Behind Brown Eyes

21st century flogger. That's food-blogger, fyi. Now if it were the 17th century...
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Posts tagged "flavor"

Chili Close-Up

Well, if yesterday wasn’t indication enough of the absolute most perfect day for making chili, let today be a reminder and a call to action. On the stove, I’ve got a new culinary concoction working, inspired by a fleeting decision to try a healthier vegetarian dish, fabulous fall weather, and an impending craving for home-made chili. Needed. To. Satisfy.

With some inspiriation from Epicurious, I’ve adapted their Spicy Two-Bean Vegetarian Chili Recipe from Bon Appetit, hoping my twist will bring their 3.5 fork review up to a solid 4 forks.

Edit: Oh, indeed it did. For a 4-fork recipe, see Krystina’s variation below. (Ingredients, directions, recommendations and notes below all updated on 1/20/13). 


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (Berio EVOO)
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 2 cups carrots, peeled and thickly sliced
  • 1 cup celery, peeled and sliced
  • 1 large red bell pepper, seeded, chopped
  • 4 large jalapeño peppers (chilies), mostly seeded, minced (i.e., finely chopped)
  • 1 28-ounce can peeled tomatoes
  • 3 cups water (pour water into empty tomato sauce can to get the remaining tomato out!)
  • 1 14.5-ounce can Del Monte (No Salt Added) diced tomatoes
  • 1 15-ounce can pinto beans, rinsed, drained
  • 1 15-ounce can kidney beans, rinsed, drained
  • 1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), rinsed, drained
  • 1 large yellow squash, diced into cubes
  • 1 large zucchini, diced into cubes
  • 1/2 cup red quinoa
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 5 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder (heaping measurement)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander (heaping measurement)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • To taste: A little bit of kosher salt, crushed black peppercorns, coarse ground pepper, sprinkle of ground red pepper (cayenne) and red pepper flakes, generous sprinkle of chili powder. And in your own bowl, top with red pepper flakes, if you like some extra heat.


  1. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in large pot over medium-high heat (5-6 heat on gas stove). Add onion, about 3 minutes, to slightly soften and flavor the oil.
  2. Add carrots, celery, red bell pepper, and jalapeños; sauté until onion and carrots are almost tender, about 8 minutes.
  3. Add peeled and diced tomatoes, 3 cups water, beans, squash, zucchini, quinoa, white wine vinegar, garlic, and spices. Bring to boil (covered).
  4. Reduce heat to medium-high (4 heat) and cook, uncovered, until quinoa is tender and mixture thickens, stirring often, about 20 minutes.
  5. Check chili. Reduce heat (3-4 heat), and cook another 20-25 minutes, if desired.
  6. Ladle chili into bowls and serve.

Tried and True Recommendations

  • Perfect Heat Technique: Using four jalapeños, along with some of the seeds, created the perfect heat!
  • Quinoa over Bulgar Wheat: I tried the recipe with bulgar wheat (like the original called for) and much prefer the quinoa. I love the subtle nuttiness and crunch that the quinoa adds to the chili—not to mention it’s a very nutritious carb and great source of protein!
  • Keep it Vegetarian: I made the chili with one pound of Nature’s Promise 99% lean, organic ground turkey breast. I browned the meat in the oil, onions and garlic and then followed the rest of the recipe as usual. The verdict? This chili is perfect meatless; keep it simple, “clean” and vegetarian.
  • Chickpeas over Cannelloni Beans: If you prefer the “mushy” texture of beans over a mild “crunch,” substitute the can of chickpeas, for a can of Cannelloni beans. Krystina tested, Krystina approved…but Krystina prefers—Chickpeas.
Notes & Alternate Ideas
  • Here is a link to the original Spicy Two-Bean Vegetarian Chili Recipe from Epicurious.
  • New ideas for adding heat: half of a habanero pepper, one ghost pepper, or maybe even dried ancho chilis for a smokier taste—and then fish them out at the end, before serving.
  • Goya now has Low Sodium varieties of a lot of their beans. Use these when possible!
  • Serve with Ryvita Crispbreads. (Lots of flavors that are low carb-cal-sugar-fat-salt and a very high in whole grains—about 95% depending on the variety. I like dark rye!)
  • Serve with this new, “Low Calorie Easy Cornbread" recipe I found from Cooking Done Light’s blog. (Note: I used 1/2 cup regular whole wheat flour, 1 cup sweetened almond milk, and 1/4 cup of mom’s home-made applesauce, which is sweetened with a little cinnamon and sugar. I baked it in a 9-inch deep dish pie pan for 25 minutes total and cut it into 8 wedges. That, combined with my almond milk for skim swap made it less than 80 calories per slice! Top with a dab of Land O’Lakes Light Butter with Canola Oil for a touch more sweet and definitely serve warm. Chili and Cornbread? #nomnomnom).
You know how people are always in search of the perfect chili recipe? Well, from a vegetarian view, this variation promises lend-me-another-ladle taste, colorful veggie variety and a lovely medely of textures, from the softness of the beans, to the crunch of the quinoa! If you try it, please comment and let me know how you made it and how it came! :)
Spicy Three-Bean Vegetarian Chili

