Monday, January 30, 2012

Makhani Dhal

In these cold winter nights, I can't help but hibernate. I just want to warm up with a bowl of soup and hot tea. The nice thing about being cooped up in the house is I start getting more crafty. I got some inspiring things for Christmas like washi tape, beautiful yarns & spools of striped twine, stationary, and some really unique journals. Can't wait to dig into those. 

I'm getting to like lentils more and more. And with spices, all the better! This recipe is packed full of em. I modified it a bit from the original to make it healthier (vegan). The recipe is from BBC's Good Food Magazine. I served this with hummus and toasted pita bread. 

Makhani Dhal

8 oz. black lentils
2 onions, finely chopped
2 green chiles, deseeded and sliced (I used serano)
2 oz. butter or coconut oil
1 T. grated fresh ginger
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 t. ground turmeric
1/2 t. hot chili powder (optional)
2 t. ground cumin
2 t. ground coriander 
2 bay leaves
2 14.5-oz. cans red kidney beans (I used cannellini, drained & rinsed
1/2 can of coconut milk or some cream(or less)
1/2 t. garam masala
handful of chopped coriander (optional)

Boil the lentils in enough water to cover them for 15 minutes, or until almost tender. Meanwhile, fry the onions and chiles in the butter/coconut oil for about 7 minutes until they start to soften. Stir in the ginger, garlic, and spices and cook over a low heat for 1 minute more.
 Pour in almost-tender lentils and add water if needed. Toss in the bay leaves and beans, then simmer for 20 minutes more until thickened.  (This can be made 2 days ahead and chilled, or frozen for up to 1 month)
 To serve, return to the heat if necessary and stir in the coconut milk (or cream). Season with salt & pepper. Pour into a bowl, dust with garam masala and scatter with coriander (if using). 
This dish was very good. Not my favorite actually. My mom liked it more than I did. It would have been good served over brown rice. We discussed it at the table and decided it needed some potatoes in it. That would have kicked it up. Please let me know if you try it and could suggest anything. I'm always interested in new ideas.

Blessings and Goodnight.

Chef Teebs

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Snowed-In Roasted Veggies & Za'atar

Stuck at home during a blizzard, the fridge almost empty and shelves about bare... what to do? Get real creative! My mom and I searched the cabinets for ideas. We found some sweet potatoes, carrots, green onion, yellow squash, lemon, brown rice, pita bread, and chickpeas. 
Before we knew it, we had an amazing meal ahead for us. I've been wanting to use sumac in a recipe. My sister-in-law got me a mixture of random spices for Christmas from this cute spice store downtown Austin. So I inquired and got some great suggestions from other foodies to make za'atar, a middle-eastern spice mixture. 
Before I could get any more done in the kitchen, I had to get toasty with a hot cup of tea. This winter weather is not my thing. Slippers on, I opened up our large cupboard of tea... hmm.. yeah.. Mango tea. Perfect! My mom chose the same. We were cooking together tonight. Times like these, when you have to really get creative with the little you have, seem to bring the best meals. There was no way we were going out in that storm. Praise God we had some food in the house. 3 minutes later. Tea is done steeping. 
While my mom made hummus, I cut up the vegetables and arranged them on a baking sheet with a about a 1/2" of fresh ginger minced, 2 garlic cloves crushed and roughly chopped, some sea salt & cracked pepper, and a enough coconut oil to coat them. I baked them in an oven at 425 until they were tender and lightly caramelized, turning halfway through. 
For the za'atar, I used a mortar and pestle to grind the mixture together. Then I lightly brushed olive oil on some whole wheat pita bread and sprinkled the mixture generously on each piece. I threw it in the oven until it was.. well a little crisper than I wanted but, just warm is all you really have to do. Mine was crunchy. Oops. But still amazing. Honestly. I wish I had made more of the za'atar because I didn't actually make the amount the recipe called for. I loved the flavor. 
To bring the rest of the meal together, we simply cooked brown rice and placed it in a large bowl. Topped it with the roasted veggies and a few squeezes of fresh lemon juice over the top. I ate mine with some hot sauce too. We ate the pita with hummus topped with paprika. We all really enjoyed it. 
I hope your snowed-in, rained-in, or heat-waved-in days bring you wonderful meals, as our did. May God bless you. Now go make yourself a delicious cup of tea and make up your grocery list for the week. :) Well, I guess that's what we'll be doing.

