Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Mixed Vegetable "Curry"

I took this recipe from a cookbook*.  I own the cookbook.  Don't ask me why I copied it onto a recipe card.  Really, don't ask me... because I don't know.  This is a mediocre curry, but a pretty good low calorie veggie dish.  Just don't go into it thinking it's going to taste like a proper Indian curry.

1 1/2 T ghee or vegetable oil
2 C chopped onions
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 T curry powder
1 t ground cinnamon
1 t ground tumeric
1 t ground ginger
1/2 t ground cumin
3/4 C water
3 C carrot chunks (1-inch pieces)
3 C green beans (2-inch pieces)
2 C cubed potatoes (1-inch pieces)
2 C tomato wedges
1 C peas, fresh or frozen
1/2 t salt, or to taste

1. In a 4 quart sauce pan, heat the ghee or oil over medium heat.  Add the onions and garlic; cook, stirring, until onions are transparent, about 2 minutes.  Stir in curry powder, cinnamon, ginger, turmeric, and cumin until absorbed.  Add water; bring to a boil.
2. Add the carrots, green beans, potatoes, tomato wedges, and peas.  Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, 30 minutes or until vegetables are soft.  Stir in salt.

Variation: Stir in 1 to 2 cups of cubed tofu when the vegetables have finished cooking and cook until heated through.

My substitutions/additions:I used vegetable oil instead of ghee.  I still haven't found an Indian grocery around here, but I also haven't looked so that's all me...
I covered the pan.  Even then, it took longer than 30 minutes.
I served it with rice and yogurt.
Other nice additions would be sweet potatoes, cauliflower, and/or winter squash.

Review: Too much cinnamon.  Just... like, way too much.  It's all you can taste.  Also, it needs more salt, but that's easily remedied.  It is also very low calorie, which is a big plus in our house these days.  The yogurt helps and it will probably taste better on the second day when the spices have had a chance to really soak into everything.  But it's not curry.  I will keep making this tweaker, though I am throwing out this recipe card.  Really.  I have the cookbook.

*1,000 Vegetarian Recipes, by Carol Gelles.  The first vegetarian cookbook I ever owned and still one of my favorite resources.  Her saag paneer is top notch!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Crockpot Cooking FTW!

A cassoulet is generally a bean dish that's full of meat and baked in an oven all day.  This recipe is a very nice, vegetarian, slow cooker recipe.  You do need to exercise caution with your slow cooker when making some bean dishes.  Particularly those with kidney beans.  Kidney beans must boil or the beans will be underdone and toxic.  These beans were very well done and we all survived.  This recipe was submitted by "Liz" to AllRecipes.com.

Vegetarian Cassoulet
Yield 8 servings
2 T olive oil
1 onion
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 pound dry navy beans, soaked overnight
4 C mushroom broth
1 cube vegetable bullion
1 bay leaf
4 sprigs fresh parsley
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 sprig fresh lemon thyme, chopped
1 sprig fresh savory
1 large potato, peeled and cubed

1. Heat a small amount of oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Cook and stir onion and carrots in oil until tender.
2. In a slow cooker, combine beans, carrots and onion, mushroom broth, bullion, and bay leaf.  Pour in water if necessary to cover ingredients with water.  Tie together parsley, rosemary, thyme and savory, and add to the pot.  Cook on Low for 8 hours.
3. Stir in potato, and continue cooking for 1 hour.  Remove herbs before serving.
Liz says, "If you are home while this recipe is cooking, give the beans a stir every couple of hours."

My substitutions/additions:
I didn't change much on this one, but I did use vegetable stock instead of mushroom and Better than Bullion mushroom base instead of the bullion cube.

Review: Fan-freakin-tastic.  I loved this recipe.  I could do without the bay leaf because I don't like it, but otherwise, this is perfect.  It's great the second day, too.  The boys and the man liked it too!  Keeper!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

St. Patrick's SemiFail

I tried, ya'll.  I really did.  I've been looking in my box for anything that could be remotely related to St. Patrick's day.  I don't have anything even sorta Irish, so then I thought, OK, I'll do something green.  Apparently I've never put anything green into my recipe box besides cucumber soup, which is good, but better for Summer.  But then I remembered my Mom's Jello recipe.  I could  put green food coloring in it and make it all Irish and junk!  Then I realized I didn't have any jello.  But I did have agar and vegan marshmallows, so I could be all green and vegan and junk!  And what happens when you combine awesome jello salad with great agar jello and add green food coloring?  You get this:

Looks a little like guacamole, dunnit?

It tastes fine.  Not worth the calorie load, though.  The original recipe is so good.  The agar jello recipe is also very good.  The concoction above is a less than successful combination of the two.  I'm not going to suggest you make it.  But I am going to very highly suggest you try them separately.

Hubby has named Mom's recipe the following:

Grab-Bag O' Jello-y Goodness
3 oz lemon jello
1 C boiling water
1C cold water
1 or 2 large apples cored and diced
3/4 C miniature marshmallows
1/2 C walnuts
1/2 C diced celery
1/2 C mayo
1 T lime juice

Make jello following instructions on box.  *Chill till slightly thick, stirring occasionally.  Mix in the apples, celery, nuts, and marshmallows.  Combine mayo and lime juice in separate bowl and pour over jello.  Stir in.  Pour into 1 qt jello mold.  Refrigerate till set.  Unmold and serve.  *Or use quick set method...6 ice cubes instead of cold water.

