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Monthly Archives: February 2013

I am definitely my mother’s daughter in a lot of ways: we look really similar, we love outlet shopping, we have the same sense of humor. One thing I have really come to appreciate in my mom is her love for the slow cooker, which she has definitely passed down to me. Without fail, whenever we’re on the phone and I tell her I don’t know what I’m making for dinner, she tells me, “Put something in the crock pot!” And she’s always right (even though I don’t always do it). The slow cooker really is one of my absolute favorite kitchen tools, and I would be lost without it.

I have a few slow cooker cookbooks, and after finding this lentil chili recipe on Kid Tested Firefighter Approved, I might have to pick up Robin Robertson’s Fresh From the Vegan Slow Cooker, too; this chili is delicious, versatile (you’ll see!), and a snap to make.

Lentil Chili ingredients

I had just enough brown lentils left for this recipe, which was definitely a sign! Not pictured: the Mexican Oregano incident of 2013, in which, after putting it in this dish, I dropped that nearly-full little bottle of (expensive!) Mexican oregano, at which point it exploded all over my kitchen floor. Awesome.

Instead of using all chili powder, I used 2 tablespoons regular chili powder, and 1 tablespoon chipotle chili powder – I think this made all the difference from a really good to a great chili, and I highly recommend it if you can get your hands on it! It adds a little spice and smokiness to it.

This is basically a dump-and-cook recipe; the onions, garlic, chili, and bell pepper call for a little saute before cooking, but if you’re really short on time, do it the night before and just keep it in the fridge.

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Happy spoon loves it! This is what it looks like when all the ingredients go into the slow cooker, and 6-8 hours later, it becomes…

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Chili! I was feeling good about chili, but I got a flash of inspiration while it was cooking, and we turned it into the best nachos I’ve ever had – no joke. If you have self-control, you can stop there, or you can go all the way:

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Cheese and sour cream, nachos’ best friends. The only thing I regret here is not having an avocado on hand, then it would have been perfect. You could also serve this over rice, or just a bowl on its own! It’s delicious and versatile – and it makes a ton, so you will have leftovers! I meant to freeze some but didn’t, but I suspect this would be perfect for that. I highly recommend it!

Slow Cooker Lentil Chili – slightly adapted from Fresh from the Vegan Slow Cooker by Robin Robertson, as posted on Kid Tested, Firefighter Approved

  • 1 medium onion (or 3 shallots, which I used), chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and minced (you can always add more!)
  • 1 bell pepper, seeded and chopped (I used a mix of red, orange, and yellow pepper from our CSA)
  • 2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp chipotle chili powder (or substitute another 1 T of chili powder)
  • 1 tsp Mexican oregano (or substitute regular oregano)
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 cup brown lentils, rinsed and picked over
  • 1 cup red lentils, rinsed and picked over
  • 28 oz can crushed tomatoes (I used jarred tomato puree, again from our CSA)
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp cocoa powder
  • 4 cups water/broth
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Saute onions, garlic, jalapeño  and bell pepper over medium-high heat for 4-5 minutes, or until soft. Add the chili powders, oregano, and cumin, and saute for 30 seconds more.

Transfer the onion mixture to your slow cooker; add the rest of the ingredients except salt. Cook for 6-8 hours on low (mine did cook about 7-8 hours). Add salt to taste. Serve any way you like!

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This year, I wasn’t particularly interested at all in the big game (my Packers are going to make it back soon, I’m sure), but I am always interested in making snacks. So when a friend told me she was having a small get-together, I took it upon myself to use up some CSA goodies on recipes I’ve been meaning to try!

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First, Roasted Cauliflower and Aged White Cheddar dip, which I found on Closet Cooking. I already had everything I needed except the aged white cheddar, which gave me a good excuse to go out and do some “fancy” cheese shopping.

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The cauliflower gets roasted in olive oil, salt, and pepper until it’s a little browned. It was incredibly hard not to just eat it all at this point.

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And here’s what it looks like after the cauliflower, sour cream, cream cheese, garlic, and rosemary (in place of the original recipe’s thyme) are all combined in the food processor! Something I am learning from cooking a lot: I really need a big food processor. Anyway, since I was planning on baking it at my friend’s place, it just went into a tupperware and schlepped to Harlem with me at this point.

