Tag Archives: cooking

Slow Cooker Vegetarian Chili


I’ve been working on a Vegetarian Chili recipe for quite a while. After a lot of back-and-forth on the ingredients, and a bit of debate on slow-cooker vs. stew-pot, I finally settled on a recipe I was content with and put it to the test. I know, you’re thinking summer doesn’t exactly scream chili, but I decided to try this dish served cold with some tortilla chips. I am quite pleased with the results and am happy to share this recipe with all of you.

Vegetarian Slow Cooker Chili
Recipe from Handmade By Tracie

2 15-oz cans Red Kidney Beans
1 15-oz can Cannellini Beans
1 15-oz can Black Beans
1 15-oz can Diced Tomatoes
1 28-oz can Crushed Tomatoes (I prefer Tuttorosso as they’re nice and thick)
1 or 2 6-oz cans Tomato Paste (depending on how thick you want your chili)
1 32-oz box Pacific Organic Low-Sodium Vegetable Broth
1/2 cup Green Lentils (dried)
1/4 cup French Lentils (dried)
1 large Cooking Onion, diced
2 Cloves Garlic, minced
1 Small Head of Celery, diced
4 Carrots, peeled & diced
1 Red Bell Pepper, diced
1/2 Green Bell Pepper, diced
1 Small Zucchini (or 1/2 large), diced
1 Small Yellow Squash (or 1/2 large), diced
1 Small Eggplant (or 1/2 large), diced
1 Small-Medium Sweet Potato, peeled & diced
3 Tbsp Chili Powder
1 tsp Cumin
1 tsp Paprika
1 1/2 tsp Freshly Ground Black Pepper
1 1/2 tsp Salt
2 Bay Leaves
1 1/2 Rapunzel Vegan Vegetable Bouillon Cubes with Sea Salt
Dried Chili Peppers, Red Pepper Flakes or Diced Fresh Chilis to kick this up from mild to spicy

Prep Note: Most of the vegetables were diced “bean size” except the squashes and eggplant which were a bit larger since they shrink down a little during the long cooking process.

Instructions: Add all cans to the slow cooker, saving one can of red kidney beans and tomato paste to add later. Add all vegetables and lentils to the cooker.

In a small bowl, mash your bouillon cubes with a fork. Add a little of the vegetable broth and mix together until the bouillon starts to break up. Add in the chili powder, cumin, paprika, salt and pepper and mix together to form a paste. Add more broth until you have a soupy consistency, then pour in your slow cooker. Add the rest of the broth to the slow cooker along with the bay leaves. Mix everything together and set your cooker to High. (Above is a photo of what your chili will look like before it starts cooking.)

Stir every couple of hours throughout cooking process.

Once everything has cooked down a bit and some of the liquid has evaporated, go ahead and add your last can of beans and some tomato paste to thicken the mixture.

Your chili will be ready after about six hours, or once it gets to the consistency you’re looking for. I wanted a thick chili so mine actually cooked for a full seven hours. The longer it cooks, the thicker it becomes and the more the flavors meld together.

Remove bay leaves before serving. Serve either hot (great with warm biscuits) or cold (great with tortilla chips).

Cooking Tip: After working with onions or garlic, wash your hands with some lemon to help neutralize the odor. After juicing a lemon for my tea or water, I usually toss the empty rind into the sink so it’s handy for such a situation.

This dish is very flavorful and quite filling. The texture is great and I dare say that if I gave a bowl of this to my meat-loving father, I don’t think he would even notice it was “missing” any meat! Personally I don’t like spicy food so this is a very mild recipe in the spice department, though it is still chock full of flavor. I added optional ingredients for those of you who love some heat. So, test this recipe out and come back to tell me what you think of it!


Vegetarian Tortellini Salad


I love Whole Foods for many reasons, one reason being that it is so easy to find Vegetarian cheeses there. Here’s my take on a super-easy Vegetarian tortellini salad.

