Friday, October 31, 2014

Food Photo Friday

Happy Halloween everyone!  I hope you are celebrating by making a big pot of chili and snuggling up to your loved ones.  I love this time of year, especially since it's getting colder outside.  As you guys know, we have had a hard few weeks, though, so I have been making a lot of simple meals.  We have also gone out to eat a few times, one place twice in just a few days!

Fall has me craving toast.  I have been making bread + spicy jam + salad for many many meals.  It's comforting and filling, and I don't have to be in the kitchen for too long.

I made a great pasta dish last week, but I'll tell you more about that later.  I had to find something to do with all of the hummus and vegan pesto I bought at the farmer's market.

This awesome dinner was curry carrot hummus and pizza hummus, plus hot sauce, carrots and pumpkin seeds.

We have been eating the Thug Kitchen minestrone all week too, and it's still great.

I'm noticing a bread theme.

Don't worry.  I'm still getting in my greens.  Dinner salads are awesome.

I have also decided to put down alcohol for awhile, so I have been drinking ginger beer for a treat every couple days.  Laying off booze has definitely helped my depression that's been creeping in all summer, and it was nice to not medicate with it during our grief.

I have been having a smoothie for breakfast at work most mornings, and for lunch, I like to bring a salad and a smoothie.  This really keeps me full all day, which is good.

Josh and I had lunch at Bar Louie after we went back to work, and I had a very delicious, very comforting grilled veggie wrap.  Josh hates tomatoes, so I got to eat those, too.

I also ate at the Arkansas Ale House twice, and ordered the same thing.  Their veggie sandwich is my favorite thing to order out anywhere right now, so it's no surprise that I ate it twice in one week.  It's so good.

My parents were in town, so we showed them the new Diamond Bear Brewery location.  They really loved the food.  Josh and I ended up going back a week later and having a nice afternoon lunch on their patio.

They make their own root beer, so I had to get some.  It was delicious.  It is becoming much easier to not drink the longer I go.  I haven't decided what an appropriate break is, or if I will go back to drinking for now, but I feel really good.  We tried their borrelnootjes, or an Amsterdam reminiscent beer nut, but I did not really care for them.  Way too sweet.

That's what I have been into lately.  I hope everyone has a nice Halloween!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

That's So Raw at Bernice Garden

There are great things happening for the vegan community and Little Rock, and evidence of that is all the wonderful vegan options popping up.  One truly exciting vegan company on the rise is That's So Raw.

These two awesome ladies, Kendalyn Mckisick and Natashia Burch, are promoting healthy vegan food all over Central Arkansas.  They will be at the Bernice Garden in Little Rock on Sundays until the market closes for the winter, and they have a storefront in Jacksonville.  I have a lot more details to share, but I'm working on an article for the Arkansas Times, so I'll post that when it's up.

Last Sunday, I headed over to the Bernice Garden Farmer's Market to scope out the booth and get some vegan treats.  I was happy to try every sample, from the energy bites to the pizza hummus, and let me tell you, there is an incredible amount of flavor going into this food.

I grabbed the peanut butter cheesecake brownie, flax crackers and pizza hummus to take home.  I also grabbed some more hummus from Geek Eats.  You can see my review of them from earlier this summer here.

Needless to say, I went home with a huge cooler full of hummus.  I had to crack open the flax crackers and have a taste.  These blew me away.  They are sweet and crispy and delicious.

Josh and I devoured the cheesecake brownie.  It was incredible.  This food is so healthy, but it's also incredibly rich and satisfying.  The flax crackers and pizza hummus didn't last very long in the house, either.

The next day, I brought the hummus and flax crackers for lunch with some quinoa/broccoli salad and raw veggies.  What a delicious and nutritious lunch.

If you live in Central Arkansas, be sure to check out That's So Raw at the Bernice Garden on Sunday Mornings.  Also, check them out on Facebook.  Also, be on the look out for more information about them on the Eat Arkansas blog.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Black Bean and Beet Chili

I have been promising you tales of this chili for weeks now.  Don't worry, it was worth the wait.

