A giant bowl of happy

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A few days late but no less delicious. This was the other half of major food prep Sunday — an entire vat of red lentil dal. I love dal… it’s total comfort food and so satisfying.

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Gingery, curry filled, and comfortingly mushy. And we all know I looove mushy food. This one does best with extra roasted vegetables and some chopped nuts and seeds over the top because texture is rad. Making this dish is super easy too, because everything just goes into the slow cooker after it’s prepped. Simple simple simple. I have to say, having a fridge filled with delicious things makes my Monday so much less Mondayish. Anything to alleviate the Monday yucks is fine by me.

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And this dal did exactly that. We’re having a rather chilly May (totally fine with me, though rain would be nice too!), so cuddling up under a blanket with a big bowl of dal was exactly what I needed. That and finishing up the last Mad Men episode ever…. weird. It’s like the end of an era.

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So make yourself a vat of dal, and cuddle up with your favorite furry friend. Do yourself a favor and indulge in some you – time!

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Gingered Red Lentil Dal in the Slow Cooker

Gluten free, vegan friendly (with veggie broth), and totally hands-off. Prep everything, toss it in the slow cooker, and let it do it’s thaaang. No muss, no fuss, and SO delicious. Yield: a vat. 4-6 servings depending on the heapingness of your servings. Soul satisfying and soothing. I served mine with roasted radishes and greens. The recipe is adapted from Real Simple, here.

  • 2 c red lentils, rinsed and picked through
  • 5 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1″ish pieces
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • a good glug of olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 2 tsp curry powder (I like Madras)
  • 2 heaping tsp minced fresh ginger
  • 5 c low sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/4 tsp sea salt + more to taste
  • pepper to taste

In a 4-6 quart slowcooker, combine lentils, potatoes, onion, olive oil, garlic, curry powder, and fresh ginger. Add 1 1/4 tsp sea salt and a few grates of black pepper. Add the broth, and stir a few times to incorporate the spices. Cover and cook until the lentils are cooked and most of the broth is absorbed, about 4-5 hours on high or 6-8 hours on low. I cooked mine for 4 hours on high, and another on low and it was perfect. The dal will thicken as it cools, so a little leftover liquid is fine. Stir in the apple cider vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste. Serve over rice or naan…. or leftover roasted radishes and sautéed greens. Garnish with chopped cashews and pepitas if you’re feeling sassy (highly recommended)!

Makes excellent leftovers. Store them in the fridge or freeze for later.

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A lentil and squashlet autumnal party

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You can never have too many lentils.

Ever.

My nickname at work is lentil. That explains a lot.

Besides, lentils are bomb since they give you a protein source to pair with all of the autumnal squashlets (no, auto correct, squashlet IS in fact a word, so there). Wheeeee SQUASH! Not only did I use pumpkin yesterday, but I also got to bust out a (homegrown!) butternut squash! Get ready, there’s going to be an abundance of orange coming in the next few months…

I love that squash coincides with my birthday. It feels like nature’s birthday present!! Large, orangey deliciousness.

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Butternut squash always reminds me of a particularly memorable game of Cranium that took place ohhh, probably sometime in high school… my pair was supposed to be acting out butternut squash, and it was maybe one of the more hilarious things I’ve watched: First word: sounds like…*points at butt*… second bit: *mimes being a squirrel burying something*… lastly and rather violently smooshes hands together—-I had been guessing as she was miming and somehow I guessed it!! Excellent mime skills right there. But anyway… I can’t really cook a squash without thinking about that, hehe.

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Skillet Popped Balsamic Lentils

Recipe adapted from Happy Healthy Life, here! I made one cup of lentils, which, supplemented with all the veggies, fed my fambam of 3 with enough leftovers for at about one meal. My butternut squash was small, so it only made enough puree for 3. Feel free to play with the seasoning—mine was an eclectic bunch of flavors that somehow came out tasting good. Funny how that works, isn’t it?!

  • 1 c green lentils, rinsed
  • 2 c water
  • 3-4 tsp good quality balsamic vinegar, divided
  • a few grinds of cracked pepper
  • judicious sprinkles of salt
  • 1 butternut squash, cubed
  • a tbsp or two of milk beverage
  • 1 tsp butter (or vegan butter)
  • 1 zucchini, diced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 4-5 mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 massive handfuls of spinach, rinsed
  • a bit of chicken (or veggie) broth
  • a good glug of olive oil
  • seasoning to taste*

*I used fresh marjoram, basil, and oregano to sauté the onion, then added cinnamon, cardamom, nutritional yeast and coconut aminos (and more balsamic) to the veggies after I added them in to sauté.

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For the lentils:
Add 2 cups of water to a medium saucepan, and bring to a boil. Add lentils, reduce heat, and simmer until the lentils are done (about 30 minutes). They should be soft but still have some bite to them. Rinse and drain.

