Instant Pot Refried Beans

June 28, 2018 at 10:32 pm (Alma's faves, Beans, Mexican & S. American, Monthly menu plan, unrated, 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 (Cooking tips, Italian, Sauce/dressing, Summer recipes, unrated, 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, breakfast, Fall recipes, Grains, Monthly menu plan, Spring recipes, unrated, 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 (Alma's faves, breakfast, Derek's faves, Monthly menu plan, unrated, 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 oil could probably be cut down. The teaspoon of sweetener seems unnecessary if you eat them with maple syrup. I assume the lemon juice is there to activate the baking soda? I haven’t noticed any lemon flavor.

The recipe says it makes 8 pancakes, but they must be larger than ours, because for me it makes at least 9, usually more.

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Toddler-approved hummus

January 27, 2018 at 10:07 pm (B plus, 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 about 18 Tbs. of tahini for 4 cups of chickpeas!

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

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

January 18, 2018 at 10:41 pm (breakfast, B_, 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, breakfast, Derek's faves, Fall recipes, Grains, Monthly menu plan, unrated, 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, Dark leafy greens, Uncategorized, unrated, 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, breakfast, Cruciferous rich, Derek's faves, Monthly menu plan, unrated, 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, Chinese, Derek's faves, Monthly menu plan, Pasta, Sauce/dressing, Tofu, Uncategorized, 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, breakfast, B_, 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, 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 (Alma's faves, 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.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Quinoa Spinach Croquettes, Toddler Approved

February 17, 2016 at 2:59 pm (Alma's faves, B plus, breakfast, Dark leafy greens, Grains, Monthly menu plan, 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 giveit to your toddler inside without a plate because it can be a bit crumbly. Read the rest of this entry »

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Quinoa broccoli cheddar croquettes

January 7, 2016 at 9:30 pm (breakfast, B_, Cruciferous rich, Grains, Website / blog)

After the disappointment of November’s double broccoli quinoa recipe, I was surprised when Derek picked another broccoli quinoa recipe to try. This one for broccoli cheddar quinoa bites is easier though. Once you have the quinoa cooked you just chop some broccoli, grate the cheese, mince a few cloves of garlic, and mix it all together and bake it. Easy peasy broccolisy. Read the rest of this entry »

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Crisp marinated and baked tofu

January 7, 2016 at 8:57 pm (Baked tofu, B_, East and SE Asia, Tofu, Website / blog)

This recipe has you press tofu, marinate it overnight in the fridge, drain it, dredge it in cornstarch, and bake it on an unoiled cookie sheet until the outside is crisp on the inside, but still soft on the inside.  The recipe is originally from Joe Yonan, but I found it on David Lebovitz’s blog. He raves about it, and it’s a different technique than I’ve used before. Normally I either pan-fry tofu, bake it submerged in a marinade, or bread it then bake it in thin slices. This recipe is something a little bit different. Read the rest of this entry »

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The lazy cook’s black bean recipe

January 7, 2016 at 4:48 pm (Alma's faves, B plus, Beans, Mexican & S. American, Website / blog) ()

This recipe from Serious Eats is supposed to be a super easy way to make tasty black beans. Black beans? Yes please. Lazy cook? Double yes. Clearly I had to try it. It’s interesting in that they recommend simmering the aromatics rather than sautéeing them first. Not only is it easier and faster, but the author claims that sautéeing sweetens the aromatics too much, so that they overpower the beans. I was intrigued. Read the rest of this entry »

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Chia pumpkin pudding

November 6, 2015 at 11:13 pm (Alma's faves, Dessert, Monthly menu plan, Pudding, unrated, Website / blog) ()

