Sunday, January 31, 2010

Mish Mosh

I couldn't decide on one thing to blog about today so I'm doing a Mish Mosh which I suppose is like a hodge podge of things.

1) Guess who loves peas? Sweet P, of course! She can't get enough of them and even grabbed the bowl of them off the table because she was ready for more. The Farmer informed me that she wouldn't be able to digest the skins so they'd just come right out and I found out tonight how right he was.
2) Carrots, carrots and more carrots. That's what we have going on here. I bought a bag at Costco. Pshaw, big mistake for my little family of 3. We've got carrots coming out our ears. I've already made Carrot Muffins, carrots for Sweet P, stir fry, soup, two rounds of carrot juice and last night I made Carrot Cake and a Cous Cous Concoction. I'll post those recipes at the end of this post. And I. still. have. more. carrots.
3) Sweet P is over her sickies! Guess who's up next? Me! Yay! (I hope you can smell the sarcasm here). So I've been chugging my Emergen-C and taking Natural Creations Cold/Flu Comp drops. I'm sure it'll just have to run it's course which is what most colds do. And is exactly what Sweet P's did and why I didn't take her to the doctor. I do give her some Natural Creations drops that I picked up from a local pharmacy we found out about from our friend L.

4) Little Miss Sweet P has gotten 5 new teeth this month. Yep, 5! It's no wonder the poor dear was sick. Unfortunately, she has taken to biting my shoulder which hurts like, well, a person with small teeth biting you (imagine a small pinch, hurts right?!).

5) And lastly, we have begun our hunt for our first house. If you're thinking, "Why not build on the farm?" We aren't there just yet. So we're hunting for a house a bit closer to the farm so we can get out there more often. And after last weekend's open houses, we've got a long, long way to go. Pray for us!

And as promised:
Both of the recipes are my own. With the carrot cake, I checked a cookbook to make sure on some of the measurements, but other than that I just went with it.

Carrot Cake
2 c flour (I used whole wheat)
4 eggs
1 c brown sugar
1 c white sugar
3 c carrots
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c yogurt (to make it moist, and to omit some oil)
1/2 c vegetable oil
2/3 cup raisins (optional for people like Auntie Rosita)
1/2 c pecans (or other nuts, again optional for people like Auntie K)

Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 8 oz pkg cream cheese
1 stick butter (cut in tbsp, softened)
2 1/2 c sifted powdered sugar (or more to taste)
1 tbsp milk (I used soy milk)
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350˚.Whisk together eggs and sugars. Add and mix oil and yogurt, then baking soda, baking powder, salt and flour. Fold in carrots, raisins and nuts. Pour into 9x13 pan. Bake for 40-50 minutes.

Soften cream cheese with spatula, add butter, sifted sugar and vanilla and beat on a high speed. Add soy milk and beat until a creamy consistency. Add more soy milk to make it creamier, less to make it thicker. Allow cake to cool, then ice with frosting.

This cake was delish!

Cous Cous Concoction: I came up with this one night when I was bored of our usual stuff.
Cous Cous
Boca Chicken patties (or regular chicken for you carnivores)
3 carrots (chopped)
3 mushrooms (chopped)
1 c broccoli (I keep them in floret form, but feel free to chop)
1/2 medium onion
2 tbsp garlic (minced)
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp garlic salt
2 or more tbsp olive oil
Add more spices if necessary

Boil 1 1/4 cup of water and 2 tbsp olive oil, add cous cous. Cover and boil 1 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit covered for 5-8 minutes. Fluff with fork. In a pan on medium, heat olive oil. Add minced garlic and onions. Cook until onions are translucent. Add carrots, mushrooms and broccoli. Season with spices. Heat Boca chicken patties in the microwave or in a skillet. Dice patties and add to vegetables. Finally, add prepared cous cous and stir until mixed well. Add additional spices if necessary. SO good. Try it. You'll like it.

Friday, January 29, 2010

The Talent of the Family

Remember back in November when I told you about Auntie Rosita's website? Well today I am going to shamelessly plug it again.

