Archive for September, 2011

Bombay Sloppy Joes

Move over Manwich, this Indian-inspired sloppy joe has got you beat by a long run!

I’ve been trying to cook more ethnic-inspired meals and experiment with various spices to mix things up at our house. I’ve fallen in love with Indian cooking and recipes, thanks to Aarti Seqeuira of Aarti Party on Food Network. Just like the Kheema (Ground Meat with Peas) I made recently, Chris and I adored last night’s meal of “Bombay Sloppy Joes” from her show as well.

As usual, I switched up a few things but the bulk of the recipe stayed the same – I decreased the amount of oil used and use refined coconut oil (love this stuff), increased the amount of a few spices, added zucchini for more green, omitted the raisins, increased the onion, subbed jalapeno for the serrano and simplified a few steps for a quicker meal. I didn’t have raisins on hand but next time would like to try adding dried currents or cherries to the meat mixture and eliminating or decreasing the added honey. The pistachios in the this recipe are a must, they add great texture to the meat mixture…if you don’t have pistachios, almonds or walnuts would make a good replacement. I used my food processor to quickly chop the onion, bell pepper and zucchini which helped cut down on the prep time.

Just as the name promised, this meal is sloppy but SO delicious and packed with layers of complex flavors. The sauce has a lovely taste of ginger and garam masala so when married with the cumin, vegetables and meat in the skillet – this dish is a total keeper, no question about that!

The photo is of Chris’ sloppy joe on a whole grain bun (not gluten free). I was out : ( BUT I served my sloppy joe mixture over cooked quinoa and it was incredibly scrumptious! You could also serve over your favorite grain such as cooked millet, brown rice or even pasta. The leftovers don’t disappoint one bit as the flavors meld together overnight. My tummy was happy at lunch the following day :)

Bombay Sloppy Joes (adapted from Aarti Party’s recipe)

Ingredients

Sauce

1 Tbsp refined coconut oil (or vegetable oil)
1 to 1 1/2 Tbsp minced ginger (I use the latter)
2 -3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 jalapeno, seeded and finely minced (save the other half for the meat) – or use a serrano
1 1/2 tsp garam masala (Indian spice mixture)
3/4 tsp paprika
1 15oz can of no salt added tomato sauce
1 cup of water

Meat

1 – 2 Tbsp refined coconut oil (or other neutral oil such as vegetable oil)
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 medium red onion, finely diced
1 red, orange or yellow bell pepper, seeds and membrane removed, finely diced
1 zucchini, finely diced
1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced (the other half saved from sauce, could use serrano but will be spicy)
1 lb ground meat (turkey, beef, chicken etc – I used turkey)
1/2 tsp to 1 tsp honey (or agave or molasses or other sweetener) to taste depending on sweetness desired

For serving
1/4 roasted/toasted pistachios, very roughly chopped (don’t leave this out, it’s delicious and adds texture!) – could sub chopped almonds or walnuts
Small handful chopped fresh cilantro (still good without it if you aren’t a cilantro fan)
4 to 6 gluten free hamburger buns

Directions

1. Begin by making the sauce: Warm the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat, until it shimmers. Add the ginger, garlic and jalapeno pepper. Saute until the ginger and garlic brown a little. Add the garam masala and paprika and saute for 30 seconds. Stir in the tomato sauce and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, until thickened, about 15 minutes.
2. Meanwhile for the meat, in large skillet, warm 2 tablespoons of oil, add 1 to 2 tablespoons of oil, and warm until shimmering. Add the cumin seeds and allow them to sizzle for about 10 seconds, or until some of the sizzling subsides. Stir in the onions and bell pepper; saute until softened and starting to brown. Add the zucchini and jalapeno pepper. Saute for another couple of minutes, seasoning with a little salt. Stir in the ground meat, breaking up the big lumps. Cook through, about 5 minutes.
3. By this time, your sauce should be ready. Pour the sauce into the skillet with the meat mixture. Stir and bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer until the mixture has thickened slightly, about 5- 10 minutes.
4. Add the honey and stir through and taste for seasoning. For serving, toast the buns, fill with meat mixture then garnish with chopped pistachios and fresh cilantro (or you could stir both in the meat mixture prior to filling bun).Eat (with your hands!) and enjoy!

