Entrée, Summer, Gluten Free, Spring

WEEKNIGHT VEGETABLE CURRY

Weeknight Vegetable Curry . Sprouted Kitchen

Weeknight dinners. These are looking different than they did pre kids. I remember thinking that people with meal plans were inflexible and rigid but I understand the intrigue now. It’s far more efficient and I loooove efficiency. I see now that it does not have to be about creativity, or lack thereof, but rather reducing your market runs. So sensical, you meal planners. I stay pretty adaptable within my plan, but paused are the days of wandering multiple grocery stores grabbing whatever looks good. They say there is a season for everything. I repeat meals far more often than I used to and I take a handful of shortcuts but I am still fumbling through my days with the wee people at my feet (or on my hip and in the cupboards, more specifically). I plan for two easy staples, try two new things and then leave room for something impromptu, going out or having people over. There are usually burrito bowls with lots of grilled vegetables and avocado, a chopped salad night, something in a big pot like tortilla or lentil soup and we’ve started weekly grilled pizzas. It's simpler and that's alright. I have also taken to making more than we need so I am halfway through another meal. For example, the leftover rice and grilled portobellos from burrito night, get blitzed with a few other things in the food processor for veggie burger patties. I find it some sort of personal challenge to use what I have. Anyway, this curry was from one of my big pot situations and I just kept adding vegetables to stretch the great sauce. It is creamy, full of spices and there is just enough peanut butter for richness without making it a “peanut sauce” - I got that idea from the True Food cookbook. I am aware it is not authentic in any sense of the word but it makes for a flavorful bowl of food and a pretty quick dinner.

I don’t get asked frequently about kitchen equipment, but when I do, it is for my opinion on high powered blenders. They are quite expensive and take up a lot of cupboard real estate; I understand wanting to do your due diligence. But until KitchenAid® sent me their new ProLine® model, I actually didn’t own a blender. Well no, I have a NutriBullet which is great and has done everything I’ve needed in a blender, but that’s not the answer people are looking for. So much depends on what you use a blender for, I think. I smoothed this curry sauce in there and good gracious that thing is powerful. I knew I didn’t need to chop the garlic or ginger or worry too much about the size of my onions because the blender would take care of that. And as far making enough for two meals, this sauce was better the second day. I added another handful of vegetables, lentils and a bit more broth to stretch it with success. 

This post was created in partnership with KitchenAid® and their new ProLine® Series Blender.

Weeknight Vegetable Curry . Sprouted Kitchen

WEEKNIGHT VEGETABLE CURRY
Serves 4

The heat here will largely depend on your curry powder. I buy some from Penzey’s but know people are partial to paste versus powders as well. If you prefer paste, sub in about 1 tsp. red curry paste. Long as you use a sweet curry powder, the sambal oelek (chile paste) here should offer enough heat but adjust to your taste. You may add a pinch of cayenne if that is what you have. Taste as you good, I suppose. 

1 Tbsp. ghee or coconut oil
1 medium yellow onion, roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic
3 inch nub of peeled ginger
1 tsp. sea salt, to taste
1 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. curry powder
1 tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. muscavado or brown sugar
1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
1 14-oz. can coconut milk
1/2 tsp. fish sauce, optional
3/4 cup canned, diced tomatoes
1 1/2 cups coconut water or vegetable broth, as needed
1 tsp. sambal oelek (chile paste)
handful of cilantro and basil leaves
juice of one lime 

14-ounce package of extra firm tofu, drained well
3 medium carrots, 1” thick sliced on a diagonal
2 shallots, peeled and sliced thin
1 red bell pepper, cut in 2” pieces
8 ounces mushrooms, stemmed and chopped
3/4 lb. snap peas, larger ones halved

cooked brown rice, for serving

whole milk yogurt and cilantro, for topping

Weeknight Vegetable Curry . Sprouted Kitchen

In a dutch oven over medium heat, warm the ghee or coconut oil. Add the onion, garlic, ginger and salt and saute until softened but not browned. About 5 minutes. Add the cumin, curry powder, turmeric, muscavado or brown sugar and saute another minute. Add the peanut butter, coconut milk, fish sauce (if using), tomatoes and coconut water or broth and stir to mix. Let everything simmer on low for 15 minutes. Add the chile paste and cilantro and basil and transfer sauce to a blender. Run the blender until the sauce is smooth and then transfer it back to the pot. Stir in the lime juice. Taste for seasoning. It should be somewhat thick, but still thin enough that the vegetables will cook in it’s heat. Add broth or coconut water if needed. 

Cut the tofu into 1” cubes and prepare all your vegetables. Add the carrots and shallot to the pot first and cook for 5 minutes, then add the tofu, bell pepper, mushrooms and snap peas and cook another 10-15 minutes until all the vegetables are just tender but not mushy. 