Auntie Rosita does ALL of our card designing. We had a lot of stationary needs for our wedding...a lot of different invitations: wedding, rehearsal dinner, bridal luncheon, bachelorette party and Auntie Rosita made them all. Every year she custom designs our Christmas card and when our little bundle arrived, she made her announcement. All of them as unique as the next. I love her stuff because I couldn't find it anywhere in a store and she works with me to make sure it's exactly what I want.

But why are you listening to me, go see for yourself.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Wee, wee, wee all the way home

I imagine that after awhile of making your own baby food that your mind turns to mush and you end up giving them bananas and carrots because you can't think of anything creative. I already feel that way and Sweet P only eats one thing at a time!

Auntie Rosita is an avid reader of all things blog and came across a great website yesterday. She shared it with me, so I'm sharing it with you!

Weelicious is a site full of great ideas and recipes for baby, toddler and the whole family! I, for one, can't wait to try the Edamame Hummus. She also has kitchen product recommendations, Farmer's Market info and why, how and where to go organic.

I can't wait to try some of these deelicious recipes. Wow. That was corny, even for me.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Bonus Recipe/Product Review


Okay, so here is the bonus recipe you've been waiting for.

On Sunday, The Farmer and I made our own mozzarella cheese! It wasn't without help, of course. We ordered Ricki's Cheesemaking Kit and bought a gallon of whole milk (as local as you can get). I kept telling everyone we were making Buffalo Mozzarella and The Farmer kept correcting me. So I suppose it is Cow Mozzarella.

What we made:
Mozzarella cheese
Roasted Red Pepper, Tomato and Mozzarella Pizza
Roasted Red Peppers

What you need:
That's what you'll need for the mozzarella. Because I don't know how to make it without this kit, I can't offer much in regards to what I would do differently (although I would have added more cheese salt). I also can't take much credit for making it because The Farmer did most of it. I only helped at the end (and took pictures). So here are a few pics of the process.
Pouring the milk into a large pot
After the milk had hardened
Squeezing out excess moisture
The Results: It took a bit longer than the box said, but it was probably because we weren't sure what we were doing at first. I can't believe how simple it was. I think this will definitely become a staple around our kitchen. Not only did we put it on the pizza, but The Farmer made a quesadilla yesterday for lunch and we had baked pasta with mozzarella for dinner last night. Yum. If you're interested in making your own mozzarella, order a kit (you won't be sorry)! You can make mozzarella (or ricotta) up to 30 times with it!

The Grade: A-. Like I said, it needed more cheese salt and isn't super tasty on it's own. But on pizza, in pasta and as bocconcini it's delish!

Bocconcini: Mozzarella balls with parsley, olive oil, garlic & red pepper flakes

The Recipe:
Roasted Red Pepper, Tomato and Mozzarella Pizza

We came up with the topping and sauce ourselves. The crust recipe is a modified one from one we usually make because I used my KitchenAid mixer (and I usually do it by hand).

The Crust
What you need:
3 c flour (I used whole wheat, you can half and half it too)
1 c warm water
1 tsp active yeast
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp olive oil

Dissolve yeast in water in mixer bowl. Add salt, olive oil and 2 c flour. Attach bowl and dough hook to mixer. Mix on 2. Add the rest of your flour gradually and mix for about 5 minutes (ball will resemble a ball and cling to hook). Detach the bowl, drizzle olive oil around the edges, cover and let rise in a warm place (free from draft) for an hour. Dough should double in size. Punch dough down and press across your pan. We use a cookie sheet (not sure why we don't own a pizza pan with as much pizza as we eat around here) and fill it with the dough.

Roasted Red Peppers
Preheat broiler to 450˚. Place 2-3 red peppers on a cookie sheet and place in oven for 30 minutes. Turn halfway through. Remove peppers and place in a bowl, cover with a towel for 5 minutes (this allows the steam to detach the skin from the peppers). Place peppers in an ice bath. Doing this lets you not only handle the peppers right away, but allows the skin to peel off easily.

Sauce
Mix olive oil, red pepper flakes, oregano and garlic salt in a small bowl. Pour onto pressed out crust and spread until crust is covered.

