Thursday, October 16, 2014

Southwestern Quinoa and Black Bean Soup

Another requested recipe from my birthday party on Saturday was my Southwestern quinoa and  black bean soup.  I used a few online recipes as inspiration, but the final result wasn't really based on any one particular source, so this recipe is what I wrote down as my final dish in my new recipe notebook.  The notebook is a nice way to keep all of my recipes together rather than the scraps of paper in the junk drawer in our kitchen. I can't believe it took me this long to realize I should write down all of my recipes in a notebook to keep them all together. 

This soup is similar to chili, so you might want to serve it with traditional chili accompaniments like saltine crackers, cornbread, cheese, etc. 

Southwestern soup

Ingredients

  • 28 oz crushed tomatoes
  • 42 oz water or tomato juice
  • 15 oz tomato sauce
  • 14 oz petite diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 onion, diced and sauteed
  • 1/2 each red, yellow, and orange bell peppers 
  • 2 cups black beans (or a 14oz can)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon cumin
  • 1 Tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  •  1/2 cup quinoa

Directions

Put all of the ingredients into the slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours.

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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Tae's Peas and Potatoes

At the party on Saturday, our friend Tae brought an awesome dish in the slow cooker, peas and potatoes.  She says, "It's my bastardized version of methi matar malai.  I find that it tastes better the longer it cooks, which is why the crock pot method is so nice."  It seemed like everyone at the party asked who made it and if they could have the recipe.  I also wanted to share it with everyone who reads my blog because I figure most people could stand to have more awesome and effortless slow cooker recipes. It's dairy-free, gluten-free, and vegetarian. 

From my research, the name "methi matar malai" translates to "fenugreek peas cream" and is a Punjabi north Indian recipe.  Here's Tae's recipe!

Ingredients

  • Large potatoes - 2, cut into chunks
  • Frozen Peas – 16 oz (1/2 kg)
  • Coconut milk – 1 14oz can (don’t use lite, use the full fat stuff)
  • Tomato – 1 can diced 14oz
  • Salt – to taste
  • Oil – 1 Tbsp
  • Ginger – 1 Tbsp, minced
  • Onion – 1 medium, chopped
  • Cumin powder 1 tsp
  • Turmeric Powder – 1/4 tsp
  • Coriander Powder – 1 tsp
  • Garam Masala – 1 tsp
  • Red Chili Powder – 1 tsp
  • Optional: Add fresh cilantro on top before serving
  • **Optional: add chicken

Crock Pot Method

Put the oil in the bottom of the crock pot. Add the onions, potatoes, peas, and tomatoes. Throw
in all the spices and add the coconut milk. Set on low for 8 hours. Serve over rice.

Stovetop Method

  1. Heat Oil in a medium pan on medium heat.
  2. Add onions and cook until a light golden color
  3. Add ginger and cook for 2 minutes
  4. Add all spices, potatoes, and tomatoes and cook for 2-3 minutes
  5. Add peas and coconut milk and simmer for 15-20 minutes until potatoes are cooked all the way through.
  6. Serve over rice. 
********
From my research, this dish can also have spinach in it to replace the fresh methi (fenugreek) leaves.   I would also add garlic, because I think it pretty much belongs in every savory dish.  And since I can't leave well enough alone, I would probably see if it would be good with a can of chickpeas mixed in, cauliflower florets, or maybe some cubed tofu.  I would also love to add some sliced mushrooms, but that's not going to happen with my family! 

I love Indian food and this inspires me to want to make some. Thanks for the recipe, Tae!

Wanna Chat?

