Chickpea and Cashew Tikka Masala (GF,V)

IMG_0283Things have been a little rough here at the Northern office of the pantry. I’m now 4 weeks out of foot surgery and while things are decidedly better, I am still somewhat limited in my activities and as the day wears on I get pretty uncomfortable from swelling and aches associated with walking on this ridiculous contraption. As a result, my desire to stand and cook for extended periods of time is pretty limited.

While I was sitting on my fanny for the initial two weeks after surgery, I did have the opportunity to come across a feature in Vegetarian Times on “30 Minute Skillet Suppers.” Yes, please. So last night I gave one of these a go, and in my usual fashion I made some modifications to make it just right for my family (yogurt out, cashews in; serrano chile out – red pepper and chile powder in; fresh ginger out – powdered in).  This experiment was wildly successful, and it really did only take 30 minutes. The cashews balanced the spice and I love the texture they added. The greater adjustability with powdered chili allowed me to knock it down for the kids and adjust on the plate for Mr. Little Sis. My sore feet and legs were spared extra standing and our little tribe got to enjoy some fabulous Indian flavors for a very reasonable price, right there on a weeknight in our kitchen.

Chickpea and Cashew Tikka Masala (GF,V) – inspired by Vegetarian Times’ Chickpea Tikka Masala

  • olive oil for panIMG_0297
  • 1 c finely chopped onion
  • 1.5 T garam masala
  • 1.5 T tomato paste
  • 1.5 t powdered ginger (or 3 t fresh grated – I was out)
  • 1/2 red or yellow pepper, chopped
  • 2 c cooked chckpeas
  • 3 small cans diced tomatoes
  • pinch paprika
  • pinch chipotle or other chile powder to taste
  • 1 c raw cashews
  • chopped cilantro

Warm oil in large skillet (I used cast iron – the pan should be relatively deep). Add onions and a sprinkle of salt. Sauté  onions for about 5 minutes on low-medium heat, until onions are translucent. Add tomato paste and spices (other than paprika and chile). Cook for another minute or so – until the spices become fragrant. Add peppers and sauté about another minute. Add chickpeas and tomatoes and bring to a boil. Lower heat to simmer, add cashews and remaining spices. Simmer for at least 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. We served ours with leftover rice and chopped cilantro as a garnish.  Absolutely delish and deeply satisfying.

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For more quick dinners, as well as some thoughts on convenience food, check out Big Sis’ post ReCon Convenience, Step 7 in our Baby Steps Series.

Digging Indian flavors? Give these dishes a try: Mulligatawny Soup, Pakistani Lentil Kima, and Cashew Carrot Curry.

Sweet Potato Patties with Black Beans and Greens

Every now and again I find myself in a food rut. After all the holiday hullaballoo (which officially ended with twin birthday number 7 last week), it seemed that I had forgotten how to cook all but a few of our standard and semi-standard recipes.  Once I cycled through those a couple of times, I confess even I was having trouble finding my enthusiasm for our usual healthier fare.

Thusly uninspired, I applied my tried and true tactic for waking some enthusiasm for healthier eating.  I went to the library and found my way into the aisle with healthier cookbooks, looked for a couple that I knew of and found a couple of new titles to peruse.

One of the books I picked up this time was The Cleaner Plate Club: Raising Healthy Eaters One Meal at a Time by Beth Bader and Ali Benjamin. I should say, before explaining how this led to dinner, that this is a lovely book for a home cook who’s trying to get out of the habit of relying on processed food and who needs some sage advice on how to make that shift, what kinds of foods to purchase, and what to do with those ingredients.  It also includes a section that describes the way that children, in particular, eat and how to more comfortably address dietary change with kids. A great book, that also includes lots of yummy recipes, as well as a slew of non-recipe suggestions, one of which led me to create this fabulous dinner.

IMG_0116 The authors suggested baking sweet potatoes and then topping them with black beans.  I had cooked sweet potatoes on hand (for baking purposes)… and so, I admittedly made it more complicated, but with surprisingly fabulous results.

Sweet Potato Patties with Black Beans and Greens (DF, GF)

The Black Beans

  • olive oil for the panIMG_0100
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped fine
  • 2 1/2 c cooked black beans or 2 cans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 c water
  • 1 t Bragg’s or soy sauce
  • 1 t dried oregano
  • dash garlic powder

In a small pot, warm olive oil on low-medium heat.  Add onions and cook for a few minutes, stirring periodically.  When onions are translucent, add the other ingredients and simmer over low heat while you prepare the rest of the meal.  Stir occasionally to prevent sticking.  Add water if necessary to get the consistency you prefer.

The Patties

  • 2.5 cups sweet potato (cooked until VERY soft)IMG_0097
  • 1 c cooked grain (I used quinoa)
  • 1.5 c chickpea flour
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 c rolled oats
  • 1 t orange zest
  • 1/2 t paprika
  • 1/4 t garlic powder
  • olive oil for the pan

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl.  Warm oil in the pan at slightly less than medium heat.  Preheat the oven to 225. Use a mixing or soup spoon to spoon large dollops (sorry for the technical term) into the pan.  Allow to cook for about 5 minutes per side, or until brown.  Flip and brown the other side.  Transfer to a baking dish and allow to rest in oven while cooking the rest of the patties.

