Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween!

Hey, look at that. It's been almost a week since I posted. Oops.

I have been cooking - the recipes and the pictures just haven't been making them onto the blog.

At any rate, Happy Halloween. Here's my contribution to Halloween festivities.
We had a small celebration at school, but nothing too grandiose. Which is fine by me. I like the idea of Halloween, but I'm not the best about costumes - I just don't enjoy dressing up! But my socks were a big hit with the kids, although I felt quite weird heading to work at 6:45 am with the power suit crowd! Me, my socks and a sea of business suits. Good times.

I like the idea of Halloween, so last night I carved a pumpkin. He's nothing that special, but he was fun to carve and his seeds were quite tasty roasted.

Have a spooky night!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Gooey Apple Sheet Cake

I'm swimming in apples. Or I could be. If there were a swimming pool out there, I might actually be able to fill it. Well maybe not a swimming pool but we could definitely fill a wading pool. Anyways, our CSA keeps throwing apples at us as fast as I can use them. Actually, faster since they're piling up on the counter. And I'm funny about apples. I love them, but I prefer them sliced. I'm weird that way. So I carry apples back and forth to school, but don't really eat them. I've already mentioned my preference for sliced apples which is tricky in a classroom environment, but the more pressing issue as to why these apples live in my bag going back and forth to school is that I never seem to have much time to eat apples during the day. I obviously can't eat them when the kids are around because I'm busy doing other things, and after school I'm too busy becauseI want to go home. The time I could take to wash the apple, slice it and eat it is also time I could spend copying math or reading homework. And after a long day at school, the second takes preference. So the apples are accumulating faster then they're being consumed.

So, yes we have an apple pile-up situation. Last Saturday we went over to a friend's house for dinner, and I volunteered to make something with apples for dessert. I decided to try this recipe which used a grand total of 2 apples. But two more then I would have otherwise used, so I guess that's good. I halved the cake - there were only 6 of us, after all. The recipe listed below is the full 9 x 13 sheet cake version, not the halved version. I made it in a glass 8 x 8 ish pan, and it came out really well. The flavor was sweet, but the texture was both nice and gooey and yet crunchy and full of bite. Don't be fooled by the picture - it is a somewhat unusual looking cake but it does taste great! And, the picture isn't mine. It's from the original website. I forgot to take a picture before I toted the dessert uptown.

Gooey Apple Sheet Cake
Diana's Desserts
serves 24

My notes - Again I halved this recipe with great success baking in a glass 8 x 8 dish. I didn't have buttermilk, and so I added half a tablespoon of vinegar to milk in order to curdle and create a buttermilky type substance. I googled for buttermilk substitutions - no I'm not that clever on my own. I think I used the whole 2 cups of apples, though, as part of my plan to use up as many apples as possible. The cake was delicious, and the recipe will be repeated!

For the Cake:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup butter
2 eggs
1 tsp. baking soda
½ cup buttermilk
1 generous cup shredded apples
1 tsp. ground cinnamon

For the Topping (to be put over cake batter BEFORE baking cake):
3 cups powdered sugar
8 oz. cream cheese
2 eggs
¼ cup oatmeal

Garnish, (optional)
Sliced apples

For Cake:
Melt butter, stir in sugar and eggs. Add flour and baking soda alternately with buttermilk, mixing well. Fold in shredded apples, the raisins, and the pecans. Spread batter into well greased (or sprayed) 13 x 9 baking pan. (Mix Topping ingredients and put over cake BEFORE baking).

Bake in a 350ºF (175ºC) oven for 35-45 minutes. If using a convection oven, bake for 25 minutes. If desired, garnish cake with sliced apples.

For Topping:
(Mix and put over cake batter BEFORE baking)
3 cups powdered sugar
8 oz. cream cheese
2 eggs
¼ cup quick cooking oats

Mix all ingredients together and put over cake batter BEFORE baking.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Chickpea and Swiss Chard Soup

Sometimes a recipe suprises you. You scan the list of ingredients and think, "Sure - why not!" and make the recipe. And then, you're surprised. You re-read the ingredients, searching for the source of the deliciousness, and just have to accept that this particular recipe is more than the sum of its parts.

