Project Pie: Chicken Pot Pie with Herb Crust (Dairy Free)

Project Pie: I'll be baking 24 pies before Pi Day 2016 to get over my fear of baking pies. And to eat delicious things. You can join me by posting about your pies in the comments or tagging your twitter, instagram, or facebook posts with #projectpie. Make something gooey and delicious!

Is there a food more comforting than chicken pot pie? As a kid, I loved the little individual pies from the freezer section in their tiny aluminum pie plates. A personal chicken pot pie for dinner usually meant we were eating in front of the television, perhaps the Disney movie on Sunday night, back when there was no Hulu or Netflix and I tore through the Sunday paper to find the tv guide for the week. And then we would all sit down together with our tv trays at 7:00 pm to watch whatever the network gods had chosen for us.

Chicken pot pie always feels to me like a food from another era, an "easier" time. 

I made mine with a single crust (just on top, none on the bottom) to lighten it up a bit and without dairy for my lactose-free lady, who helped out with chopping vegetables and shredding chicken while we listened to a little Miley Cyrus (Party in the USA never gets old) on Pandora. 

Even with the changes and the modern tunes, sitting down to eat this in front of the television on a Sunday night reminded me of childhood, of days when I didn't understand how confusing or messed up the world was or that everyone didn't assemble with their family in the living room to watch the Disney movie of the week. I'm glad for what I've learned since then - about the lives of others, our differences and the ways my story of an easier time was not necessarily accurate. It's made me a better person. But I do still like to sink back into that blissful ignorance, if only for an hour, accompanied by a plate of chicken pot pie.

Dairy Free Chicken Pot Pie with Herb Crust

Pie Crust (makes one crust)
Adapted from Elizabeth Patel 

1.25 cups flour (I used whole wheat)
1/2 cup shortening, cold
1 oz cold water
1 oz cold vodka
2 tablespoons fresh thyme (or other herbs)

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. 
2. Cut your shortening into chunks (best if they're not all uniform in size) and put in the freezer for at least 10 minutes.
3. Add the flour and shortening to your food processor and pulse 8-10 times, or until the mixture looks a little crumbly. Stop before it starts to look like cornmeal. You want some different sized shortening chunks. 
4. Pour in the water, vodka, and fresh herbs and pulse again 8-10 times until the dough starts to come together. Stop before it forms a big ball. 
5. Take the dough out of the food processor. It should all stick together at this point. Wrap the dough in saran wrap and put in the refrigerator until ready to use.
6. When ready, using a rolling pin, roll out dough on a lightly floured surface until it is about an inch wider than your pie plate all the way around. 
7. Pick the crust up by rolling it onto your rolling pin, and place it onto your pie plate. Cut off any excess around the edges, crimp with a fork, and cut several slits in the center. 

Chicken Filling

2 boneless chicken breasts, skin removed
3 tablespoons margarine or olive oil (I used earth balance)
5 carrots, peeled and diced
4 ribs celery, diced
1 onion, diced
1/2 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 cup flour (I used whole wheat)
1 cup frozen peas
3 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons fresh thyme
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Poach the chicken breasts by placing them in a pot with enough water to cover them by 1/2 - 1 inch. Cover and bring to a simmer on medium-high heat. Cook for 15-20 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.
2. While the chicken is cooking, chop your vegetables, then melt the margarine in a pot over medium heat, and pour in all the chopped vegetables. Cook until softened, about 5-7 minutes. Stir in the garlic and flour until fully incorporated.
3. While the vegetables are cooking, shred the poached chicken with a fork. 
4. Pour in the shredded chicken, chicken broth, frozen peas, and herbs. Add salt and pepper. 
5. Cook for another 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently, until the chicken mixture has thickened slightly. 
6. Pour into an oven safe pie plate and top with the rolled out pie crust. 
7. Place pie plate on a baking sheet (to catch drips) and bake at 375 for 25-30 minutes. 

p.s. How to build the perfect meal salad.

Like what you just read? Share it with a friend! You can also follow ktmade on TwitterFacebook, or Instagram so you'll never miss a post. And you'll earn my undying affection!

Project Pie: Very Berry Mousse Pie

Project Pie: I'll be baking 24 pies before Pi Day 2016 to get over my fear of baking pies. And to eat delicious things. You can join me by posting about your pies in the comments or tagging your twitter, instagram, or facebook posts with #projectpie. Make something gooey and delicious!

Saturday afternoon, in the middle of making this pie, I stopped, took myself into my bedroom, and put myself to bed. I gave myself 5 minutes. A time-out to think about my own behavior. 

We had people coming for a not-yet-cooked dinner, the kitchen looked like we'd been bombed, I broke the shell of my pie crust, the coconut cream layer was too thick and wouldn't spread properly, the pie crust was out of proportion to the amount of filling, the sun was going down so I wouldn't be able to get natural light photographs, and I'd done almost nothing on my page-long to-do list. Naturally, I did what any reasonable person would do in this circumstance. I yelled at my wife, slapped a spatula down on the counter (spattering coconut cream everywhere), and had a full-on temper tantrum. 

Unaffected by Navah's attempts at logical problem-solving, I huffed around the kitchen, slamming cabinet doors and muttering under my breath. And then some mildly sane voice, which I suspect was my therapist telepathically sending me messages from her vacation in Turkey, suggested that I walk away for a few minutes. 

So I did.

And I learned what I assume every parent knows. Time-outs are not so much about punishment as they are about resetting. When you're in the middle of the temper tantrum, there's nothing but the temper tantrum. Everything is horrible and unfixable and must be blamed on someone. 

In the five minutes that I lay on my bed, these things happened: 

1. My breathing slowed down. 

2. The thoughts in my brain slowed down. 

3. I realized that the sun would could up again tomorrow, and I could take a picture then. 

4. I had the epiphany that a fruit compote on top of the coconut cream layer would be delicious and would (1) cover up the messiness of the coconut cream layer and (2) increase the height of the filling so it didn't look so stupid in my deep dish pie pan. 