Tortellini Salad
Recipe from Handmade By Tracie

1 pkg Whole Foods 365 Organic Frozen Cheese Tortellini
1/3 pkg Whole Foods 365 Organic Frozen Peas
1/4 cup Sundried Tomatoes
Olive Oil
Balsamic Vinegar
Red Wine Vinegar
Dried Basil
Salt + Pepper
Whole Foods 365 Organic Vegetarian Parmesan

Prepare tortellini according to package instructions. I prefer mine al dente. Once ready put in a mixing bowl and set aside to cool. 365 brand tortellini is great as they use Vegetarian cheeses to stuff the pasta.

Save a tiny bit of the pasta water and add a vegetable steamer to the pot. Add the frozen peas, cover pot and steam for about 4 minutes. Once ready add the peas to the bowl with the pasta.

Take your handful of sun dried tomatoes (I prefer the “moist” tomatoes – not the hard ones) and cut into pieces. Add them to the mixing bowl.

Season the salad with freshly ground black pepper, your salt of choice (sea, kosher or table), and basil. Drizzle olive oil and balsamic vinegar over the pasta. Add a couple tablespoons of red wine vinegar. Sprinkle parmesan over the top and mix together. Note: You can get the 365 Vegetarian Parmesan either Grated or Shredded near the Fromagerie (in the case by the fresh mozzarella). You can also get Stravecchio Reserve in the Fromagerie if you like to grate your own – this is the Vegetarian version of Parmesan that is available in brick form at Whole Foods.

Place the salad in the refrigerator. Serve cold.

Multigrain Pumpkin Pancakes


I had pumpkin leftover from the bread I made a few days ago, so I decided to use some of it in my pancake batter. When I want plain pancakes I typically make them from scratch, but for multigrain pancakes there is a great organic mix from Arrowhead Mills – you add a tablespoon of canola oil and just over half a cup of milk and you’ve got some pancakes. So simple. Of course, that’s not how I make them. I go for more of a homemade variation when I use this mix, I have never made pancakes simply as the directions advise.

The mix is great. It’s full of whole grains and has a wonderful flavor & texture already built in to your pancakes. Pumpkin is sort of a bitter squash, so I started by fork mashing a slightly overripe banana in my mixing bowl. Not only would that create great texture, but it would add a nice flavor and counteract the bitterness of the pumpkin.

After mashing my banana, I added 1 1/2 cups of the multigrain mix (double recipe), 2 tbsp canola oil, 1 cup and a few tbsp of fat-free organic milk, and close to 1/2 cup pumpkin (just under, maybe). Then I needed to spice up the batter. I added approximately 1 tsp vanilla, a touch of honey (maybe 1/2 tsp), a dash of allspice, ground cloves and nutmeg, a few shakes of cinnamon, and about 1 tbsp of brown sugar. Mixed up my batter with a fork and it was a good consistency. If your batter is too thick you can add more milk, if it’s too thin you can add more multigrain mix).

It depends on your stove, but pancakes are generally best cooked somewhere around MED-LOW heat. These will be slightly darker than white flour pancakes since they have all of those whole multi grains in the batter, but they still cook up with a nice golden brown color.

Add some greek or plain yogurt to the top, fresh fruit or nuts, a touch of maple syrup and you’re ready for a delicious breakfast. These are so quick and simple to whip up – and they are great to make ahead on the weekend and heat up later in the toaster on a busy weekday morning! Just wrap them in foil and store them in the fridge. I have never frozen them, though I am sure you can freeze them in a ziploc if you like.

I only make the pumpkin pancakes once a year when I have some leftover pumpkin sitting in the fridge. Usually I make these with any variety of fruit or flavorings including: blueberries, cranberries, raspberries, apples, bananas, cinnamon, honey, blackberries, or really anything I have on hand at the moment. I have also used the multigrain mix to make waffles.