The Pizza!
Cut peppers into strips. Arrange peppers, mozzarella cheese and tomatoes (diced from a can, drained) on top of crust. Bake for 15 minutes at 350˚.
The Result: This pizza reminded me of foccacia bread so naturally I loved it! It could have used more sauce so we dipped it in marinara sauce. I think next time I'd add marinara or homemade tomato sauce to the pizza.

The Grade: A- because it needed more sauce (but I love condiments so maybe I go overboard on sauce). Definitely worth trying (especially the crust).

I love when we make something that is generally only available in stores because it makes me feel like we could live on what we grow on the farm (if we had a dairy cow I suppose). I can't wait to do the Recipe Challenge again this summer and talk all about the canning and jarring process (that will definitely be a journey/challenge!). Hope you enjoyed the Recipe Challenge, now go start one of your own! Check back often for new vegetarian recipes.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Bear with me

I know. I know. You are so excited about the pizza recipe you can hardly stand it.

But. It'll have to wait. Because if I write the post now it'll have too many typos because it's late.

It was busy day today.

Full of the dentist. The grocery store. A crabby patty baby (who is still sick...and getting 3 new teeth!). A trip to Target and then the mall to find a jump rope. A jump rope class. And a sore foot. That hurts. Really bad.

So I'll be back tomorrow to post the pizza recipe. Although, it's not so much a pizza recipe as it is a cheese recipe. I'll keep you wondering.

Good night!

Update: I'm glad I mentioned typos and then made a big one in the title. Thanks Auntie Rosita for catching that. There will be no baring of anything with me.

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Last Day


Saturday was officially my last day of the Recipe Challenge, but it went on until Sunday (so another recipe tomorrow!).

Remember The Babysitters Club? It was a book series about 7 girls who had a club. They even had Kid Kits (I made one in 6th grade, don't laugh). Claudia Kishi was a Korean member of the club who made her own jewelry, wore funky clothes, was an artist and a junk food junkie (she always had candy stashed around her room during club meetings). I desperately wanted to be Claudia (and candy hidden around my room) and as I think back about it, I should have realized then what a sweet tooth I have! I remembered Claudia and her stashing candy habit when I asked The Farmer to hand me the Butterfinger I had in the console of my car on Saturday. So in honor of Claudia Kishi, the last recipe of the challenge (not including the one we made yesterday) is of course, dessert.

I'm not sure if there is an easier dessert recipe out there. If there is, I'd like to see it!

The Recipe:
Blueberry Dump Cake

This recipe isn't from a cookbook. I got an idea of what I needed online and went from there.

What you need:
4-5 c blueberries (fresh or frozen. If frozen, let thaw a bit first)
1/3 c sugar (a few recipes called for 1 c or 3/4 c, but 1/3 c was plenty!)
1 yellow cake mix
1/2 c (or one stick) melted butter
9x13 pan

Preheat oven to 325˚. Pour blueberries into 9x13 pan. Sprinkle sugar and cake mix over blueberries. Pour melted butter on top. Bake for 1 hour.

The Result: Delicious cake that was easy to make! It reminds me of blueberry cobbler and would have been great with ice cream (but we didn't have any).

The Grade: A solid A. The only way it could have been better is to make it with fresh blueberries (and maybe with ice cream).

Because it didn't take much (and because I had way too many carrots from Costco), it wasn't the only thing I made on Saturday. I also made steamed pears and diced carrots for Sweet P. Yum!
For diced carrots: Steam the carrots until soft and mushy. Cut into small baby-bite sized pieces. Cool in the fridge and then place in the freezer for a quick finger-food snack!

The recipe for tomorrow was actually The Farmer's idea so I had a lot of help. It involves pizza so you don't want to miss it!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Pick Number 6


The "Almost Vegetarian" cookbook is fast becoming my favorite around here. Which is funny because there is plenty in it that is NOT vegetarian.

We went out to the farm yesterday and I wasn't sure when we'd be coming back so I knew I had to get started on yesterday's recipe in the morning. I made Lavash and Orange Infused Baba Ghanouj. If you're thinking Babaga hooby whatie? I'll explain.

