Friday, March 26, 2010

Jaime Oliver Reminder!!!

Jaime Oliver's Show starts tonight at eight (seven central). I am interested to see what they do with the show. I am also interested to hear what everyone out in Blog Land thinks about it. Let me know if you watch. I will be watching tonight with my company, who will be leaving tomorrow. I'll be sad to see them go, but it will be nice to get back to blogging regularly.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Chipotle Sweet Potato and Caramelized Onion Un-Meatballs

I couldn't sleep last night. Among the many thoughts that danced through my head in between dreams of being a professional tap dancer, sweet potatoes were the most prevalent.....that's right produce keeps me up at night. I am not sure if it was the rain that inspired these cravings, the lingering nip of winter in the air urging me to seek out comforting carbs. Whatever it was I lay there mentally digging through my pantry and figuring out how I would prepare sweet potatoes for dinner tonight. The given recipe is how I made them. I have not tried the variations, but halfway through making the un-meatballs I realized that the dough (is that even what you would call it) could be used for other things as well.

what you need:
2 sliced onions
1/4 tsp salt
olive oil for frying
1 baked sweet potato
2 cups cooked chickpeas
1/2 cup BBQ sauce
1 chipotle chili or more to taste
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese (omit for vegan version)
food processor

What you need to do:
Heat the oil over medium heat and add the onions and salt. Cook until translucent with some browning.
Meanwhile in your food processor combine the sweet potato, chickpeas, BBQ sauce, chili, and process until everything is mixed together. It should be smooth and almost like a thick batter. Taste and add more chilis or Tabasco if desired at this time.
Pour mixture into a bowl and stir in onions and shredded cheese. Using an ice cream scoop form mixture into balls and bake on a cookie sheet @ 350 for 10-15 minutes. I pan fried half of these in olive oil as the kiddos need the fat. Both baking and frying produced nice results.
If you are having trouble getting them to hold together add breadcrumbs until they are the desired consistency.

I wish the pictures did these justice, they were sweet and spicy, crunchy on the outside and gooey melty on the inside. To vary this recipe a bit you could add flour and roll the batter into gnocchi, or use it as a patty for a veggie burger....I'm thinking ciabatta with garlic butter, mozzarella, and baby spring mix.

In other news, we will be having company so posts will be few and far between....even more so. I look forward to getting into a less hectic pace sometime around 2026 though. So unless the zombie apocalypse* comes to pass before then look forward to more frequent postings at that time.

* Note to Hun, talking about, and blogging about the zombie apocalypse are two different things. One, is a single sentence made in jest, the other is an ongoing obsession that interrupts daily life with disaster planning and escape routes.....don't for one second think this means I have lifted the ban.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

On Saving Money and Time

This is a gluten free cake I made, it has nothing to do with the following blog. Doesn't it look yummy though?

The hubster and I eat out about once a month, sometimes less. It seems silly to pay triple the amount for something that we could easily make at home. Not to mention worrying about food allergies, cross contamination, a child with sensory integration problems is no fun in a restaurant, and oh there was that one lovely occasion that I took a big bite of my veggie burger to find it was a beef burger........yuck. Beyond that, since moving here we have found no food that is so superb, or that tickles our taste buds to a degree that we MUST have it. So in short, until a vegetarian restaurant opens in town, or we find the ultimate Thai curry we will be partaking of most of our meals at home.

We stay super busy though, when I'm not at Dr.s appointments, speech therapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, the gym, gymnastics, story time, the park, play group, or church, I am at home. While at home I am cooking, cleaning, crafting with the kids, lesson planning, cooking, and blogging about what I am cooking......sometimes I sleep. Here are a few things I do so that my family is always fed, and also a few tips on making meals special without spending all a lot of dough.