5. I thought, "I love my wife. I'd like to apologize to her and give her a hug."

6. I said a little prayer of thanks that it took less than five minutes for some space in my brain to open up and allow rational, non-panicky thoughts. 

I sat on the edge of the couch and told Navah I was sorry, and we talked about why making a pie had sent me over the edge. "If this doesn't turn out," I told her, "I won't have any recipes for my blog this week. And I'll get behind on Project Pie." 

"Couldn't you write about the failure?" she asked.

I looked at her askance. 

"Wasn't the whole Project Pie thing supposed to be about facing your fear and allowing yourself to mess up?" she asked. 

Oh, how quickly the attitude of play and experimentation gets thrown out the window. 

With just three successful pies under my belt, that old familiar expectation of perfection had plunged me into the worst version of myself. Failure was no longer an option. Especially not with an audience.

And as it turns out, it wasn't a failure. Giving myself the time to step away and let the Perfection Monster slink back into its tidy little corner allowed new ideas to bubble to the surface. The fruit compote saved the day. After Navah and I tried a little of the pie without it, we decided the "fixed" pie was better than it would have been had I not had a few mess-ups in the first place. 

It's a constant practice, this acceptance of imperfection. 

It's better with pie. 

Very Berry Mousse Pie 
Adapted from Spunky Coconut 

Prepare and bake this pie crust (or your favorite) for 10 minutes at 325 degrees. 

Very Berry Mousse

Add to your blender or food processor:

3/4 cup canned coconut milk
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 heaping cup frozen mixed berries
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon gelatin, dissolved in boiling water (add last)

Puree and pour into the cooled crust. Place in the refrigerator to set for at least 30 minutes. 

Coconut Cream Whipped Topping

Add to your blender or food processor:

2 cups coconut cream
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon agave nectar
3/4 tablespoon gelatin, dissolved in boiling water (add last) 

Puree and pour onto the very berry mousse layer. Refrigerator for 30-45 minutes to allow to set up fully. 

Fruit Compote

4 cups frozen mixed berries
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1/2 tablespoon agave nectar

Bring ingredients to boiling over medium-high heat. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer and stir frequently until a jam consistency. Spread onto the cooled coconut cream whipped topping layer. 

p.s. Another coconut cream favorite - four-ingredient vegan chocolate frosting.

Like what you just read? Share it with a friend! You can also follow ktmade on TwitterFacebook, or Instagram so you'll never miss a post. And you'll earn my undying affection!

Project Pie: Passover Chocolate Mousse Pie

Project Pie: I'll be baking 24 pies before Pi Day 2016 to get over my fear of baking pies. And to eat delicious things. You can join me by posting about your pies in the comments or tagging your twitter, instagram, or facebook posts with #projectpie. Make something gooey and delicious!

This chocolate velvet pie is my wife's favorite dessert. It comes with those special feelings that holiday baked goods always have, and it gets bonus points for being adaptable. My mother-in-law served it the first time I spent Passover with Navah's family, and I've made it almost every year since then for Navah's birthday - even with all the various eating restrictions we've worked with over time.

Unfortunately, the making of it has involved a lot of cursing (from me). I can never get the chocolate to melt well and fold into the eggs without getting fudgy, and then it breaks up into little bits throughout the mousse. Navah says it's delicious and she loves it anyway, but it drives me crazy every time.

Once I started the Project Pie challenge, I realized it was time - once and for all - to get this pie right. So I asked my mother-in-law if we could make it together this Passover.

She took out this stained piece of paper with the recipe on it and told me that Navah's aunt (her sister-in-law) found the recipe in a Seventeen magazine when she was sixteen years old, and they've used it ever since, adapting it slightly to meet their Passover needs (aka non-dairy so that it can be served with the meat meal). Navah's mom learned to make it in her mother-in-law's kitchen about 40 years before she taught me to make it in hers. 

We made it with non-dairy whipping cream and kosher for passover semi-sweet baking chocolate, and it turned out perfectly. I'm going to have to try it at home again with the ingredients I generally use - coconut cream and sunspire grain-sweetened chocolate chips - to see if precisely following my mother-in-law's method will turn out a smoother pie. 

Of course, you can make this with regular whipping cream if dairy isn't an issue.

Passover Chocolate Mousse Pie (non-dairy)

7 ounces semi-sweet baking chocolate
3 tablespoons hot water
7 eggs, separated
2/3 cup sugar, separated
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup non-dairy whipping cream
pinch of salt

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a large mixing bowl, beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff peaks form. Gently fold in 1/3 cup of sugar and set aside.
3. In a separate bowl, beat the egg yolks with the other 1/3 cup sugar until lemon yellow.
4. Melt the chocolate and water over the stove or in the microwave. Watch closely and stop the heat (either on the stove or in the microwave) before the chocolate has completely melted. Stir to complete the melting process.
5. Mix the melted chocolate into the egg yolks.
6. Gently fold the chocolate mixture into the egg whites that you set aside earlier.
7. Pour half of the mix into a greased pie plate and bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. This chocolate crust should rise a bit but will sink while you let it cool (for at least 1 hour).
8. Once the crust is cool, whip one cup of the cream, reserving 1/4 cup for garnish.
9. Add the remaining 3/4 cup whipped cream to the remaining chocolate mixture and pour into the pie crust.
10. Place in the refrigerator for 2 hours - overnight.
11. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream.

p.s. As the snow melts and Spring comes to Vermont in earnest, this is something I'll be worrying about again soon.

Like what you just read? Share it with a friend! You can also follow ktmade on TwitterFacebook, or Instagram so you'll never miss a post. And you'll earn my undying affection!

Project Pie: Whole Wheat Maple Apple Pie

Project Pie: I'll be baking 24 pies before Pi Day 2016 to get over my fear of baking pies. And to eat delicious things. You can join me by posting about your pies in the comments or tagging your twitter, instagram, or facebook posts with #projectpie. Make something gooey and delicious!

After I announced my pie-baking intentions last week, I got a super nice email from Elizabeth sharing a pie crust recipe that she promised was "crazy easy." It was so kind of her to send the email ("I figure if you find a recipe that works, share the hell out of it, because sometimes finding good yummy recipes is not always easy."), and it pushed me from thinking about baking another pie to actually baking another pie this weekend. 

