Friday, February 25, 2011

Big Curry Noodle Pot

In a little over a month, Heidi Swanson's new cookbook, Super Natural Every Day,  is coming out.  I am very, very, VERY tired of waiting for it.  She's posted an image of some of the pages, but you can't read the words beyond the title.  Very recently she posted a sampler PDF of six recipes from the book.  (I've already made one, but more on that later.)  I'm mostly caught up with her website - I've made probably 50 or 60 recipes from it, and while I have a few on the list, I'm waiting for more inspiration.  Out of all the food blogs I read (see the sidebar for my list), Heidi's is my favorite.  It got me started cooking, fueled my love of natural ingredients and whole grains and fresh produce, and continues to inspire me with new recipes every week or so.  While I'm waiting for the book to come out, I've been going through her last book, Super Natural Cooking, looking for some fun things to try.

I made the Big Curry Noodle Pot from the book partly because we have been eating a lot of Thai curry over the past few months, and partly because of the recommendations on the 101 Cookbooks Library.  I happened to have everything on hand except the peanuts, which only required a quick trip around the corner.  It worked out well for a weeknight.  Now that I've tried it as-written, there are a whole bunch of things I'd love to try out with this.  Most importantly, it was not spicy enough.  The recipe calls for some Thai red curry paste as well as turmeric.  Too much turmeric, I think, and not enough curry paste.  I might try out some red curry powder instead of the turmeric, or just more of the paste.  I would also like to try this with chicken or shrimp.  The tofu was better left over than it was right after I'd made it, but I still am just not a huge fan of home-cooked tofu.  Plus, Ken does not like it.  I think chicken would be a better fit than shrimp here, but either could work.  One last idea - instead of chopping the onions, I'd like to try them thinly sliced instead.  The noodles fought the onions for fork space, and the length of the noodles gave them an advantage.  It was difficult to get much onion, or if you did, there weren't many noodles.  I think thinly slicing them would make it easier to grab a bunch of each.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Giant Chipotle White Beans

I have been trying to eat more beans lately, but so far I have limited myself to chili and soup.  In an effort to try something new, I decided to make the Giant Chipotle White Beans from 101 Cookbooks, which are large white beans baked in a chipotle tomato sauce with flecks of kale, topped with feta and drizzled with a cilantro pesto.  I skipped the bread crumbs that are in the original recipe - I didn't feel that they would really add anything to the dish, so I just left them out.

I have to say, I made these a while ago.  At least two weeks ago.  I've been really, really busy with school and I have barely been cooking, let alone writing about it.  But I remember that they tasted good.  Specifically, the sauce was delicious.  I'm not big enough on beans yet to really love a dish that consists only of beans.  (I'll get back to you after I try some of my Rancho Gordo beans, which have not been sitting in a silo for 10 years like the giant limas I used for this recipe.  I have a feeling it will make a difference.)  So I think it would be interesting to try half beans, half something else.  I'm not yet sure what exactly, but pasta comes to mind.  So kind of like a baked ziti with beans and Mexican flavors.  I don't know, it works in my brain.

Anyway, this was tasty, it was.  But I wish I hadn't made so much, because we threw most of it away.  :(  I'm not sure how it would have held up in the freezer, but maybe next time I'll try that.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Adzuki Butternut Squash Stew

I have been cooking a lot more with beans lately, and of course I turn to 101 Cookbooks for some ideas.  I was surprised to find that there weren't too many recipes on the bean page, but I found quite a few of them to be very appealing.  The first one I decided to make was the Adzuki Butternut Squash Stew.  I haven't made any soup-y recipes in a while, and I had a butternut squash that was begging to be turned into a meal, so I got the ingredients and whipped this up on a Tuesday morning.  I made half a batch because, as we all know by now, my freezer is filled to capacity.  (I did sneak a 12-oz container of this stew in there, of course.)  It turned out to be very delicious.  I especially liked the cinnamon.  One thing I would do differently next time is to add more diced chipotles, because it didn't have much of a kick to it.  We had some as-is, and some with a bit of leftover cooked brown rice (basmati, maybe?) - both were good.  I'd be interested in adding a grain directly into the recipe and see what happens.  Barley sounds like a good idea right now.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Avocado Tahini Dip

Today's post is about the Avocado Tahini Dip I made last weekend from Moro East, the January/February featured cookbook on the 101 Cookbooks Library.

