Instant Pot Chana Masala

February 26, 2020 at 10:58 pm (B plus (3 stars, like a lot), Beans, Indian, Instant Pot, Website / blog)

Yes, I am on an Instant Pot kick. I bought the pot but still don’t use it for all that much other than cooking beans and (occasionally) breakfast porridge. I really would love to find more Instant Pot recipes that the whole family loves. So I printed out a bunch of recipes and we’ve been working our way through them.

This recipe for Instant Pot Chana Masala is from the blog Spice Cravings. It’s interesting in that it has you cook the dry (but pre-soaked!) chickpeas in just a little water along with the onions, tomatoes, and spices that becomes the gravy. I would have thought you’d need more liquid to cook the beans, and it would come out too soupy. But it worked.

I followed the recipe pretty closely, but I wasn’t sure what crushed ginger is. I used minced ginger. I only used 1 seeded green chili, so Alma would eat it. I used the paprika option instead of the Kashmiri red chili powder. I used jarred tomatoes instead of fresh, and maybe 4 or 5 since they were quite small. I didn’t have any fennel so I left that out. (It’s optional in any case.) Finally, I forgot to add the roasted cumin powder at the end. I was also surprised the author says to add the garam masala at the beginning of the cooking. All my other Indian recipes always have you add it at the very end? I decided to be conservative and added it after I opened the instant pot.

Derek and I both really liked this recipe. Derek said it tasted better than most restaurant Chana Masalas. He said it needed spice though, and added cayenne to his bowl.

Alma refused to try the dish. She ate plain chickpeas instead.

It only calls for 1 cup of chickpeas. Next time I’d definitely double the recipe. Derek and I were fighting over the leftovers.

(I’m giving this the same rating as the Tortilla Soup recipe I just blogged, but we actually liked it quite a bit more. But it seems wrong to give it 4 stars after just trying it once.)

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Instant Pot Tortilla Soup

February 23, 2020 at 10:48 pm (B plus (3 stars, like a lot), Beans, Instant Pot, Mexican & S. American, One pot wonders, Quick weeknight recipe, soup, Website / blog, Winter recipes)

On the vegetarian Instant Pot Facebook group, this Peas and Crayons recipe for Vegetarian Lentil Tortilla Soup gets rave reviews. It seems like every week I see someone posting it and gushing over it. And it looks good in the photo. So I decided to give it a try. If you have the black and pinto beans cooked already, it’s a pretty quick recipe. You just saute up some onions and peppers, then add the beans and lentils, tomatoes and salsa, corn and spices. I was out of corn so I skipped it, but I did add some sliced corn tortillas, because what kind of tortilla soup doesn’t have tortillas in it?

I was a bit distracted when trying to make this recipe, and I ended up adding the lentils too soon, and some of them stuck to the bottom and were starting to almost burn. So I added the water and gave it a good stir, and figured that would work. But when the Instant Pot almost got up to pressure I got the “Burn” warning and it wouldn’t come to pressure. I let it sit for maybe ten minutes, then quick-released it and try to scrape the bottom of the pot well (but didn’t actually wash it out). I tried to bring it to pressure again and got the same burn warning. Again I let it sit for a while and this time the lentils were cooked enough to eat, even though it never came up to pressure. I think there are some comments on the blog about how to prevent getting the burn warning. I’ll definitely read them next time I try this recipe. (I suspect that the soup was too thick because of the tortillas I added, and I should have added more liquid to compensate.)

Despite never coming to pressure, the soup turned out well, although it tasted nothing like any tortilla soup I’ve ever had. It was more like a thick bean stew, almost like chili, except there wasn’t that much chili powder in it. It was yummy over some corn tortilla chips. I like the idea of making a Mexican bean stew with lentils in it. I don’t usually combine pinto/black beans with lentils. It worked well.

We found the cream unnecessary, especially if you are eating the soup with sour cream. The pickled jalapenos were essential–the soup needed the acid and salt.

Alma wouldn’t try it the night I made it (after I referred to it as tortilla soup), but she did have a little bit when I served it another night (when I just called it “beans”). The wasn’t a big fan though.

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Gingerbread granola, oil-free

February 17, 2020 at 10:58 pm (Alma's faves, breakfast, Website / blog)

I’ve never made oil-free granola before, but this recipe by Dreena Burton gets rave reviews in one of the vegan Facebook groups I’m in, so I thought I’d give it a try.

I followed the recipe pretty closely. I used hemp hearts but also threw in some halved pecans towards the very end of the baking time. I used all 4 tablespoons of maple syrup, but had to use regular molasses as I was out of blackstrap.

Alma was happily eating the granola even before I baked it, and then once it was done she ate it plain/dry (no soymilk). Derek tried it with soymilk but said it tasted sweeter plain/dry. Neither of them wanted any dried cranberries (or fresh fruit) in their granola, but I added some dried cranberreis to my bowl. I liked the tartness they added.

I liked the spices. They were definitely noticeable, but not at all overpowering. I didn’t notice the hemp hearts at all. I will definitely add them to my normal granola recipe. I liked that by cooking at 300 F the granola doesn’t burn as easily. I will try lowering the temperature for my normal granola recipe.

Burton says the rice syrup is critical, as it is stickier than other sweeteners, and helps the granola clump. In the past I haven’t liked the flavor of rice syrup, but I didn’t notice it in this recipe. Maybe I will try adding some to my normal recipe and cutting down on the oils.

My baking sheet wasn’t that full with only 3 cups of oats. I wonder if I could multiple the recipe by 1/3 and use a full 4 cups of rolled oats instead, or if that would negatively affect the texture? Or maybe it would be safer to try 5 cups of oats and cook it in two batches? I wonder if you can bake two cookie sheets simultaneously?

This recipe kind of feels like dessert for breakfast. Also, it feels like a waste of expensive almond butter. I think I will try it again with 3 tablespoons of maple syrup and using tahini for the nut butter.

To make clean-up easier, I recommend mixing the dry ingredients in a smaller bowl and the wet ingredients in a big bowl, and then pouring the dry ingredients into the wet ones, so that only one bowl gets sticky.

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Instant Pot Golden Lentil Soup with Spinach

February 13, 2020 at 10:40 pm (B plus (3 stars, like a lot), Beans, Beans and greens, Dark leafy greens, Instant Pot, Monthly menu plan, soup, Website / blog, Winter recipes) ()

When we were menu-planning this week, Alma suggested we make lentil soup. But rather than make one of the ten lentil soup recipes on this blog, I decided to try a new one. Someone on my Facebook Instant Pot group said this kitchentreaty recipe for golden lentil and spinach soup is their all-time favorite Instant Pot recipe. And we all liked it, even Alma.

Important caveats: Make more than one recipe, at least 1.5x! Cook the lentils much longer than she says (maybe 17-18 minutes under pressure), and make sure they are cooked before adding the spinach. If they aren’t, cook them under pressure for a few more minutes. You may also need a bit more broth than the recipe calls for.

Update April 1, 2020: 

The second time I made it I made only one recipe and we finished it all at dinner, even though Alma ate barely any of it. I would definitely make more next time. The soup was quite thick. I think it needed more broth. I cooked it for 15 minutes under pressure and even waited a few minutes before releasing the pressure, and still the lentils were undercooked. Alma didn’t like it much this time, I’m not sure why. I didn’t use the parsnip or zucchini. Maybe that was why?

Original Notes from Feb 13, 2020:

The recipe as written says it makes 4 servings, but I wanted to have leftovers so I made 1.5x to make 6 servings.

This recipe is in many ways similar to my Mom’s lentil soup recipe, but it calls for a lot of turmeric (1/2 tablespoon for 6 servings). I liked the combination of turmeric, thyme, and cumin.

When I started to prep the veggies for the recipe I discovered I only had one carrot left, so I used one carrot and one parsnip and one zucchini. I couldn’t actually taste the parsnip in the final soup. I was also perhaps a bit low on celery, since Alma snacked on some of the celery I was saving for the soup. I didn’t want the zucchini to turn to mush, so I cooked it separately while the soup was cooking. I quickly sauteed up the finely diced zucchini and we threw the zucchini in the soup right before serving it. I liked the extra texture the zucchini added, but it didn’t add much in terms of flavor. I think I could leave it out next time. We served the soup with goat yogurt, which everyone enjoyed.

For 6 servings the recipe calls for 12 ounces of spinach, which is 340 grams. I think I’d actually use a bit more, maybe even a pound. I’d add half on the first day, and save the other half of the spinach for the leftovers, so that the spinach is freshly cooked and not sitting around in the fridge for days then getting reheated.

