red lentil daal

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You know that whole “Meatless Monday” thing that’s been all the rage?  Well, we don’t do that in our house.

I’m all for the limited-meat movement, but FH has other things in mind when he thinks of dinner.  He’s more of a steak-and-potatoes or chicken-and-pasta kinda guy… So when I mentioned the idea of “maybe having one meatless meal a week” to him he was not excited about the idea.  He did eventually agree with one stipulation: “No tofu, OK?”

Ok. No tofu. Easy enough.

So when thinking of tofu-free vegetarian dishes with lots of flavor, Indian cuisine naturally came to mind.  I happened across this easy recipe for red lentil daal and thought it would be the perfect recipe to ease FH into the world of meat-free meals.

That being said, when I made this for our first official “meatless” meal, he still wanted to know where the meat was…

“Is there meat?” 

Me: “There isn’t any meat, it’s lentils”

He stared at me suspiciously, “But, where’s the meat?” 

I tried explaining that he already agreed to having one meatless meal and that lentils are super good for you.  I even tried to explain that we didn’t need meat because lentils are naturally high in protein and they’re better than meat because they have almost no fat, but in the end what won him over was…

“Um… I got you garlic naan?”

“OOH I LIKE NAAN”

Whew. Crisis averted.

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Three bowls later he wasn’t asking about the meat anymore.  So, all things considered, I would call this a success.

I’m sure you could halve the recipe (it makes a whopping 11 cups!) but I just put all of our leftovers in plastic baggies and froze them for future dinners that would require zero effort.  Zero is my favorite amount of effort to put into dinner when I get home from work.

In our two-person household I think I ended up with one freshly-cooked dinner for the night plus 4 quart-sized bags of leftover zero-effort dinners, for those of us who are into math this means I got a total of 5 2-person dinners from 45 minutes of work.

Next time I think I will start with only half of the coconut milk, since I feel like it muted the flavors a bit more than I’d have liked (which was fixable by kicking up the seasoning a bit after).  I also added lime juice and cilantro to brighten the flavor and served the cayenne on the side, since I tend to like things significantly spicier than FH.

red lentil daal

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 55 minutes

Yield: 11 cups

Ingredients

  • 3 cups dry red lentils
  • 1 32-oz container unsalted chicken stock*
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, chopped; divided
  • 1 small can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 Tablespoon coarse salt
  • 2 Tablespoons neutral oil
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 14-oz can coconut milk*
  • 2 limes, 1 juiced and 1 sliced
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro
  • Salt & pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. In a dutch oven combine lentils, half of the chopped onion, tomatoes, cayenne, ground cumin, coriander, turmeric, and salt. Add chicken stock and water and bring to boil. Reduce to simmer and cook uncovered until lentils become tender, about 30 minutes.
  2. Heat a small saute pan over medium-high heat. Add oil to coat the bottom of the pan and then add cumin seeds and mustard seeds. Cover pan with foil or lid and cook a few minutes until the mustard seeds begin to pop. Add the chopped onion and stir, season with salt and pepper and continue cooking until onions are translucent. Add garilc and stir, continue to cook until onions are just starting to brown.
  3. Add onion mixture to lentils and stir in coconut milk, cilantro, and half of lime juice. Continue to simmer for another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. 5 minutes before serving, taste and adjust seasonings adding more salt, lime, or coconut milk as preferred. Serve on top of basmati rice or alongside naan.

Notes

* To make vegetarian, replace 32 oz of chicken stock with 4 cups of vegetable stock or water.

* I felt like the coconut milk muted the flavors a bit more than I'd have liked. I recommend starting by adding half of the coconut milk and simmering for 5 minutes, then tasting and adding more if desired.

* The lime juice and cilantro are optional, but recommended as they brightened up the flavor of the dish wonderfully.

* Serve with extra cayenne and slices of lime on the side to adjust taste to your preference.

http://wee-eats.com/2014/01/20/red-lentil-daal/

daal-DSC_0783 pin Recipe adapted from Food52

 

curry chicken wraps

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Lunch tends to be a very boring meal in my life.  BF always teases me about how, despite much I enjoy cooking, I refuse to make myself lunch.  I won’t even make myself a sandwich.  Not even when I’m making the BF’s lunch.

