Friday, May 31, 2013
I should really make curry more often. It’s the perfect weeknight meal because it’s fast and easy to make on your stove-top, and you can pretty much use whatever is in your fridge or pantry. And of course let’s not forget that it tastes so good!
My kids are not spicy food fans, so I don’t put a lot of curry powder in it and I always use mild. You can feel free to adjust the spices to your preference. I used yams, onion, celery and red pepper because that’s what I had on hand, but you could use any vegetables you want. Try broccoli, cauliflower, potatoes, peas, or anything else that you want to use up. For protein I chose lentils, but you could try chickpeas, beans, shrimp, chicken, beef, etc. See how versatile it is? Just be aware that if you don’t choose lentils you’ll need to adjust the liquid accordingly. This recipe uses a lot of vegetable broth because lentils absorb the liquid as they cook. Personally, I really love lentils in curry. Lentil and Spinach Curry is another favourite of mine.
So what did my family think of this curry? Well, considering that the boys hate yams, I think this went over fairly well. They didn’t clean their plates but they both ate some of it. Tony and I had no problem finishing our portions; we both thought it was a very satisfying meal. Not only is this curry tasty and healthy, but it has such pretty colours too, don’t you think? Really, what’s not to love about it?
Vegetable Lentil Curry
2 tsp olive oil
1 medium yam, diced
1 medium onion, diced
2 celery stalks, sliced
1 red pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp curry powder
1 cup red lentils
2 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup coconut milk
salt and pepper
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add yam, onion, celery, red pepper,garlic, and curry powder. Cook until the onions are softened and opaque. Add lentils and vegetable broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes, until the yam and lentils are soft. Stir in coconut milk and heat through. Add salt and pepper, to taste. Serve over rice and with a side of naan bread.
Thanks again for all your votes so far in the Circle of Moms Top Foodie contest. We’ve slipped a little bit, from #6 to #11, but we’re still in the top 25 for now. There are just so many great blogs! Hopefully we can stay in the Top 25 with your help. You can vote daily until June 4th.
Tuesday, May 28, 2013
As you would expect from a typical Canadian guy, Tony likes beer. A lot. This means we almost always have beer on hand, which is great news for me because I can make this beer bread whenever I want. It's the perfect accompaniment for a hearty soup or stew, and it also makes great sandwiches. Best of all, it's a cinch to put together. There's no rising or kneading required, but it still has a similar quality to yeast bread because of the beer.
I made this bread to serve with soup on one cold, rainy evening. It really hit the spot. Bennett liked it most of all, refusing to eat anything besides the bread for dinner. We had to cut him off until he ate his soup, which resulted in a very dramatic and lengthy temper tantrum. Don't you just love 4-year-olds?
Cheese and Beer Bread
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 tbsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 can beer (room temperature)
2 tbsp butter, divided
Preheat oven to 375F. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cheese, onion powder and garlic powder. Pour in beer slowly and stir together until combined. Pour batter into a greased loaf pan. Drizzle with 1 tbsp melted butter. Bake for 35 minutes. Drizzle with another tbsp of melted butter. Bake for an additional 25 minutes. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then remove from pan and finish cooling on rack.
Thanks again for all your votes so far in the Circle of Moms Top Foodie contest. We're holding steady at #6 right now! You can vote daily until June 4th.
Thursday, May 23, 2013
I'm part of a book club, but I think it should really be called an eating club because it's the food more than the books that make our meetings memorable. Last month we read Gone Girl (I loved it!), and our food theme was pub fare. I knew there would be a lot of deliciously greasy food with a theme like that, so I thought that the ladies would appreciate something healthy to balance it out. I did a spin on the classic pub food, Shepherd's Pie, with this vegan version.
I figured my own family wouldn't like this at all, seeing as the boys hate yams/sweet potatoes, so I brought it to book club without giving them a taste of if. The book club women liked it a lot, but there was just so much food to enjoy (like nachos, quesadillas, poutine, chicken wings, baked brie, roasted nuts, bread pudding, slutty brownies, to name a few) that I ended up having a lot left over. I brought it home and heated it up for supper the next day. My boys didn't like it, which was no surprise, but Tony loved it. I think it surprised him! "Wow, this is actually good," he said. I thought so too.