My one complaint with the recipe is that my lentils were not at all cooked after 12 minutes under high pressure + quick release. I think they needed more like 14 or 15 minutes maybe? I did make 1.5 times the recipe, but if anything I would think that would mean I need to cook it for less time, not more, since it would take longer to come to pressure?

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Instant Pot Saag Aloo with sweet potatoes and chard

February 13, 2020 at 10:26 pm (C (1 star, edible), Dark leafy greens, Indian, Instant Pot, Root vegetables, Website / blog)

I have been craving Indian food, and so I printed out a bunch of new Indian Instant Pot recipes to test. I gave Derek the stack of recipes and he picked this Vegan Richa recipe for Instant Pot Saag Aloo, which was convenient because I happened to have a lot of chard and sweet potatoes. Also, we really like Vegan Richa’s Instant Pot lasagne soup, so I was hoping for another great dish.

Unfortunately, it was not a success. Alma (at age five) took one bite and then wouldn’t touch it, and even Derek only ate a few spoonfuls. It ended up very watery, not sure why. Maybe I mis-measured the water? But even ignoring the wateriness, nobody liked the flavors. Too much cinnamon maybe? Derek said it was just too sweet tasting. Did I screw it up, or is it just not for us?

To try to improve the texture, I pureed it all together and then served it with pan-fried paneer for breakfast this morning. That was okay, but we still didn’t like the sweet potato / chard / cinnamon combination very much.

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Mini chickpea flour frittatas (vegan)

February 13, 2020 at 10:19 pm (breakfast, B_ (2 stars, okay), Website / blog)

I am looking for ideas for breakfast (as always) and was intrigued when someone posted this recipe for mini chickpea flour frittatas to a Facebook group I’m a member of. They said that everyone in their family enjoyed them. I have quite a bit of chickpea flour that needs to get used up, so I thought I’d give the recipe a try.

I followed the recipe pretty closely (except I didn’t have any chives and I used regular salt). I cooked the frittatas for 30 minutes, at which point a toothpick came out clean so I figured they were done.

They were not a success. Alma (at age 5) would not eat them, and Derek and I only ate them because we didn’t want to waste all that food. And we had to add salt and some olive oil to make them somewhat palatable.

I greased the muffin tins but still they frittatas would not come out (when they were hot). When the frittatas cooled down they came out a little more easily, but still the muffin tin was a pain to clean. The “frittatas” were very soft and squishy in the middle and the flavor was just … meh. I feel like the batter needed more seasoning and some fat.

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Sweet potato chickpea kale tahini buddha bowl

January 3, 2020 at 4:23 pm (Beans and greens, B_ (2 stars, okay), Cruciferous rich, Dark leafy greens, Fall recipes, Quick weeknight recipe, Root vegetables, Sauce/dressing, Vegetable dishes, Website / blog, Winter recipes)

I like the idea of a buddha bowl, but I’ve never figured out a combination that (a) everybody likes, (b) isn’t a ton of work, and (c) doesn’t get a million dishes dirty. But I found this recipe on the Minimalist Baker website and it looked like it might be quick and easy. Alma likes chickpeas and kale and sweet potatoes and tahini, so I figured there was a good chance she would like the recipe.

I couldn’t find any broccolini, so I just left that out. I cut my sweet potatoes into quarters so they’d cook a bit faster. I cooked the veggies on a baking sheet covered in tin foil, to reduce cleanup time. The recipe only calls for a few handfuls of kale, which didn’t seem like much, so I steamed the remainder. I roasted the kale in the oven for about 5 minutes and it was starting to brown (burn?) in places. I don’t care for kale once it’s turned brown, and Alma didn’t even liked the non-brown portions of the roasted kale, although Derek liked the roasted kale a lot. Alma and I preferred the steamed version.

The method for cooking the chickpeas wasn’t great. I don’t know if I screwed up or not, but they never really got crispy. And I got a big skillet dirty. The seasoning was fine, but I think next time I might try throwing them on the baking sheet with the sweet potatoes (or maybe even before the sweet potatoes).  To save on cleanup, maybe I could mix the chickpeas with the spices in the same pot I use to steam the kale. Then I’d just have to clean that one pot and steamer basket.

We didn’t love her tahini sauce. It was too sweet and a little bland. The sauce doesn’t have any salt in it even. Maybe I added more maple syrup than I was supposed to, but still. It’s boring. I added a lot of extra lemon to try to perk it up, but we still didn’t love it.

We had a lot of ripe avocados languishing in the fridge, so we added some avocado to replace the missing broccolini. Radishes might also have been good, but I forgot I had them.

Alma didn’t end up eating a buddha bowl. She ate everything (except the onions) separate with no sauce. Typical.

Derek said everything tasted good but afterward he felt unsatisfied.

Another buddha bowl non-success? Still, with my modifications it’s a pretty easy, colorful meal. Maybe I’ll try it again sometime. How could I make it more satisfying?

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Baked oatmeal cups

December 31, 2019 at 1:10 pm (Alma's faves, breakfast, B_ (2 stars, okay), Grains, Website / blog)

I was looking around for more make-ahead breakfast ideas, and decided to try to make baked oatmeal cups. Alma hasn’t been very into oatmeal lately, so I thought this might be a good way to make it more exciting. I searched for a recipe and I first came across this recipe for tender baked oatmeal cups on thekitchn.com., which I had bookmarked a long time ago. But Google says it only gets a rating of 2.8 out of 5 stars (from 482 voters!) So I kept looking. I found this recipe from Tasty.co, which gets more than 4.5 out of 5 stars (from 281 voters). But when I looked at that recipe, it looked surprisingly similar to the kitchen.com recipe. I compared them side by side, and they are almost perfectly identical! Funny. One advantage of the Tasty.co recipe is that is has weight measurements, which I prefer for measuring sticky ingredients. But I had already pulled up thekitchn.com recipe, so Alma and I followed that one. We used peanut butter for the nut butter, honey for the sweetener, raisins for the dried fruit, and almonds for the nuts. I didn’t have any plain applesauce so we used apple apricot sauce. We mixed the nuts and raisins into the batter instead of sprinkling the toppings on top, because I was afraid that they would burn. The muffins still looked quite wet at 25 minutes, so I ended up baking them for the full 30 minutes.

The recipe worked pretty well. The oatmeal cups didn’t hold together quite as well as the ones in the videos, and they stuck a bit to the tins despite me greasing them (with olive oil, I didn’t have any spray). I think I might have added a tad too much honey, and also my eggs were larger than American eggs. So the batter might have been a little bit too wet.

Alma said she loved the recipe (4 stars), but she did pick out all the raisins (which is ironic, since yesterday she just ate the raisins out of her Tassajara red cabbage). Derek and I thought the muffins were okay. The internal texture was a lot like the oatmeal Derek makes out of rolled oats, but the tops were a bit crisper. I found them a bit too sweet. I think if I make them again I will double the walnuts and cut out the raisins. And measure the honey by weight instead of by tablespoons (which wasn’t so precise I fear). I also think they’d be better with a different nut butter. Maybe peanut butter would go well with banana puree, but with applesauce they’d probably go better with almond butter or maybe sun butter (for a cheaper option).

We ate 6 of the muffins for brunch today, and have 6 left for another day.

Ingredients:

  • 2 large eggs (100g out of shells)
  • 1 ½ cups milk (360 mL)
  • ½ cup applesauce (125g)
  • ¼ cup sunflower butter (60g), or nut butter of choice
  • ¼ cup maple syrup (55g), or honey maybe?
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups old fashioned rolled oats (300g)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon fine salt
  • 1 cup of walnuts, chopped
  • 1/2 cup dried fruit, or other toppings like coconut or chocolate chips?

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease a 12-cup muffin tin.
  2. Place milk, applesauce, nut butter, maple syrup, vanilla, and eggs in a medium-sized bowl. Whisk until combined.
  3. Add oats, baking powder, cinnamon, walnuts, and salt. Stir quickly to make sure everything is well-hydrated.
  4. Pour batter into the greased muffin tin, and add toppings of your choice. Bake for 20–25 minutes or until the middle springs back when gently pressed.
  5. Oatmeal cups can be enjoyed immediately and/or frozen in an airtight container (once completely cool) to be enjoyed later by microwaving for 2 minutes.