And she was right. Crazy easy pie crust - even with whole wheat. 

I went with an apple pie for #2. And here's the thing about apples: I am super picky about apples for eating straight. An apple must be crisp, juicy, and sweet. Not tough or grainy or mealy or tasteless or soft or bitter. I simply won't eat it. And this time of year can be a little rough on that front. My favorites are Honey Crisp and Pink Lady, but those are difficult to come by. What I see a lot of are big bags of apples that I don't really love to eat - Macintosh, Macoun, Empire. Generally not good for eating (in my opinion), especially when they've been stored since the Fall, but they are excellent for cooking. 

Those bagged apples were just begging me to make an apple pie. 

And thank goodness because apple pie is freaking delicious. I forgot a little bit until my taste buds reminded me. 

Of course everything we make in this house is a little bit wacky, so our apple pie has a 100% whole wheat pie crust (delicious) and is sweetened with maple syrup and coconut palm sugar (also delicious) and no refined sugars. But I would happily feed it to guests with no food restrictions. It's that's good. 

Navah proclaimed it the best thing I've ever baked. 

Maple Apple Pie (whole wheat, without refined sugar)

100% Whole Wheat Crust

2.5 cups flour (I used white whole wheat)
2 sticks (or 1 cup) butter or margarine (I used earth balance)
2 ounces cold water
2 ounces vodka

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. 
2. Cut your butter into chunks (best if they're not all uniform in size) and put in the freezer for at least 10 minutes.
3. Add the flour and butter to your food processor and pulse 8-10 times, or until the mixture looks a little crumbly. Stop before it starts to look like cornmeal. You want some different sized buttery chunks. 
4. Pour in the water and vodka and pulse again 8-10 times until the dough starts to come together. Stop before it forms a big ball. 
5. Take the dough out of the food processor. It should all stick together at this point. Separate the dough into two equal chunks. Using a rolling pin, roll out 1 chunk of dough on a lightly floured surface until it is about an inch wider than your pie plate all the way around. 
6. Pick the crust up by rolling it onto your rolling pin and place it into your pie plate. Cut off any excess around the edges and put the crust into the refrigerator to chill while you make the apple filling. 
7. Wrap the other chunk of dough in saran wrap and put into the refrigerator. 

Maple Apple Filling

5-6 apples (I used Macintosh)
1 tablespoon butter or margarine (again, I used earth balance)
2 tablespoons whole wheat flour (I used white whole wheat)
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon lemon juice

1. Peel and cut up the apples - I used a simple corer/slicer and then cut each slice two more times lengthwise. 
2. Put the apples into a microwave-safe bowl and microwave for 5-6 minutes. 
3. Drain the liquid from the apples and then add in the rest of the ingredients and mix until incorporated. 

Putting the pie together

1. Pour the apple mixture into your chilled pie crust. 
2. Roll out your second chunk of dough until it's about 1/8 inch thick and use cookie cutters to cut out shapes. 
3. Place the shapes onto the pie crust in a pattern that suits your fancy. 
4. Bake the pie at 375 degrees for 1 hour. If the edges start to brown or burn, use tin foil to cover them and continue cooking. 
5. Serve warm. 

As you can see from the pictures, I'm not perfect at pie crust making - the edges of my crust don't go over the edge of the pie plate. I underestimated how much crust (and how many apples) I would need to fill up the deep dish pie pan. But the idea here was to bake more pies and to stop feeling intimidated, not to be perfect. Remember the rules?

1. Make some pies.
2. Don't cry if they're not perfect.

Anyone else out there baking a pie this week? What kind? I need ideas for pie #3!

p.s. This vegan apple crisp is another great way to use those bagged apples.

Chocolate Raspberry Chia Parfait

What is it about layered desserts that sets my mouth watering? I've always loved the process of dipping down into a parfait to get a little bit of each delicious element on a single spoonful. There's a bit of a challenge built into every layered dish - can you eat this is just the right ratio that every bite has a little bit of every thing until the very end?

Just me?

This chocolate raspberry chia parfait was the most delectable challenge.

If you're not familiar with chia seeds, they look like...well, like teeny tiny little seeds. But when they mix with liquid, they puff up and become a little gelatinous - a bit like a smaller version of tapioca. And I love tapioca. They're also crazy good for you with all their fiber and calcium.

So when you eat this parfait, you can pat yourself on the back for making excellent, healthy food choices.

Chocolate Raspberry Chia Parfait

Chocolate Chia Pudding Layer:
2 cups almond milk
3 tablespoons chia seeds
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Quickly blend all ingredients together in your blender and then pour into a bowl with a lid. (If you don't have a blender, you can stir them all together - the cocoa powder will be a little difficult to incorporate.)
2. Place in the refrigerator overnight or for at least 2 hours.
3. For the raspberry chia jam layer and the whipped coconut cream, follow this recipe (just the jam) and this recipe from Oh She Glows.
4. Once the chocolate pudding layer is set, place a few tablespoons of the pudding into a pretty glass, then a couple tablespoons of the raspberry chia jam, then a few more tablespoons of the pudding, and then top with a dollop of whipped coconut cream and a raspberry.
5. Serve and enjoy!

p.s. Want more chocolate? I've been thinking about these almond butter and jam chocolates a lot lately...

Like what you read? Never miss a post: follow me on twitter, instagram, or facebook

Cornmeal and Rye Whole Grain Waffles

Oh, Waffles. 

Waffles are at the same time easy and quite difficult.  On the one hand, you've got the appliance to make the things right there on your counter - a waffle maker.  Just pour the batter in, close the top, and presto! - a waffle.  But then what, really, is the quality of that waffle?

It takes just the right batter and just the right time in the waffle maker so that when you open the top, the waffle that comes out is tasty, a little crispy on the outside, and soft and spongy on the inside.  I can't claim to have invented that perfect waffle, but I can claim to know a good thing when I've found it.