Heat a skillet over medium, and add a small bit of olive oil. Once the skillet is hot, add about a cup of lentils, shaking the pan to ensure that they’re evenly spaced. They should sizzle and pop and make all kinds of fun noise. Let them sit for a few minutes, then toss in a tsp of balsamic and a bit of salt and pepper. Stir occasionally. You’ll know they’re done when they get a bit toasty and crispy around the edges. Remove the first batch, add more oil, and repeat until all the lentils are used.

For the butternut puree: Peel and dice squash, discarding stringy and seedy inner bits. Using a steamer basket or your preferred method of steaming, cook squash until very fork tender. Remove from the steamer and mash with a potato masher or a fork (or a food processor, but I didn’t want to do extra dishes). Add a bit of milk beverage (I used unsweetened almond) to smooth it out, and (obviously) a bit of butter and salt.

For the veggies, I did a simple sauté with a bit of chicken stock added. Chop and dice all yo’ veggies, add olive oil to a deep skillet, and let it heat over medium. Once hot, add onions and sauté until translucent. Add cinnamon and cardamom and a bit more olive oil, then the rest of the veggies (zucchini, pepper, mushrooms, and spinach. I added a bit of broth after about 4 minutes of sautéing, then chucked in all the spinach and covered the skillet to let it reduce. Add coconut aminos, nutritional yeast, Bragg’s, or whatever other seasonings you like here, add lentils, and let it cook on low for a few. Serve warm, over butternut squash puree!

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Soup is like my problem child

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Hello invisible internet friends!

I made soup for you, and I apologize in advance because I HATE photographing soup. It can look all cute and aesthetic, and then I stare at it through a camera lens and my first response is always…

Ew.

I LOVE soup. Why is it so annoying to photograph?! You would think that a bowl of chunky veggies and lumpy lentils… oh. Wait. That’s right. Lumpy is not generally considered aesthetic. Problem child.

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Well, whatever. Pictures may be lacking but soup and flatbread are incredibly aesthetic to my stomach, so there. We already know I love lentils an any form, so obviously it’s a give that I love lentil soup. And really we all know that soup is just an excuse for a carby side (ie, BREAD, wheee!!).. and thusly that bread is a convenient conveyance for butter, what a glory. Bread+butter= doesn’t get much better. Oh, right, and add in the side of soup to nicely round things out for a balanced type meal.

In other news, I have eaten some delicious croissants and trout and avo lately… (it was too pretty not to share!)

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Annnnddd  I made what appears to be the world’s tiniest buckwheat cookie. Sorry it kind of looks like… a turd?! It was delicious, promise.

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This soup is also delicious, have I neglected to mention that?! It also comes together in about 20 minutes, or less depending on if you puree (which I did not… lack of immersion blender, blender of any sort, and a leaky food processor notwithstanding). If you like cumin-type flavors, put this on your dinner list… now!

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Simple Lentil Soup

I ate this with the Sri Lankan roti flatbread I’ve made before, here. The soup recipe is lightly adapted, courtesy of Sukarah, here! We got three dinner servings out of it, plus a small bit of leftovers.

  • 1 c red lentils, rinsed and drained
  • 4-5 carrots, chunked/diced
  • 4 c water
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • a glug of olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 c fresh spinach, rinsed

Combine lentils, carrots, water, and cinnamon stick in a large-ish soup pot, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer, covered, and let simmer until the lentils are cooked, about 15 minutes (they will have absorbed most of the water, but there should be some liquid still left).

In a sauté pan, toss in olive oil and heat over medium. When heated, add in onions and sauté until translucent. While onions are going, chuck in spinach to sauté/wilt. Add cumin and salt, and continue sautéing until onions begin to brown slightly.  Remove from heat. Once finished, add onions/spinach to the lentils, and let simmer for a few minutes more. Remove from heat when ready to serve.

At this point, you can puree it for a creamy texture, or leave it chunky as I did. I like chunks… and, as I said, I have some slight gadgety issues at the moment that prevent mess-less pureeing… soooo… good think I like chunks.

Serve hot, preferably with some sort of bread!

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Yes, I’ve been known to eat this for breakfast too…

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MUNG BEANS!

No, they’re not lentils.

Yes, I eat them for breakfast! In oatmeal. Or not, and just by themselves.

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Whatever, I told you I got more alternative/awesome every day! It’s why you hang out with me, isn’t it? Right. That’s what I thought!

I find this kind of hilarious, but one of my bestie friends (who happens to be Thai) told me the other day that apparently I’m a closet-Asian. Like, I eat more traditional Asian foods with ridiculous gusto than she does! Probably not true, but I’ll take the compliment ;) And then she pointed out my obsession with aduki beans… and now mung beans… and woonsen noodles… and the amount of tea I drink… and so on.