When we visited my Mom in June, she made a simple chia pudding with almond milk, which I really liked. It’s also vegan and raw. I liked it so much that when I got home I bought some chia seeds. But then of course I never got around to using them. When my mom came to visit in August, she discovered the unopened package, and made homemade almond milk and then used it to make me some more of her chia pudding. It was delicious. But making the almond milk was a pain, because my almonds didn’t peel easily. So for a second batch she tried making a version with hemp milk instead of almond milk. It was also good, but the hemp milk adds a pretty sharp grassy note. Alma ate both versions, but seemed to prefer the one with almond milk. Once my mom left I didn’t have the energy to make almond milk, so I bought some at the store and made another batch of chia almond milk pudding. Alma really liked it.  So I tried to find some more recipes using chia seeds, and I came across this recipe for pumpkin pie chia pudding. Read the rest of this entry »

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Roasted butternut squash & red onion with tahini & za’atar

January 9, 2015 at 4:09 pm (B plus, Derek's faves, Fall recipes, Middle East / N. Africa, Vegetable dishes, Website / blog, Winter recipes)

I had a butternut squash that was starting to go bad, and I asked Derek to choose a recipe to use it up. He chose this Yotam Ottolenghi recipe for roasted butternut squash and red onion with tahini and za’atar, which I was happy about, because it would allow me to use up some of the zaatar I bought to make the last Ottolenghi recipe we tried (this za’atar spiced beet dip). You can find more comments about the recipe (and a photo!) on this seriouseats page. Read the rest of this entry »

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Chocolate teff banana bread

December 15, 2014 at 11:58 pm (Dessert, Muffins and quick breads, unrated, Website / blog)

I was looking for a recipe to use up some teff flour, and I came across this recipe for chocolate, teff, banana bread on the Cannelle Et Vanille blog. I vaguely recall making a different chocolate, teff, banana bread earlier this year (this recipe from the gluten-free-girl blog) and not being so excited about it. I’m not usually a fan of chocolate in banana bread—I normally prefer adding nuts and spices, as I find that adding chocolate or chocolate chips overpowers the pure banana-bread-y-ness.  With this recipe, however, I absolutely loved the final product. I’m not sure what made the key difference (maybe it’s just the pregnancy talking?), but I adored this cake. It’s very sweet and very moist and very banana-y, with a tender crumb that is neither overly delicate nor overly gooey. Read the rest of this entry »

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Za’atar-Spiced Beet Dip with Goat Cheese and Hazelnuts

November 9, 2014 at 1:54 pm (Middle East / N. Africa, Root vegetables, unrated, Website / blog)

I’ve seen this Yotam Ottolenghi beet dip recipe show up on several blogs lately, and although beets and goat cheese is a standard combination, I’ve never tried beets and goat cheese with Zaatar before. It sounded interesting, so I thought I’d give it a try.

I used pre-cooked, pre-peeled beets, and so the recipe was pretty easy—just put everything but the garnishes in the food processor and blend. The puree tasted okay, but I could barely taste the za’atar, which was the reason I had picked the recipe in the first place. I ended up adding quite a bit more as a garnish on top of the puree. as well as more hazelnuts and goat cheese and scallions. (The garnishes seemed to disappear much faster than the beet dip.)

We ate the dip with pita bread, but it seemed to last an awful long time, given that it was only made from 6 beets. (Normally Derek and I could polish off 6 small beets in one or maybe two sittings.) Derek liked the dish more than me, but after we finally finished it I asked him if we should make it again, and he said no.

I think my main problem with the recipe is that it’s a dip. I just didn’t know what to do with it. I couldn’t figure out what to dip into it other than pita bread, and I didn’t really want to eat a massive amount of pita bread. I think I would have liked it better as a salad with sliced beets.

