Easy 3-Bean Vegetarian Chili with Cheese Crisps

I have no reason to crave coziness this weekend.  Yes, it’s chilly and there’s apparently another “polar vortex” headed our way next week, but the sun is out and it’s going to be in the upper 40s this weekend.  And yet I find myself wanting to make ALL of the snuggly foods.  And no, I do not care that food can’t be “snuggly.”  In my world, ANYthing can be snuggly.

Come on, you know that looks snuggly.  Don't lie.

Come on, you know that looks snuggly. Don’t lie.

In my last post I mentioned that I was going to attempt homemade bread sans bread maker, but thanks to my very generous aunt, a surprise package arrived in the mail shortly after that post was published and I am now the proud owner of a lean, mean, bread-making machine!  It is happily rumbling away in the kitchen as we speak– I keep peeking through the window at the top like a little kid.  It’s so neat!  Can’t wait to post a recipe or two from my new favorite toy. 🙂

In the meantime, though, I’ll write about this easy-peasy chili recipe.  After all, if there really is another polar vortex on its way (and this one’s gonna last a long time, apparently), you’re gonna need all the cozy food you can get!  An extra bonus is that this makes a lot of food for little money, and is super adaptable to whatever you’ve got around the house.

The dream team.

The dream team.

Vegetarian 3-Bean Chili

  • 1/2 large Onion, chopped
  • 1 Red Pepper, chopped
  • 1 can Chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can Black Beans (with liquid)
  • 1 can Dark Red Kidney Beans (with liquid)
  • 1 can (14 oz.) Crushed Tomatoes
  • 1 package French’s Chili-o Seasoning (yes, I’m lazy and didn’t do my own seasoning.  So sue me.  This stuff is great!  Plus it’s what my momma uses so it has nostalgia to boot)

Heat a few tablespoons Olive Oil in a dutch oven over med-low heat.  Add onion and pepper and cook until softened.  Add all beans, tomatoes, and seasoning packet.  Bring to a boil and simmer approx. 10 minutes.  Serve with a nice wintry beer and prepare for a lazy, cozy evening.

That’s it!  SO easy.  Which, when you’re feeling lazy but you still want to make a meal with substance, is just the best.  Chili with meat is always great, but making a vegetarian version is a nice way to mix up an old standby, save a little money, and feed your body something slightly healthier.

Beans, beans the magical fruit!  Sorry, I'm five, don't worry about it.

Beans, beans the magical fruit! Sorry, I’m five, don’t worry about it.

Because this recipe was so very easy, I sort of felt like I should do something to make it seem snazzier.  But I am also lazy to my very core, so I needed something that seemed snazzy but in fact was not.  And these little cheese crispies were just the ticket.  They have one ingredient.  Actually one.  And somehow they’re a) delicious and b) kind of like little cheesy snowflakes?  Which is awesome, of course.  So keep these in your back pocket sometime when you want to add a cute little accent to a dish.  They’d work with any hard, shreddable cheese, so they can be adjusted to suit the flavors of whatever you’re making.

Just shred some cheese and place it in little piles on parchment paper.  Bake for 11-ish minutes at 350, until a dark, golden brown.

Just shred some cheese and place it in little (pretty flat) piles on parchment paper. Bake for 11-ish minutes at 350 until they’re a dark, golden brown.  Remove and let cool slightly, then blot with a paper towel to remove excess oil.

I know these don’t sound that special.  They’re basically just an on-purpose version of the cheese that spills over from a grilled cheese sandwich and gets kinda crispy while you’re cooking it.  But let’s face it, that cheese is delicious.  These lil guys were just what our chili needed to make it feel a wee bit special.

See what I mean?  NOW that chili looks like you put in a lot more effort than you actually did.

See what I mean? NOW that chili looks like you put in a lot more effort than you actually did.

Chili, man.  It’s the poor grad student’s best friend, let me tell ya.  And with a recipe like this that’s so easily adaptable, it would be a struggle to get tired of this stuff before the winter months have passed.  I also made crackers for the first time this weekend– another SUPER simple, minimal-ingredient recipe.  So I’ll be sharing that recipe soon too.  Maybe I’ll post the crackers with the bread and we can just have a carb free-for-all.  That’s what winter’s for, right?  I thought so.  Glad we’re on the same page about this.