Friday, October 12, 2012

Paneer from cottage cheese first attempt...for saag paneer

I read on another blog you can use cottage cheese to make a faux paneer. Since I couldn't find paneer at the store and really wanted saag paneer I decided to try making some. Original post:

Butter melted

Cottage cheese added and heated.
Starts to appear to solidify...
 So pour into a pan to cool.
 Unfortunately, I think it didn't work
This time anyway...
Looks like cottage cheese again!
Perhaps my mistake was in the heating step.
Should I try again another time?
 Oh well, mix with the seasonings and spinach mixture anyway.

Yum! Looks odd, tastes great.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Making Spanish Paella

For European night last week I found an easy and delicious version of Paella on allrecipes. Researching it, I learned there are different versions of paella. Some are heavier on seafood than others. Just depends what part of Spain. The seasonings are pretty important though.
If you are a fan of Cajun or Creole Jambalaya, you might find the different flavors but somewhat similar construction of Paella an interesting change. It makes for an easy, family, one-pot meal.

You coat pieces of chicken with a mixture of spices such as olive oil, paprika, oregano, and salt and pepper, the refrigerate.
Meanwhile, put some olive oil in a large skillet. Heat it up, adding garlic, red pepper flakes, and rice. Brown the rice and get a nice aromatic smell coming from your pan. Not done with spices yet though! Add in saffron threads. Or if you absolutely can't and want to make the recipe, use tumeric, but realize it won't be quite the same. At least though you'll have a yellow color! Other spices include bay leaf, parsley, grated lemon zest (it's going to taste a little lemony!), and some broth. Bring all this to a boil and cover.

Quickly brown your meat (chicken, chorizo) and saute some bell pepper then add it to the pot. Continue cooking, covered, until rice is cooked. Then add shrimp and cook until no longer pink.

Serve and enjoy!

Here is the recipe I used. I discovered reading other recipes that the meat is usually cooked with the rice. It's good, but a bit lemony, so perhaps next time I'll buy small lemons. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Cuban: Ropa Vieja in the Crockpot

Yesterday was a busy day for us, and I had the perfect meal planned. In the morning I volunteered at the homeschool group, after lunch was a doctor appointment, and in the evening was swimming. The crock pot called.

So I made an easy family-friendly Cuban meal: Ropa Vieja. It's simple, and flavorful. I've made it for a while and can't remember where I found the recipe in the first place. The whole family tends to love it. Although last night my 3.5 year old decided there was something funny about the large slices of onion. Next time I'll slice them smaller.

Ropa Vieja

1-1/2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 pound beef flank steak
1/2 cup water
1/2 tsp beef better than bouillon
1/2 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
1/2 small onion, sliced
Bell pepper, in strips (I like tri color)
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/2 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh cilantro
1-1/2 teaspoons olive oil
1-1/2 teaspoons white vinegar

Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Brown the flank steak on each side, about 4 minutes per side.

Transfer beef to a slow cooker. Pour in the water, better than bouillon, and tomato sauce, then add the onion, bell pepper, garlic, tomato paste, cumin, cilantro, olive oil and vinegar. Stir until well blended. Cover, and cook on High for 4 hours, or on Low for up to 10 hours. When ready to serve, shred meat and serve with tortillas, rice, and black beans.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Curried Peas, and my little sweet pea

I don't often make peas because well, my husband finds most recipes with peas boring. Last night was Asian night in our house and I tried a curried peas and tomatoes recipe to go along with our main Indian dish. Oh, yum! My husband even had more than one serving. He said "this is actually an interesting dish" so I'll definitely be making them again. 

Oh, in case you're wondering about my Asian night comment. Now that I'm well in my second trimester (yes, I'm expecting my own little sweet pea this winter!) and not relying on giant crockpots full of doubled and tripled recipes to freeze in order to feed the family each night I'm back to cooking most days each week, which means back to making international food more often. How much more? Well, I'm experimenting with a new way to menu plan. Each day of the week minus one is assigned a continent. If I need to plan a meal for that day of the week I can think of recipes from that continent (or the oceans if you wanted to add a just fish night). 

