Rachael Ray’s Veggie Chili


I love veggie chili. It’s great game day food, but even when it’s really hot out, it somehow still manages to be a great dinner choice. Maybe because it’s all veggies so it feels lighter than a meat filled chili would.

Anyway, one thing I haven’t been able to figure out with veggie chili is how to keep it from being kind of wimpy. You know what I mean. Somehow without the meat it just doesn’t feel quite like a chili sometimes.

That is, until now.

I was watching Rachael Ray’s week in a day and she happened to be making veggie chili. I have made a lot of iterations of a veggie chili, so I was like okay Rachael, what are you going to do? Surprise me.

And guess what?

She did.

She started out with sauteeing diced green and red bell peppers and an onion in some olive oil.


When those were softened, she added about a half cup of light beer and let that bubble for a bit.


Next a can each of black beans and red kidney beans, rinsed and drained, and a can of diced tomatoes, juices and all.


Let that cook for another few minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

You could stop there and be pretty happy, right?

Wrong! So so wrong. Here’s what Rachael did to transform this pot of veggies into a thick, delicious, complex veggie chili.

She added a can of refried beans!


Yup, refried pinto beans. I don’t know why I never thought of it, but as soon as she said it I was like, that’s genius.

Te refried beans warm up and melt into the veggies and create the thick sauciness around the peppers and onions and beans that you would get if you were using meat.

See that? Doesn’t that just look amazing?


Dish it up in big bowls topped with cheese or avocado or crumbled tortilla chips and click on the game.


Oh. It’s summer. There is no game?

Oh well. Crack open a beer and take your chili to the front porch and watch the world go by.

Grilled Eggplant

I have been horrible blogger lately. And an equally bad wifey.

I haven’t really been cooking in the last few days – my friend’s band was in a 24 hour battle of the bands (they won!) and work has been crazy! So we’ve been doing the take out thing.

Why is it that food is the first sacrifice we make when things get hectic? It should be the last thing to get the ax. Good food keeps us going. So I’m going to try and be better.

And I’m going to try to give you some really simple and easy recipes in the process, so we both have no excuses.

I’m going to be trying to simplify some of my favorite dishes, or think about how to save time as much as I can. And, as always, churn out dinner in my itty bitty kitchen.

We just recently bought a grill pan. We used it once before when we made our steak fajitas  but since then it’s just been languishing in the cupboard. Hmm. Healthy. Fast. Easy dinner. With the grill pan.

How about some grilled eggplant sandwiches?

I’ve waxed poetically about my mom’s eggplant parm. plenty of times on this blog, but the thing is, it is not itty kitchen friendly (doesn’t stop me from making it) nor is it exactly something you can just whip up. So this is an easier, lighter, healthier, and did I say easier? spin. Also great for vegetarian friends if you’re having a BBQ,

You will need

  • eggplant, peeled and sliced
  • tomatoes, sliced
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper
  • mozzarella
  • rolls (we used brioche)

Start by slicing your eggplant into 1/4 inc rounds.



Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper and place on your pre-heated grill pan.


Grill on both sides. Takes about 4 minutes or so a side.


When all your eggplant is grilled, set the slices aside.

Place your rolls on the grill plan and place a slice of mozzarella on the bottom half of each roll.


Add your eggplant


And your tomato


and then carefully remove from the grill and top with the bun.




pasta e Fagioli

I missed E on the A to Z challenge. I got hit with a stomach bug and couldn’t manage anything more than channel surfing on the couch.

I’m going to cheat a little and sneak in the e here with the f. The first thing I was able to eat was scrambled eggs. Made by mom. You’re never too old to ask mom to come take care of you when you’re sick! And no matter what, mom’s scrambled eggs always taste better than mine.

So now I’m on the mend and I’m moving on to F.

Fagioli is Italian for beans.

Pasta e Fagioli is, simply, pasta and beans. It’s one of those amazingly simple Italian dishes that is really one of those poor man’s meals. I mean, it’s pasta and beans. Cheap ingredients. But those are the kind of meals that are the best.

Simple ingredients will always make the most delicious dinners.

There are two ways of making it. One’s in a red sauce and one’s in a garlicky white sauce. My family is partial to the red, so that’s what this recipe is for.

I’ve made it a couple times and have tweaked the recipe every time. But this time, I got it.

My fiance and my dad both told me to continue to make it this way. There are some times when you just don’t argue with the men in your life.

