Thursday, January 28, 2016

ETHIOPIAN-STYLE CHICKPEA STEW

Recipe taken from Whole Foods -


Ingredients: 
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground fenugreek (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans no-salt-added chickpeas (also known as garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 (8-ounce) can no-salt-added tomato sauce
  • 4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 pound red potatoes, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 4 carrots, cut into 1-inch chunks

Method: 
Preheat the oven to 450°F. Stir together paprika, salt, allspice, black pepper, cardamom, cloves, coriander, cayenne, fenugreek (if using) and ginger in a small bowl; set spice mixture aside. 

Toss chickpeas with a tablespoon of the oil on a large rimmed baking sheet and spread out in a single layer. Roast chickpeas, stirring occasionally, until somewhat dried out and just golden brown, 16 to 18 minutes; set aside.

Meanwhile, heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Add garlic, onion and chopped ginger and cook, stirring occasionally, until very soft and golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in reserved spice mixture and continue cooking, stirring constantly, until spices are toasted and very fragrant, about 2 minutes. Stir in tomato sauce and cook 2 minutes more.

Stir in broth, potatoes, carrots and reserved chickpeas and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until potatoes and carrots are just tender, about 20 minutes. Uncover pot and simmer until stew is thickened and potatoes and carrots are very tender, about 25 minutes more. Ladle stew into bowls.
Nutritional Info: 
Per Serving: 400 calories (80 from fat), 9g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 710mg sodium, 66gcarbohydrates, (10 g dietary fiber, 8g sugar), 13g protein.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Homemade Yogurt using the Instapot

Happy New Year !

Even though I already have an Electric Pressure cooker, I took the plunge and purchased an Instant Pot a couple weeks ago when they were on sale at Amazon for $125.   Sounds expensive, but I use my pressure cookers often.  I have one that is used on the stovetop - All-American - that I use for canning as well as cooking larger meals.   I did an entire 17 pound turkey right before Christmas - it took less than 2 hours to cook, and it was amazing !  I'll do another post on that later.  I also have this cheaper Cuisinart electric pressure cooker - which I purchased about a year ago.  When I bought the Cuisinart I didn't think I'd use it that often, so I didn't want to invest the $240 that the Instant Pot was selling for at the time.  A year later, I've seen how often I do pull out the electric pressure cooker - especially with the kids and all their activities - it makes a great meal fast.  Since we are going to slowly go entirely whole foods (no, they don't know yet) I know I'll be cooking more often, so I used that reasoning to allow myself to purchase another electric pressure cooker.  Today's the first time I'll be using it !

For Yogurt I'm using -

A gallon of whole milk - I've heard you can use 1% and 2%, but for my first batch, I'm sticking with
                                         whole milk
Vanilla - I'll use pure vanilla from Penzey's spices, plus I have some vanilla beans to stir in at the end.
Yogurt to use as starter - I picked up a couple individual serving sized Brown Cow yogurts with lots
                                        of live active cultures.
Powdered Milk - I'm using it with this batch, but it's not really necessary.
                       



Step one - if using powdered milk, put a few Tablespoons into your gallon of milk and shake, shake
                 shake.  If there isn't enough room in the gallon jug, pour a little off into the Instant Pot
                 which is not plugged in yet !



Step two - plug in the Instant Pot, hit the yogurt button, then hit the adjust button.  It will display the
                 word boil.











This step will take about an hour - I started exactly at 9 a.m.  After it beeps  - you have to cool it back down.

It's faster to take the insert out and let it cool on the counter.  If you have a thermometer - it's good to get it down to about 120* - this too will take about an hour.  I have this Polder thermometer - it will beep  when the correct temps are reached, which takes about another hour.   One of the things I love about this thermometer is that you can change between Celsius and Fahrenheit - so I don't have to adjust recipes that I find online :)    After it has cooled -  add the yogurt starter - about 1/2 a cup for the entire gallon of milk !  For this batch I used Brown Cow yogurt - I've heard that whatever yogurt you choose has an effect on the final taste - so use a yogurt that you like as long as it has live cultures !
 You can also add vanilla when you add the yogurt starter - if you choose.  Then - back into the Instant Pot - push the yogurt setting button.  The number 8 will flash, and then it'll go to 0 and start counting up 8 hours.  After 8 hours - you'll hear a beep and your Instant Pot will tell you the yogurt is ready !

