Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Curry Powder

I made this curry powder recipe after using up my current supply of store-bought curry powder. The only ingredient I had to buy was fenugreek seeds. I easily found it at my natural foods store with their bulk spices. I got just enough for two recipes worth since I won't be using it for anything else currently.

Stores that have a get-your-own bulk herbs and spices are great for being able to do this without spending a lot of money to try it. I like being able to have a variety this way and it's more authentic too.

Curry Powder

1 stick of cinnamon, 3 inches long, or 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
10 cardamom pods or 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
8 whole cloves or 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
3 teaspoons cumin seeds or ground cumin
2 teaspoons peppercorns or 1 teaspoon pepper (I used less)
2 teaspoons coriander seeds or 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon turmeric
3 teaspoons fenugreek seeds or 2 teaspoons ground fenugreek

If using whole spices, combine all ingredients, except cardamom pods and coriander seeds. Grind and sift cardamom pods and coriander seeds separately, then add to other spices and grind in a blender or electric grinder. If using ground spices, mix all together. Store in airtight jar. Makes about 1/4 cup.

Hot Curry Powder: Add 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper to mix.

I had both whole and ground spices, so I measured them as called for and then put everything in the grinder for one last go round.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Chili Powder

I love making new herb and spice blends. The freshly ground spices give my kitchen a nice aroma for awhile. I'm having a little fun today making my own chili powder. I used to buy it ready made, but realize that as I run out, there's no reason I can't make my own. I've been making my own seasoned salt for years, why not this?

It's easy and you'll ask yourself the same question. Why don't I make this myself?

Chili Powder

2 Tablespoons cumin, ground (or whole, see note)
2 teaspoons crushed red pepper or 4 dried hot chili peppers, ground (see note)
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons garlic, granulated
2 teaspoons onion, granulated
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

Note: You may use whole seeds for the cumin. If grinding the dried hot chili peppers yourself, you will want to remove the seeds (or at least most of them) beforehand, or the mixture will be too hot.

Combine all ingredients, except crushed red pepper (if using), in a grinder or blender (a personal blender works too). Grind until mixture is a coarse powder.  If using, add in the crushed red pepper only by stirring it in (do not grind together). Use in recipes as needed.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Hummus Dip

Just recently my daughter and I attended a "Keepers at Home" group that we are part of through involvement with our local homeschooling group (and co-op).  The mothers take turns each month teaching useful skills to the girls to "keep" their future homes. It is a privilege and honor to do this. And it's fun to participate with your daughter and learn something fun like making a quick and colorful scarf by using hand knitting! =)

Recently I was able to take a turn doing what I love. I had an evening of making, tasting and learning all about simple healthy vegan foods. The girls watched as I made some things and talked about the foods. Then they also got their hands into it by making some things with me. And who can forget the tasting! We sampled a few things that I know they won't forget. And I mean that in a good way! =)

Our evening included making (and eating!) hummus. The following recipe is the one I followed (and improvised with). It can be found at simplyrecipes.com. You can also use this as a spread or salad dressing for any number of things. This is a nice creamy dressing that replaces the ever present ranch style dressings/dips that are always around at potlucks. Take some of this hummus along with some raw veggies, next time you are invited for a potluck meal! =)


2 garlic cloves, mashed and minced
2 15-oz cans (about 3 to 3 1/2 cups) garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained and rinsed
2/3 cup of tahini
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon of salt
ground cumin, to taste (my addition - optional)
In a food processor, combine the garlic, garbanzo beans, tahini, lemon juice, 1/2 cup water, and olive oil. Process until smooth. Add salt (and cumin, if using), starting at a half a teaspoon, to taste. Makes about 3 cups. Add more water, a little at a time, if it's thicker than you like.

Serve with sliced up vegetables. We used sliced cucumber to taste test, the evening I did this for the group. You can use: zucchini, cucumber, carrots (try slicing these on the bias for longer, bigger dippers), bell peppers (any color), thinly sliced raw sweet potato, celery (I love celery this way!), jicama, broccoli, cauliflower, grape tomatoes, etc.

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus: add a small amount (1 to 2 tablespoons) of roasted red peppers to food processor along with salt. Start with a small amount, tasting and adding more if desired.

This hummus can also be used as a spread on breads for sandwiches...with some veggies, makes a great sandwich! Thin with water, as desired, for a nice salad dressing.

Flavor it how you like, with any number of your own variations. There are so many things you can do with hummus. Be creative and have fun.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Veggie Stuffed Bell Peppers

We had a dinner tonight that I just had to write about. Normally I am not a stuffed pepper sort of person. I really don't like green peppers all that much. But a recent bunch of discounted green peppers at the store the other day prompted me to look through my recipes once again.

I have a recipe that I improvised from like crazy (as usual!) and I love the result. So here is my version, gluten and grain free, in fact.

Veggie Stuffed Bell Peppers

3 (medium to large) green peppers
1 cup frozen corn (thawed)
1 cup mixed frozen vegetables (ours had corn, peas, green beans, & carrots)
1-2 cups cooked beans (I used chick peas)
1 cup your favorite fresh salsa (or more, as needed)
a few dashes hot sauce (optional)
6 Tablespoons nutritional yeast
dried oregano, to garnish

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

First, wash and cut in half, through the stem, the green peppers, trimming out the seeds and white ribs. In a pot, boil some water to quick cook (blanch) the peppers for about 5 minutes. Remove, drain and set aside into a baking dish when cooked.