*Recipe Variations: If you want a bit more sweetness, add 1/4 cup raisins or dried currants, cherries or cranberries to the meat mixture for a slight variation. You can also use yellow squash in place of zucchini or leave this out completely – I like the bulk up the veggies!

September 30, 2011 at 4:10 pm 11 comments

Carrot Cake Ice Cream (Dairy Free and Fruit-Sweetened)

It’s been warm the past several days in Denver and I felt it appropriate to share an ice cream recipe before the cold blows in. Really though, is there ever a time when ice cream isn’t cravable? If you were to ask the hubs, he would eat ice cream every day for the rest of the his life…rain or shine (or snow).

If I were to choose my top three favorite cakes, carrot cake would definitely appear among the ranks…minus the ones loaded with pineapple (love the fruit but not in this cake). I reserve traditional carrot cake for special occasions as it’s extremely decadent. While it does contain nutritious carrots and heart-healthy nuts, most versions are laden with lots of oil or butter, white flour and of course, melt-in-your-mouth cream cheese frosting…making it quite the opposite of  healthy but ever so dreamy and divine.

I’ve made healthier versions such as Elana’s carrot cake with almond flour several times before, subbing honey for the agave  and coconut oil for the grapeseed with delicious results! It’s been awhile since I made a cake (which I need to put on my list “to make soon”) but when I was recently craving my beloved carrot cake, I went with a cooler treat during the summer heat. Plus, it’s egg-free, dairy-free, sugar free and still creamy and delicious!

I put my ice cream maker to work and made a creamy, frozen dessert that didn’t include cake itself but incorporated the flavors that I love so much. A carrot and cinnamon-spiced ice cream base of dairy-free coconut milk is sweetened with medjool dates (reminiscent of raisins) and speckled with chopped pecans for a bit of crunch. I topped the ice cream off with unsweetened shredded coconut and more chopped nuts but rum-soaked raisins and/or crushed or dried pineapple would also be yummy!

Carrot Cake Ice Cream

Ingredients

1 can of coconut milk (I used full-fat but lite would probably work too but would be less creamy)
1/2 cup non dairy milk (coconut milk from carton, almond milk, soy etc)
1 large or 2 small carrots, roughly chopped (no need to shredded since you will be adding to a blender)
6-7 medjool dates (or you could use  3-4 Tbsp honey or agave or more to taste)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon (I used a rounded teaspoon because I love cinnamon)
1/4 tsp ground ginger, optional
dash of nutmeg, allspice or cloves, optional
1/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (raw or lightly toasted)

For garnish, optional
chopped pecans or walnuts
shredded coconut
raisins (I’ve made this recipe several times and made one batch with rum-soaked raisins, yum!)
optional: crushed pineapple (I am not a huge fan of pineapple in my carrot cake but feel free to add or use as a topping)

Directions

Using ice cream maker: 

1. Add all base ingredients except for pecans/walnuts in blender and combine until smooth.
2. According to your ice cream maker’s instructions, add to bowl and allow to churn until desired consistency is met. Stir in pecans/walnuts. Either serve straight from the ice cream maker and garnish with shredded coconut, pecans, raisins, pineapple OR if you have patience, place the ice cream in a freezer safe container and allow to freeze for 1 hour before serving then garnish with shredded coconut, pecans, raisins, pineapple and enjoy!