That happened to me on Saturday when I made this soup. The ingredient list - not so impresssive. I only had one carton of vegetable broth, and so I had to add water which I strongly-will-go-out-to-the-store-to-buy-more-but-not-on-this-day prefer not to do with soups. And yet, it was amazingly tasty. My batch came out thin, despite the pureeing step, but the broth was garlicky and spicy in a quite pleasing way. And Swiss chard and chickpeas - could it be more healthy?

We're enjoying the leftovers, I'll say that much. And, if this soup serves 4, then we're talking some really big people. Maybe our bowls are smaller than most, but we've already had six servings from this soup and I'm not even up to the second Tupperware container yet. That's a lot of soup. And I do like soup.

Chickpea and Swiss Chard Soup
Jeanne Lemlin
Simple Vegetarian Pleasures

serves 4 as a main course - if you're a giant. Serves at least 8 in a bowl of soup/roll/cheese kind of way.

Jeanne's notes - The building of layers of flavor in thick vegetable stews makes them especially inviting, but equally appealing to me are simple soups with just a few ingredients whose flavors are transported in tasty broth. Although you can enjoy this soup just after making it, it will benefit from being made a few hours in advance so the stock can really develop the garlicky undertones.

My notes - I used 4 cups of veggie stock, and 4 cups of water. I was unexpectedly heavy handed with the crushed red pepper (darn that spoon/sprinkle confusion), and added close to a teaspoon. I also used about 2 tablespoons of olive oil. And, I used my hand blender to puree some of the soup.

1/4 cup olive oil
1 medium onion, finely diced
8 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
8 cups vegetable stock, store-bought or homemade
2 tablespoons of tomato paste mixed with 1/2 cup of water
4 cups freshly cooked or canned chickpeas (2 16 0z cans)
8 cups of finely shredded Swiss chard leaves
1 teaspoon salt

1. Heat the oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, for 3 minutes. Mix in the garlic and crushed red pepper flakes, and saute for five minutes or until onion is tender.
2. Add the stock, tomato paste mixture, and chickpeas and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a lively simmer, and cook for ten minutes. Stir in the Swiss chard and salt, and simmer ten minutes.
3. Remove 2 cups of the soup and puree it in a blender or food processor. Return it to the pot.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Report Card Season

Three words. That's where I've been all week. That, and other things that have kept me late at school.

On Tuesday I used one of my "quick dining solutions" to create dinner and leftovers for lunch on Wednesday.

I took this . . . ----->

and this . . . ---------->

. . . to create this. Pasta with veggies and jarred sauce, quick garlic toasts and sauteed flat beans. Not too shabby, but hardly inspiring fare. And that was the highlight of my cooking this week. Beyond that, cans of soup were as inspired as I got.

And then the week ended. I didn't see M. much this week. Between his trip to Montreal and the two playoff baseball games he went to, he was simply gone most of the week. So, I decided it was time for a Friday date night. Inspired by Kate at A Pie In the Sky we went to Applewood, a restaurant in Park Slope. I made the reservation, didn't tell M. where we were going and watching him try to figure it out was hilarious! Park Slope is in a different direction then we usually head in when dining, so he was very confused.

We absolutely loved our meals. The food was delicious, the portions were reasonable and we enjoyed the chance to sit back and relax. I started with a trumpet mushroom which was sliced and sauteed, and served over roasted barley and parmesan shavings with a creme fraiche sauce. M. started with a venison ragu served over several perfectly fluffy (or so he told me, it wasn't a dish we could share) gnocchi on a bed of pureed butternut squash. My main dish was a vegetarian pot-au-feu which was a stew of seasonal vegetables served over creamy polenta and braised in a porcini broth. M. enjoyed haddock over a bed of mustard greens and roasted cauliflower. Both courses were deliciously satisfying, and left room for dessert. We ordered two and shared - I ordered the tarte tatin which came with creme fraiche ice cream, and M. ordered the olive oil cake served with roasted figs and marscapone cheese.