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Another work friend of mine and I mess with each other daily about what we’ve brought to eat that day: I’ve been accused before of bringing rabbit food… so every time I have some new kind of bean or legume or whathaveyou, I make sure to point it out (alternatively, if I bring beef, obviously we make a huge deal out of that too since that’s generally her province). This kind of thing really only encourages me… I continually try to one up myself and bring the most alternative beans I can find. Muahaha. Rabbit food for the win! Mung beans were the last iteration… let’s see what I can come up with next, heeheehee!

This soup is delicious either by itself or (as I ate it) over brown rice. Mung beans are one of the most easily digestible beans, are low-glycemic, and full of fiber and protein. They’re also a really good source of iron, potassium and zinc, AND provide vitamins A, K, B6, and folate. Eat them! Beans, beans they’re good for your heart (among other things)…

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Mung Bean Stew

Recipe slightly adapted from Pinch of Yum, recipe here! I only used about half the mung beans in the stew, and then used the leftovers the rest of the week. You can also use all of them, up to you and how many you’re feeding! Delicious warm or cool, and supremely simple to make. I soaked my mung beans for about 4 hours before cooking, but the online searching I’ve done has given me mixed results on whether or not this is necessary. I usually soak things, so I split the difference and only soaked them for a short time.

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  • 2 c mung beans, sorted and rinsed
  • 6 c veggie (or chicken) broth
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 tbsp freshly grated ginger
  • 2 tsp cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 3 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 c canned coconut milk (I used light)
  • one massive double handful (or half a bag) of mixed greens or spinach
  • salt to taste
  • brown rice to serve, optional

Bring the broth to a boil in a large pot. Add drained and rinsed beans and cook, uncovered, for about 40 minutes. They will eventually absorb most of the liquid, but I found that around the 30 minute mark I added a bit of water each time I checked it. The beans should be soft but not smooshy, with a really thick consistency when you stir them.

Heat the oil in a pan, and, when hot, add onion and ginger. Sauté for 3-5 minutes over medium-low heat, until the onion is translucent. Add greens and cook until they’re slightly wilted. Add the contents of this pan into the bean pot, and let simmer for just a few minutes. Stir in cardamon, nutmeg, and cinnamon, and coconut milk. Salt to taste.

I served mine warm, but I ate it later at room temp and it’s delicious both ways. Leftovers keep in the fridge for a few days no problem! I ate mine over brown rice, which was an excellent decision.

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An absurd amounts of lentils (is maybe the best thing ever!)

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Shut the front door.

LENTILS.

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There are no words.

Except…

I’m obsessed?! Forget the question mark after obsessed. No question. Ob. Sessed. As in…I eat them for three meals a day (not in the same day, obviously, but I do kind of have to stop myself from doing that): breakfast, lunch, dinner. I put them in oatmeal. With coconut milk and a date (seriously. You don’t know what you’re missing until you try it). Over sautéed mixed greens for lunch. With bread and mo’ veggies for dinner. Or a snack. Or whatever. OBSESSED. Lentils, where have you been all my life?!

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I’m not entirely sure what I was eating up until now in order to fill this gigantic hole that is now filled with lentils… thankfully I can make huge vats at one time so that I have lentils for days (literally). Which means I kind of go through them a little, ahem, rapidly. Kind of like vegetables. But lucky for me, last week Whole Foods had a one day bulk sale!!! (danger, danger, this is my kryptonite) So now my cupboards are exploding with all kinds of fun bulk-type things like pepitas, mung beans, brown rice, dates, and.. oh yeah. LENTILS. Three. Different. Kinds. I literally have enough lentils to feed a small army. Or me. For about a week.

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This is my favorite way to make them: they can be sweetish (in oatmeal with coconut milk and a date), or savory, over sauteed greens with avocado and a little splash of coconut aminos (or soy, if that’s your thing). I love that they can go either way, depending on what meal I’m eating or whatever.

You don’t even have to be alternative like me to enjoy them… if lentils in oatmeal scares you (we might not be able to be friends anymore but I’ll try really hard…) just make the lentils! They’re fast and delicious and… healthy! Naturally. Would I share anything less than that with my invisible internet friends? Answer: no!!

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Lentils are also awesomely little super nutritious powerhouses: full of fiber and complex carbs, folate, magnesium, and vitamin B6. Which all means that they help lower cholesterol, are good for your heart and digestive health, provide an excellent source of energy and iron, and help stabilize blood sugar. Therefore… in a nutshell: eat lentils!! Your body will thank you :)

And look!! Sorry for the radio silence, my former roomie Kira visited me!! We went and had some fun in Mountain View Cemetery, so I was a little too busy going face-first into a plate at Rick and Ann’s to eat lentils. But. I’m back, in full lentil eating mode, here to cheer your inbox!

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Marjoram, Cinnamon and Cardamom Spiced Lentils

Recipe by… me! Mutti gets credit too, especially when I have absolutely NO time, and she nicely makes may weekly vat of lentils for me. The measurements here make enough for dinner three, with leftovers. Or for one: Dinner, followed by three days of breakfasts….

