Friday, December 19, 2014

Fall Vegetable Curry - Create a Stir-fry



Oh comfort food - I absolutely love you. A few years back, I went on a crazy curry obsession. We had a local little place that made it in all sorts of colors and forms and it was Amazing!  It is no wonder half the world eats the stuff daily - that many people's taste buds cannot be wrong. 

It isn't hard to make, it comes together quick and easy - with the most time consuming part being the vegetable chopping. You can add pretty much whatever you want - You can toss in whatever you feel like, veggies, meats, beans, dried fruits - anything goes!! 


This is a recipe for a very simple vegetable curry made with fall vegetables and very little heat. It was made as an introduction for the small kids to the taste of curry. They absolutely loved it.


Ingredients
1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup diced peeled sweet potato
1 cup small cauliflower florets
1/4 cup thinly sliced yellow onion
2 teaspoons Madras curry powder
1/2 cup organic vegetable broth (such as Swanson)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
1 (14.5-ounce) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes, undrained
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 cup plain 2% reduced-fat Greek yogurt






Preparation
1. Heat olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add sweet potato to pan; sauté 3 minutes. Decrease heat to medium. Add cauliflower, onion, and curry powder; cook 1 minute, stirring mixture constantly.


 Add broth and next 3 ingredients (through tomatoes); bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle with cilantro; serve with yogurt.
























Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Homemade Naan



Isn't bread cool? I think it is so amazing that from such basic ingredients comes something so delicious and that can be so very different depending on the amounts of ingredients that you add and the method you use to prepare it. I think that it is so cool that different regions all over the world and different areas of even the same countries have such different breads. From long crusty baguettes to warm bubbly tortillas. How great and amazing and delicious is bread!?

I know that bread recently has gotten a little bit of a bad wrap, but I think it is completely undeserved. I will never ever believe that Good Bread is not good for you. That is one of the great benefits to making it yourself. You get to control exactly what you put into it. That means lots of whole grains and less sugar and lots and lots less preservatives. It is a bit of a learned skill, but that is all that it is - a skill. You can certainly learn it and with some practice, you can become amazing at it!




An easy recipe for Indian naan bread at home.
Serves: makes about 30 smaller sized pieces

Ingredients
1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
¼ cup white sugar
3 tablespoons milk
1 egg, beaten
2 teaspoons salt
3½ - 4 cups bread flour
¼ cup butter, melted



Instructions
In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the yeast, water, and a pinch of the sugar. Let sit until the yeast blooms, about 10 minutes. Stir in the rest of the sugar, milk, egg and salt. Add in the flour, ½ cup at a time, until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Knead for 6-8 minutes, or until smooth.
Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover with a towel, and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.



Punch down the dough. Pinch off pieces about the size of a golf ball and roll into balls. Place on a baking sheet and cover with a towel. Allow to rise until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.
Preheat a griddle or grill to medium-high heat.


Roll one ball into a thin circle. Lightly oil the grill and place the dough on the grill. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until lightly browned. Brush the uncooked side with butter, then flip over and cook the second side. Remove from the grill and continue with the remaining dough.















Monday, December 15, 2014

Persimmons - Eating in Season


This weekend while out shopping and picking up groceries, I was browsing the produce section looking for something Extra Delicious and I found these Persimmons. The first time that I have ever had a persimmon was on a fruit tray that my sister in law brought over for Thanksgiving dinner. Isn't it strange to think that I am 38 years old and there are foods out there that I haven't gotten around to trying yet. I am sure in the whole - wide - world there are Lots and Lots of foods that I haven't tried, but here at my grocery store, there was this crazy fruit that I hadn't ever had. I absolutely had to get some. We were all going to try them. 


What do you need to know if you are going to eat a persimmon - 

  • Select a ripe persimmon. This is the only time the persimmon should be eaten; before this stage, the fruit will be very bitter.
  • The skin will appear transparent and should be smooth.
  • Look for a good overall orange coloring. If not, let it ripen on the counter until it reaches a bright coloring overall.

Fuyu Persimmons (or Jiro or sharon fruit) are short and firm. They're crisp and sweet and the skin can be eaten or peeled. They are great in fruit salads or baked in coffee cake. These tomato-like ones are the better variety for eating fresh.

Hachiya Persimmons are longer and more "peach-shaped." They need to be eaten when very soft. Best eaten chilled, or scooped out with a spoon, these are best for cooking.


Wash the persimmon. Do this very gently, using a basic vegetable washing liquid you usually use to clean veggies. You might like to rest it in a colander and let a gentle flow of water flow over it.

Cut off the leaves. Using a sharp knife cut off the top (leaves). Then, you can simply slice the persimmon in the same manner that you would prepare a tomato.
You can peel if wished but the skin is edible. Peeling is usually used for cooking – peel by immersing in hot water briefly as with a tomato or peach, and then removing and peeling.
Cut the persimmon into any shape you desire for serving.



