I had to scrape the frost off of my car windows yesterday morning. What the heck, spring!? This is just not okay. To cope with the little bit of a chill that’s been in the air, I made up a big batch of hearty vegetarian chili. Chili and soup weather is almost out the door (thankfully), so I figured I might as well make the best of it by making (and eating!) lots of warm comfort food, like this creamy potato muhsroom soup and brownie caramel cheesecake. Okay, maybe brownie caramel cheesecake isn’t soup or chili, but it is definitely comforting! It wont be long before I can put away the winter coats and wave goodbye to frosty windows, mountains of snow, and that annoying patch of ice in front of my door!
I love this vegetarian chili recipe, and chili/soup recipes in general, because they are so easy to make. Throw everything in a pot or slow-cooker and let it cook; it doesn’t get too much easier than that! You can use whatever vegetables you have on hand, or add chicken or beef. This was the first time I added cinnamon and cocoa powder to chili, and it added a subtle depth to the flavor that really took this recipe to the next level.
I usually add a box of macaroni noodles when I make this vegetarian chili, but this time I decided not to. Do you want know what I did instead? I mixed the leftovers with leftover baked mac and cheese I had in the fridge and packaged it up for the husband and my lunches. It was super delicious and cheesy! We all know that mac and cheese doesn’t reheat the greatest and this was the perfect solution!
- 1 14.5 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 14.5 oz can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 14.5 oz can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes and juice
- 2 stalks celery, chopped
- 1 green pepper, chopped
- 3/4 cup chopped carrots
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, diced
- 1-2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 Tbsp chili powder
- 1 Tbsp cumin
- 1 Tbsp dried parsley
- 1 Tbsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp cocoa powder
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 2 1/2 cups tomato juice
- Sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese, and chopped green onions for garnish
- In a medium pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and cook until onions begin to turn translucent.
- Add the onions and garlic to your slow-cooker, followed by the rest of the ingredients and give it all a mix.
- Cook on high for 4-5 hours, or on low for 7-8 hours.
- Spoon into bowls and top with shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, and green onions.
You can add the onions and garlic raw if you'd like, the flavor of will be slightly stronger. You can use tomato sauce or stock/broth/water instead of tomato juice; add enough to just cover the vegetables. You could also prepare this on the stove, just cook the onions and garlic in your soup pot, add the remaining ingredients and simmer until vegetables are tender.
The filling in these stuffed tomatoes was so good I could have eaten it plain. It was the perfect proportion of ricotta to spinach (says a ricotta fiend – you could up the spinach if you wanted to) and the Italian style breadcrumbs added a nice salty crunch.
Spinach & Ricotta Stuffed Tomatoes:
- 3 tomatoes
- 6 Tbsp ricotta cheese
- 3 Tbsp parmesan cheese
- 1 1/2 Tbsp Italian style breadcrumbs
- 1/4 cup thawed frozen spinach
- 1 garlic cloved, finely diced
- pinch of salt, pepper, oregano, and basil
- Additional Italian breadcrumbs for sprinkling
- Cut top of tomatoes off. Cut into tomatoes, angling in to remove the top of the core. Scoop out the insides, it may help to rinse the inside out with cold water to remove the seeds.
- In a small bowl, mix ricotta, parmesan, spinach, garlic, and spices together with a fork. Spoon into tomatoes and sprinkle with Italian style breadcrumbs.
- Bake in a foil lined baking dish for 15 mins at 375.
Don’t get me wrong, I love living in Wisconsin – really, I do! – but sometimes, the cold weather is just a little too…cold. To take my mind off of the frigid temperature outside, I cranked up the heat and whipped up a nice summery pasta salad!
Cucumber Tomato Feta Pasta Salad
- 2-3 cups cooked pasta
- 1/2 medium zucchini, sliced
- 1 tomato, diced
- 2 Tbsp finely chopped onion
- 1/4-1/2 cup crumbled feta
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1 tsp Italian seasoning
- pinch dried basil
- 1 Tbsp Basil Parmesan Vinaigrette Dressing (or any vinaigrette or none and up the olive oil/vinegar)
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 – 2 Tbsp vinegar (any kind, but I used white)
- Combine the vegetables and pasta and mix.
