1 February, 2017  |   1 Comment

Weeknight Palak Paneer Recipe

Weeknight Palak Paneer

Career-wise, life-wise, events feel more pressing right now and I want my kids to know that, “Your mom, she cared about some things.”

One of those things I care about is how working people can feed themselves and their families, especially as it feels like we need to work even harder just to tread water.

Ahem.

This is a recipe we enjoyed from our meal plan. You know, the meal plans I’ve been posting nearly every week for ten years or so. This recipe is a spinach-packed powerhouse. Bonus points for making your own cheese (!!!)

We’re making more Indian food, it’s the only food our pickiest eater absolutely adores. Sure! That makes sense! Out of every ethnic cuisine, she prefers the most complex spice balance. She wrote a love letter to our local Himalayan restaurant. She will eat heaps of Tandoori-prepared vegetables but she won’t touch a summer tomato. That’s my girl.

Making your own cheese, especially as a working person, will make you feel powerful and strong, able to take on marching, phone calls and fight against voter suppression.

You can pull most of this dish together at the last minute, but if you want the homemade paneer, you’ll have to give the recipe 24 hours head start.

Did it get down to the wire?  Substitute tofu for the paneer and most people will never notice.

Weeknight Palak Paneer Recipe

Ingredients
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons curry powder (we use Penzey’s Now Curry because Penzeys is a most wonderful company from Wisconsin that stands up for what’s right)

Penzey's The Now Curry
1 large onion, chopped rough

Chopped onions
1 teaspoon salt
1 3 inch piece ginger, peeled and diced tiny
8 cloves garlic, smashed, peels removed and diced tiny
2 teaspoons Garam Masala (again we buy ours from Penzeys)
1 jalapeno pepper, seeds and stems removed
3 tomatoes chopped into 1/2″ chunks — we used whole peeled tomatoes from a can
1 cup water
2 heaping tablespoons tomato paste
16 ounces baby spinach – a whole container if you buy it prepackaged and washed at your grocery store
1 cup cream
1 recipe Paneer (see below)

You’ll also want a large dutch oven and an immersion blender or regular blender.

Directions
In a large sauté pan, warm the oil over medium-high heat, add the 2 tablespoons of curry powder and toss together for about half a minute – stir well to make sure the powder and oil integrate and sizzle a bit.

Add the onion and salt – cook for 3 minutes or until melty. Then add the ginger and garlic and toss for another minute. Add the Garam Masala, jalapeno pepper, tomatoes and water, add the tomato paste. Cook over medium heat for about 3-5 minutes, or until the ingredients are blended together.

Add the baby spinach in batches – letting each specific batch wilt down so there’s room for more. Continue to stir and fold and work together until the spinach totally cooks down (about another 3 minutes).

Use your immersion blender or blender to blend – we still like our spinach to have a bit of shape to it.

See here, I was blending so heartily, it’s out of focus!
How hearty the blend!

Immersion blender craziness for Palak Paneer

At this moment, I added the mix to a container so that we could have it ready to go quickly on Monday night.

Put that Palak Paneer in the fridge!

On Monday, I pulled the Weeknight Palak Paneer from the fridge, put it in a pan over medium heat. Then, I added the cream and the paneer. That paneer was chopped into roughly 1″ pieces.

We served it with naan and rice and we were so happy and we almost forgot we had a president that hates us. I love to toss some cilantro and hot sauce on it, but I leave that choice up to you.

weeknight Palak Paneer

Homemade Paneer Recipe

Ingredients
1 half gallon whole milk
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 teaspoon salt

Directions
You will pour an entire gallon of whole milk into a large dutch oven. You will feel weird about this, like it’s wasteful, but then you will remember that flank steak is 9.99/pound at your local grocery store so you take a deep breath and commit.

Pouring a whole gallon of milk in the pan? Okay!

Heat the milk over medium-low heat until it just barely boils. You’ll want to stir it fairly frequently to avoid the milk burning to the bottom of the pan.

You’ll know it’s time to add the buttermilk and salt when there are bubbles are just starting to break the surface and it’s steaming heavily. That looks something like this:

Nope! The paneer isn't ready yet

Then lower the heat as much as you possibly can and stir in the buttermilk.

Buttermilk to make the paneer

Stir it in gently, and then continue to stir over the next 7-10 minutes as curds magically appear. Stir them toward the middle of the pot to congeal into a largish disk.

Paneer curds in whey

Isn’t that crazy? You just made cheese! Little Miss Muffet ain’t got NOTHING on you!

If you have a gas stove, turn off the flame, cover the pot and let it rest for 15 minutes. If you have an electric stove, move the pot to another (cold) burner before resting the cheese.

After 15 minutes goes by, remove the curds to a cheesecloth lined strainer. Mine looked like this:

Paneer in cheesecloth, draining

Squeeze all the juice out and twist the edges. Put in an edged container and add a weight to the top. Let solidify in the fridge. When I did this, I had to drain the plate twice. You can let this drain for up to 24 hours.

Draining paneer in the refrigerator

You’ve made paneer! You’re a cheesemaker! You’re a cheesemaker and a patriot!

Like I said above, chop the paneer into about 1″ chunks and mix into the spinach mixture with the cream before serving.

 

13 February, 2014  |   5 Comments

Recipe for Slow Cooker Black Bean and Chicken Chili

Despite this being a slow cooker meal, there is a minor bit of finagling in this recipe.

Finagle.
It’s the word of my month.
February Finagling.

This entire month feels fussy, like the end of this recipe when you retrieve the chicken thighs from the chili, remove the skin and shred the chicken off the bone.

