Just Chana Masala–No Politics

You might think that I am about to hand you a recipe for a bowl of black beans, but I’m not. I’m here to do a couple of things:

  1. try out some black chickpeas I got for Christmas (long story)
  2. hack the way we all cook beans (unless you are from India, then I’m pretty sure this is just how you cook beans, but anyway…)
  3. show you how we make chana masala at this house

I can’t properly credit this recipe because I have compiled ingredients and techniques from various places over the years and I’m way too lazy to list them all here; just know that it came from somewhere other than me.

Ingredients
1.5 cups dried chickpeas (we used black chickpeas for fun)
1 tsp baking soda
2 black tea bags
oil as needed
1 cup thinly sliced onions
1 tsp fresh ginger
1 tsp garlic
cloves
cardamom seeds
cinnamon stick
1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup potatoes
1 green chili
1 1/4 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/8 tsp turmeric
1-2 cups vegetable broth

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Behold the black (desi) chickpea. These are similar to the lighter chickpeas, known as kabuli chickpeas common in the canned bean and bulk food area of the grocery store, but they are smaller, with a rough and tough outer skin, and obviously, they are black. Note: there seems to be a stray kabuli in the batch, but I let him stay  because I liked his attitude.
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Before you can do anything with dried chickpeas of any color, you need to soak them for 8-10 hours. Use a large bowl because they will double in volume as they rehydrate.
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When it was time to cook the beans, I put them in a pressure cooker and added just enough water to cover them along with some cardamom and cloves. I also added 1 tsp of baking soda and 2 black tea bags because I read that adjusting the PH levels of the water will better penetrate the skins of the beans and help them hydrate all the way through.
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The bean science worked and these beans were firm but not dry. They also had a complex flavor because of the mix of spices and the black tea.
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Now, sauté your onions and garlic for 3-5 minutes or until they just begin to brown.
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Add your tomato and a teaspoon or so of salt and continue to sauté for another 3 minutes.
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Then, add your turmeric and chili powder. Cook this all together for 2-3 minutes.
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Remove it from the heat and let it cool for a few minutes.
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Blend it into a smooth paste in your food processor and set aside.
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Now, back to the skillet. Add a tablespoon of oil, a cardamom seed, a few cloves, and a small cinnamon stick. Sauté for 1-2 minutes to wake them up.
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Then, add your potatoes. Most recipes call for more chopped onions at this stage, and it doesn’t really matter too much what you use because we are just adding bulk to the sauce. I chose potatoes, because I just didn’t want to eat that much onion in one meal. But it is up to you.
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It is now time to add the paste you made in the food processor. Stir until all the ingredients are well combined.
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Add the garam masala and sauté for another 2-3 minutes.
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Add your beans and 1-2 cups of vegetable broth. I used all 2 cups because I like my beans saucy. Stir until well combined and sauté until heated through.
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Serve over white rice with sliced green chili and yogurt. The kids and I didn’t use the green chili because palates just can’t handle anything spicy but we add it for my husband, for whom nothing will ever be spicy enough.

This article originally published on www.groundingup.com.

Quinoa Crusted Tilapia, Rainbow Chard, and the Stomach Flu

I started making this recipe last Saturday with the obvious intention of serving it for dinner. However, just as I was wrapping up the photoshoot for the rainbow chard, the stomach flu struck. It had already taken down 50% of the family, but for some reason, I thought I was safe (it’s called aspirational thinking).

So, here we are, a week later and I am just now coming around to the idea that I might want to eat again someday. And because I have a strong completion instinct, I’ll be trying to make it through this recipe review–again.

If you were one of those people who made a New Year’s Resolution to eat healthier, then this is a recipe for you. If you were one of those people who did not make a resolution to eat healthier, this recipe is also for you.

Plucked from the very last page of Greens + Grains by Molly Watson, it looked like the ideal use for the absurd amount of greens I came home from the Davis Farmer’s Market with.

Overall, this is an excellent cookbook, but I have to mention that Molly gets a little carried away with the detail she provides in her instructions. She can turn a very simple recipe into a 3-page affair, which is probably great if you have literally NEVER been in a kitchen before but if that is the case, you aren’t working from this cookbook anyway.

