Author Archives: onceundertheappletree

Punjabi Chana Dal

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This recipe brought back memories of college. Almost every weekend, when our dorm was out of groceries, we would go to a little Indian restaurant, tucked away on a side street in the Philippines. For a couple dollars, we would stuff ourselves on chana dal, chicken masala, curried cauliflower, naan bread, and fish tikka. Mmmmmm! I love Indian almost as much as I love Thai! Unfortunately for me, although Mr. HHF could eat Mexican every single day, he’s much pickier about Indian. This recipe passed his inspection though! You could make it with regular red or brown lentils, but we both thought the chana dal lentils were creamier. I wish I had added cauliflower towards the end, so I will let you know when you could add cauliflower to the recipe. PLEASE don’t let the amount of spices deter you (I know it looks like a lot of work)….it’s worth it, I promise. We thought it was yummier the next day once the spices had time to meld. Also, Mr. HHF added sour cream to his the 2nd time we had it and liked this even better!

Serves: 2 with leftovers

8/10 We both thought it could be a solid nine if I had added some cauliflower and had cooked the lentils just a little longer….we like mushy beans. After one bite, our toddler rated the recipe as 1/10. He was NOT a fan…but he has texture issues with beans. Our 6 month old loved it and ate about half a cup of the lentils once I rinsed off most of the spices.

Prep and cook time: I was making spiced cauliflower and naan bread while preparing the chana dal….I think it all took about an hour and 15 minutes. If you were just making the chana dal, I think it would only take 45-50 minutes depending on how long you soaked your beans and how quickly they cooked.

Adapted from: Masala Chana Dal and Punjabi Chana Dal

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cup chana dal or lentils

1 onion

2 tablespoons butter or oil (I used oil to make this dairy free)

1 inch cinnamon stick

1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds or powder (I used powder)

1 tablespoon garlic powder (or 1/2 tablespoon fresh garlic, minced)

1 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon tumeric

1 teaspoon coriander powder

4-5 thinly sliced ginger rounds

1 teaspoon garam masala

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 pinch cloves

1 bay leaf

1 cup grated juicy tomato (or canned diced tomato)

4-5 cups of water

1 small steak (sizzler, sirloin, etc.) optional

Fresh cilantro, lemon juice, sour cream or plain yogurt to garnish

Instructions:

1. Rinse chana dal until the water runs clear. Then let them soak for at least 30 minutes. 1-2 hours would be better.

I used these lentils….I know you can get them cheaper in other brands, but I just wanted to try them to see if we would like them, and we do!

2. Heat oil in the pan and add the cumin and cinnamon stick. Let them sizzle a minute or two while you chop the onion. Add the onion.

3. While the onion is cooking (stir occasionally), mix together the garlic, chili powder, tumeric, coriander, garam masala, cloves, bay leaf, pepper, and salt.

4. Add the grated tomato or canned tomato.

5. When the onions are nicely browned, add the spices and tomato to them. Cook on high heat, stirring frequently for 3-5 minutes until water is mostly evaporated.

6. Add the drained lentils and continue to cook on medium high heat, stirring frequently, for another 6-8 minutes.

7. Add 4-5 cups of water (depending on how soupy you want it to be). Add the ginger slices. Cover and simmer for 30-45 minutes. The lentils should be soft, but not completely mush. At this point, Mr. HHF realized there would be no meat in this recipe. This was NOT ok. So I quickly defrosted a small steak. and added it….the next two steps are optional. ALSO, at this point, I wish I had added a cup or two of chopped cauliflower.

8. Sprinkle salt, pepper, and lemon juice on the steak. Cook on high heat for 2-3 minutes each side until nicely browned.

9. Slice thinly against the grain. Add slices to the soup a minute or two before you are ready to remove soup from the heat.

10. Adjust spices according to taste. I ended up adding more salt, chili powder, garam masala, and garlic powder. Serve hot with cilantro, lemon juice, naan or a crusty bread or rice.

Sorry about the poor quality of this picture….it really does look much yummier than this. It had gotten dark by the time the soup was done, and I was in a hurry to snap a picture and eat! I’ll be posting recipes for the naan and the roasted cauliflower soon!

Dairy Free Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

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These cookies were a LIFE-SAVER when I was eating dairy free for my daughter. They were easy, cheap, and I could freeze the dough to solve my ice cream cravings. I adapted the recipe from several different recipes…you can really play around with the ingredients (add more nuts, more oatmeal instead of nuts, coconut flakes instead of nuts, etc.). The first time I made them, I used all coconut oil (instead of shortening). They had too much coconut flavor for me….I liked the half shortening, half coconut oil combo the best. If you use only shortening (and omit the coconut oil), make sure you use butter flavored shortening. I didn’t get a photo of them once they were cooked (because I usually end up just eating the dough frozen…don’t judge). But they cook up beautifully…nice and chewy the way cookies were meant to be.

