Monthly Archives: October 2011

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Chipotle Lentil and Bean Chili

October and November, in my opinion, are the best months for soups and chilis. I can’t really get enough of a warm bowl of something tasty during these months.  Since I had quite a few leftover ingredients from other meals (e.g. lentils, beans, tomato sauce, cilantro, etc) I figured I should try creating a chili out of what I had sitting around.  I kept looking around for more things to throw in and noticed I had some frozen green peppers and jalapenos, so I cut them up and threw them in too.  I was very happy with how the chili turned out! This chili does not need an ounce of meat as it is packed with protein from the lentils, kidney beans, and pinto beans.  The ground chipotle chilis were great and gave it a more smoky, aromatic flavor.  I garnished the chili with sour cream and cilantro, but yogurt would be a good substitute for the sour cream.

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Roasted Moroccan Chicken with Preserved Lemons

moroccanchickenwhole

This is one of those recipes I make every 2-3 weeks because I can’t stop making it.  I actually get cravings for the preserved lemons that taste just like lemon candy. This recipe is so tasty due to all the layers of flavor that come from the curry spice blend, preserved lemon, and Harissa (a Moroccan red chili paste.)  Since the chicken is marinated overnight and roasted in the oven for several hours the chicken always turns out tender and juicy.  For side dishes, I like to pair the chicken with Moroccan roasted potatoes and curried orange couscous.

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Roasted Moroccan Potatoes

Since I already tried Moroccan couscous I thought it would be nice to try something different. I decided on roasted potatoes and they turned out very nicely. They went great with the Roasted Moroccan chicken and had very good flavor. The honey mellows and contrasts with the spicy harissa and lemon juice. The honey also caramelizes the potatoes and the result is a crispy, golden outside.  The only downside is that honey has the tendency of sticking to the pan so use a generous amount of olive oil and turn the potatoes every 12-15 minutes or so. To get the potatoes extra crispy on the outside I sometimes turn the oven to the broil setting the last 3 minutes of baking.

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Chicken Noodle Soup

chickennoodlesoup

It was a bit cold and rainy this past week and I wanted something warm and comforting for dinner.  Since I had a whole chicken in my freezer, I thought making chicken noodle soup would be a great meal on these cold and damp Fall days.  Making chicken noodle soup only requires humble ingredients and a simple cooking process, yet it yields such delicious flavors!  You just can’t go wrong with home made chicken noodle soup.  The one thing that was slightly disappointing was that I could not find Reames Egg noodles at my grocery store.  Instead I opted for the curly egg noodles which were great but not as good as the thick, slightly doughy, egg noodles.  It was not too much of a loss though since this soup turned out great anyways.  I learned of a new trick to making chicken noodle soup which was adding a 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric to the broth.  I really liked how it made the broth pop with color and the flavor of the turmeric was a nice addition to a traditional recipe.

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Pomegranate and White Chocolate Chip Cookies

cookies

I was excited to try this recipe because I had never tried baking with pomegranates before.  Pomegranates are so tasty on their own but it was even better with butter, sugar, and chocolate. The pomegranate arils were a nice pop of color in the white cookie, and the flavor of the pomegranate could still be tasted when the arils burst in your mouth.  My cookies were a little bit crumbly and soft so next time I will chill the dough before baking.  This recipe will be great for the upcoming holidays and I could see this becoming a regular, annual cookie recipe!

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Pesto Pasta with Paprika Grilled chicken

pennepesto

As soon as I made my first batch of spinach pesto I threw it on penne along with some spicy grilled chicken. The paprika rubbed chicken added a nice counterpoint to the creamy pesto sauce.  Even though it was a simple spice rub (paprika and olive oil)  it tasted great.  Before grilling, I tenderized the chicken by pounding it thin.  The pasta was flavorful and the warm colors of the chicken and green pasta were very pleasing to the eye as well!  I topped the pasta with a little crumbled feta and walnuts.

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Spinach Pesto

I was craving penne pasta the other night but I wanted to do something different than a tomato or cream sauce.  I decided to go with a pesto sauce and I was not disappointed with the results!  This pesto recipe has a light creaminess with just a hint of mint and walnuts.  I threw in a little crumbled feta for extra creaminess. It was great on pasta and I would imagine it would be tasty on panini sandwiches as well.  Since I don’t have a food processor I used a standard blender which worked fine.

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Moroccan Couscous with Figs, Dates, and Apricots

couscous

Couscous is a tasty dish that is a great accompaniment to proteins like lamb, chicken, and beef.  What makes couscous great is its versatility.  You can pretty much add anything to it and make it your own.  Couscous is great spicy or sweet but I prefer a little bit of both to give it a good balance. This recipe is sweet from the fruit and has just the right amount of heat that comes from the aromatic spices.  This may not be quite traditional, but I like couscous to be a little more saucy and not so dry. It all depends on how much liquid goes into the pot so reducing the amount of beef stock by 1/2 cup would do the trick.  Since couscous only takes a few minutes to cook, I steamed the dried fruit separately to soften before I added it to the couscous.

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Baingan Bharta (Eggplant Curry)

eggplant

Baingan Bharta is a traditional Indian dish that is made with mashed eggplant, aromatic spices, and simmered in a tomato based curry.   Traditional eggplant curry calls for charcoal roasted and mashed eggplant.  I diverged a bit from the traditional framework but I was very happy with the results.  The creamy tomato curry tasted great with the flavors of the braised eggplant. The eggplant simmers in the sauce until it is melt in your mouth tender.   It was really tasty with fresh baked naan and chopped cilantro on top.

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Naan

naan2

Naan is an Indian flat bread baked in a Tandoor oven at high temperatures.  I consider naan to be one of the best ways to get that last bit of curry sauce in a bowl eaten.  It is similar to pita bread, though it is much lighter with lots of air pockets in the center.  For a yeast based bread, Naan is pretty easy to make.  As with any yeast bread, It’s just more time consuming since the yeast has to rise for several hours.  I had a little trouble getting the naan as flat and thin as I wanted but in the end I would deem this recipe a success.  I salted the dough just before baking in the oven and I thought this improved the flavor quite a bit.  Naan can be served as a side dish with gee (clarified butter) or used for dipping in most kinds of Indian curry.

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