Bean & Butternut Squash Vegan Chili – Ate by Ate Cooks Fall Comfort Food!

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Ate by Ate is baaaack!  Taking a week off was one of the weirdest feelings in the world.  I haven’t stopped blogging for more than a day in the last two years so with the exception of posting some photos to Ate by Ate’s Facebook galleries, not blogging at all for a week was a complete 180.  I don’t think there will ever be a time when I’ll feel completely caught up, but a week off was exactly what I needed.  It took the pressure off, I got to do a little bit of holiday planning with friends, and while I still feel like there are a million things to do for Ate by Ate, at least I’m a tiny bit caught up on sleep at the very least!

And now we’re ready to dive right into the holiday blitz!  I’m so, SO excited for Christmas and the holidays.  I’m excited to see friends, to give my family and friends their presents, and of course, to eat!  I’m currently working on the December Food Calendar (the 1st draft went to Food Bloggers of Canada last night!) and I’m planning my weekends of food the best I can.  I forsee Christmas cupcakes, vegetarian yummies, tea, hot drinks, peppermint and candy canes, cookies, baking, and hopefully lots of special winter menu items and comfort food!

Cooking up a storm!

My week off from blogging not only allowed me to do some heavy-duty planning for the month of December, it also allowed me to cook for the very first time!  I KNOW!  The girl who has only ever baked has finally cooked a great, hearty meal all on her own from scratch!  For those of you who don’t know, my mum has always done the cooking in my family and shoos me out of the kitchen.  Always has, probably always will so long as I’m living under the same roof.  I consider myself lucky when I can take out my baking sheets and mixing bowls without so much as a frown.  Maybe I’m exaggerating a little.  Point is, I’ve read food magazines since the age of 8, have watched more cooking and food shows than I have anything else, have been fascinated by cooking and baking and the culinary arts for years, but have never truly cooked!

Boiling water for pasta and noodles doesn’t count.  Making sandwiches and salads don’t count.  Or eggs.  I’m not discrediting the preparation of those foods at all because goodness knows making food isn’t a skill you’re just naturally born with, but it’s just different for me because of how I’ve grown up.  I’m not a food blogger with a wealth of cooking experience under her belt and I don’t have a plethora of recipes (although I do hope everyone enjoys the cookie and baking ones I do post!); but what I do have is a willingness to learn and a passion that sees no end.

So, what did I end up making as my very first, real foray into cooking?  VEGAN CHILI!  I cannot tell you how happy and elated I feel about this meal!  I couldn’t stop smiling for the entire day after I made it.  I feel so proud that I did it all on my own and that it didn’t taste awful – I got the thumbs up from both my brother and my mum and I thoroughly enjoyed it myself!  I took a cue from this vegetarian chili recipe from All Recipes.com, modified it, and made it my own.  And best of all, I used the most amazing, delicious and fresh butternut squash from the Evergreen Brick Works farmers’ market to make it!  And if you can believe, it feeds 4 hungry stomachs and is incredibly hearty!  I hope you all enjoy it as much I did!

Bean & Butternut Squash Vegan Chili recipe

Serves 4 to 6

(adapted from “The Best Vegetarian Chili in the World”, allrecipes.com)

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 can (28 fl oz/796 mL) no-salt added diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 Tbsp. dried oregano
  • 1 can (19 fl oz/540 mL) no-salt added red kidney beans, rinsed
  • 1 can (19 fl oz/540 mL) no-salt added mixed bean medley (white kidney beans, chickpeas, romano beans), rinsed
  • 1-1/2 cups peeled, chopped butternut squash
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1/2 Tbsp. crushed red pepper/chili flakes
  • 1-1/2 cups water
  • 1 can (12 fl oz/341 mL) corn kernels

Directions

  1. Heat olive oil in large, deep nonstick skillet on medium heat.  Stir in onion and garlic; cook 3 min. or until onion is tender.  Add tomatoes and oregano; cook 5 min., stirring occasionally.
  2. Add beans, butternut squash and spices; stir until evenly combined.  Add water, bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 25 min.
  4. Stir in corn, cook 5 min.  Serve with hummus or avocado.

Partying Alongside Peppers, Corn, and Beans – A Spotlight on the Best Shrimp Burritos at Burrito Boyz!

