Simple Vegetarian Quinoa Chili

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Happy hump day! 

We finally got a strong dose of rain here in Orange County and I COULD NOT be happier! Besides wrestling Rascal to wipe his paws every time we come in from outside, it's been fantastic. I woke up to the sound of the rain and have I mentioned how amazing shooting in the cloudy weather is?! It is the absolute best time to shoot food photography. Whenever I see in the forecast that it will be cloudy/rainy (which is rare!) I always try and block out a shoot day!

I did a massive last-minute grocery shop and called Abbie over for a long day of shooting! Abbie is my right-hand woman, photo editor, food styling assist as well as my website designer. She's basically like the sharpest knife I have and I couldn't be more grateful for her. My hand/thumb has been out of commission since my little slice faux paux. She was kind enough to do all the dishes and work that would require getting my hand wet. 

We got a ton of recipes shot and even made time for a little rainy walk with Rascal. Have I mentioned Abbie and I have also been friends since we were like 12? Working with a best friend is seriously so fun!

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I figured all this cozy weather talk would be the perfect day to publish this new vegetarian chili of mine! Since September I have made a conscious effort to eat less meat and find plant-based alternatives. When it comes to hearty winter meals I always leaned on meat to complete the recipe. I have to say, while it has been challenging, it has also been so fun! I feel like I have really expanded my palette and my recipe arsenal. 

I love cozy and hearty recipes this time of year but I am also trying to reset my diet a little and fill my meals with more fruits and vegetables. I think when most Americans think of chili they think of a meaty and flavorful meal. Even though this chili doesn't have meat I wanted it to still feel just as hearty and filling. It's even packed with a little bit of vegetables for an extra dose of healthy. Believe me when I tell you they are totally snuck in and blend with the rest of the chili seamlessly. Have I mentioned this vegetarian chili also comes together really easily?! And is about half the cost of a meat filled chili! I like to let mine simmer for about an hour to really develop the flavors and spices but if you in a pinch on time you can let it go for 30 minutes. 

I love that I can sit on the couch watching a good movie with a hot bowl of this chili and still feel great about what I'm eating. Even if I will eat it with a small wedge of cornbread ;) Be sure to serve it up with a TON of different toppings (my favorite part!). 

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Simple Vegetarian Quinoa Chili

3 Tablespoons of olive oil
1 Red onion, chopped
1 Red bell pepper, chopped
4 Cloves of garlic, minced
2 -15 oz cans of fire roasted tomatoes
1 -15 oz can of red kidney beans
1 -15 oz can of white beans
1 -15 oz can of black beans
1 Jalapeno, minced
2 Tablespoons of chili powder
2 Teaspoons of ground cumin
1 Teaspoon of smoked paprika
1 Teaspoon of onion powder
1 Teaspoon of dried oregano
2 Teaspoons of kosher salt
1 Bay leaf
1 1/2 Cups of water or vegetable broth
1 Cup of cooked quinoa
1/4 Cup of chopped cilantro

Toppings: sour cream, avocado slices, jalapeno slices, cheese, cornbread, onions, lime wedges & chopped cilantro

In a large dutch oven heat olive oil on medium heat until oil will spread across the pan (1-2 mins). Add in onions and bell pepper and cook for 8-10 minutes or until transluscent. Drain beans from their can liquids and add into onion and bell pepper mixture. Add in fire roasted tomatoes and all juices from can to pot. Stir mixture together well and add in minced jalapeno, minced garlic, chili powder, ground cumin, smoked paprika, onion powder, dried oregano, kosher salt, bay leaf and water.

Stir consistently and heat chili on medium heat until simmering. Lower heat down to low and cook for an additional 30 minutes or until mixture thickens. If you have time, 60 minutes on very low heat will develop the chilis flavor more. 5 minutes before serving stir in cooked quinoa and chopped cilantro. Serve with a variety of toppings. 

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