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Roasted chestnuts

December 26, 2019 at 12:48 pm (Alma's faves, breakfast, Fall recipes, Starches, Website / blog, Winter recipes) ()

Alma has been begging me for a while to buy some chestnuts to roast. We often get a bag of hot, roasted chestnuts when we’re at the farmer’s market on a Saturday morning. But she wanted us to roast some ourselves. So I bought some about a month ago, and then (of course) proceed to not roast them. They just sat on the counter next to the bananas and apples. Finally this morning I said “Today’s the day! I’m going to figure out how to roast those darn chestnuts.” I looked up instructions online. I preheated the oven to 425 F and got out a paring knife. Unfortunately, though, the one paring knife I own isn’t particularly sharp, and I failed to use it to cut an x in the chestnuts. I had to use a serrated knife instead, which wasn’t ideal. I was a bit worried that I was going to slip and cut the hand holding the chestnuts. Eventually I finished cutting x’s into all the chestnuts without cutting myself, but there must be a better way.

We roasted them on a baking sheet for about 15 minutes and they looked done. A few were really good, but unfortunately most of them were moldy. I guess we should have roasted them as soon as we bought them, or at least not have left them sitting in a plastic bag for a month near the radiator.

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Peanut butter oat chocolate chip cookies

December 25, 2019 at 9:27 pm (B_ (2 stars, okay), Cookies, Website / blog)

When my Mom was visiting this summer she made these vegan cookies with Alma. I thought they were pretty tasty. We had her take them out of the oven when they were still soft, and they had a nice soft peanut butter consistency. Yum. We put the leftovers in the freezer and enjoyed them for about a month after my Mom went back home.

So when Alma and I decided to bake cookies today (a nice Christmas Day activity), I immediately thought of these cookies. Derek wanted to make almond crescent cookies, but those are so much work, and it was already 4pm. I wanted to do something quick and easy. So we decided to make a small batch of these cookies today and then make almond crescent cookies tomorrow when we have more time and energy.

Here is the recipe as my Mom wrote it down.

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 350 F (177 C).

In a medium bowl mix well:

  • 1/2 cup (129g) peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup (3.79 oz) maple syrup
  • 2 Tbs. warm soymilk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Then mix together the dry ingredients in a small bowl:

  • 3/4 cup (93.75g) flour
  • 3/4 cup (60.75g) rolled oats
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/3 tsp. salt (I used 1/2 tsp.)
  • 1/3 cup (60g) chocolate chips

Add the dry ingredients to the large bowl with the wet ingredients and fold them together until just mixed.

Make small cookies on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Bake for 12-14 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes then enjoy.

My notes:

I checked our cookies at 11 minutes and they looked raw. Also, they hadn’t flattened at all. They were still almost perfect balls. Weird. We cooked them for another 2 minutes, but I think that was a mistake, as the cookies ended up quite dry. I think since they were quite small I should have taken them out at 11 minutes, and maybe also added a tad more liquid to the recipe, maybe 1 egg would be good?

Here’s a similar recipe (in terms of ingredients) that I might try next time, but it calls for more milk, an egg, peanuts, baking powder instead of soda, and less flour, less peanut butter, and less maple syrup: https://www.natalieshealth.com/peanut-butter-oatmeal-cookies/.

After searching around briefly on the internet, I think the source for this recipe is this Vegan Richa cookie recipe. It says on the website that it makes 12 cookies, but I think we made maybe 24? Maybe even more. We made quite small cookies. She says to use a 1.5 Tbs. cookie scoop and I think ours was maybe 3/4 of a Tbs. We did fit them all on one large cookie sheet. She also says to flatten the balls down before baking, which I didn’t do. Vegan Richa says to bake for 15 minutes, and 14 minutes for softer cookies. But I guess since my Mom was making smaller cookies she reduced the cooking time to 12-14 minutes.

Vegan Richa says to use a mix of white and whole wheat flour, but I used all white because that’s what my Mom’s version called for.

 

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Instant Pot Creamy Wild Rice Soup

December 9, 2019 at 9:27 pm (B_ (2 stars, okay), Derek's faves, Fall recipes, Grains, Instant Pot, soup, Website / blog, Winter recipes)

I’m in a couple of vegetarian Instant Pot groups on Facebook, and I keep seeing people rave about a recipe for wild rice soup. I decided to try it, but when I went to look for the recipe I actually found 6 different recipes! Which to try? I asked the group and they voted as follows.

I went and compared the two recipes with the top number of votes, and they’re actually almost identical. Both call for carrots, celery, onions, and mushrooms in addition to the wild rice, and make the soup creamy by adding a roux made with butter, flour, and milk after the soup is cooked in the Instant Pot. The only difference is that Pinch of Yum calls for slightly more vegetables and broth than the Belly Rules the Mind recipe, and poultry seasoning and thyme vs. Italian seasoning, but otherwise they are the same.

The Cooking Carnival recipe is vaguely similar—it also has you make a roux, but calls for coconut milk.

In contrast, the Cardamom and Coconut recipe uses triple the mushrooms, even more broth than Pinch of Yum, and instead of making a roux with flour and milk and 6 Tbs. butter it calls for sour cream and cornstarch to thicken it and only 1 Tbs. of butter. The only herb is thyme.

The Life is No Yoke recipe is the most different. It uses pureed cashews to make it creamy and calls for white beans.

I decided to try the Pinch of Yum recipe, because it got a lot of votes, I like poultry seasoning (and don’t have Italian seasoning) and more vegetables sounded good.

The soup came out pretty well, but was a tad goopy in texture, even though I added an extra cup of broth. I think I might make slightly less roux next time. And I would add more herbs, but that might just be because my poultry seasoning was very old. Overall I’d say a solid B.

Derek really liked it, rating it B+ or A-. He said he wouldn’t change anything.

Alma (at almost 5) ate about half a small bowl then said she didn’t want anymore. She preferred the roasted vegetables I served on the side, especially the Jerusalem artichokes.

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Bean breakfast burgers

November 19, 2019 at 9:24 pm (Beans, breakfast, B_ (2 stars, okay), Website / blog)

I want to serve beans for breakfast on days when we don’t have any beans with dinner, but I haven’t yet figured out a way to convince Alma that they are an acceptable breakfast option. I thought maybe some sort of breakfast burger would go over, and so I decided to try this recipe for vegetarian black bean breakfast sausage. Unfortunately, however, Alma was begging me to play a game with her the whole time I was trying to make dinner, and I was distracted and ended up not following the recipe so carefully.

I used ground flax seed not whole and didn’t measure it very carefully. I just dumped in a bunch of black beans without measuring them either. I used 1 tsp. fine salt. I didn’t have any of the fresh herbs so instead 1/2 tsp. dried thyme and a bunch of poultry seasoning. I left out the cayenne and chili flakes for Alma. I did put in the fennel seeds, even though adding whole fennel seeds seemed odd. I also added all the bread crumbs.

The final mixture was quite firm and solid. It was easy to form into balls and then patties. The brown sugar and fennel were both quite noticeable. I liked the sweet fennel-y flavor pretty well, but Derek thought the burgers were strange tasting, and the texture mushy. Alma ate the burgers with ketchup (actually, vice versa) and was happy. I froze the remaining burgers and I’m hoping to serve them for breakfast sometime.

I’m not sure I will make this recipe again, but it wasn’t a total failure.

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Millet sweet corn fritters

November 14, 2019 at 12:05 am (Alma's faves, B plus (3 stars, like a lot), breakfast, Grains, Website / blog) ()

I was looking for some new recipes to eat with beans for breakfast, and I decided to try this recipe for millet sweet corn fritters from Naturally Ella. We eat millet porridge for breakfast sometimes, but other than that I don’t make millet too often because Derek is not a fan of the texture. But in this recipe it’s ground up with corn and pan-fried, so I figured he wouldn’t mind it.

Unfortunately, life happened and I didn’t manage to follow the recipe all that well. I used frozen corn, maybe a bit more than a cup. I made more millet than I needed because I wanted to have extra, and then Alma ate some as an appetizer, and I wasn’t sure how much of the cooked millet I was supposed to add. I think I ended up using less cooked millet than I was supposed to, I used the whole egg, didn’t measure the cheese, and didn’t have any chives. Also, I didn’t realize until the last minute that you’re supposed to puree the whole thing in the food processor. I didn’t want to get my big food processor dirty so I tried to do it in my mini one. Eh. That didn’t work so well. Nor did I get a chance to make the harissa yogurt sauce, although that does sound good. Nonetheless, despite my failures, everyone liked the fritters. They tasted more like corn than millet, but the millet and millet flour made them really thick and starchy and satisfying. I’m curious to try adding some vegetables and/or beans and seeing if they still stick together. Black beans and red bell pepper maybe? Then I could make the batter in advance and just fry up the fritters for a one-stop breakfast.

