Saturday, April 30, 2011

Lentil Cauliflower Curry

Lentil Curry is on the right, Mom's Rice Hot Dish is on the left.

Dona is really working at eating healthy right now, and it's really cramping my style. I feel guilty about eating ice cream and anything that isn't healthy. Okay, maybe not that guilty. Anyway, she is eating lots of vegetables. As you know, I'm sure, eating plain vegetables for three weeks can get a little on the boring side. Dona also can eat chicken, fish, lentils, and brown rice. Personally, I'd just kill myself and get it over with. Seriously, though, she has some aches and pains that she thinks are food-related, and if this helps her feel better, then I'm all for it.

Here's the problem: Dona doesn't like vegetables that much. So, I have tried to find some recipes that make vegetables a lot more palatable. This recipe is one of them. It is really good and provides a creamy sauce because the red lentils pretty much dissolve. Of course if you don't like curry, you probably won't like this so much.

Cauliflower & Red Lentil Curry
  • 1/2 cup red lentils
  • 1 small (about 3 inches in diameter) onion, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 4 plum tomatoes, (or one regular-sized tomato) chopped
  • 4 cups cauliflower florets & stalks
  • 1 teaspoon oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon fresh (or frozen) cilantro, chopped fine
In a 3-4 quart kettle or saucepan, combine the lentils, onion, curry powder, salt, and turmeric with 2 cups water. Bring to a boil and allow to simmer until the lentils are cooked. This will take 30-45 minutes. You also should start seeing a sauce develop at this time.

Add the tomatoes and cauliflower. You also could add a small can (4 ounces) of diced green chili peppers if you want your curry to be spicy. Dona doesn't like spicy, so I left this out. Cook until the cauliflower is tender and remove from the heat.

In a small frying pan heat the oil until it shimmers. Add the cumin seeds and cook for 10 seconds, stirring. Add the garlic and saute until the garlic is slightly browned. The original recipe says this might take as long as a minute. Stir in the ginger and then pour/scrape this mixture into the curry. Add the lemon juice and, if you really like it hot, 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper.

Eat it as is or serve it over rice!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Lettuce Wraps

As I may or may not have told you, Dona is on a mostly vegetable and fruit diet. This presents some challenges, especially when I'm cooking for someone who doesn't really like vegetables all that much. Dona had this recipe for lettuce wraps that had mint and basil as well as bean sprouts. I don't have access to fresh mint or basil (hard to believe, living in rural Wyoming, the local grocery store doesn't carry those). So I improvised.

Lettuce Wraps
  • Romaine Lettuce
  • Bean sprouts
  • Asparagus
  • One Avocado
  • Carrots
I started by just using the whole lettuce leaf but the base doesn't really roll very well. Maybe I was doing it wrong. Anyway, I decided to cut off the lower three inches or so, and use it as part of the wrap. (For all of these pictures, I took the last wrap I made apart so I could show you what I did.)

Then, you just layer the different vegetables into the green end of the lettuce leaf. I started with the lettuce.

The avocado I sliced into 12 sections, and put two sections in each wrap. The avocado really gives some body and fullness of flavor to these.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Broccoli Cheese Soup

One of Samantha's and Cassaundra's favorite dishes that I make is this one. I don't make it a lot, and I'm not sure why because it is relatively easy, tastes good, and is probably good for you. At least, it has plenty of vegetables, so it should be good for you. The cheese and cream I used shouldn't negatively affect your diet, heh, heh.

Broccoli Cheese Soup
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cup diced potato
  • 1/2 cup sliced carrots
  • 1/2 cup sliced celery
  • 1 head broccoli, separated into smallish florets
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt ( I usually don't add salt to my recipes. There's salt in the butter and cheese)
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine
  • 1/4 cup potato starch
  • 2 cups milk 
  • 8 ounces shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 3-4 slices American cheese (or Velveeta)
Put all of the vegetables and the pepper into the stock. Cover and simmer 10-12 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. (At this point you can puree the vegetables if you need to hide them from your kids or if you like smooth soup. If you don't have to hide the vegetables and like a chunky soup, leave everything as is.) Prepare a white sauce with the potato starch, and milk. Add the butter or margarine and allow to melt. Stir in the potato starch/milk mixture and keep stirring until it thickens. Especially if you use potato starch you have to make stir it. Potato starch gets sort of like snot if you just add it in and don't stir. Snot, as I'm sure you have noticed, doesn't taste good. Add the cheese and let it melt. Don't let the soup boil. Once the cheese is melted, you are ready!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Mom's Rice Hotdish

If you have been to Minnesota or North Dakota, you probably have heard the term "hotdish." To more fully understand the vernacular of this area, I recommend the book "How to Talk Minnesotan" by Howard Mohr. He used to write for Garrison Keillor's "A Prairie Home Companion" radio show, and he seems to have lived there long enough to really understand the culture.

Anyway, hotdish is another word for casserole. (We call it hotdish because it's hot.) My mom made what she called Rice Hotdish for as long as I can remember. I've played with the recipe a bit, but the basics are still here.
  • 3 cups cooked rice
  • 1 pound hamburger, browned and drained (you can use Italian Sausage, too, for some variation)
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped bell pepper
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup ( I use Progresso because it's gluten-free)
  • A handful of frozen peas if you really want more color
  • 1/2 cup sliced celery if you want some extra vegetables
Mix all of these together and cook until warm! I usually warm/brown the onions, celery (if used) and bell pepper until the onions are translucent. I serve it with salad. It especially tastes good with french dressing. I don't know why, it just does.

Mom originally used a can of chicken rice soup from Campbell's. However, they started making it not gluten-free, so she found some other brand. I like mushrooms so I added mushrooms and a homemade cream soup. Now, Progresso makes a gluten-free cream-of-mushroom soup, so things go a little faster.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Hamburger Helper

This is mix week here at "Creative Substitutions." Mom gave me the bread mix as well as a new Hamburger Helper mix. I've never had hamburger helper, since it's macaroni and I can't have regular durum pasta.Anyway, the mix wasn't too bad, and I took it to the local support group meeting for everyone to try. We all liked it and agreed that it was something good to have around in an emergency, at the least.

I think I would add some chopped onions to it if I made it again.  (I can't seem to find the cheesy hashbrowns product on the General Mills site. They may have discontinued them already.) I really do try to buy stuff that is gluten-free when I can, but that is hard to justify, because I make most everything from scratch. I can't blame General Mills for not producing something that I didn't buy anyway. They can't make money off of my good intentions!

Here's the pan with all of the cheese sauce on it.