perfect way start the end of your day. Enjoy!

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