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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Mexican Style Beluga Lentils

beluga lentils (TexMex Style)

Hello Dearies!

I hope that all of my wonderful lovelies are doing well. And, on that note, I just wanted to let you all know that things in the hollow are settling down a bit and becoming much more hollow-like again;-), which is quite a relief. Phew...!

I still haven't made anything marvelous or decadent yet, but I did make these beluga lentils the other day. The little container full of these black beauties was in my cabinet since my mother's last visit. She often drives down to visit with a carload of dry, organic goodies from The Dekalb Farmer's Market in Atlanta. Have you been there, Dearies? It's an amazing place-one writer with The NY Times wrote an article about the market, where he claimed there is nothing quite like it in the U.S.

Anyway, point is that I realized I neglect so many of the dried beans and legumes that my Mom lovingly gifts us, so I decided to go ahead and stew some. I didn't expect more than a healthful, wholesome meal. However, I ended up with a protein and spice mixture so scrumptious that I smacked my own rear and screamed 'Yee Haw!!!'.

I'm just kidding. I didn't do that. I'm not even a country music fan. The lentil meal was quite nice though, Dearies (smile).

Here's the recipe:

1 Cup Beluga Lentils (Rinsed)
3 3/4-4 Cups Water
1 Tsp. Red Wine Vinegar
1 Vegetable Bouillon
1 Bay Leaf
1 Tsp. Cumin
3/4 Tsp. Paprika
1/8 Tsp. Onion Powder
1/8 Tsp. Garlic Powder
Black Pepper and Hot Sauce to taste*

Place water, lentils, bay leaf, and bouillon in a saute pan and bring to a boil. Stir. Allow to boil hard for about 45 seconds to a minute. Turn the heat down to where it will keep the lentils at a low simmer and place a lid on the pan at an angle, so that steam can escape. Allow to simmer on low heat, stirring intermittently, for about 20-25 minutes. Once the lentils start to look plump and done, add the vinegar, dry spices, pepper, and hot sauce. Mix and remove from the heat.
*Hot sauce really adds something special to mix-it with the cumin is just wonderful!

Salt to taste and enjoy with rice, mashed potatoes, or with just some slaw as pictured.

Yum Yum!

p.s. These are called 'Mexican', as Cauldron Boy says they taste like really good Mexican food?!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Creamy Coconut Milk Oatmeal a.k.a I'm not a CEO Oatmeal:-(

Coconutoatmeal 2

This post is going to be a hard one to write. I can just tell. Why? Well, it has to do with me not posting as much lately due to a growing disdain dislike of my mother-in-law. And due to the fact that I don't normally find it kosher to use my blog as a way to blow off steam, but my feelings about her and the way she treats me, my Cauldron Boy, and our relationship in general are starting to affect all kinds of things in my life. From being organized to even wanting to make, you know, a cake I saw on one of my favorite blogs. I just can't seem to get things done lately due to the stress of it all.

I know a lot of you are probably chuckling right now. Yeah, I know. You think this is the same old you don't get along with your in-laws bit. Oh no, Dearies! No. I have known and been witness to many not so functional family relationships. I've seen the mother and daughter-in-law that are very different and just don't really get along that well. That's not what I'm talking about here. Not at all...

Dearies, I am dealing with a force that comes from deep in the underworld (yes, I'm still talking about my mother-in-law here;-). A force that is constantly toying with and trying to manipulate and even ruin our relationship, despite the fact that we've been together for 7 years now and have been friends for 13!

You might ask "Why is she doing this?" "What have you done to her, Stella?"

Those are good questions, and all I can tell you is that it really seems that she is mostly irritated about things like religion and ethnic background. In fact, I rarely see her, so I don't know how I could really affect her life negatively or positively by means of my actions. Even the negative effect she has on me is relayed to me via Cauldron Boy after they've been on the phone. And on that note, what seems to be of utmost importance to her is that I'm not a CEO. Are any of you? I was under the impression that most people aren't CEO's. I mean, it's kind of an elite job, no?! Mrs. Thang certainly isn't a CEO and neither is anyone in her family tree.

Anyway, on the rare occasion when I'm feeling angry and down, I make something easy, delicious, and healthful like 'Creamy Coconut Milk Oatmeal'. It's warming and easy enough to make, so that one can eat nutritiously while calming down during moments like these. Though I must admit it hasn't helped me to figure out how someone expects of others what they don't expect of themselves or their own family...

I'll look deep into my magic oatmeal and let you know if it reveals that answer any time soon (smile).

-Creamy Coconut Milk Oatmeal for 2-
1 Cup Rolled Oats (Not Instant)
1 1/4 Cups Full Fat Coconut Milk
1/3-1/2 Cup Almond Milk
1-2 Tbsp. Agave Syrup or Honey
Garnish: Fresh & dry fruit, nuts, seeds, chocolate chips, etc...

Pour the milks in a pan or small pot and bring the heat high enough that it will start a boil. Immediately add the oatmeal to the pan and stir. Allow the oatmeal to come to a truly high simmer for a moment, stir, and quickly bring the heat down to a low simmer. Let the oatmeal simmer on low for at least 3-4 minutes, so that the oats actually cook and become soft. Once this happens, it's up to you to take it off the heat when it reaches your desired consistency. I let mine become a bear mush, but you can take it off early and even add more of the milks if you want a more creamy congee/porridge like consistency.

Enjoy with a cup of coffee while you don't allow trolls to control your happiness level:-)

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Bonbons, Basil, & New Year's Promises!

