Month: March 2010

Palak Daal

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I’m always looking for good vegetarian dishes that are easy to make especially for lunch or even dinner.  I recently revisited an old blog I used to look at which primarily focuses on whole foods and vegetarian dishes and found a recipe for Spinach and Lentils aka Palak Daal. 

The recipe is a veryyy easy dish with minimal effort.  It’s almost too easy and I’ve never tasted any lentils like this before. 

Palak Daal/Spinach Lentils (from here)

1 cup white urid or uraad daal, washed, rinsed, & drained

6 cups water

1/2 lb spinach (I used pre-washed baby spinach)

1 tbs minced ginger

1/2 tsp turmeric

2 medium green chilies, minced

2 tomatoes, chopped

1/2 tsp salt

2 tbs butter

1/2 tsp whole cumin

1 tsp red chili powder

juice of 1/2 lemon

In a large pot combine the water and urid over medium heat and bring to a boil.  Add in the spinach, salt, turmeric, ginger, tomato, and green chilies.  Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for another 20-30 min, until the lentils have become soft and most of the water has burned off. 

In a small fry pan, melt the butter.  Add in the cumin and fry until the cumin pops.  Mix in the red chili powder and cook for another 30 seconds.  Mix this mixture into the lentils and cook for additional five min, adjust salt if needed.  Take off heat and top with the lemon.  Serve with rice or flatbread. 

I had blueberries sitting in the fridge so I decided to use them to pancakes for breakfast this morning.  I used a different recipe than usual which helped pack in some extra nutrition.  I thought it would taste weird but they were super yummy with all the blueberries.  Here is the link.


Please Don’t Sneeze

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“On top of spaghetti all covered with cheese.
I lost my poor meatball when somebody sneezed.”

I remember singing that song as a kid.  We had our own rendition of the lyrics and sadly thats the one I can still remember.   

Spaghetti and Meatballs is such a classical dish thats fairly easy to put together.  I haven’t had it in such a long time and something just made me want to have some….right away.  I was sad that it was a meat-only dish…but then I found a way to sneak in some veggies.  And for all of you meat-eaters out there are probably looking at me like crazy…well maybe I am but I love my veggies.   

Homemade Marinara Sauce

3 tbs olive oil 

2 cloves of garlic minced 

2 stalks of celery, chopped 

1/4 to 1/2 cup of carrots & mushrooms each, chopped 

1 -6 oz can of tomato paste 

1-28 oz can of diced tomatoes 

1 tsp each of dried basil, parsley, & oregano 

salt and pepper to taste, about 1/2 to 1 tsp each 

In a medium-sized sauce pan, heat up the oil.  Add the garlic once the oil is hot and cook garlic for a few min, making sure to not burn the garlic.  Add in the celery, carrots, and mushrooms.  Cook until they soften, 3-4 min.  Mix in the cans of tomato paste, tomatoes, and seasonings.  Cook for about 5-10 min.  Take off heat.  With an immersion blender, blend together all ingredients until its a smooth sauce.  Adjust seasonings.   

Baked Meatballs (from here) 

2 pounds Ground Beef 

½ cups Grated Parmesan Cheese 

⅓ cups Milk 

¼ cups Bread Crumbs (I used Panko) 

2 whole Large Garlic Cloves, Minced 

1 whole Egg 

2 teaspoons Dried Basil 

2 teaspoons Parsley Flakes 

1-½ teaspoon Kosher Salt 

1 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes 

½ cups Bread Crumbs 

Preheat oven to 350 F.  In a large bowl, beat the egg.  Combine all ingredients except for the meat and 1/2 c of bread crumbs.  Place the 1/2 c of bread crumbs in a small bowl.  Slowly fold the meat into the egg mixture, making sure not to over mix.  Form balls out of the meat mixture, making sure to barely form the meatballs as to not overwork the meat.  Roll each meatball in the reserved bread crumbs to coat it and place on a greased baking sheet.  Once all the meat is rolled, bake in oven 20 min.  Flip the meatballs over and cook for additional 10 min.  Take out of the oven once they are done. 



Boil spaghetti according to package instructions.  In a bowl, layer the spaghetti, meatballs, and sauce.  Garnish with fresh parsley and parmesan cheese.   And remember, please don’t sneeze.  


For dessert I made Chocolate Chip bars as a little change from chocolate chip cookies.  They were kind of like chocolate chip cookies but in brownie form.  

