Super Bowl (and Yummy Vegan Chili)

Last year, John and I spent Super Bowl Sunday hiking, cooking, betting, and watching the game together, just the two of us. It was a really fun day, despite a really boring game.

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But in truth, the Super Bowl is more fun with other people and extra food and smack talk. So this year, we decided to invite a handful of friends over for the Big Game. When the Seahawks beat the Packers, I texted my brother in Seattle and (half-joking) suggested that he should come for Super Bowl. After all, if the Patriots made it, it would be his team against mine. He took me up on it. Fun! Some friends we invited had other plans, so we extended the invitation to a few others. Then the friends who had RSVP’d “no” were able to come. A couple of kids added to the mix turned into six. The guest list kept growing, and by Super Bowl weekend, we were expecting something like 25 extra bodies in our home. Whoa.

We love to host parties, and I’ve learned that the best way to not lose your mind is to have a plan and make things ahead of time. I’d planned on a few easy (unhealthy) appetizers and a big pot of meaty chili with all of the fixings, but our expanded guest list included people with a rainbow of dietary preferences/requirements: gluten-free, vegetarian, allergies to beans and nuts. With a bit of juggling, I settled on this menu:

  • Garlicky spinach dip with hearts of palm with tortilla chips
  • Carrot, celery, jicama, and tomatoes with hummus
  • Peppadew peppers stuffed with herbed goat cheese and balsamic drizzle
  • Selection of meats and cheeses with baguettes and stoneground mustard
  • Spicy pulled pork sandwiches with slaw
  • Two-bean chili with butternut squash
  • Jalapeno cheddar cornbread
  • Chocolate chip pretzel cookies
  • Plus Pirate’s Booty, pizza, and chicken nuggets for the kiddos

Many of the menu items could be made ahead of time. I’d planned to have the dip, peppers, pulled pork, chili, and cookies done by Saturday. Two days before the party, I made the chili. The day before the party, we prepped the bar, organized seating, and picked up the last of the groceries. I pulled out party supplies: plates, napkins, silverware, cups. I surveyed my serving dishes based on the menu. But the fun day ended up revolving around our last two Sundance Film Festival movies with my brother and his girlfriend. The rest of the food prep would have to happen on game day. Gulp.

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I started early, shuffling around in my robe, checking my list and crossing things off along the way. The pork went into the crockpot. Check. Goat cheese went into cute little peppers. Check. My Kitchenaid mixer took her maiden voyage making cookie dough, and batch after batch went into the oven. The spinach dip was put together and ready to bake. I added jalapeno and a big pile of cheddar cheese to a Krusteaz cornbread mix and got it into the oven. Check, check, check. I even had time to make the grid for the Super Bowl Pool.

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Right before people arrived, I warmed the chili on the stove and set out the store-bought goodies: cheeses, meats, veggies and dips, chips. People brought food, too, like a tasty buffalo chicken dip, homemade salsa and guacamole, even a delicious vodka-lime cocktail in a drink dispenser! I collected dollar bills and explained the grid to our guests. John shredded the pork and the dining room table became a haphazard buffet. In the end, there was plenty of food, and things that everyone could eat. I stopped taking photos when people really started rolling in, but even with 25 people in the house, I was able to watch most of the game- especially the delicious end! (My brother and I are still friends.) After most people left, a few of us played albums late into the night, which always signals the end of a good party.

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I’m not vegetarian, but a few of our guests were. When they arrived, I learned they were actually vegan– no animal products of any kind, including cheese. The spicy chili I made with butternut squash, black beans, and chickpeas turned out to be a hit. I’d used “Not-Chick’n” bouillon cubes and served the cheese on the side as a topping, which kept the recipe vegan. And like any soup or stew, it tasted even better a day or two after I made it! To make it, I started by chopping veggies: red onion, a poblano pepper, red and yellow bell pepper, and jalapeno. I also included frozen butternut squash and corn. I love a rainbow cutting board!

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In my pot, I heated a little olive oil on medium heat. I added the onion and sautéed them for a few minutes before adding the jalapeno and some chopped garlic. Next came the peppers.

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When the veggies were just starting to soften, I added seasoning: oregano, chili powder, and cumin. Next, I added a can of fire-roasted diced tomatoes and 2 cups of broth.

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I drained the beans and added them to the pot. Now it’s starting to look like chili! I let the chili simmer for ten minutes or so. Last, I added the corn and squash and let them heat through before turning off the heat.

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I let the chili cool and stored it until party time. I reheated it on the stove, and I served cornbread on the side for gluten and cheese lovers. Optional toppings for the chili included chopped tomatoes, green onions, cheese, and cilantro. The chili was spicy and tasty with all sorts of textures going on. Plus, our vegan guests had plenty to eat. It was a Sunday that ended with happy tummies and Tom Brady holding the Vince Lombardi trophy…also known as the perfect Super Bowl.

But we’re all glad it’s over…at least until next year. 

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Vegan Two-Bean Chili with Butternut Squash

You’ll need:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ large red onion, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 poblano pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 2 bell peppers, seeded and chopped
  • 1 heaping tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2+ teaspoons cumin
  • 1 can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 can black beans, drained
  • 1 can garbanzo beans, drained
  • 2 cups broth made with vegan bouillon cubes, such as Not-Chick’n
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 2 cups frozen cubed butternut squash
  • Chili toppings: diced tomatoes, chopped green onion, cilantro, shredded cheese (for non-vegans)

In a Dutch oven or soup pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until translucent. Add the garlic and jalapeno. After a couple of minutes, add the poblano and bell peppers. When the veggies are just starting to be tender, add the oregano, chili powder, and cumin. Cook for one minute while stirring. Add the tomatoes, then the broth. Add the beans and stir well. Bring the chili to a boil and reduce the heat; allow it to simmer for ten minutes or longer. Add the corn and butternut squash and cook until heated through. Serve immediately with toppings on the side, or allow to cool and store in the refrigerator until kickoff. Reheat on the stove over medium heat. Cheers to Super Bowl Sunday. YUM!

Hungry for more? Check out the collection of recipes on the FOOD BLISS page.

One year ago: Shredded Mexican chicken and tomatillo salsa.

How we entertain.

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