Lavash is a Middle Eastern bread similar to a tortilla when fresh, but gets hard and crunchy after a day or so. I made the dough before we left (which is super easy with a Kitchenaid Mixer...I love that thing, glad I'm using it more!), put it in a ceramic bowl with Seran wrap and placed in the fridge. It can be refridgerated for up to 3 days before using it (but if you're leaving it that long wrap it in wax paper, then in plastic wrap).
Baba Ghanouj on the other hand is an eggplant dip that reminds me of hummus. In fact, you'll see them on the same menus. It's also Middle Eastern, but I've seen it mostly in Greek restaurants. And if you're think, "Ew. Eggplant?" Think again. Eggplant is really flavorful and an excellent source of fiber.

Sweet P, sick as she is, hung out with me in her Sassy seat and ate some puffed millet.
Here are the recipes:

Lavash
What you need:
1 tsp active dry yeast
1 tsp brown sugar (I used regular because I used the last of ours on muffins, remember?)
1 1/4 c warm water
3 c all-purpose flour
1 c whole wheat floud
1 tsp coarse salt (I used sea salt)
vegetable oil

Here's what I did:
Dissolve the yeast and sugar in a 1/4 c of warm water (about 5 mins). Place the flours and salt in your mixer fitted with dough hook (or food processor) and combine. With the machine running, add the yeast mixture and remaining water. Run until dough forms, about 5-7 mins (90 secs for food processor).

Knead with the machine until the dough is smooth and springy. Or, turn out the dough and do it yourself! (about 10 mins) I did and it was quite the arm workout!

Shape the dough into a ball and place in ceramic or glass bowl. Cover with a light towel and leave in a warm, draft free place for 3 hours. (Or in the fridge for up to 8 hours). Divide into 8 pieces (mine made 11) and roll each into a ball. Cover the balls with a light towel and let rest for 2o mins.
Heat the oven to 500˚. Grease a baking sheet with vegetable oil (even a nonstick one).

Roll one piece of dough into a round about 4 inches in diameter. Do the same with another piece of dough. Return to the first piece and roll it thinner, about 6 inches. Repeat on the second piece, alternating until you have about 8 inches (you roll 2 at a time with a rest in between to let the gluten relax).
Place the disks on the baking sheet immediately and place in the oven. Bake about 3 minutes. Remove and wrap in a kitchen towel to keep warm. Repeat with remaining dough and serve immediately.

Orange-Infused Baba Ghanouj
What you need:
1 large eggplant (it called for 2 but I only had one)
2 tbsp tahini
1/2 c plain yogurt
1 tbsp sesame seeds
2 tbsp orange juice
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp garlic
coarse salt (used sea salt again)
1 tsp paprika

Bake the eggplant in foil at 450˚ for 45 mins (directions said 30, I needed more than that). Unwrap the foil and let it cool. In a mixing bowl, combine tahini, yogurt, sesame seeds, orange juice, lemon juice, cumin and garlic (this recipe also called for cilantro--but if you know me...well, you know how I feel about cilantro). When the eggplants cool, peel and discard as many seeds as possible. --This was not an easy task, so I did what any self-respecting chef would do and made a huge mess. Ran the pieces under running water to remove the seeds and put it into a food processor. The directions said to chop very fine, but ya know, pureeing is much easier. Stir into the rest of the mixture.

The Results:
We made wraps with the Lavash and the Baba Ghanouj, adding mushrooms, spinach and peppers. They were good. Really good. I loved making all the bread this week. And it was so YUM.

What I'd do next time: Drain the eggplant after pureeing. It made the Baba Ghanouj too watery and it definitely could have had a thicker texture.

The Grade: A-. Due to the wateriness of the Baba Ghanouj, but great meal all around. It was very filling as well. We tested it with crackers and it makes a great dip, too!

Look forward to tomorrow...it's dessert!

Friday, January 22, 2010

On the 5th day

God created man in his own image[...]Then God said, "I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food." - Genesis 1:27-29

Wow. I'm embarrassed to say I had to get out the Bible to see what God created on the 5th day and I was excited to see He created, well, us. You and me. And he gave me hands with which to do work, hold my baby, wipe her poor little nose, hold my husband's hands, clean and cook. I was especially thankful for these hands this morning while I made what will be part of tonight's meal and tomorrow's recipe.