  • 1 c lentils (I like green lentils for this)
  • 3 c water
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 large carrots, finely diced (or roughly chopped, whatever floats your boat)
  • a good glug of olive oil
  • 1/4 c low-sodium chicken broth (to make vegan/vegetarian, sub veggie broth)
  • 1 tsp marjoram, chopped
  • 2 tsp cinnamon*
  • 1 tsp cardamom*
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg*
  • salt and pepper to taste

*the measurements are approximate: I season to taste as I go with all the spices, and salt and pepper. I tend to go light on the pepper in this.

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No need to soak the lentils, which is awesome. Toss lentils and water into a medium pot, bring to a boil, and then lower to a simmer. Let cook until the lentils have absorbed *most* (not all) of the water, about 15-20 minutes. They should have a bit of chew to them, but be on the softer side. Taste them, and you should be able to tell. Drain and rinse them, and set them aside.

Finely dice the onion and carrots. Pour the olive oil into a large saucepan. When hot, toss in onions, and sauté until they become translucent. Add salt and pepper and marjoram, and let cook for a minute more. Add carrots, lentils, and chicken broth. Cover and let cook until the carrots are soft (this is why I like to dice them really finely, or microwave the carrots first, as it shortens cooking time and I’m usually hungry). Stir in cinnamon, cardamom, and nutmeg to taste, while the carrots are cooking. I usually let it go for about 10-15 minutes, unless I’ve precooked the carrots.

Leftovers keep well in the fridge for at least a week, not that I’ve ever really had them around that long… Serve warm! Excellent over greens with some bread on the side :)

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Squashlets, Kale, and Chèvre

I’m slightly behind in bloggingness. AGAIN.

But that’s okay, because I have some pretty freaking amazing stuff to share! Like…

SUPER SQUASH STRIKES AGAIN! Remember all that silly business with the epic mega tons of squash I ate last winter? Welllll, yeah. It’s back. Complete with kale, it’s trusty sidekick. Oh. And goat cheese. Because… REALLY?! You expect me to give you a savory dish without goat cheese??

Psshhh.

Let’s be real. Cheese is where it’s at.

I could probably eat goat cheese all day until the cows came home, and then I would look at the cows and say: “COWS! Why are you here?! I need GOATS for goat cheese, obviously” and then go back to eating my goat cheese. Forever.

This dish is easy and comes together quickly—the only longish part is all the prep work of wrestling the squash and chopping the kale (both of which can be done ahead of time to save on dinner prep when you’re starving). Squash and chèvre complement each other beautifully, and are perfect with kale. Besides all that, you get antioxidants galore from the squash and kale, as well as a ton of other health benefits. AND goat cheese is good for your soul, obviously.

Butternut Squash and Kale Skillet with Goat Cheese

Serves 3, with enough leftovers for 2 dinners and one small lunch. Recipe adapted from Fitness Magazine.

Do yourself a favor and be liberal with the goat cheese, you’ll thank me later!

  • one enormous butternut squash, peeled and diced into 1/2″ cubes
  • a good glug of olive oil
  • salt/pepper to taste
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 4.5 c kale, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp freshly grated lemon zest
  • 2 tsp fresh-squeezed lemon juice (From the lemon you just zested… you see what I did there?)
  • 1/2 c low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 c dried apples, chopped and soaked in water for a few minutes to soften
  • chicken sausage, casing removed (optional: mine was smoked apple chardonnay)
  • small log of goat cheese, crumbled

In a LARGE (no, really. LARGE) skillet, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add squash, onion, and garlic, and cook, stirring constantly, until squash is lightly browned and tender: about 7 minutes. Add kale, lemon zest and juice,  and salt/pepper to taste. If using sausage, add now. Cook until kale is wilted and squash is fork tender, about 5-7 minutes more. Add in chicken broth and and apples, and simmer for a few minutes before serving, so everything is heated through. Serve immediately, and top with goat cheese! (liberally, of course)

awkward shadow…

Curry-tastic Spicy Sunday

naannnnnn 'n currryyy!

I have decided that if I eat enough spicy foods, this little nagging cold will decide to vacate the premises. Maybe, if I create environs that are waaay too hot for it, it will decide to go seek nicer climates? Barring that, if nothing else, spicy foods do wonders for cleaning out my sinuses. All positives, in my book.

So. I have another curry for you! It fits all the requisite spicy requirements delightfully, and made an excellent Sunday (and Monday, hooorayyy, leftovers!) dinner. This one is different from others that I’ve made, as you puree the sauteed onion and veggies to make a sauce, and then you poach the chicken in that. Delicious, obvi, or I wouldn’t be posting about it! Sunday was a ridiculously bakingtastic day for the Nerdaerie! Kira and I went from having NO FOOD to having tons! It was a turnaround of epic proportions: Sunday morning, pre-grocery shopping, the produce bit of the fridge contained approximately one apple. And some ginger. And that was about it. We were running spectacularly low on most everything else as well (hello, awkward bit of cheese and heel of bread…and OH NO! I’m down to the scrapings on the bottom of the pnut butter jar), so grocery shopping needed to happen. Stat. Hey. At least we don’t waste!