Living in New York, we're spoiled. There are so many great restaurants out there, why would you go back to one unless it were truly special. This one was that special, and the owners' use of organic seasonal fare means that our next visit might have a very different menu. At the very least, I'll take my mom there for dinner on her next visit. It's the kind of dining that's hard to find in her part of Florida - and I think she'd love it.

This has turned out to be a long post, so I'll end here with a seasonal picture of Helios. Unfortunately, he'd just seen something worth investigating and moved half a second after the picture was taken, but I still thought it was cute.

Monday, October 16, 2006

A Simple Supper Stand-by...

Well, I mustered some energy last night but not enough to prepare the soups I'd planned. Instead I reverted to an old favorite. This is another quick and easy meal (seems to be a trend around here these days) that can go from freezer and cupboard to plate within twenty minutes. I of course used veggie broth, and added some fresh garlic to the broth as it heated. The fresh herb (I used flatleaf parsley) and the sprinkle of parmesan cheese are key - don't leave them out! I served with cheesey garlic toasts, and both M. and I enjoyed a simple yet warming Sunday supper.

Cheese Tortellini in Light Broth
Giada De Laurentiis
Every Day Italian
serves 4

4 cups low-salt chicken broth
Freshly ground black pepper
1 (9-ounce) packages refrigerated cheese tortellini
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
3 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese

Pour the broth into a heavy large saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Season the broth with pepper, to taste. Add the tortellini. Simmer over medium heat until al dente, about 7 minutes.

Ladle the broth and tortellini into soup bowls. Top with parsley and Parmesan and serve.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Under the weather.

The only thing coming out of my veggie kitchen with any regularity is mugs of steaming hot tea. M. has had a cold since the middle of last week. I did well fighting it off until the weekend, but we went to a wedding on Friday night. Staying out late, lots of glasses of wine and having way too much fun has resulted in us both feeling under the weather all weekend long. Yes, not much cooking happening round here.

I am expecting an online grocery delivery this afternoon. Pure genius that online grocery thing. I'm not always organized enough to plan my menus in advance, but when I am and the food just appears - it's wonderful! The service we use also provides some wonderful shortcuts like parbaked bread, prepared veggies that only need heating in the microwave and other items that help out with busy/under-the-weather weeks. You'll see more than a couple of these items pop up this week. If I feel better perhaps I'll muster enough energy to make some soup for dinner tonight. If not... stay tuned. In accordance with my mood, I have several crock pot recipes slated for the week. If I'm not in the mood to cook, maybe my crockpot can do it for me.

Achoo! Time for more tea.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


It wasn't a good day.

It is raining. A lot.

There was that whole small plane crashing into a building thing that happened on the Upper East Side today. There always seems to be something here in NYC. People (for good reason based on the past five years) freak out.

Teaching in special education was NOT fun today. My assistant was out sick, and with behavioral kids that equals an off-the-wall day. They don't like change.

What is my prescription for a bad day? Mac and Cheese for Dinner. Annie's to the rescue!

So I don't lose my food blogger status, here's a recipe I made on Sunday. Initially, I was unimpressed. But when I heated myself a slice of pizza in the toaster oven last night, it was surprisingly tasty. So I re-evaluated the recipe. But then microwave-heated leftovers for lunch today were only okay. So, I'm not sure. The issue is the crust. On Sunday it was too doughy. Last night it was delicious. And at lunch, it was too spongey. But the topping was nice and cheesey, and I of course used meatless Italian sausage. I'm sure M. would tell you real sausage would be even better, although he is quite a fan of many of the meatless sausage products out there.


Sausage and Vegetable Deep-Dish Pizza

Unlike our other pizzas, the crust for this is intended to be thick. Use a spatula to serve its substantial squares straight from the pan.

