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February, 2010

Chili Con Veggie

By Dennis Linden

While the competing schedules of today’s busy modern family make it difficult to share a home cooked meal together, it is not impossible with a little planning and can even be fun.

Cooking with the Kids Image
Melissa’s encourages parents to find the time to gather as a family once a week for a dinner that everyone pitches in to prepare. It’s a great way to teach your children some basic cooking skills and, more importantly, cooking with your children will build memories that will remain in your hearts forever.

Each Cookin' with the Kids feature will offer a simple, healthy and delicious recipe that can be prepared by a child or a group of children working together, under the supervision of an adult. Parents should always read through each recipe carefully to decide the division of labor based on age and ability as well as to identify where help might be especially needed.


February weather provides a great opportunity to teach young kitchen helpers how to prepare a warming bowl of chili for lunch, without an all day simmer. Here’s a simple recipe that offers flavor, nutrition and several basic cooking lessons in this hearty, one-dish, wintertime meal. This Chili Con Veggie recipe does call for a small amount of cooked rice. While instant rice or preparing the rice ahead of time will shorten the prep time for your kids, it also provides a great opportunity for a lesson in the basics of cooking rice. If time permits, that first rice cooking experience will become a memory moment that will stick with your young culinary pupils for the rest of their lives. As adults in their own kitchens, this lesson will be played back over and over again as they strive for that universal quest of all serious home chefs, making the perfect pot of rice, like mom (or dad) used to make! Nutritionally, brown rice is far superior to white rice because its hull, containing the bran, germ, several vitamins and dietary minerals, has not been milled off as with white rice. Brown rice also has an earthy, nut-like flavor and is much chewier than white rice. While the rice is cooking, the rest of the vegetables can be chopped or diced, which presents another chance to demonstrate to your older sous chefs the differences between these two ways of cutting vegetables. Melissa’s Vegetarian Black Beans saves the overnight soak time of the beans, which it completely eliminates and is really the key to this dish’s quick prep time and flavor. Using Melissa’s Soy Slices or Soy Shreds Cheddar Flavor to garnish each dish with a little whimsical imagination provides both great fun and nutrition, as your crew uses this tasty whole protein food to decorate each dish. All in all, this recipe’s short and flavorful ingredient list makes it possible for a busy family to still enjoy some memorable moments together in the kitchen, preparing a dish that would ordinarily take twice as long to get on the table

Chili Con Veggie
Chili Con Veggie
Serves: 6


Ingredients
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 organic red bell pepper, chopped
1 organic green bell pepper, chopped
1 medium organic yellow onion, diced
1 tsp. Melissa’s Minced Garlic
2 (11 oz.) tubs Melissa’s Black Beans
6 medium Melissa’s Heirloom tomatoes, diced
1 (15 ½ oz.) can corn kernels, drained
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 cup brown rice, cooked
½ cup water Melissa’s Soy Shreds or Soy Slices, Cheddar Flavor, for garnish

Preparations
Sauté the peppers, onion and garlic in olive oil at on medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients, reduce heat to low and let simmer for 20 minutes. Garnish each dish with Soy Shreds or Soy Slices by making a happy face on the chili, and serve.

What Kids can do [with adult supervision]:
1. Learn how to cook a cup of rice (optional)
2. Under adult supervision, chop or dice the fresh vegetables
3. Sauté peppers, onion and garlic for 5 minutes
4. Measure and add the rest of the ingredients to the pot
5. Decorate each bowl of chili with soy happy faces.

What Supervising Adult should do:
Heat up the deep pot with oil for the sauté. Supervise the sauté and slicing of the vegetables. Dish the hot chili into serving bowls for the kids to garnish.