It's not the first time I've relied on King Arthur's Whole Grain Baking and it won't be the last.  It's the only cookbook I've unpacked since we moved.  I can't figure out where to put the lot of them in the kitchen, but that one's sitting right on the counter.  This recipe in particular results in a waffle with a deep, nutty flavor and a moist crumb.  It pairs perfectly with berries, like the simple raspberry compote I made with frozen raspberries and a little apple cider.  It's my favorite waffle for a weekend morning.

But I don't stop with just the weekends on this one.  I always make a few extra, tear them into their four pieces, freeze them on a cookie tray, and then put them into ziploc bags in the freezer.  On a busy morning, I can pop them in the toaster oven and have them with a little almond butter and jam for a quick breakfast.  They're the weekend waffles that keep on giving.

And don't be turned off by the rye flour! The flavors meld together really nicely.  And while I was doing a little research for this post (to try to figure out what exactly rye tastes like because I had previously assumed it wasn't yummy), I discovered that the mix of rye and cornmeal is what makes up the Ingalls' families "rye n' injun bread" (her words, not mine) in the Little House on the Prairie series.  So, Laura Ingalls ate it, and that's always a good reason to try anything.  

Cornmeal and Rye Whole Grain Waffles
Adapted from King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking

3 cups non-dairy milk mixed with 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (or buttermilk)
2 eggs
6 tablespoons earth balance (or butter), melted
2 cups yellow cornmeal
1 cup whole rye flour
1/4 cup coconut palm sugar (or you can use regular sugar)
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon baking soda

1.  Whisk together the non-dairy milk (I use almond milk) and apple cider and let sit.
2.  Melt the butter and whisk with the eggs in a medium bowl.  
3.  In a separate bowl, blend the dry ingredients.  Then mix the non-dairy milk mixture in with the butter and eggs.  Quickly and gently combine the wet and the dry ingredients.  
4.  This is important:  Let the batter sit for 10 minutes to allow the cornmeal to soften.  The resulting batter will be quite thick.
5.  Preheat your waffle iron and spray with a nonstick cooking spray if necessary.  When the iron is ready, drop the batter onto it by 3/4-cupfuls (depending on the size of your waffle maker) and bake until the iron stops steaming, approximately 3-5 minutes.  I like to err on the longer side so that my waffles are nice and crispy on the outside.  
6.  Serve with maple syrup or a fruit compote.  Or both!

Pistachio and Coconut Stuffed Dates

One of my favorite new food blogs is Cassie's Back to Her Roots.  Her focus is on healthy cooking and  living, but she doesn't go overboard with it.  As she says, "Now I understand that kale, birthday cake, rest days, flax seeds, strenuous hikes and good beer can all be healthy."  Cassie doesn't forgo all the pleasure of good food in favor of a smaller pant size.  Instead, she takes a holistic approach - good food (some hardcore healthy meals, some a little more decadent, but all made with good wholesome ingredients), lots of enjoyable physical activity, and a commitment to self care.

I swear, every time I read one of her posts, I feel better about life.

Besides that, she's just smart in the kitchen.  Her salads in a jar are genius, and her Sunday food prep regime has me spending a little extra time preparing on the weekends and being so glad for it during the busy week.

A couple weekends ago, I tried my hand at one of her recipes, and it was a huge success.

In preparation for a potluck, I made her stuffed dates and dipped one end in chocolate, a little added excitement that she mentioned in the brilliant post about how she preps food for the week.

They were a huge hit.  I had none to take home, and several people specifically sought me out to tell me how delicious they were.  Potluck score.

I followed Cassie's pistachio and coconut stuffed dates recipe completely.  And after they were all stuffed, I melted chocolate chips in a bowl in the microwave, dipped one end of the dates in and then let them cool on some parchment paper in the fridge.  (We use Sunspire grain-sweetened chocolate chips, which we buy in the bulk section of our local health food store.)

The bad news was that I discovered I'm allergic to pistachios.  Major fail.  I developed a cashew allergy as an adult that's gotten progressively worse in the last few years.  And now pistachios are also on the no-eat list.  What a shame.  I'd forgotten how delicious they are.

I'll have to come up with another version - maybe with pecans...

Healthy Decadence: Pumpkin Pancakes with Coconut Fried Bananas

One of my favorite things about the weekend is the breakfast.  Sure, I love my weekday smoothies or a nice bowl of oatmeal, but I get really excited when there's something decadent on the menu.  And that happens on the weekend.

We usually split the days:  one morning of making something delicious at home, one of heading out for brunch.  And though my brunch meal this weekend was great, I can say honestly that it wasn't as good as these homemade pancakes.

The hearty, subtly sweet flavor of the pancakes combined with the decadent, gooey bananas made this perhaps my most successful weekend breakfast ever.

And the good news is that these pancakes aren't only delicious - they're healthy.  Simple ingredients, one hundred percent whole wheat flour, and no refined sugar.

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Pancakes with Coconut Fried Bananas
Adapted from whole wheat pumpkin pancIn akes 

For the pancakes:
1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 tablespoon maple syrup
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups milk (I used unsweetened almond milk)
1 cup pumpkin puree (I used canned pumpkin)
1 egg
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
coconut oil for frying

For the bananas:
Follow the instructions found here

1.  Mix together the wet ingredients in a large bowl (including the pumpkin).
2. Quickly wisk together the dry ingredients in a separate bowl, and then pour the dry ingredients into the wet, mixing completely.
3.  Pour 1 tablespoon of coconut oil (or melt 1 tablespoon in the pan if your coconut oil is in a solid state) into a frying pan over medium heat.
4.  Scoop about 1/4 cup of batter into the pan for each pancake.
5.  When large bubbles appear in the center of the pancakes and they start to lose the shiny look of batter, flip them over.  (Note: Because of the pumpkin, these will likely need to cook a little longer and on a lower heat than your average pancakes so that they're not too gooey on the inside.)
6.  While the pancakes are cooking, prepare the bananas as instructed here
7.  Create a stack of finished pancakes, topping with the carmelized bananas, a sprinkle of coconut, and a drizzle of maple syrup. 
8.  Enjoy!