  • I thought it would be fun to make this blog bulleted...I like bulleted blogs, they are quite fun aren't they? I hope you like them too, imagine....mankind finally found a good use for bullets, just another wonder of the interweb.
  • I keep a well stocked pantry, plenty of rice, beans (canned and dried), coconut milk, pasta of all sorts, tomato sauce, tomato paste, sulfite free dried fruits, Spices. There isn't a bean or veggie I have met yet that doesn't taste good with Indian spices on it, if I'm stuck for an idea or I just have to work with what is on hand I will turn it into a curry.
  • I also keep a well stocked freezer, not only with frozen vegetables that I have bought at the store, but also foods that I have made. I always try and keep a few of the kids favorite meals in the freezer like chili or spinach soup. Beans also freeze well. I will often make a large pot of beans when I have time and store them in the freezer for future use. Currently in my freezer I have home made broth, chickpeas, chili, taco filling, spinach soup, home made pop tarts, and cookies.....cookies freeze well too.
  • Meal planning is important!!! I started meal planning in the land before kids and it has really paid off to have it as a habit. I shudder to think how much food we threw out before I started meal planning, produce wouldn't get used, or I wouldn't have to make this that or the other thing....oh it was awful. Now if I know Tuesday afternoon is going to be hectic I know I need to throw something in the crock pot Tuesday morning or declare it left over night. This saves us from making a mad dash to a restaurant because "I don't have time to cook" or even worse if because of poor planning I start thinking about what to make for dinner after everyone is already hungry. Crock pot meals are for busy days, casseroles (because they reheat well) are for days when I know the hubster won't be home in time for dinner, and leftovers or previously frozen meals are planned for the nights when the hubby has the kids all to himself. Produce that will quickly go bad is used early in the week, while squash, carrots and potatoes can be used later.
  • I have plan B meals, a mac and cheese recipe that takes 15 minutes, pita pizzas that can be thrown together in no time, and other meals that I always have on hand.
  • I love me some small appliances. The crock pot, toaster oven, rice cooker and even the waffle iron can cut down on time in the kitchen, and I experiment with them regularly, but most often in the summer when we don't use our oven.
  • We picnic! At the park, in our yard, and even sometimes in our living room. My daughter gets tickled pink at the idea of eating an a blanket on the floor. It makes sandwiches and diced up fruit seem special and fun.
  • The hubster and I sometimes eat a special dinner after the kids are in bed. I might buy one fancy ingredient like truffle oil or an imported cheese, and it is still so much cheaper than eating out.
  • In a word.....lentils. Lentils are cheap, and full of protein. Learn to love them
  • Buy seasonally! Join a co-op, shop farmers markets and oooooh...
  • Grow your own!!!! Anyone can have an herb garden, it's so easy and fresh herbs spruce up any meal. Plus some can be dried, or even frozen for future use. And if you have the space why not a veggie garden? Eating a fresh tomato is a wonderful experience.
  • Lastly....and I'm putting this last because it really doesn't count as "not eating out"....but it's my blog and I'll do what I want. Sometimes we go out just for dessert. We get ice cream, or stop by a bakery, and I'm sure the kids enjoy it just as much (if not more) as if we had eaten a whole meal out.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Happy (late) St. Patrick's Day!!!

We have been experiencing difficulty with our interweb service lately, sorry for the delay. We had a wonderful St. Patricks day, I helped the kiddos make three leaf clover wands and we rocked out to some Celtic tunes. We also feasted on some creamy spinach soup, colcannon, and pound cake with lemon curd for dessert. Everyone agreed that there was no need to wait a year to make this again. The Kids favored the green soup, and both had seconds.

Creamy Spinach and Mashed Potato Soup

A lot of the texture and flavor of this soup comes from the mashed potatoes. I used garlic parmesean mashed potatoes that I had left over from Making the colcannon. Use your favorite recipe.

