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seasoned basmati rice

This rice actually has a pretty good flavor all by itself, but it’s perfect with the curried lentils.

Ingredients

You can make any amount you want, but if you’re making it to go with the curried lentils, this will make the right amount.

  • 2 cups basmati rice (if you don’t have basmati, you can use whatever rice you have on hand)
  • 2 Tbs butter
  • a handful of chopped onion (or a few sprinkles of onion powder if you ran out of onion after the curried lentils…)
  • some garlic (minced, garlic powder, whatever you have. I used 2 cloves and mashed them through my garlic press.)
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp Better Than Bouillon chicken base or dehydrated chicken stock base (this adds some extra flavor, but if you don’t have any, don’t worry about it)
  • 2 tsp curry powder (see my note on curry powder)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • just a little less than 4 cups water

Directions

You can start making this as soon as you turn the curried lentils down to simmer, and they will finish around the same time.

  1. Rinse and drain the rice.
  2. Melt the butter in a pan and sauté the onion and garlic on medium heat until tender.
  3. Add the rice and sauté until well mixed. Add the chicken base and seasonings and sauté for another couple of minutes.
  4. Pour in the water, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for the amount of time listed on the rice package directions (typically it will be around 20 minutes).

That’s it!

curried lentils and basmati rice

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Curried lentils with rice

Most of you know my stance on leftovers. I am not a fan. I will eat leftovers once, maybe twice, before I am totally sick of them and have to move on. Even then, I almost never eat leftovers again for dinner; I usually bring them to work for lunch.

Tonight, I had leftover curried lentils. It was a wonderful experience. I would do it again.

My mom knows what to do with a bag of lentils. They’re really cheap, super healthy and much quicker to cook than regular beans. Plus, they don’t require soaking! She fed our family of 6 many batches of lentils over the years. I asked her for her “recipe” a while back, and she laughed. (You wonder where I get my “little bit of this, little bit of that” cooking tendencies… now you know.) But because she’s my mother and she loves me, she pulled together some semblance of a recipe. It’s not much to look at, but this is just one of her delicious lentil concoctions.

Ingredients

My mom makes it a little different every time based on what’s in her pantry. If she had to scramble to actually come up with a “recipe,” then it’s probably ok if you have to mix and match or even omit a few ingredients.

  • olive oil
  • 1/2 an onion, chopped
  • minced garlic (fresh, dried, whatever. I used 3 cloves of fresh garlic and mashed them through my garlic press.)
  • 2 tsp (or 1-2 Tbs, which is closer to what I normally do) curry powder, divided (or a mixture of cumin, chili, coriander, turmeric and paprika. But it’s way easier to just keep a container of “curry powder” on hand. By the way, my mom’s recipe says “some curry powder.” I didn’t measure when I made it last night. I had to really stretch to come up with an actual number. I DID THIS FOR YOU.)
  • bag of lentils (sorted and rinsed)
  • a few potatoes chopped into chunks (red or Yukon Gold are my favorite. Or you could be like me and notice you have no potatoes and just toss in a few handfuls of frozen hash browns instead.)
  • 1 tsp Better Than Bouillon chicken base, or 1 cube of that dried chicken stock stuff
  • 1 – 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • a few shakes of pepper
  • enough water to cover everything by an inch
  • 2 handfuls of raisins (golden raisins are best, but regular raisins are fine too)

One thing I love about this recipe is that all the ingredients are items that most people typically have on hand already. Which is why I made it last night after coming home from vacation to a fridge with no milk, no eggs, no fresh veggies…

Directions

This is actually pretty quick and incredibly easy!

  1. Sauté the olive oil, onion, garlic and about 1/2 tsp of the curry seasonings in a large pot until tender and fragrant (a few minutes).
  2. Add everything else except the raisins and bring to a boil. Turn heat to low, cover and simmer about 30-50 minutes (or until lentils and potatoes are tender). Stir occasionally and check to make sure there is enough water. Just taste the lentils every now and then after the 30-minute mark to see if they are mushy yet.
  3. Toss in the raisins once the lentils are tender and cook 5 more minutesto soften the raisins. Add more seasoning if needed.

