Massaman Curry

 There are few things more comforting than a hot bowl of curry – Thai, Indian, green, red, or massaman – I’ll never turn down an oportunity to try a new vegan curry recipe. Luckily, most supermarkets these days stock up on an amazing selection of curry pastes and chutneys which makes it easy to recreate what you order at most restaurants. This recipe for Massaman Curry comes from www.veganricha.com and has a smooth, creamy coconut milk base with an earthy peanut and ginger flavor. The tamarind concentrate add an unexpected hint of lip-smacking sweet and sour which blends well with the subtle heat from the curry paste. I’m kind of obsessed with coriander chutney these days so of course added a heaping spoon on top when serving.

MASSAMAN CURRY
2 tsp coconut oil 
1 diced white onion
2 tsp minced ginger
3 cloves of garlic minced
1 small head cauliflower, florets chopped small
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 cup chopped green beans
1 potato, diced
2 Tbsp red curry paste (I used a mild cumin coriander red curry paste)
2 Tbs garam masala 
3 Tbsp peanut butter 
1/2 tsp salt, divided
1/2 tsp tamarind concentrate
1 can coconut milk, 2 for more of a soup base
3/4 cup water
Basil
Whole, raw cashews
In a large sauce pot, add oil and heat at medium heat. Add onion and cook for 4 minutes. Add ginger, garlic, bell pepper, cauliflower, potatoes green beans, salt and mix. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Mix in the carrots, curry paste, garam masala and cook for 2 more minutes. Add peanut butter, salt, tamarind, coconut milk and water and mix well. Cover and cook on medium heat for 15 -20 minutes until the curry thickens a bit and the veggies are tender. Garnish with slivered basil and whole cashews. Serve hot over rice.   

Tofu Vindaloo

Tofu Vindaloo

I’m not an advocate for complicated processes in the kitchen — and this requires a few steps more than what’s normal for me — but the hard work really pays off in this tantalizing Indian recipe of complex flavors and spices that truly makes your heart soar. It it based on a recipe from one of my favorite blogs Oh My Veggies, and requires a hand blender or food processor and a spice grinder or mortar and pestle if you are using whole seeds or cloves. But don’t be intimidated. Spice cooking is not like baking. You can add a little more turmeric here and a little less garlic there, you can skip an element all together, and your curry base will still take on a life of its own. This vindaloo concept might be life changing for you, as it was for me. I mean, who doesn’t want a Indian dish in their repertoire? All I’m saying is, buy some naan and make this.

VINDALOO PASTE
1 small onion, quartered
3 garlic cloves
2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger
1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

TOFU VINDALOO
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 (15-ounce) package extra firm tofu cut into 1-inch cubes
1 1/4 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup tomato paste
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 medium head cauliflower, chopped into florets
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 cups fresh green beans, cut into 2-inch pieces
Rice or naan, for serving

Place all of the vindaloo paste ingredients in a food processor or hand blender base and puree until it reaches a paste consistency, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl or pitcher as needed. Set aside. In a separate bowl, combine the vegetable broth, tomato paste, vinegar and sugar. Set aside. Add the oil to a large saucepan over medium-high heat, cook tofu cubes for 10 minutes, flipping every 2 minutes or so, until it’s lightly browned. Push the tofu out to the sides of the of the saucepan, making a space in the center. Add the vindaloo paste to the center and heat for 1 minute, until fragrant. Add the broth mixture and gently combine, then bring to a simmer and add the cauliflower, pepper and green beans. Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 12-15 minutes or until veggies are tender, stirring occasionally. Add up to 1/2 cup of water during cooking if sauce becomes too thick.

Optimist Broccoli and Tofu

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I like to think I’m an optimist, but this week I’m going to go ahead and say that this week’s sentiment is I’d rather stab a fork in my eye. After a grueling week at work learning the tough lesson that you learn from failure rather than success, I awoke on joyous Saturday with what felt like shards of glass in my throat and a wheezing cough, and then discovered that a leak in my closet had seeped into 60% of my wardrobe and had soaked all of my leather boots which are now lying helplessly in my bath tub. So naturally I thought about what to eat for dinner.

As a result, I made a delicious gingery peanuty stir fry covered in sriracha which I’m going to call Optimist Broccoli and Tofu. It’s actually based on a simple chicken version from the popular blog Kalyn’s Kitchen so I only take credit for substituting tofu. My broccoli had actually gone soft after almost a week in the refrigerator so I just chopped off the florets and soaked them in cold water for a few hours, brightening them right up into crunchy fresh bites! I love those reminders that plants are living organisms.

