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Saturday, May 23, 2015

Experiment #78: Cardamom Coconut Almond Balls

When I worked more and didn't have children, I used to leisurely go to the Farmers market every Wednesday after work and take on the sites and smells of the produce and prepared foods. There is a stall at that farmers market that sells cardamom coconut balls for a dollar each. They are about the size of a golf ball.  They are so delicious but now after kids they seem a bit too extravagant and leisurely strolling through the farmers market is just not an option right now. 

I recently was able to buy one and I remembered how much I enjoyed them. So I decided that I would try to make them. The ingredients of these balls seemed easy enough, but I was a little worried about the proportions, but I thought I would just wing it and see what would happen.  

I did notice to my surprise that the balls at the farmers market had xylitol a synthetic sugar substitute, so if course I omitted that. The original balls also had coconut oil, which might make them softer. I ended up omitting it. The balls also had pink Himalayan sea salt, which I didn't have so I used the sea salt I had on hand. 

Cardamom Coconut Almond Butter Balls by Samantha 
1 1/2 cups oatmeal (rolled oats)
1 cup almond butter, raw and unsalted
1/2 cup coconut flour ( I used organic)
3 tablespoons maple syrup (I might use a bit less next time)
3/4 teaspoon cardamom ( I used 8 pods and crushed them with a mortar and pestle)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt ( I would use a bit less next time)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract



In a food processor, I pulsed the oatmeal until it was fairly fine powder.  I added the almond butter and coconut flour and pulsed until combined. Then I added the rest of the ingredients and pulsed until combined, stopping to stir so that all the ingredients were mixed in completely.  Dump into a bowl. 

Pick up a small handful and form into balls. I made them into about a tablespoon size balls although I didn't measure precisely. I just picked up a clump and squeezed until the mixture held together. It is very crumbly.  And you are done!  


The Results
I was very pleased with the results. They were delicious! I would definitely make them again. I might reduce the maple syrup a little and the sea salt as well.  Everyone loved them though as is.  I think it is possible that after I ground the oatmeal I could just put all the ingredients in at once, but I was experimenting and making it up as I went along. 

Friday, May 8, 2015

Experiment # 77: Lamb curry

I've been trying to make easier meals so that my family can eat more healthy foods that are different. I have been toying with the idea of a one pot meal and perusing my old magazines I found several recipes I want to try in an old Martha Stewart magazine.

This lamb curry is originally a pressure cooker recipe, but since I don't have a pressure cooker or the space to store one, I thought I would try to make it a slow cooker recipe. 

I was trying to decide what kind of curry this lamb was. It's not Thai, it's not chinese.  I suppose it's Indian? 

In case you were wondering, the curry itself had no chilis in it, so it was not spicy at all much to the disappointment of my husband, but I have to feed the children right?

I have made this twice.  The first time I used the lamb shoulder recommended from the original recipe and it was a bit too fatty for my taste.  So this time I used leg of lamb and I doubled the meat because the first time there was so much sauce left over and no meat! Also, my husband and I thought the potatoes were an unnecessary addition to the recipe, so I omitted it the second time around time.  

Lamb curry adapted from Martha Stewart magazine September 2014
3 tablespoons sunflower oil
1 1/2 cups Diced onions
6 cloves Garlic, minced
3 tablespoons Ginger, grated
2 teaspoons Tomato paste
2 teaspoons ground Cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons Coriander seeds, crushed
3/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon Kosher Salt, plus more for seasoning the meat
2 cups Chicken stock
5 lbs. leg of lamb, cut into 1 inch cubes

Cilantro
Yogurt

Sauté onions, garlic and ginger. Add spices salt and tomato paste.
Brown meat. 

Place in slow cooker. Add chicken broth. 

Cook for 5 hours on low.  Add potatoes(or not) after 4 hours. When potatoes are tender, serve over hot cooked rice and garnish with cilantro and yogurt if desired. 


Results:
It was delicious, but the potatoes didn't add too much to the dish. I think I would omit them next time I make this dish. I think carrots might be a good choice next time.