The Greens

  • olive oil for the panIMG_0116
  • about 8 ounces of your preferred dark green leafy
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • toasted nuts (opt)

Warm the olive oil on low-medium.  Add minced garlic and cook until fragrant (about 30 seconds).  Add greens and cook until wilted, stirring to ensure all greens make contact with the hot part of the pan. Remove from heat when they are just starting to look ready.  Add nuts (we used walnuts).

When it was all said and done, we served the beans over the patties, added a dollop of Annie’s cashew cream, a spoon of our favorite salsa, and added the greens to the plate.  The dish tasted best when all the elements were on the fork together, regardless of what Ms. Picky Pants (who would dearly love to have a plate with sections) says.  Delish.

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Rockin’ Gluten Free Falafel

That’s right Sis, I got you.  In the weird world of cooking for my family, I have made some surprising discoveries.  First, my children don’t like ALL sweet things (and I am so glad). Secondly, my kids usually accept my food dicta without significant complaint and finally (drumroll) my kids will eat anything that has anything to do with chickpeas.  Errrrrrrh….. what what WHAT?  Yes, that’s right chickpeas.  I have no explanation for you.

Don’t get me wrong, I like the little buggers myself, but that discovery certainly had not happened by age 6.  There was not significant trickery to get them to try the little beans, although I admit to calling them tushies and pointing out that they look like a little pile of baby bums.  Some people might not want to eat that, but it worked for my kids… go figure.  So when trying to decide what to make for dinner the other night, and since I was feeling kind of summery and listening to great music, I thought falafel made a lot of sense (if you don’t get the connection you probably wasted less of your 20s than I did).

When I found a falafel recipe, however, I noticed that it had wheat flour and breadcrumbs in it.  Not surprising – most pattie type foods have one or both of these, but thought, I couldn’t possibly serve these to my sister’s family as written, and so I began my usual alteration dance with gluten free falafel as the goal.  And guess what? Gluten free falafel is awesome, regardless of whether or not you’re in the parking lot of a large concert venue.  Gluten free falafel rocked this suburban (okay exurban for the geography geeks – holla!) momma and Ms. Picky Pants?  She had thirds.  Yep. Thirds.  Enough said. If Ms. Picky Pants has thirds, I’m pretty convinced everyone should give this one a go. Continue reading

Sushi Salad

I used to make sushi.  Truth is I wasn’t very good at the rolling part.  It took a long time and my sushi rolls always came out humpy and bulge-y (as Max the rabbit would say).  Huge rolls that fall apart when you try to eat them.  Still tasty though, and good for you, especially if in your rigid approach to grains you insist on using brown rice.  So, I got to thinking…. If it’s going to fall apart anyway (due in part to the use of brown rice), and after said falling apart we will shovel the remains out of a bowl of soy sauce and wasabi… Well then why not just throw in the towel by throwing all of the sushi ingredients into a bowl?  Why not indeed?

So… what you need to make a sushi salad (if you like cold) or a sushi bowl (if you like it hot) is:

– sheets of nori (paper like seaweed)
– sticky, slightly sweet rice
– wasabi (which can be purchased as a powder or a paste)
– soy sauce or Bragg’s liquid aminos
– some type of fish like product :  I used lox.  (I used to use fake crab meat but am uncomfortable with the product now – but hey it’s your call!)  You could also use cooked shrimp, or if you are really brave, raw tuna or something.  I don’t go there because I took parasitology back in undergraduate days.
fresh crispy vegetables like cucumbers, carrots, peppers, avocado
and if you like, some lightly sauteed greens.

Cook the rice as normal and when it’s getting close to done, heat equal parts of rice vinegar and sugar to melt and combine.  I made 1.5 cups of dry rice and used 2 Tbsp. of each.  I added it a bit at a time and didn’t use all of the vinegar/sugar.  So that gives you a starting point.  After the rice has absorbed the water, add the mixture and stir.

If you choose,sautee some greens in a touch of your fave oil with a smidge of sesame oil.  I used kale and I also threw in some sesame seeds.

Now either let the rice and greens cool or proceed for warm sushification.

Chop your veggies into salad sized chunks (avocado is HIGHLY recommended)

Mix your wasabi powder to package directions.  You can then add it some soy sauce or Bragg’s to make a little dressing.   This is a very personal mixing as wasabi is hot and different products will pack different punches.  Try mixing a little of the two and then tasting with a little rice.  Set aside.

Mix ingredients to your hearts content, making sure to sneak some of the greens into little people’s bowls under the rice 😉

Add torn pieces of nori as you pile in ingredients.  I you add it all at one time you will get chunks of nori which most people probably won’t care for.

dried bits of sunshine and the sea

After all is in the bowl carefully apply soy or Bragg’s with or without wasabi.  My son does not do wasabi… I love it.

Place the bowl in a strange place to catch some of the last light of this beautiful autumn day here in middle TN and enjoy.

Humpy and Bulge-y looks much better in a bowl I think.