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Yam and Peanut Stew with Kale

November 9, 2014 at 1:14 pm (Beans, Beans and greens, Fall recipes, Middle East / N. Africa, One pot wonders, Root vegetables, soup, Uncategorized, unrated, Website / blog, Winter recipes)

My sister loves this recipe for a yam and peanut stew with kale, and has recommended it to me several times. She mentioned it again last week and coincidentally I had (almost) all the ingredients on hand (everything but the roasted and salted peanuts and the scallions). Hanaleah said that I could leave off both, since they’re just garnishes. So I decided to make it for dinner.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Oatmeal-less oatmeal

August 10, 2014 at 8:44 pm (breakfast, Website / blog)

I bought a new bottle of grade C maple syrup at Al Natura last week, and Derek really wanted to try it, but we were out of oatmeal. Forced to improvise, I decided to make this “better than oatmeal” recipe, which is basically mashed banana mixed with eggs, pecans, and spices. Weird, no? Read the rest of this entry »

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Almond meal and zucchini falafel

August 2, 2014 at 5:04 pm (Middle East / N. Africa, Summer recipes, unrated, Website / blog)

Even after making two zucchini breads, I still had a ton of zucchini left. I cooked some up with carrots and onions and used it as a topping for pasta along with fresh tomatoes and basil. It was tasty but for my next recipe I wanted to try something a little bit different. When I was looking for recipes that call for coconut flour, I had bookmarked this recipe for almond meal and zucchini falafel from the divaliciousrecipesinthecity.com blog. Unfortunately, I didn’t go back and re-read the head notes before making the recipe, I just started with the ingredient list. I saw “almond meal” and thought it was supposed to be ground almonds, but it turns out the recipe is actually calling for the fibrous, low-fat almond meal leftover from making homemade almond milk. Whoops! Maybe that’s why my falafel were such a disaster. But a surprisingly tasty disaster… Read the rest of this entry »

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Healthier zucchini bread

August 2, 2014 at 4:47 pm (Muffins and quick breads, Summer recipes, unrated, Website / blog)

A friend gave me a ton of zucchini from her garden, and I had to figure out what to do with it. I’d never made zucchini bread before, but I was in the mood for something sweet, so I found two recipes online for reasonably healthy-looking zucchini bread. One is for a “regular” zucchini bread, just modified a bit to be lower calorie. The second is for a chocolate zucchini bread. Read the rest of this entry »

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Saucy Italian baked eggs

May 27, 2014 at 6:38 pm (breakfast, Italian, Monthly menu plan, Necessarily nonvegan, One pot wonders, Ottolenghi, Quick weeknight recipe, Spring recipes, Summer recipes, unrated, Website / blog, Winter recipes)

I came across this recipe for saucy Italian baked eggs on a random blog, and immediately started drooling. I’ve been craving tomato sauce lately and this recipe is basically an egg baked in a big ramekin of marinara sauce with a little mozzarella and basil for garnish. It even looked easy enough that Derek could make it himself. Read the rest of this entry »

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Chilean cabbage and avocado slaw

May 25, 2014 at 7:50 pm (B_minus, Cruciferous rich, Salads, South American, Vegetable dishes, Website / blog)

I needed to bring a salad to an Argentinian barbecue, but I wasn’t feeling so well, and wanted something quick and easy. I settled on this recipe for Chilean cabbage and avocado slaw by Martha Rose Shulman. Read the rest of this entry »

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Turnip gratin

May 25, 2014 at 7:35 pm (B plus, breakfast, Cruciferous rich, Derek's faves, Fall recipes, Necessarily nonvegan, Root vegetables, Spring recipes, Vegetable dishes, Website / blog, Winter recipes)

It’s (still) turnip time! So on to new turnip recipe #2 for this year: a rich and satifying turnip gratin inspired by this photo recipe on The Pioneer Woman Cooks blog. Read the rest of this entry »

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How to cook acorn squash

March 23, 2014 at 8:18 pm (Cook's Illustrated, Fall recipes, unrated, Website / blog, Winter recipes)

When I first moved to Germany I couldn’t find acorn squash, and then last year they suddenly started turning up, but I had forgotten how to cook them. I tried baking them several times but they always ended up with burned skin and dried-up insides. Clearly I am not good at winging it. So this time I followed an actual recipe! Well…, sort of. As much as such a thing is possible. Read the rest of this entry »