  I like Greek Yogurt - so I strain mine.  I got this strainer at Amazon as well.  I may end up getting another - because if you do an entire gallon of milk at one time - it'll only hold about 1/2 the pot at a time.  The first whey that comes down I save and use as buttermilk - great for baking !  In the summer you can save the whey to water your tomatoes.  The longer you let it sit, the thicker it will get.  I let mine sit about 1 1/2 hours - and it got really thick.   

After it was thick enough - I pour out all the whey, and I dumped the yogurt into the clear container so I could use a whisk and get rid of any lumps.  I also took the opportunity to add some fresh vanilla beans.   

And the final product !  No, the yogurt is not green, my canning jars are.  I just love all the colored jars - I'm sad that I missed the baby blue ones - but there is no way I'm paying premium for blue ones !  Anyway, I ended up with 5 pints of thick Greek type yogurt, and 2 pints of buttermilk.   I dumped out the rest of the whey.  The verdict - excellent - I'll be making this again.  I'm going to try with goats milk ... a bit more expensive, but since I'm somewhat lactose intolerant, if it works, it might be worth it.  


Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Leggings !!


Being a flufflier type woman, I never, ever thought that I'd want to wear leggings each and every day, but a friend of mine was having an "online shop" as a way to help supplement her income, and since I like to help out - I bought 2 pairs of leggings - thinking my daughters would wear them.  Boy was I wrong !  These are the softest and warmest things I've ever worn, plus they come in such bright, bright colors that they simply make you feel good inside - and they fit perfectly.  Sizes?  Oh year, try like 2 sizes, Tall and Curvy (which is me) and OS (one size) which fits up to about a size 12.  My daughter wears both - but she likes they length of the T&C.

This is what I was wearing on Christmas day ...

This is the pair my daughter wanted... yes they are buffalo .... don't ask

  I ordered this pair just because it looked fun.

  I tried to get the bottom black/blue pair of these, but I think someone else grabbed them before I did.  Those I would have worn out in public !

  LOVE, LOVE, LOVE these !!   This is one of those pairs that you have to feel good about yourself when you are wearing -- how could you not ??

  This I got for the 14 yo daughter of a friend of mine - They love them too - and wear them for PJs, to school, and to swim practice !

  These are for her younger sister - who's such an instigator - I love her.  Her favorite color is purple, so I know she'll adore these.

 And this is next on my list to buy for myself.  Such fun prints.  Now this company is NOT sold in stores - they only make 1,000 pairs of each print/size and then you'll never find it again.  You'll get some hard to find items going for crazy money on ebay, but that's not why I buy them, they are the softest leggings I have ever owned.  This company also makes skirts (long and short) and dresses for both adults and smaller kids.  I do own a couple of their maxi skirts, again, very soft and beautiful prints.  The dresses are also amazing, but I want to lose another few pounds off my baby "pouch" before I invest in a dress or two.  The company is called LuLaRoe  and they only sell online, or if there is a dealer near where you live, you can try on that way.  FB has quite a few different groups - but here's the thing - they'll announce the time and date of the "pop-up" sale and they'll start posting photos.  I've seen pop up sales with 250 items all sold within 10 minutes.  You see a photo you like, in your size, you quickly type SOLD, your email address,  and then you cross your fingers and hope you were first in line !  I've linked the site above, you can put your zip code in and look for someone close to you.  I don't sell the stuff myself - not enough time in the day - but it's like Avon, if you have the time and you are good at selling, all of the affiliates I've dealt with seem to love it, and it pays for their LuLaRoe addiction (yes, it is an addiction - I probably have 2 dozen pairs of leggings now ... my jeans are lonely !)  

