Monthly Archives: March 2011

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Curried Orange Couscous

I had some leftover Moroccan chicken and I wanted to make something different than the roasted potatoes or the Moroccan couscous that I have made before. I decided to go with a fruity, sweet couscous and it ended up tasting great with the chicken. The orange juice and the clove/cinnamon spices in the garam masala were also good together.

Couscous can be pretty plain if you don’t salt it or add enough honey and spices. What I’ve found is that a boring recipe can be made better by adding more fat, salt, or sweetness. Aren’t those the three reasons why anything ever tastes good? So, if you find the recipe needing something more, add one of those three and you won’t go wrong.

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Moroccan Lentil Soup with Preserved Lemon and Quinoa

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It’s been raining a lot lately and I wanted to make something nice and warm from the slow cooker. One of my favorite recipes has been the Moroccan Chicken with Preserved Lemons and I wanted to see if those flavors could translate into a stew. I figured red lentils and chickpeas would go well with the curry flavors of the dish, and it ended up being really good. The soup was pretty thick from the quinoa and needed extra chicken stock throughout cooking. I will probably be adding more later since the lentils and quinoa will keep on absorbing the liquid. This recipe makes a big batch so I will have a lot of leftovers (which won’t be a problem at all).

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Garam Masala

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Garam Masala is a really common spice blend in Indian food. I have had this posted in a bunch of other recipes but the blend deserves a post of its own. I decided to go with a simpler version since I don’t own a spice blender. To get the best flavors you would have to toast and grind whole spices (cardamom pods, cinnamon sticks, nutmeg seeds, etc.) which is great if you can find the whole spices. I couldn’t so I just went with the ground spices and mixed them together. Very easy to make, and I just store what I don’t use in an empty spice container.

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Irish Soda Bread

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Just in time for Saint Patrick’s Day! (jk). I had some leftover buttermilk and I was trying to figure out what to do with it. I came across a recipe for Irish Soda bread and thought I would try it. This bread is so easy to make; you just toss the flour, baking soda, and salt with some buttermilk. It hardly requires any mixing and produces a nice crunchy crust and soft inside. You can either set the dough in a loaf pan or bake it on some foil. I wanted a loaf shape so I went with a pan. This bread goes well with a stew, but is just as good on its own too.

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Roasted Red Pepper and Goat Cheese Lasagna

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Lasagna is a great staple dinner but I wanted to experiment a bit with the ingredients. Instead of using ricotta cheese I used a Bechamel sauce with goat cheese and feta. Bechamel is a white sauce made from milk, cheese, and butter. The goat cheese and feta added a tangy flavor that was good with the roasted red peppers. This recipe was very unique and it was a lot of fun to make and the results were great. Lasagna takes forever (about 2 1/2-3 hours) to prepare and cook so take some time to try this one out.

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Cinnamon Bread

I had been looking for some breakfast ideas for the weekend and thought cinnamon bread would be an easy treat to make. It turned out really good, very soft with a delicious brown sugar cinnamon flavor. I was surprised at how well it turned out because I totally messed up the recipe I was trying to follow. The recipe said to cream the butter and sugar, so I figured “sugar” meant both brown and white. Not so, because the brown sugar was supposed to be added to the cinnamon as a layer. Oops. I cut down on the sugar a lot for the cinnamon layer so I wouldn’t have a sugar coma from one slice.  I liked how it turned out so I will keep the mistake as part of the recipe. I noticed that this bread was darker, and that was probably due to the brown sugar in the batter. This bread makes a great breakfast and goes well with a cup of black tea.

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Horiatiki Salata (Greek Salad)

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Greek Salad is made of simple ingredients, mixed together in a little vinegar and olive oil. I wanted to have a salad with the chicken Gyros and this proved to be a great choice. It was light, flavorful, and went well with the Gyros.

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Chicken Souvlaki and Gyros

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I made Tzatziki the other day to go with some chicken Souvlaki. Souvlaki is skewered and roasted chicken, marinated in yogurt, oregano, and lemon. The gyro is a sandwich made of onions, feta cheese, tzatziki, roasted peppers, and meat (usually chicken or lamb) all wrapped in pita bread. Since I had no skewers or rotisserie oven, I just cut the meat into strips and broiled it, turning a couple times to get everything browned. The chicken was very tender from marinating in the lemon juice, and went really well with the flavors of the roasted peppers, feta and tzatziki.

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Tzatziki (Greek Cucumber Salad)

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Tzatziki is a Greek appetizer made from strained yogurt, cucumber and garlic. It’s also used as a condiment on gyros and other Greek foods.Tzatziki has a cooling effect similar to sour cream. To give it some extra flavor, dill, mint, and lemon juice are also added. I didn’t have any mint leaves around but I did have some mint extract so I used a drop of that in the Tzatziki.  I was surprised at how nicely that worked out! The mint extract gave it a subtle, minty after taste. I only put in one drop so it would be easy to over do it.

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"Philly" Cheese Steak Sandwich

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I have been looking around for more good sandwich recipes and I decided to try a Philly cheese steak.  Since I never actually had a Philly cheese steak, I picked a recipe from the internet that looked good without thinking much about it. I then ran the ingredients by John who has had a real Philly from one of the cult places in Philadelphia. He was a little surprised when I told him there would be green peppers and provolone in the sandwich. He was also pretty weirded out that I was using neither rib-eye steak or “steak-ums” (whatever that is).

Basically none of the ingredients were “right,” except maybe the sourdough roll. Cheese steak challenges aside, I thought the sandwich turned out great. The peppers, onions, and steak were good together.B Next time I might try making a more traditional Philly. I just don’t think I can ever go there with that cheese-wiz stuff.

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