Thai Red Curry

I go through fits and spurts with cookbooks.  I tend to find most of my recipes from blogs, but every now and then I get a longing to lay a book out on the counter and splatter it with all sorts of ingredients.  There are two that I turn to most - my beloved King Arthur Whole Grain Baking and Moosewood Restaurant Cooking for Health.  They rarely disappoint.

I made this recipe for the first time last week, and I was completely wowed by it.  I wish you could smell through the computer because even before you taste this, the smell is divine.

The Most Valuable Player award goes 100% to the lime leaves.  Do not leave those out.  (I bought them in the produce area with the herbs.)  Just by floating in the coconut milk as it cooks, they give the dish that distinctive Thai flavor.  And I might have developed a habit of randomly pulling the bag of them out of the refrigerator, snicking my nose in, and inhaling deeply.  Might have.

Thai Red Curry
From Moosewood Restaurant Cooking for Health

8 ounces firm tofu, cut into cubes
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoon grated, peeled ginger root
4 teaspoons coconut oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup minced shallots or onions
1 tablespoon red curry paste
1 14-ounce can coconut milk
1 cup water
2 Thai lime leaves
1 cup sliced carrots
3 cups bite-sized cauliflower florets
1 cup cut green beans (I used frozen)
1 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon lime juice
Grain of choice for serving (I used quinoa)

1.  Toss the tofu cubes, soy sauce, and 1/2 tablespoon of the grated ginger (I actually use minced ginger that I get in a har - it's one of my time-savers and means I'm not constantly throwing away dried up nubs of ginger that I forgot about).  Set aside for at least 15 minutes while you chop the vegetables.

2.  Prepare your grain of choice according to the package directions.

3.  Warm 2 teaspoons coconut oil in a soup pot on medium heat.  Drain the tofu and reserve the liquid.  Cook for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the tofu is golden.

4.  After the tofu is golden, remove it from the soup pot and put it back in the bowl with the marinade.  To the soup pot, on medium-high heat, add the remaining 2 teaspoons of oil, the remaining tablespoon of ginger, the garlic, shallots or onions, and red curry paste.  Cook for about a minute, stirring constantly to prevent scorching.  Stir in the coconut milk, water, and lime leaves and bring to boil on high heat.

5.  Stir in the carrots and cauliflower, bring back to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.  Add the green beans and simmer for 2 minutes.  Then add the bell peppers, basil, tofu cubes, and reserved marinade.  Return to a simmer for 2-3 minutes until all the vegetables are crisp-tender.  Finally, stir in the lime juice and serve with the quinoa (or other grain).

Five Ingredient Chocolate Nut Butter Cups (Sugar-free!)

The chocolate options for a person who's lactose intolerant and  doesn't eat sugar have exploded in the last few years.  At one of our local health food stores, we can buy peppermint patties and dark chocolate bars sweetened with honey, agave nectar, or coconut palm sugar.  We even recently found hot chocolate mix sweetened with coconut sugar.  And our favorite grain-sweetened chocolate chips are back in stock in the bulk section.

It's a far cry from the days when I used to sweeten my own chocolate and break it up into chunks so I could make chocolate chip cookies for my sweetie.  

But a girl who loves a cooking challenge can't stop when there are so many exciting ideas out there. When Angela from Oh She Glows posted this recipe for making your own vegan chocolate candies, I knew I had to try it.  Chocolate and maple syrup sounds just about as good as it gets.  

Well, until I decided to add in almond butter.

And jam.

Then...well, then I was in heaven. 

Five Ingredient Chocolate Nut Butter Cups
Adapted from Easy Homemade Vegan Chocolate

1 cup cacao butter chunks
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup maple syrup, at room temperature
1/4 cup almond butter (or nut butter of your choice)
2 tablespoons jam (we used fig preserves sweetened with white grape juice)
(optional: a pinch of sea salt)

1.  Melt the cacao butter over low heat, stirring continuously.
2.  Once it is melted, stir in the cocoa powder and maple syrup.  Add in the sea salt if you're using it.
3.  Pour the melted chocolate into a blender and blend for a few seconds.  Be careful to allow the steam to release before blending so that your blender doesn't explode!
4.  Using 12 silicone mini muffin cups, pour a little layer of chocolate into the bottom of each cup. 
5.  Let the muffin cups sit for a few minutes in the refrigerator while you quickly mix together the nut butter and jam.
6.  Take the muffin cups back out, put a dollop of nut butter/jam mixture into each cup, and then pour the rest of the chocolate into each cup to cover the nut butter/jam mixture. 
7.  Freeze for about 30 minutes and then enjoy.

Store in the refrigerator, and try not to eat them all in one sitting.  :)


Beer and Sausage Pasta

A few months ago, Ashley of (never)homemaker posted a recipe for crockpot vegetable soup, and she used beer in place of the vegetable stock.  I tried her recipe when my family was here for the holidays, and my mind was blown.  The turkey stock in my freezer may never get used.  It's beer from here on out.

The richness of flavor that the beer brings an otherwise average meal is just unbeatable.  So I've been trying it in everything imaginable.  And this one is by far my favorite.  We've had it twice in the last month, which doesn't seem like that much but is a lot for me.  I'm generally pretty flighty with my food choices.  But I was actually craving this dish after we had it.  The mix of all the different flavors - the smoothness of the sweet potatoes, the spicy sausage, the tangy sun-dried tomatoes, the beer.  Absolutely delicious.

Though there's a little prep time, this pasta is a cinch to make, and it could easily be a dish you serve over rice or quinoa or with mashed potatoes if that's your thing instead of pasta.  I think we'll be having it with quinoa at some point in the future.  Probably not too far in the future, actually...