- Add the seasonings, vinaigrette, olive oil, and 1 Tbsp vinegar and mix to distribute evenly.
- Give it a try and add vinegar or additional seasonings to your taste.
- Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour and a half.
Spinach and Artichoke is one of my favorite flavor combinations. I usually this prepare this recipe as a typical dip, but this time I doubled it and made half into crescent roll-ups. The recipe I have posted below is the doubled version, which makes enough for 16 crescent rolls and an additional 3 cups of dip. They were so delicious, especially right out of the oven (what isn’t?), but they maintained their deliciousness even after sitting on the counter for several hours!
Spinach Artichoke Dip/Roll-ups (for 16 roll-ups + ~3 cups of dip)
- 2 cans quartered artichokes
- 8-10 oz package frozen spinach, thawed
- 8 oz cream cheese, softened
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan
- 1 clove of garlic, minced of finely chopped
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 1/4 tsp salt
- Crescent Rolls
- optional: 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella for sprinkling
- Drain artichokes and cut up a little bit (I cut each quarter into thirds).
- Beat cream cheese until smooth. Add sour cream and mayonnaise and mix until combined thoroughly.
- Add cheeses, garlic, and spices.
- Fold in artichokes and spinach.
- Place a spoonful onto a crescent roll, then roll it up and bake at 350 for about 15 minutes, or until the dough has turned golden. Half of the dip filled 2 tubes of crescent rolls for a total of 16 crescent roll-ups.
- For the remaining dip, place in a 24 oz baking dish and sprinkle extra mozzarella on top. Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes, until cheese is golden brown.
This vegetable stir-fry has a nice mild flavor with a hint of ginger. What I love most about stir frying is that you can use whatever vegetables are in season and it can transform the same basic recipe into something completely different. You could use soy sauce instead of Worcestershire for a stronger flavor, I just didn’t have any. You can also add a meat, just fry the meat first and add the vegetables or fry it separately and add it to the mixture.
Vegetable Stir Fry
- 3-4 heads garlic, minced or finely chopped
- 3-4 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 1/2 cup portobello mushrooms, sliced or chopped
- 1/2 medium sized onion, chopped
- 1 1/2 cups frozen broccoli, thawed
- 1 1/2 cups frozen green beans, thawed
- 1 carrot, diced and cooked
- 1 celery stalk, diced
- 4 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce (could use soy sauce)
- a couple pinches of ginger
- salt and pepper to taste
- In a large sauce pan, cook garlic in oil until it begins to brown.
- Add mushrooms and onions. Cook over medium for several minutes, until vegetables are just tender.
- Add broccoli, green beans, carrots, and celery and continue to cook for several minutes.
- Add Worcestershire sauce and ginger. Adjust sauce and ginger to your taste, I used 1/8 tsp ginger at most. This doesn’t really make any sauce with the vegetables, if you wanted some, you could whisk 1 Tbsp corn starch with the liquid (Soy/Worcestershire sauce) separately before adding to help thicken it up.
When I first came across this Crusty Bread recipe, I knew I would eventually get around to making it. It’s been a little over 6 months and I did it! I put my own spin on it and added garlic, mozzarella, and basil. It was delicious with a nice hard crust that made it great for dipping in soup!
Crusty Bread (adapted from Simply So Good)
- 3 cups flour
- 1 3/4 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon yeast
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp dried basil
- 1 1/2 – 2 cups mozzarella cheese
- 1 1/2 cups water (next time I will cut this down, maybe start with 1 or 1 1/4 and then add more if I need to)
- In a large bowl, whisk flour, salt, garlic powder, basil, and yeast together. Add the mozzarella and mix it up a bit.
- Add water and mix until a shaggy mixture forms – a wooden spoon works well for this.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit for 12-18 hours (mine sat about 14).
- Preheat oven to 450; when heated, place an empty crock pot well with aluminum foil over the top in the oven and heat it for 30 minutes. My crock pot is pretty big, and the loaf spread to take the shape of it – next time I will use something a little smaller so it’s not as flat. You can use a cast iron pot with lid, a dish with lid or foil covering the top, or anything that can handle the heat.
- While the crock pot well is heating, pour the dough onto a heavily floured surface and shape it into a ball. [If you wish to double the recipe, this is the point at which you should separate it and form two balls.]