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Zucchini scallion chickpea-flour pancakes

August 18, 2019 at 10:31 pm (Alma's faves, B plus (3 stars, like a lot), breakfast, Derek's faves, Monthly menu plan, Summer recipes, Website / blog)

I know I’ve tried making zucchini pancakes before, but I can’t find anything about it on my blog. Weird. My memory is that the zucchini pancakes I’ve made in the past were fine, but not exciting. But then Dreena Burton posted a new recipe for vegan zucchini fritters that sounded easy and like something Alma would like. Plus I had a big bag of zucchinis in the fridge and some chickpea flour to use up. Perfect.

Here’s my current recipe, as of September 28, 2019

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound of grated zucchini, about 1 large zucchini or 3 small zucchinis (do not peel, just trim ends; use large hole of a standard cheese grater)
  • 1 Tbs. of tahini (14g)
  • 1 Tbs. of lemon juice (15g)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp. fine salt
  • 1/4 tsp. cumin seeds
  • black pepper, freshly ground, to taste
  • 1/2 cup sliced scallions
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1/2 cup chickpea flour
  • 1 Tbs. oil (for pan-frying)

Instructions:

  1. Grate the zucchini into a large bowl. Add the tahini, lemon juice, and one egg and mix the three together in a corner of the bowl. Sprinkle the salt, cumin seeds, black pepper, scallions, and cilantro over the zucchini and mix everything together well. Add the buckwheat flour and chickpea flour and mix again until the batter is uniform in texture. Allow mixture to sit for at least 10 minutes, so that the flours absorb all the zucchini’s moisture. Do not taste the batter! (Raw chickpea flour–bleh!)
  2. Heat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add a 1/2 tsp. of oil and turn the heat to medium-low. Immediately add the zucchini batter to the pan. Use a small ice cream scoop to drop several small balls onto the pan. (The exact number will depend on how large you make the balls.) Use a spatula to flatten them. When golden brown on the first side, flip them and cook them until golden brown on the other side. Repeat until all the batter is used up.
  3. Serve with dal.

Original notes form Aug 18, 2019:

I grated my zucchinis, but then when I went to get the chickpea flour I realized I only had about half a cup left, not the 3/4 cup to 1 cup the recipe calls for. So I added another 1/4 cup of buckwheat flour plus one egg, in case the buckwheat flour didn’t bind as well as the chickpea flour. The original recipe is vegan and oil-free, but mine ended up non-vegan (because of the egg) and with oil (since I added a little oil in the pan that I was frying them in). I also didn’t have any dill seed, so I added 1/4 tsp. cumin seed. It’s not much, but I could definitely taste the cumin seed. I didn’t love the way the flavor worked with the zucchini, until I added some fresh cilantro to the batter. Yes. Much better. I thought Alma might complain since she usually doesn’t like cilantro, but she was so enamored of her ketchup that I think I could have put jalapenos in and she wouldn’t have noticed. The recipe also calls for 3 to 4 Tbsp. scallions or chives. I used scallions and I think I could have used even more than the recipe calls for—maybe 1/2 a cup? Alma certainly didn’t complain about the ones that were in there.

I had a little extra zucchini left and ended up throwing it in the batter at the end. It didn’t seem to make a difference (maybe because of the egg?).

I ate my fritters dipped in a (not-yet-seasoned) mung and red lentil dal. The dal didn’t have any spices in it yet, just turmeric, salt, and a little yogurt. It made a delicious dipping sauce, but Alma wouldn’t try it. (It couldn’t compete with ketchup.)

I think this recipe would make a great breakfast, especially if you use dal as your dipping sauce. You’d just have to make the batter up the night before, then leave it in the fridge. It would make a pretty fast and filling breakfast with some vegetables and beans (of a sort).

Update Sept 2019: I made these again with one large zucchini. Grated it weighed 17 ounces and was about 3 cups of tightly packed zucchini. I added the full cup of chickpea flour and 1 egg. But no buckwheat flour this time. Instead of cumin seed I tried 1/4 tsp. fennel seed. I added 1/4 cup (loosely packed) scallions but it didn’t look like enough so I doubled it to 1/2 cup, but it still didn’t look like that much, so I added a bit more. The scallions weighed 1 ounce.

The pancake texture wasn’t as nice as last time — more doughy than zucchini maybe? I think it was too much chickpea flour. And I didn’t care for the fennel seeds. Alma still happily ate them with ketchup and Derek said he loved the lunch (again I served them with dal). But I was less excited than last time. I definitely missed the cilantro flavor.

Update Sept 28, 2019: I made these again with 3 small to medium zucchinis. Grated they weighed 17 ounces. This time I went back to 1/4 cup buckwheat flour and 1/2 cup chickpea flour and 1 egg, 1/4 tsp. cumin seed, lots of scallions (forgot measure), and some cilantro. Derek agreed they were better than the last batch, and loved them with the over salted dal I pulled out of the freezer. Alma ate them happily with ketchup, but pooh poohed the dal. She ate hers with a side of soybeans instead.

Derek’s rating (with dal): A-/B+

My rating (with dal): B+

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Best Green Smoothie for Beginners

August 11, 2019 at 10:19 pm (breakfast, C (1 star, edible), Website / blog) ()

I make smoothies pretty often, but almost never green smoothies. The few times I’ve tried to improvise one Alma wouldn’t drink it. So I went looking for a kid-friendly green smoothie recipe. I found this Beginner’s Luck Green Smoothie recipe on the simplegreensmoothies.com website. It claims it tastes like a “tropical treat”. I happened to have all the ingredients, and Alma likes mango a lot, so I gave it a try.

I thought it was fine. I tasted a lot of pineapple. It wasn’t a very complex flavor, but it was pleasant enough. Alma drank a little of it, but wasn’t too into it. Derek said it was fine but not exciting. He thought it needed peanut butter, but I didn’t think that would really go with the pineapple. I then tried to jazz it up by adding some roasted sunflower seeds that I had lying around. That made it just taste like roasted sunflowers seeds.

The hunt continues.

 

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Vegetarian lettuce wraps ala P.F. Chang’s

June 12, 2019 at 9:50 pm (B_ (2 stars, okay), Chinese, Tofu, Website / blog)

When we were in Bordeaux a few weeks ago I ordered chilaquiles at some organic cafe. What I got was not at all chilaquiles, more of a bowl of chili beans with a side of salad and guacamole on top, with a few chips sticking out of the top. But Alma, who hadn’t really been eating anything but bread on our trip, really loved it. I would give her bites of the beans wrapped up in lettuce or spinach leaves. She thought the lettuce wraps were so fun. So when I got home I decided to try to make Asian-style lettuce wraps. I found this wellplated recipe for a P.F. Chang’s copycat recipe, and it looked interesting and pretty easy.

I followed the recipe except I used olive oil instead of canola, I used more than 8 ounces crimini mushrooms, I used regular soy sauce not low-sodium (but just half the amount), and I minced my ginger rather than grating it. I also only added 1 scallion, and left the rest on the side. I left the chili flakes out as well.

The recipe works. I think it came out exactly how it was supposed to. I don’t know what P.F. Chang’s lettuce wraps taste like, but I can imagine that this is reminiscent. When Alma first tasted the filling she said “yum” and happily ate several lettuce wraps, despite the ginger and scallion (both of which she is normally super-sensitive to). Derek said it was good but gave up on the lettuce wraps pretty quickly, and just ate the filling with a spoon.

I think this dish is better as an appetizer than as a main dish. I served it with a mushroom, white bean, miso soup, which was pretty tasty, but was too salty in combination with the lettuce wraps. Derek thought maybe the lettuce wraps would be a good appetizer to serve with sesame noodles. I’m not sure.

I liked this recipe, but didn’t love it. I think maybe it was just a tad too sweet for me? Maybe it depends on which hoison sauce you use.

I’m not sure I’ll make this recipe again, but I might try using the filling for something else. Dumplings maybe?

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Turmeric-Roasted Cauliflower with Pistachio Gremolata

March 28, 2019 at 12:21 pm (C (1 star, edible), Cruciferous rich, Website / blog)

I saw this recipe on food52 and was instantly sold. A “low-effort, high-impact dish” that’s suitable for weeknights and company? Sounds great. I’ve actually never used fresh turmeric before, but I was intrigued after reading reading “how the freshly grated bits of turmeric get deliciously caramelized on the hot sheet pan, and how its earthiness complements the mild sweetness of cauliflower.”

Unfortunately, the dish was only meh, and not as easy and fast as the author makes it out to be. I think I followed the directions pretty closely. It calls for one large head of cauliflower. I wasn’t sure how much that was, and ended up using 2 pounds of cauliflower. Later I noticed that one of the comments mentions a large head weighing 850g (exactly two pounds). I’m not sure if that was weighed before or after trimming, but I don’t think I was so far off. The recipe calls for 3 tablespoons of olive oil, which seems like a lot, but the final dish didn’t actually seem that rich.