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Homemade lara bars

February 26, 2014 at 10:09 am (Dessert, Other, unrated, Website / blog)

So far I’ve been doing pretty well on my elimination diet, except for my one “cheat” with a bit of oatmeal. Also, I forgot that lemon is citrus and I ate it several times. It’s so hard to cut out lemon that I’ve decided to leave it in. Could anyone really be allergic to lemons? I haven’t actually noticed any improvements in my allergies yet, but it’s only been a week and a half, so maybe it just takes more time.

The hardest part for me so far has been the nightly desire for a sweet snack of some sort. I said I was going to try to cut out added sugars as much as possible, and instead I’ve been eating Lara-type dried fruit and nut bars as a post-dinner dessert. They’re very tasty but a little bit too big for a dessert before bed. Also, they’re quite expensive (about 2 euros each). So I decided to try making my own. There are a million recipes online and I picked two to try: gingerbread bars and coconut cranberry bars. Read the rest of this entry »

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Sauerkraut patties

February 24, 2014 at 11:23 am (Beans, Cruciferous rich, unrated, Website / blog)

Derek was very skeptical about my allergy-free diet. He can still eat wheat and dairy and soy, of course, but still—I’m the one doing the cooking. But he was surprised to find that he loved both dinners I’ve made since he got back from Berlin. On Friday I just made a simple stir-fry, but it came out way better than most stir-fries I throw together. Then last night I made these sauerkraut patties from the click clack gorilla blog, and he absolutely loved them.

For the stir-fry Derek chopped up a bunch of garlic for me and I got out some leftover minced ginger. I sautéed both in a bit of olive oil along with a big handful of cashews. Then I added two heads of broccoli, some sliced shiitakes, and some more olive oil and sautéed everything briefly. I covered the broccoli with a layer of frozen stir-fry veggies (including bell peppers, carrots, bean sprouts, bamboo, leeks, etc.) and added a bit of water, salt, and pepper, then covered the pan and let everything steam until soft. When just about done I mixed a few teaspoons of Thai red curry paste with a tablespoon or so of coconut milk, just until dissolved, then threw that into the stir-fry along with some chopped scallions. Delicious. Both Derek and I really loved it.

The sauerkraut patty recipe looks pretty weird, but the title was quite persuasive (“sauerkraut patties will save your life”). I figured they were worth a try. The recipe is not really a recipe as much as an idea. (There are no measurements for anything.) I used:

  • one bag of sauerkraut from the farmer’s market
  • about 1/2 cup of cooked steel cut oats (okay, I cheated a bit on the no-grain front, but at least oats don’t have gluten)
  • some ground almonds for “flour”
  • one large carrot, grated
  • one large zucchini, grated
  • 1/2 red onion, grated
  • a couple ladlefuls of pinto beans
  • salt and pepper and a bit of red thai curry paste

The batter still looked pretty wet but I didn’t want to add any flour so I figured I’d just try it as it was. I added some oil to my cast iron skillet and fried the patties up until brown on both sides. The patties didn’t hold together great, but they were certainly recognizable as individual units, which was better than I expected. I found them a little odd. They were very sour from the sauerkraut and the (inside) texture was soggy and a little stringy. They weren’t unpleasant, but I don’t know that I’d rush to make them again. Derek, however, absolutely adored them. He spread them with more thai curry paste and really liked the combination of the spicy curry paste and the sourness of the sauerkraut. I think he likes sauerkraut more than me.

He ended our meal by saying, “I don’t know how this allergy-free diet has done it, but somehow your cooking has really improved lately!”

