Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Cooking for a Crowd

Maybe it's the Italian in me, but whenever a large group of people get together, I feel a need...nay, a duty to bring food with me! I have to feed people! It's a compulsion, really! Whether its cupcakes or another diabetic-friendly dish (because, you know, cupcakes are so diabetic-friendly), you can be sure I'll have a plate covered in saran wrap in my hands.

This duty intensifies if I've had a hand in organizing said large grouping. This past weekend was no exception.

Friends and I are headed upstate to attend the annual New York TAP Festival. TAP Fest is a two-day beer festival on Hunter Mountain, where you get plenty of samples from local breweries and usually some deep-fried grossness. And corn dogs. I can't forget the corn dogs! People have almost lost limbs trying to get those corn dogs! Or at least wasted 30 minutes stalking the wait staff as they left the kitchen with them. Ahem, Jerry.

This was our second year renting a house for 20 people! Yes, 20 people! Since the planning for TAP Fest started in February, I have been devising what recipes I wanted to make this year! When cooking for a group of 20, your recipes need to be two things: good and cheap!

I wanted something that would feed a crowd, excite me more then just regular hamburgers and hot dogs (two things that are not part of my usual food repertoire), and help me clean out my pantry in preparation for my upcoming move. I decided to make a Vegetarian Three Bean Chipotle Chili. Recipe to follow.

And you can't have chili without cornbread! Look for this recipe in an upcoming post.

I decided I needed to contribute to breakfast as well. I made steel cut oats in the slower cooker. Yes, I am a dork and brought my slow cooker with me.

This isn't the actual oatmeal that was served, but you get the idea!

Lastly, it wouldn't be full weekend of fun without cupcakes! There's nothing particularly special about these Red Velvet cupcakes. Except for the obvious! That they're cupcakes!!! Which is pretty damn special. Oh, and I replaced the water called for in the recipe with buttermilk. It gives them a slightly more authentic feel.

Here's a shout out to my friend, Lilia, who made some kickass 'shrooms and onions to top our burgers with. Maybe she'll be so kind as to do a guest post and tell you how they were made.

Three Bean Chipotle Chili - vegetarian
Obviously, this recipe makes a crapload of chili; feel free to adjust to your needs. It also went really well as a hotdog topping. Which we would defeat the whole vegetarian thing, but just sayin'.

1 large red onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 large green peppers, chopped
4 large carrots, peeled and chopped
1 cup frozen corn
1 cup TVP
3 tbsp cumin
1 1/2 tbsp oregano
4 - 5+ chipotle peppers in adobe, chopped
2 tbsp adobe sauce from peppers
2 tbsp liquid smoke
2 cans dark red kidney beans
2 cans black beans
1 can black-eyed peas
1 large can diced tomatoes
1 large can crushed tomatoes
1 can tomato paste
2 - 3 cups vegetable broth, depending on how thick your mix is
salt and pepper, to taste

1. Saute the onions and garlic in olive oil until translucent.
2. Add the peppers, carrots, and onions. Saute for about 10 minutes. Salt and pepper.
3. Add TVP, cumin, and oregano. Saute a few minutes longer.
4. Add beans, tomatoes, chipotles, adobe sauce, and liquid smoke.
5. Add can of tomato paste and pour veggie broth over it to help break it up. Mix into the chili well.
6. Let chili simmer on stove top for about an hour to an hour half, stirring often to prevent the bottom of the chili from scorching.

Alternately, you could also complete through step 3 and then add everything to a slow cooker. Set on the low setting for about 3 - 4 hours.

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