Cauliflower and yellow lentil curry

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I love cauliflower. I love curry. I’ve made a delightful red lentil soup before and curried lentils with cauliflower, but never yellow lentil curry with cauliflower. This one takes the prize! It’s the mango chutney for the win at the end! Recipe adapted from Pinch of Yum

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-2 tablespoons fresh grated ginger
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • ¼ cup red curry paste 
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon curry powder
  • 3 cups vegetable broth + 3 cups water
  • 2 cups dry yellow lentils 
  • 1 head cauliflower, chopped into bite sized pieces
  • 1 ripe banana, mashed
  • mango chutney
  • cilantro
  • salt to taste
Prep your ingredients to make life easier:
 
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Saute the onion, garlic, and ginger with the oil until soft.
 
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Add the curry paste, turmeric, and curry powder and cook  for another 1 minute, until fragrant.
 
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Then, add the broth and water and whisk until incorporated. Bring to a boil.
 
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Add the lentils and simmer for 20-40 minutes. Stir occasionally. 
 
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When the lentils are almost done, add the cauliflower and mashed banana. Stir to incorporate the banana. There should be enough liquid left in the pan to boil/steam the cauliflower. If there isn’t enough water left in the pan, add about 1/4 cup. Cover and simmer for 5-10 minutes or until cauliflower is tender-crisp. The banana adds a nice creaminess to the dish. 
 
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Stir to combine and season with salt.  When serving(on top of rice or not),  top with a tablespoon of mango chutney and a nice amount of cilantro. 
 
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The chutney and cilantro really add a nice dimension of flavor to the dish. And I nearly licked my bowl clean. I couldn’t wait to eat this for leftovers all week! 

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Meal Planning 101

I’ve had a few people ask me lately about meal plans. I’ll give you a run down about how I plan our meals.

Brian and I pack and take our lunches to work most days of the week. It’s way cheaper and healthier. Even if you are getting an inexpensive meal out, just keep in mind that restaurants charge you at least 3x or more what it costs them to make it. Meaning: You can make it sooo much cheaper at home. Let’s do the math. If you spend $5 on lunch everyday eating out(which if you live in Chicago you spend more), that means that it’s costs that restaurant at most $1.66 to make your meal.

So $5 x 5 days per week is $25 per week on lunches.

If you made that same thing at home for $1.66 x 5 days a week, you would have spent $8.33.

$25-$8.33= a savings of $16.67 per week. Times 52 weeks per year = A savings of…

$866.84 per year

Wow. It really adds up, doesn’t it? Save almost $1000 per year just by packing your lunch instead of eating out. I bet you’d like an extra $1000 per year.

And really, it’s not that hard. It just takes a little planning.

I really like using paper and pen. Notice there is hardly any processed food on the list.

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First, break it down. How many meals do you need for the week? Check your fridge and pantry. What do you already have that you can use?

We both eat our breakfasts at work. So those need to be packed, too. Do you stop and buy donuts and coffee everyday? Don’t even get me started on how money wasteful that is. Make your own donuts/breakfast sandwiches/oatmeal and coffee for PENNIES. Seriously people. I bet it would take less time to make your coffee at home in a Keurig(yes, you can afford a Keurig if you stop buying your coffee everyday) than to stop, stand in line, order and buy it. So what do we eat for breakfasts? Cold oats, oatmeal bakes, tofu scrambles, egg bakes, donuts, muffins and waffles. Yep, make extra donuts, waffles, pancakes ahead of time and reheat. Just as good as the first time.

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Brian and I combined need 12 lunches. I only put 10 because I don’t usually plan the weekend out as strictly as the weekdays. The weekend is when we will eat 1 to 2 meals out. And if we are out running errands or have other obligations, we sometimes eat separately or we just have the leftovers from the week. I try to do one crock pot meal on the weekends. It saves time and makes a lot all at once. I don’t care if you are cooking for one or four, most recipes freeze well. Utilize your freezer, people. So, what are some of my favorite crock pot meals to make? Buffalo chicken, chicken curry, pulled pork, pork tinga, soups…or anything on pinterest. Start it in the morning. When it is done cooking, eat it for dinner. Then portion the rest out. Put a few containers in the fridge and the rest in the freezer.

bust a gut

I have also made a very conscious effort for us to eat meat less. A lot less. I make veggie burgers often. They are simple, fast and incredibly inexpensive to make. They are also filling, low in fat, high in fiber and protein. Win, win, win, win.

Another thing that Brian and I love are macro bowls. I steam kale, cook black beans, roast sweet potatoes, cook quinoa and bake tofu. Then I divide it out evenly between bowls. These bowls pack a punch in the flavor department, are super healthy and filling. They are really easy to customize, too. You don’t like tofu, substitute meat of your choice. You hate black beans? Throw in any other bean or lentil. Don’t have quinoa, use rice. Kale grosses you out? Use broccoli. You get protein, fiber, veg, and antioxidants. Yes these take a little while to make since you cooking everything separately, but they come in at less than $2 per bowl, using all organic ingredients.

