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Posts tagged with Easy

Tip-toe back into the kitchen with slow-cooker curry

Warm, hearty, easy. Perfect for the time post-Thanksgiving.

Warm, hearty, easy. Perfect for the time post-Thanksgiving. by Sarah Henning

My kitchen got some pretty heavy use over the holiday — before, during and after the holiday. Honestly, we needed to take a break from each other. The feeling was mutual (my poor oven).

To ease back into the kitchen, it seems only right to use my slow cooker. Easy for me. Easy for everything that’s still recovering from serving 10 people a week ago.

As you may have gathered by now, I’m a pretty big curry person. I’m also huge on eating seasonally, which is why almost everything you see in this space during the colder months tends to include some sort of gourd or tuber or root. Thus, it seemed completely appropriate (and painless) to feature a butternut squash slow cooker curry this week.

I’ve made a few different butternut squash curries in my slow cooker this season and this one is by far my favorite. I love the depth of flavor from the onion, garlic, chili paste and curry. And I love the simplicity: The hardest thing about it is peeling and chopping up the squash (seriously), but then everything else is as easy as pie. Well, eating pie. Not making it.

We tend to eat this alone with some Wheatfields bread or nothing at all, though feel free to go all traditional and have it over rice.

Savory Butternut Squash Slow Cooker Curry

1 large butternut squash, peeled and chopped into 1/2-inch pieces (about 5 to 6 cups)

1 red onion, chopped

2 to 4 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon minced or pureed fresh ginger

1 tablespoon Thai green curry paste

4 teaspoons Thai red chili paste

2 tablespoons coconut oil

1 14-ounce can coconut milk

2 teaspoons coconut sugar or brown sugar

1 cup boiling water

Lime juice (to taste)

In a large skillet, heat coconut oil over medium heat. Add red onion, garlic and ginger and stir-fry for 3 minutes, until onion is soft. Add curry and chili pastes and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Stir in coconut milk.

Transfer everything in the skillet into a slow cooker. Add in butternut squash, sugar, boiling water and a generous squeeze of lime juice. Turn on slow cooker and cook on high for 3 hours or low for 6 hours. Serves 4.

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One last curry, I promise

This curry takes less time to make than it would take to call in something similar and go pick it up. Plus, it's probably much healthier.

This curry takes less time to make than it would take to call in something similar and go pick it up. Plus, it's probably much healthier. by Sarah Henning

As you may have judged from my last post, I’m sort of obsessed with curry at the moment. Or for the entire seasons of fall, winter and spring. And it doesn’t seem to matter what type — Indian, Thai, a hybrid — I want it.

Luckily, for my rut-loving tendencies, there are all the above types of curry to spice things up, lest my husband and kiddo want to chuck me and all of our curry powder out of the house in a coup.

That hasn’t happened yet, though. So, if you’ll allow me, one last curry recipe before I hope it gets so warm, my stovetop goes on hiatus.

This curry recipe is also a great use for those final overwintered sweet potatoes before we get to the long wait for fresh local ones in the fall. If you don’t have sweet potatoes or want to make this dish a bit more “summery,” replace the sweet potato with a couple of peeled and chopped carrots.

This recipe also happens to have a similar flavor to restaurant-bought coconut-based curries, but is super simple to make. In fact, the most difficult part is waiting for the water to boil for the quinoa. My family’s single caveat with this recipe is that it isn’t very spicy, but it’s sweet, thus, my hubby likes to add Sriracha to his bowl.

Easy Coconut Curry

For the sauce:

1 teaspoon coconut oil

1/2 yellow onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons curry powder

1 (13.5 ounce) can coconut milk

1 tablespoon tamari, or soy sauce

1 tablespoon pure maple syrup

1/2 teaspoon salt

To complete the dish:

1 sweet potato, chopped

1 pound assorted vegetables, chopped (we used frozen broccoli)

1 cup quinoa, rinsed

2 cups water

To get started, combine the quinoa and water in a small saucepan over high heat, and bring it to a boil. Once boiling, cover the pot and reduce the heat to low, allowing the quinoa to cook for 15 minutes while you work on the curry sauce.

In the meantime, melt the coconut oil in a 3-quart saute pan over medium heat, and saute the onions and garlic until tender, about 5 minutes. Add in the coconut milk, curry powder, tamari, maple syrup and salt and whisk well to combine. (Since curry powders can vary by brand, start with a smaller amount and add more to suit your tastes.)

Adjust any other flavors as needed, then bring the sauce to a simmer and add in the chopped sweet potatoes. Cover the pan, and allow the sweet potatoes to steam in the sauce for 5 minutes. Finally, add the rest of the vegetables, toss in the sauce to coat, then cover and allow to steam until fork-tender.

Fluff the cooked quinoa with a fork, then serve with a generous portion of the vegetables and curry sauce. Serves two to four.

— Recipe from www.detoxinista.com

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Fresh, light summer curry

Light but hearty, chickpea curry is dinner in one bowl.