- Cover the ball with plastic wrap you had covering the dough to set until the rest of the half hour is up.
- Remove the hot crock pot well from the oven and add the dough to it. Cover and bake for 30 minutes. Then, bake an additional 30 minutes uncovered.
- Carefully remove bread and allow to cool on a cooling rack.
Okay, all I had was penne pasta but it’s basically the same thing, right? Easy and delicious; this dish can be whipped up in no time with very little work. I would usually use homemade tomato sauce, but a jar suffices after a long day! You can add some sauteed vegetables and garlic to give it a little kick.
- 1 jar tomato sauce
- 1 14 oz container ricotta cheese
- 1 box of pasta, I prefer penne but really any kind works
- 1-1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese
- Cook pasta according to instructions on box.
- In a bowl combine pasta, ricotta, and tomato sauce. You can also just combine the pasta and ricotta and spread the sauce over the top – up to you!
- Pour in a baking dish and sprinkle with cheese.
- Bake at 350 until cheese begins to brown, 30-45 minutes.
Your thighs will forgive you, I promise. This dip is one of my favorites and always a crowd pleaser. I usually add a couple handfuls of frozen spinach, but I didn’t have any this time. If I am entertaining, I double the recipe and cook it in either a 9×13 or a large round casserole dish. It’s also great if you put a tablespoon of the dip on a crescent roll, fold it it into a little pocket and bake it – delicious!
Creamy Artichoke Dip
- 4 oz cream cheese
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 1/4 mozzarella, shredded
- 1/4 cup parmesan, grated
- 1/4 tsp garlic salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1 14 oz can of quartered artichokes
- optional: additional mozzarella and parmesan to sprinkle on top before baking
- Drain artichokes and cut them up. They don’t have to be too finely chopped; I usually cut each quarter into fourths.
- In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese, sour cream, and mayonnaise until thoroughly combined.
- Add cheeses, garlic salt, pepper, and artichokes and mix to incorporate.
- Pour into a baking dish and sprinkle with additional cheese if you wish.
- Bake at 350 for 25 minutes or until top begins to turn golden.
I looove lasagna. My mom’s lasagna was always my favorite, so I took her recipe and put a little spin on it to give it a little more substance. It was delicious! This is the first time I used oven ready lasagna noodles, and I was pleasantly surprised at how normal they turned out! Like the package said, they did expand and fill the pan appropriately, and yes, they tasted like regular noodles. It was an especially big bonus that it cut out the step of boiling the noodles first because I always end up ripping half of them
Spinach & Mushroom Lasagna
- 1/4 tbsp. olive oil
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 8 0z containers of mushrooms, sliced
- 1 10 oz package of frozen spinach, thawed
- 5 cups tomato sauce
- 1 3/4 cups ricotta cheese
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated and divided
- 4 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
- 1/2 tsp dried basil
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- salt and pepper to taste
- 12 oven ready lasagna noodles
- In a large saucepan, cook garlic in olive oil until it just begins to brown. Then add the mushrooms and cook for several minutes. When the mushrooms are just about tender, add the spinach and salt and pepper to taste. Add 3 cups of tomato sauce and cook everything until the vegetables and tender.
- In a medium bowl, combine ricotta cheese, egg, 1/4 cup parmesan, basil, oregano, 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper.
- To begin assembly, spread a thin layer of tomato sauce on the bottom of a 9×13 pan (3/4 – 1 cup). Place three lasagna noodles crosswise in the pan; they will expand as it cooks so spread them out evenly across the length of the pan. Spread 1/3 of the ricotta mixture over the noodles, top with 1/3 of the vegetable mixture, and 1 cup mozzarella. Repeat the layering two more times, starting with another layer of noodles and ending with a layer of noodles on top for a total of three layers.
- On top of the last layer of noodles, spread the remaining cup or so of tomato sauce and sprinkle with remaining mozzarella and parmesan cheese.
- Cover with foil and bake at 375 for 25-30 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 15-20 minutes until cheese is completely melted and begins to brown.
Note: You can also freeze this for up to two months, just cover with saran wrap and then a layer of foil (without baking) and pop it in the freezer. Be sure to thaw completely before you do bake it.