Chana masala with naan

I was in the mood for some Indian food this weekend, so I decided to make Chana masala, which is one of my favorite Indian dishes. I also wanted to have some naan to eat with the chickpeas. I made a simple dough for the naan flavored with cilantro (sorry Mom!), and let the dough rise while making the chickpeas.

I started off the chana masala by saut├ęing diced onions, garlic, and ginger in a little oil. After the onion was softened, I added lots of spices…garam masala, turmeric, paprika, cayenne pepper, and cumin. Once the spices were warmed and fragrant, I added diced tomatoes to the pan to make the sauce, followed by lots of chickpeas. This pan got covered up to simmer and let all the flavors combine.

While the chickpeas cooked, I cooked the naan. Normally, I just bake naan in the oven but decided to make it on the stovetop. In my cast iron skillet I melted a small amount of earth balance (vegan butter) and then baked the rounds of dough in the skillet. As each piece finished cooking, I brushed the top with chopped garlic and sea salt.

By now the chickpeas were all flavorful, so I finished the sauce with a little lemon juice and salt. The Chana masala was spicy (Jon would say I went a bit overboard on the cayenne pepper!) and super flavorful over the brown rice, and the naan was delicious with it. After the cold day, it was a fun and warming meal to have at home.

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Peach and Blueberry Tart

Anyone who knows me well knows that I rarely bake. So the event of me baking dessert is truly an event!

Jon and I were invited to have dinner at a friend’s home last night, and I was assigned to bring dessert. After panicking for a few minutes, I decided to improvise a rustic peach and blueberry tart. I started off by making a pie crust using my mom’s pie crust recipe. Of course, I couldn’t follow the recipe exactly so I swapped out whole wheat flour in place of the regular flour called for in the recipe, and using vegan Earth Balance butter in place of the lard and regular butter.

While the pie crust stayed cool in the fridge, I started the filling by simmering peach slices in brown sugar flavored with cardamom and a vanilla bean. After the peaches were suitably syrupy, I then switched to cooking the blueberries in sugar, vanilla extract, and lemon juice.

While the fruit cooled and the oven warmed, I made a topping from a little more Earth Balance, oatmeal, and brown sugar. I assembled the tart by rolling out the dough on a baking tray, pouring in the fruit (and failing to keep it all inside the crust!) and then spreading the topping. After baking the fruit was even more juicy and syrupy.

It was a great end to a delicious dinner of veggie lasagna, homemade bread, a yummy salad, and fun company! ­čÖé

The picture is obviously after most of the tart was devoured!

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Hot Sauce!

I was recently inspired to try making my own homemade hot sauce. Given my love of spicy things and how easy it was, I’m not sure why I haven’t tried it before!

I started off by buying a big bag of hot peppers from the farmers market. After receiving a suitable warning from the farmer “you know those are spicy, right?” I knew my hot sauce was off to a good start. Once I got the peppers home, I washed them off and removed the stems.

The peppers all went into my Cuisinart with a good amount of salt. The Cuisinart did its job of mincing everything together, and then the mixture all went into a glass jar to ferment overnight.

After letting the minced hot peppers sit overnight, I added a good amount of vinegar to the jar. Over the next week, the peppers hung out in the vinegar releasing all their flavor and spiciness. At the end of the week, I used my handy immersion blender to blend together the hot sauce. Jon got to try it out tonight on quesadillas, and said it was spicy and flavorful. I think we are both glad there is a big jar of hot sauce for future meals!

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Poblano tacos

One of the great things about summer here is all the peppers that are in season at the farmers market. I recently saw a recipe for roasted poblano pepper tacos, and when I saw them at the farmers market decided it would be a great time to try it out.

I started off by roasting the poblano peppers and a red bell pepper under the broiler. Once the skin was crispy on all the peppers, they went into a bowl to steam. After the peppers had steamed, I peeled the skin off all of them. Definitely not my favorite task!