For serving, serve each bowl with a scoop of rice and a generous portion of vegetables and sauce. Garnish with whole milk yogurt and cilantro. 

Weeknight Vegetable Curry . Sprouted Kitchen

CHOCOLATE HAZELNUT CHEWIES

Chocolate Hazelnut Chewies . Sprouted Kitchen

I came across this quote on my friend Stacey's blog this week and I just love it.

In How to Be Here, Rob Bell writes this:

You and I were raised in a modern world that taught us how to work hard and be productive and show up on time and give it our best…

We learned lots of very valuable skills, but we weren’t taught how to be here, how to be fully present in this moment, how to not be distracted or stressed or worried or anxious, but just be here, and nowhere else—wide awake to the infinite depth and dimension of this exact moment.

I have my head down these days trying to keep everyone fed, rested, clean and happy. But I do feel that these days, in our times, stopping and seeing is so encouraged. It doesn't mean I do it, but it may be quote on Pinterest or line from a self help book or a loved one with a terminal illness that puts things back in perspective. It's advice I'm choosing to, or trying to, listen to because I am happier when I do.  The exhaustion, the 3am rocking, the mess and the tantrums, the baby smiles and the toddler phrases that make us laugh. It all feels like too much for my tender heart - both the hard and the really good of it. These are the days. 

I saw those virtuous candy bars on My New Roots a few weeks ago and while they look perfect, I used her general idea to come up with something a little quicker. That cookie layer would be perfect, but these still feel like such a treat drenched in dark chocolate. They remind me of these truffles but without the cocoa and a little nuttier inside. They are soft, so I keep them in the fridge and actually prefer them cold but I am not one to turn down a treat at any temperature. 

CHOCOLATE HAZELNUT CHEWIES //Makes about 16

You'll have to use your judgement based on the juiciness of your dates. Notes are in the recipe to compensate for dry or super juicy ones. We are going for the texture of a Lara bar inside - chewy and a wee bit crunchy. You can use all hazelnuts, but I wanted to pair them with a fattier nut for creaminess. 

1 cup toasted and skinner hazelnuts
1 cup cashews or macadamia nuts
8-9 pitted Medjool dates
1/4 cup real maple syrup
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 cup rolled oats
2 Tbsp. coconut flour

6 ounces dark chocolate

toasted hazelnuts, flaky sea salt and cocoa nibs, for topping

In a food processor, pulse the nuts until just sandy. Add the dates, maple, salt, vanilla, oats and coconut flour and pulse a few more times to combine. The mixture should start to come together in a fall. If it is still too wet, add a few more tablespoons oats or flaxmeal. If it seems dry and crumbly, add a splash more maple or warm water. Chill in the fridge for 10 minutes.
Line a baking tray with parchment and spread a thin coat of coconut oil. Dump the nut mixture and form a rectangle about 3/4" thick. Pop it back in the fridge to chill another 15-20 minutes. 
Meanwhile, melt the chocolate in a large mixing bowl in the microwave or double boiler. Put a baking rack (rubbed with a bit of coconut oil) over a piece of parchment to collect drips. Cut the chewies into 2" squares. Bathe them one at a time in the chocolate bath, coating both sides, and set them on the rack. Sprinkle the tops with a bit of chopped hazelnuts, cocoa nibs and flaky sea salt. Pop them in the fridge to firm up and enjoy. Keep them in a covered container in the fridge.

Chocolate Hazelnut Chewies . Sprouted Kitchen

Entrée, Gluten Free

FEEDING BABIES : COOKING WITH MY NIECES

Cooking with my Nieces . Sprouted Kitchen

I could pick out clothes or a new lego set, but what I really wanted was quality time with my nieces, who are turning 7 and 4 this month. My sister-in-law actually came up with the idea, I just needed to plan and execute a cooking class with them. I mentally prepared myself to forget trying to keep everything tidy and I asked them their favorite foods to be sure we made something they'd like. These girls are great eaters, the only request was to not have mushrooms or curry involved, which left me a lot to choose from. After a few attempts in the past, I will be honest that I don't really enjoy teaching. Not cooking at least. It is something I just have a feel for by way of experience and am pretty quick with because of that. I find it difficult to teach things that I've learned by trial and error myself. I can tell when cake batter looks too wet or smell if a vinaigrette is too oily only because I've messed those things up myself. Luckily, a four and seven year old are mostly concerned about when the cookies will be done and who gets to put the kale down the food processor shredder, so they were forgiving students. Leading the girls through this opposed to adults was refreshing. They were eager to touch and work and less concerned with the reasons and science that can be involved in making food taste good. It was so nice to have an afternoon with them even if I'm not sure I taught them anything, per se.

