Meatless Monday: Hearty White Bean Chili

When starting off a new year with painfully cold temps, the only way to deal is to bake and cook up a big pot of something warm and hearty and cozy to fill your belly and heat your whole body from the toes up. This chili is so simple, but so layered with flavor and warmth. Four types of beans, sweet corn, spices, and a creamy surprise ingredient elevate this from a basic to a really special bowl of hearty chili perfect for welcoming in a new year (or otherwise driving out the chill). Here you go.

* 1 large yellow or orange bell pepper, chopped
* 1 sweet onion, chopped
* 3t minced garlic
* 32oz vegetable broth
* 4 15.5oz cans of white beans, any type, and a combination is great. Possibilities: garbanzo, cannelini, Northern white, navy, butter, etc.
* 4oz can mild green chilis
* 1T chili powder
* 2 1/2t cumin
* 1t dried oregano
* 1t paprika
* 1/2t salt
* 1/4t ground black pepper
* 1/4t cayenne pepper (optional)
* 1C frozen sweet corn
* 3/4C tahini
* fresh chopped cilantro for garnish
* fresh lemon wedges for serving

Heat a large pot over medium hear. Add a few tablespoons of water, and when its just shimmering, add the peppers, onion, and garlic and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, to begin softening the vegetables and release the aromatics.

Add everything else but the frozen corn and tahini, and bring the pot to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook for 40 minutes.

Add the frozen corn and the tahini. Raise the heat back up to medium and cook until heated through, just a few minutes.

Serve with a sprinkle of fresh chopped cilantro and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

New Year’s Apple Cake

It’s Monday, so I should be posting a vegetarian dinner, but our dinner tonight was only *mostly* meatless, so I’m going to save it for another day. Plus, it’s my first post of the new year, and I didn’t want that to go unmentioned.

In the Jewish tradition, one of the most notable traditions is eating sweet things to usher in the new year. One of the best known symbols of this sweetness for the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, is apples dipped in honey. Apples, which are in season in the fall when Rosh Hashanah falls, are eaten for their inherent sweetness and because they are believed by many to have healing properties; honey is the epitome of natural sweet. It’s a beautiful and tasty symbol to initiate a positive entry into a new year. So yesterday, New Year’s Day, when we woke up slowly and enjoyed a lazy, pj-wearing morning that lasted to lunch time, I decided My Tiny Sous Chef and I could use our lazy time to bake something delicious in a merging of the traditions, to kick 2017 off with a sweet start. This apple cake for the New Year is dense and moist, but actually not too sweet – just enough. And it pairs perfectly with several cups of slowly-drunk coffee, or whatever else you needed to get you moving after your New Year’s Eve goings-on. And bonus – it’s perfect for a tiny sous chef – almost all of the steps can be handled by your little assistant, if you have one. Here you go.

* 1T softened butter
* 1/2C granulated sugar
* 2C all-purpose flour
* 1t baking soda
* 1t baking powder
* 1/4t salt
* 2 vegetable oil
* 1 egg, plus 1 egg white
* 1C plain, nonfat yogurt
* 1/3-1/2C applesauce
* 1t vanilla extract
* 1 large apple, peeled and diced (Honey Crisp is a great choice for this cake, and not just for its name; but any sweeter variety is good as well, whatever your preference)
* 1T brown sugar
* 1/2t cinnamon
* 1/4t allspice

WHAT TO DOapplecake1
Preheat the oven to 375F. Spray an 8-inch baking pan with nonstick spray, and set aside.

Beat the butter and the sugar in an electric mixer until the butter breaks down and you get what is basically the consistency of coarse wet sand.

Add the flour, baking soda baking powder, and salt to the bowl, and beat on low until evenly combined.

Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl and set aside.

applecake2In your mixer, beat together the oil, egg, egg white, yogurt, apple sauce, and vanilla extract on a low speed until combined. Pour this mixture into the bowl with the dry ingredients and carefully fold together and stir with a rubber spatula until the dry components are completely incorporated.

Pour the batter into your baking pan.

Distribute the diced apples over the top of the batter.
Then sprinkle with the brown sugar, cinnamon, and allspice.


Bake 1 hour (or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean). Pour a large cup of strong coffee, and enjoy at a leisurely pace… in your sweatpants and slippers… or in bed.


Here’s to what will hopefully prove to be a year more remembered for its sweet moments than for anything else. Happy New Year.