Monday, December 28, 2015

Resurrecting for 2016

I've started a couple different blogs since I last posted here in 2014 - but I rarely posted because it seemed like it would take forever to build back up my files, recipe files, quilting files, photos - just too many posts to just "forget about"   So - if it's not broken, why?  Yes, some of my links probably no longer work, and I'll fix those one by one - so if you see one that doesn't work, give a shout.  I also will be opening this to the public - so they can follow along on my 2016 journey.

So - a refresher on who's who in 2016

Me - Mom, wife, businesswoman, chauffeur, homemaker, and homesteader wanna be.  I am on a constant search for the perfect property.  I found a 7 acre parcel with a pond full of fish that would be perfect since it already contains a barn with water and electricity where I could raise rabbits. goats and chickens, but the house, although amazing, is more than I need, and I cannot see paying top dollar for the house when I'm really interested in the land.  I've been married nearly 20 years - come next month.  20 years.  Wow.  I also will turn 50 next year.  Double wow.  Where has time gone?

Sham - Also known as DH (dear husband at times, sometimes the D stands for something much different) and Shammy to my mom.  He's an awesome provider, but his Middle Eastern culture is seen in his lack of showing affection.  I know he loves me and the kids - its a given, but sometimes a gift or some flowers would be nice.  Ah well, it's been 20 years, I don't think he's going to change now.

Mona - my first born.  My first preemie baby, at 31 weeks, I was scared !  3 pounds 3 ounces of a little fighter, who turned out smart as a whip, is a Sophmore/Junior in college, and also a manager of a local Drug Store ... she amazes me each and every day !

Leenah - my second daughter.  Who's life seems to revolve around the pool.  Who swims 7 days a week most weeks, for 2-3 hours each day.  She also amazes me that she can manage her schoolwork with the time spent in the pool and excel at both.  She also can follow any recipe and make an awesome dessert or a satisfying dinner.  When she's in the mood, she's the best mom's helper there is - although now that she's a little older, she's not in that mood as often :)

Nadia - my third daughter.  The one that made my son's existence possible.  Born as a preemie at only 27 weeks, she scared me too, but it also showed me another side of my husband, the helpless side, when he felt there was nothing more he could do to ease my pain.  She's so smart - I don't know how all that knowledge can fit into one little head.  She's got her sights set on Med School ... yet she's just in High School.   I do believe she'll succeed no matter what she does, and I'll help her every step of the way.  She's got such a great heart ... I'm such a lucky mom.

Adam - my son.  I waited a long, long time for him.  Most people think that I wanted a boy for my husband, but truth be told, it was me who really wanted a boy.  He was born at just 23 weeks and 3 days.  Yes, I know exactly the day I got pregnant with him.  If it weren't for Nadia, I doubt he would be here, because it was her birth that taught us about steroids that could be given to help develop his little lungs when it was apparent that he was coming early no matter what we did.  Sure, he's got some learning delays, but to sit and talk with him, you'd never guess.  He also swims, not as well as his sister Leenah, at least not yet.  He terrorizes his sisters, that's his job as the younger brother.  He is my heart.

And Felix - the newest member of our family - my kitten.  He is about 9 weeks old now - full of life, but when he's tired, he's perfectly happy to sleep across my shoulders or in my lap.  If I'm working he'll curl up in an old towel-lined cookie tin next to my desk so he can keep his eyes on me.

That's who we are - welcome to our family - as we welcome in 2016 !

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Back to School !

What a wonderful summer we had !!  Filled with swim meets, and a couple vacations as well.  Too many pictures to share, and most of my friends are on Facebook anyway - so they've already seen them.   Trying really hard to get organized for the new school year.  Menu has been planned - and so far I've made a few new dishes.   The Puff Pastry Spinach Cups - simple and fast, and the kids LOVED it - so another way to get a veggie into them.  Next time I'll try making more cups outta the dough - maybe use a mini muffin tin.  Recipe below.  I also tried a new lemon/butter Cod recipe - good except too much lemon for me - so I'll keep looking.  Last night we had beef tortillas in the crock - again good, but not great.  The hubster is taking all the leftover sauce to cook with for his workers - so tonight it'll be Moroccan chicken (supposedly)  I do have to take the girls out school shopping - tomorrow's the first day .... where did summer go ???