You will need:

  • 1 15 oz can whole peeled plum tomatoes
  • 1 can of cannellini beans
  • 1 small white onion, chopped
  • 3 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2/3 cup tomato puree
  • 1-2 cups of water (depending on how thick you want it)
  • 2 cups elbow macaroni (or any other short pasta)
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper

In a heavy-bottomed soup pot, drizzle some olive oil and toss in the onions. Turn to medium heat.


When the onions are translucent, add the celery and the garlic. (My garlic is green. I know. As a time saver, we crush a bunch of garlic cloves and put the crushed cloves in a container with some olive oil and store it in the fridge. This is a meme trick. If the garlic is young, it will react with the olive oil and turn green. It’s fine. There’s nothing wrong with it. It’s just the color of the stuff that turned the turtles into the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.)


Let the celery soften, then add the can of tomatoes.


And the tomato puree and 1 cup of water. Season with salt and pepper and let the mix simmer for about 15-20 minutes.


Turn the burner off and, using an immersion blender (or a blender or food processor) blend the mix.


If, at this point, the mix is too thick for your taste, add in more water.


Turn the heat back to medium and add the rinsed and drained cannellini beans.


and your pasta and give a big stir.


Let this simmer for about ten minutes, until your pasta is cooked. You can let it go for longer on low. At this point, you can also pop it in the fridge for dinner another night.


Dish up a big bowl, add a piece of crusty bread and mangia!


Eggplant Parm. Baked Ziti

So there’s a dish called Penne Al Forno, which is a baked penne dish with eggplant in it.

But let’s be real. This pile of cheesy, eggplanty, pasta-goodness can masquerade behind a fancy name all it wants. We know the truth. It’s really just an epic mashup of two of our favorites: eggplant parm and baked ziti.

And it is a glorious way to end a rainy, dreary Monday.

For this recipe you will need:

  • 1 eggplant, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks
  • 1/2 box of pasta (penne’s great but I had elbows on hand. Use what you have!)
  • 15 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • mozzarella
  • parmesan
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper

Preheat the oven to 350.

For this dinner, I used an ovenproof deep skillet so I could cut this down to a 2 pot night. But if you don’t have something that works, you can transfer from a skillet to a baking dish.

No problem.




Drizzle some olive oil in a pot and toss in your eggplant chunks. Season with salt and lots of black pepper.


When the eggplant is browned, add your garlic and the can of diced tomatoes and let the mix simmer away.


Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to a boil and cook your pasta.


Add your drained pasta to the pot of eggplant and tomatoes (or transfer to a baking dish)


Toss in some chunks of mozzarella and then give a big stir.


Top with more mozzarella and a sprinkling of parmesan cheese.


Bake for about 25-30 minutes, until the cheese gets all melty.


Serve up heaping platefuls and enjoy two Italian classics in one.



Christmas Quiche

With Christmas only a few days away, dinners need to be fast, easy and light.

Whenever that’s the order of the day, I turn to quiche. Quiche doesn’t sound light, but if you take away the crust, you’re left with fresh veggies and eggs, both of which are good for you things that will keep you going during your marathon present wrapping session!

I know that the crust is the best part of most things. But with the amount of pies and cookies that we’re all going to consume in a few days, I think it’s okay to lose it for this dish.

You can use any vegetables you like in this. I’m going with spinach, tomatoes and some feta cheese for a bit of a Greek twist. Let me know the combos you come up with.

The basic quiche mix will be the same.

You will need 4 eggs and a few tablespoons of heavy cream. Okay I’m being a little naughty. You can use skim milk if you want to be totally virtuous.

Also, I bake my quiche in a lightly buttered pie dish. It makes for easy serving, easy clean up, and it looks really pretty. I usually don’t care about presentation, but with the holidays coming up, I send that to you as a little piece of advice in case you wind up with unexpected overnight guests. Baked eggs in a pie dish = elegant breakfast!

Okay, for my spinach, feta and tomato quiche, I started by preheating the oven to 400.

Drizzle some olive oil in a skillet and add heaping handfuls of baby spinach.


When the spinach starts to wilt a bit, add a few diced tomatoes (The other wonderful thing about quiche is that there’s no measuring necessary. Chop up leftover veggies, throw ’em in and you are good to go).



When the spinach and tomatoes are cooked, pour the mixture into the bottom of your greased pie plate.



You’ll notice I didn’t season these. I’m going to crumble feta over the veggies, so I don’t want to add extra salt.


