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Who’s Cooking: Jen Kosich of Wantagh

Jen Kosich of Wantagh tops her black bean

Jen Kosich of Wantagh tops her black bean and butternut squash chili with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of shredded cheddar cheese. Photo Credit: David L. Pokress

Jen Kosich, a product development manager and blogger, lives in Wantagh with her husband and young son.

What are some of your tricks for getting a home-cooked meal on the table every night?

Every weekend, I’ll take a day and cook all of our meals for the week. I’ll make one dish that will be enough for two nights plus a few lunches. I’ll make another dish just for my husband to take to work (he’s not a vegetarian but I am), and I’ll just keep going until I have enough for us to eat through Thursday night. Friday we’ll have takeout.

How long have you been a vegetarian?

I’ve been a vegetarian for 20 years. My husband isn’t. My son loves vegetables, but he also loves meat. I’ll make finger foods for him to eat.

What is your blog about?

I love to cook. I’m a food nerd. And I always wanted to post pictures of what I was making and ideas for dinners. For my birthday, my husband surprised me and paid for the domain name for my blog, cooking9to5.com Now I can share my meal plans. I put up all the dishes we’re eating, with step-by-step instructions and photographs. I want people to see that it’s really not hard to eat healthy every night of the week.

Does blogging make you try new foods?

Yes, I want to share something new with readers. People have been loving it, people who aren’t necessarily home cooks. Tons of people send me pictures of what they’ve tried from the blog. It’s been really nice and I feel like I’ve been inspiring people.

Where does this recipe come from?

This started out as a vegetarian chili recipe from Food Network that was easy and made a large quantity. Then I started tweaking it. I would make it with turkey for my husband. Then it sort of evolved into this version. I work in a creative field, I like to be creative at home, and I love experimenting when I’m cooking.

Tips for success?

It’s pretty easy. I would say have fun with it. You can make it spicy, you can make it mild. You can add different vegetables, add an animal protein, play around with the toppings. It’s something that both meat eaters and vegetarians will enjoy.

VEGETARIAN BLACK BEAN AND BUTTERNUT SQUASH CHILI

2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

1 large red pepper, seeded and chopped

1 large green pepper, seeded and chopped

1 large jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped

Sea salt or kosher salt

2 cups peeled and cubed butternut squash

4 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped

1 cup vegetable stock

1 (32-ounce) can crushed tomatoes

1 (14-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 tablespoon ground cumin

2 tablespoons chili powder

1 tablespoon cayenne hot pepper sauce, several drops

1 cup canned spicy (optional) vegetarian refried beans

Cooked rice, shredded Cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese, and sour cream for serving

1. In a deep pot, heat oil over moderate heat. Add onion, peppers and a pinch of salt and sauté until vegetables are softened, 3 to 5 minutes.

2. Add the butternut squash and garlic and cook until squash is tender and onion is slightly browned, about 15 minutes

3. Deglaze pan with vegetable broth. Add tomatoes and black beans, stirring to combine. Season chili with cumin, chili powder, hot sauce, and 1 teaspoon salt.

4. Thicken chili by stirring in refried beans. Simmer over low heat 5 to 10 minutes longer, then serve in bowls on top of rice with shredded cheese and sour cream on the side. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

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