During the work week, it’s usually some underwhelming Lean Cuisine, or a sad store-bought salad.  Most of the time I can’t even muster the will to make myself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  And we all know how I feel about peanut butter.  On the weekends, I can hear the apprehension in his voice when he asks what we should have for lunch, knowing that I’m going to run down a list of the leftovers we have stashed in the fridge.

Then, in this month’s Bon Appetit, there was a recipe for a curried chicken sandwich.  I don’t know why, maybe it’s because of the BA’s stunning photography, but I just could not shake this chicken recipe from my head.  It planted its little curry seed in my brain and all I could think about was how I needed it in my belly.  STAT.

The original recipe was a little too bready for me, so I ditched the bread for a wrap.  Since I had maybe two of the ingredients required for the slaw, I made something closer to my usual slaw recipe for some crunch.  I added some dried cranberries for a touch of sweetness, but I think you could replace them with some julienned apple.

This chicken would also be great in non-wrap form, with some basmati rice, or even in a salad.  Finally, a decent lunch.

Curry Chicken Wraps

Printer-Friendly Recipe

For the chicken:

  • 4 large wraps
  • 1 pound thin-sliced boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)

For the slaw:

  • ½ head red cabbage (or 1 10-oz size bag shredded red cabbage)
  • 1 medium shallot or ½ small red onion, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries (I think julienned apples would be good here too)
  • 1 Tablespoons mayo, more if desired
  • 1 Tablespoon yogurt or sour cream (or just an extra tablespoon of mayo)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice (or vinegar, white or apple cider vinegars would work)
  • ¼ teaspoon celery salt
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

1. Combine marinade ingredients (buttermilk through red pepper flakes) in a gallon-size ziploc bag.  Add chicken and toss to cover.  Marinate in refrigerator for at least 2 hours.

2.  While chicken is marinating, make the slaw (I prefer to make mine no more than 1 hour before serving). Whisk all ingredients except cabbage, shallot, and cranberries in a large bowl.  Once combined, add cabbage, shallot, and cranberries; toss to coat.  Add additional mayo if you would like it creamier, salt and pepper to taste.  Cover and refrigerate.

3.  Preheat grill to high heat.  Cook chicken until internal temp reaches 165°F about 4 minutes on each side for thinly-sliced chicken.  Remove from heat and tent with foil to rest until slightly cooled, 5 to 10 minutes.

4.  When ready to serve, slice chicken on the bias.  Spread slaw onto wraps and top with chicken.  Wrap tightly and cut in half.

* I used thin-sliced chicken because, in my head at least, it shouldn’t need to marinate as long as regular chicken breast and I needed to eat this stuff for lunch.  If you use regular chicken breast, make sure to marinate it at least 4 hours. 

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bringing the grocery store home – diy clif bars

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Recently, I’ve been accused of being a little snack-heavy, it’s true.   I was actually thinking the same thing myself, I mean, a person can only eat so much whipped cream and sugar, right?  Especially during bikini-season!  While not entirely “healthy” (or un-treat-like), these homemade “Clif” bars are a great snack to sneak a bit of nutrition into your child (or lover, or own)’s lunchbox.  I mean, they’re certainly less bad for you than, say, peanut butter pie.

We all know what “Clif” bars are, right?  Those individually-wrapped bars they sell at the store for us to eat as a healthy snack?  I’d heard that they weren’t hard to make at home, but never really had a reason to make them.  Well, not until I was on this whole “no-bake” kick that I’ve been on.

I made a big batch and then stuck them in the freezer.  I’ve been sneaking a couple into the BF’s bag before he goes to work, then they’re thawed and ready to eat by the time he needs a snack!  (Not to mention taking them to work and storing them in my desk for “‘emergencies”)  I mean, this is a totally normal desk drawer, right?

They aren’t exact replicas of the Clif bars you find in stores, they’re a bit crunchier (which I actually liked) but I’m sure you could get the texture a bit closer if you reduce the crisp rice cereal (or increase the dates) a bit.  I also like that I could make these smaller than the bars you find in the store.  I can’t be the only one who thinks that they are a bit big (and calorie-dense) for a snack, but still too small to be a meal-replacement.  You can cut these into any size you like, and I find these bite-size squares to be the perfect size for snacking.