After the victuals were replenished, I made muffins. Delicious. Carrot/banana/vegan/CHIA! Add to that the leftover [chia] cookies from last Friday. And then the curry (no, there wasn’t any chia in this, surprise!). And the whole wheat naan that went with the curry. And the bread that Kira made (delicious. I just ate some for lunch, mmmmm) for toasting and breakfasty purposes. Oh. Yes. And the coconut rice pudding to complement the curry (We clearly don’t do things by halves in this apartment: go big or go home! Evidenced in part by my jar-a-week consumption of pnut butter). Our fridge was exploding. In a good way, of course! The explosion has toned itself down now, thanks to some committed eating.

So! Now that I’ve effectively taunted you with all of the food WE got to eat this weekend, I suggest you make yourself some curry…and some naan… and maybe some rice pudding, whilst you’re at it. Nothing like maximizing your time in the kitchen ;)

yes. I LOVE this chutney. Like, my family eats an entire bottle in a night when we have curry. It's that good.

Mango Chicken Curry

Slightly adapted from Eats Well With Others, here! Serves 2, with enough leftover for dinner the next night (or 4, if you eat it all at once!)

  • a good glug of olive oil, for sauteing purposes
  • 3/4  of a large onion (or the awkward bit you happen to have left over)
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 chunk of frozen garlic
  • 2 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
  • 2 tbsp curry powder (Madras is the BEST. I refuse to use anything else)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • approximately 2 c frozen mango*
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1.25 c water
  • 2 chicken breasts, defrosted and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/2 c light coconut milk
  • salt/pepper/sugar/etc for seasoning, to taste

*I used the frozen mango we had leftover, probably about 1.5 cups. Next time, I’ll make sure to have more—I really liked the chunks of mango in the sauce. Fresh would be wonderful too, if you happen to be somewhere besides Oregon, where you can find them…

Heat olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add onions and cook for several minutes, until they begin to soften, at which point chuck in bell pepper bits and cook for a bit longer. Nextly, toss in cumin and curry powder. More oil can be added here if things start sticking—I found I added just a little more. Add in ginger and garlic, and keep it a’cookin, for about one minute more.

Add in water and vinegar, and half of the mango. Bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes. Some of the liquid should have reduced. Remove from the heat, and carefully puree into a sauce in your blender. Return to pan when the sauce is smooth.

Add chicken pieces to the sauce, cover pan, and let cook for about 10 minutes, or until the chicken is completely done. I found that removing a piece to a cutting board to check for doneness was the most effective… cut it in half and check! When the chicken is done, stir in coconut milk and remaining mango. Make sure to keep it at a simmer (we don’t want curdled coconut milk, do we?). Taste and season to your preference—I found mine needed a bit of pepper, salt, and a dash of sugar. Serve with whole wheat naan (recipe follows), and garnish with mango chutney (of course!!) and coconut.

look at that delicious color.

Whole Wheat Naan

This is much more like a flat bread, less puffy than yeast-risen naan. But it’s perfect when you haven’t gotten your crap together enough to plan for yeast breads… and you’re hungry, and the curry is nearly done. Our next project will be yeasted naan!

From Never Home Maker, here. We got 4 5-6″ pieces.

  • 1 c whole wheat flour (Kira used a ww bread flour)
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt*
  • 2/3 c water
  • extra flour, for rolling

*Kira and I both agreed that this could use more than a pinch. Say like 1/2 tsp? The naan definitely could have used more flavor, but brushed with a bit of Earth Balance, it was definitely tasty. More to play with next time!

Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt (and additional seasoning, if using). Add water and stir. Knead dough for a few minutes—the dough should be stickyish, so add additional flour when necessary. The dough should be smooth and elastic. Divide into desired number of balls, and roll out on a floured surface. Heat a bit of olive oil in a skillet. When hot, toss a naanling in the pan, and wait until it’s golden brown. Flip! Cook the other side until desired brownness is reached. Eat hot. Preferably with curry :)

that chutney just keeps sneaking into photos... funny how that happens..

I am the Queen of Orange!

it's hiding... can you tell what it is?!

Yet another orange dish.

Who’s surprised?

Yeah. Didn’t think so. That’s okay though, you’ll thank me later,  just wait.

Besides, it’s fall! What do you expect?! I’m trying to be more of a seasonal eater. And by this I mean I want my insides to resemble the fall color which has exploded all over trees in Salem, and caused them all to look like they’re on fire… Then I really would be a seasonal eater, so there! Instead of having technicolored insides on account of sprinkles, I can have autumn-inspired innards! Teehee. I am the Queen of ORANGE!