So, I have saved you a ton of time by replacing words with pictures. Here is the recipe:

Ingredients
1 cup quinoa
3/4 tsp fine sea salt
1 egg
Four 4-oz tilapia fillets
3 tbsp butter
1 shallot, minced
1 bunch rainbow chard, stems and leaves separated and chopped
1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 lemons, cut into wedges
Freshly ground pepper

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First, rinse the quinoa and then simmer it for approximately 15 minutes. Then spread the cooked quinoa on a baking sheet to dry for one hour. Or, if you don’t have an hour to spend watching quinoa dry, you can dry it on the baking sheet in the oven set to its lowest temperature for about 20 minutes. Note: we are using red quinoa for kicks, but any quinoa will work.
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While the quinoa is drying, wash and chop your rainbow chard. Keep the stems separate from the leaves because they have different cooking times.
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Melt 1 tbsp of butter in your pan over medium-high heat. Add the shallot, chard stems, and a little salt. Note: I find any recipe that does not call for garlic highly suspect, so we added two cloves minced for good measure. Cook, stirring frequently until the stems soften, about 3 minutes. 
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Beat 1 egg and 2 tablespoons of water together in a shallow dish. This will be the egg mixture used to bind your quinoa “breading” to the tilapia. Coat the fillets front and back.
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Toss your coated fillets in the dried quinoa mixture to coat. Then set aside until they are ready for the frying pan. 
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When you have sautéed the chard stems and shallot for 3-5 minutes, it is time to add the chard leaves. Toss them in and let them cook until wilted, approximately another 5 minutes. You can give them a few squirts of lemon and some salt along the way. 
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Meanwhile, melt 2 tbsp butter in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. When the butter stops foaming, add the oil. Carefully, lay the fillets in the pan and cook, undisturbed, until the quinoa crisps and browns, 4 to 5 minutes. Gently flip the fillets and cook until the fish is cooked through and the second side is nicely browned, 4 to 5 minutes more. 
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When the leaves are wilted and the fish is finished, you are ready to plate it. 
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Here you go. 

For our first real meal post-stomach flu, it was good, but I might not select fish for that next time. This meal could also benefit from another grain as a side dish, say a rice pilaf or couscous. Or roasted baby potatoes would be good too now that I think about it.

Our shrunken stomachs limited how much we could eat so we have leftover tilapia. We’ll be having fish tacos for dinner tonight; I think our stomachs can handle it.

This article originally published on www.groundingup.com.

Barley-Stuffed Peppers from ThugKitchen

These Barley-stuffed peppers from ThugKitchen have become a staple at our house. I have wanted to get them up on the blog for a while. So here you go.

A note about this recipe: In our humble opinion, it needs cheese. So, we add 1/4 cup of shredded parmesan to the actual stuffing mix and then we sprinkle shaved parmesan as a garnish. Obviously, doing this makes the recipe “non-vegan” but we are cool with that.

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 cup pearled barley
1 tomato, chopped
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
2 cups vegetable broth
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
4 bell peppers, whatever color you find cool
1 1/2 cups cooked kidney or white beans
1/4 cups chopped fresh parsley

 

 

 

 

 

 

1–In a medium pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until it starts turning golden, about 3 minutes. Add the celery, carrot, garlic, thyme, and oregano and cook for another 2 minutes. Throw in the barley, tomato, and vinegar and stir. Add the broth, salt, and pepper and let it come to a low simmer. Cook, uncovered, until all the broth is absorbed and the barley is tender, about 15 minutes.

2–While the barley is simmering, heat your oven to 375° F. Cut the tops off the bell peppers and scrape out the seeds. Place them in an oiled pie place or loaf pan, something where their asses won’t be sliding around once they’re stuffed.

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Grease a baking dish and squeeze them in there.
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More cheese!! Then cover them with aluminum foil for baking.

3–When the barley is done, fold in the beans and turn off the heat. (This filling can even be made a day or two ahead of time, no fucking problem.) Fill the bell peppers up to the top with the filling, cover them tightly with foil, and bake until the peppers are tender, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Let them rest for 5 minutes after coming out of the oven, ’cause those fuckers are hot. Top with the parsley and serve.

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More cheese, then eat.

Thanks to ThugKithen for the recipe. We didn’t technically ask them for permission to publish their recipe, but those assholes can just fucking get over it.

This article originally published on www.groundingup.com.

Pumpkin pie from fresh pumpkin completely unnecessary.