Monday: North America
Tuesday: South America
Wednesday: Europe
Thursday: Asia
Friday: Oceania
One day on the Weekend: Africa

We'll see how this strategy goes. So far so good. It has certainly streamlined menu planning.

Curried Peas, Adapted from a recipe on  Btw, I'll edit it later to add photos. I have a camera problem at the moment!

3 tbls coconut milk
dash of curry powder
1 teaspoon chili powder1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander 1 pinch ground turmericsalt to taste2 teaspoons  oil1 onion, chopped1 small cinnamon stick1/2 teaspoon cumin 4 tomatoes, chopped1 pound fresh pea pods, shelled (you can use frozen too)

In a small bowl, mix together coconut milk, chili powder, coriander, turmeric, and salt.In a medium saute pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion, cinnamon stick, and cumin seeds; saute until onions are soft.Stir in tomatoes, peas, and coconut milk mixture. Reduce heat, and simmer until the peas are tender.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Nigerian Adventure: A Delicious Dinner

We moved. Again. But things are slowly getting unpacked including most of my kitchen. I'll have to work off memory to tell you about our Nigerian culinary adventure. Oh, the memories are wonderful. In fact, sitting here typing this I'm wondering to myself, "why haven't you made it again yet?!" Yes, it was that good. We enjoyed a meat dish and a salad. The salad was made of layers. Much as an American seven layer salad is made. The ingredients were a little different though. Slivers of cabbage, cucumber, and carrot are mixed together. A can of peas (apparently fresh isn't an option here) is poured over, followed by a layer of canned (not fresh or frozen again) corn. This is topped with slices of hard cooked egg. So far not too odd. Here's where the salad really shows its foreign side. The last two steps are to sprinkle the salad with a can each of baked beans and tuna! How odd! The layers are repeated. After chilling it's served with salad cream. I'm not a huge meat eater. This particular meat was delectable. Stick meat. Beef is coated with spices like bouillon, garlic, curry, and adobo powder and allowed to sit and "sweat" a while. Water is added And the meat boiled for half an hour. You remove the meat, heat oil until it smokes and make the sauce. Then you bake the meat. So this meat gets boiled and baked. The meat is tossed with the sauce and eaten with toothpicks. So yummy!

Monday, April 30, 2012

Market Day: Nigeria

So, here are all the ingredients used to make a meat
and a side dish for our Nigerian adventure.
Dish 1 used: Adobo seasoning, oil, tomato, onion, garlic, peppers, curry powder, bouillon
Dish 2 used: Carrot, cucumber, peas, corn, eggs, tuna, baked beans, cabbage, and salad cream

So what did we enjoy? (And yes, we really enjoyed it!)

Monday, April 23, 2012

Avocadoes Stuffed with Fish & Eggs

This would make such a great summer lunch! 

It's a plate full of avocados stuffed with fish and egg. Sounds different, tastes yummy. If you like tuna salad stuffed in a tomato, you'll probably enjoy this.

Hard cook your eggs.

Then cook your fish. I just lightly seasoned it with salt and pepper.

When your eggs are cooked and cooled, remove the yolks and mash them up. Mix the yolks with sugar, lime, oils, milk. You want it to be smooth as a pudding.

Chop up the egg white and add it in.

Add the chopped cooked fish.

Then chill, and stuff in the avocados. Chop your bell pepper to sprinkle over with some pimentos. Squeeze some lime juice over, and serve. 

