My mother is an amazing cook and my parents both love to try new foods. I grew up in a house where one night you had Greek food, Cuban food the next night, and the following night Iraqi food.  Needless to say, I was shocked when my husband told be he had never eaten Indian food. But then I learned he was allergic to nuts, which includes peanuts, tree nuts, & coconut (recently considered a tree nut).  Many Indian dishes contain nuts or coconut milk, so an attempt to eat at an Indian restaurant would likely lead to a hospital visit.
At first I looked in stores for a prepared sauce or dish. For some reason I had it in my head that cooking an Indian dish would be difficult. I found one jar of mango curry for $7.00. We tried it and it was great, but it made a small dinner.  However, one day I ran across this recipe on msn.com cooking section.  It has become a staple meal at our home now. It is very tasty & simple to make.  The cooking goes really fast, so make sure you have all your ingredients prepped before starting. Also, you can make it vegetarian by using potatoes and/or chick peas instead of chicken.
Ingredients:
  • 2  tablespoon(s) cooking oil
  • 1   onion, chopped
  • 3   cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1  tablespoon(s) chopped fresh ginger (I have used ginger paste & ground ginger when fresh isn’t on hand)
  • 1  tablespoon(s) ground cumin
  • 1  tablespoon(s) ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon(s) turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon(s) paprika
  • 1  teaspoon(s) salt
  • 2   jalapeño peppers, seeds and ribs removed, minced (I have left this out & the dish is still wonderful.)
  • 1/2 cup(s) canned crushed tomatoes, drained
  • 1/2 cup(s) heavy cream (Most of the time I use half & half to cut down on calories)
  • 1   cinnamon stick
  • 1 1/2 cup(s) water
  • 2  packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed (I tend to add a lot more spinach)
  • 4   boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 3 pieces each
  • 1/2 teaspoon(s) salt
Directions:
Here are the directions & a few pictures. Please note I made a double batch, so we could have a meal ready in the freezer.
1) In a large frying pan, heat the oil over moderately low heat. Add the onion and cook until starting to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes longer. (I used ginger paste this time)

Onion, garlic, & ginger

2) Stir in the cumin, coriander, turmeric, paprika, and 1 teaspoon of the salt. Cook until the spices are fragrant, about 1 minute, and then stir in the jalapeños and tomatoes.

Spiced added in. This is when things really start to smell great!

Crushed tomatoes & jalapeños added in

3) Add the cream, cinnamon stick, and water. Squeeze the spinach to remove excess liquid and add the spinach to the pan. Bring to a simmer. Cover the pan, reduce the heat, and simmer for 5 minutes.

Half & half, water, cinnamon stick, & spinach added in. (I also put in cut up cooked potatoes)

4) Stir in the chicken and the remaining 1/2 teaspoons salt, cover, and simmer the stew until just done, about 10 minutes. Remove the cinnamon stick before serving. I usually serve with brown rice. Sometimes I will make or buy Naan (Indian flat bread).

Finished Indian-spiced spinach & chicken

Let me know if you try this dish & what you think!

I have a 2 year old son who has never had a granola bar. Every brand I see in the store is has nuts or dairy or soy (all of which he is allergic to), so I decided to learn how to make my own. I began with what I thought would be a quick search online. However, I was shocked at the amount of sugar in all these so-called healthy recipes!  It took me a while to find something I could work with. I finally found Ellie Krieger’s Energy bar recipe at http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ellie-krieger/energy-bars-recipe/index.html . I changed the recipe up a bit based on my son’s allergies and what I had on-hand, but it is based off of Ellie’s original recipe.

These bars taste great! They are not overly sweet and sticky. However, every bite has a taste of dried fruit or sunflower seeds.  Also, they are surprisingly filling.  They really remind me a lot of a Cliff Bar.

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups old-fashioned oats

1/2 cup sunflower seeds (raw preferred)

1/2 cup wheat germ (I used 1/4 stone ground oats 1/4 cup wheat bran because I was out of wheat germ)

1/4 cup whole wheat flour (pastry flour preferred)

1/2 cup dried apricots

1/2 cup raisins

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1/4 cup dried figs

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 cup pure maple syrup

1/4 cup honey

2 large eggs

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit & coat a 9 X 13 pan with cooking spray.

Place all ingredients except the eggs, honey & maple syrup in a food processor.

Next add the honey, maple syrup, and eggs. Pulse until just incorporated. (Tip: Spray your measuring cup with cooking spray before pouring in the honey or maple syrup & it won’t stick inside the cup.)

 

Both wet & dry ingredients mixed together

Transfer to baking pan & spread evenly. if you spray your spatula with cooking spray it will be much easier.

 

Granola bars before cooking

Bake 20 minutes until just done. Let cool some & cut. Store in air tight container for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

When I make these again I will add ground flax seed for the healthy fats. I also can’t wait to try them with pumpkin seeds & dried cherries or blueberries!

Happy Toddler Toy

January 12, 2011

For a few months now I had been keeping an eye out in stores for some sort of buckle toy. My son is obsessed with buckles, snaps, buttons, & zippers, but especially buckles. He is my little Houdini. For at least 8 months he can get out of anything. Highchairs, car seats…you name it. What better toy than one with lots of buckles. I never found one in stores. However, when I started looking for sewing ideas I ran across a blog ( http://quirkymomma.com/2010/clip-toy-for-toddlers/ ) where a mother made a buckle toy. Wow! I felt stupid not thinking of it before!

Here is a picture of what I made. Please note this is my first sewing project since Home Economics.

I ordered the buckles from http://www.strapworks.com for less than $1 each and received them within a few days. I purchased the Velcro & ribbon from a local store. Originally, I intended to use a heavier medium weight fabric and sew it into a place mat. Then I would attach the toy parts. However, I remembered I had a shopping cart seat cover I never use anymore that would work perfectly. Re-purposing and up-cycling are some of my favorite things! So I cut out the part you see here and sewed on the ribbons. I also used Velcro to be able to roll it up when it isn’t being played with.

My son already loved this toy & I see many happy road trips in our future!