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what I’m cooking up

April 23, 2013

As you can tell by the dates at the top of some of these posts, I had abandoned this blog for awhile and returned to it only recently. I’m not feeling the look of it at the moment and wanted to start over. However, I’ve decided to do something else:

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(That would be me).

I decided to consolidate this blog with the one I have for my dog and also share a few other things that get me excited (pop culture, travel, photography and books come to the top of my head). I will keep the content of Girl Feeds Boy here but will include new recipes on  Mrs. Sparky. Hope I see you over there.

Happy Blogging,
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lentil soup

April 22, 2013

lentil soup, girl feeds boy

I love red lentils with injera at Ethiopian restaurants and lentil soup served at Afghanistan restaurants. Mmmmmm….So I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to bring these little beans into my kitchen. Recently, I stumbled upon a lentil taco recipe (from Skinny Bitch: Ultimate Everyday Kitchen), which I stared at for a week before I finally turned on the stove…and took a detour by attempting the Afghanistan lentil soup that was also on my mind. (Plus, I didn’t want to make the pico de gallo that I knew The Boy and I would want with the tacos.)

Results: I no longer need to rely on Afghanistan restaurants for my soup fix. (But I’ll still order it!) The Boy likes this soup too, but he doesn’t seem to get giddy for this as I do. (Makes sense as his food weaknesses seem to  be potatoes, bread, pasta and dessert.) That’s fine. More for me!

I will attempt that taco recipe one of these days!

The Girl’s Lentil Soup*
3 tablespoons grapeseed oil
1/2 red onion
3-4 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons herbes de provence
8 ounces (about 1/2 bag)  green lentils
28-oz can whole peeled tomatoes
dry white wine
water
1-2 tablespoon cumin, to taste
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
salt and pepper

Heat oil in large pot. Add garlic and saute until fragrant (a minute or two). Add onion and cook until soft. Add salt, pepper and herbes de provence. Add lentils and stir until mixed thoroughly. Add tomatoes. Break up with the spoon you’re stirring with (or grab a knife if that’s easier). Fill the can with white wine and pour into the pot. Add the same amount of water. Bring to a boil, and then lower temperature to a simmer. Let cook for 30 minutes on medium low heat, stirring occasionally. At the end of the cooking time, add cumin, paprika and cilantro. Grab your hand blender and run until everything looks moderately coarse. (Of course, you don’t have to do this if you don’t want. Or you can use a blender, but blend in batches and make sure the vent cap is removed from the lid to allow the steam to escape. Who can handle a mess in the kitchen?)

Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with baguette. (I’m pretty sure if you want, you could grab some pasta and consider this a bolognese sauce of some sort.)

*Not necessarily an Afghan recipe!

banana + coffee = good morning

April 17, 2013

banana and coffee smoothie

Good morning! Apologies for gloomy-looking picture, but it is a cloudy morning as the weather is stuck in “April showers”.

In any case….

I’ve been using my blender quite a bit lately. I’m getting older and realizing that my diet has much room for improvement. I’ve been making daily Glowing Green Smoothies, which looks not-so-great to people who aren’t used to it but you’d be surprised with 1) how decent it is on your first sip (like beer, coffee and wine – at least in my experience – you develop a taste for it over time) and 2) the energy that get from drinking these. I sound like a crazy tree hugger (maybe I am becoming one…not sure), but try replacing one meal with 24 oz (or more) of this shake and you’ll see what I mean. The Boy was dubious but took an 8-oz serving one morning. No effect, but he did admit that he needed more greens in his life so he continued drinking them as I made them. By the third morning, he felt the surge of energy.  (“But I’m also hungry,” he whined. At this point, he realized 8 ounces wasn’t going to cut it.) Kimberly Snyder will tell you that you should drink these in the morning. But I don’t want no stinkin’ green smoothie in the morning. I want my coffee.

Awhile back, I had made a “chocolate milk” with almonds, water, bananas and cocoa. Naturally, I wondered if adding coffee would make it a mocha and alas, it kinda does! I might even prefer this shake over a traditional mocha. Maybe. I wanted to call it the Poor Man’s Mocha Shake, but that’s too much off a mouthful. Let’s just go with Monkey Joe (a name inspired by The Frozen Monkey). Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that you should try Monkey Joe.

Monkey Joe

1/2 cup water
1 oz almonds
1 date
1 banana
1 t cocoa
a sprinkle or two of cinnamon
1 t flax seed (optional)
1/2 cup coffee or espresso – Make it as strong as you want it!

Add water and almonds to blender. If you can let the nuts soak overnight, that would probably work best (so that they can sprout and also soften to blend more easily). Otherwise, just go for it. Blend away. Then, add all the ingredients except the coffee. Continue blending as you add the coffee through the top (let the steam escape).