And I season my eggs with pepper (I forgot to take a picture after adding pepper. Imagine little black specks floating amidst the cream and egg yolks!)



Beat the eggs and cream and pour over the veggies.


Bake for about 30-40 minutes, or until the eggs are set.


This is great to bake the night before then warm up for a grab and go breakfast, too.

And look. It’s red and green. That’s a very festive quiche, if I do say so myself.

Split Pea Soup



When the temperature hits 19 degrees, it’s soup weather.

Actually, it’s soup weather once it drops below 45.

And actually, when the temperature hits 19 degrees, it’s call out sick and wrap up in blankets weather. Or as my co-worker in London calls it, a duvet day.

Split pea soup has such a warming quality to it. I think it’s the thickness of the soup combined with the earthy smell of thyme.

This is an incredibly easy recipe, and one that’s easy to keep the ingredients on hand should the mood, or a cold front, strike.

You will need

  • 2 cups split peas
  • 2 carrots
  • 4 ribs of celery
  • 1 small white onion
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper
  • thyme
  • water

In a heavy pot, pour four cups of water, 2 cups of split peas and a few sprigs of thyme. Bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer and let cook, covered, for about 30 minutes. You want the split peas to soften, but not dissolve.


Add the chopped carrots, celery, onion and a drizzle of olive oil. Bring the soup back to a boil, and the reduce to a simmer again, letting cook for about 15 minutes, until the vegetables have softened. Season with salt and pepper.


Remove the thyme and, using a blender or immersion blender, puree the soup.

Get out the fuzzy slippers and the flannels and watch the wind blow while you are safely warm and happy and full.


Mexican Chili



I just told you about the smells of meme’s kitchen.

So I bet you were expecting some hummus or tzatziki, or at the very least, some couscous or rice pilaf.

But, instead, I’m giving you something decidedly un-mediterranean, un-French, and un-meme.

But something that I hope you will nonetheless find yummy.

It’s unseasonably warm here in New York today. Spring seems to be in the air. Though I know Thanksgiving is around the corner.

But I’m cooking to today’s weather rather than to the fall season. And warm days always has me thinking of spicy Mexican and refreshing beers.

I think it’s the perfect Monday Night Football combo. And a darn good Meatless Monday option.


You will need

  • 1/2 a white onion, chopped
  • 2 green bell peppers, chopped
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can of corn, drained
  • 1 jar of salsa
  • toppings such as avocado, cheese, Greek yogurt and lime

In a large pot, drizzle olive oil and sautee the onion.


When the onions are translucent, add the peppers and the black beans. Let these cook together for about ten minutes, or until the peppers soften.


Next, add the corn and give the pot a big stir. Let the corn warm for a few minutes.



Add in the jar of salsa. If you like things spicier, go for medium or hot salsa. If you want to keep it on the tamer side, go for mild. Let the veggies bubble together for about 10 minutes or so.


Serve up big bowls and top with avocado slices, Greek yogurt and a sprinkling of cheese.


Crack a beer and watch the Patriots take on the Panthers.

Lentil Soup

Okay, those other times when I said fall was in the air, nope. That was just the warm-up, the preseason.

This morning, when I couldn’t fathom heading into the kitchen without a blanket as a cocoon, and when I saw 40s as the temperature on the map on the news in some places. Yea. Fall is in the air. And it’s chilly air.

And that means, it’s a soup day.

And because it’s meatless Monday, that means it’s a vegetable soup day.

One of my favorite soups, and really the food equivalent of a fuzzy blanket, is lentil soup.

The Turkish restaurant up the street from us makes the best. It’s velvety smooth, hearty and so comforting.

This comes close to it.

You will need:

  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 2 ribs of celery, chopped
  • 1/2 a white onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1-2 cups of lentils (depends how lentilly you like your soup. I usually do about  1 and a half cups for the two of us)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • halebi biber (for more on this see my post on grape leaves and Patty’s comment on the history of this red pepper)
  • vegetable broth

Drizzle olive oil in a heavy bottomed soup pot and add onions, carrot and celery. Let these cook over medium heat until softened.


Add the lentils and the garlic, cooking to toast the lentils.


You want to keep stirring so they don’t burn. Season with salt, pepper and halebi biber. (if you don’t have it you can use red pepper flakes sparingly)


After cooking for about five minutes, add enough vegetable broth to cover all of the vegetables and lentils. Cover and let simmer for about twenty minutes.


Using a food processor or an immersion blender, puree the soup. Serve up in bowl topped with a dollop of Greek yogurt.