DateSunflowerSeedBonbons 2re

Happy New Year, Everyone!

Oh, my lovelies, we have all entered into another 365 mystical days here on middle earth. In the realm of men, this usually involves some promises to ourselves. Many call these promises resolutions. They are often naughty habits we are certainly not going to do anymore or enchanting actions we will begin to take for the betterment of ourselves and maybe even the ones we love.

I have quite a few of these resolutions. Some are quite serious. For example, I have promised myself that I will no longer underestimate myself and, for that matter, others. You know, I'm just not going to allow myself to act like a naughty witch and be disappointed in myself later. I think you all know what I'm talking about here:-)

Most of my promises are culinary and health related though. I'll spare you all of them, but, as you may know, I have a little issue with sweets. I love them-any kind, anywhere. So I really need to make sure that we concentrate on having mostly wholesome sweets around the house and ready for work lunches. Hence regularly making healthful, wholesome sweets is one of my culinary resolutions for 2011.

One sweet that has really helped me are these bonbons I found on one of my favorite blogs. I'm reposting them due to how much they have aided me in controlling myself and also because I tweaked the recipe to include a less expensive, super healthful protein as well as high fiber, starchy oatmeal. The flavors have also been adjusted a bit to include chocolate, vanilla, cinnamon, and orange juice. They are just delicious, and I can't eat anything for at least 3-4 hours when I've had about two of them. They are just satisfying and really amazing!

Here's the recipe:
1 Packed Cup of Dates (Deglet Nour)
3/4 Cup Raw Sunflower Seeds (Toasted)
1/4 Cup Rolled Oats
2 Tbsp. Cocoa
1 Tbsp. Raw Agave Nectar or Maple Syrup*
1 Tbsp. Orange Juice
1/4 Tsp. Cinnamon
1/4 Tsp. Real Vanilla Extract
For Rolling: Cocoa, Coconut, Sesame Seeds, Powdered Sugar, Crushed Pistachio, Etc...
*Honey substituted for either of the sweeteners above will cause for a somewhat greasy ball, so beware...

Place sunflower seeds in a dry pan and toast on medium heat for about 5 minutes. Allow to cool.

In a food processor, place the oatmeal and whirl for about 8-10 seconds. Add cooled sunflower seeds and whirl till the seeds and oatmeal become a fine meal. Then add the dates, cocoa, cinnamon, agave, and vanilla. Whirl till the dates are broken down and everything is very well mixed-this was about 20 seconds for me. You will notice the mixture is dry and not quite coming together. Measure out 1 Tbsp. of orange juice and whirl about half of it into the mix. See if the mixture comes together. If not, add the other half tbsp.

Wet your hands slightly with water before rolling (orange blossom or rose water are really nice, but regular water is fine too). Take a piece of the sticky dough and roll into balls that are about the size of a quarter or a bit larger if you like. After being rolled, immediately toss each ball in cocoa or your desired coating.
p.s. If you are tossing in cocoa or powdered sugar, be sure to tap off the excess powder! One can inhale it...

On a gardening note, Dearies, I want to show off that I am successfully achieving one of my goals, which is to eat more local and out of my own yard. Which brings me to the Cluckfrey's Vegan Chicken sandwich we ate today. It was delicious. Most importantly though was that the lettuce, basil, and even the avocado came out of my own front yard. Aren't you proud of me, my lovelies?!

I hope so, and I hope that all of my best elves and even trolls are able to achieve their goals/resolutions for this year of 2011!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day & A Witchy V-Day Pie!

This post is for my Matt's Blog Hop over at FaveDiets Blog. Matt likes to compile recipes that are healthier versions of so many of our favorite comfort foods. Whether they be lower in fat & sugar or higher in fiber & nutrient content, Matt is all over recipes that help the waist line while fulfilling our natural human cravings for the foods we associate with comfort and deliciousness.

So I made this lovely Chocolate Pumpkin Pie. Predictably, it's just what a witch would make on Valentine's Day. I'm fully aware of this, Dearies (smile). However, it really is such a delicious and healthful way to use that last can of pumpkin you've had sitting in your cupboard since this last holiday season. A very February-like way to use it at that, my Lovelies!

Here's the recipe:

First, make your easy Oat & Pecan Gluten-Free Crust, push it into a 10 inch tart pan, and stick it in the fridge till you're ready to pour your filling into it.

Second, melt 3/4 cup of dark chocolate over a double boiler on low heat. While it's melting mix the following in another bowl:
1 15 oz. Can Organic Pumpkin
2/3 Cup Turbinado Sugar
1 Tbsp. Agave Nectar
2 Organic Eggs
2/3 Cup Organic 2% Milk
1/2 Tsp. Fresh Ground Cinnamon
1/4 Tsp. Nutmeg
1/8 Tsp. Cloves
1/8 Tsp. Sea Salt
1 Tsp. Real Vanilla Extract

Place pumpkin in a mixing bowl with the cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt. Mix. Then add the sugar, eggs, milk, & vanilla. Whisk until smooth and add the melted chocolate while continuing to whisk till uniform in color. Pour into chilled crust. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes. Then turn the heat down to 350 and bake for another 35-45 minutes. Remove from the oven & allow to cool on a wire rack for at least three hours. Then chill. Serve with whipped cream, berries, or whatever you like!

**Oh, and be sure to enter my contest on the post below, Dearies. The prize is a $65 gift certificate to The CSN Stores. The drawing for the winner will be this coming Friday the 18th, so comment on that post now for a chance to win!