Chocolate Chip Bars (adapted from here

2 1/8 cups (10 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour 

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 

1/2 teaspoon baking soda 

8 tablespoons butter (1 stick), melted and cooled slightly 

1/4 cup applesauce 

1 cup (7 ounces) light brown sugar 

1/2 (3 1/2 ounces) cup granulated sugar 

1 large egg 

1 large egg yolk 

1 1/2 cups chocolate chips (I used milk since thats all I had in the house) 

Preheat oven to 325 F.  Mix the melted butter, applesauce, and sugars together in a large bowl.  Whisk in the egg and egg yolk.  In a small bowl whisk together the flour, salt, and baking soda.  Add this flour mixture into the the larger bowl until combined.  Fold in the chocolate chips.  

Pour batter into at 9X13 baking pan that has been lined with foil, with the foil hanging off the edges to make for easy removal after being baked.  With a spatula, smooth the top, making sure theres an even mixture throughout the pan.  Bake for 24-28 min, until the top is a light golden brown and an inserted toothpick comes out clean.  Take out of oven and let it cool.  Cut 2 inch squares.  Remove bars by lifting the overhanging foil. 

Poofs of Air

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Marilla Cuthbert:  Now, you come downstairs and see if a good cup of tea and some of those plum puffs I made today don’t hearten you. 

Anne Shirley: Plum puffs won’t minister to a mind diseased in a world that’s crumbled into pieces. 

         ~From Anne of Green Gables 

At times when things go awry, the above quote goes through my head and I suddenly crave plum puffs as if these light fluffy pastries will lift my worries away and cast them into dark shadows.  But the problem always was that plum puffs couldn’t be purchased, and I was too scared to try to make them. 

But alas, fears must be faced someday or another with a dash of coaxing from a friend.  After all, failures come with great lessons. 

I got to work in the kitchen and started mixing up the ingredients.  Once I started piping out the puffs, I knew it would be absolute failure, as how would these flat goops of dough rise into puffs.  But as I sat there in front of the oven, I watched with amazement as the dough went from flat to risen poofs of pastry.  I ended up filling the puffs with custard/cream and whipped cream because I didn’t think my plum jam would pipe out of my small piping tip.  But I don’t regret it all.  The puffs were amazingly light, not too sweet, and were filled with scrumptious yumminess.  And I will have to make these soon again as theyre all gone and all I want to do is sit there with a bowl of cream puffs and devour them. 

Pate a Choux (from Alton Brown)

1 cup water
6 tbsp butter
1 tbsp sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1 1/3 cups AP flour
4 eggs + 2 egg whites

In a medium sauce pan, heat up the butter, water, sugar and salt.  Once the butter has melted, stir in the flour until a dough mixture forms.  Take off from heat and let it cool for 3-4 min.  Preheat oven to 425 F.  Using a hand mixer, beat in the eggs on at a time on the lowest setting.  Place mixture into piping bag with the biggest circle tip. 

 Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Pipe golf ball sized circles (can be a little bit bigger, smaller than tennis ball)  in a spiraling motion toward the center.  Make sure there is a liberal about of dough in the center.  (it may take a few time to get the puffs to come out with a decent height) 

Place in oven (no more than one tray at a time) and bake at 425 F for 10 min and reduce temperature to 325 F for another 10 min.  Do NOT open the oven door during this time or else you’ll have deflated puffs.  Once they come out of the oven, poke a hole with a toothpick in each one and let them cool.  Repeat until all dough has been used.  Fill the puffs with pastry cream and dunk in chocolate glaze.  Place in refrigerator until the cream is nice and cold. 

Note:  I’ve read that instead of using a baking sheet, you can grease muffin pans and pipe the dough into there.  This will hold up the shape and you can fit more in the oven at one time.  I will try this next time. 

Pastry Cream (from Joy of Cooking)

-1/3 cup sugar
-2 tbsp all-purpose flour
-2 tbsp cornstarch
-4 large egg yolks
-1 1/3 cups milk
-3/4 tsp vanilla

(I would double the recipe so there’s enough to fill in all the puffs for the above pate a choux recipe)

In a mixing bowl, combine the egg yolks, corn starch, sugar and flour.  Whip for about 2 min or until the mixture is a pale yellow.  Heat up the milk and vanilla in a medium saucepan until it is simmering.   Whisk in 1/3 of the milk into the eggs mixture, making sure the eggs don’t cook. 

Then add the egg-milk mixture into the remaining milk.  Cook the mixture while whisking until a thick mixture forms.  Take off heat and let it cool.  Place in a piping bag with a small circle tip.  Pierce the puffs in one place and squeeze till the puffs feel like they’re filled.   

