Baked Falafel

This week my son Asher graduated from preschool and turned 5. FIVE YEARS OLD! When did my baby boy become this independent, spirited, young adult?! As is a typical habit if mine when life becomes complicated, I turn to the kitchen…

I have been craving a healthy, homemade falafel and this little dish did not let me down. The coriander and lemon juice add a nice kick to the freshness of the puréed onion and parsley, and balances nicely with a cool tzatziki sauce or tossed cucumber and tomato salad. It is very simple to prepare and holds up surprisingly well as a baked version of this typically fried food.
  
BAKED FALAFEL
1 (15 ounce) can chickpeas, drained 
1 onion, chopped 
1/2 cup fresh parsley 
2 cloves garlic, chopped 
1 egg
2 teaspoons ground cumin 
1 teaspoon ground coriander 
1 teaspoon salt 
1 dash pepper 
1 pinch cayenne pepper 
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon baking powder 
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup dry bread crumbs
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a large bowl mash chickpeas until thick and pasty; don’t use a blender, as the consistency will be too thin. In a blender, process onion, parsley and garlic until smooth. Stir into mashed chickpeas. Add egg, cumin, coriander, salt, pepper, cayenne, lemon juice and baking powder and stir into chickpea mixture along with olive oil. Slowly add bread crumbs until mixture is not sticky but will hold together; add more or less bread crumbs, as needed. Form 10 balls (I doubled the recipe and made smaller bites in the photo above) and then flatten into patties. Evenly space on baking sheet and bake each side for 10 minutes. Then broil each side for 2 minutes.

   
 

Advertisements

Quinoa with Roasted Summer Vegetables and Harissa Marinade

harissa quinoaYesterday I spent about an hour browsing the melamine aisle at Target and it felt really amazing. Turning over the various floral pattern plate sets and palming the smooth plastic cups available in a variety of sea greens was just what I needed to come back to my domestic decision-making reality and refocus my attention after a blissful holiday week in Michigan.

We didn’t do much recipe experimenting while on vacation, but we did roast marshmallows and grill the best veggie burgers I’ve ever eaten – thanks Michael, Stephanie,  “Baby Lily”, and Kosar! I did, however, manage to try a wonderful new recipe for Quinoa with Roasted Summer Vegetables and Harissa Marinade from Amy Chaplin’s book “At Home in the Whole Foods Kitchen” before leaving town which I cannot recommend enough. The roasted vegetables and quinoa are the basis of many traditional Italian dishes, but the aromatic Harissa – a mild chile paste that’s a widely used staple in North African and Middle Eastern cooking – added an unexpected spicy flavor which will soon become a new staple in my kitchen.

Quinoa with roasted summer vegetables

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • Sea salt
  • 2 zucchini, cut into 1 inch chunks
  • 1 red pepper, seeded and cut into 1 ½ inch pieces
  • 1 orange pepper, seeded and cut into 1 ½ inch pieces
  • 1 yellow pepper, seeded and cut into 1 ½ inch pieces
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 red onion, cut into wedges
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon

Pre heat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Cook quinoa two parts water to one part quinoa on medium heat for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. Place zucchini, peppers and cherry tomatoes on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt and toss to combine. Put in oven and roast 20 to 25 minutes, stirring half way. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Heat a skillet over high heat add a tablespoon of olive oil and red onion and sauté for 3 to 5 minutes. Lower heat to medium and cook about 10 minutes or until onions are caramelized. Add a pinch of salt, stir and remove from heat. Set aside to cool.