I can't speak as an authority on the subject, but I learned a few things about cooking with kids through this. First, the mise en place thing was huge, especially with baking. I measured and set out all of the ingredients, but they got to do the pouring and the mixing. I basically prepared half of the recipes in advance to keep their attention and for it to not take all day long to make some tacos and cookies. Example: I made the slaw dressing, but I saved the limes for them to squeeze in. Or the fish was cut and set in it's dish, but they were able to oil and season it. Yes, it's slightly more work than doing it yourself, but they were so excited to eat what they made I'd slow down again in a heartbeat. I am in the clean-as-you-go camp but that just doesn't work with kids around. Let the sink pile up and do it later. On recipes. Like I said, these girls, thanks to their mom, eat all sorts of things and are great with vegetables. Curran (2), prefers things a little more hidden and is exercising his own autonomy by using "no" often. In order to make one meal please everyone, I pulled out some crunchy beans on their own for his plate, and made his taco with melted mexican blend cheese, fish, easy slaw, rolled it up and called it a burrito because he'll eat nearly anything if he thinks it's a burrito (so long as any green vegetables are cut very small). 

I realize I was sharing kid friendly recipes based on how I was learning to eat well with a young toddler and then jumped ahead a few years on you but this can still work. On a normal day, I am not making everyone here different meals, we are just rearranging the one meal, to please everyone. 
The taco recipe is below and for the cookies, I worked off this thumbprint cookie recipe from Green Kitchen Stories. Based on my own pantry, I swapped in almond meal for the sunflower seed meal, whole wheat flour for the buckwheat flour and used the whole egg in the dough since I didn't put seeds around the outside. I also used store bought jam to save time and it worked great. 

Cooking with my Nieces . Ingredients . Sprouted Kitchen
Cooking with my Nieces . Sprouted Kitchen

FISH TACOS WITH CREAMY KALE SLAW AND CRUNCHY BEANS
Serves 4

The beans and fish need to be made fresh, but the dressing and slaw can be prepared in advance. I used wild rockfish here, but halibut or salmon would be great as they are in season now. If you are not a fish person, sub in your protein of choice, or even some mashed black beans or sweet potatoes could work. 

1 1/2 cups cooked garbanzo beans, rinsed, drained and dried
1 generous Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil or grapeseed oil
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. cumin
sea salt

Preheat the oven to 400'. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment. Spread of the dried beans and drizzle the oil, chili powder, cumin and generous sprinkle of salt. Toss to coat. You want them coated well to get crispy. Bake in the upper third of the oven for 20 minutes or until crispy. Set aside. 

2 lbs. firm, white fish or wild salmon
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp. taco seasoning

2 heads lacinato kale, spines removed
1/2 of a small red cabbage
4 green onions

// cilantro pepita dressing //

1 clove garlic
1/4 cup toasted pepitas
1 tsp. capers
1 jalapeno, seeded
1 larger bunch of cilantro
juice of two juicy limes
2 tsp. rice vinegar
2 tsp. agave nectar
2-3 Tbsp. mayonnaise or vegan alternative
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp. each sea salt and pepper

8 corn tortillas
crumbled feta cheese
hot sauce, for serving

Cooking with my Nieces . Thumbprint Cookies . Sprouted Kitchen
Cooking with my Nieces . Cookies . Sprouted Kitchen

Put the fish filets in a baking dish and oil both sides. Sprinkle on the taco seasoning and salt if your mix is unsalted. Brush or rub the mix into the flesh of the fish. Set aside.

For the dressing, in a food processor, blitz the garlic, pepitas, capers, jalapeno together until mostly blended. Add the cilantro, lime juice, agave, mayo, oil and salt and pepper and blend for 30 seconds until mostly smooth. Taste it and season to taste. This will be a dressing, so it should be thick, but still easy to distribute. Adjust oil and lime juice as needed. Set aside. The dressing can be made up to a week in advance. 

Shred or chop the kale and cabbage very thin. I use the shredder blade on the food processor to get a fine, consistent cut. You should have about 4-5 cups of shredded vegetables. Cut the onions and add them to the mixture. Toss with desired amount of dressing and set it in the fridge while you cook the fish.
Preheat the grill to medium heat. Grill the fish about 4-5 minutes per side until just cooked. Timing will vary based on thickness of the fish. Note, it may also be broiled if you don't want to grill. Broil for about 8 minutes total.

Heat your tortillas over the grill or stove. Assemble with a piece of fish, slaw, crunchy beans and crumbled feta cheese.

Cooking with my Nieces . Fish Tacos . Sprouted Kitchen