Even with all the olive oil, the fresh turmeric never seemed to get “deliciously caramelized”. I’m not sure why. I’ve never used fresh turmeric before, and was surprised at how mild it was. And how sticky. It’s been several days, and I still can’t get the yellow residue off of my microplane, or my fingernails.

And we were a bit mystified by the dates. They are nice and soft and sweet, but they didn’t really meld with the dish. When you got a date it was very sweet and date-y, but when you didn’t get a date you didn’t taste it. I felt like if you’re going to put in super sweet dates you need something salty and briny to counteract all that sweetness.

Then there’s the gremolata. It was fine, but expensive. (1/3 cup of shelled pistachios cost quite a bit.) And I’m not sure the pistachios added all that much. I think just lemon zest, parsley, and garlic would have been just as good. The pomegranate didn’t add much either, in my opinion.

Alma wouldn’t taste the dish at all. She was scared of the fresh turmeric. Derek said that the flavors didn’t really meld and was missing something. All in all we were quite disappointed.

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Instant Pot Lasagna Soup

February 17, 2019 at 11:50 pm (B plus (3 stars, like a lot), Instant Pot, Italian, Menus, Monthly menu plan, One pot wonders, Pasta, Quick weeknight recipe, soup, Spring recipes, Website / blog, Winter recipes) ()

I am a member of the Instant Pot Vegan Recipe group on Facebook, and almost every week someone raves about this recipe for Lasagna Soup from Vegan Richa. I like lasagna, but it always takes so long to make. A fast version in the pressure cooker? Sounds good to me!

I’ve made the recipe a couple of times now, with a few modifications (see below). The recipe is pretty fast. You basically just have to chop the onions and other veggies and measure out all the ingredients. Everyone liked it pretty well (even 4-year-old Alma who is normally very suspicious of new “mixed” dishes and Derek who typically disdains soup). It’s surprising how filling it is given that it only calls for 5 ounces of noodles for 2 to 3 servings.  Normally Derek alone will eat at least 4 ounces of noodles! The first time I made it I think we even had a little bit of leftovers! I guess the lentils and veggies and broth make it filling. Read the rest of this entry »

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Moroccan Spiced Millet and Lentil Salad

February 9, 2019 at 10:08 pm (B plus (3 stars, like a lot), Beans, Instant Pot, Middle East / N. Africa, Salads, Website / blog) ()

A friend suggested I try this Vegetarian Times recipe for a Moroccan Spiced Millet and Lentil Salad, but I was nervous about making it since Derek normally hates millet. I will never forget the time he took a bite of millet and then made a terrible, disgusted grimace “What have you done to the rice?” he asked. “This is the worst rice ever!”

So I waited until he was out of town this summer and then I invited my friend over to make it with me. We made a somewhat deconstructed version of the salad, and other than the fact that I totally overcooked the millet, everyone enjoyed it. Alma (at 3.5) also really liked it. Finally last weekend I got up the nerve to make it for Derek and he liked it as well. He didn’t even complain about the fact that I was serving him birdseed for dinner. Score! Read the rest of this entry »

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Chard parsnip patties

October 10, 2018 at 3:44 am (B plus (3 stars, like a lot), Dark leafy greens, Fall recipes, Root vegetables, Website / blog)

I had both chard and parsnips from our CSA a few weeks ago and decided to try a new recipe. I decided to try this recipe for chard and parsnip patties, since the author says her kids like them, and I was hoping that Alma might like them. They have a bit of flour and cheese, but mostly the patties are just veggies.

The first time I made the recipe I had a really hard time getting the patties to stick together. I think I didn’t chop the chard up finely enough. I ended up doubling the flour to get them to stick together at all, and still it was a challenge getting them to form into patties. The recipe says the chard should be “chopped” but I think it really needs to be more minced. The second time I made the recipe I used my food processor to mince the chard  and it worked much better. I also used the food processor for the onions and garlic, and to grate the parsnips.

Derek and I thought the patties were really tasty. I could taste both the parsnip and the chard well. The only problem was that I used quite a bit of oil to cook them. Also, Alma wouldn’t eat them. Maybe because of the cilantro? The second time I tried dividing the mixture into two halves and making one big “pancake/hashbrown” in my cast iron skillet. It was certainly much faster, but it didn’t get as nicely crispy and browned. But Alma ate them the second time around—not sure why.

This is definitely a recipe I would like to keep playing around with, especially in the autumn when we’re getting lots of chard from our CSA.

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Simple chard or turnip green quiche

October 8, 2018 at 10:52 am (Alma's faves, B plus (3 stars, like a lot), Dark leafy greens, Derek's faves, Fall recipes, Monthly menu plan, Spring recipes, Website / blog)

Tonight I made a chard quiche, roughly following a Martha Stewart recipe, except instead of making her homemade chard-crust I just used a store-bought quiche crust. Everyone liked it. Alma was especially enthusiastic.

The crust wasn’t great, but was okay. I have to either find a better one to buy or learn how to make one myself. I greased the pie pan with butter first and cooked the quiche at the temperature the crust said on the package for about 45 minutes. I didn’t pre-cook the crust, and the bottom ended up soggy. But Derek and Alma said they liked the soggy crust. I did not. Is there any way to get it to not be soggy? Pre-baking it? Putting something down before the filling? Moving the crust from the bottom layer to the top layer?

This is the recipe I roughly followed. (Update: Since I originally posted this entry the recipe has disappeared, so I’ve copied it here for safekeeping.)

Ingredients for crust:

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, (spooned and leveled)
  • 3/4 cup toasted wheat germ
  • 1/4 tsp. coarse salt + freshly ground pepper
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 8 ounces Swiss chard (1/2 large bunch), leaves chopped, stems minced

Ingredients for the quiche:

  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, minced
  • 8 ounces Swiss chard (1/2 large bunch), leaves chopped, stems minced
  • 1/2 cup grated Gruyere cheese (2 ounces)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 pinch ground nutmeg
  • 1 pinch ground mustard powder

Instructions for the crust:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, wheat germ, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Set aside. In a medium skillet, heat 3 tablespoons oil over medium. Add half the chard to skillet, season with salt and pepper, and cook until chard wilts and releases liquid. Wipe skillet, set aside.
  2. Add the cooked chard to the flour mixture and mix with fork to incorporate. Transfer to a 9-inch pie plate; firmly press mixture into bottom and up the side of pan. Bake until golden and firm, about 25 minutes. Cool.

Instructions for the filling:

  1. In a medium skillet, heat remaining tablespoon oil over medium. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Add remaining 8 ounces of chard to skillet, season with salt and pepper, and cook until wilted, 2 to 3 minutes.
  2. Transfer chard mixture to a colander. Press firmly with the back of a spoon to squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Top prepared crust with chard mixture and cheese; place on rimmed baking sheet.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, nutmeg, mustard powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Pour custard over chard mixture. Bake until custard is set, 40 to 45 minutes. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.

My notes:

I used 8 ounces of red chard leaves (a few of the very skinny stems, but probably at most an ounce). I didn’t notice the chard stems in the final dish. I sliced them very thin and cooked them with the onion. I think next time I could use a bit more stems.

I used the cup of whole milk and 4 (German large) eggs.

I didn’t have gruyere so I used 2 ounces of parmesan grated + 1.25 ounces of some soft tangy cheese from the biofrischmarkt. I used the full amount of salt in the mixture plus some in the chard. The quiche tasted good but I think it was too salty, probably because I used fine and not coarse salt. Next time I’d cut the salt down a tad.

I used pepper and nutmeg but was out of ground mustard. I would add a bit more nutmeg next time, as I couldn’t really taste it.

The recipe says it serves 6, but we actually almost 7 pieces out. We were all hungry and had almost 2 pieces each for lunch. (Alma and I had small pieces for seconds.) There were 3 medium sized pieces left, which we will reheat for breakfast.

Update Feb 9, 2019:

Made this kale quiche recipe from Naturally Ella today. I only had 1.5 cups of milk but still I think it would have been way too much filling for my normal pie crust. I ended up using my larger enameled pan, but then there wasn’t as much crispy crust sticking out 😦

I didn’t love it, but I was out of cheddar. I used a little mozzarella and a lot of parmesan. It was a tad boring I thought. Derek said it was very good. He said the texture was more like quiche than the chard quiche recipe.

Update May 8, 2019:

I had a ton of Rübstiel from my CSA to use up, and wasn’t sure what to do with it. It seems that it’s basically baby turnip greens with lots of stems. I found this recipe for Rübstielkuchen, which is basically a quiche. So I decided to adapt the chard quiche recipe above to use the turnip greens instead.

The German recipe calls for a tart pan with a 26cm diameter, which is much larger than my pie plate.