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Two other dishes that we love are rama chicken and orange chicken. Healthier versions of take out food, made at home. Both pack great for lunches, too. Substitute tofu for the chicken and they are vegetarian. Most things you order at restaurant can be made fairly simply at home.

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orange

Are these too healthy of options? Make a pizza. Make your own crust. That’s an option that takes less than 10 minutes to make. Spread on some sauce, cheese and toppings. This makes a very large pizza or two, so you will have a few days of left over pizza, too. Another fast option. Kraft whole grain macaroni and cheese… add a source of protein and vegetables(a lot) to it when it’s done cooking. It saves you from eating the whole box, makes it much more nutritious and gives you 1-2 meals worth of leftovers. Win, win.

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Need a fast weeknight meal? Well, that pizza and mac and cheese come together in about a half an hour. Do you know what else cooks really fast? Fish! Seriously, it takes less than 10 minutes to cook most fish. While that is cooking, saute or steam some of your favorite vegetable(s). Tired of your same old, same old tuna sandwich? Make a tuna melt. Leave the sandwich open-faced, throw on a slice of cheese and broil it for a few minutes.

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Another thing I do that saves me a ton of time during the week is to prepare a lot of vegetables a head of time. It’s easy to cut root vegetables, potatoes, or brussies up and roast them while doing other things around the house. Then I have a quick side to go with any meal throughout the week. Or put some potatoes or sweet potatoes in your crock pot. I also peel and cut up the entire bag of carrots at one time to snack on throughout the week.

I also take full advantage of my weekends and get most of my cooking done then. Take 4 hours one day and see what all you can get accomplished. I bet you will be eating well for days. This weekend, I am going to try to make about 10 days worth of food so there are things in the house through next weekend.

What’s on the list? Crockpot buffalo chicken(some will go in the freezer), a batch of veggie burgers, macrobiotic bowls, pizza, grilled burgers, tilapia and asparagus packets and some sort of breakfast(donuts or waffles) to pack for Brian. There you go. Six recipes that will feed 2 people for 10 days, plus some fresh fruit and vegetables. Getting some done ahead of time sure beats scrambling to make dinner every night.

I can make all of that with less than $70 worth of groceries for about one week of food. That’s $10 per day for 3 meals for 2 people. That makes each meal average out to $1.66. Way cheaper than eating out. And much healthier.

You’ve asked. I’ve answered. A weekly meal plan to save your waistline and pocket-book!

Mango lassi

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People! This is tasty and refreshing. Last month I went to an Indian cooking class. At the end, our instructor made mango lassi’s for everyone. YUM!

I had to attempt to recreate at home, of course.

The ones I made were much thicker and more smoothie like than was made in class, but I liked them that way.

For 2 lassi:

-1 individual container of plain Greek yogurt

-2 mangoes, peeled and diced

-1 cup unsweetened coconut milk(or whatever milk you prefer)

-dash of cardamom

-ice

Blend away! Pour in two glasses. You can add more liquid(milk or water) to think them down more if you like. They are the perfect complement to a spicy dish. Or, we had ours with pizza and salad!

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Crockpot chicken curry

I love Indian food. I love curries. I love the way your house smells after you cook them.

What’s better than to come home to that smell and dinner made? Not much.

Adapted from this Pinterest recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into cubes
  • 5 large carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and quartered
  • 1 large bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 5oz tomato paste
  • 14oz can light coconut milk(use full fat if you want)
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons curry powder
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • 1 jalapeno(I used two and it was very spicy)
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons corn starch

Place carrots in bottom or slow cooker.

Place cubed chicken on top of that.

Put everything else except the water and corn starch into the food processor. Process/blend until mostly smooth.

Pour the sauce over the chicken and carrots.

Cook on low 6-8 hours. I left it in while I was at work, which was probably closer to 10 hours.

When I came home, the crock pot looked less than appetizing.

I was a little worried, but I gave it a stir and it looked much, much better.

It was also much darker in color and more red than I expected. I attribute this two things. I used a red bell pepper instead of green and I used light coconut milk and the absence of the extra coconut fat could attribute to the darker color. I would like to prematurely note that the flavor is wonderful.

An hour before serving, mix water and corn starch in small bowl. Stir until corn starch is dissolved. Then add to the crock pot and stir to combine. Leave on low for one more hour, then serve. The corn starch helps to thicken up the sauce.

Serve over rice, with naan and garnish with cilantro(optional) and a dollop of plain Greek yogurt.

This curry is awesome. It’s very thick, almost like a stew. We could have eaten it without the bed of rice. I ate leftovers on naan, almost like a sandwich for lunch. I also ate leftovers on a corn tortilla, topped with an egg for breakfast.

This curry is to good it can be eaten any meal of the day.

Baked autumn samosas

I am smitten with (never)home maker‘s blog. I’ve ben following for a few years and love the recipes they come up with. I was intrigued by the baked autumn samosas as soon as she posted them. Brian and I love Indian food. I made them almost immediately and didn’t regret it.