Cooking spray
2 cups chopped zucchini
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 (8-ounce) package mushrooms, sliced
1/4 cup white wine
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups fat-free garlic-and-onion pasta sauce (such as Muir Glen Organic)
8 ounces hot turkey Italian sausage

2 teaspoons honey
1 package active dry yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)
1 cup warm water (100° to 110°)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (about 11 1/4 ounces), divided
1 tablespoon yellow cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons olive oil

Remaining ingredients:
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup (2 ounces) grated Parmesan cheese

To prepare sauce, heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add zucchini, onion, and mushrooms to pan; sauté 7 minutes or until vegetables are lightly browned. Add wine and pepper; cook 1 minute or until liquid almost evaporates. Stir in sauce. Remove from heat; cool.

Remove casings from sausage. Cook sausage in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until browned, stirring to crumble. Drain; add to sauce.

To prepare dough, dissolve honey and yeast in 1 cup warm water in a large bowl; let stand 5 minutes. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Add 2 1/4 cups flour, cornmeal, and salt to yeast mixture; stir until a soft dough forms. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 6 minutes); add enough of remaining flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands (dough will feel sticky). Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 45 minutes or until doubled in size. (Gently press two fingers into dough. If indentation remains, dough has risen enough.)

Position one oven rack in the middle setting. Position another rack in the lowest setting. Preheat oven to 475°.

Brush a 13 x 9-inch baking pan with oil. Turn dough into pan. Gently press dough into pan and up the sides of the pan. Lightly spray surface of dough with cooking spray. Cover with plastic wrap; let stand for 5 minutes. Remove plastic wrap; discard. Spoon sauce mixture into crust. Bake on the bottom rack at 475° for 20 minutes. Remove from oven.

Combine cheeses; sprinkle evenly over sauce. Bake on middle rack an additional 15 minutes or until crust is golden brown and cheese melts. Cool 10 minutes on a wire rack. Cut into 6 squares.

Yield: 6 servings (serving size: 1 square)

CALORIES 434(27% from fat); FAT 12.8g (sat 5.9g,mono 4.1g,poly 1.4g); PROTEIN 24.6g; CHOLESTEROL 45mg; CALCIUM 336mg; SODIUM 682mg; FIBER 3.9g; IRON 3.8mg; CARBOHYDRATE 54.2g
Cooking Light, SEPTEMBER 2006

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Bring on the seasonal baking!

I'm really getting into the swing of things now. Bring on the pumpkin! Bring on the apple! Although, the two 1/2 bushels sitting in my classroom might be a bit too many apples, but that's another story. Anyways, my light english muffin/laughing cow cheese breakfast combo wasn't doing it for me this week. I tend to fall into food ruts - I'll eat the same thing (particularly for weekday breakfasts) until I get totally sick of it. Then I'll revert to a previous favorite, eat it daily until sick of it, and so on. So, I decided to make some muffins and retire the english muffin and laughing cow cheese combo for a while.

This recipe sounded intriguing. Between the whole wheat flour and the entire can of pumpkin - it sounded kind of healthy. Of course I threw in some chocolate chips to take care of that! :) These were delicious - quite ugly-looking if truth be told, but if you like pumpkin you'll enjoy the taste at least. They're dense, but chewy and held me over until lunch time quite nicely.

Emily's Pumpkin Spice Muffins

My notes - I found this recipe on the Cooking Light community board. I don't know who Emily is, but her muffins were delicious! And again, I made as written using a whole can of pumpkin and throwing in about a third of a cup of chocolate chips. Also, if you're vain about how your muffins appear then I suggest smoothing over the tops of the batter once in the pan. I didn't, and as you can see from the picture, the way they went in is the way they came out. This was a very dense batter.

Serving Size : 12

1/4 cup butter -- softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup low fat sour cream
1/4 cup 2% milk (normally I'd use skim -- but I've got 2% right now)
1 2/3 cup pureed pumpkin
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp cloves - heaping
1 tsp cinnamon - heaping
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat over to 350 degrees.

Cream butter and sugars. Add the sour cream and next 7 ingredients (milk
through cinnamon) beat well.

Stir together flours, baking soda and salt in a small bowl. Add to wet
mixture and beat until combined.

