Adventures In Culinary Assembly Or, Spicy Vegetable Stew and Chipotle-Cheddar Cornbread

I’m not feeling well. I’m all stuffy and sniffly and cranky.

When I’m like this, I usually want two things:

A) Lots of quality time cuddling while watching familiar television and movies.
B) Comfort food.

To some, comfort food is mashed potatoes and mac-and-cheese – tasty but bland relics from their childhood.

However, I grew up with a bad-ass Indian mom who exposed my palate to spices at a very early age.

When I’m sick, I want vegetables, spice and heat. So I decided to make a spicy vegetable stew with a little chipotle-cheddar cornbread on the side.

Providing the soundtrack for today’s adventure – Noah and the Whale. Less shimmy, more lo-fi sonic hug.

Let’s get assembling, shall we?

Spicy Vegetable Stew

You will need:

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 15oz can seasoned kidney beans (but regular kidney beans will work fine as well)
1 15oz can diced tomatoes (with jalapeno if you like a little kick)
1 15oz can corn
1 cup matchstick carrots
1 small zucchini
1 small yellow onion
3 cloves garlic
1 small green bell pepper
1/2 teaspoon powdered cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
Salt to taste

Peel and chop up your garlic and zucchini into rough chunks. We’re making a rustic dish here and this had nothing to do with the fact that my knife skills are on par with the average drunken toddler’s.

Lop the top off your pepper, rip out its heart just like that asshole did you in seventh grade (you know who I’m talking about) and chop it into rough chunks.

Chop up your onions.

Try to avoid looking like this. Thanks for the nose, Paps!

You know what sucks, dudes? Chopping onions when you have a cold.

Heat up two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil in a big-ass pot. When heated, add your onions and garlic. Stir for about four minutes until they go a little translucent. Add powdered cumin and chili powder.

Add your veggies in batches – zucchini, tomatoes, beans, carrots, corn and bell pepper.

Doesn’t that look pretty?

Add a cup and a half of water, cover and simmer on the stove on medium heat for 30 minutes.

Now, you can take this half hour to go watch an episode of Parks and Rec on Netflix or you can whip up a tasty side for your stew – Chipotle-Cheddar Cornbread. This sounds way more complicated than it is. Trust me.

You will need:

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup cornmeal
1 tsp salt
1 cup half-and-half
2 eggs
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

and some serious glugs of this:

Yucateca is the greatest chipotle-based hot sauce EVER. And if you don’t agree with me, your parents probably dropped you on your head when you were a child. You should ask them about that.

If you wanna get all fancy and pick up some canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce – knock yourself out, Ace. But this girl is feeling a little too far south of healthy for all that nonsense today.

Mix all your dry ingredients together in a large bowl – flour, cornmeal, salt and baking powder.

Mix all your wet ingredients together in a small bowl. Go straight up Naomi Campbell on that egg.

Dump the wet mixture into the dry, add oil, cheese and chipotle sauce. Go to town on that sucker. Seriously, liberal shakes, dudes.

Grease a baking dish, dump in the batter and bake for 30 minutes at 400ºF. While this is baking, take the lid off your stew and let simmer on the stove. If you’re still worried about the soupy consistency, throw in 1/2 cup of corn meal to thicken it up.

Thirty minutes later, pull your cornbread out of the oven. It should look like this and smell amazing:

Also, the stew’s ready!

Final verdict – delicious. It’s hearty without being heavy and no one flavor overpowers the rest and there’s this really welcoming heat which doesn’t set your mouth ablaze. As for the cornbread? It’s good by itself but even better when crumbled up into the stew. Serve with a little Woodchuck cider and you’ve got a perfect fall meal.

I hope you make it and if you do, please let me know what you think.

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