Harissa Marinade

  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 1 tablespoon caraway seeds
  • 1 to 3 teaspoons cayenne pepper, depending on how hot you like it
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • Large pinch sea salt
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

harissa marinade

Warm a skillet over a medium flame and add the cumin, coriander and caraway seeds, toast for 3 minutes, shaking pan occasionally. Transfer into a spice grinder and grind until fine. Place ground spices in a bowl and add the cayenne, garlic, lemon juice and salt. Stir and then drizzle in the olive oil, stir until smooth. Spoon harissa in a small bowl, add lemon juice and olive oil.  I actually did about 1/4 cup olive oil to break down the paste a bit more. Stir well and set aside.Place cooked quinoa and roasted vegetables in bowl, drizzle with michiganharissa, and gently toss to combine.

beach time

smoresswimming

marshmallows

Indian Baked Veggie Squares



Anybody that knows how to make great Indian food is a hero of mine. I recently had the pleasure of meeting renowned cookbook author and journalist Anupy Singla at a book signing, and I’m ashamed at what I thought was “traditional” Indian food. I vow to never think that naan or curry powder are considered part of the Indian home cook’s repertoire again! I also vow to share with the world that there are a plethora of traditional recipes that can be made without cream or meat that will satisfy the mind, body and soul. I admit the recipes featured in her cookbook Vegan Indian Cooking require some advance planning – soaking fresh beans overnight, using a slow cooker or food processor, or prepping your spice blends. But these recipes pack a punch, are unbelievably cheap, and can be made in batches so they are perfect to keep in the fridge all week!

This week’s dish for Baked Veggie Squares is a baked vegan version of the traditional fried snack Tukri Pakora. It features an unconventional combination of ingredients and may seem daunting at first, but I am so thrilled with the outcome it has already been established as a remake in our house. I made my version without the Thai chiles, but if you opt to try the original spicy version you will need to remove the stems and simply add them to your vegetable mix in the food processor.

BAKED VEGGIE SQUARES

2 cups white cabbage, grated (1/2 small head)
1 cup zucchini, grated
1/2 potato, peeled and grated
1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
1-inch piece ginger root, diced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, minced
3 cups chickpea flour
12-ounce package silken tofu
1 Tablespoon coarse sea salt
1 teaspoon turmeric powder 
1 teaspoon red chili powder
1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 cup vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Oil a 10-inch square baking pan. Using the grater attachment on your food processor, grate all your vegetable ingredients. In a deep bowl, combine the cabbage, cauliflower, zucchini, potato, onion, ginger, and cilantro. Add the flour and mix slowly until well combined using your hands. Using the large blade on your food processor, purée the silken tofu. Then add the tofu, salt, turmeric, red chili powder, baking powder, and oil to the vegetable mixture. Mix well. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking pan and bake for 45-50 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the middle. Cool for 10 minutes and cut into squares. Serve with your favorite chutney.





Moroccan Butternut Squash and Creamy Coconut Soup

IMG_3286-0Another week of freezing temperatures in Chicago sent me scouring for new soup recipes this week. I was looking for bold flavor but creamy in texture, the kind of soup you might savor in a steamy oversized mug and feel inspired by. My search led me to this unexpected butternut squash recipe posted on www.halfbakedharvest.com. Enveloped in the deep Moroccan flavors of cinnamon, ginger, and curry, then swirled with creamy coconut milk, this impressive recipe did not fail to impress and was easily adapted to a soul-satisfying one-pot vegan wonder.

MOROCCAN BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND CREAMY COCONUT SOUP
1 head garlic, for roasting (or you may sub 2 cloves garlic, not roasted)
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 red bell pepper, chopped
4 cups butternut squash, peeled and cubed
1 teaspoon spicy curry powder
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
2 Tablespoons freshly chopped ginger
2 (14 ounce) can coconut milk
2 cups veggie broth
salt and pepper, to taste
roughly chopped cilantro and pistachios, for topping

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Chop off the top portion of the garlic head to reveal cloves, pour one teaspoon of olive oil on top of the garlic cloves and cover with foil then roast for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool five minutes. Squeeze garlic out of the paper skin. Meanwhile, add the coconut oil to a large soup pot set over medium heat, then add the red pepper and cook for 3-5 minutes or until soft. Add the cubed butternut squash, spicy curry powder, smoked paprika, cumin, cinnamon, cayenne, ginger and thyme. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for 3-5 minutes then pour in the coconut milk and veggie broth, reserving just a few spoonfuls of coconut milk. Bring the soup to boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes or until the butternut squash is fork tender. Once the butternut squash is tender, then add the roasted garlic. Use a hand blender to puree the soup, then let simmer for additional 5 minutes. Top with freshly chopped cilantro and pistachio, and drizzle with a splash of coconut milk.

