Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Cuban Black Bean and Sweet Potato Soup

Did you know you can check out cook books from the library electronically on your iPad?!  YAY!!!!  The only draw back is I don't have the book in front of me to make a copy of the recipe or put the book on my book shelf to refer back.  Thank goodness for a blog!  This way I can track my favorite recipes...which is also handy when you're at the grocery store and didn't bring the recipe with you. :)

Cuban Black Bean and Sweet Potato Soup
adapted from 50 Simple Soups for the Slow Cooker by Lynn Alley
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 cup celery, diced
1 cup carrots, diced
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1 can black beans
4 cups chicken stock
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 medium green (or any color) bell pepper, seeded and diced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 cloves of garlic, minced
Pinch of chile flakes
Salt, to taste

In a large pan on medium heat, cook the onions in olive oil for about 10 minutes until lightly browned.  Add the celery, carrots, tomatoes, black beans, sweet potato, bell pepper, and spices.  Add water and bring to a boil.  Turn heat down and simmer until the sweet potatoes are super tender.

I thought this soup sounded unique when I came across it, but was truly amazed how sweet it turned out!  It was almost as though I had added some lime at the end.  I even got my four year old to eat this soup and she begrudgingly said she liked it.  SCORE!!!!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Raspberry Oat Muffins

While shopping in Alexandria I found a fun cook book for my sister-in-law's birthday, Pretty Delicious by Candice Kumai. I liked it so much I bought a copy for me too!  The book claims to have 'lean and lovely recipes for a healthy and happy new you.'  Judging by this one recipe, I am pretty impressed.

Raspberry Oat Muffins:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup quick oats - I used regular oats
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of sea salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 tablespoons honey
1 cup frozen raspberries

Preheat oven to 400 degree's F. Line a 12-cup muffin tine with paper liners.

Whisk the flour, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl.  Whisk the eggs, applesauce, and honey together in a medium bowl.  Stir the applesauce mixture into the flour mixture until completely incorporated.  Gently fold in the frozen raspberries.

Using a 1 1/2 oz. ice cream scoop, portion the batter into the paper cups, filling each about 3/4 full.  Bake, rotating midway though cooking, until golden brown, the center of the muffin resists light pressure, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 20 minutes.

Let cool for 20 minutes...because the raspberries come out SCREAMING HOT!!!!...then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

I tend to be suspect of 'healthy' recipes because they say they are yummy, but then taste like card board. Not so with this recipe.  I was pleased to see the amount of sweetening agents in this recipe, because even though it eliminates oil, it doesn't scrimp on flavor.  I am totally going to use blueberries the next time I make this recipe!!!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Tikka Masala II

Have I told you how much I LOVE Paratha? Well, now I am cooking meals with the intent of eating paratha.  It has been a long while since I cooked Tikka Masala so I found a recipe on Allrecipes.com that looked promising.

This was a phenomenal recipe!  But this recipe calls for WAAAAAAAY too much salt.  I felt there was too much when I started out so I halved it and it was STILL WAAAY too much salt.  I am feeling concerned for the author of this recipe and think it might be a good idea for them to visit their doctor.  I would use tops, a half teaspoon for the marinade and sauce each.

Tikka Masala
1 cup yogurt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons freshly ground ginger
4 teaspoons salt or to taste - SERIOUSLY....CUT BACK!!!
3 chicken breasts cut into cubes.

1 tablespoon butter
1 clove garlic, minced
1 jalapeno pepper, minced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons paprika
3 teaspoons salt - MORE LIKE 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
1 cup heavy cream - I used half and half it turn out GREAT!
1/4 cup chopped cilantro.

In large bowl, combine yogurt, lemon juice, cumin, cinnamon, cayenne, black pepper, ginger and salt - REMEMBER TO CUT BACK!!!! Stir in chicken, cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Preheat grill for high heat.

Lightly oil the grill grate.  Thread chicken onto skewers and discard marinade.  Grill until juices run clear.  About 5 minutes each side.

Melt butter in large heavy skillet over medium heat.  Saute garlic and jalapeno for 1 minute. Season with 2 teaspoons cumin, paprika and salt - MINIMAL SALT!  I used 1 tsp and it was still WAY too much! Stir in tomato sauce and cream.  Simmer on low heat until sauce thickens, about 20 minutes.  Add grilled chicken and simmer for 10 minutes.  Transfer to a serving platter and garnish with fresh cilantro.

I really liked this Tikka Masala.  It was so flavorful...minus the over use of the salt.  I still can't believe the author of this recipe called for this much salt.  I served this up with a side of the yummy Pakistani chickpeas I made a couple of weeks ago.  SO YUMMY!!!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Loving the Pakistani Food!

Oh dear.  I think my neighbors have created a monster by introducing me to the local Pakistani store.  I've already been back to get more Paratha and boxes of seasoning.  The guys at the Pakistani store were teasing me because I bought so many packets of the frozen Paratha bread.  That stuff ROCKS!!!!  I even tried to find a recipe to make it online and it is time consuming.  Check out this YouTube video I found that shows how to make it.  I'm able to purchase a pack of 5-6 paratha for $1.50.