Chef Teebs

Friday, January 13, 2012

Quick, Delicious, Easy: Tex-Mex Corn Chip Chili

My dad makes the best chili I've ever had. He's pretty much known for it by our friends and family. Even our neighbors have gotten some. His recipe is loaded with kidney beans and a ridiculous amount of McCormick Chili Powder. But it's amazing. I found a recipe in Rachel Ray's magazine for this black bean chili that sounded a little different than what I'm used to. The Frito chips, cilantro, and pepper jack cheese sounded like a fun twist. I had to change a few things about the original recipe. But it was a very easy and super quick recipe to make. Dinner was ready in no time! It was very filling. 
 Tex-Mex Corn Chip Chili
 serves 3-4
2 T. EVOO (or water)
1/2 sweet onion, finely chopped (about 1 C.)
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 T. chili powder (I use about 3 heeehee!)
1 t. ground cumin
2 15 oz. can black beans, rinsed* 
2 15 oz. can pinto beans, rinsed*
1 15 oz. can tomatoes with green chiles
salt & pepper
1/2 C. chopped fresh cilantro
12 oz. pepper jack cheese, shredded (I used vegan)
one bag (about 10 oz.) corn chips, such as Fritos

In a dutch oven, heat the olive oil or water over medium heat. If using water, you'll probably need to add more as needed. Add onion, garlic, chili powder and cumin. Cook about 5 minutes. Add the beans and tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until thick, about 15 minutes. Season with salt & pepper. 

*Rachel's recipe says to add the beans with their liquid. I, personally, like to rinse the beans and just add filtered water instead as needed. So feel free to do as Rachel does.

Stir in the cilantro, then top wit the cheese, cover and let stand until the cheese melts, 5-10 minutes. Place a handful of corn chips in each of the bowls. Top with chili and serve.

We enjoyed this recipe a lot. It honestly tasted more like a bean dip with all that cheese in it. Obviously I tweaked a few things from her original recipe. Since I omit the meat, I add more beans. I would make this recipe again because of the quickness and convenience of it. It would be a perfect recipe to throw together for company. Or even as a late night snack while watching a movie with some friends. It was very satisfying and loaded with protein. Oh, I served this with lime wedges and topped each bowl with more cilantro. You could also serve it with hot sauce, more cheese, avocado, crackers, ... be creative! 

Be blessed and enjoy your time in the kitchen. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed or stressed. I find I enjoy myself more when I take a minute to put on some music and have a glass of iced tea by my side to sip when I need a break. 

Chef Teebs

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Walnut Cake with Praline Frosting

I'm a sucker for anything maple or praline. So when I came across this recipe in Cooking Light I grabbed my scissors and quickly added it to my recipe binder. And finally, the day came, I checked the cabinets and... yes! All I needed to pick up was a little more powdered sugar and I'd be all set. That's one thing I found so appealing about this recipe. I'm all about trying new ingredients and methods. But it's wonderful to have some delicious recipes to make with simple ingredients that I almost always have handy. I expected this recipe to be tasty. But I was shocked how good it was! I even made it vegan and it came out perfect. It's even good enough to make for a special occasion.. like my birthday *ahem*. 

Walnut Cake with Praline Frosting

    2 C. flour
    1/2 t. baking soda
    1/2 t. salt
    7 T. butter, softened (or vegan margarine)
    1 C. granulated sugar
    1/2 t. salt
    2 large eggs (I used egg replacer)
    1 large egg white (I omitted)
    1 t. vanilla extract
    1 C. buttermilk (I used 1 C. soy milk + 1 T. apple 
      cider vinegar, let sit for 5 minutes before using)
    6 T. chopped walnuts, toasted
    1/2 C. packed brown sugar
    6 T. soy milk, divided
    2 T. butter
    1 T. light corn syrup
    dash of salt
    2 C. powdered sugar
    1/2 t. vanilla extract
    2 T. chopped walnuts, toasted

Preheat oven to 350°. 
To prepare cake, lightly spoon the flour into measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking soda, and 1/2 t. salt, stirring well with a whisk. 

Place 7 T. butter, 1 C. granulated sugar, and 1/4 C. brown sugar in a mixing bowl; beat at medium-high speed with a mixer until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes). Add eggs, 1 at a time (or just pour in "eggs" a little at a time), beating well after each addition. Beat in egg white. Beat in 1 t. vanilla. Add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Fold in 6 T. walnuts. Scrape batter into a 13x9" pan coated with cooking spray. 

