Monday, August 25, 2014

Falafel

It's falafel time! Are you familiar with falafel? They are made from ground chickpeas along with spices and then formed into balls and deep-fried in oil. What's not to love? Hehe. They are a popular street food in the Middle East (and all over now) and are commonly eaten in a pita topped with pickled vegetables or salad and tahini sauce. I first tried falafel a few years ago when we lived in Pittsburgh and I loved it! Since then I've been wanting to try making them at home, but never got around to it until my super awesome sister Heidi came to visit last month. We made them together and they were SOOO good! There is a lot of wait time and you have to plan in advance if you want to make them, but the actual time spent working is quite minimal. Looking at this picture makes my mouth water! I better make them again soon!
My cute sister Heidi! Falafel-frying extraordinaire!
Falafel

You'll need to start soaking your chickpeas the day before you want to make this and then the mixture has to sit in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours after you combine everything, so plan ahead! You also need a food processor or powerful blender to make these. Makes about 30 falafels.

1 lb. (about 2 cups) dry chickpeas/garbanzo beans
1 small onion, quartered
1/4 cup. fresh parsley
3-5 cloves garlic
1.5 T. flour
1 3/4 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. ground coriander
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
pinch of ground cardamom
Vegetable oil for frying (grapeseed, canola, or peanut)

The night before you plan to serve these, pour the chickpeas into a large bowl and cover them by about 3 inches of water. Let them soak overnight. They will double in size. They will still be quite hard, but don't despair, they'll chop up just fine.

1-2 hours before you cook the falafel, drain and rinse the garbanzo beans well. Pour them into the food processor along with the onion, garlic, parsley, flour, salt, cumin, coriander, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and cardamom (everything but the oil).

Pulse all ingredients together until a rough, coarse meal forms. You may have to scrape down the sides several times. Process until the mixture is somewhere between the texture of couscous and a paste. You want the mixture to hold together when you clump it with your fingers, but you don't want it so processed that it turns into hummus/mush.

Once the mixture has reached the desired consistency, pour it out into a bowl and use a fork to stir. Remove any large chickpea chunks the processor may have missed. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours.

Remove from the refrigerator and fill a skillet or saucepan with oil to a depth of at least 1.5 inches. Heat the oil slowly over medium heat. Meanwhile, form the falafel mixture into round balls using wet hands or a cookie scoop, about 2 T. per ball. They should stick together quite well. If not, you may need to process them more until they become more paste-like.

Test your oil by dropping a tiny amount of the mix in the oil. If it sizzles and bubbles, you are ready to go! You can also fry a whole ball first to check your temperature. It should take about 2-3 minutes per side to get nice and deep golden brown. If it's faster than that, your oil is too hot and the middle will not be cooked all the way, but you also don't want them to take longer than that or they will get dried out.

Fry about 5 or more at a time, depending on how much space you have. Remove with a slotted spoon onto a paper towel-lined plate.

Serve the falafels fresh and hot. They are best alongside hummus or creamy tahini or stuffed into a pita.

Source: Tori Avey

Multi-Grain Pancake Mix

I've lost count of how many pancake recipes I have on this blog, but whatever. I guess I like pancakes. Funny thing is, I never actually liked pancakes as a kid, so maybe it is my eternal goal to find every delicious pancake recipe out there to prove that pancakes are actually delicious. And they are! (When they're made from scratch anyway...)

So on to the recipe. The mix comes from King Arthur Flour, but I found this jazzed up version on Annie's Eats. The mix is awesome - totally healthy with hardly any sugar and lots of whole grains, but it tastes a little boring without the improvements. All she did was add lemon zest and vanilla and it completely elevates the flavors! I also love to add blueberries because, come on, who doesn't love blueberry pancakes (Besides my three year-old, ahem). The blueberries are not necessary, but if you like blueberries, you'll love them in here. Enjoy!

Multi-Grain Pancake Mix
This original recipe is from King Arthur Flour, and doesn't include the lemon zest or vanilla. It's a good recipe without those, but it's amazing with them! I found this version at Annie's Eats and it makes it so much better. I love them with the addition of blueberries too - fresh or frozen.

Makes about 10 cups mix. Each batch (using 1 cup mix) makes about 8 pancakes - multiply as needed.

For the mix:
3 1/2 c. old-fashioned rolled oats
5 c. white whole wheat flour (or combo of red & white if you prefer)
3 T. sugar
3 T. baking powder
1 T. salt
1 T. baking soda
3/4 c. vegetable oil

To make the pancakes:
1 c. pancake  mix
3/4 c. buttermilk
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. lemon zest
blueberries, fresh or frozen, optional

To make the pancakes, add the oats to the bowl of a food processor until finely ground (but not a powder). Transfer the oats to the bowl of an electric mixer and add in the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda. Mix on low speed to combine (or you can do this by hand if needed). Drizzle the vegetable oil into the bowl slowly while the mixer is running and continue to mix until evenly combined and the mixture clumps slightly when squeezed together.

