African Yam Stew ~ Amazing, Spicy, Sweet Peanut Buttery YUM!

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This is divine!  I made it two nights ago and was crazy over the depth of flavor it has.  The small amount of peanut butter truly added this whole level of yum, beyond the awesome spices it has.

I have to say the next time, I would half the recipe because it simply made too much for just the Mr. and myself.  The girls tried it and well… not so much mom!  Perhaps the flavors are just too grown up for them, yet.  Enjoy!

Two popular vegetarian soups of Central Africa were the inspiration for this stew. In this region, sweet potatoes, beans, chili peppers, onions, ginger, garlic and peanuts are common ingredients. The peanut butter makes this a creamy stew, but there is only a small amount per serving. To decrease the richness serve over a whole grain or use only ¼ cup of peanut butter. Feel free to kick up the heat by using jalapeno pepper or more red pepper flakes.

Forks Over Knives

http://www.forksoverknives.com/african-yam-stew/

Serves: 6-8

Ingredients:

• ½ cup water
• 1 onion, chopped
• 1-2 tablespoon(s) Anaheim or jalapeno pepper, minced
• 1 tablespoon ginger, ground
• 1 tablespoon garlic granules
• 2 teaspoons cumin, ground
• 2 teaspoons coriander, ground
• 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
• 6 yams, peeled and chopped
• 2 cups vegetable broth
• 24 ounces tomatoes, chopped
• 14 ounces garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
• 14 ounces black eyed peas, drained and rinsed
• 1/2 cup almond or peanut butter, unsweetened natural
• 1½ cup corn
• 6 cups collards, chopped

Instructions:

In a large pot, sauté onion and pepper with water for 5 minutes or until onions are translucent, stirring occasionally

Add ginger, garlic, cumin, coriander and red pepper.

Cook and stir for 1 minute.

Mix in yams, vegetable broth, tomatoes, beans and nut butter.

Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

Stir in corn and collards and cook for about 10 more minutes, until yams and greens are tender.

Serve over brown rice or other whole grain.

Italian White Bean, Potato and Kale Stew

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“Let food be thy medicine.”  Hippocrates

A few days ago while on Facebook, I got one of those “suggested posts” for a website ‘Forks Over Knives’ and it showed a recipe for Italian White Bean and Kate Stew.  It sounded delightful and very healthy.

I clicked on the link to the recipe and was happy to find this amazing site and documentary on being mindful with food choices.  The documentary is quite telling and should be watched by all.

Italian White Bean, Kale and Potato Stew
Serves 6

Ingredients

• 1 cup diced red or white onion
• 3 cloves garlic
• 2 28 ounce cans diced tomatoes (salt free if you prefer)
• ¼ – ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
• 5 cups red-skinned potatoes cut into one inch squares
• 1 tablespoon dried oregano
• 1 tablespoon dried parsley
• 6-8 packed cups of kale, after it has been de-stemmed and chopped
• 2 15 ounce cans Cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
• salt (optional)

Instructions

Place a large soup/stock pot over a medium high flame and pour some of the liquid from one of the cans of the diced tomatoes into the pot to cover the base of the pot. When the tomato liquid starts to bubble, add the onion and stir. Lower heat a little. Press garlic into pot. Add red pepper flakes (to taste). Continue to cook and stir, lowering heat as the time passes, for a total of about 10 minutes or until onions are soft.

Add the rest of the first can of diced tomatoes and the entire second can into the pot. Bring heat up to medium-high again so that tomatoes begin to simmer. Place diced potatoes, oregano and parsley into the pot and stir. Cover pot, lower heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes.

Place all of the kale into the pot and cover the pot again. Let kale steam and shrink for 3 minutes. Uncover pot and stir in kale. Add Cannellini beans and stir. Taste and season with salt (or not). If potatoes are not as soft as you desire, continue to let simmer.

Vietnamese Pork Pho Soup ~ Delicious, Healthy Love for Your Tummy!