Beer and Sausage Pasta

1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 sweet potato, diced
1 pound sausage (I used Bilinski's chicken andouille-flavored sausage), chopped
4 large leaves curly kale, thinly chopped
4 cloves minced garlic
6 sun-dried tomatoes, diced
1/2 pound pasta of your choice (I used fusilli)
1 can beer of your choice (I used Budweiser)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
Olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

1.  In a pan over medium heat, saute the onions in olive oil.  Add oregano, thyme, and salt and pepper to taste.  Stir occasionally and cook until the onions begin to soften, about five minutes.
2.  While the onions are cooking, steam the diced sweet potato until soft (about ten minutes) and put the pasta water on to boil.
3.  Once the onions are soft, move them to the edges of the pan and put the sausage in the middle of the pan.  Turn up the heat just a bit and resist the urge to stir too much!  Let the sausage brown a bit before turning it and letting it cook a bit more.
4.  When the sausage has browned a little on the outside, add in the garlic and the sun-dried tomatoes and pour in the beer.  Turn down the heat to medium low and let it all simmer and get good and beer-y. This is probably around the time your pasta water will be boiling and ready for the pasta.
5.  Once about half of the beer has reduced down, add in the kale and put the top on to allow the kale to wilt for about five minutes.
6.  When the pasta is finished cooking, drain it and mix the pasta with the sausage.  Serve immediately with a good, hearty whole wheat bread.

*The first time I made this dish, I mixed in a couple of tablespoons of nutritional yeast at the end of the sausage mixture cooking time.  It adds a bit of creaminess that I liked.  I'll probably make it both ways in the future.  

100% Whole Wheat Bread

I've taken to baking bread on the weekends - a simple loaf  made of 100% whole wheat flour.  The recipe* comes from the gods of whole grain baking, the King Arthur Flour company.  
I love the feel of the dough under my hands, the way I end up measuring time by the number of minutes left for rising, the smell from the oven.  And then finally, after a day of waiting expectantly, the  luxurious act of spreading butter (or earth balance) on a warm piece of bread.  We always cut it before we're supposed to.  We never let it cool enough.  How could we? 
We eat those first warm bites with our eyes closed, sighing in gratitude for the way a little bit of yeast can turn flour and water into this nutty goodness.  For days, we eat the bread in unfortunate quantities - slathered in butter, covered with a bit of cheese, or just plain, sneaking off a slice before dinner.   And then it's gone and we look forward to the next weekend and another day that ends with a warm loaf from the oven.

*  I make a few changes to the recipe for our needs.  I use dry soy milk instead of regular dry milk, and I use 1/4 cup orange juice in place of part of the water, which tempers the bitterness of the whole wheat a bit.  I sweeten ours with maple syrup.

Freezer Vegetarian Chili

Several years ago Navah and I read Barbara Kingsolver's Animal Vegetable Miracle, where the author narrates her family's year of local-eating.  They limited themselves to only food grown within one hundred miles of their Virginia homestead, so it makes sense that their kitchen was very season-specific.  Summer found it overflowing with a bounty of fruits and vegetables, literally drowning in piles of zucchini.  In Fall, they enjoyed crisp apples and some of the later vegetables and checked their pantry and freezer to make sure they had enough stored away for the winter.  

I adored the book and finished it with an overwhelming desire to hang garlic up to dry over my kitchen sink and hunt for morels on a hillside and buy bushels of tomatoes to freeze or can, to draw on all those years relishing the chore-filled, season-driven lives of the Little House on the Prairie clan.  

But at the time I was reading it, I was lying on a beach in Costa Rica, buying rice and beans for every meal from tiny little restaurants.  And by the time we were back home in our DC highrise apartment, I had forgotten.  

Perhaps one day I'll lead a life so close to the earth that my kitchen will follow the seasons, and I'll finally become one with my inner Laura Ingalls Wilder.  But now the days fly by me so fast most of the time.  A season's gone before I realize that my canning pot hasn't moved from the top of the refrigerator.  

So when I stepped outside to walk Jammer about a week ago and had to run back in for a warmer jacket, the thought that came right after "ooh, it's FALL!" was "ooh, I need to FREEZE something!"

With a potluck on the calendar for that evening, a giant pot of chili seemed like a winner.  I could make a big enough batch that I'd have enough to bring to the potluck and enough to freeze for some cold winter night down the road.

And a big batch it was.  We brought about seven servings to the potluck and were able to put at least that many in the freezer.

Freezer Vegetarian Chili

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion
1/2 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon ground pepper
2 teaspoons cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1/4 teaspoon chipotle chili power
1/4 teaspoon paprika
4 cloves garlic 
2 fifteen-oz cans of kidney beans
2 fifteen-oz cans of black beans
2 fifteen-oz cans of navy beans
1 fifteen-oz can of Amy's medium chili with vegetables (my "secret" ingredient)
1 eight-oz can of tomato sauce
four tomatoes
1 each green, red, and yellow pepper
1/2 bag frozen corn
1 cup bulgur wheat

1.  Dice the onion and saute in a large pot over medium heat in the olive oil.  Add in the salt, pepper, chili powder, garlic, and half the cumin.  Cook, stirring occasionally, for about five minutes, or until the onions begin to soften and turn clear.  

2.  Add in the chopped peppers and tomatoes.  Cook together for about five minutes.

3.  Add in the beans, tomato sauce, corn, bulgur wheat and remaining spices (including the other half of the cumin).  Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.  Let cook with the top on for 1-2 hours, checking occasionally to be sure the bottom isn't burning.  

It's so simple but really delicious.  Once the soup cools, ladle it into your freezer-safe containers and look forward to pulling some out on a cold night this winter!


Simple tomato and hearts of palm salad

We went to a goodbye party for a friend last night.  Like many Burlington shindigs, it was a potluck.  I showed up with this salad, which made it one of three tomato-based salads on the table.  

Yes, it's tomato season here in Vermont.

And while we never got around to growing our own veggies this year, we're definitely benefitting from other people's abundance.  We have twice now been graced with overflowing baskets of beautifully colored tomatoes, and I am loving it. 

I'm happy to just cut them up and eat them with a little salt.  Or on a tomato sandwich (the only time you will see me slather mayonnaise onto a slice of bread).  But I really love them as the base for this salad.  