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Roasted sweet potato fries

February 17, 2014 at 10:49 pm (Fall recipes, Quick weeknight recipe, Root vegetables, Starches, Uncategorized, unrated, Website / blog, Winter recipes)

I’ve decided to go on an elimination diet for a month, to see if it helps my allergies. I chose the foods to eliminate based on how allergenic they seem to be in general, as well as the results of a skin-prick test I had years ago. I decided to eliminate the three big allergens—soy, dairy, and gluten—as well as a number of other foods.

Today was my first day of what I call my “allergy-free” diet and I got home from work quite late and found very little in the fridge, since we were out of town all weekend and I didn’t get a chance to do my normal Saturday morning shopping. Normally I would throw together a pasta dish or a stir-fry with veggies and tofu, but today I had to be a little more creative. I found some sweet potatoes and a jar of giant white beans in the pantry, and so I improvised what turned out to be a quite tasty dinner of sweet potato fries and white beans with leeks and dill and parsley. (I had chopped herbs in the freezer.) Read the rest of this entry »

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Mung and red lentil dal

December 29, 2013 at 11:30 am (B plus, Beans, Derek's faves, Indian, Website / blog)

I wanted to make mung dal yesterday, but I didn’t have any toovar dal and didn’t feel like making 100% mung dal, and so I went looking for a recipe that uses mung and massoor dal (hulled and split red lentils). I found this recipe for red lentil and moong dal on the Lisa’s Kitchen blog, which is a blog mostly devoted to vegetarian Indian recipe. The recipe is pretty similar to my mung and toovar dal recipe, as you can see below. The main differences are that the mung & masoor recipe calls for more turmeric and mustard seeds, and instead of garlic, shallot, and curry leaves, the sauce is finished with tomatoes, amchoor powder, and garam masala. But actually I forgot to add the garam masala! Other than that I followed the recipe pretty closely, except that I made 1.5x the recipe and kept the oil amount at 2 tablespoons. It was still plenty rich. I also used 5 canned whole tomatoes rather than 3 fresh. We ate the dal for dinner with yogurt. It was supposed to serve six people (since I made 1.5x the original recipe which served four), but the two of us finished off almost the entire pot.  We were hungry and it was very tasty. I’m definitely going to bookmark Lisa’s Kitchen blog to explore in the future. Read the rest of this entry »

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Daikon “Steaks”

November 9, 2013 at 12:39 am (Cruciferous rich, East and SE Asia, unrated, Website / blog)

Kimdo, a local Japanese restaurant here in Saarbruecken, has a braised daikon steak dish that I really like. I thought I’d try to make something similar at home. I started out with this recipe from the Nobu Vegetarian cookbook. I didn’t make the salsa topping, but I did cook the tofu in kombu broth. I screwed up the second step, however. I was supposed to add mirin, salt, and pepper to the kombu broth, bring the liquid back to a simmer, and then let the daikon cool down in the broth. But I just added the mirin to the already cold broth, which was clearly a mistake. Also I don’t think that I cooked the daikon quite long enough. The final daikon ended up being a tad too raw tasting and underseasoned, but still pretty tasty. I definitely want to keep working on this recipe! Read the rest of this entry »

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Homemade sunbutter

November 9, 2013 at 12:27 am (A minus, Alma's faves, Derek's faves, Sauce/dressing, Website / blog) ()

I’ve already waxed euphoric about the wonders of sunflower seed butter, so you know how much I enjoy it. Sadly, however, it seems to be the one nut/seed butter I can’t find here in Germany. I’ve found peanut butter, hazelnut butter, almond butter, cashew butter (roasted and raw), and even pumpkin seed butter. But no sun butter. I have no idea why. So I tried making my own sunbutter a few months ago. I just added the sunflower seeds to the food processor and tried grinding them up. They turned into a dry, sandy, powdery substance, but not into a nut butter. I thought maybe I needed to add a little oil but that didn’t work at all. It just turned into a sticky, pasty, oily kind of sand. I tried adding some water. Big mistake. I ended up with pale, pasty, white goop. Blech. I decided to try again, but this time to actually read some instructions online first. Read the rest of this entry »

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