Posted tagged ‘dinner’

Chana Masala (Yowza!)

January 26, 2012

Indian food feels comforting.  The aromatic spices seem warm, alluring.  And, Indian food offers quite a few vegan options.  So, as I shuffled through some recipe options online, this recipe for Chana Masala popped out at me.  I had most of the ingredients on hand, and the recipe seemed easy enough for a week night.  Yeah, my algorithm for dinner selection isn’t too complicated…

I breezed through the recipe.  After mincing onions and garlic and grating the ginger (which is by far the hardest part), the recipe comes together in about 15 minutes.  Rad.

But… YOWZA!  This Chana Masala really packs some heat!  I like spicy.  Really, I do.  But dang this was hot!  What’s more, I felt like it was hot without the heat really enriching the flavors.  Maybe my cayenne is too hot (I put 1/4 teaspoon instead of 1/2, and it was still way too hot).  AND, I left out the green chili because I couldn’t figure out exactly which pepper I needed at Publix.  Yeah, I also have no qualms about dropping seemingly superfluous ingredients out of recipes… don’t ask me how that usually works out for me.  But still… so hot.

Amy didn’t eat it at all.  Jane (our almost one year old) ate quite a few bites before she opted for the palate cooling pear & mango baby food instead.  I ate a whole bowl, but I had to have two pieces of buttered bread to help me along.  I was bummed this was so hot; I really liked the flavors.  Unfortunately, Amy didn’t like the flavors either, so this is the last time Chana Masala will make an appearance in this house.  (Sad trombone)

I say totally give this recipe a try… but start out with a pinch of cayenne.   Otherwise… FIRE! FIRE!


Good, Bad & Crazy…

January 4, 2012

Good news:

The lasagna qualified as normal!  In fact, Amy said she even forgot that the tofu ricotta wasn’t real cheese.  (I think she may have been exaggerating on that one, but I will take it).  Honestly, I am a bit surprised the lasagna turned out as well as it did.  I sauteed the onions, herbs and garlic to the sweet melody of a baby screaming bloody murder from her Pack ‘n Play (which was 3 feet from me, by the way).  I ran out of oregano and basil in the middle of cooking and had to take a fun little jaunt to the store (where I had already been not even two hours before).  Oh, and the the recipe was for spinach lasagna.  Um.  Yeah.  I forgot the spinach.  But it was recognizable as lasagna, and that is what counts–at least for today.

Bad News:

This week, Jane can’t seem to nap.  She falls asleep while I am nursing her (like she always does), but then she wakes up when I put her in her crib.  Typically, this scenario would mean about 15 minutes of crying before she fell asleep.  This week, though, it means crying for 5 minutes and intermittent crying and playing for the next 55 minutes.  That’s right… for one whole hour, she refuses to sleep.  Consequently, she exhibits sleepytime behavior not even an hour after her non-nap has ended.  This is crazymaking.  For both of us.

Crazy News:

I signed up for the Croom Zoom on January 15th.  A 25k trail run.  I am extremely excited.  What?  I told you it was crazy news.


January 3, 2012

I made Harvest-Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms for dinner.  The mushrooms are billed on at least one site as a Thanksgiving entree.  I can totally see that.  They tasted earthy (in a good way) and would ground an entire meal well.  My only change to the recipe might be adding a cream base to the stuffing.  It would take a little trial and error, but I think the end result could be worth the effort.

This post, though, is less about this lovely little recipe and more about some dinner time struggles going on at my house.  Here is the long and short of the situation:  about 3 months ago, I suggested to Amy that we do the 21-day Vegan Kickstart.  Honestly, I had no intention of becoming a full-time vegan.  I just thought I could take 21 days to rethink my diet and emerge a healthier eater.  Then I watched Forks Over Knives.  And I was sold on the idea that I could be healthier, more energetic if I cut out animal products.  And for me, there was no looking back.

Amy, on the other hand, still walks around a little stunned that I decided on veganism.  I truly think she rues the day she ever mentioned Forks Over Knives to me.