Simple tomato and hearts of palm salad

3-5 ripe tomatoes 
1/4 red onion
1 can hearts of palm, drained
2 tablespoons Newman's Own olive oil and vinegar salad dressing* (or oil and vinegar)
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons honey
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1.  Roughly chop tomatoes, onion, and hearts of palm and toss into a salad bowl.
2.  Whisk together the salad dressing, dijon mustard, honey, salt,  and pepper. 
3.  Pour the dressing over the salad and mix gently until all the vegetables are covered.
4.  Eat!

*I love oil and vinegar-based salad dressings, but I often struggle with getting just the right proportion of oil to vinegar.  While housesitting last month, I discovered this salad dressing in our friend's refrigerator.  I've been hooked ever since.  It has no sugar or other unnecessary ingredients, and it's a great base for my salad dressing concoctions. 


Interested in guest posting on ktmade? I'm especially looking for folks who would like to submit posts on creative topics, including food, craft, home decor, writing, and craft/life balance for the weeks of September 10-21. Email me at ktmadeblog [at] gmail [dot] com.

Beet Risotto

I love beets.  

And I love any opportunity to incorporate beets into my diet in interesting ways.  I'm even hoping to use some beets in a dye sometime - they're certainly an exquisite color.

This beet risotto gives me a little of both worlds.  

How often do you get to eat a savory fuchsia dish?!  Sometimes I try to avoid the beet color infusing my entire meal, but with this risotto, it's just plain fun!

And delicious to boot.

The sweetness of the beets combined with the creamy coconut milk and the nutty flavor of the brown rice makes for a complex dish that could work as a side or on its own.  

I had it as my entree for lunch today, but I've also served it alongside a salad and some grilled chicken.

Beet Brown Rice Risotto
Adapted from Group Recipes

1/4 cup Earth Balance (or butter)
6 small beets or 3 medium beets, peeled and chopped
1 medium chopped onion
1 cup short grain brown rice
1 cup vegetable broth
1/2 cup water
1 can coconut milk
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper, to taste

1.  Melt earth balance in large pot over medium heat.
2.  Add onions and beets, salt and pepper to taste, and cook approximately 10 minutes until onion is soft.
3.  Mix in rice and all liquid ingredients and reduce the heat to medium low.  
4.  Simmer gently uncovered until beets and onions are soft and risotto is creamy, stirring occasionally. Probably about 20-30 minutes. 

Enjoy the colorful deliciousness!


Broccoli Arugula and Squash Soup

It's a little strange to be sharing a soup recipe in July, I suppose.  There are some of you will set this aside for the winter, but soup's an all-year-round dinner for me.  It's not what I reach for in the middle of the day when I'm sitting outside in the sun.  But at night, when I'm cozied in for the evening, soup is comforting - especially on those nights up here where things really cool down.  

I made this soup when I was doing a cleanse a couple years ago, and then I forgot about it.  I remembered it when I did the cleanse this time, and now, with a few modifications, it has become a staple of our diet.  

The coolest thing about it is that - for the most part - it's incredibly seasonal.  All the veggies in this pot came from the farm CSA that we got while we were housesitting.  

Broccoli Arugula and Squash Soup
Adapted from GOOP

One onion, chopped
One head broccoli, chopped
One zucchini, chopped
One summer squash, chopped
4 cups vegetable broth
One can coconut milk
Two cups arugula
Salt and pepper to taste

1.  In large pot over medium heat, saute onions in olive oil with salt and pepper for 3 - 5 minutes.
2.  Add in the broccoli, zucchini, and summer squash and saute, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes. 
3.  Pour in the vegetable broth and bring to boiling.  Then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 10-15 minutes.  
4.  Pour in the coconut milk and the arugula, adding more salt and pepper at this point if necessary.
5.  Using either an immersion blender or a traditional blender, blend the soup until smooth.  (If you're using a traditional blender, blend in small batches or allow the soup to cool before blending so that you don't blow the top off your blender.)
6.  Serve with a little dollop of coconut cream (or sour cream or yogurt if you can do dairy) and a slice of crusty bread. 

The blend of the broccoli and peppery arugula with the creamy coconut milk is absolutely delicious. And the zucchini and squash give it a little more substance.

I hope you enjoy!


Chunky CSA Spaghetti

We didn't get our acts together this year in time to sign up for a CSA (community supported agriculture).  We hoof it to the farmers market a lot, but I'm apt to buy less there than I would get in a weekly box from the farm.  The folks we're housesitting for belong to a CSA, and the abundance of veggies at our disposal is quite nice.  And we're under strict orders to eat them all so they don't go bad.

Yes ma'am!

A chunky veggie-ful spaghetti sounded like just the thing to me.  And it's quick, which is especially nice these days, especially now that our commute from work is a wee bit longer.

I love a good recipe that involves just throwing whatever you have into the mix (as shown here and here and here), and this one's no different.  I used the veggies I had - carrots, zucchini, yellow squash, broccoli, onions, and garlic scapes.  But you could use whatever you have around - cauliflower, kale, spinach, bok choy, mushrooms, green onions.  I wouldn't generally think of root vegetables (aside from carrots) in there, but let me know if you try that out!

The cool thing about CSAs (aside from the tons of delicious veggies at a lower cost than the farmers market) is that you get vegetables you might not buy on your own.  And then you figure out how to cook with them.  I only learned what a garlic scape was a couple years ago, but I always love when they show up.  They look a little like a more substantial, swirly green onion, and they taste like garlic.  They're more mild, though, so you wouldn't put them in at the beginning of a dish like you would with actual garlic because the flavor will just cook out.  I chop them up (down to the white part and then stop) and throw them in at the last minute - just so they can get a little soft.  They give a really nice fresh garlic flavor.

And who doesn't love that?