The best, most satisfying lunch ever—Jamaican style #nofilter. A big thank you to my amazing co-worker Taisha. Can I please come to your house every night for dinner?! :)

  • Me: "Dad, you just don't have a complex enough palette to really appreciate the way I season my cooking. And how could you say you're a 'purist' when it comes to flavor, when you mask naturally good flavor with condiments? Your idea of tunafish is mayonnaise with a little bit of tuna. Or gravy smothered on turkey, ketchup on eggs..."
  • Dad: "Ok, you're right. I like more 'mucky.' But turkey is dry, and I like a lot of ketchup. I can see it on my gravestone now, 'Complex man, with a non-complex palette...'"
  • Me: "Never found 'umami'..."
  • Dad: "Only"
  • Me: (Laughing) "That was great."

Searing Sea Bass Filets on the stove. Misted with olive oil spray; rubbed with salt, pepper, crushed oregano, and a drop of sun-dried tomato oil. Spray non-stick pan with Pam Olive Oil and brown yellow onions. Wait until pan is smoking hot (6-7 on a gas stove). Sear for seven minutes on each side. Make “steam bags” with heavy-duty aluminum foil; individually wrap each filet and broil on high in the oven for five minutes post-sear. Internal temperature: 130 degrees. Top with drained sun-dried tomatoes and enjoy. Crispy outside, flaky inside. I mean, you really just can’t go wrong with that texture combo and flavor profile. (Taken with instagram)

And here’s a close-up of the finished product: Honey Dijon Pretzel Chicken. Great flavor but the brand of pretzels we used made the coating more chewy than crispy. Insert apology here on behalf of the Chopped judges on Food Network. My tenders didn’t quite have the texture and level of “crunch” I hoped for! Good news is, there’ll be plenty more days in the kitchen to experiment. :) (Taken with instagram)

Me and @krbrown4 are going strong on the #50daychallenge. Even when they upgrade the #froyo machine in my cafeteria at work, brand it with Wicked Spoon’s vibrant, eye-catching colors, and offer an enticing new variety of flavors and toppings. (I’m thankful that cookie dough is not an option). You will not get the best of me you low cal but 18g of sugar per serving Willy Wonka machine. At least not today. ;) (Taken with instagram)

One of my favorite new brunch entrees, thanks to some outstanding Epicurious reviews: Sausage and Egg Casserole with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Mozzarella. Here’s the recipe, and a few essential tips if you’d like to make it at home: use eight (whole) eggs, two Italian sweet sausages (with fennel), and two hot sausages. Cook it for 30 minutes, then leave the dish in the oven at a low temperature (about 175 degrees). This will keep the casserole nice and warm (without overcooking it!) until ready to serve. Yum. I’d like to welcome you to flavor fest 2012. (Taken with instagram)