The persimmon can be consumed fresh or it can be cooked. Persimmons can be cooked as a jam, marmalade, compote, or also be used in salads. It makes a delicious sorbet.

They are delicious on salads and sandwiches (like you would use a sliced apple or a pear). They are great with a little bit of salted meat (like prosciutto and melon) and they are so so yummy with just bread and cheese - This is MY most favorite way. 




Friday, December 12, 2014

Make Ahead Meatballs



I don't know if I have mentioned before, but I am a pretty habitual buyer of prepared meatballs. I almost always have them in my freezer. I buy both the Italian ones (that I use for spaghetti and subs) and some chicken teriyaki ones that we eat with a Hawaiian sauce over rice. They are something my kids really like to eat and I LOVE the ease of having them in the freezer and just reheating them with some rice or pasta. 


But I made them the other day and confessed to my husband, that I hated the way they tasted and that I was really unhappy with how yucky I felt after I ate them. And I didn't think we were going to be buying them anymore, but I moaned (quite) a bit about losing the ease of preparing the meatball dinner. He brilliantly suggested that I go ahead and make my own. Sometimes, I am awfully glad to have him around (WINK!). 

It turns out making meatballs is a supremely easy thing to do. This came together so fast, and I was actually under a lot of pressure as I had a pre-teen holding a crying newborn when I was trying to whip them together. The recipe I am providing you with is a basic all-around meatball.  If you want you can make a few batches and season them different ways. 

These were a huge hit, the kids loved eating them, and I felt fantastic because I knew of the high quality meat that I had used and that my "filler" was a steel cut oat. I may try and experiment with some quinoa or rice. 



Ingredients

5 lbs ground beef
1 to ­2 Cups Oats (or cooked rice - or maybe quinoa)
2 - ­5 eggs (I use two but you can use more!)
1 16oz Can Tomato Sauce (Can use up to 3 cups ketchup in its place)



Instructions

Combine all ingredients in large bowl and mix well with hands. You can also use a potato masher or a big fat wooden spoon.


Scoop out and form into meatballs approximately one inch thick. Place on foil lined baking sheets that have a lip on them. You'll need the lip on your pans especially if you are using ground beef with a higher fat content.



I used one of those ice scream scooper tools that you use to make cookies with. This was super fast and quick and left all the meatballs nice and round and looking pretty (and cooking uniformly)



Bake in batches at 350 for about thirty minutes, storing raw meat covered in the refrigerator while you wait on each batch to bake. Test a meatball to make sure the center is no longer pink.



Allow to cool and store in quart sized freezer bags. Use any of the following recipes or create your own!

Spaghetti and Meatballs
Swedish Meatballs
Meatball Subs

To reheat:
Place frozen meatballs in pot and add one of the sauces. Cook over medium heat until heated through and serve with rice, egg noodles, or other cooked pasta or grain.










Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Cincinnati Chili


I had a special dinner request for Cincinnati Chili. I absolutely agreed to do it because, Hey! It isn't like he was requesting  lobster, and I am really trying to support my kids exploring food and flavors. Plus, I thought that Cincinnati Chili was just regular old chili on noodles. That just isnt the case, There is a whole giant city in Ohio of rabid chili eaters - that are devouring this concoction that actually tastes nothing like what you think chili "normally" tastes like.


Welcome to a Whole New World of meaty - pasta - cheesey goodness!  I might even sing to you the Disney song from Aladdin. It would be very fitting with the mixture of spices that you are going to put into the Chili. 

I have heard that Cincinnati-ans are rabid passionate about their chili, who can blame them. This stuff is wildly weird and fantastic! We thought it was great at our house, and I invited my in-laws over to enjoy it too. You can taste all the different spices in it and they tickle your nose and your taste buds. 

Here's a little bit of information for you, so you can be super impressed with the whole dish - and ways to order it, and eat it and have it rule your world while you lay in bed and crave it at 2am. 

  • The chili spooned over freshly made pasta and topped with a combination of chopped onions, shredded Cheddar cheese, refried beans or kidney beans, and crushed oyster crackers.
  •  If you choose "the works," you are eating what they call Five-Way Chili. Make sure to pile on the toppings - that's what sets it apart from any other chili dish.
  • To test a restaurant for authenticity, ask for a Four-Way. If the server asks you whether you want beans or onions, you know this is fake Cincinnati chili, since Four-Way always comes with onions.  
And you eat your chili at a place called a Chili Parlor

to recap:
Two-Way Chili:   Chili served on spaghetti


Three-Way Chili:   Additionally topped with shredded Cheddar cheese

Four-Way Chili:   Additionally topped with chopped onions

Five-Way Chili:   Additionally topped with kidney beans

Cincinnati Chili Recipe - How To Make Cincinnati Chili:



Ingredients:

1 large onion, chopped
1 pound extra-lean ground beef (hamburger)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cumin*
1/2 teaspoon red (cayenne) pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa or 1/2 ounce grated unsweetened chocolate*
1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1/2 cup water
1 (16-ounce) package uncooked dried spaghetti pasta
Toppings (see below)





Preparation:

In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, sauté onion, ground beef, garlic, and chili powder until ground beef is slightly cooked.