Actually, when I say Queen of Orange, I’m rather reminded of William of Orange, and England’s Glorious Revolution in 1688. And no, I did not look any of those facts up… I am in fact a history nerd to the max, and those fab factoids were actually pulled out of AP European history brain from waaaay back when in sophomore year of high school. Yeeeahh. That’s right. I could also list you quite a bit of British royal genealogy… but I’ll save you the boredom ;) You’ll just have to trust me. Anywayyy. Back to the food, which is why you’re here, right?!

This is how much I love squash:

Like, A LOT. Fat, roundy orange squash. Or alternatively, butternut and acorn are good too… Which are not exactly roundy and fat, more like tan and elongated, or green and oddly lumpy, respectively. Whatever, to each his or her own squashiness, right?!

Because Kira and I realllyyyy love squash, we decided to make a new dish tonight… risotto! BUT. Because I’m a health nut, we made a healthy one. Hooraayyy!! But SO delicious, don’t get me wrong. Mmmmm. This risotto is actually made with barley, not rice. (Would that make it  barley-otto? Or barlotto?) Which is quite a bit more nutrient dense than rice, for the win! In fact, barley is realllyyy good for you: lots of soluble and insoluble fiber, which is handy for a number of things (including lowering blood cholesterol!), as well as vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. It also has eight amino acids and has is low on the Glycemic index, which is good for blood sugar. Wheeee, whole grains!

Barley seems to be another of those foods that I apparently imprinted on as a small child (hmm… tofu and barley. can you say hippie-granola?! Jeez, no wonder I wear Birkenstocks all the time). Barley cereal was my FAVORITE when I was pretty little— I distinctly remember my mom going to a specific store, where she knew an employee who would get me my special barley cereal. Apparently we could only get it there… I do remember him being awfully nice, hehe. And my mutti was wonderful to go get the cereal for me!  I guess I never really grew out of the barley phase, as I LOVED this dish.

Like I said, you’ll thank me for the orangeness later :)

Butternut Squash and Barley Risotto (or Barlotto)

Serves… a lot? We made half and still have lots of leftovers. I’ll provide the measures we used. Adapted from here!

Acquire this business:

  • 1 butternut squash, cubed and roasted
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 onion, minced
  • 1 thingy of garlic (I prefer the handy frozen squares from Trader Joe’s! It eliminates silly mincing and squishing)
  • 3/4 cups whole grain barley (I bought mine in bulk from Whole Foods)
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 3/8 cups grated Parmesan
  • awkward baggie of frozen peas
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh sage
  • a judicious sprinkle of nutmeg

How to procure tastiness and gastronomical delight:

Firstly.

Roastify your b-nut squash! Preheat your oven to 450. Peel the squashling, and deseed it with a spoooon. Cubify it. Toss the cublets with a good glug of olive oil, salt, and peppahhh. Roastify the cublets for about 30 minutes, stirring onceish. When removing them from the oven, try not to get blasted with a huge puff of ridiculously hot steam. Seriously oven, I do NOT need that extreme of a facial. Set aside until needed.

Secondly.

In a smallish pan of some sort, bring the broth and water to a simmer, then lower heat just enough to keep it toasty. In a saute pan, saute the onion in olive oil. Cover and cook on medium until onion is softening, about 8-10 minutes. Add in garlic. Add barley, and let it toast for about 4 minutes over medium heat. Stir in wine, and continue stirring until it has been absorbed.

Now prepare to stir for the rest of your life.

At least you’ll have tasty risotto!

Add about a third of the broth/water, and half of your squashlets. Stir/simmer until absorbed, about 20 minutes. Continue to add liquid, stir, and simmer until the liquid is absorbed. This probably took Kira and I about a half hour, to have all the broth be absorbed and the barley to be cooked through.

Off the heat, stir in the remaining squash (assuming you left some out, not a big deal if you don’t want to), peas (another babyhood fave… what can I say, I was a gastronomically advanced child), parmesan, sage, and nutmeg. Salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with fresh basil (of course).

Enjoy the gastronomically delightful orangeness!

Just disregard the slightly orange-ish tinge I seem to be acquiring…

It’s pumpkin-hoarding season.

And yes. I DO hoard canned pumpkin. And maybe pumpkin butter. Just ask Kira. Mostly because when you want it, it’s nowhere to be found! Yeeesh. So I become a temporary hoarder of specific foodstuffs.  Also because  I am apparently obsessed with all forms of orange food. Like really, ALL of them. Today, I single-handedly ate my way through four different kinds of orange veggies. It’s kind of embarrassing… except not really. HA. Because I looooove my beta-carotene! And so do my eyes, thanks to Vitamin A. That’s probably why I have 20/15 vision, which is what you’re required to have to be a fighter pilot! Shazaam. Maybe I should rethink a career change?!

But yeah.

Today.

Carrots at lunch. Pumpkin cornbread (FAB, by the way). Sweet potato muffins. Pumpkin-Butternut Squash pastaaaaa (Also SO FAB) (Like, mind-boggling amazing).