Transfer the mix to an airtight container. It will keep for a week at room temperature or for a long long time in the freezer.

To make the pancakes, mix together 1 c. pancake mix (this can easily be doubled, tripled, etc.) with the buttermilk, egg, vanilla, and lemon zest. Whisk the batter until mostly smooth. Let the batter stand 5-10 minutes before using, allowing the grains to soak up the liquid (up to 20 minutes is great too, but I find I usually don't have time for that in the morning).

Heat a skillet or griddle over medium heat and lightly grease with spray, oil, or butter. Ladle 1/4 cup batter for each pancake and then dot with blueberries (however many you like). Allow to cook until bubbles begin to form on the top surface. Use a large spatula to flip the pancakes and cook on the other side until light golden and cooked through. Repeat with remaining batter and serve.

Source: Adapted slightly from Annie's Eats, which was adapted from King Arthur Flour

Monday, August 11, 2014

Granola Balls

We found these over at Mel's Kitchen Cafe and we love them! They are the perfect little snack. I've made a few changes - reducing the amount of honey and chocolate chips - to make them taste more like a snack and less like a dessert. You can experiment with different nut butters and add-ins as well to make your own creation. We've tried peanut butter and almond butter, dried fruit instead of chocolate chips, and adding chia seeds into the mix and they've all been delicious! They come together very quickly and stay fresh for quite awhile. Enjoy!

Granola Balls

You can easily experiment with different add-ins - just try to keep the wet:dry ratio about the same. Let me know what you try! :)

*You can use Rice Krispies if that's all you have; I just prefer all natural crisped brown rice cereal because it's usually just one ingredient and whole grain.

2 c. quick oats
1 c. crispy brown rice cereal*
1 c. natural peanut butter
1 c. ground flaxseed
1/2 c. mini chocolate chips
1/2 c. honey
2 T. coconut oil
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, mixing gently so you don't crush the rice cereal. Mix until well combined. Using a cookie scoop (or spoon/hands), drop rounded balls about the size of a walnut onto a lined cookie sheet. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours, then transfer to an airtight container or ziploc bag to store in the refrigerator or freezer. They'll stay fresh for a week or so in the refrigerator and several months in the freezer.

Source: Adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Confetti Corn

What? I'm blogging? I know, shocker. Turns out, moving across the country every year is kind of time-consuming. Nevertheless, we still have to eat. And we've been eating well! We are now in the Midwest, home to lots and lots of corn. Now, I LOVE corn on the cob, so I'm always hesitant to do anything with fresh corn rather than slather it in butter, salt and pepper, and devour it while getting it all over my face. BUT, if you're ready for something different, or if you're having company and don't want everyone awkwardly picking corn and pepper out of their teeth, than this is a great use of those fresh ears of corn. Also, if you have leftover corn on the cob you don't know what to do with, this is a great way to use it up. Just reduce the cook time after you add the corn to 1-2 minutes, or until heated through. This dish is fresh and flavorful, and it comes together very easily, which is essential for a side dish. I've made it twice in the last few weeks, and I need to make it again soon! Enjoy!

Confetti Corn
Ina Garten suggests chopping the onion and pepper in 1/2 inch pieces, but I prefer them smaller and I'm pretty sure my kids do too. I've put 1/4-inch on here, but be aware that's a change from the original recipe. 

2 T. olive oil
1/2 c. small-diced red onion
1 small orange bell pepper, 1/4-inch diced
2 T. butter
kernels cut from 5 ears un-cooked yellow or white corn (about 4 cups)
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 T. julienned fresh basil, minced fresh chives and/or minced fresh parsley

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large saute pan. Add the onion and saute for 5 minutes, until the onion is soft. Stir in the bell pepper and saute for 2 more minutes.

Add the butter to the pan and allow it to melt. Add the corn, salt, and pepper, and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for 5-7 minutes, until the corn just loses its starchiness. Season to taste, gently stir in the fresh herbs, and serve.

Source: Slightly adapted from Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics

Monday, April 14, 2014

Asian-style Meatballs

It's funny how things change when you have kids.  I used to think going to the eye doctor was the worst form of torture imaginable, but I just went a few weeks ago, and it was actually quite pleasant! I got to sit in a waiting room all by myself, I read a magazine, I chatted with other adults, etc. Sure, I had an eye exam too, but the overall experience was quite lovely.  While I was perusing some home-type of magazine I can't even remember, I came across a delicious looking recipe for asian meatballs.  Maybe I was just hungry because it was 5:00 and I hadn't eaten dinner yet, but I found myself really wishing I could eat them right then!  Well two days later, I had no desire to make what I had originally planned for dinner, but I realized I had everything I needed to make these!  Hooray!  And wow, they were so delicious.  The flavors just explode in your mouth. The kids devoured them and much to my dismay, there were no leftovers. :( Winner!