Chunky CSA Spaghetti

1 onion
1 zucchini
1 yellow squash
2 carrots
1/2 head broccoli
5-6 garlic scapes
1 12 oz jar strained tomatoes
1 package pasta (we used brown rice spaghetti)
2 teaspoons oregano
1 1/2 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon rosemary
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil

1.  Chop all the vegetables into whatever size suits your fancy.
2.  Saute the onions and carrots in olive oil over medium heat with salt until soft.
3.  Add in the zucchini, squash, broccoli and the rest of the seasoning.  Stir occasionally, making sure that the bottom doesn't burn.  
4.  Prepare the pasta according to package directions.
5.  Once all the vegetables have begun to soften, add in the garlic scapes and continue to saute for 3-5 minutes.
6.  Pour in the strained tomatoes and let simmer for 3-5 minutes.
7.  Mix with your pasta, and enjoy!


Green Tea Mango Smoothie

I've concocted a lot of different smoothie combinations over the last few weeks, and this one is the winner. No doubt about it. I've made it three times in the last week.

It's super easy to make, especially if you brew your tea the night before so that it has a chance to cool. Otherwise, you'll be like me - waiting anxiously while it sits in the freezer. If you wanted a frothier smoothie, you could also freeze the green tea in ice cube trays and have it on the ready whenever you want one. 

Because green tea does have a little caffeine (unless it's decaffeinated like mine is), this is a great smoothie for a summer morning if you're attempting to cut back on your coffee consumption.

And it gets bonus points for making you feel like you're on an island. 

Green Tea Mango Smoothie

1 cup brewed green tea, cold
1 1/2 cups diced mango (I like to do a mix of both fresh and frozen)
1 pitted medjool date (optional, for added sweetness)

Blend together, and you're done.


I hope you're all looking forward to wonderful summer weekends! See you on Monday!


PS - Remember how I'm speaking at the same conference as Katie Couric?  Well, I'm also speaking at the same conference as Martha Stewart. It's official, y'all - I'm famous. 

Artichoke and Asparagus Quinoa Risotto (GF, vegan, sugar-free)

Quinoa's on the menu at our place a lot these days. As a complete protein, it's an excellent way to get extra nutrients into a simple and delicious meal like a risotto. For a potluck we attended last night, I whipped this up so I'd be sure we had something healthy to put on our plates.

It was a hit with everyone - we didn't have a smidge to bring home!

It's a pretty easy but time-intensive dish, so you'll need to leave yourself at least an hour to prepare it when you can be close to the stove. 

If you've never cooked with quinoa before, give it a try. It packs more nutrients than rice - even brown rice - and the subtle nutty flavor is really excellent.

Artichoke and Asparagus Quinoa Risotto

1 can of artichokes in water
1 bunch of asparagus
1 cup of quinoa, dry
1 tablespoon coconut oil (or other oil)
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1 cup vegetable broth
1 cup almond milk 
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
1/2 tablespoon white miso
1 tablespoon lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste 

1.  Chop and steam the asparagus until bright green and slightly tender.
2.  While the asparagus is steaming, add the quinoa, spices, and coconut oil to a pan over medium heat. Stir it all in the pot to ensure that the quinoa is coated, especially if the coconut oil is still hard.
3. Once the quinoa starts to sizzle and pop a bit, add in the broth, almond milk, nutritional yeast, miso, and salt and pepper.  Allow to come to a rolling boil, and then reduce to a sizzle and cover. Stir again ever 5-10 minutes. This is a good time to do some dishes or putter around the kitchen. Music helps. Resist the urge to leave or it might burn.
4. Once the quinoa starts to soak up a lot of the liquid and you notice there's not much left in the pan, do a quick taste test to see whether it's soft. If the quinoa seems too crunch, you might want to add a little more liquid. You can add in more broth or milk or a little water in 1/4 cup increments. You don't want it to be soupy or mushy - just creamy and soft. 
5. Once the quinoa is finished - all the liquid is incorporated and the quinoa itself is soft and perhaps slightly chewy (not crunch) - mix in the asparagus and the drained can of artichokes along with the lemon. Add a little more salt and pepper if necessary and serve. 



{UPDATE:  Check out my friend Tori's comment below if you're interested in some non-vegan substitutions!}

Paging Jack Lalanne

I have tried to take an appetizing picture of the juice I've been making with my new juicer. 

It's not possible. 

I'll show you a picture of apples instead. 

They're in the juice. 

So I'm juicing. 

The impetus was a cleanse that I'm doing for the next three weeks. It's the most moderate one out there, and I could technically do the "liquid meal" portion with smoothies, like I normally make in the mornings. But I decided that I needed something to keep me excited about it while I'm doing without the things I crave (mainly sugar and cheesy things). And a fun new kitchen appliance does the trick. 

I bought a countertop version - the Waring Pro Juice Extractor - because many of them are huge and would've taken up all the available counter space in our kitchen. 

This one's not tiny, but it's manageable.

And it makes juice!

I know other folks have been doing it for years, but I'm still fascinated by the idea that you can shove a piece of kale down there, and JUICE comes out. From KALE. 

It's pretty awesome, and I've started out with the most basic green juice - a mix of kale, green apples, lemon, cucumber, and sometimes celery. Oh, and I've thrown some ginger in too. 

The flavor takes a little getting used to - it's not sweet but the green apples and the lemon help to make it not to bitter either. It's growing on me - it's refreshing, and I think once I start playing around with some other fruits and veggies in there - beets, carrots, parsley - I'll really start to enjoy it. Of course, yesterday I slipped up and accidentally called it grass juice instead of green juice. So maybe that's saying something?

Either way, the idea is to pump myself full of healthy fruits and veggies, and it certainly does that.

I may break the bank, though. The one glass of juice I made last night had 6 leaves of kale, 4 stalks of celery, 2 green apples, 1 cucumber, 1 lemon, and a bit of ginger! That's a lot of produce. 

Once I'm off the cleanse, I think juicing will become something I do occasionally - maybe once or twice a week - or else I'd have to get a second job just to keep paying for the vegetables. 

Of course, I'm eating a lot less of the other stuff - cheese and bread and donuts (I've developed an unfortunate Dunkin Donuts problem up here). So the cost might not be as much as I think it is in relation to what I would've been spending otherwise. 

Either way, I'm hoping to share a few juicing recipes here over the next three weeks, along with some new smoothie recipes, and maybe even a couple new healthy meals. 

Do you juice?