Two Ingredient Black Bean Soup

Hello City!

Hello city kitchen!

A week away at the beach, relaxing in the sun and enjoying dinners out every night was a wonderful break from the every day drudgery of alarm clocks and subways and desk jobs. But it’s always good to be back home.

As crazy as the city gets (and as bad as it can smell in the summer) it’s home and I love it dearly.

We got back pretty late last night so I only got the essentials at the store – milk, half and half and orange juice – so we could have breakfast.

I was excited to get back to cooking, but the first day back at the office is always brutal. So by the time I got home, I really had no energy for dinner.

And if you’re vacations are like ours, you come home with your wallet and your waistline a little bit angry with you.

Ice cream every night, boardwalk fries and heaping plates of fish tacos had done a number on my tummy.

So tonight would be light. And cheap. And super easy.

So easy that I’m embarrassed to post this as my first post in a week.

I’m kind f inclined to not even call it a recipe.

For this dish you will need two things:


Yup. A jar of salsa and a can of black beans.

Think about black bean soup. It’s got beans, obviously, tomatoes, peppers, onions, garlic and some spices. Now read the ingredients on the jar of salsa. Yup. Same thing.

If you’re in a bind, why not?

Dump the jar of salsa and the can of rinsed and drained black beans into a pot.

Add 1 salsa jar of water to the pot (precise measurements, no?) You could use chicken or vegetable broth too, but the salsa has so much flavor that I usually stick with water.


Stir and let simmer over medium heat for a few minutes until warmed through.

Top with some taco cheese, tortilla chips and sour cream. Add a side salad dressed with a squeeze of lime to keep the Mexican flavors and you , and you have dinner on the table in ten minutes and for like seven bucks.

Your tummy and your wallet will thank you.

Paprika, Sweet Potato, Chickpea Stew

It was great to escape the hustle and bustle of the city this weekend and trade it in for the flash and glitz of the casino.

There’s this sensation in a casino, or state of being maybe is the better phrase, that doesn’t happen anywhere else. There are no clocks, so time doesn’t exist. There are no windows, so day, night, sunny, cloudy, doesn’t matter. And everyone is in the same place for the same reasons – booze, gambling and fun.

It was great to spend time with his family and even better to put a rough week behind us. And I like the occasional night off from cooking.

But all day at work I couldn’t help but be antsy to get back to my kitchen.

It may be teeny, but it’s mine.

After a few overindulgent nights, we needed something light, healthy and vegetarian for Meatless Monday. I wanted fresh, crisp vegetables after so many vodka tonics and greasy fries. I saw quite a few people posting about sweet potatoes on Twitter today. I love sweet potatoes. That got the wheels turning.

I started googling recipes. I came across a sweet potato and chickpea curry. Close. But not quite. That led me to a Moroccan chickpea stew. Again, close, but not ….

Wait a minute!

Why not take the parts from each I like and do a mashup?

This is really the first recipe I’ve completely made up and winged it on.

You will need

  • 1 clove garlic, diced
  • 2 tablespoons shallot, diced
  • 2 sweet potatoes, cubed
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 can chickpeas
  • a few handfuls baby spinach
  • paprika
  • salt
  • pepper
  • vegetable oil

Drizzle the bottom of the pot with vegetable oil and add in the garlic and shallots, cooking until brown.


Meanwhile, peel the sweet potatoes. Look at that color! So much good stuff packed in there – potassium, Vitamin C. Okay. I’m not all health and nutrition knowledgeable. So I’ll stick to the cooking. IMG_0756

Dice up the sweet potatoes into bite-size cubes and toss them into the pot, seasoning with salt, pepper and paprika ( a lot of paprika).


From this point on, it’s just about layering flavors into the pot. Once the potatoes, shallot and garlic are chopped, there’s very little counter space required. This, like most soups, is a great itty bitty city kitchen friendly dish. Okay, let the potatoes cook for about 10 minutes, stirring once or twice so they don’t stick.

Add the can of tomatoes, juice included, and stir.


Add the can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained.


Add enough water to the pot to cover the veggies. For me, this was two fills of the chickpea can.


Cover and let simmer for 15-20 minutes, until the potatoes are soft. Just before serving, tear up some baby spinach, stir in, and let it wilt a bit.


Serve up in bowls with a dollop of Greek yogurt.


This may be a soup with some hints of Thanksgiving, but it’s still light and refreshing enough for a healthy summer dinner.