Don't let the mayo throw you off.  You won't taste it, I promise.  This is so good.  You can easily sub pecans for the walnuts, too.  I don't make this very often so the boys haven't tried it, but hubs is a big fan!

Agar Jello
(Recipe from eHow.)
1 C fruit juice (per serving)
1 T agar agar (per serving)

Boil the juice and melt the agar into it, stirring consistently, until completely dissolved.  Pour into serving containers.  It will begin to set at room temperature, but you can also chill it.  It will be fully set in about an hour.

  • My grocery store was out of agar flakes, but I did find some strands.  I just pulsed the tar out of them in my blender until they were small, uniformish pieces and it works just fine.  
  • I've tried apple juice and orange juice.  They are both great!  Any other fruit juice would probably be good, too.
  • You can find agar in the Asian section of any well-stocked grocery store as well as online.

It's very nice, lower calorie, all natural, vegetarian, and easier to make than jello, in my opinion.  The boys love it and I make it regularly.

I promise you'll have better results than I did!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Ground Beef Stroganoff

This looks like something I gleaned from the Internet by checking several sites for the same recipe and picking the best of all the recipes (a.k.a. the ingredients I had in the fridge).  Therefore, all I had were the ingredients and none of the directions...  For myself, I cooked the mushrooms and onions and crumbled a veggie patty in there...

Beef Stroganoff
1 Tbs butter
4-5 medium mushrooms, sliced
1/4 of a medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic
1 C bullion
1 tsp flour
1/4 C sour cream
salt and pepper

This is how I cooked it:
For starters, I used a box of mushrooms instead of just 4 or 5.  I sauteed the mushrooms, onions, and garlic in the butter.  At this point, I separated a portion for myself and added a veggie burger.  To the rest, I added 1 lb ground beef.  Once the beef was mostly done, I added the bullion.  (I used vegetable stock.)  Then, I stirred in the flour and cooked it till the gravy thickened.  I added salt and pepper to taste.  Just before serving, I stirred in the sour cream.  It went beautifully with whole wheat egg noodles.

Hubby was very pleased.  I asked him if I could have added anything and he said no.  So I'm taking his word for it.  Boy 1 said, "I like the beef!" (mostly because we told him he couldn't have a push-up pop if he didn't eat his dinner).  Boy 2 ate one noodle.  Mine was entirely edible.   It's a keeper!

(PS, some people say you can't have a proper stroganoff without tomato paste.  I don't know, I've never tried it, but there you go.  Add a spoonful and see what you think!)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

It's National Pancake Week!

I had no idea, but as it happens, I whipped up these little yummies yesterday just because the boys asked for pancakes.  The boys got faces, but the adults got the awesome trail mix version. I was going to save the faces for a silly post, but pancakes are pancakes and I couldn't pass it up! 

This is a standard pancake batter I got off the Internet years ago, but I have made changes over the years.

2 C flour
3 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1/4 C sugar
2 eggs
2 T oil
1 C milk

Combine the dry ingredients, then add the wet ones.  Mix until well incorporated.  Grease a frying pan with butter or oil and preheat.  Spoon batter into pan.  Cook pancakes until done in the middle, flipping once. 

Yield is entirely dependent on how big you make your pancakes.  It usually yields around 12-14 of my small "silver dollar" size pancakes.

My substitutions/additions:
  • I always add another 1/4 C milk.  They're just not pourable with only 1 C.
  • I also usually add a healthy dash of cinnamon.
  • Pecans, walnuts, and blueberries are nice additions.  I've also added wheat germ and strawberries.
  • These were made using 2 C whole wheat flour, 1 Tbs of sweet potato puree (all that was left over from dinner the night before), and a handful of trail mix containing cranberries, almonds, walnuts and cashews.  I just put the trail mix in a piece at a time as the first side was cooking and did the same for the banana slices for the boys'.  They were even cuter before they cooked...

When I was a kid, my Mom used to make our syrup instead of buying the stuff from the store.  She used 1 C water, 1 C sugar, and 1/2 tsp Mapleine.  The result is much more runny than the super thick junk in the plastic bottle.  I love that the pancake sucks it all up so when you bite into it, it's full of yummy maple syrup!  Since we've had kids and I went all crunchy, I buy organic pure maple syrup from a real tree, but I was out so I dredged up Mom's old syrup recipe.  I tried whole cane sugar though, instead of regular white sugar.  It gave the syrup a lovely molasses flavor.  It's not "just like Mom used to make" but it's still great!

Of course I'm keeping this.  It's a wonderful canvas to paint all my pancake creativity onto!  Happy National Pancake Week everybody!

Edit: Just made some more of these today (June 11, 2011) and had to share!  Try 1/2 tsp lemon zest and 1 pint of fresh blueberries!  You won't be disappointed!

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