Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Happy Birthday Baby Girl

Little Caroline arrived 11-25-11 at 10:13 PM. We are in love :)

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Monday, May 2, 2011

What I'm making these days....

I've been a bit quiet for a while. And a bit lazy. And feeling not so hot. Here's why....

11 weeks, things seem to be going normally (what with the bloating, nausea, and all the other fun things that go along with pregnancy!). A week and a half til we get to hear the heartbeat - hoping and praying all continues to go well!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Chai Brownies (Take 2)

This is my second go at Chai brownies, as the first resulted in something more like cardamom bars :) I was a bit more cautious with the added ingredients this time, and the result is far superior!

If you've never used cardamom pods before - to remove the seeds from the pods, place them in a mortar and tap lightly with the pestle so the pod cracks open. Pull the pod apart and dump the seeds into the mortar. Throw away the pod. Use the pestle to pulverize the cardamom. Look for a place that sells bulk spices; that's your best bet for finding the pods - and the cardamom will be cheaper and fresher. If you can't find pods (or don't have a mortar and pestle), you can buy powdered cardamom (though it generally costs an arm and a leg!). Either way, buy a SMALL quantity - you don't need much and it doesn't keep forever. Use the leftover in Indian curries, Indian Butter Chicken, add a bit to homemade granola, and more.

Cardamom, mortar & pestle
Chocolate Chai Brownies
Based on Steve's favorite Jungle Camp Brownies

Preheat oven to 325 F.

Combine in a medium mixing bowl:
   1 cup sugar (white and/or brown)
   6 tablespoons cocoa powder
   3/4 cup whole wheat flour
   1/4 teaspoon salt
   1/4 teaspoon cinnamon (use less if your cinnamon powder is extremely fresh)
   2-3 cardamom pods, seeds extracted and crushed (or a pinch-1/8 tsp ground)
   1/8 tsp ginger
   dash ground black pepper

Mix in with wooden spoon (this is thick - don't use a whisk unless you just want an excuse to lick the batter off):
   1/3 cup oil and/or applesauce (I always use a combination)
   2 eggs, beaten
   splash vanilla extract (roughly 1/8 tsp)
   1/4 cup coconut ("optional" - if you hate it, leave it out. If not, use it!), plus some to sprinkle on top

Pour into greased & floured (or cocoaed) 8x8 pan. Sprinkle on top:
   Coconut and/or turbinado sugar

Bake at 325 for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Serve with Vanilla Bean ice cream.

The verdict? Perfect :)

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Chai Brownies (Take 1)

One of my all-time favorite loose leaf teas is Wegmans Chocolate Chai. The flavors go together so nicely for the perfect mid-winter hot drink, no sugar needed. That tea is the inspiration for these brownies. Now, I know there are plenty other recipes out there for chai brownies, but can there really be too many options for something so promising? So here is my attempt.

Chocolate Chai Brownies
Based on Steve's favorite Jungle Camp Brownies
*see the update below for the disclaimer on this recipe!

Preheat oven to 325 F.

Combine in a medium mixing bowl:
   1 cup sugar (white and/or brown)
   6 tablespoons cocoa powder
   3/4 cup flour (white and/or wheat)
   1/4 teaspoon salt
   *1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
   *cardamom (seeds from 2-5 pods ground in mortar & pestle, or 1/8-1/4 tsp ground)
   dash ground black pepper
   dash ginger (optional - I didn't have any)

Mix in:
   1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon oil/applesauce (I always use a combination)
   2 eggs, beaten
   splash vanilla extract
   1/4 cup chocolate chips and/or coconut (optional)

Pour into greased 8x8 pan. Sprinkle on top:
   Coconut and/or turbinado sugar

Bake at 325 for 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.


The verdict: just came out of the oven! Update forthcoming :)

*Update: So. These have a huge potential. But I used WAY too much cardamom. It just smelled so good... and looked like so little ground up in the mortar. Well, it wasn't so little. I used 8-10 pods (I swear, it really didn't look like much!). I think 2-5 is probably the appropriate number. Next go, I will mix up everything but the spices, then add slowly and figure out the correct amount. That said - even with somewhat overpowering cardamom, they were great with vanilla bean ice cream, and it did mellow the cardamom enough that it was quite tasty! Also, the coconut was amazing. If you don't hate it, use it!

 The two year old ate them, so they can't be bad!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Yogurt Toppers

I love plain yogurt with a dash of sugar or agave nectar and a few fresh or frozen berries. Not everyone [in my house] is so thrilled with this. For those who prefer something a bit more like store-bought yogurt, here is my solution:

Yogurt Mix-in Sauces
4-5 Cups fresh or frozen fruit
1 Tablespoon cornstarch - this thickens the sauce so it doesn't water down your yogurt without being chunky
1/2 Cup jam or jelly
Sugar to taste - I used about a tablespoon for the recipe

Thaw fruit if frozen. In a saucepan combine fruit with the cornstarch and jam or jelly. Stir and cook over medium heat until mixture gets clear and boils. Remove from heat. Strain (if desired) to remove seeds. Store in a glass jar (reuse a jar from peanut butter, salsa, etc.). Chill. 

Add a spoonful or two to 6-8 oz yogurt and mix in for homemade yogurty deliciousness :)

Shown in the picture above - Blackberry Currant (made with frozen berries and currant jelly) and Strawberry Banana (frozen berries and a banana added in just before removing from heat). Play around with spices to make other flavors - apple pie would be fantastic with apples and cinnamon, and maybe some oats.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Palak Paneer

I first had Palak Paneer at Teaism in Washington DC. I didn't really read the menu too carefully, and spent most of the meal trying to figure out what the delicious white bits were - not egg; meat, maybe? not really... cheese? not quite like any cheese I'd had... I finally looked at the menu again on the way out and discovered, yes, cheese. But no, not quite like any cheese I'd had before!

Paneer is a white cheese, and is about as easy as it's possible for cheese to be. In a nutshell, heat up milk to almost boiling, pour in a bit of white vinegar, watch it curdle, and dump into cheese cloth to drain. The end. For those who want a bit more detail in your directions, look here.

For this Palak Paneer recipe, I used a gallon of milk, drained the cheese in a flour sack towel-lined colander, then cut my paneer in half - one half to use in the recipe, and one to freeze for later. (Also - save the whey! Cook rice or pasta in it for a bit of extra flavor.)

 Flour sack towel in a colander over a bowl... post cheese removal

Half of my paneer block ready to freeze

Paneer means "cheese" in Hindi, and Palak means "spinach". There are hundreds of recipes available online, and I sort of meshed two of them, but this one is pretty close to what I made, which came out quite well! I didn't use chana masala, and only used one bunch of spinach - though should have probably used two. It could have had more, in any case! But the result was quite tasty :)

 Frying paneer - like feta, it doesn't melt

 The "masala" - mixture - of onion, tomato, garlic, ginger and spices. Smells heavenly!

 Blended palak

Everything but the cheese

Mmm, delicious!