For comparison, it calls for

original recipe x 2 german recipe
8 eggs 4 eggs
1 onion 2 onions
1 pound chard (454g) 500g of Stielmus
2 cups whole milk (500 ml) 150 ml milk + 250 ml cream + 100g creme fraiche
4 ounces (113g) grated gruyere cheese 100g gruyere cheese, grated
2 Tbsp. olive oil 1 (German) teaspoon of oil
1 tsp. salt + 1/4 tsp. black pepper salt and pepper to taste
2 pinches ground nutmeg + 2 pinches ground mustard powder

I used just over a pound of turnip greens combined with the turnip stems, but only 1/2 an onion. I used 4 eggs, 1/2 cup of milk, 1/2 cup of cream, no creme fraiche, and 3 ounces (85g) comte, plus 1/2 tsp. fine salt and two pinches of nutmeg and some black pepper.

The quiche was quite tasty, but it was quite full and it didn’t hold together great. Also the bottom crust ended up super soggy. Maybe I should have squeezed the liquid out of the greens? Or maybe it was just too much greens for that much milk eggs/dairy? I thought the chard recipe above also called for 1 pound of chard, but I forgot that half of it goes in the crust. I’ve updated it above to make it clearer what goes in the crust and what goes in the filling.

Everyone loved the quiche, probably because it was quite salty and very rich. Alma had 3 (small) pieces and asked for another one. Derek and I talked about how we also wanted more because it’s so tasty, but we would probably get a stomachache if we ate more. We all decided to save our last piece for the morning. Of course, the next morning Alma wasn’t interested. She gave her piece to Derek and asked for oatmeal instead.

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Instant Pot Refried Beans

June 28, 2018 at 10:32 pm (Alma's faves, B plus (3 stars, like a lot), Beans, Instant Pot, Mexican & S. American, Monthly menu plan, Website / blog) ()

I used to make refried beans on the stovetop, but now that I’ve gotten an Instant Pot I wanted to figure out how to make them in the electric pressure cooker instead. I started with this recipe for creamy-dreamy pinto beans from Julie and Kittee, but I changed a few things.

First of all, if I’m going to the trouble of making refries I’m going to want to use more than 2 cups of dry pintos! I figured the maximum that would fit in my 6-quart Instant Pot would be 4 cups, so I doubled the recipe. Also, I wanted to take out some of the beans as whole beans before making refries, so I soaked my beans overnight and reduced the cooking time, so that the beans would come out soft but not falling apart. Then I tweaked the seasoning a bit. Below is my modified recipe.

These days I usually serve my refries with salsa and homemade plantain chips. Alma, at 3.5 years, is a big fan. I’ll try to add a post about how I make the plantain chips next. Read the rest of this entry »

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The best pesto, and sore arms

June 17, 2018 at 9:13 pm (B plus (3 stars, like a lot), Cooking tips, Italian, Sauce/dressing, Summer recipes, Website / blog)

I got a ton of fresh basil from my CSA this week, so I decided to make pesto. I followed this “best pesto” recipe from Serious Eats. Wow was it hard work! I like that it gives the amount of basil leaves by weight, but the recipe did not prepare me for how much work it would be. It took a huge amount of effort to grind all those basil leaves down by hand. Maybe it was because I was using a big thai mortar and pestle instead of the little white (marble?) one they show in the video? By the end I could barely grip the mortar any more. And I never did get my basil leaves as fine as they show in their photos. The pesto did taste really good though (even though I didn’t have any Fiore Sardo, and used all parmesan, and left out the final 2 tablespoons of olive oil).

Alma tasted the pesto but wouldn’t eat it. I froze the bulk of it in two small glass jars.

I have more basil. I might try making the same recipe in the food processor, and see how different it tastes to me. Maybe I’ll even freeze my basil overnight first.

I’m out of pine nuts though. Maybe I’ll try making the next batch of pesto with sunflower seeds instead? Or maybe I’ll just freeze my basil (in oil?) and save it in the freezer for some other recipe.

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Amaranth porridge with blueberry sauce

May 27, 2018 at 11:24 pm (Alma's faves, B plus (3 stars, like a lot), breakfast, Fall recipes, Grains, Monthly menu plan, Spring recipes, Website / blog, Winter recipes) ()

About once a month I make this recipe from Naturally Ella for Blueberries ‘n’ Cream Amaranth Porridge. Derek won’t eat it, but Alma and I like it a lot. Amaranth has a somewhat odd sticky, grainy texture, but the addition of the creamy blueberry sauce helps transform it into more of a traditional tasting breakfast porridge.

I usually make it on the weekend, since it takes about 30 minutes to make. I always make extra amaranth and freeze it for a quick mid-week breakfast. Here’s how I cook the amaranth.

In a 2-quart pot, soak 1.5 cups of amaranth overnight. In the morning, drain the amaranth, and return it to the pot with 3 cups of water and three pinches of salt. Bring the amaranth to a boil, turn the heat as low as it will go, and reduce to a simmer. Cover and let simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit for 10 more minutes. Stir to mix in the extra water on the top of the amaranth.

Alternately, I’ve had success making amaranth in my instant pot electric pressure cooker. Lasttime I tried 1 cup of amaranth with 2 cups of water on high pressure for 3 minutes + natural release. It came out well, although it was sitting on keep warm for about an hour. Alma and I ate more than 2/3 of it for breakfast, so next time I’d try 2 cups of amaranth with 3.75 cups of water for 3 minutes + NR. I’m also curious to try a pot-in-pot method, so I don’t have to clean the large insert, but I suspect the cooking time will go up.

To make the blueberry sauce I follow the original recipe but cut the maple syrup down a tad and use vanilla extract instead of a vanilla bean:

  • 1 cup blueberries (I always use frozen, I wouldn’t waste fresh in this dish!)
  • 2 tsp. maple syrup (or 1 ripe pear, see note below)
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons heavy cream (I haven’t tried coconut milk yet)
  • pinch of salt

Note: I’ve also left the maple syrup out and added a ripe pear to the sauce. Once I just finely diced it (with skin on) and let it simmer with the blueberries. Another time I had a bunch of overripe pears and I cooked them into pear puree first (simmering them then pureeing them with my stick blender). I then used the puree in the blueberry sauce. Alma and I enjoyed both versions.

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Banana Oat Nut Pancakes

May 27, 2018 at 11:13 pm (A (4 stars, love), Alma's faves, breakfast, Derek's faves, Monthly menu plan, Website / blog) ()

We have tried a lot of banana pancake recipes. This recipe from Cookie and Kate is currently one of our favorites. I usually add pecans as well.

The pancake batter has a lot of coconut oil in it, so I find you don’t need to use much oil in the pan. The amount of oil in the recipe could probably be cut down, but I haven’t tried it. The original recipe calls for a teaspoon of sweetener, but I omit it since we usually eat the pancakes with maple syrup. I assume the lemon juice is there to activate the baking soda? I haven’t noticed any lemon flavor.

The original recipe says it makes 8 pancakes, but they must be larger than ours, because for me it makes at least 9, usually more. The recipe below is actually 1.5x the original recipe, so it should make 13 or 14 pancakes. (I like to freeze the leftovers for a second breakfast.)

INGREDIENTS

  • 1.75 cups mashed bananas (about 4.5 small bananas, mashed, or 14.25 ounces)
  • 1.5 tablespoons lemon juice (about 1 medium-small lemon, juiced)
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil or butter, melted
  • 3 eggs
  • 1.5 cups oat flour (from 1.5 cups of rolled oats ground in a food processor or blender)
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • heaping ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans

INSTRUCTIONS for making the batter

    1. Remove the eggs and lemon from the fridge in advance so they have time to warm up.
    2. Mix the dry ingredients: In a blender or food processor, grind the oats. When they have a flour-like consistency, add in the baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg and blend again.
    3. Mix the wet ingredients: In a large stainless steel bowl, mash the bananas. Juice the lemon and add 1.5 tablespoons of lemon juice to the bananas. Beat in the eggs. In a very small glass bowl melt the coconut oil on low in the microwave. Add it to the large bowl and mix.
    4. Mix together the wet and dry ingredients and the chopped nuts: Form a well in the center of the wet ingredients and pour in the dry ingredients. With a big rubber spatula, stir just until the dry ingredients are thoroughly moistened. Add the nuts and stir again. Let the batter sit for 10 minutes. You may want to thin out the batter a bit with a touch of milk or water.