Today marks the day when my oldest has her first day of college classes ... how did she grow up so fast.  I'm almost a little tearful ...  almost :)

Photo is my 3 girls and I had pedi's while on vacation in Michigan ...  plus our wonderful Cousin Carol !   This will definately be a new tradition!


Supplies / ingredients:

  • 1 Storebought Puff Pastry
  • 250 g Frozen Spinach
  • 1 tbsp. Sour Cream
  • 3 tbsp. Cream Cheese
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 Cup Cheese, grated
  • salt and Black Pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp. oil
First chop the garlic. Heat a non-stick skillet to medium low heat, sprinkle with some cooking oil. Add garlic and cook for few seconds, then add spinach and cook until all water vapourised. You can also add a little bit of grated fresh ginger, it will give an amazing aroma to the spinach. Leave cooked spinach on the side to cool down.
Combine cooled spinach with sourcream, cream cheese and grated cheese, add some salt and black pepper to taste.
Divide puff pastry into 8 pieces.
Press each of the dough pieces into a muffin tin.
Using a spoon, fill each cup with the spinach mixture.
Heat the oven to 375°, and bake the cups for about 20 minutes, until golden brown.

I

Friday, January 24, 2014

New Year - Great Start - Vitamix !!

I wanted a Vitamix for years and years.  They are expensive !  I had a hard time spending that kind of money on an appliance I wasn't sure I would use.  Then - my MIL got sick, and the hubster took one to her, made her smoothies every day, and within a week, she got her strength back.  That was all it took - he called me and told me to order the one I wanted (which was even more expensive, because if I was going to order the Vitamix, I wanted the one I could grind my own wheat with, so I could bake my own bread, and be as natural as possible. 

Vitamix Professional Series 750 with 64 oz container, Brushed Stainless Finish


This is the one I got - the Vitamix $750.  I found a deal around Christmas time where they had the extra jars for $50 - so I got an extra dry jar as well (I've heard you can use your wet jar, but it'll scratch up the inside of the jar - figured it was worth the extra $50)

I love it.  I use it at LEAST once a day.  I make the hubster a smoothie every single morning - I use 2 handfuls of spinach, some carrots, some chia seeds, protein powder, almond milk and frozen fruit.  He drinks it after his morning coffee - and he's good until dinner time.  Amazing.  I make the kids smoothies too - but I don't put in so much spinach that they can see the green (as long as it's still red, they think I just used fruit)   Everything gets so well pulvarized - you cannot tell what's inside !  Amazing.  Why did I wait so long ???

So - on my save money and eat healthy kick - next up -  a food saver ..... stay tuned, I have to do my research first !

Monday, January 13, 2014

Adam's best swim meet ever !

Most of my swimming posts are about my super swimmer - Leenah.  But my son may have some dreams of greatness of his own.  Somehow Leenah convinced him that he could make a Junior Olympic time - and that we could all go to Penn State this summer (She will age up before the next summer JO's - so she cannot compete there anymore)   He came out and went off the blocks with every intention of trying to make it.  And he came close.  Closer than I ever thought he'd get.  He lost time in every event he swam.  I'm not sure which I was more impressed with, his 5 second lost on his 50 free with a perfect flip turn, his 7 second loss with his 50 back, with another perfect turn, or his 12 second loss on his 100 free - and he swam with purpose every stroke, and when his coaches told him to kick, he kicked his little heart out.  He was amazing.  There isn't a prouder mother in the entire world today.  This little man, born at only 23 weeks, was not given much of a chance to live, much less a chance to survive.  He was 1 lb 3 ounces when born.  I was told if he did survive he'd be severely brain damaged ....  but we never gave up, and neither did he.  My friends all send positive vibes, prayers, emails, phone calls, more prayers, whatever they thought would help, and it did.  God was listening.  And He still is.