It's a pleasant and healthy meal. You can find the recipe here

Friday, April 20, 2012

Planning Day: Nigerian Culinary Adventure

If you're waiting on my final entry for Ghana, it's coming. I am looking forward to sharing our main dish with you. It's simple, easy to prepare, and perfect for warm weather. Very appropriate as the weather continues to warm! Right now I'm in overload concerning what I want to make for our Nigerian adventure. I'm very tempted to try a breakfast recipe. Crepes or a bean pancake with a custard on the side. Problem is finding custard powder, which is according to my brief web search slightly different from our instant pudding mix. Now that I live in a largish city I hope I can track some down...breakfast like that would be fun! Then there's the stews! Very meaty and several carry the warning "very spicy". It seems like everything is served with "white yam" or plantains too. Oh, and they have the most interesting salads. There's also a dish that reminds me of scotch eggs, one that reminds me of doughnuts...just so much from which to choose. As I said what's particularly tempting is embarking on more than one adventure here. We'll see. There are several African restaurants in town, if I want to try something cooked by someone who knows how after I'm done with this particular adventure!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Culinary adventure to Ghana! part 1: Plantains

For dessert I mixed pepper, onion, garlic, ginger, plantains, olive oil, and salt and made fried plantains! Now, this recipe certainly wasn't nearly as tasty as I'd had at a certain restaurant, but still they weren't bad. Next time though I think I'd try a different recipe.

This is what I dipped the plantains in. Nothing sweet at all about the dessert.

Slicing the plantains at an angle.

All coated and ready to go! To cook, I put a thin layer of oil in a skillet, and browned them. Hardly deep fried at all.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Market Day: Ghana

The ingredients for dessert. Plantains, garlic, ginger, onion, red pepper, olive oil, and salt. Yes, it did have a bit of a kick!

Eggs, for the main dish.
Other ingredients needed for the main dish included: Olive oil, milk, sugar, salt, vegetable oil, bell pepper, pimentos, lime juice, and avocados.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Planning Day: Ghana

Searching out foods on the west coast of the Africsn continent is a little trickier than I imagined. More often than not I come across generic an "west African " recipes. It seems there is a lot of overlap. One of the more interesting resources I've found so far is A Washington Post article on west African cuisine. The foods are savory and starchy. One ingredient in particular caught my eye: plantains. Yum! African Cooking Guide has a great chart listing the most commonly used ingredients. Oh, and often it uses one pot cooking. Love that!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Week 11: An Algerian Pudding

Oh, was this pudding ever good! After he ate it my husband announced "I can't wait for you to make this again." it was so quick (minutes) to whip up too. You bet I'll make Sahlab again, and soon. Creamy and silky it simply slips down your throat. Yum!

 Three cups of milk (almond milk adds a little to the flavor) brought to a boil over medium heat.

Measure out cornstarch
 Add it to water, stirring until dissolved. I used warm water.

Measure out a cup of sugar.
Add the sugar to the milk, stirring for a minute, then add the cornstarch and continue to stir constantly.

It will thicken rapidly!

Serve with your choice of toppings, including raisins, coconut, and cinnamon. Wonderfully quick, easy, and silky.

You can find the recipe I used for this delicate creamy pudding called Sahlab here.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Market Day: Algeria

Once again my pantry is my market. How I love it when this happens. The ingredients for our Algerian dessert adventure were few and common. It should be considerably cheaper than the other dessert I was leaning towards making. This particular dish requires corn starch to thicken it up and is served with some optional chopped toppings.

Can you guess what we're having?

Water, milk, cornstarch, sugar, cinnamon,  raisins,  coconut

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Planning Day: Algeria

It feels great to be back to planning our culinary adventures. Yet my next culinary adventure- Algerian cuisine- is providing a bit of a challenge. I just can't decide what in the world we should make next. At the moment I'm seriously considering a dessert adventure! Algerian desserts sound pretty tasty.

from Free Retro Graphics

Couscous- once again!- is an essential part of Algerian cooking. There are even dessert dishes made of couscous. I suppose that's really no different than bread or rice pudding in a way. Many desserts are fruit based. One dessert I found includes lavender. Yes, the flower! A variety of nuts are also used. What varied textures these desserts must have.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Week 10: Tunisia

For using such normal American ingredients our meal certain turned out different than a typical American meal.

