Curried Quinoa Stew

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Quinoa is thriving in the new year. People, like myself, are enjoying the seed that offers vast amount of protein per carbohydrate. It can run close in comparison to the textures of couscous or pearl barley and works as a gluten free, nutritional powerhouse. The addition of quinoa to stews works perfectly because the seed grows and cooks in a liquid base. So, jumping on the quinoa bandwagon, the curried quinoa stew delivers on all notes.

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Curry, is the generic English term primarily employed in Western culture to denote a wide variety of dishes whose origins are Southern and Southeastern Asian cuisines, as well as New World cuisines influenced by them such as Trinidadian, Mauritian or Fijian. In originaltraditional cuisines, the precise selection of spices for each dish is a matter of national or regional cultural tradition, religious practice and, to some extent, family preference. Curry powder, a commercially prepared mixture of spices, is largely a Western notion, dating to the 18th century. Such mixtures are commonly thought to have first been prepared by Indian merchants for sale to members of the British Colonial government and army returning to Britain. Curries may be either wet or dry. Wet curries contain significant amounts of sauce or gravy based on yogurt, coconut milk, legume purée (dal) or stock. Dry curries are cooked with very little liquid that is allowed to evaporate, leaving the other ingredients coated with the spice mixture. The main spices found in most South Asian curry powders are turmeric, coriander and cumin; a wide range of additional spices may be included depending on the geographic region.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  1. I used baby carrots in place of chopping a large carrot.
  2. Using fresh ginger is essential in curry related meals. It adds depth and a more authentic taste to the dish.
  3. I made my own curry powder. It is an equal mixture of turmeric, ground cumin, coriander and cayenne (optional).
  4. I used tomato sauce. I do not care for tomatoes and the sauce thickens the stew without leaving chunks.
  5. You can use vegetable broth for a vegetarian dish.
  6. I used white kidney beans in place of black beans. It was by random chance that I mixed the two cans up; however, I feel the kidney beans work better to balance the dish whereas black beans would overpower the flavors.
  7. The nut buttes add a depth of flavor to the dish and a creaminess to the soup. Also, it provides a hint of the end color.
  8. I nixed the cilantro because I do not care for the minty Mexican spice.
  9. Use a fair amount of spinach because it will wilt in the stew. Tearing it can be essential in dispersing the spinach evenly without spinach balls.
  10. I liked to cook my dish in my dutch oven. It works equally to a large pot, but the spices and flavors of curry will sink into the soul of your dutch oven: YUM!
  11. After adding the quinoa, stir the dish occasionally to keep it from burning. You will begin to notice that the stew becomes thicker as the quinoa absorbs the liquid while
    being tossed.
  12. Similar to the quinoa chili I have created in the past, you could substitute the carrots with sweet potatoes. Keep in mind that your nutritional information would then change as well since carrots are low in calories.

I have a knack for enjoying Indian dishes. Curry’s potent flavors and aroma are one of my favorite spices to work with. It can transform dishes into wonderful meals. I enjoy that curries and Indian dishes incorporate a vast amount of spices: meaning I can obtain flavor without calories. From the nuttiness of the peanut butter to the protein of the quinoa, my stomach was dancing after enjoying the meal. Eaten on a cold winter night or for an Indian flared party, the dish will wow friends and family alike.

Leave a comment with your favorite Indian recipes. Follow my Pinterest for more recipes. Check back again next Wednesday for more tips and tricks from The Cooking Bug.

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Almond Butter

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Everyone has always strayed from fats because society has brainwashed us into thinking they are big, bad and scary.  The truth of the matter is that a balanced diet includes fat; one just needs to balance the amount they eat daily.  Nuts are a great source of protein and fat.  When I want to splurge, I choose to eat a peanut butter, or in this case nut butter, sandwich.

I’ve been dying to make my own nut butters previously, but I had this terrifying thought that it was too hard.  Boy was I completely wrong.  All you need is a food processor and the nuts of your choice.  While most nut butters are made from peanuts and almonds, you can make them with any type of nut.  The essential part of making the nut butters is grinding the nuts until they release their oils creating the creamy texture.  Take note that nut butters tend to have a grimy texture unlike processed peanut butters and may need to be mixed before eating it to reincorporate the oils.

Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  1. I made half the amount of butter than the recipe; however, making more takes less time, funnily enough, because there is a higher volume of food being processed.  Ergo, you won’t have to stop 20 extra times to scrape the sides.almondbutter
  2. You can make as much or as little nut butter as you choose.  Be sure to keep it in an airtight container.
  3. Add any type of flavors to the nut butter: honey, white chocolate, dark chocolate, salt or chia.
  4. I suggest adding a pinch of salt to the butter or buying salted nuts from a whole grocers, like Sprouts.  Salt enhances flavors when cooking.
  5. Roast the nuts before processing them in a 350-degree oven for no more than ten minutes.
  6. Roasting the nuts brings out a nutty aroma, making your kitchen
    smell delicious.