It’s great by itself, but it’s fantastic over seasoned basmati rice. This meal has a really great, mild flavor, even if you’re not typically a fan of Indian-type food.

Pot of curried lentils

Curried lentils with basmati

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sriracha cilantro deviled eggs

Stephen and I recently rediscovered deviled eggs. They’re so easy and delicious, yet they rarely occur to me when thinking of what we could eat. Regular deviled eggs are superb, but I stumbled across this recipe and had to try it. We both loved them! Stephen still prefers regular deviled eggs over these, but I thought these were some of the best deviled eggs I had ever eaten.

Ingredients

I almost kinda followed the recipe on this one. Mostly.

  • 6 hard-boiled eggs
  • 2 Tbs mayo
  • 1 Tbs sriracha hot sauce (You can use more or less depending on how spicy you like your food. This recipe isn’t very spicy at all, so if you want more kick, feel free to add more.)
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • 1 Tbs sweet relish
  • 3 green onions, finely chopped
  • A good handful (about 2 Tbs) finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • Salt and pepper to taste.

That feels almost ridiculous, using a long list of specific, measured ingredients for deviled eggs. Not to worry – next time I made deviled eggs, I just squirted a bunch of stuff in there, mixed it all up and called it good.

Directions

I mean, it’s deviled eggs… that’s pretty basic, but here are the “directions”:

  1. Cut each egg in half lengthwise and remove the yolk to a bowl. Place the whites on a plate with the holes facing up.
  2. Mash the yolks in a bowl with all the rest of the ingredients, adding salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Spoon the filling back into the whites and serve.

deviled egg closeup

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Cold Asian noodles with beef

Random funny story of the day:

I was making a layered Mexican dip the other day, and I since the dip was for Stephen and his friends, I asked if he thought sliced green onions would be good on top. He said nah… a few seconds later, he says something like “Oh, what about some of those chives in the fridge? That would be really good!” That would be the green onions

(No husbands were harmed in the making of this joke. Stephen thought it was hilarious when I told him he was actually thinking of the green onions.)

Anyway…

I have a level of deep love for cold Asian noodles that Stephen would call abnormal. And sometimes he does. But that’s ok, because whenever I make it, it means more for me. Room temperature or cold Asian noodles make my heart sing.

I made this recipe (inspired by this) for dinner one night when Stephen wasn’t there and then ate it for lunch for over a week. It was glorious. And that’s coming from me, the person who can barely stand eating leftovers more than once. I have by no means mastered Asian cooking (or even Asian noodle cooking, for that matter) but this recipe works for me and my noodle cravings.

Ingredients

Supposedly this is awesome with medium-rare sliced sirloin. I, however, do not keep spare sirloin steaks in my refrigerator for noodle purposes. I keep sell-it-before-it-goes bad clearance-sale super-thin-cut beef  in the freezer. Sometimes. What doesn’t kill you will make you stronger. Or something.

  • A few pieces of very thin-cut steak (we’re talking like less than 1/4 inch thick, maybe even 1/8 inch, as you can see in the picture)
  • Salt
  • 3/4 cup soy sauce (I use the Great Value low-sodium stuff. Classy.)
  • 3 Tbs sesame oil (Please do not think you just need oil for oil’s sake and use something else. Sesame oil has a distinct Asian taste, and as much as I substitute ingredients for everything, there is no replacement for sesame oil.)
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 2 Tbs rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp hot chili oil (or a little more if you like your lips to tingle. Or a little less if you have wimpy delicate tastebuds.)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (insert love song for my garlic press)
  • a small sprinkle of powdered ginger (I am not a fan of strong ginger flavors, so you may want to add more if that’s your thing.)
  • 2 Tbs brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sliced green onion
  • 1/2 pack (about 8 oz?) of thin spaghetti or rice noodles (though if you don’t want it totally doused in sauce, you can use the full pack and get a lighter flavor)
  • fresh cilantro

Please keep in mind that these are guesses at measurement. I ended up with a ton of noodles last time I made this, so I might have doubled the amount of noodles that time. Or just added extra chili oil. I can’t remember. Obviously you can play around with the proportions and measurements and it will turn out just fine.

Directions

It comes together pretty quickly, but it’s much better if it sits in the refrigerator for at least a few hours.