1 package neufchatel cheese softened
1 1/2 cups mashed potatoes
1 cup steamed broccoli
10 oz baby spinach
4 cups veggie broth

Put the first four ingredients into your food processor and slowly add the broth until heated thoroughly. If you like your soup on the thin side heat this mixture up and call it good. For a thicker soup you can always add cornstarch, or more mashed potatoes! Add salt and pepper to taste.

Colcannon is a traditional Irish dish of mashed potatoes, and either cabbage or kale. Here I used a layer of garlic mashed potatoes, a layer of cabbage sauteed with butter and Creole seasoning, broccoli, and topped the whole thing with a layer of good Irish cheese.

And here is the pound cake......not really Irish, but neither am I. :)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The events that led to my hysterical breakdown in Starbucks

No recipe today, just a picture of some nummy tacos filled with refried beans, cheese, avocado, and spinach. I'll probably be posting a recipe for lentil and potato tacos in the near stay tuned for that.

As I write this I must say I am feeling much better. I am not going to say that tacos are better for depression than Prozac*, but to my knowledge there are no studies that prove otherwise.

When the weather warms up I start to feel bitter, the fire ants start coming out from their winter hiding places to seek and devour me, I start to sweat even more than I do in the winter, and I develop a lovely sun rash upon any exposed skin. From my unsuitableness for hot weather the bitterness starts to turn to loathing, which turns to sadness, which turns into a minor breakdown at Starbucks**, because of an image of a cherry blossom which reminds me that I have friends in Maryland enjoying the cherry blossom festival, which reminds me that they are not here, which reminds me that three very good friends have left me, which in turn becomes the longest run on sentence in the history of blogdom. Hormones may have had something to do with it as well...

What does that all have to do with tacos and a package of cookies?? Well my Grandma is kind of famous for her tacos, and they always bring back good memories of home. Also the whole family loves them and that's a plus. As far as the cookies go, last year my Grandpa died, and I was so sad because I was stuck over here while my family and friends were growing older and dying. There wasn't much to be done about it at the time, we had just spent 5,000 dollars on a new A.C. so it wasn't as if I could catch the next flight for the coast. I remember remarking to my husband that what I really needed was a hug, and some cookies. He gave me a hug as we had no cookies on hand. The next day a package arrived on the doorstep, it was a box of cookies from our H.V.A.C provider, a thank you for choosing them. There was no way for them to know how much those cookies were appreciated, in fact they were probably sent out before even I knew how much I needed them. The point being, my need/want, no matter how small or silly was met, and when I start to get depressed about living here I think of those cookies and smile, knowing that my needs will be met, even 3000 miles away from my BFF. I am so blessed to have a hubby who I adore, who treats me with such kindness, and two beautiful kids who fill each day with adventure and joy. So now you know, a belly full of tacos, and a heart full of thanks is what cures homesickness.

*please don't stop taking medication to take on an all taco diet...I don't like being sued

**I was only at Starbucks because it was a Sunday, please support your local coffee shop. There are a lot of great ones out there.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Gettin' Crafty

Note to self:
That shirt is an extra small, it will not fit you again.......ever. It doesn't matter how cute it looked on you, give it to the goodwill so that someone else can wear it.
P.S. I know what you are thinking, and the answer is no, it is not ok to just layer another shirt on underneath it, people will still be able to tell that it is too small.
Also putting a cardigan over it does not mean "it fits"....don't even try it.

Note from self, back to self, regarding note to self:
That shirt would look so good with a black shirt underneath it, what do you even know about fashion anyway.

Does anyone else have a hard time getting rid of clothes? It isn't that I have a problem with my current shape, I just hate shopping for new clothes when I have so many usable* clothes in my closet. I often give clothing to goodwill or my (unfairly) tiny sister, and any old jackets go to the jacket drive they hold here in the winter. I also enjoy re purposing my clothing by cutting, sewing, and puffy painting it into something else. Band shirts become quilts, slip dresses become smaller slip dresses for my daughter, and of course there is the classic T-shirt into a reusable bag trick.

