Thursday, November 20, 2014

Quick (Vegetarian) Tikka Masala

This has become a mutually-enjoyed main dish at our table.  M and I don't typically ogle (can you use this word in relation to food?) over the same meals, but this is one we both really love.  50% of my liking lies in its ease of preparation.  This little dish takes under 20 minutes to make.  The sauce is one of several Indian-inspired "simmer sauces" at Kroger.  And these particular grains (half pastas, really: couscous and orzo, some baby garbanzo beans and a little quinoa) are on the shelf at Trader Joe's.  The heat in the sauce is just enough to suit M's fancy, but not too overwhelming for my taste.  And the texture of the grains is delightfully al dente.  Totally yummy.  Give it a try when you're short on time!

Quick (Vegetarian) Tikka Masala
serves 3 large portions

1 jar Tikka Masala Simmer Sauce
1/2 bag Harvest Grains Blend
1 T butter
1 T olive oil
1 red bell pepper, largely diced
1 onion, sliced
several mushrooms, sliced
salt to taste

Cook grains according to package instructions.  While grains are cooking, sauté olive oil, onion, bell pepper, and mushrooms in a medium pan over medium heat for about 5 minutes, or until onions are transparent.  Pour sauce over veggies, stir, and let simmer for a couple minutes more.  Serve sauce atop grain mix.

Here is a shot of what to look for.  The sauce is near the pasta sauces at Kroger (Private Selection brand; I had to fish ours out of the garbage as M had tossed it out---hence its haphazard state. Of note, how does one convince a husband to recycle?) and the Harvest Grains Blend is right in there with the rice at Trader Joe's.

Monday, November 17, 2014

A Turn (and Radnor Lake)

I almost started another blog last week.  It was to serve as a log of non-food thoughts and photos for myself and perhaps an interested passer-by.  But then I thought more about the option of combining these things into this one site.  It feels potentially cluttered.  Maybe most folks would prefer only to see a post about a great muffin, not read about my recent thoughts on gardening or see a picture of my husband making a goofy face.  But then I remember that this little space is my own and that I most certainly can develop it into whatever I would like.

So, I'm taking a little turn.  Here's what will be different about this site from now on: 1) I don't want to write so much about food.  Reading back, I don't know how I thought of so many things to say about one cookie or salad.  A bit much, no?  Expect to see more recipes, plain and simple.  2) Photos.  I love taking pictures.  It is one of my most beloved pastimes.  You can also expect to see more of these--the day-to-day.  3) Words.  Occasionally there are times when I think things and really want to write them down.  And then I feel this bit of urging inside me to share those things.  So, you may also come across a post here and there of miscellaneous musings.  Pardon them as they will likely be scattered and circuitous.

Finally, I am admittedly flaky.  I'm learning and dislike this about myself.  I'm much better at the dreaming up than I am the follow-through.  But I'm also learning that life is a process of growth. Writing and cooking and photography are each particular ways through which I feel a bit more alive.  So I'm inclined to press more into them.  Even though there is the chance I will be inconsistent here, I'm realizing, again, that is no reason not to proceed.  So, bear with me as I keep trying at this.  Maybe you can celebrate with me when I post more than once a month?  Bottom-line:  I don't live to impress man.  So, this truly can be whatever it comes out to be.  And that will be perfectly fine.  :)

And, to start?  A few shots from a chilly walk at Radnor last week.  I love, love a good cold day.  I need something to wake up this drowsy brain!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Summer Farro Salad