To prepare frosting, place 1/2 C. brown sugar, 1/4 C. milk, 2 T. butter, corn syrup, and a dash of salt in a saucepan over medium-high heat; bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Cook 2 minutes. Scrape brown sugar mixture into a bowl. Add remaining 2 T. milk and powdered sugar; beat with a mixer at high speed 2 minutes or until slightly cooled and thick. Beat in 1/2 t. vanilla. Spread frosting in an even layer over cooled cake; sprinkle with 2 T. chopped walnuts. Let the cake stand until the frosting sets; cut into squares. 
My mom has been asking me to make grilled pizza again. Being January, it got dark early and the propane tank is empty so I decided to bake it inside. I still cooked the crust on each side before assembling it, like the recipe says, except I used the oven. This time I made pesto with toasted hazelnuts & pine nuts, cilantro, basil, lots of garlic, salt & pepper and enough olive oil to make it smooth. I made one pizza with nutritional yeast on top and the other with a little goat cheese. For the crust edge I used some poppy seeds and garlic salt. So delicious! Check out the recipe here. I use a ridiculous amount of veggies and don't even miss the cheese! 
These two meals I made vegan (minus the one goat cheese pizza) and were amazingly delicious and would highly impress one of those carnivores. ;) I have other fun suggestions and tips for these pizzas. I've made them quite a bit. Let me know if I can help you!

God's blessings to you,

Chef Teebs

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Spicy Root & Lentil Casserole

The Holidays are over. Time to get back in the groove of normal life. I got some new cookbooks and some interesting spices that I can't wait to try. My sister got me Isa Chandra's brunch cookbook! My best friend came over for brunch so I prepared one of Isa's recipes for tofu scramble. It was very easy to make and tasty! 
It's nice to be back in the kitchen. The other night I needed to find a quick recipe and I wanted something a little different. I got this recipe from BBC's Good Food magazine. Once I got all the vegetables cut up it came together quickly. Here goes.

Spicy Root and Lentil Casserole

2 T. vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves
1 lb. 9 oz. potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
4 carrots, thickly sliced
2 parsnips, thickly sliced (I used broccoli)
2 T. curry paste or powder (I used red curry paste)
1 3/4 pt. vegetable stock
4 oz red lentils
small bunch fresh coriander, chopped (I used dried)
yogurt (I use coconut milk) and naan or pita bread, to serve

Heat the oil in a large pan and cook the onion and garlic 3-4 minutes, until softened, stirring occasionally. Add the potatoes, carrots, and parsnips, turn up the heat and cook 6-7 minutes, stirring, until the vegetables are golden.

Stir in the curry paste or powder, pour in the stock, then bring to a boil. Reduce heat, add the lentils, cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes until the lentils and veggies are tender and the sauce has thickened. 

Stir in most of the coriander, season and heat for a minute or so. Top with the yogurt (or coconut milk) and the rest of the coriander. Serve with toasted pita or naan. 
 Feel free to experiment with the veggies you have in your fridge and different spices. This was a wonderful healthy dinner. 

Next: an incredible dessert. Stay tuned.


Monday, January 2, 2012

The Vespers and One Big Ball of Cheese

The Vespers concert turned out beautiful. Sweet melodies filled the room as twinkly lights danced to each beat. Feet tapping, heads nodding, bodies swaying.  Snacks galore, hot tea & coffee, just perfect for the chilly evening. 
The kitchen was filled with goodies! My sister made fancy chocolate/caramel-covered pretzels, my friend Allie made a little snack for the meat-eaters, and I prepared Christmas cookies, a cheese ball with crackers, red velvet cupcakes, vanilla cake pops, and hummus with veggies. 
Party Cheese Ball

2 8-oz. pkgs cream cheese
2 C. shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 T. chopped pimentos
1 T. chopped onion
1 T. chopped green bell pepper
2 t. worcestershire sauce 
1 t. lemon juice
chopped pecans or parsley, for coating ball

Combine softened cream cheese, mixing with a blender/hand mixer until well blended. Add next 6 ingredients (cheddar to lemon juice), until well blended. Using wet hands, mold mixture into a ball. Coat ball with either pecans or parsley. Serve with crackers.
This recipe is from my grandma's recipe box. It's far from healthy, haha.You can use vegan ingredients if you would like. All I know is this cheese ball was a hit! People kept returning to the kitchen to add more to their plates. I served Ritz crackers along with this appetizer. Get creative and serve it with any of your favorite crackers or bread. 
 A special thanks to John Connell for taking the beautiful photos from the concert! 

We sure enjoyed The Vespers in our home. If you haven't yet, please do yourself a favor check out their music and if they come to your area, go see them! They are truly wonderful people and amazingly talented. I was blown away. 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all!

Chef Teebs