Yesterday morning, though, before The Farmer went back to work I made Pumpkin Pancakes. I found a recipe online, made sure I had all the right ingredients (I found a can of pumpkin when putting up Christmas decorations last week...it had been holding down the base of the Christmas tree) and went to work. They were SO good.

What you need:
Pumpkin Pancakes
1 1/4 c flour (I used 1/2 c all purpose and 3/4 whole wheat flour)
1 egg
2 tbsp sugar
1 c milk (we use soy milk)
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
6 tbsp pumpkin (I used heaping tablespoons)
2 tbsp melted butter
pinch of salt
pecans, walnuts, etc. (optional, I forgot until later...but bet it would've tasted great!)

What I did:
1) Whisk together dry ingredients (flour, sugar, spices, baking powder, salt)
2) In a separate bowl mix together egg, milk, melted butter and pumpkin
3) Fold into dry ingredients
4) Melt butter on a griddle at medium-high (might need to turn it down after the 1st two batches)
5) Pour about 1/4 c of batter for each pancake. Flip when batter bubbles.
Makes about 10 pancakes. Could make more if you made them smaller.

What I added:
On the last pancake I decided to add chocolate chips (that pancake was my favorite!). Why didn't The Farmer get a chocolate chip pancake? He doesn't like chocolate!

The Results:
I was afraid they might be mushy (again with the consistency), but they were perfect! We topped them with powdered sugar and syrup and they were seriously melt in your mouth.

The Grade: Solid A. Could have been a bit fluffier (I might beat the eggs longer next time), but all around a great pancake. So what are you waiting for? Go make them!

NOTE: We didn't get a picture of these because we ate them too fast!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

4 More


4 more days! (including this post)

Day 4 brought with it a nice little ice storm here in the midwest. Nice and ice do not go in the same sentence very well...even if they do rhyme. Needless to say this little family did not leave the house. Classes on all counts were cancelled so we stayed home snug as a bug. Unfortunately, somewhere in there Sweet P started to cough. And sniffle. And snuggle. All signs that she is under the weather (because she is definitely too busy to snuggle these days).

But the sickness didn't kick in until the afternoon and I made our recipe for lunch (because I was supposed to teach last night, but school was cancelled). I knew what I was making needed some sort of bread and because I didn't want to make naan again and didn't have soy flour to make pitas, I found a recipe for Whole Wheat Tortillas.

The Recipe(s):
Chickpeas with Onions, Spinach & Raisins (no joke, that's the name of the recipe)
Whole Wheat Tortillas
Carrot, Red Pepper & Celery Juice (I can't take credit for this because The Farmer made it, but it's going in here anyway)

The first recipe came from the "Almost Vegetarian" cookbook while the whole wheat tortillas came from the website above. The juice recipe is literally just those three items. Not much of a recipe.

For the directions on the tortillas, please visit the link. They are SO easy. We are never buying store whole wheat tortillas again for 2 reasons. 1) They are stupid expensive. 2) They taste like cardboard and glue (but we buy them anyway!). Anyway, I rolled the dough into a ball and let it rest for 15 minutes and then pulled it into 8 tiny balls, rolled them out and then cooked them on a griddle for 30 seconds on each side.
See. SO easy.

Chickpeas with Onions, Spinach, & Raisins
What you need:
1 tbsp olive oil (or as much as you think you need, I just drizzle and eyeball it)
1 large onion, chopped
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 medium fresh tomatoes or canned, peeled, seeded and chopped (I used canned since it's not tomato season)
2 c fresh baby spinach leaves, washed
2 c cooked chickpeas (again, I used a 15oz can)
1/2 c raisins
1 tbsp minced garlic (the recipe didn't call for this, but I put garlic in everything)

Heat the oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add the onion and cinnamon, reduce the heat to medium, and saute, stirring often, until the onion is soft and limp (about 1o mins).
Add tomatoes and continue cooking about 5 mins. Stir in the spinach, chickpeas and raisins. Continue stirring until the spinach wilts and turns bright green, about 3 minutes.
Carrot, Red Pepper & Celery Juice
What you need:
8 carrots (real carrots, not baby carrots...quit eating those by the way, they are washed with chlorine)
4 baby red peppers
2 stalks of celery
Peel carrots, cut stem off red peppers and trim celery. Put ingredients into juicer. It does the rest.