Ta-Da! You’ve made your own, healthier and personalized, nut butter: simple and easy without those pesky preservatives.  Make as little or as much of the nut butter as you’d like for less than grocery store prices.  Individualize the butters with your favorite flavors to build new creations.

Leave a comment with your favorite nutty flavors.  Follow my Pinterest for more recipes.  Check back again next Wednesday for more tips and tricks from The Cooking Bug.

Cauliflower Mash with Brussels Sprouts and Bacon

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A daily diet should consist of 2-3 servings of vegetables.  This cauliflower mash with brussels sprouts and bacon helps achieve that goal.  Because cauliflower is so versatile in texture and flavor, it works well as any base.  Cauliflower can substitute rice, pizza crust and now mashed potatoes while still maintaining complex flavors.  It allows for you to enjoy all those starchy meals with a healthier alternative.

Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  1. This recipe makes two appropriate portion sizes, so if you’re someone who is making this for a large meal you’ll need to double or triple it.
  2. Take as much of the stem off the cauliflower as possible.
  3. I placed my cauliflower in a microwave safe bowl to microwave for 6 minutes instead of cooking it stovetop.
  4. I used turkey bacon because it still has the flavor without all the sodium and
    saturated fats.
  5. The bacon can be cooked in about 4 minutes stovetop.cauliflowerbrusslesprouts2
  6. Food process the cooked cauliflower to a
    puree consistency.
  7. Adding olive oil to the cauliflower creates flavor and a smoother consistency.
  8. The puree should mock the look of
    mashed potatoes.
  9. The nutmeg adds a depth of flavor to the dish.
  10. I cooked the brussels sprouts in the oven because I think they crisp better. Cook them with some pam for about 40 minutes flipping halfway through.
  11. I nixed the chickpeas because it is already a carb heavy meal; luckily, your carbohydrates are coming from vegetables.
  12. Use tofurky for vegan and vegetarian options.

Vegetarians and food fanatics alike will dive into this dish.  The combinations of ingredients all compliment one another creating a deep, palate profile.  It’s a quick and easy way to enjoy vegetables; it’s a quick and easy way to enjoy a meal without bursting your waistline; it’s a quick and easy way to enjoy a burst of delectable flavors.

Leave a comment with your favorite cauliflower recipes.  Follow my Pinterest.  Check back again next Wednesday for more tips and trick from The Cooking Bug.

Gingerbread Brownies

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Now that Thanksgiving is done and over, we’re moving on to other delicious holiday treats.  Gingerbread is one of the many iconic holiday treats when snow begins to coat the ground.  From cookies, cakes and even coffee, we find gingerbread’s spice-laced flavor a holiday extravaganza.  These gingerbread brownies do not disappoint, but keep that in mind: they are hard to keep out of your hands.

Gingerbread is a versatile ingredient.  It can be incorporate into moist cakes or dense cookies.  Gingerbread is fragrantly flavored from ginger and sweetened with molasses or honey.  It posses a versatile spiciness from the ginger making the dishes a sweet and savory treat.  We see it most commonly used in cookies to form little men­–gingerbread men and women.  Today, gingerbread is used in coffee creamers, cakes, breads, icing, hot chocolate and other desserts.  The spiciness makes my taste buds come back for more.

Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  1. I used gingerbread cookies in place of the cake mix.
  2. DO NOT use the ingredients listed on the box keep to the recipe linked above.
  3. The powdered sugar adds a snow like quality to the brownies.  I added the powdered sugar because it’s necessary for that holiday feeling.gingerbreadbrownies2
  4. You can substitute the cake or cookie mix for a gingerbread recipe passed down from your family; however, you will want to use the dry ingredients only.
  5. The dough will be a little sticky and should have a firmer texture than normal brownies.
  6. I cooked mine for about 20 minutes.  They were the perfect consistency of ooey,
    gooey deliciousness.
  7. The longer the brownies set the firmer they will become.  They should be eaten within a few days of baking.
  8. I like to bake my brownies in one big pan rather than using individual slats because it keeps the edges gooey.  The centerpiece is the best!

By the end of this baking adventure, you will have a simple and delicious holiday brownie.  Gingerbread brownies work well as treats for neighbors or holiday parties.  Within 25 minutes, you have a unique treat that will be gobbled up in minutes.  They can be made with only three ingredients and little time.  The recipe is an easy cheat with professional results for those of us with little time or little experience baking goods.

Leave a comment with your favorite gingerbread treats.  Follow my Pinterest for more recipes.  Check back again next Wednesday for more tips and tricks from The Cooking Bug.

Mushroom Hemp Burgers

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Being a previous vegetarian, I have a love affair with garden burgers.  Finding a recipe that keeps protein in mind is an added bonus.  While these mushroom hemp burgers seemed alien and odd, the simple ingredients combined make a burger that is out of this world!

