Thursday, October 6, 2016

Curry in a Hurry

I've only recently (as in the last few years) developed a taste for curries, but now I can't get enough. Curries are so versatile and quite easy to throw together and "use what ya got" once you get the hang of it.
When I first started researching how to make curries, I was intimidated by the vast lists of spices and other ingredients involved. So I started looking into pre-made curry pastes. I read labels and weeded out a lot of brands with too many additives, msg, or fillers. I tried Thai Kitchen (the most prevalent brand found at a standard grocery store) and found it bland and disappointing. Then I discovered the Maesri line of curry pastes and upon trying their "Karee" paste for the first time, I was sold.

Here is my basic formula for curry using Maesri paste:

1 lb Protein + 4-6 cups chopped Veggies + 1 can Curry Paste + 1 14oz can Coconut Milk + 1-2 cups water/stock

-Cut protein into chunks, brown in a hot skillet with coconut oil, remove from pan & set aside.
   (You can pre-season the meat a bit if desired, but most of the pastes are salted already so be careful. I most often use boneless, skinless chicken thighs, but you can use anything- pork, shrimp, tofu, paneer... really, anything!)

-Put entire can of curry paste in hot skillet with a little coconut oil and saute a couple minutes until fragrant (adjust amount for how much you're making)

-Add vegetables, saute for about 10 minutes. 
   (I always use onion, garlic, carrots, and either sweet potato or butternut squash, and then whatever I have on hand- eggplant, zucchini, mushrooms, greens, you name it.)

-Add meat back in, coconut milk, and about the can's worth of water or stock. 
   (I like to have enough liquid to just cover the meat & veggies.) 

-Let simmer until veggies are tender (or longer for more flavor).

Serve over basmati or brown rice (I mix quinoa in sometimes), top with chopped cilantro (or thai basil, or both!). And for an occasional treat, I serve it with Trader Joe's garlic naan from their freezer section. 

This makes at least 6 servings (but it is even better leftover)!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

A Bid Farewell to Summer: Zucchini, two ways

I recently loaded up on zucchini, trying to get my fill while it's still in season here in Central Texas. It may still feel like summer, but fall is drawing near and soon we will be loading our plates with root vegetables and cole crops.

My 7 month old enjoyed eating whole chunks of soft, steamed zucchini slices and homemade purees like one I made with zucchini, black beans, sweet potato, and cumin.

I often go simple when it comes to zucchini, like cutting lengthwise and grilling, or slicing and sautéing with onion & garlic. This time, feeling adventurous, I looked up some recipes and found two that I will definitely make again.

The first was a chocolate zucchini bread (see this post for a slightly healthier of version Chocolate Zucchini Bread). I used this recipe as my guide:
Changes: I used less sugar, greek yogurt instead of regular, cacao powder instead of cocoa, 63% dark chocolate chips, coconut oil instead of vegetable, and added 1 tsp vanilla extract.
This moist, dense, but not too heavy, cake---errr, bread, was excellent on it's own, but the night I made it we also happened to have some Caramel Salt Lick ice cream from our favorite local shop Lick Honest Ice Creams  so we threw a scoop (or two) on top of the bread. Oh. My. Goodness.... that was heaven!

The next recipe I made was a Zucchini-Tomato-Rice Gratin (YES! I finally got to use my Le Creuset gratin dish).  I used this recipe:
The recipe seems to have a lot of steps, but it's really not that difficult. And once you get the steps down, there is a lot of room for adjustment/substitutions. It would be especially easy using leftover rice instead of making it fresh. I let my zucchini and tomatoes roast a bit longer than the recipe states- until the zucchini was golden and the tomatoes were starting to shrink down. I also let the onions caramelize instead of covering/steaming as the recipe instructs. I did not have fresh thyme on hand, so I used dried, but I would just omit if I don't have fresh in the future. I added fresh basil which was an excellent addition.
I served this alongside roasted salmon and asparagus which all went wonderfully together!