I admit that fake news circulating on social media made me question everything I thought I knew about pumpkin pie; one of my top 5 favorite foods. Could it be that I had gone my whole life without having a “real” pumpkin pie? Had I been duped by canned pumpkin puree?

Obviously,  I was going to have to make a pie from scratch from fresh pumpkins to convince myself I hadn’t missed something critical. And now that that is out of the way, I can check it off of my culinary bucket list and go back to using canned “pumpkin”, thank God.

Here is how I did it:

Bake the pumpkin

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After gutting the pumpkin and chopping it up into quarters, put it on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, cover it tightly with foil, and then bake it at 325 degrees for 1 1/2-2 hours. Just this step alone takes longer than it would take you to make an entire pie using canned pumpkin. Just thought you would like to know.

Puree the pumpkin

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Once the pumpkin has cooled enough for you to be able to touch it, cut away the orange rind and put the pumpkin meat into your food processor for a good blending.

Strain the pumpkin

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You will then need to strain the processed pumpkin until it achieves the consistency of canned pumpkin. This took 3 hours.
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3 hours of straining through cheese cloth pulled out 3 cups of liquid. You can’t skip or rush this step or you will have pumpkin soup instead of pie.

Finally,make your pie

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I use the pumpkin pie and pie crust recipes from my Joy of Cooking cookbook, but use whatever your go-to recipe is. Your pie will likely be more yellow than it would be if you used canned pumpkin.

Serve and eat

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In the end, we had a fresh pumpkin pie that tasted just like a canned pumpkin pie. This is clearly a situation in which food engineering in favor of convenience is serving humanity very well. Also, one of my guests asked me what was wrong with the pie; it seemed to be the wrong color; Sigh.

This article originally published on www.groundingup.com.

Pistachio Pesto Pasta: Our most requested recipe

I’m finally getting around to writing up our most requested recipe. This is a recipe for Pistachio Pesto Pasta otherwise known simply as “Green Pasta” at our house. I can’t claim this recipe as my own because my husband tore it out of Bicycle Magazine sometime last year and asked that we try to make it. We did, and now it is a staple in our menu rotation at home.

Here is the link to the article if you want to read about how awesome pistachios are as an energy source or if you like to read about bikes and people who ride them. Otherwise, follow the instructions below.

Pistachio Pesto Pasta Recipe

Ingredients
1 cup salted, shelled pistachios
2 cups spinach
1/2 cup basil leaves
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
zest and juice of one lemon
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
kosher salt to taste

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Add the pistachios to the bowl of your food processor and pulse them approximately 20 times, then STOP. Do not over process at this point or you will have pistachio butter when you are finished.
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Add all the other ingredients to the pistachios in the bowl of your food processor and process until all the ingredients are well incorporate but you still have a few small pistachio chunks.
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Combine your pesto with warm pasta. A few notes here: this pistachio pesto is THICK and works best when mixed into short pastas like penne, macaroni, or whatever I have shown in the picture. Also, it mixes better when the pasta is still hot.
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And here you are–Green Pasta. Gram for gram, pistachios have more muscle building protein than beef and because this recipe is packed with spinach, there is no need for you to harass your kids about eating their salad and you don’t have to make one, so everybody wins with this recipe.

This article was originally published on www.groundingup.com.

Veggie Lasagna With Tofu Ricotta

We regularly serve this excellent fresh vegetable lasagna with spinach and zucchini from the Food Network. However, it doesn’t have much in the way of protein so I did some experimenting with tofu ricotta.

Tofu Ricotta Recipe
16 oz. extra firm tofu, drained of excess water
2 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves minced garlic
1/4 c finely chopped onion
1/4 c nutritional yeast
2 tbsp fresh oregano
1 tbsp fresh basil

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Toss all the ingredients into the bowl of your food processor.
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Pulse the ingredients together in the food processor approximately 20 times or until the ingredients are well mixed and have a crumbly consistency.
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Layer your tofu ricotta in the lasagna as you would regular ricotta. We added parmesan cheese, garlic cloves, fresh basil and oregano, salt and pepper, and an egg to our tofu ricotta.
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I served our lasagna with the tofu ricotta at a dinner party on Saturday night. No one seemed to notice that the ricotta had been swapped out with tofu. I’m going to call that a win.

Be sure to head on over to the Food Network to grab the whole recipe for this delicious vegetarian lasagna.

 

This article was originally published on www.groundingup.com.

