September 14, 2011

PPK's Chipotle Chili with Sweet Potatoes and Brussel Sprouts

Saturday was my first fully plant-based diet day on what will be a two week experiment.  My foray into veganism is only scheduled to last only two weeks because I'm traveling for work.  Specifically, I am headed to Philadelphia for a couple of days and the highlight of my trip is a visit to my favorite Mexican restaurant.  You see, cheese is used in their sopa azteca and I can't skip the sopa azteca.  It was the inspiration for my own tortilla soup four long years ago and completely changed my relationship with homemade soup (as in, I didn't have a relationship before that).  I will make a separate post about both soup and restaurant in the subsequent weeks.

As I was saying, Saturday I headed to the grocery store and loaded up on vegetables, legumes and a few grains.  I did this in a chaotic shopping trip for which I had no list, no idea what I was going to make, and no set recipes.  I grabbed what looked good, what was on sale, and what looked easy.  I tried valiantly to avoid the dairy section, but caved when I decided I needed hummus.

Promptly after I arrived home, I found the perfect recipe and had to go grocery shopping again. Of course I didn't pick a dish that I already had the ingredients for!

I do most of my recipe search online rather than in a cookbook.  Once I discovered Tastespotting, where I could search for everyone else's inspired dishes, I couldn't imagine going back to a limited selection of recipes, the majority of which had no accompanying photo.  I have no imagination when it comes to end products.  I want a clear image of how it's supposed to look when I'm done, thus I can have a visual cue when things are going poorly.  Food blogs have changed everything for me. Even if I find a recipe in a cookbook, I scour the web to find a blogger who has tried and photographed the dish.

So when I decided to locate a visually inspiring, common ingredient, low energy vegan recipe, I first turned to Post Punk Kitchen for inspiration.  The site, of course, did not let me down.  I like to make a one-pot dish on the weekends to minimize the hassle of lunches during the week.  I'm big on casseroles, pre-roasted vegetables and hearty soups (stoups!).  Thus when I found PPK's Chipotle Chili with Sweet Potatoes and Brussel Sprouts, I knew that it was destined to be my first (intentionally) vegan dish.  I love all of the main ingredients: beans, sweet potatoes, brussel sprouts (remind me to tell you about my brussel sprout experience at Herbsaint in New Orleans) and chipotle in adobo sauce.  Especially chipotle in adobo sauce.

Since this is my first recipe blog, citing a recipe from another food blog, I'm going to provide a link to their original recipe.  Honestly, I hate when bloggers do this since I want everything in one place, but I'm iffy on the etiquette and legal business so I'm going to proceed with caution and sort out getting permission to include other people's recipes in my own posts down the road.  I will tell you, however, my modifications.

The original recipe:  Chipotle Chili with Sweet Potatoes and Brussel Sprouts

Ingredient Commentary and Adaptations:

Brussel Sprouts:  I used a 16 oz store brand frozen baby brussel sprouts bag. Because they were baby, I only sliced them in half rather than quarters and I dropped them into the pot still-frozen.

Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce:  I used a full 7 oz goya can.  I didn't remove the seeds because I love the heat. I also spatula-ed in all of the sauce for more flavor.

Crushed Tomatoes:  Instead of 32 ounces, I used a 26 oz tetra pack of chopped tomatoes by Pomi.  I use these in all of my tomato-based soups because it's just straight tomatoes and water without an added salt, sugar or herbs.

Garlic:  I love garlic.  She says four cloves, but I used what amounted to an entire bulb.  I buy my garlic in pre-peeled tubs from my local grocery store and I place them in the freezer for convenience and longevity.

Herbs:  I skipped coriander because I had none on hand.  I used from fresh oregano from my garden that I'd tossed in the freezer at the end of the summer last year, as opposed to dried.

Cooking Commentary and Adaptations:

I followed the recipe nearly to the letter.  Everything went precisely as she said it would.  I may have let it cook a bit longer, and I added an extra cup of water at one point since it was cooking down too quickly without the sweet potatoes softening enough.

I did let it sit over night in the pot.  Mainly it was because I was too lazy and it was too late for me to spoon it into containers, but it worked out kind of like lasagna, where it was even better the next day.  Oh, I also forgot the lime juice at the end.  I don't think it actually needs it, but I could be missing out on something dramatically enhancing for the dish.  Add at your own discretion.

The final product!  My additional chili and seeds added a fabulous heat that didn't overwhelm the other rich flavors.  Just a nice tingling spice that enhanced the otherwise well-rounded flavors.  This is comfort food at its best.  I've spend the last three days telling anyone and everyone about this recipe.  I ate it for both lunch and dinner.  And how much do I have left?  A lot.  I ended up getting somewhere near 72oz of chili out of this.  Enough to feed a small dinner party.  And frankly, this is the perfect dish to bring to a potluck.  You will win hearts everywhere and people will be shocked when they realize how amazing vegan chili can really be!

September 11, 2011

An Introduction

I have, for years, dreamed of starting my very own food blog.  In my own way I've been preparing for this step for quite some time.  Photodocumenting my cooking experiments and successes.  Sharing those tales informally with friends and family.  

So why start now?  Well, the answer is twofold. 
  1. Procrastination.  I had a lot of work to do this weekend.  I brought home all of my research material and files.  I told everyone I knew that not only couldn't I socialize, but that I was going to remain inside my home until I finished the three tasks I set out to complete for Monday morning.

    Remember back in college when you'd go home for spring break loaded down with textbooks, promising to get in those extra study hours before you returned to the grind of classes?  But in the end, all you actually did was get a crick in your lower back from pointlessly hauling those textbooks back and forth on the Greyhound?  That is how it goes when I try to work from home.  All good intentions, minimal follow through.

    So what did I do instead of those many hours of work?  I decided it was the perfect time to start a food blog.  Chose a name, designed some graphics for the template, took some starter photographs for my initial posts.  Anything but slaving over a power point presentation or tackling EndNote.

  2. The Happiness Project.  I read this book/blog by Gretchen Rubin this past spring.  One of the little ways in which Gretchen tackled becoming happier was by doing something she loved.  In her case, she loved to write. She spent one month writing a book, straight through, non-stop. Using her example, I asked myself, if i could spend a month totally devoted to a passion of mine, what would it be?  Well, that's easy.  Food and drink!

    I like to give myself little goals, and if they turn into long term endeavors then all the better.  With a short-term goal, my success rate is right near 100%.  One month is both long enough to form a habit, but also short enough avoid burning out. Thus I am devoting at least the next, rather busy (since I'm unsuccessful at working from home), month to sharing my love of food, the creations from my kitchen, and my experiments in home mixology.

    As Gretchen says 'One of the best ways to make yourself happy is to make other people happy; One of the best ways to make other people happy is to be happy yourself.'  This blog is going to be my little package of happy.

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