OPTIMIST BROCCOLI AND TOFU
1 container of tofu baked into Roasted Spicy Tofu Treat from earlier blog post
2 heads of broccoli chopped into florets
2 red bell peppers, cut into small 1/4 inch dice
1/2 cup chopped peanuts

PEANUT DRESSING
3 Tablespoons sesame oil
1/2 cup natural creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 Tablespoons fresh-squeezed lime juice
2 Tablespoons ground ginger root (not dried ginger)
1 Tablespoon crushed or minced garlic
1/3 cup water

Make tofu according to Roasted Tofu Special Treat and let cool. In a small bowl whisk together the oil, peanut butter, soy sauce, lime juice, ground ginger, crushed and water. Taste the dressing and see if you want to adjust the seasonings. Heat a large wok on medium high heat for 2-3 minutes. Then add 3 Tablespoons of water and immediately throw in broccoli and red pepper. Stir frequently for 5 minutes then add peanut sauce and thoroughly combine. You want the broccoli to remain a bright green color and still have a crunch. Turn off the wok, then stir in the tofu and thoroughly combine. You can serve this right away or refrigerate for a few hours. Garnish with chopped peanuts when serving. Happy eating!

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Christmas Kale Salad

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Merry Christmas and Mazel Tov on spending quality time with your families! Yesterday we hosted an impromptu Christmas Eve complete with homemade hot cocoa and a Costco-sized Bulleit bourbon (thanks Mark Zar!) and I finally got to try out a new recipe that I’ve been meaning to make since our flop of a Thanksgiving. I had heard rave reviews about Costco’s 7 Superfoods salad in a bag concoction and let me tell you this rivals it tenfold! This raw kale and brussel sprout salad does best marinating in the dressing a few hours before serving. I also threw in some sliced red pepper for a festive theme and have thus dubbed it it’s aptly named title.

CHRISTMAS KALE SALAD
1 bunch black kale, sliced thinly
12 oz brussel sprouts, finely grated
1 cup slivered almonds toasted in a pan for 3-4 minutes on medium heat
1 cup grated fresh Parmesan or Asiago cheese
2 red peppers, julienned

DRESSING
Juice of 3 lemons
1/2 cup olive oil
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 Tablespoon freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Use a hand blender to purée the salad dressing. Toss all ingredients with dressing in a large bowl and let sit in refrigerator at least one hour before serving. I used a food processor with the grater attachment for the brussel sprouts.

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A White Flag Thanksgiving

turtleWell Thanksgiving was a bust this year. Asher started morning preschool two weeks ago, and by the end of his first week he had a raging fever which quickly spread throughout the house and resurged in some new capacity every few days until we were all forced to raise the white flag and give up on seeing the outside world for six days. Both boys developed inner ear infections and were miserable, and Robby and I stayed up every night comforting, cradling, medicine dosing, and crying ourselves into sleep-deprived naps on the floor next to the crib. Our Thanksgiving dinner consisted on white bread and whiskey with baby monitors and Advil on hand, and we were feeling mighty sorry for ourselves.

berriesWhile being home with sick little ones especially on a long holiday weekend really blows, it was also kind of the best and I have a lot to be grateful for this year. In just this one week, our soon-to-be-one-year-old Everett is now crawling, eating, and blubbering like a real toddler. He hates the sight of baby food, and he only wants to play with legos, crawl through tunnels, and haphazardly shovel an entire banana into his mouth. What happened?! Are we just too busy to notice the small changes that happen every day? Or did he really just wake up and decide to literally develop overnight? As a family, we were able to heal and grow together this past week, and my husband and I were reminded that we can pull through the worst of days relying only on each other. What a concept and test of marriage!

kale chickpea Last night was the first night all four of us slept well and happy, and in celebration I finally cooked a meal! This kale chickpea red pepper stew is so delicious and nutritious, and is best served on top of a bed of quinoa. The entire cost to serve 4 people is around $5.

KALE CHICKPEA RED PEPPERS

2 Tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup of vegetable broth
1 can chickpeas, drained
1 bunch kale, roughly torn from stems
1 red pepper, julienned

In large pan, heat olive oil on medium heat. Stir in kale and cook for 5-6 minutes. This fry will give the kale a little bit of a roasted taste. Then add vegetable broth, red peppers and chickpeas and cook another 7 – 8 minutes. Serve over quinoa, pasta, or cous cous for a delicious side dish or main entree. You can also top with red pepper flakes or parmesan for a bit of Italian flavor.