9/10 I think they could be a 10/10 if I could use butter 😉

Makes about 9 dozen little cookies

Prep: 10-15 minutes (doesn’t include cook time)

Ingredients:

1/2 cup shortening

1/2 cup coconut oil

1 cup slightly packed brown sugar

1 cup white sugar

2-3 eggs (I like the chewiness that 3 eggs gives)

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3 cups oatmeal (or 2 cups oatmeal, 1 cup flaked coconut)

2 cups all-purpose flour (or 1 cup all-purpose, 1 cup whole wheat)

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

3/4 tsp salt

3/4 tsp cinnamon

2 cups Ghirardelli dairy free chocolate chips (see picture below) or any dairy-free chocolate chip. MAKE SURE YOU CHECK THE INGREDIENT LIST ON THE BACK! I accidentally ate dairy so many times because I didn’t check the back. If it says “milk fat”, it has dairy in it.

1 cup chopped nuts (I prefer pecans or almonds)

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 375. In a large bowl, cream shortening, coconut oil, and sugars until smooth and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla.

2. On top of the sugar mixture, pour in (in this order) the oatmeal, flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Use a fork to whisk in the baking powder and soda into the flour before mixing everything into the sugar mixture.

3. Add chocolate chips, coconut (if using), and nuts. These are the only dairy free chocolate chips I could find (without ordering specialty ones) in our local grocery store. Again, check the back…you never know when a company will change their ingredients.

4. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls 2 inches apart on greased baking sheets. Bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes or until edges are very lightly browned. Don’t overcook these unless you like crunchy cookies…especially if you used whole wheat flour!

Thai Style Chicken Soup (Tom Kha Gai)

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This was yummy. Even Mr. HHF was surprised at how much he liked it. Toddler ate it too…but picked out the mushrooms (he’s never a fan of those). Make sure you use real lemongrass (not the jarred or canned kind) and don’t skimp on it. It’s worth the splurge. I’d never cooked with real lemongrass before, but after trying this soup (and some lemongrass tea), I’m definitely growing my own as soon as Mr. HHF starts the greenhouse heaters in January! Make recipe as is for an appetizer, or add extra mushrooms and chicken (about a cup of each) for a main course.

9/10 Mr. HHF said when he looked at it, he thought he was going to give it a 6/10, but he was pleasantly surprised. I think the mushrooms freaked him out.

Serves: 4 as a main course or 6-8 as an appetizer (make sure you add extra chicken and mushrooms as a main course…especially if you are cooking for guys

Prep time: About 30 minutes

Recipe adapted from: The Best International Recipe Book

Ingredients:

1 tsp oil (olive, grape, or vegetable)

3 stalks of lemongrass (only the bottom 5 inches), peel off the outer layer then slice thin

3 large shallots or 1 medium white onion (I used white onion)

8-16 sprigs cilantro (we all LOVE cilantro, so I always add more)

2-3 T. fish sauce

4 cups low-sodium chicken broth (or 4 cups water with 3 chicken bouillon cubes)

2 (14 oz) cans coconut milk (regular coconut milk is MUCH yummier than the light coconut milk)

1 T. sugar

1/2 lb white mushrooms, cleaned and sliced 1/4 inch thick

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 2 breasts) halved lengthwise and sliced on the bias into 1/8 inch pieces

3 T. lime juice (I only had key lime juice…we didn’t notice a difference)

2 tsp Thai red curry paste (comes in a little jar with a black lid in most grocery stores)

Garnish: 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, 2 fresh Thai or jalapeno chilis, 2 sliced scallions , 1 lime cut in wedges

Instructions:

1. Heat oil in large saucepan until shimmering. Add lemongrass, shallots or onion, chopped cilantro, and 1 T. of fish sauce. Stir frequently until just softened but not browned (2-5 minutes).

2. Stir in the chicken broth and ONE can of coconut milk (don’t make the same mistake I did of adding both cans). Bring to simmer over high heat. Cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer until the flavors have blended, 10-15 minutes. Strain out all the solids in a strainer or with a fine slotted spoon. Sorry, I forgot to take a picture of this step…pretty sure the toddler was getting into trouble at this point!

3. Return strained soup to the saucepan and bring back to a simmer. Add the 2nd can of coconut milk and the sugar. Bring to simmer and add sliced mushrooms. Cook until slightly soft, 2-3 minutes. Add chicken and stir constantly until all the chicken is white, 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat.

4. Add lime juice, curry paste, and fish sauce to taste (1-2 tablespoons…the fish sauce makes it salty so be careful). Garnish soup with cilantro, chiles, scallions, and lime. Hubby added sriracha sauce.

I served this soup with a peasant style bread because we already had that, but it would be yummy with rice noodles, quinoa, or rice. We ate the leftovers with rice the next day, and it was equally as yummy!