On my second visit to the Pakistani store I picked up a new package of seasoning for Kafta Curry. WOOOEEEEE!!!  This stuff is SPICY!!!  Alex and I have a rating system on spicy.  I like things that are spicy and Alex likes things that burn your mouth leaving your taste buds on the verge of blisters!!!  This stuff was on the brink of being Alex spicy.  So reader beware!

Kofta  Curry with Beef Meatballs:
1.5 lbs ground beef - you really could use any kind of ground meat...next time I want to try chicken!
2 onions, purree'd
1 1/2 cups plain yogurt
1 tablespoon garlic paste
2 tablespoons cilantro
1 packet Shan Kofta Curry Mix
2 tablespoons oil
2-3 cups water

Combine meat, half the ground onions (I use my immersion blender), half the yogurt and 2 tablespoons Kofta Curry mix.  Roll into small meatballs and cook.  I browned mine on the outside and then put them in a preheated oven at 350F for 15 mins. 
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in pan and fry remaining onion purree until golden brown. Add garlic, the remaining yogurt and the Kofta Curry Mix. Stir fry for a few minutes then add 2-3 cups water.  Boil for about 15 minutes on medium heat.  

Add meatballs and reduce the heat.  Cook until sauce reduces down.

I have fallen in LOVE with this yummy Pakistani cooking, so I suspect you will be seeing a LOT more of it on my blog!  YAY!!!  The best part about cooking this food at home is that I can reduce the amount of oil the recipes on the box call for to make it much healthier.  For instance, the recipe on the box of Shan Kofta Curry calls for a cup to a cup and a half of oil!!!!!  I use a couple of teaspoons and call it good.

I really do hope you venture into your local Indian or Pakistani store to find some of these spices.  If you don't want to do that, contact me and I will mail you some from my local store!!!!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Adventure in Making Pakistani Food!!!

I love all kinds of ethnic food so I was elated when I found out our neighbors here in the D.C. metro area are from Pakistan. I am a little ashamed to say one of the first comments out of my mouth when I met them was, "will you teach me to make yummy Pakistani food?!"  Yes, that's me, always thinking with my taste buds.

Well, the neighbors delivered! They have invited us over for dinner several times and took me to the local Pakistani grocery store to purchase seasoning packets for several authentic dishes.  Check out all the loot I scored for $18!      

That is enough to make at least 15-20 different dishes...save the paratha bread in the front (which is sort of similar to pita bread, naan or tortillas, but SOOOO much better)...I'm going to need to go back soon to get some more!

Tonight I made Kebabs and Chickpeas.  I know, when an American thinks kebabs, they think kabobs (at least I did before I met my Pakistani neighbors).  Pakistani kebabs are ground meat mixed with lots of seasoning and then molded onto skewers and BBQ'd.  There are several ways of cooking the meat, I made mine into patties because I was using my indoor grill pan and my skewers don't fit in the pan.

Pakistani Kebabs:
1 1/2 pounds ground beef (you could totally do ground chicken, or turkey too)
1 medium onion
2 jalapeno's - I used a red and a green one for extra flavor
1 long green chili
3 tablespoons fresh ginger
3 tablespoons fresh garlic
2 eggs
1 packet Shan Chappli Kebab Mix - if you don't have a local Pakistani or Indian store nearby, you can check out the selection on Amazon. I have to note that I got my spice packet for $0.90 at my Pakistani store in the D.C. metro area and Amazon sells the SAME packets for $4-$5 each!  Support your local Pakistani store!!!

Cut up onion, peppers, ginger and garlic and toss into a food processor.  Process until somewhere between a chunky and smooth texture.

Add to ground beef with eggs and packet of Shan Chappli Kebab mix.  Refrigerate for 2 hours or more.

Form meat into patties or around skewers and grill.

If you don't want super spicy kebabs you can use less of the season packet.  I seeded half of my peppers and use the whole seasoning packet and it turned out to medium heat.  They were VERY flavorful!!!

I openly admit I am NOT that person who puts chickpeas on my salads.  I don't dislike chickpeas, but unless they are in falafel, I am generally not a fan...that is until my neighbor made this dish for us! Now I can't get enough chickpeas!!!!

Pakistani Chickpeas:
2 cans chickpeas - I suggest using the salt free kind
1 medium onion
1/2 cup lentils
3 tablespoons olive oil
3-4 cups water
3 tablespoons Shan Chana Masala Mix

Drain and rinse chickpeas and add to skillet along with water.  Add Shan Chana Masala and cook on medium heat for 45 minutes or until the chickpeas turn to a darker shade.

Heat oil and cook onions for about 5 minutes then add to chickpea mixture.  Cook until the gravy thickens.

Serve with warm paratha bread!

Seriously don't be afraid to walk into your local Indian or Pakistani store and purchase these spices.  I found the people to be VERY nice and accommodating. The clerk even gave me a free sample of a box of spices to make a sweet rice dessert!