Add allspice, cinnamon, cumin, cayenne pepper, salt, unsweetened cocoa or chocolate, tomato sauce, Worcestershire sauce, cider vinegar, and water.





Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, 1 hour 30 minutes. Remove from heat.



Cook spaghetti according to package directions and transfer onto individual serving plates (small oval plates are traditional).



Toppings:
Oyster Crackers  - which I didn't have, so I used Saltines.
Shredded Cheddar Cheese
Chopped Onion
Kidney Beans (16-ounce) can




Ladle Cincinnati Chili mixture over the cooked spaghetti and serve with toppings of your choice.

Oyster crackers are served in a separate container on the side.










Monday, December 8, 2014

Green Chili Enchilada Soup - Create a Soup

I am so happy that it is soup season again. I just love soup. It is so easy to get a pot of it on the stove when you have a quick moment and let it simmer all day. It makes for a warm "feel good" kinda dinner when the days outside are dark and cold. And you can usually get a few meals out of it which means less cooking during the busy holiday season. Yah! for Soup!!

One of my family's favorite's is Taco Soup - They are total suckers for that south of the border flavor. And although they really like Taco Soup and I don't mind making it, I was really excited to try this twist on those same flavors. Seriously, you have GOT to make this soup. It is beyond amazing! Like..... crazy good, eat it for 3 days straight and sneak out in the night and eat some more of it good. 

Plus, you can make it in your slow-cooker which puts an extra star by it in my book. I am going to put this one down as a Must Make Again (and Soon!) I am also going to put a little memo with it that says, "take this to all your friends". Really, I am not joking with you - It is that good. 




Slow Cooker Creamy Green Chile Enchilada Soup

Ingredients:
32 oz chicken both
24 oz chicken breasts
2 cans of Green Chile enchilada sauce
4 oz can of diced green chilies
3/4 cup of water
2 tbsp of ground cumin
1 tbsp of chili powder
1 tsp of onion powder
1 tsp of garlic powder
1 cup of frozen corn (defrosted)
1 block of cream cheese (cut up into a few pieces)
3/4 cup of instant rice (not cooked)
salt and pepper to taste (depending on the sodium level of your broth, you may need more salt.)
tablespoon of corn starch (only if needed)

optional: shredded cheese, avocado, tortilla chips and/or sour cream for garnish





Instructions:

In your slow cooker, mix together the broth, green enchilada sauce, green chilies, water, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder and cumin. (My spice measurements are to my taste, it is up to you if you like more or less...)

Add the chicken breasts to the crock pot and cook on low for 7 hours.

At the 7 hour mark, remove the chicken to another dish. Shred the chicken and put back in your slow cooker. Add the rice, corn and cream cheese to the soup mixture and replace the lid. Cook for another 30 minutes and stir the soup, making sure to get the cream cheese mixed in. You may need to cook just a bit longer to ensure the cream cheese is melted completely.

At this point, you can judge to consistency of your soup. If you would like it thicker, mix a table spoon of corn starch with about 1/8 cup of water and then mix into the soup, after 10 to 20 minutes the soup should thicken considerably.



Friday, December 5, 2014

Taco Pizza - Create a Pizza



 Does your family have a few specific meals that you only make when a certain someone isn't going to be home? For example, we make Taco Pizza on nights when Dad isn't going to be home for dinner. He doesn't like it when we mix the beans and the meat (and I LOVE it!), So we make taco pizza when he isn't going to make it home for dinner.


Ingredients

1 can refried beans
1 packet taco seasoning
1 1/2 C browned ground beef, drained well
cheddar cheese, shredded
taco chips
3/4 C salsa
1 prepared pizza crust (preferably deep dish)

Your favorite Taco Toppings


Instructions:

First, brown your ground beef - if you need to drain the fat from it. 




In the same skillet or saucepan, combine ground beef, taco seasoning, refried beans, and salsa. 




Stir until heated through. 


Spread into pizza crust. Top with crunched taco chips. 



Top with a good bit of cheddar cheese. 



While your pizza is in the oven, chop your taco toppings. We had lettuce, tomatoes and green onions. Sour cream too, but we didn't need to "chop" that. 



 Bake at 350 until cheese is melted and crust is browned. Remove from oven





Top with favorite taco toppings!