Instructions for cooking:

    1. Heat a heavy cast iron skillet/non-stick pan over medium-low heat, or heat an electric griddle to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly oil the surface with coconut oil, butter or cooking spray. (If you’re using a non-stick electric griddle, you might not need any oil at all.)
    2. Once the surface of the pan is hot enough that a drop of water sizzles on it, pour ¼ cup of batter onto the pan. Let the pancake cook for about 3 minutes, until bubbles begin to form around the edges of the cake.
    3. Once the underside of the pancake is lightly golden, flip it with a spatula and cook for another 90 seconds or so, until golden brown on both sides. You may need to adjust the heat up or down at this point.
    4. Serve the pancakes immediately or keep warm in a 200 degree Fahrenheit oven.

 

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Toddler-approved hummus

January 27, 2018 at 10:07 pm (B plus (3 stars, like a lot), Beans, Derek's faves, Middle East / N. Africa, Monthly menu plan, Quick weeknight recipe, Website / blog) ()

Alma likes storebought hummus, but never likes my regular homemade hummus. So I decided to try a new recipe. I did a google search and picked this random recipe for “Better than Storebought” hummus from www.inspiredtaste.net  I chose it because it had over 700 reviews and an average rating of 4.8 out of 5 stars. Plus it’s a relatively simple recipe, with a slightly different technique than I usually use. It has you blend the tahini and lemon juice first, before adding the chickpeas.

I doubled the recipe:

  • 2 (15-ounce) cans of chickpeas or 3 cups (500 grams) cooked chickpeas
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) fresh lemon juice (about 2 large lemons)
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) well-stirred tahini
  • 2 small garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 tablespoons (60 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Salt to taste
  • 4 to 6 tablespoons (60 to 90 ml) water
  • Dash of ground paprika, for serving

Instructions:

  1. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the tahini and lemon juice and process for 1 minute, scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl then process for 30 seconds more, until the tahini is whipped, smooth, and creamy.
  2. Add the garlic, cumin, and salt to the whipped tahini and lemon juice. Process for 30 seconds, scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl then process another 30 seconds or until well blended.
  3. Add half of the (drained) chickpeas to the food processor and process for 1 minute. Scrape sides and bottom of the bowl, then add remaining chickpeas and process until thick and quite smooth; 1 to 2 minutes.
  4. Keep adding bean cooking liquid 1 or 2 Tbsp. at a time, until the hummus is the desired consistency.

I think I followed the recipe pretty closely. I added a tad more than 3 cups of chickpeas (maybe 530g?) and a little more lemon, and used the bean cooking liquid to thin it out instead of water. I also put in only about half the cumin, just in case it would cause Alma to not like it.

The hummus came out well. Derek loved it. He said it was bright and creamy and perfect. Alma wouldn’t eat it on carrot sticks, but did deign to eat it on spelt crackers. And a few days later she ate it happily on cucumbers! I liked it. It doesn’t taste like storebought, but it was yummy. I’d make it again. I might use slightly more tahini and less olive oil.

Update as of Feb 25, 2018:

I cut out the olive oil and cumin, and added more tahini than last time. I made a double batch:

  • 1/2 cup lemon juice (122g)
  • 1 cup tahini (227g)
  • 4 garlic cloves (mine weighed around 7g, but I think 12g would be more average)
  • 1.25 tsp. salt
  • 4 cup salted chickpeas (should have been about 656g, but mine weighed 725g)
  • about 7 Tbs. bean juice (I used 111g)

I first added the lemon juice and tahini to the food processor until fluffy. Then added the garlic and salt, then the chickpeas, and finally the bean juice. I thought it wasn’t quite as tasty as my last batch, but I’m not sure what the difference is. Maybe a tad too thick? Needed a little bit more liquid maybe?

It made about 5.5 cups maybe? I left 2.5 cups in the fridge and froze 2 cups. It’s kind of a pain to clean the food processor, so if it freezes well I think next time I’ll make an even bigger batch. Maybe 6 cups of chickpeas.

How I cooked the chickpeas: I cooked 1 pound 12 ounces chickpeas in my instant pot. I hot-soaked them over the morning in about 70 C water, to fill to the 3 liter mark. I also added about 1 3/4 tsp. of salt. I left the instant pot on keep warm.  When they seemed fully hydrated I cooked them under pressure for 17 minutes. They ended up soft (maybe a tad too soft for chana masala) but not quite as soft as last time. Maybe next time do 16 minutes, take some out, then cook the rest for hummus another few minutes? I used the still very warm chickpeas in the hummus, because I heard that makes a creamier hummus.

To decide how much tahini to use, I compared a few recipes.  This nytimes Zahav-inspired recipe calls for 3 cups of cooked chickpeas and a full cup of tahini!, but no olive oil (except to garnish). That said, the nytimes version seems to be a bastardized version of the chef’s original recipe. The version of Zahav’s recipe on food52 calls for 3 cups of cooked chickpeas and only 2/3 cup of tahini, and the technique is different. Odd. This Ottolenghi recipe calls for 3 cups of chickpeas and 13.5 Tbs. (.84 cups) of tahini .

For reference, the amount of tahini for 4 cups of chickpeas ranges from 10.67 (Better than storebought recipe), 14 Tbs. (Zahav), 18 tbs. (Ottolenghi), to 21.33 (NYT version of Zahav’s). Lemon juice ranges from 4 Tbs. (Ottolenghi), 7 Tbs. (Zahav), 10.67 Tbs. (Better than storebought). And salt ranges from 1.33 tsp. salt (Better than Storebought), to 1.5 tsp. salt (Ottolenghi).

Update as of April 14, 2018:

I cooked 1.5 pounds of dry (unsoaked) chickpeas with 1.5 tsp. of salt in my instant pot for 55 minutes, and then went out and they ended up sitting on keep warm for around 3 hours I think. They ended up quite soft. Next time maybe I should add a bit less salt, just 1.25 tsp for 1.5 pounds of chickpeas or 1.5 tsp. for 1.75 pounds of chickpeas.

I made an even larger batch of hummus than last time (4x the original recipe), but I think it was too much for my food processor motor to handle, and also probably a bit too much for the freezer. Next time I’ll probably go back to the 4-cup of chickpeas version. Or divide it and make it in two batches.

  • 3/4 cup lemon juice (183g)
  • 1.5 cups tahini (341g)
  • 6 garlic cloves (around 16g)
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin (I didn’t add this at first, but it was quite bland. Was better with the cumin.)
  • 1.5 tsp. (but see note below on the bean juice)
  • 6 cup salted chickpeas (984g)
  • about 10-11 Tbs. bean juice (about 173g) [I ended up needing to add way more liquid, maybe double? That’s probably why I needed less salt, since the bean juice was salted]

Here’s the original “Better than Storebought” recipe x4, for comparison:

  • 1 cup (240 ml) fresh lemon juice (about 4 large lemons)
  • 1 cup (240 ml) well-stirred tahini
  • 8 small garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 4 (15-ounce) cans of chickpeas or 6 cups (1kg) cooked chickpeas
  • 1 cup to 1.5 cups of bean cooking liquid

Update as of March 23, 2018:

How I cooked the chickpeas: I soaked just shy of 1 pound of chickpeas with plenty of salt and kombu for about 24 hours, drained them, then put them in the instant pot with a bit over 2 cups of water, so they were just barely covered. I cooked them on high pressure for 14 minutes, plus natural release. They came out well—salty and soft but not falling apart soft. I maybe could have done one more minute for hummus-soft beans.

When the beans were still warm I made one batch of hummus, but I was a bit short on tahini so I cut down on the lemon juice a bit too. My beans and aquafaba were quite salty, so I cut back on salt in the hummus. The hummus came out well.

  • 1/2 cup lemon juice (122g) [I used a bit less, maybe 105g?]
  • 1 cup tahini (227g) [I ran out, and only used about 170g]
  • 8 or 9g of garlic
  • about 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 4 cup cooked salted chickpeas (should have been about 656g, but mine weighed about 700-something grams)
  • about 8 or 9 Tbs. bean juice (more than 111g)

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Cauliflower fried “rice” with carrots, peas, and corn

January 18, 2018 at 10:41 pm (breakfast, B_ (2 stars, okay), Cruciferous rich, East and SE Asia, One pot wonders, Quick weeknight recipe, Soy and seitan, Website / blog)

So I haven’t been blogging much lately. We have been cooking, but we haven’t been making so many new recipes. Blame my toddler. Alma (at almost 3) is not what I would call a super picky eater. She will eat most vegetables, and almost all types of beans, whole grains, fruits, and nuts. That said, in comparison to Derek and I, she is soooo picky. She doesn’t yet like most spices and herbs, she’s adverse to many “mixed” dishes, and she’s generally nervous about anything new. It’s hard to get up the energy to try a new recipe, when you know that with high likelihood it will be rejected, at least on the first attempt.