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When the Mr. and I used to frequent Montreal for our weekend “adult” getaways, our favorite go~to hangover remedy, as with most other cultures was some sort of big, fresh vegetable, noodle and protein soup.

Thanks to many great reviews online from Montreal natives, we were lucky to find a lot of great restaurants that are “off the beaten path” of tourists, that have phenomenal cuisine at low prices!

So where is the best place to get pho?  A tiny hole-in-the-wall place in Chinatown, Cristal No. 1.

It was absolutely AMAZING!

http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/67/1548051/restaurant/Chinatown/Cristal-No-1-Montreal

The whole late night, post partying, healthy soup practice, seems to not have taken hold here in the U.S. as it has pretty much everywhere else.   That is, it’s probably unlikely that it will become popular, unless the Golden Arches start carrying it, anyway!

I’ve been making this soup at home for years in the chicken form.  Chicken stock and meat.   This past week I made pho with a lovely, tender pork loin and it was absolutely amazing.

Here is the recipe I used.  Feel free to add any variety of veggies on top that you have, the key is to add them AFTER the noodles, meat and broth.  The idea is to keep them fresh, vibrant and crispy.  The nice thing about this soup is it’s easily made ahead of time.  If you chop the veggies first and refrigerate till you’re ready, it’s only a matter of heating up the broth.  This means, healthy, quick dinner!

Here are some fresh / raw veggies I’ve seen on Pho:

Julienne carrots

Julienne cucumbers

Mushrooms

Cilantro

Sliced thin red peppers

Jalapeno thin sliced

Bean sprouts

Sliced thin read onion

Chopped mint

Chopped basil

Lime wedges

http://guiltykitchen.com/2009/10/14/daring-cooks-vietnamese-pork-pho/

And if you’re ever in Montreal, definitely check out Cristal No. 1.  It’s the best pho in Montreal!

Dreamy Wild Mushroom Lasagna

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Ingredients

  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 1/4 cups chopped shallots (about 4)
  • 1 (8-ounce) package presliced cremini mushrooms
  • 1 (4-ounce) package presliced exotic mushroom blend
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced and divided
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/3 cup (3 ounces) 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives, divided
  • 3 cups 2% reduced-fat milk, divided
  • 1.1 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1/4 cup)
  • Cooking spray
  • 9 no-boil lasagna noodles
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Preparation

  1. 1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. 2. Combine 1 cup boiling water and porcini. Cover and let stand 30 minutes; strain mixture through a cheesecloth-lined sieve over a bowl, reserving liquid and mushrooms.
  3. 3. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add shallots to pan; sauté 3 minutes. Add cremini and exotic mushrooms, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; sauté 6 minutes or until mushrooms are browned. Add thyme and 3 garlic cloves; sauté 1 minute. Stir in wine; bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute or until liquid almost evaporates, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Remove from heat; stir in cream cheese and 1 tablespoon chives. Add reserved porcini mushrooms.
  4. 4. Heat a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add remaining 3 garlic cloves to pan; sauté 30 seconds. Add the reserved porcini liquid, 2 3/4 cups milk, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper; bring to a boil. Combine remaining 1/4 cup milk and flour in a small bowl; stir with a whisk. Add flour mixture to milk mixture, and simmer 2 minutes or until slightly thick, stirring constantly with a whisk.
  5. 5. Spoon 1/2 cup sauce into an 11 x 7-inch glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray, and top with 3 noodles. Spread half of mushroom mixture over noodles. Repeat layers, ending with remaining sauce. Sprinkle cheese over top. Bake at 350° for 45 minutes or until golden. Top with remaining 1 tablespoon chopped chives.

Julianna Grimes, Cooking Light 
JANUARY 2012

Chinese Steamed Chicken Buns ~Bread Machine

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When I was in Jr. High School my mom worked with a gal Keng, from Singapore.  Occasionally Keng would bring in food that she had prepared.  Sometimes it was noodles and once in a while it was these deliciously savory, fragrant and chewy steamed buns.  They were like nothing I had ever tried at any Chinese restaurant.