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Secondly, I wanted to make a dessert, so I went with this Blueberry Cream Cheese bread I found on Pinterest, via The Keenan Cookbook. More cream cheese! And look at those beautiful CSA eggs, I’m in love.

This recipe ended up being a bit more of a pain than I expected; I ended up using my stand mixer AND my hand mixer (which I had to drag out of its storage place on the top of my cabinets) in order to make it. The bread has egg yolks mixed into the dough, but then you have to whip the whites and gently fold them in. It gave the bread a light fluffiness, which was nice, but not quite worth the hassle in my eyes (especially if I was making this bread for home and not a special occasion). Instead of having the cream cheese mixed right into the bread, it has a layer of cream cheese-lemon (subbed for orange, since it’s what I had) goodness in between two blueberry bread layers.

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Here’s what it looked like straight out of the oven! And now, the aftermath (snacktermath?):

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Both dishes went over crazy well, the dip especially! We ate it with baby carrots and tortilla chips, which was perfect. The bread was a good, sweet (but not overwhelmingly so) dessert.

Tonight, I’m off to Kalustyan’s for some spice shopping with a former coworker; I have been meaning to go there forever, which means I am definitely coming back with some cool (and possibly useless, let’s be real) stuff. Report forthcoming!

My fiancee and I were both hit by the flu bug that ravaged NYC (and other parts of the country, presumably) in January, so for a week or so, neither of us had much appetite, and when we did, I didn’t  have energy to do much more than call for Chinese takeout. But now we’re back in the land of the living, and the first thing I wanted to make was soup! Of course.

I was paging through Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s Appetite for Reduction, which I finally picked up over the holidays after eyeing it for years. There, calling me, was a Quinoa, White Bean, and Kale Stew. I already had almost everything on hand (I had just picked up the quinoa and leeks at Trader Joe’s the day before, in a lovely coincidence), and I still had frozen collards from our CSA, so I decided to adapt the recipe slightly to tailor to what we already had.

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Those are baby carrots hiding back there!

The trimmed leeks from TJs make working with leeks as easy as possible – I’ve always been sort of afraid of leeks, because of the dirt and grit that can linger even after you rinse it, but these are already cleaned and trimmed! It’s cheating, sure, but it’s a baby step.

The original recipe also called for a mix of fennel seeds, marjoram, thyme, and rosemary – I had some of those things, but not others, but I did have a brand new jar of Herbes de Provence on the shelf! It has everything the recipe calls for (except marjoram, I think), plus lavender! It’s a really great savory blend that I recommend picking up if you can. If not, definitely use whatever herbs you like in soup.

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This soup has a lot of ingredients, and makes a ton of food, in case you couldn’t tell (that is a big pot in that picture), but it’s really easy to do. Basically everything gets chopped and thrown into the pot!

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Plus, I was in a cooking frenzy, so I also made buttermilk buns from The Everything Bread Cookbook, which is my favorite bread cookbook. They turned out pretty well! They fell apart pretty easily, though, so I think that means I kneaded it a bit too much – still trying to figure out my stand mixer’s power!

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While this stew looks a little wan in these pictures, it was so good – really, really flavorful, and chock full of really hearty things. I definitely recommend this one – plus, it’s so easy to just sub in anything you have sitting in the fridge!

Quinoa, White Bean & Collards Stew (Adapted from Appetite for Reduction by Isa Chandra Moskowitz)

1 tsp olive oil

2 thinly sliced leeks

1 teaspoon salt

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 large carrots, peeled & diced (I used a handful of baby carrots)

1 Tbsp Herbs de Provence

8 cups vegetable broth

2 potatoes, diced

1 cup dried quinoa

1 can white beans, drained and rinsed

1 bunch greens – I used 12 ounces of frozen collards, thawed, but kale, spinach, or any other green would be great!

Preheat a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Saute the leeks and garlic in oil with the salt for about 3 minutes. Add the carrot, along with the herbs, turn the heat up to high, and saute for a few seconds.

Add the vegetable brother, potatoes, and quinoa. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium and cook for 15 minutes, until the potatoes and quinoa are tender. Add the greens and beans, and cook, stirring frequently, until the greens are wilted (or heated through, if frozen). Cover and simmer over low heat for 5 more minutes.