I turned off the 'leave a comment' feature, so if you want to share what you're thinking about this or anything else, drop me an email at jhk1013 (at) gmail.com. It's so much more cozy than a comment, plus we can have a real conversation!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Menu Plan: Week of October 13

Last Week 

Last week was really quiet, I didn't have much for planned activities but I was preparing and cooking for my Crocktoberfest birthday party on Saturday.  A huge "thank you" to everyone who came over to celebrate. We had 25 adults and 17 children in our house.  It was crazy-busy but definitely fun.  Husband Jeff and I spend so much time playing the hosts that we don't ever get to spend much time actually catching up with our friends. I think we need to have follow-up hanging out sessions with everyone so we can actually talk to them!  I didn't take a single picture during the party, but here's picture of the tag on the bottle of wine some friends gave me.  So very sweet. 
Happy birthday to me!

This Week

This week will be even quieter than last week since I don't have any upcoming deadlines or anything planned.
  • Monday -This is my actual birthday and I'm taking the whole day off to go to Ikea with my mom.  I don't know if I'll be home to make dinner, but I planned that we'll have cheesy polenta with roasted veggies (roasted on Sunday afternoon) and frozen meatballs. Easy for Husband Jeff to throw together without me and have ready. 
  • Tuesday - I'm going to watch a friend's baby for a bit in the morning and then I've got Zumba class at night.  For dinner we'll have spinach-basil pesto pasta, steam-in-the-bag corn, and chile-lime chicken burgers from Trader Joe's.  
  • Wednesday - We'll eat veggie fried rice, Hmong egg rolls made by people at our friend's church, and frozen Trader Joe's pork buns.
  • Thursday - I'm going out for a duo birthday night with my friend Heather since her birthday is next week.  We're going to the Green Owl Cafe for dinner and then to the chocolate tasting at Gail Ambrosius.  Yep, this will be my third time at the chocolate tasting, but it's so delicious!
  • Friday - We're going out for dinner with Jeff's parents for another duo birthday event because Jeff's dad's birthday was Tuesday.  No idea where we're going, but I want to suggest either Roman Candle for pizza or Dobhan for awesome Indian/Moroccan-inspired cuisine.
  • Saturday - I've got Core Fusion class in the morning and then either to the apple orchard or out to Costco with a friend.  We don't have a Costco membership but these friends have talked about it so much and invited me to join them, that I decided to take them up on it.  We haven't planned which day we're going this weekend, but we'll do Costco one day and the apple orchard the other.  For dinner we'll have something easy, like packaged soup and sandwiches
  • Sunday - I wanted breakfast for dinner with pancakes, banana bites (like a muffin with banana chunks), and chicken breakfast sausage

Wanna Chat?

I turned off the 'leave a comment' feature, so if you want to share what you're thinking about this or anything else, drop me an email at jhk1013 (at) gmail.com. It's so much more cozy than a comment, plus we can have a real conversation!

Friday, October 10, 2014

How I Spend My Days

My last day as a web designer was September 23rd and my new job hasn't started yet.  You might be wondering what I've been doing since I haven't been working. Here's an assortment of photos that will show you how I've kept busy.  I start most days with a weight lifting workout at the community center and then do random chores/errands for the rest of the day.  Last week's focus was getting the dining room painted and redecorated.  This week has been lots of preparing and cooking for my party on Saturday.   I actually end up with not a lot of time to be online. 

Previous incarnation of the dining room.  Two colors, no coordination, no banquette.
What the dining room looks like now. Walls are a pretty teal-grey color.


Walking out of the community center after a workout last week.

Monday's workout.  I like that shirt a lot, it's really lightweight.
Cutting out the letters for my party banner.  Had them printed at Kinko's, super convenient.

Making sugared nuts for the party. It's only sugar, water, nuts and cinnamon.

Planning the layout of the party banner on the kitchen floor.  It's a slow cooker/Crockpot themed party.
Post-workout shot from this morning. I do them surreptitiously so the old folks don't think I'm a weirdo.

Making vegan caramel sauce this afternoon using coconut milk. The secret ingredient is lemon juice.

Wanna Chat?