      The winds have changed. This happens in life. I quit my job last fall. Just did it. For a lot of reasons. And nothing could have been better or more healing, more of a resurrection from a dark place. I also got married one month ago. This precious marriage feels tender and novel---I absolutely cannot wrap my head around it and all the goodness and challenge and vulnerability and beauty it is. Also, this week I started delivering resumes, nervously deep-breathing in my car, mustering up gumption to walk through doors and toot my horn to managers I don't know. There are lots of winds blowing around here. Good winds, but adjustments nonetheless (Can I say that every time I mention winds I think of the sailors on the rooftop ship in Mary Poppins? Storms' a brewin' off the port bow! Talk about a great movie.)
      I've thought a lot lately about how much we speak about this-and-that transition we're going through, this change we're enduring. I find myself often mentioning my readiness for a new "normal." But I'm coming, more and more, to find that perhaps we don't so much get normal. I think that once it begins to feel that way, the winds blow again. Can we not just get settled? Can I not master this season for a bit and feel a little better about myself and my grip on life? I need a break! But, I think we just have to laugh and cry a lot over this and embrace that life is hard and we need help. We are weak, weak, weak, and so easily blown about by these winds. How can we possibly withstand? And then I think about penguins* and the way the strong (amazingly) form tight lines to guard the weak from harsh winds. And I think about a friend who recently proclaimed, "Together we can do hard things!" And I take a deep breath and acknowledge that, alone, we will be blown away...but, together, we gain strength. I'm encouraged by this today. I hope you are, too. You're not alone! We're not alone in this!
      The winds have changed in my kitchen (I promise that's the last time I'll use this analogy). If you've at all followed or scanned this blog, you'll notice a predominance of sweets and sides. Before marriage I was a contented snacky-meal girl. A scrambled egg, bowl of cereal, and spoonful of peanut butter, for example, stood as an excellent dinner. This does not go over so well when you have a husband who seriously enjoys a full, well-rounded, hot meal. Darn it. So, I'm using this reality as fuel for the blog. My charge: Post about what I'm cooking for dinner! This is new territory for me. I'm much more comfortable with cupcakes. But, we're doing this. At whatever frequency feels right. I hope you are helped as I share my findings. 
      For today, I have a salad to share (I'm obviously easing my way in here). This I'm calling "Summer Farro Salad." I had some leftover veggies from one dinner this week, and some farro (a grain new to me that I'm loving--found maybe at an organic foods store, maybe Kroger?) from another. I tossed them together with some feta and lime juice for lunch today and loved every bite of varied texture and flavor. Perfect as a summer lunch or a side on a dinner plate. I love when you stumble across something like this. Try it out, maybe with a little avocado on top? Enjoy. And, happy summer!

serves 4 appetizer/side portions

2 cups cooked farro
1 bell pepper (yellow or orange recommended), chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped
10 basil leaves, julienned
a big handful of edamame
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1/4-1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese (per your preference)
juice of 1/2 a lime
salt and pepper, to taste
a drizzle of olive oil

Mix ingredients together and enjoy.

*You may poke fun at my penguin reference as my husband did. But they are amazing creatures. Go look up a documentary. I'm inspired. 

Monday, January 27, 2014

Cakey Vegan Brownies

     I am not vegan. And, for love of eggs and cheese and ice cream, have little to no interest in being so. However, this treat woos me in ways I'd ne'er have expected. A new friend of mine, Melissa, introduced me to these brownies a couple weeks back and I was instantly enamored. Cakey brownies have not once had my appreciation, as I much prefer an absurdly dense, bordering truffle-rich brownie. This combo, however, the coffee + milk + cocoa + more chocolate on top (yes.) makes it happen. I can't resist. I will remark that a couple friends said they'd just as soon call it a cake. Well, you can be the judge; Although, as I think on it, the debate might be resolved by baking these in a larger pan lending to a stronger resemblance to traditional brownies. (Feel free to give it a whirl, but cut the bake time back a few minutes, to be safe.) Whatever the case, these are addictingly tasty, simple to bake (if you don't accidentally double the baking soda on your first try…story for another time.), rich enough to satisfy even my lofty chocolatey demands, and fabulous for a crowd. You can't lose. I recommend savoring with coffee and/or the ice cream of your delight (my present obsession: Talenti Gelato. aghh…). 


modified from Rebar Modern Food cookbook
serves 12


1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup coffee
3/4 cup almond milk 
(soy or cow's milk is fine, as well)
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped, optional
1/2 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 325 F. Grease a 9x9" pan and line with parchment paper.
2. In large bowl, sift flour, cocoa, sugar, baking soda and powder, and salt.
3. In separate medium bowl, combine coffee, milk, and oil. 
4. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir with spatula until just combined, adding walnuts at the end. Pour batter into prepared pan and sprinkle chocolate chips on on top. 
5. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean from the center. Cool on rack and enjoy!