The Monthly Recipe: Homemade Very Veggie Chili

Homemade Chili

When I was growing up, our family chili recipe was very simple – one chopped onion, a pound of ground beef, 28 ounces crushed tomatoes, 3 15-ounce cans of dark red kidney beans, salt, and a tablespoon or so of McCormick’s chili powder.

Then a friend told me that she grated carrots into tomato based things like chili to add more veg and my chili has been developing ever since. I love red bell pepper, but my husband can’t stomach it. I found riced cauliflower was a fantastic way to hide more veggies in it. Black beans and corn have been other options over the years. Here’s the latest version.

Be warned, it makes a BIG pot, but I love taking it to work for an easy and flavorful lunch and we don’t mind leftovers. It easily serves the three of us for two meals.

Also, watch out for the type of chili powder you use – I’ve picked up two chili powders recently and found they were blends, one with added sodium. I’m used to a fairly mild but completely chili based powder. Also, if using a hot chili powder, like McCormick’s Chipotle Chili Powder, I use half as much. I also cook low sodium so all products are reduced, low, or no sodium and we are used to that. Adjust to your tastes.

Homemade Extra Veggie Chili


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and coarsely grated or finely chopped
  • 1 pound ground beef or venison
  • 1 package of riced cauliflower (I like to precook this according to package directions, but it probably isn’t necessary. It just make take a few extra minutes to bring the pot to a boil.)
  • 1 15 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 15 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 1 can dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt


  1. Spray a 4 quart or large soup pot with cooking spray and pour in the olive oil. Heat over medium low heat.
  2. Dice the onion and add to the pot.
  3. Grate the carrot in and stir it around.
  4. Cook on low for about five minutes then push the veggies toward the sides of the pot.
  5. Turn the heat up to medium.
  6. Put the meat in the center and chop it up with a spatula or large spoon, stirring in the onion and carrot as you go. (I like to get the meat fairly fine and the veggies help break it up.)
  7. Brown the meat thoroughly, stirring regularly, about five to 8 minutes.
  8. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir thoroughly. (If it isn’t “soupy” enough for your taste, just add another cup of water and it will loosen up but not really lose any flavor.)
  9. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to simmer.
  10. Simmer for about an hour.
  11. Check for seasoning and adjust as necessary.
  12. Serve as is or with grated sharp cheddar cheese, sour cream, avocado or guacamole, and/or tortilla chips.

The Sunday Recipe: Cottage Pie

Cottage Pie

I don’t remember having this dish when I was growing up but my daughter saw it online and wanted to give it a try. We’ve made it half a dozen times since then and customized it to fit our tastes, cobbling together a couple recipes into something we really enjoy. It is the ultimate comfort food.

This version is not vegetarian but I could easily see making it vegetarian by using mushroom gravy and either tofu or seitan in place of the meat.

One thing that makes a huge difference, I have found, is the quality of the Worcestershire sauce. We were using the standard grocery store sauce, and it was good, but then I ran out and grabbed a bottle of organic at our local farm store. It was amazing – the flavor was so much more complex and rich.

The other thing that makes a big difference to me is how finely minced the ground beef is, the trick is to keep the meat moving with a wood spoon or spatula as it browns. This produces a finer mince than you would get if you just turn it a few times during this step. It allows the sauce to fully incorporate and makes it so much better.

We have tried adding no peas, a cup of frozen peas, or a whole package before putting it in the pan and putting the mashed potatoes on top. Personally, I prefer to either leave the peas out or put a cup in and just serve the rest on the side. I think it dilutes the flavor of the casserole just a bit.

We’ve also added a cup of shredded sharp cheddar cheese to the mashed potatoes, but it really isn’t necessary, this is so rich and flavorful on its own. 

One of the hardest bits to me is getting the consistency right of the beef and gravy so that the mashed potatoes don’t sink in, and also spooning the potatoes on evenly so they don’t sink in. Last time I used a cookie scoop to drop them on and that worked pretty well.

This time I was impatient and didn’t simmer the gravy for five minutes, so it was a bit soupy. It was still delicious. This serves our family of three for two meals.


  • 1 tablespoon corn starch
  • 2 tablespoons cold water
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large carrots or two handfuls of baby carrots, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 1/2 pound of ground beef
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoon ketchup
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 2 1/2 pounds potatoes
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • Salt/pepper to taste
  • 1 cup frozen green peas (optional)


  1. Chop vegetables.
  2. Peel potatoes and cut into half-inch pieces. Rinse, if needed, then place in a pot and cover with water.
  3. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer for 20 minutes.
  4. While the potatoes boil, preheat the oven to 400 degrees and cook the meat filling, directions as follows.
  5. Mix together the starch with a couple tablespoons of cold water, set aside.
  6. Heat a large pan over medium heat.
  7. Add olive oil and chopped carrots and onions, and minced garlic if using.
  8. Saute a few minutes.
  9. Add the ground beef and keep it moving until it is thoroughly browned and broken up into a fine mince.
  10. Add the ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, and garlic powder if using.
  11. Salt and pepper as desired.
  12. Stir in the broth and bring it to a gentle bubble. Let it go for 5 minutes to reduce.
  13. Stir in the starch slurry.
  14. Allow to cook for a minute then remove from heat.
  15. Stir in a cup of frozen peas if using.
  16. When the potatoes have simmered for 20 minutes, drain and mash with butter, milk, as well as salt and pepper to taste.
  17. Pour the meat and vegetable filling into a prepared 9 by 13 casserole dish.
  18. Dip the mashed potatoes over onto the filling.
  19. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes.
  20. Allow to cool for 10 to 15 minutes before serving. (This comes out piping hot!)
  21. Serve with additional vegetable, peas are particularly good with it.

The Sunday Recipe: Enchilada Casserole


Enchilada Casserole

This is something that I have thrown together before with varied ingredients. This time I wrote it down. I used ground beef, but I’ve also used ground venison, and I imagine it would work just fine with chopped cooked chicken, soy crumbles, or even just leave the meat out altogether. With the beans and cheese, there is plenty of protein. I like to serve it with a little salad on the side, and/or chopped tomato, avocado, and sour cream.


  • 15 ounce can tomato sauce
  • ½ cup beef broth (or water with beef bouillon cube or powder)
  • 1 teaspoon to 1 Tablespoon chili powder depending on how spicy.
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 and ½ teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ pound ground beef
  • 1 can pinto beans
  • 5 6-inch corn tortillas
  • 2 cups shredded cheese (Monterey jack or Mexican blend)
  • 1 cup frozen corn


  1. Combine the tomato sauce, broth or water and bouillon, and seasonings in a medium pot over medium heat.
  2. Bring sauce to simmer and let it bubble gently for 15 minutes.
  3. Brown the ground beef or prepare other meat, if using.
  4. Mash or puree the pinto beans with ¼ cup of the sauce.
  5. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  6. Reserve ¼ cup sauce and ½ cup cheese for top of casserole.
  7. Prepare a round 1.75-quart casserole with cooking spray.
  8. Place ¼ cup sauce, without meat, in bottom of dish.
  9. Put one tortilla in dish.
  10. If using, now stir the meat into the sauce.
  11. Layer ¼ of sauce onto tortilla.
  12. Dollop ¼ of bean mixture on.
  13. Sprinkle ¼ of corn on.
  14. Sprinkle ¼ of cheese on.
  15. Place a tortilla on and press down lightly.
  16. Repeat steps 9 through 13, 3 more times.
  17. Spread reserved sauce on top of last tortilla.
  18. Sprinkle reserved cheese on.
  19. Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes.
  20. Enjoy!
Mexican steps