I turned off the 'leave a comment' feature, so if you want to share what you're thinking about this or anything else, drop me an email at jhk1013 (at) gmail.com. It's so much more cozy than a comment, plus we can have a real conversation!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Menu Plan: Week of October 6

Last week was my first full week since I quit my job. In preparation for my new job, they took a hair sample for a drug test. It wasn't just a few strands, it was a pretty big chunk. Luckily it's in the back where my ponytail is.

During the week I worked on painting the dining room.  My prep work and first coat of primer took three hours to accomplish.  In between other chores during the week, we got the final coat of paint on the walls on Sunday and I did touch-ups on Monday morning (today).   

On Wednesday we went to dinner at the gorgeous Rare Steakhouse downtown with Jeff's cousin and her husband. It's very pretty location on The Square with dark wood and really nice amenities.  And the service is impeccable.  I had the tuna sliders from the bar menu, they were good but nothing amazing.  It didn't come with anything else, so I ordered a side veggie of asparagus and mushrooms.  Husband Jeff got the burger (with bacon, bleu cheese, and caramelized onion) and it was really tasty.   His burger came with french fries that were good as well.

On Thursday morning I went on the field trip to the pumpkin patch with Sonny D's preschool.  Everything was great until it started raining as we were getting on the wagons to go and pick out our pumpkins.  We got soaked and it was not fun at all.  Of course it stopped raining just as we were finished.  I went back to the preschool and had lunch with Sonny D's class.  I was still so wet from the rain that I had to go home and change my clothes before going out grocery shopping.

On Friday night Sonny D had a sleepover with grandma and grandpa while Husband Jeff and I went to the preschool's parents' night and silent auction.  We bid and won the auctions for a massage, a set of science fiction books, and decorated nail wraps.  Score!

On Saturday we had a pretty busy day, in the morning we went out for breakfast with friends and then Sonny D and I went to Applefest while Husband Jeff went to a beer-tasting event.  In the afternoon we went to Chuseok, a fall harvest event for our Korean adoption group.

On Sunday Sonny D and I went to the northside farmers' market and bought veggies to roast later. Then in the afternoon I did a lot of cooking.  I made a kale-quinoa citrus salad based on a dish I've had from the deli that I totally loved.  Then I made chicken rice soup completely from scratch in the pressure cooker with a whole chicken.  It was a pretty involved experiment, but it was a lot quicker than if I had made it without the pressure cooker.  To go along with the soup I made flatbread in a skillet. 

This Week

This should be a nice quiet week with not much going on.  I've gotten word that I might start training for my new job on Thursday, but I'll confirm that since they said it could still change.  
  • Monday - leftover chicken rice soup
  • Tuesday - chili mac
  • Wednesday -breakfast for dinner of pancakes and eggs.
  • Thursday - sandwiches and maybe soup.
  • Friday - shredded pork tacos with vegetable melange.  After dinner we're going out for Me and D night to Warner Park for family fun night.   
  • Saturday - I've got Core Fusion class in the morning and then my Crocktoberfest party in the afternoon. 
  • Sunday - Once again, our Sunday morning visit to the Northside farmers' market.  For dinner we'll have whatever party leftovers we've got in the fridge. 

Wanna Chat?

I turned off the 'leave a comment' feature, so if you want to share what you're thinking about this or anything else, drop me an email at jhk1013 (at) gmail.com. It's so much more cozy than a comment, plus we can have a real conversation!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Menu Plan: Week of September 29

Right now I'm typing this with my awesome little iPad bluetooth keyboard while being entertained by Sonny D pretending to make me food and drive his car around town.  So since I'm not at a computer, my formatting options are pretty limited, so forgive the barebones look.  I haven't been doing a whole lot since my last day of work on Tuesday, mainly chores around the house and setting up a weight lifting workout in my fitness app on my iPhone.  This morning was my first real workout and I'm glad I did a reconnaissance mission last week to know what equipment was available.  There aren't any barbells at my gym so I'm focusing on using dumbbells instead.  It's probably safer that way.

At the gym, getting ripped!