Pumpkin Bread


October is here and when it comes to food, pumpkin is the word that comes to mind. I have been thinking of my Great Aunt Marie’s pumpkin bread for weeks. On this chilly Fall day, the time had finally come to whip some up!

If you are going to bake one pumpkin bread this season, this is the recipe to try! It is moist, has a smooth texture, a great pumpkin flavor and just the right amount of spice to enhance yet not overpower the pumpkin. It is delicious.

Recipe from Aunt Marie Caruso

1 1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup shortening
2 eggs
1 cup pumpkin
1/3 cup water
1 3/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 cup chopped nuts

Cream shortening and sugar. Add eggs and beat well. Add pumpkin and water to the mixture. In separate bowl, sift together flour, powder, soda, salt and spices. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix well. Add nuts and blend into mixture. Grease pans well and fill 3/4 full. Bake at 350* until cake tester comes out clean.

The recipe was paraphrased a little bit in my shorthand. Also, while it did not call for vanilla extract, I threw in a teaspoon to my batter. For breads I tend to use canola oil as my shortening (for cookies it’s butter). I generally use walnuts in this recipe, or even no nuts, but I think pecans would be good to try. I think I erred during the dry ingredient step and used less baking soda on this go around, but my bread still turned out delish! I baked most of the batter in a loaf pan for close to one hour, and the rest in two pumpkin-shaped forms for about thirty minutes.

This recipe can be baked into many different forms. My aunt has traditionally baked it in cans (like the kind you buy your beans, diced tomatoes, etc in), you can also use a cake pan, a loaf pan, cupcake pans, some cute pumpkin silicone forms or whatever you have on hand! Just be mindful that your cooking time will vary depending on your baking form. This bread also freezes very well which can come in handy if you want to prep ahead for an evening of entertaining, some out of town guests, or just to have something available when you get that unexpected craving!

I hope all of you enjoy this recipe. Let me know how yours turns out!

Wild Rice and Mushroom Stew


With the cool weather in sight, that crock pot will soon be getting plenty of use! I recently made this wild rice and mushroom stew for my sister and I. It is pretty delicious and you can really use any kind of mushrooms that you like.

Recipe from Handmade By Tracie

1 bag Lundberg wild and brown rice
1 32 oz box of Pacific organic low sodium vegetable broth
1 Rapunzel vegetable bouillon cube with sea salt
1 lb carrots
2-3 leeks
1 pkg (5 oz) of sliced shitake mushrooms
1 pkg (5 oz) of sliced crimini mushrooms (also referred to as “baby bellas”)
1 pkg (5 oz) of sliced white button mushrooms
A few Tbsp olive oil
Salt & Pepper

1. Pour the bag of rice into your slow cooker.
2. Peel and slice the carrots into coins, saute with olive oil, bouillon cube salt and pepper. Add to slow cooker on top of rice.

3. Saute sliced mushrooms in same pan you used to cook the carrots – no need to add any oil as there will be a slight amount left from the carrots plus mushrooms quickly produce their own juices. When slightly browned after approx 3 minutes, add to slow cooker on top of carrots.

4. Slice leeks very thinly using white portion and part of light green portion (discard leaves or save to make soup stock later). Saute in pan with salt and pepper. Add to slow cooker on top of mushrooms.

5. At this stage add the vegetable broth into your slow cooker. Liquid should cover the rice and veggies completely. If it does not, you can add water or additional broth. DO NOT STIR.
6. Turn the slow cooker on – this will cook for about 5 hours, depending on your cooker’s settings. Check after about two hours to see if you need to add any more liquid; don’t stir, just use a fork and check the rice. Sometimes towards the end, if the rice is not done cooking yet, the liquid may have disappeared and you will need more to finish cooking the rice and prevent it from sticking.
7. When done cooking, fluff with a fork. Serve warm and enjoy!

What I’m listening to as I write this post: Shooby Taylor