Monthly Archives: April 2011

History Repeating

Curried Chickpea Stew
curriedChicPeaSoup
This past weekend, Joe and I ventured down to my old college for my 5th College Reunion.  I had an amazing time seeing friends from college and it was great seeing how far some of them have come, both in their personal and professional lives.  While the path I’m on is not the one I planned out while I was in college I am glad it’s the path I’m on, even if I don’t use my degree every day.  I also think that many of the experiences I had in college are what allow me to succeed at the job that I do, there isn’t much of a difference between dealing with crazy frat boy and crazy gov’t people.  I’ve also grown appreciative of all the research I did for my Biology degree, very useful for hunting down recipes and for planning various events.  I guess this all goes to show that while things don’t always go to plan they do eventually work out one way or another.
This recipe also falls into the category of eventually working out and has gone thru many evolutions.  The first time I tried doing something with chickpeas and curry was after suffering a horrible allergy attack from eating Chana Masala.  I wanted to find something with that taste but without all the lemon.  This essentially became the base for my chickpea stew, however I always knew that it was missing something.  Fast forward many years later and I found a recipe for something called Captain Stew.  I married the two recipes and this was the end result, YUMMY!
Ingredients:
1 tbsp veg. oil
2 cups onion, chopped
1 1/2 tbsp Garam Marsala
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups carrot, diced
2 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
1 cup veg. stock
1 1/2 cups water
Directions:
1. Heat a large dutch oven over medium high heat.  Add the oil and fully coat the pan.  Add the onions, and cook 5 minutes then add the Garam Marsala along with the garlic.  Stir well. 
2.  Add the water, stock, carrots, chickpeas, and tomatoes.  Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and cover.  Simmer for 20minutes.  Serve in bowls and top with greek yogurt (optional).  This can also be served over brown rice or with some crusty bread.

What’s up Doc

Carrot Cake Cake Pops
carrotcakecakepuffs

Another month another IIP party hosted by the fabulous Jeroxie,  This month the theme was rather challenging: Cake Pops.  I have seen many cake pops and I’m a HUGE fan of Bakerella but up until this challenge I had neither eaten or baked a Cake Pop.  I first thought about going the mold method, and explored my local Michaels to see if any of their forms fit my need.  While I saw plenty of rather wicked looking molds none of them seemed “right” for some reason.  So I went back to the Queen of Cake Pops: Bakerella   and checked out her method and decided that was the one for me.  In High School one of the fundraisers that was done a few times a year by various groups were the lollipop drives.  The lollipops in questions were HUGE, easily the size of 5 dum-dums and were some of the strangest flavors.  I decided I wanted mine to taste like my favorite flavor, carrot cake!  For the cake portion I used a modified Martha Stewart recipe, the original can be found on her website.

Ingredients: (cake)

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons caramel syrup
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 pound carrots, shredded

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 and pregrease a sheet pan.  
2. Whisk together the dry ingredients and set aside.  In a large bowl beat the butter and sugar together, then add the eggs one a time.  Add the vanilla, water, and carrots mix well and then begin sifting in the dry ingredients.  Be careful to not over mix.
3.  Pour into the sheet pan and then bake for 30minutes, or until a tooth pick comes out clean.  Allow cake to cool completely and then break it into a large bowl.  Use a fork (or hands) to break the cake into crumbs, the finer the better!  (This is also a great step for kids to help out on, nothing like being destructive for a good cause!)

Ingredients (icing)
8 oz cream cheese, cold
1/2 cup butter, soft
1/2 cup confectioners sugar, sifted
1 tbsp vanilla extract

1 lb chocolate wafers for melting (I used Wilson’s Vanilla Pastel Wafers)

Directions:

1.  Put all the ingredients into a food processor and mix well.  Stir into the cake crumbs until well mixed. 
2.  Form the cake balls using your hand, each one should be about 3 tbsp. Insert the popsicle stick,   place on a wax-covered cookie sheet, cover in saran wrap and return to fridge for at least 1 hr.
3.  Before taking the cake pops out of the fridge melt the chocolate wafers in a double boiler.  Dip the pops in the chocolate one at time, covering them in a thin layer of the chocolate before returning to the cookie sheet.  Place the balls in the freezer for 15minutes then ENJOY!


For those in a rush a box cake would work just as well, however I do strongly suggest using a homemade icing so that it doesn’t get too sweet.  I brought some of these into work and it was great watching the expressions on my coworkers faces as they realized the lollipops were actually cake filled :-D

 

Once there was a Sun

Edamame Curry

edamamecurry

Oh Springtime where did you go???  It was nice and warm there for a hot moment, a new record was actually set in the “right” direction.  Now however it is wet and cold which just makes me cranky.  The only thing good about the weather is it’s giving me more opportunities to mess around with curry recipes.  I know that curries can also be done when it’s warm outside but there is something comforting about a hot and spicy bowl of curry.  The experience has been intensified by the fresh Naan bread that is now available at Wegmans.  I got the idea for this recipe from my mom’s Cooking Light magazine, and after some tweaking I found the right combination for my household.  Just a warning that this recipe does have a kick to it so it might be best to add the curry powder in 1/2 tbsp increments in order to avoid damaging taste buds.

