Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Lentil Soup

Tuesday is upon us once again, and you know what that means, the Crock Pot was a cookin' today. If I want my family to have a homecooked meal on Tuesday's it's got to come from the slowcooker. We've done the Slow Cooked Ziti several Tuesday's now, so it was time for a change. Besides needing to be cooked in the slowcooker, our other Tuesday night requisite is that it has to be something the girls will eat without giving Rob too much hassle since he has to feed them on his own. There's not a lot of time for dinner before dance class starts, so our meal needs to be something that they will eat quickly and that won't require Rob making them a different meal.

Tonight I decided on one of my favorite quick and easy soups. This lentil soup is based on this recipe that I found at The Fat Free Vegan. The soup is pretty good as the recipe directs, however I've made some additions to it that I think make it taste quite a bit better.

1 1/2 C. Puy lentils
1 Large can of crushed tomatoes with basil
2 C. Vegetable broth
1 medium onion chopped
1 celery stalk chopped
1 Bay leaves
1 tsp dried thyme
2 tsp sea salt (I use homemade veggie stock that is salt free, so if you are using canned stalk you may need less salt)
fresh ground black pepper.

Put it all in the crock pot, add 4 cups of water. Cook on low 8 hrs or until lentils have softened.

This soup is delicious served with some crusty bread for dipping, but tonight we had it solo.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Curry Noodles

We love curry, especially Thai Curry. I typically make a Thai green curry that I've been making for several years, sometimes with just veggies, sometimes with tofu, and before we went veg I made it with chicken. It's very delicious and easy to make, and it will undoubtedly be made many times in the future.

I'm always looking for new curry ideas, so imagine my delight when I ran across the recipe for Big Curry Noodle Pot while thumbing through Super Natural Cooking. I think I mentioned this book before. I got it for my birthday, and if anyone is in search of a new cookbook, you really should check this one out. Not only is it full of great recipes and very informative food facts, it's a beautiful book....it's wonderfully designed, and the photography is amazing (it's also one of those books that just feels good in your hands, ya know what I mean?).

Anyway, enough about the book, on to the curry. This was different than the curries we normally eat, it was more like a big bowl of delicious curry noodle soup.....not something you'd want to make if you are embarrassed about slurping noodles into your mouth and getting covered in yellow coconut milk!! I didn't follow the recipe exactly, as I didn't have all of the ingredients, I didn't like some of the techniques (it called for cooking the curry sauce first, then adding the tofu into the simmering curry, which in my opinion just leads to mushy, disgusting tofu), and it called for peanuts which are a forbidden food in anything that Stella may decide to eat (it turns out this one was a little too spicy for her, so I could have added the peanuts, but I didn't know how the heat would be until it was finished). So, I think I changed the recipe just enough to make it safe to post:

Curry Noodles

8 oz dried Asian wide noodles (I used Eden Brown Rice Udon)

2 Tbs canola oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 medium onion, chopped

1 1/2 tsp Thai Red Curry Paste

12 oz extra firm tofu (pressed and cut into slices 1/2 inch thick by 1 inch long)

1 can coconut milk

1 cup vegetable stock

2 Tbs light brown sugar (packed)

2 tsp ground turmeric

2 Tbs soy sauce

Juice of 1 lime

chopped cilantro for garnish.

Cook noodles as directed on package. Drain and set aside. While the noodles cook begin making the curry. Heat oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add tofu and brown on all sides. When tofu is almost finished browning, add onion and saute until tender. Add garlic and curry paste, smashing paste around pan to distribute it evenly. Cook for about 2 minutes until curry paste become fragrant. Add in the coconut milk, stock, turmeric, brown sugar and soy sauce, bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, add in lime juice and noodles, stir to cover noodles with sauce and distribute sauce and tofu evenly. Serve noodles in bowls with a few ladles of curry sauce. Top with cilantro and serve.

The book says this serves 4-6, but in reality it served Rob and I with a nice helping left for one of us to have for lunch tomorrow. Plus, each girl had about half a bowl of plain udon noodles.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Sweet and Savory Lentils

Agave Baked Lentils:

2 cups Puy Lentil (you could use any kind of lentils, but I prefer the french lentils, they seem to hold their shape and not become mushy)

4 cups water

1 Bay Leaf

1 vegetable bouillon cube

1 large carrot, diced

2 celery stalks, diced

1 small onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup agave nectar (or substitute honey if you like)

1 tsp nutmeg

2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375. In sauce pot add 4 cups of water with 2 cups Puy lentils, vegetable bouillon cube, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes. After 30 minute remove lentils from heat and set aside. In a 9x12 baking dish combine carrots, celery, onions and garlic with agave, nutmeg, EVOO and salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Then, pour lentils with their cooking liquid into baking dish. Stir to incorporate vegetables. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 1 hour. After 1 hour remove foil and bake about 10 more minutes to evaporate some of the liquid.

I baked the sweet potatoes at the same time the lentils were baking, when they were done I cut them in half, scooped out the flesh and mashed it with a few Tbs of soy milk and 1 Tbs of brown sugar.