Tex Mex Stew

My in-laws gave me the awesome birthday gift of a spice grinder. This gave me the perfect excuse to use Aldi’s whole dried guajillo chiles that I’ve been eyeing for a while now. As soon as I got that spice grinder I knew what I wanted to make, chili!

DSCF6154
DSCF6144
DSCF6163

I ground up the whole chile (minus the stem) and some cumin seeds I bought at the Asian grocery store. Nothing quite compares to the smell of freshly ground cumin.The base of fresh vegetables makes a fairly light “stew” and the mild flavor of the chile blend makes it safe for the non-spice lovers in our household. Feel free to change it up with different pepper varieties or vegetables (I bet corn would be good in this). This is a very basic dish that’s waiting for some creative additions!

Tex Mex Stew

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cups chopped tomatoes (about 4 medium tomatoes)
  • 3 jalapeños, deseeded and diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 (15 oz.) cans pinto beans
  • 1 whole guajillo chile, ground
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons whole cumin seeds, ground
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste

Directions:

  1. In a large pot, bring the olive oil to medium-high heat. Add the onion, tomatoes, jalapeños, and garlic. Sauté until the onions are translucent and tender.
  2. Stir in the remaining ingredients and simmer over medium heat for 10-15 minutes for flavors to meld. Serve with a side of cornbread or crackers.

Nutrition per serving:
Calories: 247 Fat: 8.4g Saturated Fat: 1g Protein: 11g Carbohydrates: 35g Sugars: 5.5g

Four-Way Chili Mac

“Copy cat” recipes seem to be all the rage as of late. I can’t get onto Pinterest without seeing at least one pin proclaiming to have found the secret ingredients to some sauce or batter. Now this is not a copy cat recipe below, but more of a vegan tribute to something I remember fondly from childhood.

It has been several years since I last ate Three-Way Chili at Steak and Shake, but it was brought to mind when some of the beloved diner chain’s coupons were put (in vain) in our mailbox. I don’t really know exactly when I first tried the dish, but what I do know is that my young self was in awe of the meal because it was a combination of two of my favorite foods: chili and spaghetti. I still love both of those to this day, so a vegan update to the meal was a necessary one.

Four-Way Chili Mac

Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 12 oz. package whole-wheat thin spaghetti
  • 2 (14 oz.) cans red beans
  • 1 (14 oz.) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (10 oz.) can diced tomatoes with green chilies
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste
  • Salt, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons cold water
  • 2 (8 oz.) cans tomato sauce
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 cup diced white onions

Directions:

  1. Cook the spaghetti according to package instructions and drain.
  2. In a large pot combine red beans through salt. Bring to boil, then lower to a simmer. Combine cornstarch with cold water and pour into the chili mixture. Stir well and continue to simmer until a thick saucy texture is achieved.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the tomato sauce, balsamic vinegar, and soy sauce.
  4. Divide cooked pasta among serving plates, topping each with a few spoonfuls of the tomato sauce, a hearty scoop of chili, and a sprinkle of white onion.

Nutrition per serving:
Calories: 383 Fat: 2g Saturated Fat: 0g Protein: 18g Carbohydrates: 78g Sugars: 11g

Cardiff

My time in Cardiff, Wales was very short — only one full day — but it was a lovely city with less hustle and bustle after coming straight from Liverpool.

The first place I visited was Cardiff Market, which was great because I got there early enough to avoid a big crowd. There was a wide variety of interesting stalls selling things like Indian spices, vintage records, palm readings, fresh produce, and (my personal favorite) the yarn shop. It was called the Wool Pack, but she had a massive collection of acrylic yarn (all of the shelves on the left side), from which I purchased a beautiful teal skein.

IMG_0201.JPG

IMG_0202.JPG

After getting lost (thanks, Google Maps) and having to ask for directions at a craft beer shop, my first food stop was at Crumbs Kitchen. It was worth the hassle though, because I had a very good lunch there. The first floor of the restaurant is a bit chaotic, due to that being where the orders take place, but there is a second story with extra seating away from the main crowd. I got the chili over brown rice, with rose lemonade and chocolate cake. The chili and rice was filling and just what I needed for keeping me warm on that dreary wet afternoon. The serving was huge though, and I ended up taking half away for my dinner later.

DSCN0340.JPG

I gotta admit, part of the appeal of Cardiff was being a Torchwood fan. I never managed to get into Doctor Who (though I still find Weeping Angels terrifying), but I was addicted to Torchwood when I found it in Netflix. Because of this, I decided to brave the rain and wind and march two miles from my hotel to the area where they shot the show. It was odd to look at all these buildings in real life when before I’ve only seen them in panoramic filmed shots. Definitely worth a trip if you’re a fan.

IMG_0206.JPG

IMG_0205.JPG

IMG_0207.JPG

A place you must visit in Cardiff is Cinnamon Sticks, an almost painfully adorable tea room shop. Everything ranging from the wallpaper to the servers’ outfits is either floral, pink, or dainty. I’m not a huge tea fan (unless it’s cold, sweet, and Southern), but I did partake in their cake, which is beyond amazing. I got a piece of their chocolate peanut butter masterpiece and can say that it was probably the best piece of cake I’ve ever had. The peanut butter frosting was the perfect amount of sweet and fluffy, and the chocolate cake was a rich spongy texture. I was sad I didn’t have time or the stomach space to try their savory vegan options, but I’ll just have to get them next time I go to Cardiff, since I will definitely be visiting Cinnamon Sticks again.

IMG_0203.JPG

IMG_0204.JPG