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I’ve come to the realization that I just love seafood tacos and burritos (and veggie ones!) more than I love ones that have poultry or red meat in them.  I daydream about having seared ahi tuna tacos, flaky white fish on corn tortillas with seafood sauce (or tartar sauce) and guacamole, fish with tons of beans and corn and peppers, and finally, the shrimp burritos and quesadillas from Burrito Boyz!  Although I have a mega soft spot for the mind-blowingly delicious pulled pork taquitos from Tequila Sunrise just down the street on Adelaide St. West, I can’t get over how delightful the seafood burritos and quesadillas are at BB, especially the shrimp ones.

If you love seafood and if you enjoy noshing on big burritos of amazing quality, you need to eat and savour the shrimp here.  I love shrimp and it’s the honest to goodness truth when I say that I haver never had shrimp that tasted this wonderful, not even in dim sum!  Shrimp in dim sum is heavenly, but the shrimp burritos at Burrito Boyz?  Out of this world and over the moon.  The burritos (shrimp ones are $7.08 for a small and $7.96 for a large) are stuffed with jumbo shrimps that are soft, juicy, and plump and, given how all the prices at Burrito Boyz are under $10, you really appreciate the quantity and quality of food.  A large burrito could easily feed me for two meals and during my very first Burrito Boyz meal two and a half years ago, even my small veggie burrito rewarded me with leftovers to eat on the bus ride home at the end of the day!

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It was my lucky day – Burrito Boyz wise – the day I had this fabulous shrimp burrito because if you’re familiar with the popular eatery or if you remember the first post I made about them back in July, you’d know that crowds line up out the door for the great food here.  There must have been a guardian angel looking out for me because for the first time in two and a half years, I passed by the famous T.O. burrito hole-in-the-wall, glanced through the front window, and saw several empty seats beckoning at me like blinking radars.

I could not believe my eyes.  There were spots to sit?!  There wasn’t a line curving around the ordering and waiting area and up the stairs, out the front door?!  People weren’t shouting orders at the top of their lungs so they could be heard over the chatter of the hungry?!  I didn’t have to stand outside right at 11am and run inside to snag a spot?!  Well, colour me shocked and ecstatic!  Opportunities like this didn’t come easy (or at all, really) so I pounced and had myself one of the most delicious lunches ever.

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You have free reign when it comes to toppings – if you don’t like it, don’t pick it!  Along with refried beans and rice, and sour cream on the side (I love dunking stuff in or spooning it on myself), I chose black beans, corn, lettuce, green peppers, green onions, guacamole, and burrito sauce to party-harty alongside the juicy, scrumptious shrimps.  The combination of toppings was fantastic and I can say with absolute certainty that THIS is my favourite burrito from here!  It took a few tries to hit the nail on the head, but the process leading up to uncovering my ultimate favourite was incredibly yummy and enjoyable.  If every process was like this, we’d be smooth sailing.

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Burrito Boyz is located at 218 Adelaide St. West, west of Simcoe St. and east of Duncan St.  They have a number of locations in Toronto and the GTA, including Bramption, Mississauga, Streetsville, and Waterloo.  Their 2nd Toronto location resides in the neighbourhood of Little Italy at 575 College St. West, just west of Manning Ave. in between Bathurst St. and Ossington Ave.  For more info on their menu and other locations, click here.

There’s a Chill in the Air – The First September Farmers’ Market Visit and a Return to Trinity Bellwoods Park

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I woke up this morning to a chill in the air, put on a zippy sweater and hankerchief scarf, and prepared myself for a glorious day out in the city.  I was really excited for my first farmers’ market of September today and I’m looking forward to so many more this fall, especially since this is my first year visiting the markets on such a regular basis.  I can’t wait to see pumpkins, squash, gourds, cranberries, more apples, and everything else the fall harvest has to offer.  It was overcast for most of the day today but I welcomed the lack of summer heat and relished in the fresh coolness instead.  It felt so good today.  Crisp, clean, cool, breezy, and perfect for walking around town and strolling through a market in the park.  The last time I went to the market at Trinity Bellwoods was back in May, so I thought, “what better time to make a return visit than the first week of September?  A visit at the cusp of summer and fall means a lot of new things to see!”    