Pour batter into muffin tin sprayed with cooking spray. Bake until a
toothpick tests clean - about 35 minutes.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Apple Picking

On Friday, my class went apple-picking. This was a Lower School fieldtrip, and so the five classes in the Lower School went together. Parents were invited, a few therapists from the school accompanied us and off we went. So, here's the thing about fieldtrips. They're quite stressful for teachers! And this was even more so, simply because I didn't plan it and thus there were moments of ambiguity that are killer for kids with special needs. Standing around and waiting - definitely leads to trouble with any kids, especially the ones I teach. But we survived. The other thing that made this trip in particular stressful is the fact that parents of special education students vary tremendously in their personalities, and ability to chaperone. There is a saying in special education, "The apple doesn't fall far from the tree." Some of the parents of my students have similar issues to my students, and so having them as chaperones really means I have to watch the parents as well as my kids! But all in all it was a success. No blood was shed (minus a student who lost his tooth into his sandwich), and we all made it back to school in one piece!

When I got home, I was exhausted. Way too tired to cook. But, I did have a burst of energy that lasted long enough for me to whip up the Irish Cream Brownies from Cooking Light's October 2006 issue. I'm really loving the October issue, and have cooked a surprising number of recipes from it in recent weeks. This one was another winner.

I have a love/hate relationship with Cooking Light baked dessert recipes. Sometimes they're just too lightenend, and therefore don't taste good enough to warrant the calories. Or, they taste great, really aren't that light at all and thus the serving size is tiny to make the recipe qualify as light. This recipe had neither problem, and was an all out winner. The brownies were dense, fudgey and you could taste the Bailey's in a pleasing way. The serving size was appropriate, and the recipe was really easy to prepare. I had them in the oven ready to go within ten minutes, which is a definite plus. And, they taste great chilled from the fridge so this would be a great recipe to make ahead. I am so taken with this recipe that I think I might make it again to serve to the teachers at my weekly team meeting on Tuesday (thank goodness for three day weekends). Even if I don't, I know this will be a recipe I will often repeat both for the ease of preparation and just how wonderfully the brownies came out.

Irish Cream Brownies
Cooking Light, October 2006

My notes - I made this recipe with the new Chocolate Mint Bailey's. I think this only added to the recipe, but I would make the recipe again with regular Bailey's Irish Cream if it were on hand.

1 cup flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup egg substitute
1/4 cup Bailey's Irish Cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350°.

Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk.

Place the chocolate chips and the butter in a large microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at HIGH 1 1/2 minutes or until the chocolate chips and butter melt, stirring every 30 seconds. Cool slightly. Add sugar and next 3 ingredients (through vanilla extract), stirring well with a whisk. Microwave at HIGH 1 minute or until sugar dissolves, stirring every 30 seconds. Fold in the flour mixture, stirring just until moist. Spread batter in a thin layer into a 9-inch square baking pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out almost clean. Cool on a wire rack.

Yield: 16 servings (serving size: 1 brownie)

CALORIES 145(30% from fat); FAT 4.9g (sat 3g,mono 0.9g,poly 0.2g); PROTEIN 2.5g; CHOLESTEROL 8mg; CALCIUM 8mg; SODIUM 93mg; FIBER 1.1g; IRON 0.9mg; CARBOHYDRATE 23.8g

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Yay for soup!

Helios loves boxes. I left out a box that held a case of seltzer and you can just see what happened....

I have many more pictures but ... oh, wait this is a cooking blog. Don't miss Helios's last minute debut in Weekend Cat Blogging over at The Hidden Paw. Well, the last cooking project I did was way back on Monday. I tried the Butternut Squash Leek soup from the latest Cooking Light. I really just love soup. My only issue with it is that it makes so much! It takes us a while to work through a six or eight serving batch of soup.

This soup was okay. It wasn't bad, but there are so many great butternut squash soup recipes out there. This particular one just didn't blow me away. You couldn't really taste the leeks, although I did think the roasted garlic was a nice touch. I of course used veggie broth, not chicken. So, a tasty soup that was quick to throw together (especially when you cheat and buy pre-peeled and de-seeded butternut squash) but probably won't be repeated.