Parents are Liars

When a parent is asked how their weekend was and they say “GREAT!” they are lying half the time. I know this because I did it this morning. Unless you are the patron saint of patience and kids screaming “NOOOOOO you DON’T say that to ME” and swiping punches in the air and throwing sharp objects at you then slamming doors for three days doesn’t bother you, and sleeping in is no longer a wish and dream, and meals aren’t avoided simply because you don’t want to clean up afterwards, then congratulations you are a parent.  Even the best of us with the best intentions get lost in a big way sometimes.

Last Friday my husband and I took a vacation day from work to take the kids to Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. We wanted to expose them to something new and exciting; tigers getting their belly scratched, clowns falling off ladders, eating salty popcorn, sitting in a big amphitheater watching motorcycles weave around each other in the metal sphere of doom. We had every intention of enjoying our big day off! We bought three tickets for the circus assuming Everett would happily sit on our lap. Five elephants came out on stage and then just as quickly disappeared before a ring leader in sequins sang a terrible song that didn’t stop for 10 minutes. Everett got antsy, and was happier running down the ramp in the abandoned concessions area away from the crowd while mommy pretended to be a tiger. Never mind that there were real tigers not 100 feet away that we had paid $50 to see. Asher was over-stimulated and thrown off by the lack of focus of the show. He wanted to sit in my lap and talk gibberish. He acted like he hadn’t slept in days, and it was only 10:00am. The popcorn made him insatiably thirty. A bottle of water cost $5 and the straw wasn’t long enough to stick out the bottle mouth. In the end we got use out of one ticket. For half the show. They both screamed at intermission that they were starving but they didn’t want to eat anything. As my husband left the theater carrying a screaming Asher in a fireman’s hold, I distracted Everett with airplanes in the sky as though that were part of the big show. And that was only Friday.

We recently signed up for Sitter City in search of a babysitter for sanity breaks and had scheduled the whole day on Saturday to be home for interviews. Two were a no-call no-show, and one cancelled at the last minute. By 2:00pm the house was a mess and I felt a vague sense of panic. We went out for an early dinner thinking getting out of the house would be key. A walk in the dark to a restaurant would be fun! Asher does not understand Daylight Savings. He’s 4. He was scared. “I CAN’T SEE ANYTHIIIIING!!” At dinner, everything was thrown on the ground; toys, food, crayons, my phone. We smiled embarrassedly at restaurant customers, but not too much so because we spend enough money at this restaurant for family date night. I chugged a martini, Robby choked down dinner, and we rushed home for another two painful hours of alternating moments of sheer joy followed by welting tears of unhappiness with two zombie children. At bedtime, we were speechless.

On Sunday, we actually spent a lovely morning with my husband’s family. The kids were flirty, joyful, conversational and sweet. They ate lunch nicely at the table, they engaged with the adults. We thought this was a good sign. We thought we would let them nap in the car while I did grocery shopping. That was a mistake. By the time 4:00pm rolled around and I started my cooking for the week, these two no-nap children and a husband who has been complaining of stomach pain for 2 weeks now were just gearing up for 4 hours of hell. Asher wanted every baby toy, Everett wanted to cling on my leg while I poured a steaming hot pot of water down the sink, no television show would satiate both children, the chocolate ice cream had melted in the box because it got left out of the freezer for too long since grocery shopping, so mommy had made an empty promise. I pulled a lasagna out of the oven while Everett ran for the open oven door with extended arms. The joint screaming of the kids got louder to a pitch range that I did not know existed to human ears.

