Saturday, February 28, 2009

Oatmeal With Coconut, Vanilla, Apple, And Cranberries

A warm bowl of oatmeal is a nice healthy treat on a cold winter morning -- but I always feel a little less healthy when I add sweetener to my bowl. Lately, I've been experimenting with other ways of flavoring my oatmeal that still meet my need for something sweet in the morning - the result is a cereal cooked with unsweetened shredded coconut, vanilla, and diced apple, and topped with dried cranberries.

I'm currently using a whole grain cereal blend that includes flax seeds; otherwise, I would also add 1/4 cup of walnuts or pecans to the pot.

Oats, per package instructions for four servings
Low fat milk, per package instructions for four servings, plus additional milk to top the cooked oatmeal
Salt, per package instructions for four servings
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 small apple, washed, cored, and diced
1/4 cup dried cranberries

Combine oats, milk, salt, coconut, vanilla, and diced apple in a medium saucepan.
Cook per package instructions (cooking time will vary depending on whether you're using quick oats).
Top with cranberries and additional milk to taste.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Carrot Thoren

I was rustling through my freezer this week when I found some frozen curry leaves tucked against the back wall. Jackpot! After consulting a cookbook ("Savoring the Spice Coast of India" by Maya Kaimal), I decided to try a new dish: carrot thoren, or carrots with coconut and urad dahl (which I served with a seasoned dahl, shown in the back of the photo).

The dish starts by heating mustard seeds in oil. After the mustard seeds have popped, urad dahl, (freezer spotted) curry leaves, and a red chili are added, and cooked until the urad dahl begins to brown. Chopped onions then enter the pot, followed by grated carrots and salt.

After the carrots have cooked briefly, a paste made from grated coconut, ground cumin seed, tumeric, cayenne pepper, and water is stirred in, and the mixture cooks just a few minutes more.

The result is a nice blend of spicy and sweet, without being overly carrot-y. The dish had a good crunch thanks to the carrots, urad dahl, and coconut; I really liked the texture of the thoren in contrast with the soft, soupy seasoned dahl. I can see myself eating carrot thoren year-round, but it's an especially nice mid-winter change-up on a typical winter vegetable.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Brown Rice Pancakes

I'm not much of a pancake person -- given a choice between pancakes and waffles, I will always go with the waffles -- but I love "pancakes" made from pre-cooked noodles or rice. These brown rice pancakes contain pre-cooked brown rice, eggs, and vegetables. It's a good way to use leftover rice, and makes for a colorful breakfast.

This is a fairly flexible dish in that you can change the spice blends to suit your tastes. I like to put a little ketchup on the pancakes seasoned with basil, oregano, parsley and thyme. Salsa might be a good topping for pancakes seasoned with cumin and oregano...

2 cups cooked brown rice
1/2 red onion, washed and minced
1/2 zucchini, washed and grated
1 carrot, washed and grated
2 eggs
salt and pepper to taste
about 1 teaspoon of your choice of spice blend*
Butter or oil for cookie sheet

*possible spice blends: dry basil, oregano, parsley and/or thyme; turmeric and garam masala; cumin, cayenne, and oregano...

Preheat oven to 375 F.
Lightly butter or oil a cookie sheet.
Combine rice, vegetables, eggs, and spices in a large bowl, and mix until thoroughly combined.
Using your hands, scoop up a handful of the rice mixture and pat it onto the baking sheet to create a pancake.
Repeat until all of the rice mixture has been used - I get 6 pancakes.
Bake 20-25 minutes, or until pancakes are golden brown and a little bit crispy.

3 servings as a side dish; 2 servings as a main dish.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Pintos with Cilantro Rice

This recipe takes the basic ingredients of pico de gallo -- tomato, chilies, onion, and cilantro -- and remixes them with pinto beans, brown rice, and cumin seed. It's easy weeknight meal: start the rice, then chop the veggies and prepare the beans while the rice is cooking.

Serves 4.

Ingredients - Pinto Beans
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon cumin seed
1 onion, washed and chopped
3 serrano chilies, washed, seeded, and chopped
3 roma tomatoes, washed and chopped
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 15 ounce cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed, or one cup dry pinto beans, picked over, rinsed, soaked, and cooked

Heat the canola oil and cumin seeds in a large skillet over medium heat.
When the oil is hot, stir in the onion and chilies; cook until the onion is soft (about 5 minutes), stirring occasionally.
Stir in the salt.
Stir in the tomatoes and pinto beans and continue to cook until the beans are heated (1-2 minutes).
Remove from heat and serve with cilantro rice.

Ingredients - Cilantro Rice
2 1/2 cups water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon peanut oil
1 cup long grain brown rice
1/2 cup cilantro, washed and chopped

Combine the water, salt, and peanut oil in a medium sauce pan.
Cover and bring to a boil.
Stir in the brown rice.
Cover, reduce heat to medium low, and simmer about 40-45 minutes.
Remove from heat, and let stand, covered, for about 5 more minutes.
Stir in the cilantro and serve.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Almond Butter and Tahini Cookies

I like tahini (ground sesame seed paste) as much as the next vegetarian, but I've found that it can be a bit overpowering when used in cookies. This recipe uses an almond butter-tahini blend that gives the cookies a pleasantly sweet, nutty flavor, and a nice, peanut-butter-cookie-like crunch.

1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup almond butter
1/4 cup tahini
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup almond slivers
3/4 cup oats

Preheat oven to 350 F.
In a large bowl, thoroughly cream the butter, sugars, eggs, and vanilla.
Stir in the almond butter and tahini.
Add the baking soda and salt.
Slowly stir in the flour, adding a little at a time until all 3 cups have been mixed in.
Blend in the oats and almonds.
Drop by rounded tablespoon (or teaspoon, if you're feeling virtuous...) onto a nonstick cookie sheet.
Bake about 10 minutes, or until golden brown.
Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool.

Makes about 3 dozen cookies.