Recipe: Hearty Chili….psst….don’t tell anyone it is vegan.

I entered a chili contest at my Dad’s church, here is southern Arkansas, to raise funds for a mission trip- one that happens to be going where my sister, Kelsey, lives as a full-time missionary. So, this would be an amazing trip to help not only the school they work out and the children, but Kelsey and other missionaries there.
My dad was entering as well, and I know he is a great cook, but we are very competitive. So, I was going to make a chili so unique and so delicious that there was no way it wouldn’t win.
When I told my dad I was making it vegan (honestly because one of the most flavorful “meats” I have tasted have been a vegan “chorizo” and I thought that would be perfect in a chili!) he laughed and said no one at his church would like a vegan chili.
Well, I’m stubborn and did it anyway and it turned out great. It was not only one of the best chilis I have ever had, it also would fool any meat eater.

Needless to say, my dad was right. I heard so many people make comments like “If there isn’t meat in it, it isn’t chili” and “This one is great! Oh wait, what? Vegan? Gross!”. Or my favorite “I don’t care what’s in it, it is delicious!”.
My dad won first place, but to be fair, his chili was delicious! Just like I like it, so it was a well deserved win.

Though, I still had questions about what meat substitute I used and the recipe, so here it is, my losing vegan chili. =)


-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
-3 Field Roast Mexican Chipotle “sausages” (vegetarian)
-2 bags Boca Veggie Crumbles
-1 red bell pepper, chopped
-1 orange bell pepper, chopped
-2 jalapeños, seeded and chopped
-1 large yellow onion, chopped
-8 ounces diced green chiles
-6 cloves garlic (6 tablespoons minced)
-1 tablespoon and 2 teaspoons salt
-2 bay leaves
-1 teaspoon cayenne powder
-1 teaspoon smoked paprika
-1 tablespoon cumin
-2 tablespoons chili powder
-1 teaspoon oregano
-4 tablespoons brown sugar
-1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar, or red wine vinegar
-2 tablespoons Worcestershire
-2 teaspoons soy sauce or tamari
-1/2 cup 60%, or darker, dark chocolate chunks (I used Private
-2 28 ounce cans crushed tomatoes
-1 can regular beer (not dark, not light)
-1/2 cup vegetable broth
-3 tablespoons masa
-1 can chili hot beans, drained, but not rinsed
-1 can dark red kidney beans, rinsed.
-1 can black beans, rinsed.


1.  Open and break up the chipotle “sausages” to resemble ground
2. In a medium-high heated pan, with 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive
oil, add the veggie sausages, veggie meat crumbles,  the chopped bell
peppers, jalapeños, dices green chiles, and onion. and sear until browned.
3. Add the minced garlic for only a couple minutes while everything
else is browning- garlic will burn easily.
4. Add all your seasonings and herbs and liquids: salt, bay leaves,
cayenne powder, smoked paprika, cumin, chili powder, oregano,
brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, Worcestershire, soy sauce or
tamari, and dark chocolate. Then, adding your crushed tomatoes
and beer.
5. In a separate cup, mix your veggie broth with the masa and add to
the chili. (This thickens the chili and gives a slight hint of corn flavor.
If you like runnier chili, feel free to leave this step out.)  Stir well and
bring to a simmer. Then, lower heat to medium low, cover, and let sit,
stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes- 1 hour. You can go longer, if you
prefer it to break down even more.
6. At least 15 minutes before you serve, put your beans in. Feel free to
use any canned beans you like, I liked the variety. And drain any kind
except 1 can of chili hot beans- this gives the chili good flavor, imho.
You can add them earlier if you don’t mind them a little softer.
7. Always taste for any extra needed salt or spicy to make the chili
taste just the way you like. Add whatever toppings you prefer
(cilantro tastes great with this one) and enjoy!

Overall, the event was super fun with a great band, tons of chili and all the fixins and then more delicious desserts than I could eat.  Good money was raised for a good cause and everyone had a great time. Good times!

Winning!!! (at a pie contest)

Just some of the pie entries.

My friend, Cristianna, and I convinced ourselves to compete in our first food contest, a Central Arkansas pie contest hosted by our fav restaurant, The Root…and we are so glad we did!

We are both pretty competitive, (I am stupid competitive, though) so we were perfecting our pie crust and filling recipes for days before the contest…not sharing any secrets, of course. Cristianna made a spicy sweet potato pie with spiced candied pecans and a bourbon whipped cream. The filling was made with Goatroper Farm’s goat milk. The pecans were from Hardin Farms. We always try to support our local farms and businesses. This pie was a slice of heaven, but with a little kick!

I made a garlic cream pot pie with a buttery vodka pie crust. The flavor was rich and buttery. The vodka made the crust crazy flaky. It was delicious! The filling was creamy and slightly garlic-y with the usual pot pie fill-ins: chicken, peas, onion, garlic, green beans, carrots, and corn.