This curry is not spicy at all. There are no chilis in it. While spiciness is not a problem for my husband and I, it is a bit of a problem for my toddler. I think we might have to put in a little kick to it. Just a touch and hope my little one still likes it.  He loved this recipe by the way. He never fails to surprise me. 

Update:
I tried this recipe again.  I omitted the potatoes and doubled the lamb.  I also used leg of lamb instead of shoulder in an attempt to reduce the fat in the recipe.  I was able to skim a lot of the fat this time and it seemed a bit healthier to me.  It was a hit with my sister in law and her husband.

3/15/15

Link to original recipe:
http://www.marthastewart.com/1078545/lamb-curry

Experiment #76: Chicken Adobo

Another recipe from a while ago and it was another slow cooker recipe.  I was on a bit of a slow cooker kick.  This recipe also comes from Real Simple Magazine online.

The modifications I made were to reduce the onion from 2 onions to 1 onion.  It just seemed like too much onion to me.  I substituted low sodium tamari for the soy sauce, because that's what I use in our house. I also used boneless skinless chicken thighs instead of bone-in chicken thighs.  I didn't have bok choy in the house, so I instead steamed broccoli on the side.  I also thought that red bell pepper would be a nice addition to the sweetness in this dish.  I ended up cooking this one on the stove, since I ran out of time to use the slow cooker, but next time I will definitely try.  

Chicken Adobo (Slow Cooker Soy Braised Chicken) adapted from Real Simple by Cyd McDowell
1 large onion, sliced
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar (I used Bragg's Apple Cider Vinegar)
1/3 cup low sodium tamari
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
1 teaspoon paprika
2 green onions, thinly sliced

In a pot, saute the onion and garlic cloves until tender.  Add the vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar, bay leaf and pepper.  Place the chicken on top and sprinkle with paprika.

I covered the pot and simmered it on low until the chicken was done.  It was maybe 20 minutes? The dinner rush got to me and I didn't put on a timer.

Serve with hot cooked rice and steamed broccoli.

Results:
The family liked it and if I had time, I would have definitely used the slow cooker.  The sweet and salty flavors were matched well.  I will make this recipe again.


Link to original recipe:

Experiment #75: Slow cooker chicken masala

This was a recipe I tried out a few months ago, and I had not gotten around to finishing the write up.  

I was looking for some easy to make slow cooker recipes so that I have an easier time during the dinner crunch.  It is something about that time of day when the whole family is tired that makes it so difficult to make dinner.  If I could only make dinner during the day with a slow cooker, then I won't have that anxious feeling of "What am I going to make for dinner today for the family?"  I admit it.  I am terrible at meal planning, which really means that I don't meal plan.  It something that I have to work on, but that's a challenge to tackle for another day.  

So, I found a recipe for Chicken Tikka Masala from Real Simple Magazine and of course, I had to tweak it.  I doubled the recipe to make more servings since my family is a bunch of meat eaters especially my son.  A few other modifications: Oops, I forgot to double the tomato paste.  I omitted the cream, on purpose.  :) 

Chicken Tikka Masala modified from Real Simple by Charlyne Mattox
28 oz. can chopped tomatoes
1 1/2 medium onions chopped
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
4 teaspoon garam masala
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs

In a 6 quart slow cooker, combine the tomatoes, onion, garlic, tomato paste, garam masala, kosher salt and pepper.

Place the chicken thighs on top of the vegetables, cover and cook until the chicken is tender.  I cooked this on high for 3 1/2 hours, but the original recipe says you can cook it on low for 7 to 8 hours if that helps you.  I prepared it and threw it in the slow cooker after lunch and it was ready for dinner.

Serve with hot cooked rice and yogurt.

Results:


This recipe could not be easier.  Dump everything in a slow cooker and set it on low or high if you don't have much time.  It was tasty and easy.  You couldn't ask for a better recipe if you like Indian food and it's a bit heathier than other chicken masala recipes out there.  I would definitely make this again.