Note:  If you don’t want to make the double amount of pastry cream, you can whip some whipping cream with powdered sugar and fill in the remaining puffs or if you don’t have time to make the pastry cream, you can simply used whipping cream to fill them. 

Chocolate Glaze

2 oz chopped semisweet chips

3 tbs whipping cream

1/4 cup powdered sugar

Heat all ingredients either stove top or in the microwave until it is melted.  Dunk the tops of the cream puffs into the chocolate glaze.

1st Time Dumplings

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Some girls go to sleep at night figuring out what they will wear the next day, accessorizing their outfit in their mind.  I was never good at accessorizing….so I sometimes go to sleep trying to figure out what I’ll be making the next day. And last night I decided that I would try making another chocolate chip cookie recipe and chicken dumpling soup.

There’s always people claiming that their cookie recipe is the “best” and they’ve finally found the secret!  How many “best” chocolate chip cookie recipes are there?  And personally, I don’t believe there is a perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe.  Some like there’s with milk chocolate chips, others with semi.  Others enjoy a softer cake crumb while other might prefer crunchy, chewy, or harder on the edges & a chewy middle.  It’s really a personal preference.

And since all my recent brown-butter recipes have been turning out pretty darn good, why not make chocochip cookies with brown butter?  The results: Amazing.  I believe these have replaced my NY Times recipe, as my favorite recipe.  I do, although, want to try using different chips.  I might be making another batch tomorrow seeing they were a big hit today.

Brown-Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies (adapted from Cook’s Illustrated)

1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 sticks butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup apple sauce
1 large egg, plus 1 egg yolk
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 F.  Melt the butter in a sauce pan and heat for about 10 min, until butter has turned golden-brown.  Stir frequently to ensure the butter doesn’t burn.  Once the butter has browned, combine it in a mixing bowl with the sugars, apple sauce and salt.  Whisk in the egg + egg yolk for about 30 sec.  Let it rest 3 min.  Whisk again for 30 sec, rest 3 min.  Repeat this process a total of 4 times.  This will result in a smooth, glossy mixture.  Stir in the flour and baking soda till combined.  Add in the chocolate chips and stir till evenly distributed.  Place in fridge covered with plastic wrap for about 10 min.  Make dough balls and place on baking sheet.  Bake for about 10-14 min.  Once they’re done, cool on a cooling rack.

When I run across a certain thing multiple times, I feel like it’s the worlds way of telling me something.  And that is how I came about to making Chicken Dumpling Soup.  I kept seeing it everywhere and last night I was imagining sinking my teeth into a soft yummy dumpling.  So I just had to make it.  It was hard to find a decent recipe so I was left to figure out how to fill in the blanks.  This is a nice soup that has your veges, protein & starch, making it a nice filling meal.

Chicken Dumpling Soup (some help came from here)


2 tbs butter

~1/2 cup chopped carrots, celery, mushrooms each

1/4 tsp dried tarragon

handful of chopped parsley

5-6 whole peppercorn & cloves, each

6 pieces of chicken, cleaned & washed

1/4 cup frozen peas


1 cup whole wheat flour (i’m going to try 1/2 c AP flour 1/2 c WW next time)
3/4 T baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup frozen, drained spinach,
or 1 cups fresh spinach, whirred in food processor or chopped finely
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup oil
2 tbs flour
2 tbs butter
1 potato
6-8 c chicken stock
shredded chicken
Melt the butter in a large stock pot and saute the carrots, celery, and mushrooms.  Cook for 5 min or until the veges are tender.  Add 8 cups of water and chicken, peppercorns, cloves, peas, tarragon, and parsley.  Cook until chicken is cooked through.  You can cook it longer for more flavor.  Remove the cloves and peppercorns.  Take out the chicken and place in a bowl & shred once the chicken has cooled down slightly.
Combine the dry ingredients.  Whisk in, or using hands, the wet ingredients until combined.  Make small balls of this dough until all dough is used.
Melt butter in a large pot.  Using a whisk, whisk in the flour, making a roux.  Brown the roux till desired color and whisk in the a little bit of the warm stock, making sure no lumps form.  Slowly add in the remaining stock with all the veges in the stock.  Add the potatoes & shredded chicken.  Once the liquid has come to a simmer, place the dumpling balls into the liquid.  Cover the pot and cook for about 15 min or until the center is biscuit like.  Turn off heat and let it sit for 30 min and serve.
Note:  You can use stock cubes instead of making your own stock.  You can just saute your veges, add flour, whisk in water with stock cubes, add in whole chicken to shred once cooked, and then add dumplings.
This was my first time making dumplings and I believe it was a success!