Hemp seeds come from a plant that is similar to the marijuana plant, but it has lower levels of psychoactive cannabinoid compounds.  Hemp seed extract has an unidentified compound in it that may help to promote learning, memory and immune function.  It may stimulate the brain enzyme known as calcineurin, according to the University of Michigan.  Calcineurin plays an essential role in some brain synapse activities.  Hemp seeds are rich in essential fatty acids.  The oil in the seeds is a source of the omega-3 fatty acid.  Omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation in your body.  They also may lower risk for cancer, heart disease and arthritis.  Hemp seeds can help you if you are constipated because they act as a
bulk-forming laxative.

Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  1. I used portabello mushrooms.  It was a taste preference and you can use any type
    of mushroom.mushroomhempburgers2
  2. Use dried dill.  Since it is such a strong spice, dried dill will last longer in your cupboards in ratio to how much you may actually use.
  3. I used breadcrumbs in place of hemp powder mainly because I failed to find hemp powder.  Either option works as a binder for the patties.
  4. Although I did not use the wine, it would be a great option for adding more flavors to your patties.  Mushrooms work well in absorbing liquid flavors.
  5. I nixed the oil.  I used Pam instead; not only is it less fat and calories, but you do not need all that grease.
  6. Be sure to chop the mushrooms into extremely small, fine pieces.  It will be easier to combine those pieces into patties.
  7. If your patties are too moist, add more breadcrumbs to the mix.
  8. Be careful adding the scrambled egg to the hot mushrooms.  You do not want the egg to begin cooking and literally scramble.
  9. I halved the recipe and made about nine total patties.  Keep in mind that the patties are small, so most individuals will eat two or three.

I admit that I was surprised at the development of flavor produced.  I enjoy the natural crunch of the hemp seeds; I enjoy deep flavors that develop; I enjoy the protein rich feature these burgers achieve.  You can replace any carnivore’s beef burger with these mushroom hemp patties and they will be pleased.

Leave a comment with your favorite mushroom ideas.  Follow my Pinterest for more recipes.  Check back again next Wednesday for more tips and tricks from The Cooking Bug.

Honey-Lime Grilled Chicken

Are you tired of the same old chicken?  Eating it day in and day out can be gruesome.  There are only some many ways to make it, right? WRONG!  This honey-lime grilled chicken gives a new meaning to chicken.  So long to those bland flavors, and hello to the new, healthy chicken.

Chicken is a great source of protein that I eat often.  I’ve gotten bored of the same methods of oven-roasted chicken.  There are only so many sauces to cover it up.  The marinade here gives the chicken a quite different flavor profile that masks the chicken well.  Keep in mind that since it is marinated that it will need time to sit in the refrigerator before cooking to enhance all
the flavors.

Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind.

  1. You can use fresh limes and juice them, but you would be going through quite a bit of limes.  We used the bottled lime juice about one bottle should do.
  2.  The thyme and rosemary can be added in by the stems so that they can easily be picked out.  You wouldn’t want to chop on one of them because they are hard
    and strong.
  3. You can chop the amount of oil in half for a healthier amount and just spray top of the grill with cooking oil.
  4. Make sure they have a nice charcoal on them to add crispiness to the chicken.

Dig in and enjoy another chicken with extreme flavor.  This recipe won’t leave you hanging on the same bland chicken.  It has an interesting flavor that makes it unusual but delicious.  Pair it with some grilled sweet corn and roasted carrots for a delicious and healthy dish that will satisfy your rumbling tummy.

Leave a comment below and follow my Pinterest for other chicken recipes.  Check back next Wednesday for another flavor profile from The Cooking Bug.

Nutella Fudge

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Fudge is always tricky to make.  It can take quite a bit of time and the right temperature to make the consistency just perfect.  So, note to not get snippy with your mother if you have trouble in the process.  Like shortbread, it can be too hot, too cold, too humid, or any other too you can think of.

However, I didn’t think the nutella fudge was hard to complete for a tasty dessert.  The hardest part about this recipe is trying to keep from eating it while you’re cooking!

Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind:

  1. Have all your ingredients out and measured so you don’t waste time trying to multitask.  Fudge is one thing that you need to keep constantly moving.
  2. Use the salted butter.  Salt makes food taste more flavorful.
  3. I chose to use half and half.  It comes in a smaller container so you aren’t wasting ingredients after the fact.  It also is cheaper at the stores.
  4. I only needed 2½ cups confections sugar (aka powdered sugar).  Too much sugar and you’ll have the fudge too thick.
  5. I didn’t use the vanilla.  While it will round out the flavors more, the fudge was already sweet enough and draws out the Nutella flavoring more.
  6. Let it sit unsettled for at least 2 hours in the fridge taunting you with its deliciousness.Nutellafudge

Now, you have the tips, the recipe and the guts to go out and try this recipe.  Wow your friends and family by making these delicious bites.  I cut out 35 squares so that everyone could get just enough fudge to tickle their taste buds.  There are a bunch of different flavor combinations that you can try from white chocolate, mint chocolate, and peanut butter.  Be sure to know that I’ll be trying
them all!

Leave a comment below with your fudge ideas.  Follow my Pinterest for more recipes.  Check back again next Wednesday for more tips from The Cooking Bug.