I thought with Easter coming up I should post a picture of the bunny hat I made for my daughter a while back, she would be the child wildly trying to claw it off of her head.... I kind of wish I had a better picture.... I just turned the shirt inside out, drew some bunny ears on it sewed it up. Then I sewed some felt inside the ears, and put a little puffy tail on the back. what do you do with your clothes when they wear out/don't fit? I am getting ready to go through my closet and would love some inspiration.

* Ok, so the clothing would technically only be useful if I had a time machine......

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Cucumber Salad

The weather here is starting to warm up.........which I hate. What can I say, I'm just a wellspring of optimism and positivity. But in all seriousness I have never done well with heat and sunshine and those sorts of things. I don't think my family would have survived too many more generations without the invention of sunblock and wide brimmed hats. It doesn't help that our house holds onto heat to an absurd degree. One of the ways I cope, and give my A.C. a rest is to not use the oven during the summer months. With the impending doom....errr....warm weather coming up what could be more refreshing to have on hand than cucumber salad. It's just diced cucumber, red onion, two cloves of garlic, cayenne, vinegar, salt, and sugar mixed together and left to marinate in the fridge. I quartered some chapati and served it along side the salad. A refreshing snack perfect for a hot summer (or mid March) day.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Pizza on Chapati Bread

I have a busy week coming up. That has nothing to do with this pizza, but I thought I'd throw it out there. Quite possibly you will see less of me, also quite possibly due to being wired on adrenaline you will see much more of me because I will wake up much earlier/stay up much later than I really should. If that is the case you may also find me in a corner blubbering near the end of the week, with a broom in one hand and a to do list in the other.....corner blubbering after the children are in bed is my usual method of coping when I take on much more than I should.

Ok, so maybe I was wrong...I can figure out one way my crowded schedule has to do with this pizza. This meal is much quicker to throw together than traditional pizza, and now that I have all the ingredients on hand (I made extra chapati) not only can I have pizza in minutes, but most of the toppings are excellent on salad, so I can work my way through the big tub o' organic baby spinach I have in the fridge for quick lunches. I may even throw some spinach on the pizza today for my lunch...mmmmm.....lunch.

Chapati is a whole wheat flat bread. I first discovered it in an Indian cookbook. It doesn't come out like naan, it is thinner and crispy, more like a tortilla. I thought it worked perfectly as a thin crust pizza, and I will definitely remember this pizza in the summer months when it is too hot to turn the oven on! It is also super cheap to make because it is basically whole wheat flour, salt, and water. If you look up chapati recipes you may find some that also use white flour, heated water, I even found one that used potatoes, but I like the simplicity of ingredients in this recipe. I used olive oil for mine because my little ones need the fat and calories it provides, however I don't believe oil is traditional......I could be wrong though...

Chapati is also a great recipe for kids (not the frying part), because it involves mixing, stirring, and rolling. And when served as pizza kiddos have a grand time picking out their toppings.

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 pinch salt
1/4 cup water
2 tbs olive oil

Stir the flour and salt together in a bowl. Add the water all at once, and mix it in thoroughly. Add olive oil until the dough can be easily shaped into balls (took me about 2 tbs). Divide dough into four pieces and shape those pieces into balls. Roll them flat and cook in a HOT skillet one at a time, turning once. It is important not to grease the skillet or add oil, these are cooked in a dry skillet. If you wish, you may brush them with melted butter once they are done cooking.

They have so many applications, cut into triangles and dip into hummus, use in place of naan with curry, eat plain brushed with butter, or even as pizza. I melted some butter, and mixed in cumin, cayenne and minced garlic. I brushed the butter mixture on top of the chapati, and added diced red onion, feta and olives. I heated my pizza in the toaster oven, but the hubster and I both agreed this would also be good without the toaster oven bit.....of course you would have to like onions as much as we do. :)

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Vegan BBQ "Wings"

I am not going to pretend like this recipe is revolutionary, it doesn't take a lot of creativity or know how to say "hey I bet this would taste good with BBQ sauce". It is probably also not low fat, or low calorie....but it is very yummy, vegan, packed with protein, and it was a great addition to our game night last night. I will for sure keep this recipe in mind next time we have mixed company*. It was so simple to make, and I'm actually quite ashamed of how much of this came out of a box or bottle, but I served it up with some steamed veggies and brown rice, so I think that makes up for it.