Ingredients:
1 tbsp veg. oil
1 onion, chopped
2 Pink Lady Apples, cored and diced
1 tbsp whole wheat flour
2 tbsp curry powder
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups veg. broth
2 tbsp half & half
4 cups Cauliflower floret
1 lb frozen shelled edamame

Directions:
1. Heat a large dutch oven over medium heat.  Add oil and coat the pan well.  Add the onion and cook about 7 minutes, until the onion is tender, stirring frequently.  Add the apple and cook 5 minutes, again stirring frequently to prevent sticking.  Add the flour, curry, and garlic and stir well for 1 minute. 
2. Pour in the broth and bring to a quick boil before reducing heat and simmering for 5 minutes.  Add the half & half and stir in before adding the cauliflower and edamame.  Cover and cook 10minutes, until the cauliflower is tender.


This goes great over rice, and if you are able to get some fresh Naan or Roti or any other fresh Indian bread go for it!  The smell of this curry is just amazing and even if it’s not 100% authentic it’s the perfect pick-me-up on a rainy day.  

Need to be a Little Crazy

Pasta e Fagioli

pastafijoule
For some reason this April has been nothing short of INSANE!  I started a new job last week and the film festival at the USHMM has also started up again.  I was also fortunate enough to spend this past weekend in NYC (2nd Top Chef restaurant) and will also be out of town the next two weekends with other fun things.  There is also a very good chance that in the next 24hrs Joe will be an Uncle…did I mention this month has been insane?!? I have still been cooking like crazy and have some great quick and easy spring time recipes that I can’t wait to share with everyone.
During crazy insane times like these I rely on quick easy recipes that involve very little prep and very little active cooking times.  Meals like these are essential on crazy nights, and the best part about this recipe is that is has everything in it for a full meal.  Just add some polenta or some crusty bread and you have a quick weekday night feast!
Ingredients:
2 tbsp EVOO
1 onion, diced
1/2 lb baby carrots, chopped
2 tbsp parsley, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 can garbanzo beans
1 can cannelloni bean
2 cups low salt veg. broth
1 cup small pasta, uncooked

Directions
1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add the onion and cook 3 minutes, then add the parsley, garlic, and carrots. Cook 5 minutes.
2. Add the beans and stock and bring to boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and add the pasta.  Cook, simmering, for 15minutes or until pasta is tender.  Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve!


Joe likes to top his with some fresh cheese, be it Mozzarella or Parmesan while I prefer to just add some crusty bread.  Hopefully things will start to slow down soon and I can start posting more regularly.  There is an IIP party this week so I will have a delicious Cake Pop recipe to share on Saturday night.  I have this theory that with all the running around I have been doing any Cake Pops that I eat while recipe testing won’t count.  I mean, that’s how it works right???

I Still Do

Pasta with Pepper Sauce

pastaPepperSauce

Greetings! I think Spring has finally arrived and with it fresh vegetables and farmer’s markets!   I believe the first ones in this area open next weekend and I can’t wait! This recipe is perfect for spring and farmer’s markets, where it’s possible to get peppers that really taste like peppers.  I made this recipe a few times in college but it really all came together when I made it for Joe’s family last summer.  I also learned a valuable lesson that day: not all meat substitutes are vegan.  However that’s not a problem because this dish is just fine without it.  The key to the sauce is getting the best produce possible.

Ingredients:
2 tbsp olive oil
3 garlic cloves
1 bay leaf
1 cup white wine ( I used Bloom Reisling)
2 large green peppers, chopped
1 large red pepper, chopped
4 tomatoes, chopped
Parmesan Cheese (optional)
1/2 lb linguine

Directions:
1. Heat the olive oil in a large heavy bottomed skilled.  Add the garlic and cook 3 minutes, then add the bay leaf and wine and season to taste.  Bring to a boil and cook 5 minutes, stirring to prevent sticking.
2. Stir in the bell peppers and tomatoes, reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring often.
3.  Meanwhile cook the pasta until al dente per box instructions.  Drain and return to pan.  Pour the pepper sauce over the pasta and toss well!  Top with some freshly grated Parmesan if desired. 


This dish makes a great simple supper and it can also be easily bulked up in order to provide more protein.  I tend to use Vegetarian Italian Sausages and add them to the pan before the garlic, crumbling them up as they cook.  If you decide to add a meat you will probably need to add 1 tbsp more EVOO during step 2, otherwise things start to stick.  If you are preparing this for any vegans just make sure to double check the meat substitute so that you don’t have any last minute surprises!