Butternut Squash-Leek Soup
October 2006

Cooking Light's Notes - "I love my local organic farmers' market and like to cook with seasonal fare. I'm a professional organizer and include seasonal recipes in my newsletters for my clients. This was last winter's recipe." It's great as a side or a light main dish with a salad. -Shannon Simmons, Redding, CA

1 whole garlic head
4 teaspoons olive oil
6 cups thinly sliced leek (about 4 large)
4 cups (3/4-inch) cubed peeled butternut squash (about 1 medium)
2 cups water
2 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth (I used vegetable)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper Preheat oven to 350°.

Remove white papery skin from garlic head (do not peel or separate the cloves). Wrap head in foil. Bake at 350° for 1 hour; cool 10 minutes. Separate cloves; squeeze to extract garlic pulp. Discard skins.

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add leek; sauté 5 minutes or until tender. Stir in garlic, squash, 2 cups water, broth, salt, and black pepper; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes or until squash is tender. Place half of squash mixture in a blender. Remove center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid on blender. Place a clean towel over the opening in the blender lid (to avoid splatters). Blend until smooth. Pour pureed soup into a bowl. Repeat procedure with remaining squash mixture.

Yield: 6 servings (serving size: about 1 cup)

CALORIES 167(19% from fat); FAT 3.5g (sat 0.5g,mono 2.2g,poly 0.6g); PROTEIN 4.1g; CHOLESTEROL 0.0mg; CALCIUM 144mg; SODIUM 351mg; FIBER 5.3g; IRON 3.3mg; CARBOHYDRATE 33.5g

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Sometimes you have a day where people just don't seem to want to do their jobs. And everyone annoys you. Teachers don't pick up their class from gym so your class falls apart waiting. And then the gym teacher only half-jokes about not coming back from her honeymoon in a month because your class is was so awful during gym. Then you go to an hour long meeting led by someone who attended the exact same workshop as you did on this particular curriculum this summer when you could be doing so many other productive things. And then you (as part of the staff) get blamed for things not your fault (if only I had psychic powers to know what the Health Department does or doesn't want under the sink) because you happen to be one of five teachers who have not yet left the waste of time meeting.

But maybe, if you're lucky, you have this curry waiting for you at home. Spicy, rich and easy to throw together, this recipe is a keeper in the Veggie Kitchen household. The fresh ginger is really important, and if you're a fan of cilantro (as we are), pile it on because it just makes the dish better! I served it over brown rice, but I think it would be equally excellent over barley or couscous or even perhaps noodles. Yum.

Tomato Chickpea Curry
Cooking Light, October 2006

Cooking Light's Notes - Serve over steamed brown rice as a side with grilled chicken or pork. Look for garam masala in the spice section of the supermarket or Asian grocery store. Substitute yellow mustard seeds for the brown, or stir in 1 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard or 1 1/2 tablespoons prepared mustard with the chickpeas if you don't have mustard seeds.

Lycopene count: 19 milligrams per serving.

1 tablespoon canola oil
1 cup chopped onion (1 small)
1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
1 garlic clove, minced
2 teaspoons garam masala
1 1/2 teaspoons brown mustard seeds
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/2 cup light coconut milk
1 tablespoon chopped seeded jalapeño pepper
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 (15 1/2-ounce) cans chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 (8-ounce) can no-salt-added tomato sauce
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion, ginger, and garlic; cook 5 minutes. Stir in garam masala, mustard seeds, and red pepper; cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in coconut milk and remaining ingredients except cilantro; bring to a boil.

Reduce heat, and simmer 35 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; stir in chopped cilantro.

Yield: 6 servings (serving size: 1 cup)

CALORIES 213(26% from fat); FAT 6.2g (sat 1.2g,mono 2.4g,poly 2.3g); PROTEIN 7.4g; CHOLESTEROL 0.0mg; CALCIUM 81mg; SODIUM 459mg; FIBER 8.6g; IRON 3mg; CARBOHYDRATE 34.3g

Monday, October 02, 2006

Fall is here!