My feet were a little sore from my long walk akong Dundas West, but my spirits were high and I smiled when I saw the big, bustling crowd hovering in and around the market at Trinity Bellwoods.  Babies were playing on playmats on the grass, people were lugging around bulging bags of fresh vegetables, and everyone was in happy, carefree spirits.  It’s the best possible energy to be around and it’s engaging and infectious.  Things looked vastly different from my first visit back in the spring.  At the time, there was an abundance of asparagus, spinach, rhubarb, fruit and oatmeal cookies, and lots of bread and baked desserts.

The bread and baked desserts have stayed, but everything else has changed and it was so awesome seeing the vibrant fall colous at the market.  They were absolutely beautiful and so perfect for the start of fall with burnt oranges, bright reds, and golden yellows at every other table of goodies.  There were wooden baskets and barrels spilling out with tons of radishes, beets, parsnips, carrots, apples, corn, mini squashes, and pears and even though I knew summer wasn’t officially over, I could already hear the leaves and grass crunching under my feet and I could already feel the excitment and anticipation of carrying home bushels and baskets of fall goodies.  All of this would drive any foodie’s mind in circles with all the possible fall dishes these fruits and vegetables could be a part of including fall stews, soups, risottos, baked desserts, and many more. 

You all know I have a hard time leaving the market empty-handed so for the first time ever, I picked up a HUGE, leafy fresh bunch of kale and this baby is going in the pot for dinner sometime this week!  I’m so happy I was introduced to this vegetable last year.  I could munch on a whole plate of the stuff all by its lonesome with nothing on it and be a happy camper.  I may have walked away from the adorable teeny yellow tomatoes and homemade blueberry scones I saw today, but I walked away with a very beautiful vegetable and as an added bonus, it made it all the way home with me sans the squish.  I’d say the fall farmers’ market score card is off to a fantabulous start so far 😀

 

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 The farmers’ market at Trinity Bellwoods Park is located at Dundas St. West and Shaw St. every Tuesday from 3pm-7pm until October 25th.  The next time you’re there, be sure to also sign the petition to prevent the increase in farmers’ market user fees.  You can also access and sign the petition, and learn more, online here.

Weekly Feature: The Grad Lounge – Vegan Chili to Warm Up the Winter

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On winter days, after a grueling day at work or school, waiting out in the cold for the bus, and shovelling the never ending heaps of snow off your driveway, you crave warmth and comfort.  Something you can curl up with on the couch with a blanket in front of the television.  Maybe a bowl of soup, or a warm bowl of rice or noodles in broth…or maybe chili.  I’ll be honest, I was never the biggest fan of chili.  Between soup and chili, I would choose soup any day.  But I’m very pleased to say The Grad Lounge gave me a newfound appreciation for it, and I think I know why.  I hate meat chili.  Okay, maybe hate is too strong a word, but it makes me go “blech”.  And The Grad Lounge’s chili is vegan with enough vegetables to cover a corn field and it SO hearty and juicy and yummy and GOOD.  It’s the kind of food where each spoonful is just as enjoyable as the last and you can’t seem to get yourself to eating it.  THAT GOOD.

Now, I may cancel out the vegan and make mine simply vegetarian by adding a dollop of sour cream (because I love sour cream the same way I love cream cheese!  Wow, what a dairy whore I am), but the chili on its own is accompanied by a roll or corn muffin, and comprised of chopped green and red bell peppers, onions, celery, and jalapeño peppers, as well as plenty of red kidney beans, green lentils, black beans, crushed plum tomatoes, and corn.  The vegan chili is seasoned with Mexcian chili pepper oregano, ground cumin and coriander, and sprinkled with a bit of salt and pepper.  This is a Grad Lounge staple; it’s available every day, hot and fresh and by far the best chili ever! 😀  This owns meat chili any day and I’m so glad this bowl of awesomeness brought me over to the other side of the pond!  This item has quite the faithful following and fanbase.  It should have an appreciation club.  I’d totally be a member.

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The Grad Lounge is located at 166 South Ross at the York University Keele campus.  And just a reminder that The Grad Lounge and GSA are hosting a Dinner & Dialogue event tomorrow in the Grad Café from 5:30pm-7:30pm.  Free movie screening (Spike Lee’s ”4 Little Girls”) and free food with some thoughtful discussion about the movie afterward.  All grad students are welcome!  And thank you again to Mike and Paul for helping me out with the ingredients, I really appreciate it!