Sweet Potato Gardener's Pie
Adapted from Vegetarian Times
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
¼ cup coconut milk
1 tbsp coconut oil
¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
3 Tbsp nutritional yeast, optional
salt and pepper
1½ tsp vegetable oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 leek, white part thinly sliced
2 turnips, diced
2 carrots, diced
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
¼ cup white wine
1 15-oz. can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
salt and pepper
To make the topping, boil a large pot of water, then add the sweet potatoes and cover the pot. Cook for about 15 minutes, or until tender. Drain the water, then mash the sweet potatoes and stir in coconut milk, coconut oil, spices and nutritional yeast (for cheesy flavour). Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
To make the filling, heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute onion, garlic and leek until soft, about 5-6 minutes. Add turnips, carrots, rosemary and thyme. Cook for 3 minutes. Add wine and cook for 30 seconds to deglaze the pan. Add kidney beans and broth, then cover and cook for about 15-20 minutes, until the turnips have softened. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Pour filling into a 3 quart baking dish. Pour topping evenly over the filling. Sprinkle with paprika. Bake uncovered at 375F for 30 minutes until bubbly.
Saturday, May 18, 2013
If you've been browsing Pinterest lately, you've probably come across 2-Ingredient Cookies by The Burlap Bag. It seems too good to be true. Can you really turn mashed bananas and oats into cookies? Well it's true, you really can! It's a great way to use up old overripe bananas, and perfect if you're wanting to avoid processed sugar. The best part is you can add all sorts of things to them to suit your taste. As a chocolate-lover, I decided to add cocoa, chocolate chips, and Chocolate Chia Goodness. It's a mixture of chia seeds, buckwheat, hemp, cocoa powder, cocoa nibs, dates, almonds and evaporated cane juice.
If you don't have Chia Goodness, I'm sure plain chia seeds would be good too.
I made these one afternoon when the boys got home from school. Bennett asked me for chocolate cookies, but I wanted to make something that was somewhat nutritious. These cookies satisfied Bennett's chocolate craving while still being a healthy snack.
You'll be happy to know that these cookies are Bennett-approved!
Actually, the whole family loved them. They're chewy, chocolatey and delicious. I hope you'll check out The Burlap Bag and come up with your own tasty concoctions using the basic recipe. There are so many possibilities!
Chocolate Banana Oatmeal Cookies
2 large mashed bananas
1 cup quick-cooking oats
2 tbsp cocoa powder
2 tbsp honey or maple syrup
1 tbsp Chocolate Chia Goodness (or plain chia seeds)
32 (approx) chocolate chips
Preheat over to 350F. Combine ingredients together in a mixing bowl. On a greased cookie sheet, drop about a tablespoon of the mixture for each cookie. Top with a couple chocolate chips on each cookie. Bake for 15 minutes.
Makes about 16 cookies.
Thursday, May 16, 2013
An authentic gyro is roasted in a vertical spit, but this crockpot version is a great homemade alternative to the real thing. I discovered this recipe through Pinterest at Rainy Day Gal. Her recipe is an adaptation of one by A Year of Slow Cooking. I couldn't find ground lamb, so I used beef instead. I'm not sure what lamb would have been like, but it tasted great with the beef and turkey combination.
I used a Middle Eastern herb blend called Za'atar that my brother and his fiancee had given me for Christmas. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to try it. For those of you on Vancouver Island, you can find it at Hazelwood Herb Farm in Ladysmith BC. It's a blend of sumac, thyme, sesame seeds, oregano, basil, summer savory, sweet marjoram, salt and lemon peel. It worked really well in the gyros, and it's delicious in hummus too. If you can't find Za'atar anywhere near you, here's a link to make your own homemade Za'atar. Or you could just use oregano, as the original recipe calls for.
I have to admit that blending the meat in a food processor was sort of gross, but once it was in the crockpot, the aroma that wafted through our house as it cooked was incredible. I couldn't wait to try it. You could eat it just like a meatloaf if you wanted.
I decided to serve it in warm pita bread with greek salad and tzatziki sauce. The boys found them a little hard to eat so they ended up pulling them apart and using a fork. They still really enjoyed the gyros, and so did Tony and I. We didn't use all the meat, so I chopped it up and used it in Greek pizza the next next. I don't have a photo of that because we ate it up so quickly!