I love fall. I love the crisp coolness in the air. I love the change in the light - a bright summer day is definitely not the same as a bright fall day. I love sweaters, and yet not being strapped into winter coats (yet). I love apples, squash, pumpkin and all the foods of fall especially roasted veggies and rich, creamy soups. And when I don't live in New York City, I love the colors of fall. We're a little short on foliage 'round these parts, but I remember living upstate and just the gloriousness of fall color. So this is absolutely my favorite time of year.

When I saw these cookies on Crystal's blog, I knew that I just had to try them. They just look so ... fall-y! The candy corn, the chocolate - they're like Halloween in a cookie! I initially wanted to test drive them at home before making them with my class. And I'm glad I did. I was thrilled to see Crystal's note that they could be made without a mixer, however I really kind of struggled with this dough. It was very crumbly and I found it tricky to work with. No way would I want my students getting as frustrated as I did as I tried to roll it into little shapes for baking! I did double it, perhaps that's where the error lies. But at any rate, the recipe is quick, the results are cute and the teachers attending my class's weekly team meeting tomorrow afternoon will be required to dispose of the results.

I've got another couple cooking projects happening in the kitchen. It is amazing how motivated I feel on days when school is closed! It's like a little cooking (and laundry :( ) gift! But, I'll share those projects as the week wears on just to keep life interesting. No point in revealing all my secrets in one day when I can stretch a week's worth of posts out of them...

Chocolate Candy-Corn Cookies
Courtesy of Poco-Cocoa aka Crystal

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, very soft
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg yolk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
about 36 candy corns

Preheat oven to 325˚F. Place butter and sugar in a medium bowl; beat with a wooden spoon until combined. Beat in egg yolk, vanilla, baking powder, and salt. Add flour, and mix until a dough forms.

Scoop out level teaspoons of dough, and roll into balls (chill dough briefly if it becomes to soft to handle). Place balls on baking sheets, 2 inches apart.

Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until edges are firm and cookies are dry to the touch (do not let cookies color), 10 to 12 minutes.

Remove from oven; gently press a candy corn into center of each cookie (surface of cookies may crack slightly). Cool on sheets 1 minute; transfer to a rack to cool completely.

Notes: You can make a non-chocolate version by eliminating the cocoa powder and increasing the flour to 3/4 cup.

Makes about 36 cookies.

Crystal's source: Everyday Food magazine.

Sunday, October 01, 2006


As anticipated, this week was a blur. Going away for the weekend is wonderful, however I felt quite unprepared to be thrown back into the business of the week. The children were challenging, I felt unplanned and as a result this week just felt stressful. Curriculum Night was a success, however, and the parents seem quite pleased with how the year has started. So that's a pleasant relief not to have that pressure hanging over my head anymore. Now I'm enjoying a quiet Sunday with added bonus of school being closed tomorrow making my day even more of a treat. I'm taking it easy, the fact that I've been burning the candle at both ends lately with not enough sleep and working 12 hour days has resulted in a little tickle in the back of my throat. My body is telling me to stop and recoup, or another cold will be here soon. And so I am. Helios and I tackled the Sunday Times this morning, and I've got a stack of magazines waiting to be read this afternoon. Is it bad when the October issues start arriving before you've even read September?

Here's a meal I actually made on Tuesday evening, but it carried us through the rest of the week nicely. This is my go-to instant soup meal savior. A roommate from a few years back introduced me to it, and the broth is amazingly tasty despite coming from a box. In a perfect world I wouldn't need to resort to soup mix from a box, but sometimes it's the difference between take-out and going hungry so I refuse to view it as a bad thing. And in this case I supplemented with CSA veggies on the brink of no return which made the soup even yummier. A little rosemary, a bunch of parsley and M. and I were in matzoh ball heaven! Neither M. nor I come from an even remotely Jewish background, but we love this soup. So, I have nothing to balance the quality of these matzo balls with but as far as we're concerned this is a quick and tasty meal with leftovers we both look forward to.

And what else could be better then that?