I was recollecting Keng and her amazing steamed buns and decided to make them.  I had just bought an industrial size pack of boneless, skinless chicken breast and was tired of oven fried chicken, I needed something more complex and savory. Sadly, I cannot honestly recall what the meat was in Keng’s buns.  I believe it was ground pork.  That would be amazing too.

I found a recipe or two online and one in my bread machine cookbook and combined them all to create my own recipe.  My girls and husband were crazy about them and The Mr. promptly said “You can make these anytime you want!”  I laughed and assured him, it was going to be a while before I did these again.  Not because I did not enjoy them, but they are a lengthy project to undertake.  But, yes… they are mighty tasty!

Dough Ingredients:

5/8 cup lukewarm milk

2 cups unbleached white flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar

1 tablespoon room temp butter

1 teaspoon rapid rise yeast

Pour the milk into the bread machine and add the butter.  Sprinkle the flour to cover the milk.  Add the salt and sugar into separate corners and put the yeast directly in the center.  Use your dough cycle on your machine.  Allow the dough to rest after the cycle ends.  I allowed mine to hang out for about three hours after the cycle ended.

Filling Ingredients:

2 tablespoons sunflower oil

2 inch piece of ginger root finely minced

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon honey

1/8 teaspoon Chinese five spice powder (*this seems like a small amount but the flavor is needed)

8 ounces chicken breast, thinly sliced and cut into 1″ pieces

3 scallions chopped

1 tablespoon cilantro chopped

Salt and pepper

Mix all of the ingredients and marinate for at least 1/2 hour.  Heat a non stick skillet and add 1 tablespoon of oil.  When the skillet is hot add 1/2 of the chicken and stir fry for approximately 3 minutes. Remove from skillet and add the second batch of chicken.  Cook for 3 minutes and add the the first batch.  Let rest for 1/2 hour to cool the ingredients.

Vegetables For Filling:

1 small can sliced water chestnuts ~ Drained

2 carrots peeled and roughly chopped

1 small onion roughly chopped

2 cloves garlic roughly chopped

Add all the ingredients into a food processor and pulse until the vegetables are well chopped.  Add the chopped vegetables to the chicken, once the chicken is cooled and easy to handle.

Dough Preparation:

Sprinkle your work surface with flour and roll the dough into a log shape.  Cut the dough into eight uniform segments and cover with a tea towel.

Take the first piece of dough and roll it into a 5″ round.  Recover and roll out the remaining dough balls into 5″ rounds, covering the dough as you work to keep it from drying out.

Heat approximately 6″ of water in a large stockpot and place your bamboo steamer on the pan.  Heat the water to a boil.

Take one round of dough and add about 2 tablespoons of filling and pull the dough out a bit.  Run a small amount of water around the edge of the dough.  Bring the sides of the dough to cover the filling and pinch the edges together to seal.  Place the bun on a small square of wax paper or parchment.  This is used to keep it from sticking in the steamer.

Cover the completed bun with a tea towel as you create the remaining seven.

Load the buns into the steamer, being careful not to allow them to touch the sides of the steamer or each other.  Keep in mind that the buns will expand as they cook.  It’s quite surprising how much larger they get while steaming.

steamed bun

Steam the buns for ten minutes and serve immediately.

Red Thai Duck Curry ~ The Pioneer Woman

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Last year the Mr. and I went to an amazing Thai restaurant in D.C.  Generally, when we get Thai food, I either get chicken curry or Pad Thai.  I don’t usually travel too far outside of that zone, primarily because it’s not often when we get Thai and when we do I am craving those so much, I can’t bring myself to deviate from them.

This particular night I decided to splurge and go for the curry duck and well there missy… lemme tell you.  It was OUTSTANDING.  It had the most amazingly complex flavors.  It’s been in my dreams since.

Hopefully this recipe will stand up to the curry duck from D.C.  If I can ever locate some duck breasts, I’ll try it!

http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2011/01/red-thai-duck-curry/