See? I warned you. At least I ate all my orange bell pepper at the end of last week, otherwise this would really be ridiculous.

Whatever. At least my Vitamin A levels are covered for the next four millennium. Not a big deal.

I feel like I’m setting myself up to start channeling my inner oompa-loompa what with all this orangeness… Perhaps I should start composing an original song or something…? Or wearing white overalls? I do, however, draw the line at dyeing my hair green. None of that.

Apparently you really can turn yourself slightly orangeish if you eat enough orangey pigment… I’ll have to watch myself for this semi-alarming state of affairs, just in case I suddenly need to apply for a job monitoring a chocolate waterfall.

Right.

Moving on.

These recipes are aaaaaamazing. Mega props to pumpkin cornbread—who would have thought? But hey, I love pumpkin, and I love cornbread, so why not together? This cornbread is moist and sweet, but not tooo sweet. It’s corny and delicious, and excellent with a little butter and honey. Yum yum yum.

cooooornbread!

Pumpkin Cornbread!

Adapted from here.

This recipe makes an 8 by 8 pan, but being only two, I made half! In my cute little 6.5″ round pans :) Love love love. I’ll give the full size recipe here—making half is very easy.

  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • ½ cup brown sugar (I might reduce this ever so slightly next time?)
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • ¼ cup olive oil

Preheat oven to 400. (Also convenient for roasting your butternut squash for dinner, just sayin’)

Whisk flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg,  brown sugar, and cornmeal in a medium-type bowl. In a smallerish type bowl, whisk the eggs, and then add pumpkin puree and olive oil. Mix wet into dry. The original recipe called for a tablespoon of molasses, but being college-y, we don’t currently have any. Soooo, I adapted and left it out. I’m sure it would be delicious, but it was WAAAYYY tasty without, so I don’t feel cheated in the slightest.

Pour/scoop (this batter is really thick) into a lightly greased 8 by 8 or 6.5″ pan, depending on the amount you made. Smooth out the top for aesthetic reasons, or just use it as an excuse to play with your food. For an 8″ pan, bake for 30 minutes, until a knife comes out clean. For a 6.5″, I baked it for 15 minutes. It could probably have gone a bit longer, the center was a teensy bit underdone,  but not in a bad way. Maybe like 2 minutes more?

It is deeeelicious any way you slice it… I think this may have been the main component of my lunch today!

So guess what?! Today you get TWO recipes, for the price of one! Get excited.

ALSO. This is BIG NEWS, I mean like BFD status.

Wait for it…

This is my first ORIGINAL RECIPE! I made it alllll up, on my ownesie! I had help in tasting and making by Kira, of course—much more fun that way. BUT! I am SO EXCITED to post my first recipe! And it was amazing. Not bragging. But it was! So it was a win all around. Behold:

Pumpkin Pasta with Butternut Squash and Chèvre

Serves… a lot. We have LOTS of leftovers, hooray!

Adapted from… no one! This is an original Wait are those Cookies recipe.

Procure:

  • 1.25-1.5 c pumpkin puree (NOT canned pumpkin pie filling, ewwwy ew ew)
  • 1/2 c (ish) coconut milk beverage, or milk
  • 1 medium or large butternut squash, roasted (see below)
  • 1 large onion
  • olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp (or to taste) salt
  • fresh ground pepper, to taste
  • whole wheat spaghetti (or pasta of your choice)
  • grated parmesan, crumbled chèvre, and fresh basil for serving

First off, roast your butternut squash! Preheat your oven to 400. I cut both ends off of my squash, and then cut it in half and scooped out the seeds. Lay it down, cut side down, and then peel it with your trusty veggie peeler! Cut it into relatively similarly-sized chunks, and toss with olive oil, pepper, a bit of salt, and honey. Spread the squash on a rimmed baking sheet, and roast for about 30 minutes, or until lightly browned. Stir it once or twice while roasting.

Gettin' intense with my squash

When you’re ready for din din, start your pasta water and do all that jazz (I’m assuming you’re quite familiar with making pasta). We used whole wheat spaghetti, which turned out to be fantastic.

While the pasta is cooking, dice up your onion, and saute it in olive oil. When the onion is translucent (ish), stir in the pumpkin and milk-beverage. The thickness can be adjusted depending on your preference—ours ended up being super thick, and on the chunky textural side, which was awesome. And tasty. Anyway—add pumpkin, milk, and roasted butternut squash. Add nutmeg, pepper, and salt (these quantities are estimated—feel free to adjust according to taste preferences). Simmer until the sauce is warmed through and tastes like you want it :)

Toss with spaghetti! (Plus this way you can leave the copious leftovers in the fridge in their original pot, hooray for less dishes!). Serve with freshly grated parmesan and crumbled goat cheese (aka chèvre—I like the way this sounds, it makes me sound even more like the gastro-snob that I am), and garnish with a few fresh basil leaves.