Spiced Chickpea Wraps

Here is another excellent recipe from the ThugKitchen Cookbook. Let’s do this!

Ingredients:

Tahini Dressing
1/4 cup tahini*
3 tbsp warm water
1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp soy sauce or tamari
2 cloves garlic, minced
Spiced Chickpeas
1 tbsp olive oil
3 cups cooked chickpeas**
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp maple syrup
1 tsp soy sauce
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
1/4 to 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
Wraps
4 large wraps
Spinach
Cucumber sticks
Carrot sticks

 

 

 

 

 

 

*This is like peanut butter but made out of sesame seeds. It will be near the nut butters or falafel mix at the store
**Two 15-ounce cans if you aren’t simmering that shit yourself

1–To make the dressing, mix all that shit together a small glass until it is smooth and creamy. Set it in the fridge.

2–Now get the chickpeas going. Heat up the olive oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add the chickpeas and fry them until they start to turn gold and pop around a bit. You’ll see what the fuck we mean. This will take 3 to 5 minutes. In a small glass, mix together the lemon juice, maple syrup, and soy sauce. When the chickpeas are looking right, pour the lemon juice mixture over them and stir. Let that shit evaporate for about 30 seconds and then add all the spices. Stir and let them all fry together for another 30 seconds and then turn off the heat.

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Chickpeas (garbanzo beans) ready to be wrapped.

3–Serve these spiced sons of bitches in a wrap with some spinach leaves and thinly sliced carrot and cucumber sticks. Drizzle some dressing over it and wrap that shit up.

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HEAT YOUR WRAP!!! I made the first one without heating the wrap and really regretted it.

OMGhee!

I like butter, a lot. So when I heard I could make butter healthier and still keep the deliciousness, I was pretty sure I was being punk’d. And off I went to the test kitchen (aka my kitchen).

Ghee is not a secret if you are a yogi or a cross fitter or desperately lactose intolerant; it has been around for thousands of years. But if, like me, you are a native midwesterner who was raised on a daily three squares of meat and dairy, than ghee is a bit of a mystery to you.

Here is the deal, ghee is similar to clarified butter (like for crab legs). It is butter from grass fed-and also sacred-cows that has been cooked to remove the milk solids (lactose, whey, and casein) and the water. Ghee  originated in India and is still commonly used in South Asian, Iranian and Arabic cuisines, Ayurvedic medicine, and religious rituals.

Nutritionally, ghee is a more concentrated source of fat than butter since the moisture and the milk solids are removed during its preparation. One tablespoon of ghee has 13 g of fat and 117 calories versus butter, which has 11 g fat and 100 calories per tablespoon.

Why ghee in your kitchen?

  1. Ghee has a higher smoke point than many other “healthy” oils so it is good for frying and sautéing.
  2. It doesn’t need to be refrigerated and has a shelf life of up to 3 months.
  3. It can replace butter for those who are lactose intolerant because the milk solids have been removed.

Why ghee in your body?

  1. It is high in butyrate which is a short-chain fatty acid essential to the colon and the intestinal ecosystem.
  2. Ghee can reduce inflammation when applied to the skin and is used to treat burns in auyrvedic medicine. It can also be used as a skin moisturizer.
  3. This oil is rich in fat soluable vitamins A, D, E, and K.

There are some studies that show this delicious oil may reduce the risks of cancer, lower your cholesterol and support weight loss. But let’s not go crazy here. Keep in mind that it is butter, not magic, and still contains the saturated fats that should be kept to a minimum.

You can buy ghee at most well stocked grocery stores, but I suggest making your own because:

  1. it is easy
  2. if you are thinking about ghee, you have already gone all-in on the health food thing, so you might as well take it to an extremely unnecessary level. That’s how we like to do it around here.

Let’s Make Ghee

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Start with  unsalted butter from grass fed cows. Try not to eat this butter before you turn it into ghee; it is amazing on a spiritual level, as the Hindus already know (even though technically, the butter in the photo is Irish. But whatever). 8 oz of butter makes about 6 oz of ghee when all is said and done.

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Line a sieve with two layers of cheese cloth and strain the oil into a small container. The milk solids will catch in the cheese cloth and the strainer and you should be left with only the oil. If it looks like maybe you still have some milk solids in there (white cloudiness or graininess) strain it again, I did.
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I strained mine twice and then put it into the refrigerator to firm up, but you can leave it on the counter or in your pantry, too.