Light but hearty, chickpea curry is dinner in one bowl. by Sarah Henning

All winter long, it seems, I made curry. Thai curry, to be exact. I wrote about a few of them in this space. They were hearty and often served over sweet potatoes for extra nutrition, because I’m a little weird like that.

And I may be one of the luckiest foodies on the planet, because I was just gifted a perfect Indian curry recipe for summer.

One of my friends, Paffi, and I met for lunch the other day, and she brought with her a shopping bag. I was kind of oblivious, and just figured she’d gone on a grocery trip before lunch and didn’t want to leave whatever she’d bought in a hot car while we ate.

Turns out, the bag was for me.

Inside was a recipe for chickpea curry we’d talked about quite awhile ago, and ALL the ingredients I needed to make it.

Have I mentioned I have awesome friends?

Well, I do. And I had to make Paffi’s chickpea curry ASAP. We made it Sunday night, and not only was it super fast (the rice took longer to cook than the curry itself), it was also light and fresh and perfect for summer.

The curry features fresh Roma tomatoes and onion — two things we’ll have in season at the same time shortly — plus curry powder, and that was pretty much it. A little oil, a little cumin, and a whole lot of fresh, light flavor. This is not your winter curry. And the chickpeas make it super hearty.

Honestly, I can’t wait until the tomatoes and onions both are either from my garden, my CSA share, or the Lawrence Farmers’ Market.

Chickpea Curry

1 medium onion, diced

5 Roma tomatoes, diced

1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

1 cup water (as needed)

Vegetable oil to saute (we used coconut oil)

1 teaspoon Deep curry powder (can be found at Indian food stores)

Salt

Cayenne powder to taste (optional)

¼ teaspoon cumin powder (optional)

2 cups cooked basmati rice

Naan

Heat oil in pan over medium heat. Add onions. Sprinkle salt to sweat the onions. Saute until translucent.

Add chickpeas and stir to incorporate into onions. Add curry powder and, if using, add cayenne and cumin. Cook for a minute, stirring constantly.

Stir in tomatoes and then add enough water to wet the bottom of the pan and scrape any caramelization.

Continue to cook and stir until the curry comes to a boil. Cover the pan. Lower heat and simmer for 7 minutes. Remove from heat.

Add salt to taste and serve over rice or eat with naan. Serves 4.

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The case of the unloved asparagus

Asparagus: Oh, so delicious, unless you're five.

Asparagus: Oh, so delicious, unless you're five. by Sarah Henning

Sometime between last spring and this spring, my kiddo totally forgot that he loves asparagus. Last year, he’d eat the green or purple stalks, no questions asked. But this year?

No, no, no, no, get that away from me, no.

That’s a direct quote.

I’m sure anyone with kids/grandkids/imagines their life with kids reading this understands the fickle nature of a child’s taste buds — and the amnesia that goes along with it.

Once upon a time, my son ate all sorts of things that are utterly “Gross, mom, jeez!” He’d eat vegetable korma. Pad Thai. Even something as difficult to love as soup.

Today?

Nope. Nope. Nope.

Today, he’ll try new things, but only within reason. Example: He’ll try papaya because it looks like cantaloupe or mango. Or those chia seed doughnuts I made, specifically because they look like doughnuts.

But foods he’s tried before that we swear up and down that he likes? Not unless it looks promising.

And, asparagus, my friends, doesn’t look promising. Too green, too plant-like (despite the fact that this kid will eat baby spinach leaves plain), too unfamiliar.

So, how do we get him to eat it?

Bribed the heck out of him.

Basically, though he’s 5, our kid doesn’t necessarily always have the same dinner we have. We’re still transitioning him into eating what we eat, no ifs, ands or buts. But I’m still too concerned about him not eating enough, that I’m not strict about this (maybe we’re training me and not him, then?).

Thus, sometimes he has exactly what we have but most of the time, he has our sides plus something else. Case in point: tonight we’re having fajitas with salad on the side. He’ll have salad, avocado, raw red peppers saved from the fajita pan and a quesadilla.

But we want to eventually get him to eat exactly what we eat for dinner. I’m not making him his very own specialized dinner until he’s 18. Plus, I want him to eat and enjoy foods that aren’t your everyday picks, like seasonal, delicious asparagus.

So we’ll do what I’m sure many parents will do. We say something along the lines of, “If you eat two pieces of asparagus, you can watch a cartoon after dinner. No asparagus, no cartoon.”

Usually, that does the trick. Sometimes, as is the case with soup for some reason (even potato chowder, aka “french fry soup”), he’ll just say, “I didn’t want to watch a cartoon.” Yeah, right, kid.

When I was his age, I distinctly remember having to eat the dinner my parents were eating, no substitutions. Therefore, I wonder if I’m being soft. Should I stop tailoring his meals? Should I wait until he starts kindergarten in the fall? Or should I just roll with it, and be happy that he eats really healthy even if he’s not eating exactly what we’re eating?