The Results:
This recipe was SO easy that I was skeptical. While it was good, the canned toms and chickpeas tasted, well, canned. I think with cooked chickpeas and fresh tomatoes it could have been much better. That said, it was also similar to things we have on a regular basis so it wasn't as original as I had hope. It was, however, fast and still tasted good. This would be a great meal to make on a night when we didn't have much time. Even the tortillas didn't take long! And one more thing, if you're thinking "raisins and onions? and spinach? and chickpeas?" Trust me, it tastes better than you think.

The Grade:
Chickpeas mix: B+. Again, it tasted like something I'd made before and didn't taste as fresh as other things we've had.
Tortillas: A-. Because they aren't as good as some homemade tortillas we've had (how can I compete with white flour and lard!!!), but WAY better than the store bought ones.
Juice: A-. While it was good, the veggies weren't fresh from a garden (you could tell because they weren't very juicy) and I thought the red pepper made it smell funny.
What I'd do next time: Obviously use fresher produce. But for that I'll have to wait for this summer. I'll definitely be doing another Recipe Challenge then!

Tomorrow's post: Pumpkin Pancakes

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Recipe Challenge: Day 3

Yesterday I made a breakfast recipe. I was hoping for phenomenal muffins, but what I got was mediocre. Don't get me wrong, they were good, just not the "restaurant quality" I was hoping for. I might have known they'd be different than what I expected because I used whole wheat flour, but alas, I did it anyway. That said, I'd make them again...just maybe not in a Recipe Challenge.

The Recipe:
Spiced Carrot Muffins

I found the recipe in a William Sonoma "Baking" cookbook I got for Christmas. I've adapted the directions to what I did.

What you need:
Spiced Carrot Muffins
2 c flour (Again, I used whole wheat)
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt (or just a sprinkle which is what I do)
1 tsp ground cinnamon (I just sprinkle generously...very generously. I love me some cinnamon.)
2 eggs
2/3 c light brown sugar, packed (I had exactly 2/3 c left in the bag!)
1 c buttermilk or sour cream (I used buttermilk because I have it from the naan)
6 tbsp unsalted butter (using unsalted is important with baking, especially in scones)
2 carrots (I used 4 small organic carrots, just use your discretion)
1/2 c raisins (optional, but we love raisins around here)

What I did:

1. Prehead oven to 425˚. Butter muffin pan (or line with liners, I think that's a waste so I just use butter).

2. Mix the batter. In a large bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. In another medium bowl, wisk together the eggs and brown sugar until blended.
Whisk in the buttermilk and melted butter. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and, using a spatula, stir until just evenly moistened. Fold in the carrots and raisins, until evenly distributed. My batter was really thick which I thought was strange. I thought it would be runnier.

3. Bake the muffins. Spoon the batter into muffin tins.
Bake until golden brown, 15-18 mins. Let cool and serve with butter or cream cheese.

What I added:
The Farmer added black walnuts to 3 of the muffins. Had I had them on hand, I would have added pecans because everything baked is better with nuts.

The Results:
Again, they were good; but not what I was hoping for. The batter also made 12 muffins plus 12 mini muffins so it would have easily made 18 muffins.

The Grade: B+. The Farmer said that was for lack of originality because it tasted like something we had had before! (Broke a rule I guess!) I agreed and then wished I'd made something more spectacular from the "Baking" cookbook like Brown Sugar Blondies for breakfast (which I will be making at some point this week). Oh well, it's still a good muffin recipe to have on hand and I'll definitely make them again.
Check in tomorrow, I'm making whole wheat tortillas and spinach, chickpeas and tomatoes for lunch!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Numero Dos

Last night's recipe was, in a word, authentic. I'll ruin the suspense and tell you now that the Farmer gave it an A for authenticity. But if Y were a good grade I'd give it that. For YUM. Don't let the unfamiliar words in the recipes scare you. Try it. You'll like it.
NOTE: this is a long post due to 3 recipes.