Our friends, Sheridan and Drew, came over a few weekends ago for some pre-halloween chili festivities.  I wanted to make something that looked dark and spooky, so I decided on a black bean and beet chili.  The problem, however, was that I had never cooked with beets before.  To my surprise, it's incredibly easy!

For an extra gold star, I made the black beans from scratch!  They're so much more flavorful (and cheaper) that way.

Habanero Black Beans

  • 2 cups dried black beans
  • 1/2 tablespoon sea salt
  • 2 habanero peppers
  1. Fill a large container with the beans and cover with water at least 1 inch from the top.  
  2. Soak for 8 hours.
  3. Pour out water and rinse beans.
  4. Replace with new water and soak 4 more hours.
  5. Pour out water and rinse beans.
  6. Place in a large crock pot and cover with water, at least 2 inches above beans.
  7. Place in pot 2 habaneros, unchopped.
  8. Cook on high in crock pot for 6 hours.
  9. Add salt.
  10. Remove habaneros.
  11. Let cool and refrigerate.

While the beans are cooking, decorate your house for Halloween!

Black Bean and Beet Chili

  • 2 tbs olive oil + 1 pinch salt
  • 3 large red peppers
  • 3 small beets
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 2 white onions
  • 1 head garlic
  • 2 bell peppers
  • 1 dark beer
  • 1 (28 oz) can roasted tomatoes
  • 2 (32 oz) containers low sodium vegetable stock
  • 5 cups habanero black beans (entire recipe from above)
  • 1 jalapeno
  • 1 bar vegan very dark chocolate bar (80% or more)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • for beet roasting
    • 1 tbs olive oil
    • 1 tsp ground thyme
    • pinch salt
  • chili spice mix
    • 1 tbs cumin
    • 1 tbs coriander
    • 1 tbs oregano
    • 1 tsp chili powder
    • 1 tsp mustard powder
    • 1 tsp dried ground roasted jalapeno (optional)
    • 2 tsp salt
  1. Turn oven to 400 degrees (F).
  2. Peel beets and dice.  Be careful not to get beet juice on your hands.
  3. Toss beats in a large bowl with olive oil, thyme and salt.
  4. Place in a baking dish and bake for 45 minutes covered.
  5. Remove cover and finish roasting for 15 minutes uncovered. 
  6. Set aside to cool.
  7. In another baking dish, place 3 red peppers and jalapeno and roast with beets until skin starts to turn black.
  8. Remove and place in a large bowl and cover.  This will make it easier to peel skin.
  9. Let peppers cool.  Remove seeds and skin and dice.
  10. Dice onion and garlic.
  11. In a small dish, combine spice mix and set aside.
  12. In a large pot, heat on medium/high heat.
  13. Add olive oil, then immediately add onions.
  14. Saute onions until translucent, about 5-8 minutes.
  15. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds.
  16. Add red wine and spice mix.
  17. Cook for 1 minute.
  18. Add dark beer.
  19. Add in roasted peppers, beets, bell peppers, diced tomato and vegetable stock.
  20. Bring to a boil.  Reduce to simmer and simmer 20 minutes.
  21. Chop chocolate bar into small pieces.
  22. Add chocolate and beans to pot.
  23. Bring to boil.  Reduce to simmer.
  24. Simmer for 40 minutes and remove from heat.
  25. Taste and add in 1 tsp of salt, 1/4 tsp at a time until reach desired taste.
  26. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving.
  27. Serve with cashew sour cream on top.  (Optional).

This chili has deep flavors.  It's spicy, sweet and savory.  The black beans bring a lot of heat without being over powering.  You can add more jalapenos if you dare, but the ones we got were super hot, so I ended up just putting one in.

I think the chocolate really helps to round out the flavor.  Make sure you get a very dark chocolate without much sweetness.

I also whipped up some pumpkin cornbread from and old recipe on (Never)HomeMaker.  I added quite a bit more liquid than the recipe called for, but I like my cornbread pretty fluffy and not as dense.  I think our guests were very happy!

Sheridan and Drew made vegan Halloween sugar cookies, and they were fantastic!  I'm not so great at making dessert, so I'm really happy that they brought treats.  They used this recipe.

Happy Halloween!!