05.29.12_Dal Palak

It has been a while since we made an Indian dish so when I came across a recipe for "Very Simple Dal Palak" which is vegan, I thought it would be a good one to try out. The original recipe said it made 8 cups which seemed like way too much so I decided to half the recipe. And I'm really glad I did because we still had more than enough for two dinners and two lunches. I am continually surprised by how easy these Indian dishes are. They are always super simple, they just use spices that you might not normally have on hand. The only unsual spice this recipe called for was Garam Masala, which I had from when we made the Paneer Tikka Masala, otherwise the ingredients were very straight forward. Here's the recipe cut in half:
  • 1/2 large onion, diced
  • 1 packages (about 8 ounces) mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • 1 medium-sized red or white potatoes, cubed
  • 1/2 inch fresh ginger, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoons coriander
  • 1/2 Tablespoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoons red chili powder
  • 1 14-ounce can of diced tomatoes
  • 5 ounce bunch of spinach (or more if desired)
  • 1/2 cup lentils (the recipe called for red but I had black on hand and used those instead)
  • 1/2 cups of water or broth
  • 1 Tablespoons salt
  • 2 scallions, chopped
For my birthday my parents got me new Calphalon pots and pans so I was super excited to use them for the first time making this recipe. In a large soup pot, I sauteed the onion and mushrooms in some olive oil. While those were browning, I diced the potato then added it to the pot. After a couple of minutes and the edges of the potato started to become translucent, I made a well in the middle of the pot and added the garlic, ginger, and all the spices. I stirred everything together before adding in the tomatoes (and their juices), the lentis, and the spinach. I tossed everything together so that all the spinach would start to wilt. Finally, I added the water and brought to a boil, before reducing the heat and simmering for about 45 minutes. At the very end I tossed in the chopped scallions, reserving a few for garnish. 

We served the Dal Palak over a bed of rice with some store bought naan on the side. The apartment smelt so good while this was cooking and the end result was super delicious. I think this would actually be a great recipe to try and cook in a slow cooker because it seems like the type of dish that would only get better the longer it cooked. Definitely a good recipe to try if you want to try a very easy Indian dish that doesn't hit you over the head with a ton of spices.

05.23.12_Raw Vegan Wraps

Ok so I'm not going to lie. When people stereotypically think about what vegans eat, I would say this meal falls into that category. While it was tasty and the first meal I've made that involved essentially zero cooking, it felt like we were eating vegan considering it was raw vegetables. Delicious. But raw. If we were to go vegan I feel like this type of meal would be the exception, considering we have made a ton of meals that were either vegan, or could easily be made vegan, that were much more involved and did not feel like a vegan meal (i.e. Coq-au-vin-less Coq au Vin, Braised Coconut Spinach and Chickpeas, etc). That being said, I still recommend trying them. I think they would make a great quick and easy lunch for sure.

The only "cooking" involved in this recipe was making a pecan paste. I took 1 cup of raw pecans, a TBSP of tamari, and a tsp of cumin and olive oil and blended them together in my Cuisinart. That's it. Then I sliced up a red pepper and avocado and it was time to construct the wraps. The recipe I found called for using collard greens as the wrap but we decided to use tortillas since I'm not a huge fan of collards. I spread the pecan paste onto the tortillas, then topped with sprouts, the red pepper, and avocado, then squeeze some fresh lime juice over top. That's it. I did bake some sweet potato fries so we would have a side, but again, that was hardly "cooking."

05.07.12_Homemade Samoas

The Braised Coconut Spinach and Chickpeas we made last week called for shredded coconut as a garnish. I forgot to tell Phillip that it should be unsweeted so when he came home from the store with a big bag of sweetened coconut, we decided we'd be doing some baking in the near future. While recovering from Cinco de Mayo, Phillip found this recipe for homemade Somoas, my favorite Girl Scout Cookie, so we decided baking would be a good way to spend the day.

The whole process took a while so it was a good thing we did it on a lazy Sunday with no plans. The trickiest part was spreading the caramel and coconut mixture onto each cookie...super sticky. They came out delicious though. They did not taste exactly like real Samoas but they definitely did the trick and satisfied my cravings. One recipe we found suggested using store bought shortbread cookies to save time. I think I would do this if I were to make them again to speed up the process a bit, but we wanted to make them from scratch for our first attempt. I never bake so I do not have cookie cutters. It was fun being resourceful and finding different things to cut the cookies out with. We ended up using a small tupperware for the cookies themselves and then a metal Slurpee straw I had from college to make the smaller circle on the inside. They didn't end up quite as pretty as we had hoped but whatever, they tasted good!

05.02.12_Avocado Mac and Cheese

Avocado. Mac and Cheese. Um...yes. I found this recipe yesterday and decided I had to have it immediately. We had already talked about being lazy and having boxed mac and cheese for dinner so this went along with the plans, but clearly made it way more exciting.  When I made the recipe I found that there was too much sauce and not enough noodles and I LOVE avocado (it's in my top five favorite foods) so I bought an additional avocado to make sure there were plenty of chunks of avocado running through the mac and cheese when it was finished!

My slightly modified recipe calls for:
  • 10-12 ounces dry elbow macaroni
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 3 avocados (2 for the sauce, 1 for garnish)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 cups shredded Monterrey Jack cheese (you could use any cheese really) 
While the water for the pasta was cooking, I added the 2 avocados, garlic, lime juice, cilantro, and S&P into a food processor. I gave this a whirl until it all came together and was nice and smooth. I tasted the mixture to see if it needed any more seasoning then set aside. Once the pasta was al dente, I drained and set aside to make the cheese sauce. I melted the butter in the same pot I boiled the pasta, then whisked in equal parts of flour to make the roux. After the butter and flour were combined, I slowly added in the milk, stirring for a few minutes until the sauce started to thicken. Finally, I added in the cheese and stirred it all together until it was melty and delicious. In a large bowl, I combined the pasta and avocado mixture until it was all combined, then poured the cheese sauce over and stirred again. Finally, I tossed in the last avocado which I had cubed. I served the Avocado Mac and Cheese in cute ramekins and topped with a fresh sprig of cilantro.

The mac and cheese was super creamy and delicious. I was really glad I added in the extra pasta because I really liked the ratio of sauce to pasta with the additional serving or two of pasta. We had plenty of leftovers that I am excited to eat for lunch! So good.