The Recipe(s):
Baked Falafel with Sweet Potato
Tahini Sauce
Naan

All 3 recipes are from the cookbook "Almost Vegetarian Entertaining" by Diana Shaw. This book belonged to my brother-in-law and somehow made it to Iowa to live with us.

What you need:
Baked Falafel with Sweet Potato
1 medium sweet potato (I used 2 small)
2 c cooked chickpeas, rinsed and drained (I used one 15oz can)
2 tbsp tahini (can be found in your local grocer, you just have to look hard. Really hard.)
2 tbsp nonfat plain yogurt
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice (I used the kind in a bottle)
1 tbsp fresh orange juice (again, out of a container)
1 garlic clove, crushed and minced (used 1 tbsp of minced)
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
Pinch salt

What I did:
Heat the oven to 450˚.

Wrap the sweet potato(s) in foil and bake about 30 mins (until soft). Leave oven on. Unwrap potato(s) and let cool. When cool enough to handle, peel and mash with a fork (not extremely necessary because you're putting it into a food processor, but hey).

Place the sweet potato, chickpeas, tahini, yogurt, lemon juice, orange juice, garlic, cumin, paprika, and salt in the work bowl of a food processor or blender. Pulse to make a chunky paste.
Pat the mixture into 6 nonstick muffin tins and bake until firm on top, about 20 mins (middle will be soft). Run a butter knife around each and turn out of the muffin tins (this did not work for me. I had to scoop them out with a spoon).
Mash on a piece of pita (we used naan), drizzle with tahini sauce and top with onion and sprouts (we only used onion).

What you need:
Tahini Sauce
1 c nonfat plain yogurt (used lowfat)
1 tbsp tahini
Juice of a lime (I used lemon out of a bottle)
Generous pinch of cumin
Coarse salt to taste (I used sea salt)

What I did:
In a small mixing bowl, combine the yogurt, tahini, lemon juice, cumin and salt. Whisk well to blend. Can store in fridge while finishing or keep out to use as an appetizer.

What you need:
Naan
1 tsp active dry yeast
2 tbsp warm water
1 tsp sugar
1/2 c nonfat plain yogurt (again, used lowfat)
1/2 c buttermilk
3 c all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt

What I did:
Dissolve yeast in warm water along with sugar. Let sit until creamy with small bubbles (5 mins).

In a mixing bowl, combine the yogurt and buttermilk, stirring until smooth. Place the flour and salt in a Kitchenaid mixer fitted with dough hook. Turn to 1 to combine. Add the yeast mixture and yogurt mixture, processing until dough forms, 5-7 minutes.

Remove the dough from the machine or mixing bowl if necessary and knead on a lightly floured surface until it is soft and springy, about 7 minutes. Place in a clean ceramic (or glass) bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rest in a warm, draft-free place until doubled (about 2 hours). I made the dough, put it in the laundry room and headed to Zumba class for an hour (that's why there aren't pics of me making the dough...I was in a hurry!). It was close to ready when I got back.

Heat the oven to 500˚. Turn out the dough, press it down and divide into 8 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball. Flatten a ball of dough with your hand, roll into a 8 inch long oval with a rolling pin. Cover loosely with plastic wrap until you complete the batch, layering between each piece of dough as you go. (I started baking them as I went and only had to use this step once).
You can use a baking stone, but here is what I did...Place 3 or 4 naan on a cookie sheet and put in the oven. Bake until they puff up and turn golden brown on top (about 5 mins). Remove and repeat with remaining naan. If you are not serving immediately (or finishing them), transfer the naan to a damp kitchen towel (one you've rinsed and wrung as dry as you can), stacking them on top of one another. Fold the towel over the naan, then wrap in foil (I ran out of foil making sweet potatoes so I used a HOT/COLD bag we have). They will stay warm and pliant for about an hour. SO TRUE! The Farmer was really impressed with this.