But I am still in need of quick, healthy weeknight recipes as well as healthy, vegetable-containing breakfasts. So I went on a search for “kid friendly” recipes. Most of what I found was either a dessert, non-vegetarian, or flour-, dairy-, or grain-based, with few to no vegetables. Not what I was looking for. Then I came across this recipe for a one-skillet cauliflower “fried rice” on the Super Healthy Kids blog, and it reminded me that I’d been meaning to try making fried rice out of cauliflower for a while. This particular version looks a little wan — there’s no scallions, no ginger, no chilies. But I figured it would be a good first version to test on Alma (who won’t touch scallions or chilies, and isn’t a huge fan of ginger). Read the rest of this entry »

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Easy toasted overnight steel cut oatmeal

May 29, 2017 at 8:55 pm (Alma's faves, B plus (3 stars, like a lot), breakfast, Fall recipes, Grains, Monthly menu plan, Website / blog, Winter recipes)

Normally Derek doesn’t like oatmeal made from steel cut oats that much, but today he really liked it, and he asked me to write up what I did. I mostly followed this recipe from Marin Mama Cooks for toasted overnight steel cut oats, but I made a few changes. Read the rest of this entry »

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Red lentil and spinach pancakes

May 16, 2017 at 2:45 pm (Beans, B_ (2 stars, okay), Dark leafy greens, Uncategorized, Website / blog) ()

Alma does not like red lentils. She will happily eat brown lentils, green lentils, and black lentils, but if I give her a bite of red lentils she invariably spits them out. I think it’s a texture thing, so I thought I’d try this recipe from the Healthy Little Foodies blog for red lentil and spinach pancakes. The recipe is really simple — just soaked (not cooked) red lentils, garlic and spices, and fresh spinach. Read the rest of this entry »

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Baked Cauli-tots

May 15, 2017 at 8:44 pm (Alma's faves, B plus (3 stars, like a lot), breakfast, Cruciferous rich, Derek's faves, Monthly menu plan, Website / blog) ()

There are a million recipes online for cauliflower “tots”. They’re a fun change of pace from simple roasted cauliflower, and they’re easy to make in advance when you need a quick breakfast. Serve the cauli-tots with some already cooked beans and some fresh fruit and they’ll make a great breakfast. Read the rest of this entry »

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Restaurant-style sesame noodles

April 30, 2017 at 9:58 pm (Alma's faves, B plus (3 stars, like a lot), Chinese, Derek's faves, Monthly menu plan, Pasta, Sauce/dressing, Tofu, Website / blog) ()

I already have two sesame noodle recipes on my blog. The first recipe is from Madhur Jaffrey’s World of the East cookbook, and uses tahini. The second recipe is from Nancie McDermott’s Quick and Easy Chinese cookbook, and uses peanut butter. But lately we haven’t been making either of these recipes. Instead we’ve been making a version of the takeout-style sesame noodles recipe from Sam Sifton on the New York Times website. It uses both tahini and peanut butter. It’s clearly the winner. We make a whole meal out of it by adding pan-fried tofu, steamed broccoli, and various raw veggies. The last few times we’ve made this for dinner, Alma has scarfed it up. Read the rest of this entry »

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Creamy millet porridge with baked, spiced pears

February 19, 2017 at 1:44 pm (Alma's faves, B plus (3 stars, like a lot), breakfast, Cook's Illustrated, Fall recipes, Grains, Monthly menu plan, Website / blog, Winter recipes) ()

Derek is not a millet fan. I remember him happily digging into a millet pilaf I made many years ago, and then almost doing a spit-take. “What did you do to the rice?” he asked with a look of intense disgust on his face. “This is the worst rice you’ve ever made!” So as you can imagine, I don’t cook a lot of millet. But Alma likes porridge, and I’m not the biggest oatmeal fan. I wanted to make some alternative-grain porridges, and I came across a recipe from Cook’s Illustrated for creamy millet porridge. They say “slightly overcooking millet causes the seeds to burst and release starch, creating a creamy consistency that makes this grain ideal for breakfast porridge.” Sounds good! I think Derek’s main problem with millet is its somewhat dry, gritty texture, so I thought maybe he’d be willing to eat millet in a porridge. And he is! Alma likes it too, and for me it’s a nice change from oatmeal.

When I made this porridge for breakfast today, I served it with my Mom’s Ayurvedic baked, spiced pears. Alma isn’t normally a huge pear fan, but she likes these baked pears, which are seasoned with cinnamon, cardamom, and nutmeg. And unlike with baked apples, she doesn’t even complain about the skin. Read the rest of this entry »

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Banana egg blueberry pancakes

June 12, 2016 at 7:38 pm (Alma's faves, breakfast, B_ (2 stars, okay), Monthly menu plan, Necessarily nonvegan, Website / blog) ()

Apparently these two-ingredient pancakes have been floating around on the Internet for several years, but I first came across them on parenting blogs, where they are popular because they’re toddler friendly and not too unhealthy. Although they can be made with just two ingredients (banana and egg), I usually add a few other ingredients as well. Below is our most common version. For other variations, see this excellent writeup on thekitchen.com. Read the rest of this entry »

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Simple, French-style pureed soup, especially for toddlers

May 1, 2016 at 8:09 pm (French, Root vegetables, soup, unrated, Vegetable dishes, Website / blog) ()

I recently read the book French Kids Eat Everything: How Our Family Moved to France, Cured Picky Eating, Banned Snacking, and Discovered 10 Simple Rules for Raising Happy, Healthy Eaters by Karen LeBillon. I quite enjoyed the book, and—when it comes to preparing food for Alma—it gave me lots of “food” for thought. (Sorry!)

There are a number of interesting observations LeBillon makes in the book, but I’ll save them for another post. Today, I wanted to focus on the idea of starting dinner with a simple pureed vegetable soup. LeBillon says that the French start their meal with a soup several times a week. This soup is almost always a vegetable soup, and often a simple pureed vegetable soup. These soups supposedly make great starters for babies and toddlers, as they’re an easy way to introduce them to a lot of different vegetables. Also, it gives them a vegetable at the start of the meal, when they are most hungry. Finally, they’re really fast to make. Just saute some aromatics, throw in your veggies and broth, simmer briefly, and puree. All in all, that’s pretty easy, which is definitely a plus when it comes to cooking with a busy toddler underfoot. Finally, they freeze really well. You can freeze the soups in small jars and then defrost them quickly when needed—no need to scramble to put something healthy on the table at the last minute.

I thought I’d give it a try. I started with LeBillon’s simple French carrot soup with dill recipe.  Although most toddlers seem to like carrots, Alma usually does not, I’m not sure why—maybe a texture issue? I thought  pureeing them was worth a try. The first time I served it, Alma ate one very tiny bowl of it (a mise en place bowl), without too much complaint. She didn’t love it, but it helped that she’s just learned how to use a spoon, and so anything that requires a spoon is therefore very exciting. I had made quite a bit of soup, so I decided to take half of the leftovers and add in some roasted red bell pepper and jarred tomatoes, and pureed the soup again. I refrigerated a little bit of each soup, and froze the rest in small glass jars. The version with red bell pepper and tomato was definitely a bigger hit (with both Derek and Alma) than the straight carrot soup, but over the last several weeks Alma has eaten the plain carrot dill version several times, sometimes enthusiastically, sometimes less so.

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Quinoa Spinach Croquettes, Toddler Approved

February 17, 2016 at 2:59 pm (Alma's faves, B plus (3 stars, like a lot), breakfast, Dark leafy greens, Grains, Monthly menu plan, Necessarily nonvegan, Vegetable dishes, Website / blog) ()

Last month I made broccoli cheddar quinoa bites, and liked them. So I decided to try this recipe for “Quinoa quiche muffins with spinach and cheese.” Although they are called muffins, the recipe is actually quite similar to the previous recipe, except that it calls for spinach instead of broccoli, has more eggs, and uses feta in addition to cheddar. Like before, I made them on a cookie sheet instead of in a muffin tin, to save on cleanup time. Although they are called “quiche muffins,” the way I made them they didn’t have the texture of a typical quiche or of a typical muffin. The texture is more grainy and crumbly, similar to the texture of these five-grain croquettes.

Alma really likes this recipe, and Derek and I enjoy it as well. The croquettes freeze well, and along with a piece of fruit they make an easy quick breakfast. I’ve made this recipe at least 5 times since I originally posted it (often with a slight variation), and it’s always a hit. It also works well as a take-along snack—just bring the frozen croquette with you and it will probably be defrosted by the time you get there. It’s fine room temperature. Just don’t give it to your toddler inside without a plate because it can be a bit crumbly. Read the rest of this entry »

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