Please don’t misunderstand; Amy is really supportive.  But this decision impacts her, too.  I cook all the food in the house.  And I don’t cook meals I can’t eat.  Of course, we still have cheese in the house.  I even make her pizza with cheese every Friday night.  But most of our dinners are completely different than they used to be.  I relish this because I enjoy cooking, and I like to try new things.  Amy doesn’t like change.  The vegan dinners that were warmly embraced at the beginning are now finding a much colder reception.  And who could blame her, really?  The poor thing just wants to eat something she recognizes.

So, tonight’s meal went the way of most recent meals:  I liked it; Amy wanted to know when we were going to eat something normal.  I know she wants to just eat something familiar (preferably with cheese).  And she knows it hurts my feelings when I put a lot of effort into a dinner that she can’t stand.  But neither of us can help how we feel.

Tomorrow night, I will be making pasta (per Amy’s request).  I am going to try to keep it as normal as possible.  Cross your fingers.


Lentil Burger Shmerger (and a bonus recipe for a quick curry dish)

November 30, 2011

I enjoy cooking.  I particularly love finding recipes and trying them out on poor, unsuspecting Ames.  I do not enjoy the time crunch that often surrounds dinner preparation.

If you are thinking, “But you are a stay at home mom.  Why is it a struggle to get dinner ready?,” then either a) you don’t have children or b) you need a swift kick in the face.  Maybe both.

Jane hits her fussiest point of the day around 4:00 p.m.  From that time until Amy gets home, at about 5:15 or so, I am either serving as her personal jungle gym, swinging her in her swing in the front yard, or staring out the window, with Jane in my arm, trying to will Amy to get home faster.  Clearly, no dinner prep is happening then.

Amy comes in, and I begin the mad dash to get dinner done.  What is the rush?  Jane goes to bed at 6:30.  And, of course, there are baths to be had and books to be read before bedtime.  So, essentially I need to have dinner on the table no later than 6:10.

But… I am a slow cooker.  Not a crock pot.  But I chop slowly.  I read the recipe about 20 times (I am also a perfectionist).  I do not economize my movements about the kitchen.  Slow.  And that would be fine, except for the bedtime looming over my head.

Why don’t we just eat after Jane goes to bed?  Well, several night out of the week, Amy has obligations outside the house that require her to leave by 7:30 (at the latest).  See the problem here?

Perhaps all of this will help you understand my frustration with the Lentil Chipotle Burgers I made last night. Cilantro, zucchini, and onion all had to be chopped.  So did the super hot chipotles in adobo.  And they had to be deseeded.  The veggies had to be sauteed.  Then everything had to be put in the food processor.  But we have an itty bitty food processor (I swear, it is for elves), so I had to do two different batches, then mix it together.  When I type it out, it doesn’t sound too horrific.  But I swear, it took me over an hour to make those burgers. Oh, and they were impossible to flip.

Okay, I have to be honest here.  The burgers I made were too soft.  And they folded over the spatula, instead of  holding together to be flipped.  Here is the problem:  during my whirlwind trip to Publix, during which I was wearing a 10 month old who wanted to do backflips out of the Ergo, I couldn’t find canned lentils and went with pinto beans instead.  Look, I know they are not nearly the same thing.  Turns out, the lentils (like everything else good) are probably in the “ethnic” isle.  I didn’t know that yesterday.  So I grabbed a can of pinto beans and called it a day.  And there is the unvarnished truth about why my burgers were mushy.

But, even if they hadn’t been mushy, I thought I put in too much time making burgers that were just okay.  I will definitely eat the leftovers, but I won’t make them again.

For listening to my sad tale about so-so burgers, I offer you this:  Mustard Greens & Kidney Bean Curry.  The name may lack imagination, but the final product tastes amazing.  The recipe is quick and easy.  Definitely one of our staple recipes.  To make it vegan, I used vegan margarine instead of ghee and soy creamer instead of half & half.  Enjoy!