We ate ours with warmed fresh crusty bread and butter. YUM YUM YUM. Today was quite an epic gastronomical adventure. I’m very proud of my first recipe… as if you couldn’t tell with the excess of exclamation points and capital letters, haha. Whatever, it was worth it, and delicious! It got rave reviews from Kira AND her mom :)

Eat. Drool. Love!

NO SOUP FOR YOU!

Woah.

NO SOUP FOR YOU! (Seinfeld Soup Nazi, anyone?)

I am seriously enjoying this blogging schtick! It’s amazingly entertaining (WAY more than thesis research, I might add, teehee!), and it also pushes me to try new things! It’s a really good tool to diversify your diet, hahha. I mean, you wouldn’t want to read every post on black bean and veggie quesadillas, would you? Nope. Didn’t think so. Besides, I know you secretly love going on Ms. Frizzle-type adventures into the depths of my fridge to figure out how to economize my groceries! Because I know I do… it’s like a puzzle! And a tasty one, at that. I only wish I had a magic school bus to take me down to the depths… that would be waaaay more fun than standing on my head trying to see all the veggie bits. Ah well. So gehts.

So today was actually coolish in Salem! Overcast and grey, just like I like it, haha. I decided, therefore, in the interest in being economical, as well as attempting to hasten fall to WU, that I would make soup! And THEN, I realized I’ve never made soup!! I’ve made chili… which doesn’t count. Mom, correct me if I’m wrong… but I’m pretty sure I’ve never made it! Yayyy, I can cross that one off my list of to-do’s.

After having salmon last night (more on that later, in another post… I just got really excited about my soup), I wasn’t sure what I wanted for dinner tonight. I’d been getting steadily more irritated by the half an onion doing some mega lurking in the  back of the fridge, but I wasn’t really in the mood for pasta (which would have utilized the half-can of tomato sauce lurking next to the onion). THEN. I spied the half bag (why is everything I have halvsies??) of baby carrots!! And then.

I knew.

Carrot and ginger soup! The carrots and the onion would do a lovely dance and end up a happily married pair, in my stomach.

And wait, it gets better!

WITH the carrot soup… what better to have than cornbread? Cornbread made in the microwave?! Check. Single serve, perfect for single ladies (temporarily sans roomie)? Check. Delicious? Check. Healthy? Definite check. Effective use of bits and bobs in fridge? CHECK!

With that being said…

Here’s the recipe!

Slice o' cornbread

Carrot and Ginger Soup (from At Home with Gina C: here)

Makes Approximately 4 Cups, but I made half the recipe (there I go with halvsies again! yeeesh). I really liked this soup–I left some carrot chunks in there for texture. I thought the ginger flavor came through nicely, and the coconut milk adds a nice touch. Mine probably could have used more salt, but the parmesan I grated on top took care of that :)

Bits and bobs (extra points if you have all of this and a trip to the store is not required):

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 lb carrots, peeled and sliced thin
4-5 thin slices of fresh ginger, diced
4 cups water
Salt to taste
1/4 cup light coconut milk

Heat the olive oil in a soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions and sweat until soft, about 4 minutes. Season with salt.

Get out your large chef’s knife that you’re so insanely fond of. Have a ball dicing ginger and slicing carrots (whilst avoiding fingers) .When the onions are soft, add the carrots, ginger and water to the pot. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Get irritated at your electric cooktop for being inferior to gas. Sigh. Move on. Cook for 20 – 25 minutes, until the carrots are soft. Transfer the soup in batches to a baby purple food processor (!!) and process until almost smooth. Try not to spray carrot soupiness out of the crack between the top and the bowl. Oops. Return the soup to the pot and reheat. (or not. I didn’t, I was hungry!) Taste and re-season with salt if necessary. Garnish with coconut milk, and also with good Parmesan! It’s delicious together, trust me :)

This is what happens when you get your camera too close and steam fogs up the lens...

Now for the wonderful carb-tastic side! Because we LOVE bread. In any form, and especially cornbread.

Microwave Cornbread Cake-Thingy

Adapted from The Edible Perspective, here. This isn’t the sweetest cornbread, since it has no added sugar, but I really liked it for a change. It actually doesn’t have too pronounced a flavor, period, but that makes it a good accompaniment, especially for the soup. It also makes it an excellent vehicle for transporting jam into my face…

See that cool bowl? Yep. Made that!

Food-type items:

  • 1 egg
  • 4-5 tbsp 1% milk (I used 4)
  • 3 tbsp cornmeal
  • 3 tbsp oat flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tbsp chia seeds (can be left out, but adjust your liquid, likely less if you don’t have them, since they absorb liquid)

Whisk your egg and your milk, and then whisk in the dry ingredients. Pour batter into a microwave safe, lightly greased bowl, and zap for 1 min 30 or 45 sec. I found it to be best topped with a bit of earth balance and strawberry jam :)