The "Wings"

1 package of seitan (drained)
4 tbs vegan "butter"
5 cloves crushed garlic
Tabasco sauce

The sauce
1/2 cup Amy's Organics sweet and spicy BBQ sauce (or sauce of preference)
Cayenne to taste

Melt the "butter" over medium heat and add a few dashes of Tabasco. When the butter is fully melted add the seitan and brown on both sides. Lower the heat to medium low and add the garlic, cook for a few minutes more, until the garlic has lost a little of it's bite. In a separate bowl mix the BBQ sauce, and cayenne. Toss the cooked seitan in the sauce until coated.

*For us mixed company indicates a gathering of vegans, vegetarians, and carnivores. I think this recipe would be received well by all.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution

I am excited about this. Are you excited? I just hope I can persuade the old rabbit ears into giving us reception for the show. I watched the TED award speech Jamie Oliver gave, and it really moved me. I had a very sappy blog planned out, complete with mission statements on how I plan to conquer the world via teaching my children about sustainable farming and the importance of fiber. However, I got about half way through it and I could hear my son whimpering in the background, he had some blood drawn today so I suspect he might be having a nightmare...not to mention the fact that I can't see my cursor anymore....where the heck did that thing go? So I will leave you with this....I am excited to see how this show plays out. Jamie seems passionate about getting our kids healthy, and that is something I can totally get behind.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Peanut Soup....only not really

You know when your expecting one thing, and you get something completely different, how you can't fully appreciate that different thing because you are still longing for the first thing. No....just me then? Well that is what this soup has been like for me. I saw a peanut soup, or stew,...or maybe it was a chili...well anyway, it was on food network, and it looked delicious. It was creamy, spicy and warm, I knew at that instant I must have that soup! However, five to ten instances later I had forgotten about that soup, probably it was pushed to the back of my mind in favor of a cookie or chocolate, as so often happens to me.

But then I saw it again on the menu somewhere "African Peanut Soup", and all of the longing and desire rushed back. Imagine my surprise when the dish served to me was more like a noodle soup with greens and little bits of crushed peanuts on top. It was neither spicy, or creamy, and it re-inspired me to make the peanut soup in my head......that didn't come out sounding as normal as I thought it would. Anyhoo, today I set out to do just that, I got some chickpeas out of the freezer along with some veggie broth....except I didn't have any veggie broth /sigh and I ended up making something else this dish was a journey, that started with desire, and ended up "Chickpeas in a spicy peanut sauce" was a good journey filled with ups, downs, and cookies (as all journeys should be), but a long one. So without further ado here is a recipe.

Chickpeas in a Spicy Peanut Sauce

2 tbs Olive oil
1 Onion
5 Garlic cloves minced
1tbs Ginger
2 tsp garam masala
2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp tumeric
1/4 tsp salt
1 can coconut milk
3 cups chickpeas
1/3 cup peanut butter or sun butter...or cashew butter...mmmmm...I keep wanting to try this recipe with cashew butter.
cayenne to taste

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat, add the onions and cook for about four minutes, or until the onions are tender. Add the garlic and ginger, and cook for a minute more. Stir in the next four ingredients and cook a minute more. Lower the heat and stir in the chickpeas and peanut butter until everything is coated with spicy peanut buttery goodness. Then add the coconut milk and simmer covered for about 10 minutes, add cayenne to taste. This satisfied my craving quite well...considering it was not at all what I set out to make.
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