The Results:
These recipes made me feel like a real cook. There were a lot of steps and it took awhile, but now that I've done it once I think it'll be easier next time. The naan was so so so good. We tried it with the tahini sauce before the falafel was done. Pure heaven in a piece of bread. 2 were gone before we sat down for dinner.
The Grade: a solid A. The reason it's not an A+ was again the texture of the falafel. It could have been a bit crisper. I'm not sure if it would have been different if I'd used a smaller muffin tin. I used the large 6 muffin tin. The Farmer liked it so much he ate 3 of the falafel!

What I'd do next time: I might add spinach to either the falafel mixture or to top the naan. We ate a lot of carbs last night! Overall though, this was a terrific meal. To quote the Farmer, "This is restaurant quality." Can't beat that.

Monday, January 18, 2010

A Million Reasons

There are a million reasons why I love the Farmer.

This is one:

1 Down

I began my Recipe Challenge last night and I must say it has started off great! I had a few rules for the recipes I chose: 1) I didn't want to make anything that resembled our usual basics (things like pasta w/ red sauce, chili, quesadillas, soup) so I had to branch out a bit and 2) I wanted recipes that included items I could pick up at my local grocery store--not foods/spices no one has ever heard of. And trust me finding the latter is tough when searching vegetarian cook books (which thanks to generous wedding guests, we have plenty with some fabulous recipes in them).
But I did it. I found 7 recipes. They won't all be dinner recipes. I have a muffin recipe for tomorrow morning and another dessert recipe for nights I don't have extra time to work on dinner (the Farmer cooks those nights). SO let's get on with it!

The Recipe:
Gardenburgers
This recipe was in my recipe folder. I can't remember where it came from or when I got it.

Here's what you need:
2 tbsp bulgur wheat (had it in the pantry)
1 pound mushrooms, halved or quartered
1 c diced onion
1/2 c rolled oats
2/3 c cooked brown rice (had it leftover from chili night)
1/2 c shredded mozzarella cheese
2 tbsp shredded cheddar cheese (I used a mix of the 2 cheeses)
2 tbsp cottage cheese (I didn't want to use this, so I left it out)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 tbs cornstarch
1/4 c boiling water
1/2 c water

What I added:
2 c spinach (because why not have something green?)
1 tbsp minced garlic (because we love it)

Add the boiling water to the bulgur wheat in a small bowl and let sit for about an hour (wheat will swell to about double the size). Steam the quartered mushrooms for 10 mins or until tender. Remove and steam onions for about 10 mins or until they are translucent. Keep these 2 ingredients separated and set them aside. Add 1/2 c water to the oats and let them soak 10 mins. Drain any excess water from the bulgur wheat and oats, then combine with mushrooms, rice, cheese and spices in a food processor.
Use the pulse option and only until ingredients are chopped fine, but not pureed. Pour the mixture in a bowl and add the steamed onion and corn starch, blend well.
Preheat oven to 300˚. Add about a tbsp of olive oil to a large skillet and place it over medium-low heat. Measure a 1/2 c of the patty mixture in the pan and shape with a spoon into a 3'' round patty that is about 1/2'' thick.
(I cooked three at a time). Cook for 2-4 mins per side or until light brown on the surface. When all of the patties have been browned, arrange them on a lightly sprayed baking sheet and bake them for 25-30 minutes. Turn them over halfway through. Makes 8 patties.
The Grade: A-
The Farmer and I both decided these got an A-. The only reason they didn't get an A or A+ is because of the consistency. They were mushier than we thought they would be, but still great.
What we ate it with:
Boiled organic green beans with sea salt.

What I'd do next time:
I'd saute the onions and mushrooms next time. Steaming them made it smell a bit funny around here. I'd still add spinach because it gave it more umph! I'd also probably bake them a bit longer or on a higher temp to get them less mushy. Other than that, I wouldn't mess with much!

So give them a try, they are actually pretty simple (and good for you!). If you make a larger batch, you can freeze them to have on hand.

On the menu tonight: sweet potato falafel and naan! I'll be back tomorrow with a report!