Next, sliced onions went into a pan to cook up. When the onions had gotten browned, I added in some garlic and then the sliced peppers. I wanted to kick the spiciness up a bit so I also added crushed red pepper flakes.

To serve the tacos, I melted a little bit of vegan cheddar in corn tortillas, piled on the pepper mixture, and then topped it all with a little vegan sour cream, cilantro, and green onions. Yummy!

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Panini sandwiches with corn fritters

I had lots of fresh corn from the farmers market, so decided to make panini sandwiches with corn fritters.

I started off by slicing the corn kernels off 5 ears of corn. This all went into a bowl (at least, what didn’t fall onto the floor!). Then, I mixed in a little flour, corn meal, almond milk, and baking soda to make a dough. I seasoned the dough with paprika, Aleppo pepper, and salt. The recipe said to fry them, but frying and I don’t get along for several reasons. Instead, I formed the fritters on a baking sheet and placed them all in the oven.

While the fritters were baking, I sliced and grilled all the veggies for the sandwiches–onion, red peppers, and zucchini. When the veggies were done, I assembled and grilled the panini sandwiches. Jon’s also got a slice of vegan cheese and a veggie patty.

The sandwiches got hot and crispy on the outside and were great served with the corn fritters. I love summer and its abundance of veggies!

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Quesadillas with tomatillo salsa

At the farmers market last weekend, Jon and I had a great quesadilla from one of the stands. Even better, the stand was selling their tortillas. Of course, I couldn’t resist buying some and using them to make my own quesadillas this week.

I started off by making a tomatillo salsa. I chopped up lots of tomatillos (also from the farmers market), some fresh corn, and jalape├▒os. I mixed all this together with tabasco sauce, lime juice, and red chili flakes, then let it sit so all the flavors would mix together.

Next, I saut├ęed onions, peppers, jalape├▒os, and garlic with oregano, chili pepper flakes, salt and pepper. I also added in some veggie “chicken” chunks, then added a little vinegar to add some nice sharpness to the mix. After the veggies were soft and flavorful, I was ready to assemble the quesadillas.

I heated up my cast iron skillet, then placed a tortilla in it to heat up. Each tortilla was topped with a small amount of vegan cheese, fresh corn, and the veggie mixture. The outside of each tortilla got brown and crispy (no extra fat added!), the vegan cheese melted, and all the flavors combined together.

After all the quesadillas were finished, I served them topped with the tomatillo salsa. Even though they weren’t quite as good as our farmers market quesadilla, they were still delicious!

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Dinner at Rioja

Last night Jon took me to Rioja for dinner–it was delicious and a great birthday treat! We started off with peach flatbread that had almost all local ingredients–palisade peaches, Olathe corn, honey, and yummy cheese (last night was a good reason why we are only mostly vegan!). The flatbread was sweet and savory. Then we sampled gazpacho. Of course it included tomatoes, but also had strawberries and avocado mousse–wow! Jon told the waiter “I don’t like tomato soup or avocados, but I like this soup!”

After that we tried a deconstructed Greek salad, which was also amazing. It didn’t have any greens, but included delicious olives, tomatoes, cheese, and an amazing tasting orange thing that I’m still not sure what it was.

For entrees (no, we hadn’t had entrees yet!) I had artichoke tortelloni which was served in an incredible artichoke broth. Jon had a vegetarian four square that included cauliflower, a risotto cake, and salads. Both dishes continued the delicious trend. For dessert, we split fig and marscapone beignets, which were warm, crisp, and just the right amount of sweetness.

Fortunately, we walked off some of our dinner on the way home. I definitely recommend Rioja if you’re ever in Denver! Their food is definitely vegetarian (if not vegan) friendly, and their meat dishes sound incredible too.

What a great way to celebrate my birthday! ­čÖé

Greek salad – I was too cool to turn on the flash, and enjoying the rest of the meal too much to take other pictures. You’ll just have to try it out for yourself.

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