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Cool Beans

Yesterday, we hit the Berkley Bowl, a famous independent grocery mecca in Berkley, CA. This grocery specializes in offering a huge variety of organic and natural products. The produce section alone is mind-blowing. But we spent our time in the bulk food bins on this trip.

These beautiful Orca (aka Calypso) Beans caught my attention; so we brought them home to see what we could do with them and how they would compare to our standard black beans.

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION

BLACK BEANS–1 Cup Cooked
Calories 227
Fat 1g
Carbohydrates 41g
Fiber 15
Protein 15

ORCA BEANS–1 Cup Cooked
Calories 240
Fat 1g
Carbohydrates 46g
Fiber 28g
Protein 24g

 

 

 

 

Clearly, the ORCA beans dominate when it comes to fiber and protein, but that’s not where it ends. These beautiful beans cook twice as fast as black beans and don’t require any overnight soaking. But how do they taste and how do we serve them?

Recipe: Simple Orca Bean Bowl 

Ingredients:
2 cups of dried orca (calypso) beans
5 cups of water
1 teaspoon of salt
3 teaspoon olive oil
1 cube Knorr Vegetable Bullion
1 cup onion
3 cloves of minced garlic
1/4 cup fresh basil
1/4 cup fresh parsley
salt and pepper to taste

1–Rinse beans and remove any rocks or other strange items that may be lurking. Boil them with 4 cups of water for 1 hour with a teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of the olive oil.

2–While the beans boil and in a large pot, add 2 teaspoons of olive oil, onion, garlic, basil, and parsley. Sauté that for 3 minutes or until the onions become translucent.

3–When the beans are finished boiling, rinse them and add them to your sauté pot with 1 cup of water (or more if you like your beans soupy) and the cube of vegetable bullion (hint: dice up the bullion cube before you toss it in so that it dissolves faster). Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally so the beans don’t stick to the bottom of your pot.

Now, make your bowl:

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We live on bowls around here. Our standard is to layer greens, then mixed grains, then get crazy. In this case, we added carrots, celery, an heirloom tomato, tiny roasted potatoes, and of course, our beautiful new beans. Oh and we sprinkled all that with goat cheese, because it is goat cheese.
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What, 2 cups of dried beans makes a TON of cooked beans? Exactly, put the rest in 8 ounce containers and freeze them for next time.

This article was originally published on www.groundingup.com.

Basic Maple Granola Recipe

We like to keep granola on hand, not because we eat it for breakfast, but because it is a great snack and a way to quiet down our sweet tooth without feeling guilty later. So when we came across this granola while cooking our way through the ThugKitchen Cookbook, obviously, we had to try it.

And because this is our little corner of the Internet, we are going to give you our opinion about it, which is that it is way too sweet. Everything else about the recipe is fantastic; but when we make it next time, we will reduce the maple syrup a bit, up the salt, or get crazy and do both.

Ingredients
3 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup sunflower seeds*
1/2 cup almonds*
1/4 uncooked millet**
1/2 cup maple syrup***
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup dried cranberries (optional)****

* Basically, 1 cup of whatever nuts you prefer.
**No millet? Fuck it, just add more oats.
***Legit syrup can get kinda fucking expensive. But so can granola. Save up for the good shit.
****Or use any dried fruit you like.

1  Heat your oven to 300°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with some parchment paper.

2  Mix together the oats, seeds, nuts, and milled in a large bowl

3  In a medium glass bowl, stir together the maple syrup, oil, and vanilla. Pour this all over the oat mixture and stir that shit around until everything looks coated. Add the cinnamon and the salt and stir.

4  Pour all of this evenly over the baking sheet and stick it in the oven for 40 minutes. Stir it every 10 minutes so that it cooks evenly. You’ll know this shit is done when everything looks kinda toasted and the oaks feel crispy instead of damp. Stir in the dried fruit now if you’re using any. Let that all cool on the baking sheet and then store it in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

5   Want to mix it up? Try these nut and fruit combos; almonds and chopped, dried apricots or strawberries; walnuts and dried pears or figs; pecans and dried cherries; peanuts and dried apples or bananas. Just use whateverthefuck sounds good to you.

Thanks to ThugKitchen for the recipe. We didn’t technically ask them for permission to publish their recipe, but those assholes can just fucking get over it.

This article was originally published on www.groundingup.com.