Friday, September 28, 2012

Hug a vegetarian day!!!


Today is HUG A VEGETARIAN DAY!!!!
Adopting a meat-free, vegetarian diet can save up to a hundred animals per year. That’s a pretty hefty toll when you add it up over the course of a lifetime, so here’s to those who stick it out as vegetarians – Hug A Vegetarian Day aims to combat the stigma of vegetarianism and to recognise and reward those who undertake the challenges of maintaining a vegetarian diet.
source: http://www.daysoftheyear.com/days/hug-a-vegetarian-day/http://www.daysoftheyear.com/days/hug-a-vegetarian-day/

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Old-fashioned butter cookies

Surprise, I can bake and not just cook! This post is going to be a lot more different from most of my other posts. The biggest reason is this was my first attempt at any real baking. I am not the baker in my family, let me tell you that much. I don't enjoy baking nearly as much as I enjoy cooking. With cooking, I can be more creative and experimental to get what I like. Baking has a small element of chemistry, where you do really need to measure out some ingredients because they will interact differently with other ingredients. Cooking allows more room for mistakes. I enjoy eating food better than snacks. For all these reasons, I always tend to cook and not bake. I only ever bake to give someone else the goods. Likewise, I'll bake if I am expecting company. Rarely do I bake and do a great job. So, when I decided to bake to make my sister-in-law cookies decorated like medicine for a get well care package, it was an overly ambitious project for me to take on. But, I did it! The cookies turned out great and the decorating was better than I expected, but still looks not that professional. I completely stole this idea from this sugardotcookies blog. All creativity came from her and I am astounded by how great hers look!

So below in this blog, I will share with you the cookie recipe I used and the links to learn how to do royal icing.

Ingredients for cookies:

  • 3 cups sifted flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup soft butter
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 slightly beaten eggs
Method for cookies:
  1. Sift dry ingredients and cut in butter
  2. Add egg, milk, and vanilla
  3. Chill dough if desired (not necessary)
  4. Roll out on a floured surface 1/8 inch thick (or thicker if desired)
  5. Bake on a lightly greased baking sheets in a 400 degree oven for 5-6 minutes
  6. When cool, decorate

When it's time to decorate cookies, if you are up for making royal icing and flooding your cookies, I highly encourage you to check out this website to learn more about making the icing and the beginning ideas to the consistency to decorate: http://www.sweetsugarbelle.com/blog/2011/04/royal-icing-101-or-all-roads-lead-to-rome/

I don't have nearly enough experience to try to pretend how to tell you the best way to do icing! Maybe in a few months!

royal icing


can you find eggy?

the finished project: making it look like a prescription jar !

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Lentil and Vegetable Soup with Spiced Yogurt




This soup is one of those recipes that I tried and didn't know what to expect, but then instantly became a hit. If you've ever had mulligatawny soup at an Indian restaurant, this is definitely a form of that soup. Make sure you have a tasty garam masala because I think that is what makes this soup taste so great. The yogurt topping adds to the flavor and makes it a soup you will want to eat weekly!

Ingredients:

Soup:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 4 cups stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup yellow lentils (yellow split peas)
  • 1-2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 small carrot, diced
  • 2 large tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 cup peas
  • 2 cups water
Yogurt topping:
  • 1 cup yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 3 dashes hot sauce (optional)
Method:
  1. Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and onions and cook 4-5 minutes until soft and lightly golden. Add the curry powder, cumin, and garam masala and cook for 1 minute or until the spics are fragrant. Add the stock, bay leaf, lentils, sweet potatoes, and carrots. Bring to a oil, then reduce heat and simmer 10 to 15 minutes until the lentils are tender.
  2. Add the tomatoes, peas, 2 cups water, and simmer for 20 minutes or are vegetables are tender.
  3. To make the spiced yogurt: place the yogurt, cilantro, garlic, and tabasco in a small bowl and stir well. 
Serving: Dollop a spoonful of the yogurt on each serving of soup.



Saturday, September 22, 2012

Eggplant Parmesan

My thoughtful aunt gave me two beautiful eggplants and some cherry tomatoes. She gave me two eggplant Parmesan recipes and said she thought I could make some eggplant Parmesan with them. I decided to use the recipe she provided that came from a Martha Stewart cooking website. I can't take complete credit for this delicious meal since I did the first half and my mom did the second half. I am trying to show her how to cook meals from scratch and she was willing to try this on her own. She did a great job!

Ingredients:

  • Olive oil, for baking sheets
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup plain dry breadcrumbs
  • 3/4 cup finely grated Parmesan, plus 2 tablespoons for topping
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 large eggplants, peeled and sliced into 1/2 inch rounds
  • 6 cups (48 oz) chunky tomato sauce (I used my own homemade recipe here, minus the mushrooms)
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella
Directions:

1. If preparing homemade chunky tomato sauce, do this first.

2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brush 2 baking sheets with oil; set aside. In a wide, shallow bowl, whisk together 2 eggs and 2 tablespoons water. In another bowl, combine breadcrumbs, 3/4 cup Parmesan, oregano, and basil; season with salt and pepper.

3. Dip eggplant slices in egg mixture, letting excess drip off, then dredge in breadcrumb mixture, coating well; place on baking sheets. Bake until golden brown on bottom, 20  to 25 minutes. Turn slices; continue baking until browned on other side, 20 to 25 minutes more. Remove from oven, raise oven heat to 400 degrees.

4. Spread 2 cups sauce in a 9 x 13 inch baking dish. Arrange half the eggplant in dish; cover with 2 cups sauce, then 1/2 cup mozzarella. Repeat with remaining eggplant, sauce, and mozzarella; sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons Parmesan. Bake until sauce and cheese is melted, 15 to 20 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving. 



Sunday, September 16, 2012

Lentil Soup

Whenever I would go to a restaurant and see lentil soup, I would get incredibly excited and always order it. Finally, I decided it was time to make my own lentil soup since I love it so much. I was lucky when I came across this recipe and it was perfect. I have been using this recipe for years now and I don't know where it originated from anymore. The first time that I made it, my husband and I ate the entire pot. We've never even become close to eating the whole pot again! Recently, I made it for my mom and aunt and they both loved it, too. I am posting it on my blog so that my mom can easily locate the recipe to make it for herself!

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 14.5 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cups dry lentils 
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 cup fresh spinach 
  • 2 tablespoon vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste
Method:
  1.  In a large soup pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add carrots and celery; cook and stir until vegetables are tender. Stir in garlic, bay leaf, oregano, and basil. Cook for 2 minutes.
  2. Stir in lentils and add water and tomatoes. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for 45 minutes - 1 hour or until lentils are soft. When ready to serve, stir in spinach and cook until it wilts. Stir in vinegar and season to taste with salt and pepper. Add more vinegar if desired.

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