Bam – there’s your Monkey Joe. You’ll feel the buzz in 3…2…1….

sticky rice with mango: it’s like crack

April 5, 2013

 

 

mango sticky rice, thai dessert

 

It’s always a fulfilling evening when there’s Thai coconut sticky rice and mangoes on the menu. There is no way of telling you how great this is dessert is without you having to try it yourself. If this recipe looks intimidating or time consuming, check with your local Thai restaurant to see if they have it on the menu. Try it first. If you like it (and I’m sure you will!), then go ahead and try this recipe. I usually steam the rice while I’m cooking dinner. When we’re sitting down to dinner, the rice finishes “cooking” in the coconut milk. By the time we’re done eating, it’s time for dessert. Yum! I do try to cut this recipe in half (this isn’t a great dish if not eaten the same day) so that The Boy and I can devour every last bite….although it’s really not that difficult to do.

sticky rice with mango
1 cup of uncooked Thai sweet rice
1 can (13.5 ounces) coconut milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon water
1 ripe mango

Soak sweet rice for about 45 minutes in cold water. When the rice is done soaking, line the inside of a steamer pan with cheesecloth. Add rice and steam for 25 minutes.  In the meantime, stir together 1-1/4 cup of
coconut milk and all of the sugar in a large bowl. Add the steamed rice to the coconut mixture and cover. Leave for 20 minutes so that rice can complete its cooking process. In a separate saucepan, boiling the remaining coconut milk (about 1/4 cup). Add salt. Mix the cornstarch and water together in a small bowl before adding. Cooking for another minute. Remove from heat and allow it to cool. Serve the rice with a spoonful of the cooked coconut milk and sliced mangoes.

Enjoy immediately.

crazy for orzo

April 3, 2013

orzo pasta salad

My current random theory (that has no research to back it up) is that Asians love orzo because it resembles rice. Growing up in a Vietnamese household, we ate rice every day. No exaggeration.  I wouldn’t mind if The Boy and I did that…and actually, I don’t have a good reason for not making that happen. I also don’t have a good reason for not having this orzo pasta salad on our dinner table every night.

While we were eating, I counted how many times The Boy went back to serve himself. Four. FOUR! He had four servings of this orzo salad. (I had two-ish.) He liked it that much. (Later, he complained about eating too much.) We ate this with a vegetable soup, but I recommend serving this alongside some grilled or sauteed salmon, which we’ve done in the past. Mmmmm….

Oh, and the recipe! The recipe is from Cooking Light. I’ve modified it (substituted orzo for farfalle; ditched the feta and capers; and added little pieces of raw broccoli) here and there. I’ve used this recipe many, many times – with and without modifications – I will say that it does work beautifully with bowtie pasta!

Yum.

tarty party

March 21, 2013

I didn’t realize until I uploaded this picture that I haven’t posted too many desserts on this blog. Truth be told, I don’t bake too often, but The Boy has a sweet tooth. He claims his cravings for sugary treats has been on the decline in the past few years, but I don’t really see any progress on that front. But if that’s what he believes, then I’ll let him have it (with an occasional reminder that he’s full of it. He he).

In any case, I happen to like chocolate. Add some fruit and I’m RSVPing to the party.

raspberry_tart

Raspberry Ganache Chocolate Tart
Tart dough* or store-bought pastry puff sheets
8 oz bittersweet chocolate
4 oz semi-sweet chocolate
1 cup heavy cream (soy creamer also works well)
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 pints raspberry (You might have extra, but extra is always good!)

Preheat oven to 350-degrees.

Spread dough into 9-inch tart pan. Over a double boiler, melt chocolate. When melted, remove from heat and mix in heavy cream and vanilla. Pour chocolate into tart pan. Bake for 20 minutes. Allow to cool for about 30 minutes before garnishing with raspberries.

Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.

*Tart Dough
1-1/4 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons butter
1-2 tablespoon ice cold water
3 tablespoon sugar

In a food processor, add flour and salt. Start machine and add butter 1 tablespoon at a time. Let the machine go until the dough forms into a ball to a ball. If after 2 minutes the dough doesn’t form into a ball, add water 1 tablespoon at a time.

When done, wrap the dough in plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator for at least an hour. The dough must be at room temperature before using.

baba ganoush

March 18, 2013

I like eggplant dishes, but The Boy loves them. And his obsession for baba ganoush is pretty much out of control. I shouldn’t be so hard on him because this is quite addicting. If you have bread on hand and are looking for a dip, this is a good one to make….

baba ganoush

Baba Ganoush

2 medium eggplants (about 2.5 pounds)
6 cloves of garlic
1/2 cup parsley
1/4 cup tahini
juice of 1/2 lemon
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
salt & pepper

Poke eggplants with a fork to create airholes. Broil on high for 10-12 minutes on one side. Flip and broil for another 10-12 minutes. Allow to cool before proceeding.

Place garlic in a food processor and chop on a low setting. Add eggplant. Process until pureed. Remove from food processor and add chopped parsley, tahini, olive oil, lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Serve with pita or flat bread.

NOTE: You can substitute the eggplant for about 1-1/2 cup of chickpeas for homemade hummus.

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