Without ice cream maker: 

1. Add all base ingredients except for pecans/walnuts in a blender and combine until smooth. Stir in chopped nuts.
2. Pour into 2 freezer safe bowls and place in the freezer for at total of 1.5-2 hours, removing every 30 minutes to stir so that it doesn’t turn into one large solid block of ice.
3. When it gets to a soft serve consistency, you are ready to eat! Garnish with shredded coconut, pecans, pineapple, etc and enjoy :)

Recipe Notes: If you prefer boozy ice cream and enjoy the taste of carrot cake and rum, add a tablespoon or to taste of rum or spiced rum to the base ingredients in the blender for an adult treat.

September 28, 2011 at 1:50 pm 11 comments

Sauteed Shrimp with Chorizo and Collard Greens

Oh, how I love sauteed collard greens –  I like to serve them tender but green (not slow cooked where they turn a green-brown) where they still have a bite to them after cooking. I try not to cook all “good stuff” out of this nutritional powerhouse – collards are rich in Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Vitamin K, vital B-complex vitamins and minerals as well as iron and calcium. You think collards could give spinach a run for it’s money?

I’ve made a sweet and salty vegetarian dish of collards with raisins and sunflower seeds but today’s version uses shrimp and sausage for a protein n’ greens meal…plus it is quick, easy and not the mention, quite delicious. This is a 30-minute meal from start to finish – great for a weeknight or when you are in a dinner slump.

I’ve adapted this dish from Collards with Turkey Sausage and Shrimp from the March 2010 edition of Clean Eating Magazine – it’s filling and hearty while healthy at the same time! I subbed fresh bulk turkey chorizo for regular sausage for extra spice and flavor but any sausage would do.

Collards with Sauteed Shrimp and Chorizo

Ingredients

1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp chili powder (no salt added)
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/8 tsp ground pepper
Two dashes of cayenne pepper, optional
1 Tbsp refined coconut oil, butter, ghee or olive oil
2/3 to 3/4 pound of medium or large raw shrimp, tail-off and peeled/deveined
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 pound fresh chorizo sausage (I used turkey) or other sausage but would change the flavor
1 bunch of collard greens, stems removed and leaves chopped
salt and pepper to taste
lemon slices

Directions

1. In a small bowl, mix together paprika, chili powder, salt, black pepper and cayenne. In a medium bowl, toss shrimp with 1 tsp spice mixture until coated.
2. Heat 2 tsp oil or butter in a large sauté pan or wok on medium-high. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, for 3 minutes, until softened. Add minced garlic and shrimp and cook, stirring frequently, for 3 more minutes, until just turning pink. Transfer onion-shrimp mixture to a bowl and return pan to heat.
3. Heat remaining 1 tsp oil or butter in pan. Add sausage and cook, breaking up meat with a wooden spoon, until browned (3-4 minutes). Stir remaining spice mixture and chopped collard greens into pan. Cover and cook for 2 minutes. Remove lid, stir and cook for 2 more minutes. Add onion-shrimp mixture back to pan, stir and cook for 1 more minute, until heated through. Season with salt and pepper, if needed and serve immediately with squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Enjoy!

September 27, 2011 at 1:55 pm 5 comments

Ode to Lentils…and a “Bread” Invention

The first time I had lentils was at my best friend Holly’s house in middle school (taking me back a couple years!). That’s the same house where I discovered my love for Persian food…oh wow, so good! My favorite dish her mom made was Adas Polo (rice, lentils, currants/raisins, spices and sometimes meat – chicken, ground lamb or beef)…I remember the taste to this day! I’ve never tried to make my own version of Adas Polo (thinking I could never come close to hers) but I have experimented with lentils in the last several years, particularly the past couple months.

For those that are unfamiliar with lentils, they are grouped with beans and peas as part of the legume family because they grow in pods. Lentils are high in protein and fiber and low in fat, which makes them a healthy substitute for meat. They’re also packed with folate, iron, phosphorus, potassium and fiber.

Lentils come in three main varieties: brown, green and red. Most grocery stores carry brown lentils, usually dried, though red and green lentils can be found at speciality markets – in Denver they can be found at a local Sprouts, Sunflower Market, Whole Foods or Natural Grocers/Vitamin Cottage.