 Wouldn't mind having it again. I think my toddler liked it the most. It certainly was inexpensive.

It was also exceptionally quick, and easy, to make. I literally could throw it together for lunch. No double checking the recipe or making sure the amounts were just right. Shakshuka is so simple all I had to do was read through a couple recipes on-line and I was good to go.

Tunisian Shakshuka

1-2 tsp cumin
olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 1/2 chopped bell pepper
large can crushed tomatoes (about 28 oz)
salt and pepper to taste

chili paste to taste
eggs (1 per person)

Chop the bell pepper. I used about 1 1/2 bell peppers. If I didn't happen to have pre-chopped onion I would've chopped 1 onion at this point.

Cumin in the skillet over low heat. Just until it released the aromas.

Added the onion and some olive oil. Just until it started to soften a little.

Next the chopped bell pepper, and continued cooking until softened.

 Once the onion and peppers were softened I added a large can's worth of crushed tomatoes from my ziplock bag. Also added a little chili paste, salt, and pepper to taste. Then I covered it and let cook on low for about 20 minutes. Had to add a little water to get a nice texture.
For the final step I added 1 egg per person. There are two techniques commonly used to cook the eggs in Shakshuka. You can either scramble the eggs or cook them sunny side up on top of the vegetables. I chose to scramble.
As you can see, even with the added green onion to garnish it just looked prettier without the scrambling. I think, if I do make this again, I'm going to leave the yolks unbroken on the eggs.

Not bad for an easy, cheap, and rather interesting lunch!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Market Meets Pantry- Guess What I'm Making (Tunisia)

Don't you love it when you can make your entire meal from things you already have on hand? For our planned Tunisian meal, that's exactly what happened.  Our pantry was the market!

Can you guess the meal?

Bell pepper, onion, garlic, eggs, salt, pepper, tomatoes,  chili paste, and cumin.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Week 9: Our Moroccan Dinner

 By now you've probably read about the delicious Moroccan dessert that looked fittingly like footballs. If not, check it out here. But dessert wasn't all my family enjoyed for our Moroccan adventure. We also enjoyed a hearty stew and a crisp, and rather unique tasting, salad.

Our salad was simple, healthy- and not a big hit. We didn't dislike it. It just wasn't something any of us fell in love with. Perhaps it would have been better if I'd spent the money on Argan oil. I substituted sesame oil per the original recipe. Or, it might be better served with something other than a vegetable curry.

 Slice apples.

 Slice cucumbers. Section oranges.

Toss in a dressing of oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Serve.

The stew was actually a vegetable curry. Personally I never would have considered combining the involved ingredients together. It really worked! The flavors were delicious. I would definitely serve it to guests if I knew they were adventurous. We were all disappointed when the last bite was eaten. Marakesh Vegetable Curry is just that good.

Diced sweet potato placed in a pot
Cubing eggplant to add to the pot.

Added to the mix are bell peppers, carrot, onion (I was out so I cut a corner and used onion powder!), and sautéed in olive oil.

By now the kitchen was starting to smell pretty nice. Adding a few more spices really kicked it up a notch. My home started to fill with a mouth-watering aroma.

In olive oil, garlic, turmeric,  curry powder, and cinnamon were heated with some salt and pepper, and then added to the pot of vegetables with some


sliced zucchini,




Orange Juice!

At this point I had to cover the pot and let it cook. While it cooked I made the couscous. Here's my secret recipe for couscous.

Once the couscous and the salad were prepped, the stew was about ready. 

The smell made my mouth water, despite the odd combination of ingredients. Walking in, my husband called out "What's that wonderful smell? Whatever it is, I'm hungry! Is it ready!?"

  I added some frozen chopped spinach and served.  Here's the link to the original recipe if you're interested in trying it yourself.