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I really wish that I had mini chocolate chips on hand, but I had apparently ran out, so i had to use regular size instead.  They’re definitely not as pretty.  Plus, with mini chips, the chocolate would be able to distribute more evenly throughout the bars.  I guess I could have whirled the mixture a bit more in the food processor to chop them  up a bit…

Another great thing about these bars is that they are infinitely adaptable, you could make combos like dark-chocolate-almond, peanut-butter-”jelly” (by adding other types of dried fruit), cashew-cherry, or even a berries-and-cream version with dried fruit and yogurt or white chocolate chips!  Of course, I’m sure that you will all be shocked to learn that I went with peanut butter & chocolate for my first batch.  What can I say, I’m addicted predictable.

A warning though… when I tried to switch back to the regular store-bought Clif bars, I got a text asking where the homemade ones were, and why didn’t I put those in the bag, was I hoarding them for myself?  So… yeah, if you are going to start making these, be ready to keep making them, because the regular ones just won’t do.

Of course, the reason these are here, you don’t even have to turn on the oven!

DIY Clif Bars

Makes 16 to 25 bars, or as many as you slice ;)

Printable Recipe

  • 1 cup pitted dates
  • 1¼ cups crisp rice cereal
  • 1 cup quick-cooking oats
  • ¼ cup coarsely chopped nuts (I used cashews)
  • 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup peanut butter
  • ⅓ cup brown rice syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup mini semisweet chocolate chips; plus an extra tablespoon or two, separated

1. Line an 8×8-inch baking pan with saran wrap and set aside.

2. Combine peanut butter and brown rice syrup in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave on 50% power for one minute and stir until combined.  If you need to microwave longer, microwave in 30 second intervals until the peanut butter is melted.

3. Process pitted dates in a food process until pureed.  Add oats, flaxseed, cinnamon, salt, and vanilla and continue to puree.  Once uniform in texture, add rice cereal and process until combined.  Add peanut butter mixture and continue processing until incorporated, you will probably have to scrape down the sides.  Note: It will be very sticky.

4. Finally, add the nuts and process again until they are chopped to the desired size, then add chocolate chips and pulse just a few times to distribute them through the “dough”.  Once processed, scrape into 8-inch pan and press firmly to mold to the shape of the pan.  If desired, sprinkle the extra tablespoon or two on top and gently press into the date mixture.

5.  Chill bars in the refrigerator for about 1 hour, or until firm. Cut into bars, then wrap individually in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator for up to one week, or freeze up to a couple months. (I keep mine frozen and pop one or two into my bag before I head to work, by the time I need a snack they’re thawed and ready to eat!)

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[ Adapted from Brown Eyed Baker ]

 

healthy choco-nana protein muffins

 

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Since I’ve been working on my fitness lately, I’ve been trying to work more nutritious items into my life.  So I’ve been reworking some recipes that would normally cause me to feel guilt, and finding a way to make myself feel less guilty after eating them.  So, I got some vanilla protein powder, and I’ve been pretty much putting it into everything with reckless abandon.  You know, for science.

It’s basically the recipe-equivalent of throwing everything against the wall and “seeing what sticks,” so to speak.  I’ve been mixing it with granola bars, shakes, my morning oatmeal, and even rice krispy treats.  Seriously.

So far, pretty much everything has been a success.

So when I saw these “skinny chocolate banana muffins” on Sally’s Baking Addiction, clearly my first thought was to add protein (since they’re already “skinny,” part of the work has already been done for me!

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Of course I modified the recipe a bit, I was worried that the extra protein from the protein powder would make them gummy or dry.  If you’ve ever eaten a packaged protein snack, you probably know exactly what texture I’m talking about here.  I was torn between using some cake flour or additional oil (since the oil would add fat), but ended up going with a little bit of vegetable oil, which should help with both the crumb and the density of the finished product.