I don’t have the answer. I don’t know if I’ll ever know exactly what’s right. But I do know that trying to persuade him to eat food that's good for him can never be bad. Even if it comes with a side of bribery.

Now, for the real reason you’re here. An asparagus recipe we’re loving at the moment (even if the kiddo is still suspicious):

Asparagus with Lemon and Olives

1 pound asparagus

1 tablespoon butter or coconut oil, melted

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Sea salt and black pepper

1 lemon

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and halved

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Chop the ends off the asparagus and rinse under water. Place the asparagus on a baking sheet and toss with the melted butter or coconut oil. Sprinkle with garlic powder, sea salt and black pepper to taste. Roast for approximately 10-15 minutes, less time for thin asparagus, more time for thick asparagus.

While the asparagus is roasting, use a microplane grater to remove the zest from the lemon, and set the zest aside.

When the asparagus is bright green and fork tender, remove it from the oven, drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and top with the lemon zest and halved olives.

— Recipe from Practical Paleo by Diane Sanfilippo

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The perfect pad thai

Homemade pad Thai, straight from the wok.

Homemade pad Thai, straight from the wok. by Sarah Henning

I’ve been a longtime lover of pad thai.

A connoisseur, really.

It’s one of my go-to treat foods after a marathon or ultramarathon. I’ve devoured it in probably every state I’ve ever visited. Honestly, if a restaurant has it on its menu, I’ll try it at least once, no matter where we are or what kind of restaurant it is.

Basically, the sweet and salty mixture is my idea of comfort food.

Thus, it was years ago that I first tried making it at home. I started using those pre-made kits you can buy of sauce and noodles.

But then I put on my big girl pants and started testing various recipes I found both online and in cookbooks. Some had a bazillion ingredients, including ones that are sometimes hard to find (aka fresh lemongrass). Others were so simple it seemed like the flavor might be lacking.

After years of trial and error, I’m happy to report that I finally have a favorite recipe.

Purists might balk in that this one doesn’t have the traditional fried egg and instead is full of veggies that aren’t typically part of the meal. That said, I can tell you that the combination of the sauce plus the noodles and the veggies is a totally perfect blend of taste and additional health benefits. And if you like the fried egg? Add it. Same goes for the mung beans often seen as part of a restaurant presentation.

Now, this makes a TON, but if you’re like me, you’ll keep going back to the wok for just a little more and just a little more until you really just need to stow away the leftovers, like, NOW.

Pea and Broccoli Pad Thai

14-ounce box of rice noodles

16-ounce bag frozen peas, defrosted

1 cup fresh broccoli, chopped

½ cup coconut palm sugar (You can sub brown sugar but it will be sweeter)

½ cup tamari

6 tablespoons lime juice

1 tablespoon coconut oil

Lime wedges, for garnish

Peanuts, for garnish

Boil rice noodles according to the package directions. When they’re draining, heat coconut oil in a wok or large sauté pan. Once the oil is melted, dump in peas and broccoli.

In a small bowl, whisk together coconut palm sugar, tamari and lime juice to create the pad thai sauce. Pour over the vegetables in the wok. Add in rice noodles and heat through.

Serve warm. Garnish with lime wedges and peanuts. Serves 6 to 8.

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That’s a wrap, winter

A wrap (unwrapped) to straddle that weird period at the beginning of spring.

A wrap (unwrapped) to straddle that weird period at the beginning of spring. by Sarah Henning

Sometimes, especially times like these when we are just starting a new season (hello, spring!), I end up taking an old favorite and changing it up a bit. You know, so it looks all fresh and shiny but pretty much tastes the same (because, as you know, I’m a rut girl).

Because the thing about entering a new season is that it doesn’t automatically come with new seasonal produce. Well, not initially. It’ll be at least another month before the early spring produce is available from local farmers. And I like to adjust what I’m eating based on what’s in season.

That said, I decided to turn a staple salad of mine into a wrap for dinner one evening. It just seemed like the type of night to avoid a fork. Plus, I’d already made sweet potatoes and had a perfectly ripe avocado. The husband approved and the kiddo threatened to eat all of our ingredients (without actually saying yes to a wrap). Go figure.

Yep, that's one giant wrap.

Yep, that's one giant wrap. by Sarah Henning

Start of Spring Wrap

1 large sweet potato

1 avocado

Baby spinach

Peppadew peppers, sliced in half

Hummus

Coconut oil

Salt

Pepper

2 wraps of your choice (I used gluten-free spinach)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Peel and slice sweet potato into 1/4-inch rounds, and place them on a rimmed cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Rub coconut oil on each slice and season with salt and pepper. Place in the oven for 15 minutes. Flip the sweet potatoes and place them in the oven for 10 more minutes.

When the sweet potatoes have 5 minutes left, place each of your wraps flat on their own plates. Spread hummus on each wrap, top with spinach and peppadew peppers. Next, slice up the avocado and place half on each wrap.

Top off your wraps with fresh-from-the-oven sweet potatoes. Eat while warm. Serves 2.

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