I almost halved (never)home makers recipe and then made a batch of more traditional filling of potato, cauliflower, onion and peas. While she made her own outer wrapper, I bought egg roll wrappers from the grocery store out of convenience and they worked great. She used bbq sauce as a dipping sauce and I used that as an idea for a “chutney” made of BBQ, orange marmalade, Sriracha, soy sauce and ginger.

My “chutney”:

I had 2 wrappers left over so I very finely diced some apple, tossed with sugar and apple pie seasonings and made us two dessert samosas. So easy and delicious.

The filling options with this technique are endless!

I’ll let you follow (never)home makers version of the tasty autumn samosa and just give the recipe for the more traditional. But since I took them, I’ll share pictures of my autumn fillings:

Ingredients:
1/3 head of cauliflower, cut into small pieces and steamed until fork tender
1-2 medium red potatoes, diced and parboiled
1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
1/2 small onion, diced and sautéed
tumeric
madras curry powder
salt and pepper
ginger
garlic

Preheat oven to 375F.

Mix vegetables together and season with seasonings to taste.

Scoop about 1/4 cup filling into egg roll wrapper.

Lightly wet edges of wrapper so it will bind when you roll it.

Place on baking sheet. Repeat with rest of filling.

Once all of the samosas are rolled and placed on baking sheet, lightly brush them with olive oil.

Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Serve with a side of “chutney” or dipping sauce of choice. Be careful as the inside will be piping hot.

Samosa wraps and the turnip is the new potato

Wow. Wow. Wow!

When Brian and I are deciding what to eat for dinner, we usually default to Mexican or Indian inspired foods. We love them. When I ran across this recipe for samosa wraps from FatFree Vegan, I knew that I was going to have to adapt it to our liking.

I saw that the recipe called for potato. Well, I recently discovered my love for the turnip when I made red lentil soup with turnip and parsley. While eating the soup, I noticed that cooked turnip tasted much like and had the texture of cooked potato. So, I did a little research on the turnip. Did you know that it is a great source of vitamin C, Folic acid, B6 and E, and only have 1/3 as many calories as potatoes?!?!?! Neither did I! Well, you heard it here, first:

The turnip is the new potato!

I got a little excited and off track, sorry. Back to the amazing samosa wraps.

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium turnips(1.5-2 pounds total), peeled and diced
  • 14 oz extra firm tofu, pressed and drained then diced
  • 1 large onion, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen peas
  • 1 15oz can of fire-roasted, diced tomatoes
  • 1-2 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, stemmed, seeded and finely diced
  • 3/4-1 cup water
  • 1 1/2-2 teaspoon salt to taste
  • 3-4 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • tortillas of choice(I used brown rice, gluten-free)

Parboil the diced turnips until can be easily pierced by a fork. Remove water and set aside.

Heat olive oil over medium high. Add onion. Cook onion until it starts to brown.

Add peas, tomato, ginger, jalapeno, and 1/4 cup water. Cook, stirring until peas start to thaw.

Add turnip and tofu to skillet along with 1/2 cup water, salt, curry powder, coriander, cumin, cayenne and lemon juice.

Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Add more water if necessary. Cook until most of the liquid has evaporated. Taste to determine if more salt or lemon is necessary.

Place a few scoops down center of wrap and roll to eat. Serve with mango chutney if desired. And we did desire.

I hope you’ve read to here before starting to make this recipe. This recipe will probably make 12 decent sized wraps. That was just fine with us, because this stuff is awesome. We’ve been itching to eat this as leftovers every night since I made it. I even ate it atop quinoa. If you don’t love Indian food as much as we do, you may want to cut the recipe in half.  I say go for it whole hog. You won’t regret it.

Curried lentils and cauliflower(vegan and gluten-free)

Brian and I love Indian food. Unfortunately, it uses a lot of spices that I don’t own, usually takes a long time to cook and is often unhealthy. I’ve been on a hunt for quick and healthy Indian dishes and stumbled upon this recipe at Frontier Co-op. Oh, and it’s vegan and gluten-free!

Curried lentils and cauliflower

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup dried lentils
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 1/4 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 green onions, white and light green parts finely sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 medium head cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • 3/4 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3/4 cup water

Directions:

Throughly rinse and drain lentils and pick out any stones.

Place lentils in a pot with 2 cups water and bay leaf.

Bring to a boil, lower heat, cover and let simmer 25-30 minutes, until lentils are soft.

While lentils are cooking, heat oil in a large saucepan. Add onion and salt and cook until onion is soft.

Add garlic and curry powder. Stir. Cook for 1-2 minutes.

Add cauliflower, tomato sauce, 3/4 cup water and ginger. Stir well to combine. Cover and let simmer 10-15 minutes or until cauliflower is tender.

Place cooked lentils in bowl and place cauliflower on top with sauce.

Upon our first bites, Brian and I had mixed feeling about this dish. Once we added a little salt to the lentils, we couldn’t stop gobbling it up. The cauliflower has amazing flavor and I would consider cooking it like that just as a side dish. It makes a great inexpensive, healthy and filling meal.

One cup of cooked lentils and 1/3 of cooked cauliflower in sauce is 7 Points Plus on Weight Watchers.