Grilled Fajitas

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I love this recipe because I don’t have to use a single pan. Everything is grilled, and my hubby does all the grilling. So it’s easy and the perfect summer meal. (If your hubby doesn’t grill, tell him how he has the most amazing grilling skills in the whole world and that it won’t taste the same if you try to grill it…it will be much more delicious if he grills…works every time.) 🙂 Serve with Street Corn, Pico de Gallo, Guacamole, sour cream, cheese, tortillas, cilantro, lime juice, beans, and anything else you can think of. Can be dairy free if you substitute sour cream and cheese with dairy free options (or just add extra guacamole instead of sour cream and cheese).

9/10 Everyone really liked these, but they didn’t have as much flavor as fajitas I have made in the past in a pan (I usually add spices to my pan fajitas). They definitely needed toppings like pico de gallo and guacamole to add flavor. Otherwise, we thought they were perfect.

Prep time: 30 min

Serves 4 (with leftovers)

Recipe adapted from: The Best International Recipe

Ingredients:

2 1/2 pounds steak (original recipe recommended flank steak, I only had T-bone and it worked pretty well)

1/4 cup lime juice

salt and ground black pepper

1 or 2 large red or white onions, peeled and sliced in 1/2 half inch rounds

3 red, yellow, or orange bell peppers (you could use green, but I don’t like green ones so didn’t use them for this recipe)

16 (10 inch) flour tortillas

lime, cilantro, sour cream, cheese, guacamole, salsa, pico de gallo, beans, etc.

Instructions:

1. Have hubby heat grill. While grill is heating, prep the onions and peppers for grilling. Peel and slice onion into thick (1/2 inch) slices. Cut the top and bottom off the pepper, slice down one side of pepper and lay it flat, remove seeds and the white part.

2. Prep the steak for grilling by rubbing both sides with the lime juice and generously sprinkling it with salt and pepper.

3. Grill steak until well seared (about 5 minutes per side). Check the middle with a knife…it should be slightly more rare than you want it to be.

4. Transfer the steak to a plate and cover with tin foil. Let it rest for at least 5 minutes (this helps it finish cooking and makes it nice and juicy). While the steak is resting, finish grilling the pepper and onion. They should be streaked with dark grill marks and should be soft but not mushy (about 6-10 minutes).

5. Turn off grill. While it’s still warm, grill both sides of the tortillas until they are just warm (about 15 seconds per side). Wrap in a clean towel to keep them warm.

6. Slice steak into thin strips across the grain. Slice the peppers and onions into thin strips as well.

7. Arrange the sliced steak, peppers, and onions on a platter (or the cutting board) and sprinkle with lime juice and salt and pepper.

Also, fajita night isn’t fajita night until hubby puts on his Mexico shirt 🙂

Pico de Gallo

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My husband loves Mexican food, so I try to make it often. Pico de gallo is easy and yummy on anything from fajitas to enchiladas to pulled pork. I use it (and like it) more than salsa. You will find us standing at the kitchen counter eating an entire bowl of pico de gallo by ourselves. It’s addicting! We served it at our wedding and haven’t stopped loving it since. I’ve used other recipes, but just started using this one (per my mom’s recommendation), and it is by far my favorite!
Makes about 6 cups
9/10. But too spicy for the toddler (he doesn’t like tomatoes much anyway)
Prep time: about 15 min
Recipe adapted from: With Love from Cynthia
Ingredients:
8 firm or slightly unripe tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1-2 fresh jalapenos, seeds removed and finely chopped
1 1/2 cups white or red onion, finely chopped
juice of one lime (or 1-2 T. lime juice)
1 cup cilantro, coarsely chopped
pinch of salt
Mix together. Keeps in refrigerator for 4-5 days.

Mexican Street Corn

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Serves 6

10/10 (rated by husband, toddler) 9/10 (rated by me…mine didn’t have cheese…and it was better with cheese, but still very yummy without)

Approx. time: 25 min

Recipe adapted from: The Best International Recipe

*Dairy Free Option

 

Ingredients:

6 large ears of fresh corn

1 T. olive oil

1/2 cup mayonnaise

2 T. chopped fresh cilantro

1 T. lime juice

1 medium garlic clove, pressed through a garlic press

1 tsp chili powder

pinch of salt

1 oz farmer’s cheese, mozzarella, feta, or colby jack, crumbled or shredded (Dairy Free: skip the cheese or use a dairy free cheese)

Instructions:

1. Have handsome, farmer husband husk corn (or if you don’t have a handsome, farmer husband and you hate husking corn, find someone else).


2. Place your oven rack about 5 inches from the broiler and preheat the broiler.

3. Brush olive oil all over the corn and place on a cookie sheet (make sure you line it with foil!).

4. Broil corn until browned (about 10 minutes). Turn corn over and broil opposite side until browned (another 10 minutes).

5. While corn is broiling, mix together mayonnaise, cilantro, lime juice, garlic, chili powder, and salt. Add cheese (unless you’re going dairy free….I reserved some of the mayonnaise without cheese for my corn and mixed the cheese in for Nate and Joel’s corn) .

6. When corn is browned, brush corn on all sides with the cheese mixture.

7. Return to broiler for about 2 minutes until cheese is melted and slightly browned.

8. Eat while still warm!