This dip is made with avocado, tahini, and lemon juice.  It is essentially a cross between guacamole and hummus.  It was OK, I guess.  I will stick with hummus in the future.  That being said, I am not the biggest avocado devotee (though I do love guac) so if you are, you may be more interested in this recipe/concept.  I tried to use cilantro in place of the mint, which I am sure was one of the shortcomings.

February is almost over and I have made very few recipes from Moro East.  I have a long to-try list that I'll have to go through and see if I can fit in a few more things before the book goes back to the shelf for a while.  I intend to revisit it again in the summer when more of the required produce is in season.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Spaghetti with Braised Kale

I stopped at Whole Foods the other day (I've convinced myself that being 20 minutes away from there is "in the area") and I picked up some lacinato kale.  I had something in my brain for what to do with it, but it took me a while to dig it out.  It finally clicked for me - this Spaghetti with Braised Kale was posted a few weeks ago and I had meant to try it.

Now, I'm sorry to say this was not worth the stress of trying to remember what I wanted to make.  It was okay, but nothing exciting.  If it sounds appealing, I would recommend using less pasta or more kale - I used only one bunch since that's all I had.  The cheese totally saved the dish.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Technical Difficulties

I'm not doing too well keeping up with posting.  I've actually got a few posts ready waiting to be finished up and posted.  Since I lost my hard drive and everything on it, I've been kind of in limbo.  So I will get back to this very soon (I hope!)

Monday, February 7, 2011

Vegetarian Black Bean Chili

Chili is the new soup.

I made (and ate) chili for the first time just a few weeks ago - the Confetti Chili, if you recall.  It was delicious, but I wanted to try a vegetarian version as well.  During Meatless Mondays in December, Georgie posted a Vegetarian Black Bean Chili.  She made it using dried beans, but wanted to hear back from someone trying it out with canned beans instead.  You can see her recipe here
I made the following adjustments:
- 3 cups of water instead of 4
- 2 cans of black beans instead of the dried
- 1 tsp salt (because of the canned beans, though I did rinse them)
- 4 tsp regular chili powder instead of 2 Tbsp, which I thought was hot enough but Ken disagreed
- added 1 cup of frozen corn, because it's one of my freezer items needing to be used up.

It came out tasty.  Texturally, I think I prefer a mix of meat and beans, but it was good, so I have a bit in the freezer to eat when I don't have quite enough time to make anything.  I wish I had made cornbread to go with it, but I just didn't think of it, I guess.  I might make this again, but more likely I will make a variation of it to make a chili using up some of what I have to use up from the freezer.  If I do make it again, I want to try it with dried beans in the pressure cooker.  I've only used my pressure cooker a few times and I want to get more comfortable with using it since it's such a useful tool!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Peanut Butter Cookies

I haven't been cooking much lately.  Since school started right after we got back from vacation, I've been pretty busy reading, reading, sitting in class, and reading.  As I mentioned, though, not eating well makes me feel like crap, so I did my best to carve out some time to cook this week.  Last week, we cut up onions, red peppers, and broccoli on the weekend and used them in omelets and pita pizzas.  Not too bad for lazy cooking, but I want to do better!  Fortunately, I have a new fun cookbook to help me - Georgie's new book Fuel Up.  It's full of nutrition advice, even photos of how to stock your refrigerator!  And of course there are tons of recipes.  I wanted to make something from the book, but didn't feel like doing a lot of prep work or going to the store.  After flipping through for a while, near the very end, I found a recipe for Peanut Butter Cookies.  The recipe has 4 ingredients and you bake the SIX cookies in the toaster oven.  Perfect!  It was exactly what I was looking for.

I had peanut butter, but I have an almost-done container of almond butter that needs to get used up pronto, so I decided to try out some Almond Butter Cookies first.  They were so easy to make.  The flavor was pretty good, but the cookies flattened out - nothing like the picture!  (And no, I did not forget the baking powder!)  They were more on the crisp side, like sugar cookies.  Ken asked me to make them again, and I decided to try it with peanut butter this time - I was determined to make them look like the picture!  I guess peanut butter is texturally fluffier or something, because they did puff up and look pretty like the picture in the book.  They were a little gooey in the middle, but tasty.  One of my favorite qualities of this cookie was that I didn't want to eat a lot of them - they were so rich!  What a great little snack to make when you're craving baked goods but don't want to end up eating a lot of junk.