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The results: I got 1st place! BUT….Cristianna got “Best in Show”. This means that, really, Cristianna got 1st place, and I got 2nd.
I’ll never live this down.  I am already brain storming the pie I will make next year to beat Christie, which is now my only goal in life. Cristianna commented “I’m happier than a tornado in a trailer park! I beat Amy! #lifegoalachieved”

Cristianna after she won Best in Show!
Cristianna won!
Though my ribbon says “First Place”, it was a lie….more like 2nd place.

The best part of it all? After the judging, we got to eat everyone’s pies. There were 34….we were fuller than ticks!

If you want the recipes to our pies, here they are:

Amy’s garlic cream chicken pot pie 

Pie Dough
-1.25 cups or 2.5 sticks butter (cubed and chilled)
-2 teaspoons salt
-2.5 cups all-purpose flour
-1/4 cup ice cold vodka
-2 tablespoons granulated sugar
-1/4 cup ice cold water
1. Mix flour, salt, and sugar in a bowl and chill for at least 2 hours.
2. Place mix and cubed, chilled butter in a food processor and
pulse until butter is pea-sized.
3. Drizzle in cold vodka and water (water amount may vary) until
the dough holds together.
4. Knead the dough slightly until you form a ball. Cut in half and
form disks. Wrap both disks in plastic wrap and refrigerate for
at least 2 hours.

Filling (This recipe is enough filling for three pies)
-4 tablespoons butter
-2 tablespoons garlic salt
-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
-1 tablespoon ground black pepper
-1/4 cup diced pepperonis (turkey pepperoni works as well)
-1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
– 2 medium or ¼ cup minced shallots
-1 tablespoon dried parsley
-1/2 cup minced garlic
-1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
-2 cups thickly sliced baby portabella mushrooms
-2 cups chopped broccoli
-5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
-1 cup 1 inch asparagus spears
-4 cups heavy whipping cream
-2 cups sliced carrots
-1 rotisserie chicken
-2 cups frozen peas (home-made or store bought both work)

1. Place butter, oil, and pepperonis in cool pan. Cook on medium
until butter is melted and pepperonis have released their fat.
2. Add shallots. Cook 2 minutes.
3. Add garlic. Cook 2 minutes.
4. Turn heat on medium-high and add mushrooms. Sear the
mushrooms on both sides until slightly browned.
5. Lower heat to medium. Add flour and stir for 2 minutes.
6. Add heavy whipping cream and whisk until ingredients are
7. Add garlic salt, pepper, thyme, parsley, and cayenne.  Turn heat
to medium low and cook for 5 minutes, until very thick, stirring
8. Add broccoli, asparagus, and carrots. Cook another 5 minutes.
9. Slice or pull apart the chicken, including some of the well-
cooked skin. Add to filling.

Assembling Directions:
       1.Pre-heat oven to 350°.
2.  Roll out both disks of dough and place one in pie dish or cast
iron skillet. Poke a few holes in it with a fork.  Lay wax paper
over it and fill with dry beans. Bake 10 minutes or until it starts
to brown.
3. Fill pie shell with filling and place other rolled disk of dough on
tough. Crimp edges. Cut a few slices in the top for ventilation.
4. Cover the pie crust with egg wash (one beaten egg) and top
with sea salt (salt optional)
5. Bake for about 35 minutes or until crust is golden brown.
6. Let cool at least 10 minutes before digging in.

To see a video of how to make just the crust, click here.

Cristianna’s AWARD-WINNING (better than Amy’s) Sweet Potato Pie

-1 homemade pie crust
-3 1/2 c mashed sweet potato
-8 Tbsp melted butter
-1/2 c light brown sugar
-1/2 c granulated sugar
-1/4 c turbinado sugar
-3 eggs
-1/2 c goat milk
-1 tsp cinnamon
-1 tsp nutmeg
-1/4 tsp cayenne

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Brush bottom of pie crust with melted butter and sprinkle with 1/4 c turbinado sugar. Bake for 15 minutes remove from oven and let cool for 15 minutes. Lower oven temp to 350 degrees.

With electric mixer on low-med, mix sweet potato with remaining melted butter until smooth. Add remaining ingredients and mix till blended. Pour into cooled pie crust and bake for 1 1/2 hours. Let cool completely. Garnish with Spicy Candied Pecans and Honey Bourbon Whipped Cream.

Spicy Candied Pecans

-2 c pecan halves
-1/4 c granulated sugar
-1/4 c packed brown sugar
-1/2 Tbsp cinnamon
-1/2 tsp kosher salt
-1/8 to 1/4 tsp cayenne

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In small bowl, mix sugar and spices with whisk. In medium bowl, whisk egg white. Add pecans to egg whites and toss until evenly coated. Add sugar and spice mix to pecans and toss until completely covered. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper and spread pecans evenly on cookie sheet. Bake for 20 minutes.  Remove from oven and stir. Return to oven and bake for 20 minutes more. Remove from oven and let cool.

Honey Bourbon Whipped Cream

-1 c whipping cream
-3 Tbsp powdered sugar
-1 tsp vanilla extract
-2 Tbsp honey bourbon

With electric mixer, mix whipping cream and sugar until soft peaks form. Add vanilla and bourbon and mix until stiff peaks form. Serve and enjoy!!!