Adapted from Rainy Day Gal
1/2 lb ground beef
1/2 lb ground turkey
2 tsp Za'atar herb blend
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp kosher salt
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
Juice from 1 lemon
Place ground beef and turkey, spices and salt in a food processor and blend well. Form it into a loaf with your hands. Place onion and garlic into the bottom of your crockpot. Lay the meat loaf on top. Squeeze lemon juice over top. Cover and cook for 4 hours on low (or 2 hours on high).
Slice the meat and serve in warmed pita with Greek salad and tzatziki sauce. Wrap them in foil to hold them together.
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Sunday, May 12, 2013
Bennett burst out of his preschool on Friday with a Mother's Day gift in his hot little hands. As soon as we got to the van, he frantically ripped off the wrapping paper and presented me with a cute plant pot with dirt and seeds for planting a flower. "Look what I got you for Mother's Day!" he exclaimed eagerly. He just couldn't wait to show it to me.
Cole showed slightly more restraint, but dropped some pretty heavy hints. He instructed me yesterday, "Don't wear your necklace tomorrow when I give you your present, okay Mom?" And when I got up this morning he told me, "Don't make any breakfast."
If your powers of deduction are as good as mine, you probably figured out that Cole gave me a necklace and made me breakfast. I had oatmeal topped with chocolate cheerios. It sounds gross but I actually liked it, mostly because it was made with love. And the necklace he made me was absolutely beautiful. I was impressed by the creativity of his design, as always.
Cole is determined to make this the best Mother's Day ever, and has the whole day dedicated to Mommy all planned out. He even wants to make whatever I want for dinner. Now I just have to decide what I want to have. I'm thinking this amazing gnocchi soup we had a few weeks ago would be perfect on this cold and rainy day. It's simple enough that Cole could make it (with Daddy's help), and I would be thrilled to eat it up because I have a weakness for gnocchi.
This recipe comes from Pass the Sushi, with a few minor changes such as using turkey bacon instead of chicken and a combination of evaporated milk and regular milk instead of half and half. I love the idea of grated carrots to give the soup more color and nutrition. I couldn't believe how fast it was to make too! It's seriously the perfect soup.
Creamy Gnocchi Soup
Adapted from Pass the Sushi
1 tbsp olive oil
5 slices of turkey bacon, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 carrots, grated
1/4 cup flour
2 cans (5 oz) evaporated milk
2 cups 1% milk
1 can (14 oz) chicken broth
2 cups fresh baby spinach
1/2 tsp dried basil
1 package (16 oz) gnocchi, cooked according to package directions
salt and pepper, to taste
Heat olive oil in a dutch oven over medium heat. Add turkey bacon, celery, onion, and garlic. Cook until the vegetables are tender and the bacon has browned slightly. Add carrots. Sprinkle flour over top, then add evaporated milk and regular milk. Whisk together and bring to a boil until it thickens. Add broth, spinach, basil, gnocchi. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook until the spinach has wilted. Add a little water or more milk if it seems to thick.
Monday, May 6, 2013
You won't believe it when you taste it, but this decadent chocolate cake is made with black beans! It has no flour or dairy in it, and if you make it with a sugar substitute it's amazingly low in carbs. Where was this when I had gestational diabetes? I was so intrigued when I saw this recipe at Healthy Indulgences. Luckily, I happened to have all the ingredients on hand so I made it right away. Cole helped me and was a little skeptical about the beans, as was I, but we were both pleasantly surprised by the results. I didn't deviate much from the original recipe, except that I used a combination of xylitol (left over from my diabetic days) and maple syrup for sweetness. Instead of making icing I topped with with raspberry sauce, which I made by heating up frozen raspberries in the microwave and sweetening them with maple syrup. The raspberry and chocolate together were divine, and I couldn't taste any beans at all. Even knowing that there were beans in it didn't stop my family from devouring this cake in record time. My mom, who is on a gluten-free diet for health reasons, sampled this cake and immediately asked for the recipe. Please head on over to Healthy Indulgences for the recipe to try this cleverly healthy cake.