A few tips on choosing your color:

  • Brown lentils. The least expensive, they soften when cooked and can become mushy. Use for soups.
  • Green lentils. Also called French lentils, these have a nuttier flavor and stay firm when cooked. Green lentils are the best choice for salads.
  • Red lentils. The fastest cooking, these lose their shape and turn golden when cooked. They taste milder and sweeter than green lentils. Use them for purees and Indian dals…or my new recipe below!

Another plus for lentils is they cook quickly (15-30 minutes) and do not require pre-soaking, though I wash them off in a strainer to remove any dirt, dust etc before adding them to recipes (some packaged are pre-rinsed). Once cooked, add your favorite spices and seasonings, toss with cooked rice, vegetables, or briefly saute in a stir-fry OR you can try something new and make a lentil flatbread!

What you ask? Oh yes I did – flat”bread” with LENTILS! It’s grain-free, EASY, naturally gluten free, egg free and dairy free (unless you use butter for the oil). Apparently, I have an affinity for coming up with wacky gluten free bread ideas…my cooked rice flatbread/pizza crust was the first attempt to break the mold.

If I told you how many batches I have made (and ate) before sharing this recipe, you would probably laugh at me. I tried this bread with cooked lentils like my rice crust and decreased the water but it was quite crumbly and needed an egg to hold it together. I’ve probably eaten a whole years allotment of lentils in the past several weeks, but at least I am getting my share of protein/fiber/folate/iron/potassium and phosphorus. I can always come up with a good excuse :)

Here are just a few of the batches I made that I actually photographed…the top left I even experimented with adzuki beans (ground them into a flour, which almost killed my food processor) which sort of worked but it had way too strong of a bean taste for me. The bottom left is made from green lentils, the top right from brown and the bottom right from red lentils.

This recipe is fairly flexible but my favorite color lentil to use in this recipe is red due to it’s milder taste, making it a great canvas for any topping or spread or accompaniment for a meal, soup or salad. It does have a mild lentil taste (which is yummy) but I also added ground golden flaxseed to add a slight nutiness.

Spreads! (Top to bottom) Laughing Cow swiss spread, edamame hummus with sesame seeds and sunflower seed butter with paprika

Grain-Free Lentil Flatbread

Ingredients

2/3 cup dry lentils (I use red but brown, green or a sprouted variety work too)
2 Tbsp flaxseed meal (I use golden flax ground in my Magic Bullet)
1 cup water
sea salt (don’t skimp since this is the main seasoning)
2-3 Tbsp coconut oil (olive oil, grapeseed, canola, butter or ghee all work – use oil for vegan)

Favorite herbs and/or spices, optional

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 375F.
2. In a small blender with grind attachment, food processor or a spice grinder, add lentils and grind to a flour. (I use my Magic Bullet with the flat blade).
3. Add the coconut oil (or oil/butter of choice) to a 8×8 or 9×9 pan* and let melt in the oven and warm (about 2 minutes). Meanwhile, add flaxseed meal, water and salt to ground lentils and blend again for about 15 seconds. It should resemble a thick but pourable pancake batter after it sits (the flax and lentils will start absorbing the water the longer it sits).
4. When oil is hot and melted, pour batter into the pan and spread with a spatula. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the bread forms a crust. Let cool slightly, cut and enjoy warm!

Bread can be refrigerated and toasted to reheat if needed.

*You can make the bread thick or thin by choosing your baking dish and add herbs and spices for different flavor variations. I prefer a medium thickness instead of a pizza crust thinness because I like the slightly crunchy outsides and a middle with a slight chew. If you prefer a crisper texture throughout, baking a larger pan or divide batter into two loaf pans. You will need to reduce cooking time for thinner bread, and in turn increase cooking time for thicker (about 5 minutes).

Lentil bread topped with homemade (savory) curried peanut butter, recipe coming soon!

September 25, 2011 at 5:11 pm 73 comments

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