Asian-style Meatballs
These are pretty soft and squishy when being assembled, but oh-so-moist and tender and delicious when cooked!

1 lb. ground turkey
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1 garlic clove, finely minced
1 tsp. freshly grated ginger (or 1/2 tsp. dried ground)
1 T. soy sauce
2 tsp. pure maple syrup
4 T. vegetable oil, divided

Heat 2 T. oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  In a medium-sized bowl, combine remaining ingredients thoroughly.  Roll or scoop into golf ball-sized meatballs and fry in oil on all sides until done. I'm sure you could also bake these with great results.

Source: Gwyneth Paltrow recipe (few slight changes)

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Chicken Enchilada Soup

It's kind of ridiculous how many recipes I have on here for taco soup, or enchilada soup, or some variation, but this is another new one and it's the best yet! My little sister Heidi (shout-out!), who happens to be an awesome cook, made this for me and my family last summer when we were visiting her in Iowa.  It was so delicious and I'm not sure why it took me so long to try it out myself.  There are so many wonderful flavors going on in this soup.  It's cooked in the crockpot all day, but then you add lots of fresh vibrant toppings that livens it up.  The whole family loved it!  I'll definitely be making this again.

Crockpot Chicken Enchilada Soup

2 tsp. olive oil
1/2 cup onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 c. low-sodium chicken broth
8 oz. can tomato sauce
1-2 tsp. canned chipotle chili in adobo sauce, chopped
15 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
14.5 oz can petite diced tomatoes
2 c. frozen corn
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1 lb. chicken breasts
1/4 c. chopped green onions, for topping
cilantro, roughly chopped, for topping
sour cream, shredded cheese, & tortilla chips, for topping

Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat.  Add onion and garlic and saute until soft, about 3-4 minutes.  Slowly add the chicken broth, tomato sauce, and chipotle chili and bring to a boil.  Remove from heat and pour into crockpot.

To the crockpot, add beans, tomatoes, corn, cumin, and oregano and stir.  Add the chicken breasts; cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours.

Remove chicken and shred with two forks. Place back into the soup, taste and add more salt if needed.  Serve in bowls and top with desired toppings.

Source: Skinnytaste

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Spaghetti Squash - Two Ways

I have been such a blogger slacker lately, but I have lots of new recipes to add to my "file" here, so hopefully I can get them all up soon.  We've been loving spaghetti squash lately. My kids think it's the coolest thing ever.  A vegetable that turns into spaghetti?!?  Yes, please! We've eaten it two different ways and both have been delicious.  I think the kids favored the traditional spaghetti way, but Jeremy and I thought they were both great. I find if I involve my kids in preparing new things, they are much more likely to enjoy eating it.  I let my boys scrape out the flesh of the squash (the "spaghetti") for me and they thought that was awesome.

Preparing Spaghetti Squash
I've also heard you can roast it whole, but this is the method I've always used.

1 large spaghetti squash
olive oil
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut spaghetti squash in half, using a sharp knife and lots of muscles, and scrape out the seeds and stringy stuff (think pumpkin).  Brush the insides with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Place cut side down on a baking sheet and roast for 45 minutes to an hour, until you can poke through the squash easily with a fork and the inside is soft and tender and strings up easily when scraped with a fork.  Let cool until you can handle it and then scrape out the flesh into a bowl or pot or whatever you're doing with it!

Roasted Spaghetti Squash with Parmesan and Herbs

1 T. butter
1 1/2 T olive oil
2 shallots, diced small
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
3/4 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary
1 roasted spaghetti squash, flesh scraped out into stringy "spaghetti"
1/4 c. chopped fresh parsley
2 T. grated Parmesan
coarse salt and ground pepper

In a large skillet, melt butter and olive oil.  Add shallots and garlic and cook until softened, about 5-7 minutes.  Stir in thyme and rosemary and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Add squash and toss to combine.  Cook until warmed through.  Stir in parsley and Parmesan and season with salt and pepper.  Serve with additional grated Parmesan.

Source: Martha Stewart

Spaghetti Squash Spaghetti
You can do this with any spaghetti/marinara/bolognese/whatever sauce, this is what we did:

1 roasted spaghetti squash
1 lb. ground turkey
1/2 large onion, chopped small
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 14-oz. can petite-diced tomatoes
1 T. dried basil
2 tsp. dried oregano
2 tsp. sugar
1 T. dried parsley
1 tsp. salt, more to taste
1 tsp. ground pepper
Parmesan, for serving

In a large saucepan, brown turkey with onion and garlic, breaking turkey up into small pieces as it cooks.  When thoroughly cooked, add remaining ingredients (minus the spaghetti squash).  Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer and let cook for 20 minutes.  Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.  Add to the spaghetti squash and mix until evenly combined.  (If you have too much sauce, just reserve extra for something else; it will depend on the size of your squash). Top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.