In moments like this, you are lost. You wish you could just walk away. That you could hand a bad situation over to someone and scream HELP ME. But you can’t. There is no one. You have to push through. And then at 9:00pm when the house is finally quiet, you get your husband who fell asleep in your child’s room out of sheer desperation and exhaustion and you just go to bed. You are defeated. There is nothing left to say. In the morning, the kids will wake up refreshed and happy and clueless to reality. And you tell the teachers you had a great time at the circus and Asher proudly says he saw dinosaurs. Because that’s what you do.

You know how sometimes small tasks make you feel better because you can cross them off a list? This morning after I dropped off the kids at school I threw away a few boxes of garbage, I cut off  tags from new clothes, and I cleaned out the coat closet. And you know what? I am feeling better. I have my lunches ready for the week. And I actually can’t wait to see those damn kids again when I pick them up from school at 5:30pm. I love them so much, I lie. But only half the time.

the hug

Creamy Peanut Slaw

IMG_2568.JPG
Why is Chili’s at an airport so exciting? The steady flow of travelers, pilots mingling in the coffee line, those airport golf carts whizzing by. The 5-minute meal served in a red plastic basket – out in the real world this is known as “fast food” but in an airport it is simply “efficient”. In an airport it is forgivable that you pay $18 for a sandwich and soda because $18 is STEAL to not be sitting at your gate.

I have been traveling a lot for work lately, which makes my meals at home with the family all the more enjoyable. I am especially thrilled with my new cookbook Thug Kitchen, based on the popular vegan blog. If you don’t know this blog or cookbook, please indulge yourself. This week I made a super Creamy Peanut Slaw which I paired with soba noodles and tofu. My boys adore cold soba noodles more than spaghetti and marinara, more than pizza even. It’s like crack to them. So this recipe worked well for all of us.

CREAMY PEANUT SLAW
3 cups shredded red cabbage
3 cups shredded green cabbage
3 carrots, shredded
3 green onions, chopped

PEANUT SAUCE
5 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
5 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons Sriracha
1/2 inch ginger, peeled and finely diced

Shred your slaw ingredients in a food processor with a grater setting, or with a knife for larger chunks. Mix the peanut sauce ingredients in a small bowl until you get a thick, creamy consistency. Combine sauce with slaw in a large bowl. I recommend serving on top of buckwheat soba noodles, which only take 3 minutes to cook. One package of soba noodles can be tossed with one tablespoon sesame oil, one tablespoon of soy sauce, and one tablespoon of sesame seeds for a flavorful, hearty noodle dish that pairs well with any asian stir fry or cold salad dish. My photo may not be award-winning this week, but I can tell you this made a damn good work lunch.

Spaghetti with Lemon and Toasted Walnuts

IMG_2521.JPG
My worst nightmare? The kids going to bed happy and early. Why? Because it’s too good to be true. Zonking out dazed and speaking tongues inevitably means that someone will be jarred awake with night terrors in two hours. And that they’ll be up at 4:00am ready to start the day. Let’s go! But I guess I’m willing to take that risk tonight because my husband and I would like one hour together. Without children. One wondrous hour watching Star Trek Deep Space Nine so we can mock the overacting and the spectacularly absurd plot twists. Like Major Kira having O’Brien’s baby because it got zapped from Keiko’s body in some interstellar battle. Whatever.

Tonight we enjoyed this cold zesty zippy pasta dish with whole wheat spaghetti, spicy fresh chopped garlic and a fresh lemon, parsley olive oil marinade. It comes from Vegetarian Times and could easily be made vegan without the Parmesan cheese. This dish paired with a side salad will last us the work week and only cost about $10 – not bad for a healthy dish that even my 4 year old enjoyed!

SPAGHETTI WITH LEMON AND TOASTED WALNUTS
1 cup walnut halves
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup lemon juice
2 tsp. grated organic lemon zest
1 clove garlic, minced (1 tsp.)
¾ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 lb. spaghetti
1 cup Italian parsley, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 350°F. Toast walnuts on baking sheet 10 minutes. Cool, and coarsely chop. Whisk together cheese, oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic, and pepper in large bowl. Cook pasta according to package directions. Add drained pasta to cheese mixture, and toss to combine. Stir in parsley and walnuts, and season with salt and more pepper.