I swear you wouldn’t even know that these were healthy.  I took the leftovers to work and left them in the break room for my unsuspecting coworkers…  and I waited.  Everyone was raving about how good the muffins were, none the wiser that they were actually “healthy*”

*Note, by “healthy” I mean “healthier than your average muffin”

Chocolate Banana Protein Muffins

Makes 12 muffins

Printable Recipe

  • 3 large over-ripe bananas
  • 2 scoops protein powder (I used vanilla ViShake mix)
  • ⅔ granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 3 Tablespoons applesauce
  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup cocoa powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup + ½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, separated

1. Preheat oven to 375F and line a muffin tin with liners.

2. In a medium bowl whisk the flour, protein powder, cocoa powder, salt, baking soda and baking powder; set aside.

3. In a large bowl, mash the bananas with sugar and applesauce until smooth.  Stir in egg and vanilla. Fold in dry ingredients, being careful not to overmix.  When the batter is almost fully mixed, fold in 1 cup of chocolate chips.

4. Divide batter evenly between 12 muffin cups, filling them almost to the top.  Sprinkle with additional ½ cup of chocolate chips (if desired).  Bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out mostly clean with just a few crumbs sticking to it.

5.  When done baking, cool in pan 5 minutes, then turn out onto wire rack to cool completely.  Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

[ Recipe adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction ]
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green juice

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After a weekend spent at the brim of uncomfortable fullness, the last thing I can think about today is the last piece of birthday cake sitting in the refrigerator.  Actually, it’s one of the only things I can think about, but I can’t imagine eating it.  Not even one bite.

The last thing I need in my life right now is another piece of cake.

My body is craving one thing: green.

I know, you totally think I’m crazy, but I promise you I’m not.  Not completely, at least.

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So, before you turn your nose up at the thought of a green juice, listen to this.  This is not bitter, or sour, or savory, nor does it taste like “green” (think: wheatgrass. yuck!)

This juice does not taste like green.  There is a tiny bit of pineapple in there, and that’s the magical ingredient with juice.  Whatever you are putting in your juice, I promise that if you put just like a cup of pineapple in there it will magically taste like fruity deliciousness.

True story.

I’m not an organic food snob, but when it comes to juicing I use organic whenever possible.  I don’t chop my fruit or veggies (unless they don’t fit into the opening in my juicer).  If you don’t have a juicer, I have also included directions for making the juice in your blender.

This isn’t baking, so you don’t need to be exact, and while I don’t think I’ve made this “recipe” the same way twice (for example, I’m out of spinach so yesterday I used only kale), it’s kinda a franken-juice from all of the green juice recipes I’ve perused online…  it goes a little something like this…

Green Juice

Makes about 16 ounces* of juice

*Your actual yield will vary depending on how juicy your produce is

Printable Recipe

  • 1 to 2 handfuls baby spinach (about 2 cups loosely packed)
  • 1 to 2 handfuls chopped tuscan kale ( 2 – 3 kale leaves, stems removed)
  • 2 stalks celery (Sometimes I leave the celery out if it smells salty.  That’s totally a thing.  Remember that thing I said about how I’m not crazy?)
  • 1/2 english cucumber
  • 3 medium (3-inch) green apples
  • 1/2 to 1 cup pineapple (about 1/4 to 1/3 of a pineapple, cored with skin removed)
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice

 

Since I’m not peeling them, I start with fresh, organic produce, wash it thoroughly, and cut it just so it’s small enough to fit into the mouth of my juicer.

Add ingredients to juicer in order listed.  Done! (That was easy right?)

If you’re using a blender instead of a juicer, go ahead and chop everything into roughly equal-sized pieces.  Add about a half of water to the ingredients (just enough to get everything moving around in there, add more if needed)  in your blender and whirring away until completely blended.  From there you can drink it as a smoothie, or strain out the solids and enjoy it as a juice.

 *A lot of green juice recipes tell you to use parsley, it has magical cleansing and anti-inflammatory properties.  I, however, despise the taste of parsley with the strength of 1,000 suns.  Don’t ask why, I just do.  And even though I’m sure a couple of sprigs wouldn’t kill me, for the sake of flavor (re: delicious vs herby), I left it out.  Feel free to add some if you like, it’s up to you.