Mix the corn, veggies, and beans together. Now you are ready to assemble. Making sure the blanched peppers are laying on their sides, open side up, stuff with the veggie & bean mix. Then, layer each with the fresh salsa (mixed with the optional hot sauce). Next, a tablespoon of nutritional yeast goes on top of each pepper half. To garnish, I put dried oregano on top (like I do with homemade pizza). Put into oven for 20-30 minutes until heated through.

Makes 6 servings as a side dish, 3 as a main dish. I made double the recipe and it fit my 9"x13" casserole nicely.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

My Kitchen: A Tour

I have been writing this blog since 2008 and sometimes you'll see some of my kitchen layout in the photos. We are currently in our fourth house since I started blogging.

One tip I have is to make sure that you arrange your kitchen in a way that works for your household. Mostly that would mean how you organize within your cabinets and drawers, etc. Many times we overlook how to use wall space effectively and don't think about what else goes on in the kitchen, beside food prep and eating. I recently realized that how I keep my kitchen will ultimately help or hinder my progress to eating healthy and keeping my family together to eat meals. Keeping it in order will help to make sure we eat more in our home than away. Staying on top of your current food inventory means you'll always have what you need to prepare good food.

We recently made some changes in our kitchen to make it more user friendly. Since we rent, all the wall changes were approved by our landlady before we did them. She allowed us to take down the wallpaper that was up on the wall by the sink and over the counter. We painted the wall instead and removed and painted where there had been wall border about halfway around the kitchen.

I finally have some photos of my kitchen for you. Our kitchen is about 13' x 10', not including the pantry.

Over the sink are hooks for towels. I intend to get something for putting next to it (empty wall right now), which will be right in front of the person washing dishes (maybe a mirror in a "window" type frame?). My son gave me some plants for my "clock" shelf. I put misc. decorations/unused kitchen items on top of my cabinets.
My husband made and  installed a "nail board" for utensils and measuring cups/spoons under the upper cabinets! You see my knife block and cutting boards in the corner. When I have beans cooking in a slow cooker, they are on the counter to the right. We have a cut-out under the counter, next to the sink, which is where we keep our trash can. The lower cabinet under the sink houses my slow juicer, Vitamix, food processor, and water purifier. I like putting things away to have a clear counter to work on (you can never have enough counter space, right?). There is a window to the right.

Here's how my spice cabinet is currently arranged. I also store my mortar and pestle, honey, coconut oil, etc. here. This is in the 3rd upper cabinet from the sink.
This is a new shelf I use for fruits and vegetables. In the boxes on the bottom shelf, there are nuts (in the shell) and dried beans that I picked up on sale. My stove is to the left.
My (closed) pantry off in its own little "closet" type room. The upper cabinets hold food and food containers. The bottom cabinets hold my stainless steel stove top cookware, misc. gadgets and gallon jugs of vinegar. I have two drawers between the upper and lower cabinets which hold other misc. lesser used hand held gadgets, chopsticks, silpat mat, etc. in the left and storage bags, parchment paper to the right. You can see our coats and hats hanging up on the right. There is a window to the left that looks out onto the back porch. I also have a wooden bench under the window. In the foreground, you can just see my stove and food dehydrator to the right. The back door is to the left.
Pantry opened! This is how it looks at the moment. Top shelf: mostly empty jars, extra lazy susans (turntables), extra slow cooker, extra canning lids/rims. Second shelf from the top: (gifted!) home canned food, more nuts and dried beans, rolled oats, oil and vinegar, misc. bottled foods. Second shelf from the bottom: canning jars in 1/2, 1, 2, and 2 1/2 cup sizes, freezer containers, vegetable spirooli (a raw noodle maker/slicer), misc. containers. Bottom shelf: nuts (shelled), nori and other seaweed, kelp noodles, quinoa, oil, carob powder, glass containers, extra herbs and spices in bulk, coconut oil, herbal tea bags.
This is our 30" x 30" (36" high) table that we use for a true eat-in kitchen. I love that it enables us to eat right in the kitchen. During non-meal times, it's used much like an island. It sits 2 1/2 inches higher than our kitchen counter. The fridge is behind, in the corner. To the left of the photo is a window which brings us back to the counter (second photo in this post).

Monday, January 2, 2012

Energy Bites

We've been snacking on these sweet morsels lately. They are popular at our house. If anyone knows me, they know that it's difficult for me to follow recipes to the letter. I'm always changing things out, probably because I didn't have the exact ingredients on hand.

So in usual fashion, I substituted similar items to achieve the desired result. I found the basis for my version here. Following is my "chocolate covered cherries" version. Easy to mix up. No further cooking or heat is used. Enjoy.

Energy Bites

1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup almond butter
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
3/4 cup sunflower seeds, made into a coarse meal
1/2 cup sesame seeds
1/4 cup dried bing cherries, chopped
1/4 cup dried goji berries, crushed/chopped
1/4 cup carob powder
1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine all ingredients in a bowl with your hands. Cover and chill for an hour or so. You may find using a tablespoon or two, more almond butter will help to keep it together. Roll the mixture into balls about 1 inch in diameter. Store in fridge, or for longer than a few days, in the freezer.

Options: You could use raisins for the dried fruit. Peanut butter could be used instead of almond butter. Remember to be creative and use what you have and add here and there as desired. It's your creation! =)