  1. Salt both sides of the thin steak and “grill” it quickly on a skillet with medium-high or high heat. If it’s as thin-cut as the one I used, you want to flip it over as soon as the surface is brown, and then take it off as soon as the other side is brown too. You don’t want it to get tough. Set it aside to cool.
  2. Mix soy sauce, sesame oil, olive oil, rice wine vinegar, chili oil, garlic, ginger and brown sugar in a bowl.
  3. Put the meat in a plastic bag along with a few tablespoons of the oil mixture and zip to seal. Shake it up a little bit and let it sit in the refrigerator for a while so the flavors can mix.
  4. Cook the pasta, drain, and place in a bowl. Pour the rest of the dressing over the noodles and toss with green onions. Cover the bowl and place it in the refrigerator to cool and let the flavors mix and mingle. I like my flavors to be sociable.
  5. To serve, toss the noodles with cilantro and place some in a bowl. Cut the meat into thin strips and place some on top of the noodles.
  6. Eat with chopsticks. It tastes better that way. Unless you’re not good with chopsticks, in which case the bitter taste of defeat might in fact make the noodles worse instead of better.

I like to let it come to room temperature before eating it because I think the flavors come out better that way, but it’s good straight from the fridge too.

Mmmm….

Spicy beef noodles

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Vegetable ham chowder

I wish the picture did it justice.

Let me tell you about this recipe.

It all started as a Better Homes and Gardens recipe with lots of cheese and very few veggies. I didn’t have enough cheese. I kept tossing in veggies till it looked more colorful. A star was born.

Since then, I’ve made it 4 or 5 times. It is so easy, and it uses ingredients you probably already have on hand. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a health food, but it’s certainly not a health splurge either. Please make this soup. You will be everyone’s favorite person within seconds of putting it on the table (or maybe Stephen is just biased…).

Ingredients

I’m sorry… I have never measured. And it has never turned out exactly the same. Yet it has been delicious every time. Rest assured…. though my made-up, highly approximate measurements in this list are not entirely accurate, I’m sure they’re close enough to the truth to turn out pretty great. You can achieve Ingredient Victory. I believe in you.

  • 2 1/2 cups water (3 cups if you really have a lot of vegetables)
  • 3-5 medium potatoes, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1/2 a large onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 – 1 1/2 cups shredded cheese (cheddar, monterey jack, or whatever you have)
  • 1 15-oz can cream-style corn (I’m actually going to try it with 2 cans next time, since I added so many extra veggies the last time I made it that the corn was almost nonexistent)
  • 1 cup cooked cubed ham (you can use up to 2 cups if you’d like it more meaty, but I prefer to let the vegetables shine)

The chopping may take a little while, but that’s the most labor-intensive part of the recipe by far.

Directions

It is so quick and easy (especially compared to the burgundy beef stew recipe I posted last week…).

  1. Combine water, potatoes, carrots, celery and onion in a large pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 10-15 minutes (I usually simmer mine a little longer because I like the potatoes to start crumbling at the edges). Do not drain.
  2. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan (do this while the vegetables are cooking). Stir in the flour and pepper until thick and smooth.
  3. Add the milk all at once. Cook and stir over medium heat until thick and bubbly. Side note: Do not step away from the stove for too long. Milk can go from nothing to BIGMESSBOILINGOVER in approximately 1.4 seconds.
  4. Add the cheese to the milk mixture and stir until it melts. This pot should now be full of velvety, cheesy goodness.
  5. Pour the cheese mixture into the vegetable mixture whenever the vegetables are done simmering.
  6. Stir in the corn and ham. Season to taste with more pepper. Heat through, but try not to let it boil.

Stephen and I usually eat this with Cholula sauce (the stuff sweet, sweet dreams are made of).

[rabbit trail] I grew up on Cholula sauce, and the stuff can go on almost anything. When Stephen joined the family, he was soon initiated and now he loves it too. We are kind of addicted. [/end rabbit trail]

It’s great with cornbread on the side!

Veggies in the pot before cooking:

Pot of chopped vegetables

And… ta-da! A beautiful Vat-O’-Soup:

Pot of veggie ham chowder

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