Monday - We ended up having frozen pancakes and waffles and leftover salmon from last night.  And shared a tiny can of low-sodium V8 vegetable juice.  Sonny D said he liked it and wanted a can in his lunch.  I really doubt he would actually drink it since he only took about two sips.

Tuesday - I'm meeting my friend Natalie for lunch at Edo Japanese.  For dinner we're having whole wheat gnocchi with pasta sauce and tuna mixed in.  Afterwards I'm going to Zumba class.

Wednesday - Husband Jeff and I arre going out for dinner at Rare Steakhouse with his cousin Amy and her husband Doug.  Sonny D loves hanging out with Doug, he's great with children.  

Thursday - Sonny D's preschool is going to the pumpkin patch and I signed up to chaperone.  It'll be an adventure to hang out with about 25-30 preschoolers.  For dinner we'll have eye of round with mashed potatoes

Friday - Husband Jeff and I are going to the preschool parents' night out event at the Craftsman Table & Tap.  I'm not sure if we'll go to the restaurant early and eat dinner there or eat something random at home and then go out.  We've got several meals out already, so hopefully I can convince Jeff to have something at home.  

Saturday - We're heading out for one of our Breakfast Club meetings, this time at the Koffee Kup in Stoughton.  We're also talking about heading to Apple Fest near our house.  In the afternoon we're going to Chuseok, a Korean harvest festival event put on by our Korean adoption group.

Sunday - My customary Sunday morning routine of shopping at the Northside farmers' market.  Last week I forgot to plan ahead with getting cash and ended up raiding the change jar to have enough money to buy things.  In the afternoon I'm taking my Japanese friend Chie to the Vietnamese/Asian market near her house.  She didn't know about the market so I'm glad to introduce her to a possible resource closer than the further away Japanese market she usually goes to. 

Wanna Chat?

I turned off the 'leave a comment' feature, so if you want to share what you're thinking about this or anything else, drop me an email at jhk1013 (at) gmail.com. It's so much more cozy than a comment, plus we can have a real conversation!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

A New Chapter Starts...

A little over two weeks ago I quit my job as a web designer and now I'm heading into a new chapter of my life.  I will be working as a taste tester (the official title is "sensory panelist") for a huge well-known food production corporation near our house. Right now I haven't heard a start date but it should be any day now. When we do start, I'm going to have approximately three months of training and then a year of tasting product coming off the production line.  Unfortunately I will be working only two to three half days per week and it doesn't pay the big bucks, so once the schedule is figured out I'm going to see about finding a second part-time job to fill in more of my time since I think I will go nuts being at home all the time. I actually like working.  

It was hard walking away from a good paying salary job for a hourly position, I haven't had that since I was in college. But I'm totally in love with the idea of working in the food industry, food is my passion. And I'm really interested in what they'll teach us about tasting. It'll probably be a lot of getting in tune with your palate and being aware of what you're tasting. 

I found the job on a Craigslist posting and I was determined to get it, so I kept contacting the people involved until they contacted me back or told me the job was already filled.  I had a three-hour taste evaluation in a group of about 30 people. The first half was easy with basic taste checks, but the second half was really difficult. Here's an example of what we did -- taste four samples of ham and put them into matching pairs... but they all tasted like ham, seemed like no differences at all!  We went through three or four sets of ham samples and then the last group was saltine crackers. I must have done pretty good though since they asked me to join them. 

People have asked me if I'll spend more time with Sonny D but he'll stay at preschool like usual. I will pick him up earlier on my off days and do fun things like visit the children's museum, hit the big downtown library, make treats together, etc.  I also signed up for a year membership at the workout room at the community center and I'm planning to do weight lifting for strength training. It's something I haven't done before but I'd like to try it out.  


Wanna Chat?

I turned off the 'leave a comment' feature, so if you want to share what you're thinking about this or anything else, drop me an email at jhk1013 (at) gmail.com. It's so much more cozy than a comment, plus we can have a real conversation!