Between taxes, work, 40 handmade valentines (Insert Meaningful Look), weather that’s a drag and random childcare outages, the February Finagle is ON.

Good thing we have this cheap slow cooker black bean and chicken chili to come home to.

Slow Cooker Black Bean and Chicken Chili

P.S. Sorry Pinterest. I tried a bunch of photos but they all looked gross. Good thing it tastes something awesome.

Great thing about this recipe, if you’re squeezed for time in the morning, you can prepare the whole mess the night before. Soak the black beans and add the ingredients (except the stock) to a large storage bag. In the morning of the day you’re cookin’, dump the bag into the slow cooker and call it a day. Or the beginning of a day.

Slow Cooker Black Bean and Chicken Chili

Ingredients
16 ounces dried black beans
28 ounce can of diced tomatoes
3 cloves garlic, chopped small
1 onion, chopped small
6 cups chicken stock
3 tablespoons chili powder
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons cumin
2 tablespoons oregano
6 chicken thighs – 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper to sprinkle over the thigh meat
2 teaspoons salt (or to taste)

Fixins
Mild Cheddar, shredded
Cilantro, destemmed and chopped
Green Onions, chopped small
Tortilla chips
Sour Cream
Hot sauce to taste

Directions
Right before you go to bed on the night before you want to make the chili, soak the black beans. Put the beans in a large bowl, fill the bowl with water up to about 1-2″ over the beans. Let the beans soak until the next morning.

The day of the cooking, drain and rinse the beans. Put them in the slow cooker.

Add the tomatoes, chicken stock, garlic, onion, chili powder, bay leaves, cumin, oregano and stir the mix together.

Peel the skin back from the chicken thighs. Salt and pepper the thigh meat. Cover the thigh meat back up with the skin. Set the chicken thighs on top of the bean mixture.

Turn slow cooker on low for 8-10 hours, if you can, stir through every 2 hours. If you can’t, that’s okay, I love you just the same.

Roughly 1 hour before serving, remove the thighs from the chili, shaking off any beans that stuck to the skin. Set the thighs carefully on a cutting board, let cool for about 15 minutes.

After they’re not going to burn you, peel the skin off of the thighs. Then, pull the meat off the bone and set aside. Chop the chicken into bits. Then, stir the chicken back through the slow cooker. Add the salt.

Just before serving, chop and set out all the fixins.

My bowl of chili has cheese, sour cream, green onions, cilantro and a splash of Cholula (proudly served at Dennys!). Your bowl will probably look a little different.

(But I bet it’ll be super tasty.)

Do you like my beautiful eye shadow? I put it on to model this delicious bowl of Black Bean Chicken Slow Cooker Chili

23 January, 2014  |   5 Comments

Frodo Risotto Recipe for a Hobbit Dinner

We love Frodo Baggins.We made a hobbit dinner the other night.
James and I love Frodo. Bilbo too. We are Hobbits at heart.

Secure in our snuggly Shire home, we welcome any old man with fireworks to entertain the children.
The barefoot, mildly wild children.

And they all eat Frodo Risotto.

This is Frodo Risotto. It's a baked risotto.

We served Frodo Risotto with local Shire greens.
And some roast game (chicken).

Adapted from a Donna Hay recipe, this risotto bakes in the oven while you catch up with cousin Frieda Baggins about what’s causing the rabbit shortage.

Ingredients
1/2 butternut squash, peeled and diced about 1/2″ (Probably about 2 cups diced squash)
3 cups arborio rice
7 cups chicken stock
3/4 cup white wine (For cooking, I like Sutter Home Sauvignon Blanc)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
3 tablespoons butter, chopped
1 small onion, minced
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup Parmesan cheese
Additional Salt and Pepper to taste

Optional:
Oil for frying the sage
10 sage leaves

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350°.

Cate Blanchette, Lady Galadriel of Lothlorien, will try to scarysexy you into giving her your ring but don’t you let her.

Elvin Butternut Squash.

To avoid all risk, you probably should skin her and chop half of her into tiny bits.

Peeled Elvin (Elvish?) Butternut Squash.

You can mince Samwise Gamgee into tiny bits while you’re at it too.

Nooooooo Frodoooooo

Mix the first seven ingredients in a 9″ x 12″ baking dish.
Combine, being careful not to slosh.

Something lives beneath the surface of that salty lake.\

Cover baking dish with aluminum foil and put in oven for 1 hour.

30 minutes into the baking time, take off the foil and stir it. You will be disappointed by the lack of progress. But hold tight, little hobbit, your dinner is right on plan.

This is when I would fry up the sage.

Heat the oil in a small frying pan over medium-high heat, frizzle the sage in there until crispy, only a minute or two. Remove and drain on paper towels

After an hour, remove the baking dish from the oven.
Stir through the two tablespoons of butter and Parmesan cheese.
Stir through 7 leaves worth of crumbled fried sage.

Garnish with the remaining 3 leaves.

Serve.
And watch out for fireworks.

Welcome all old men carrying fireworks

7 November, 2013  |   3 Comments

Crocked Shrimp Dip

This recipe, from Ann Hodgeman’s Beat That cookbook, wins raves and recipe requests from all over the land.

The cucumber slices and water crackers didn’t make anyone’s fingers greasy, and the shrimp dip topping was light, whippy and exactly the most non-offensivest of fishy that you want in a dip. We make this dip in two parts, The first, the shrimping. The second, the blending and the third, the melding. The melding is my favorite part, because I have to do nothing.

Dottie's going in for the crocked shrimp dip.

This recipe only serves to reinforce my belief that a food processor makes nearly any food better. I think it has something to do with hoisting it out of its storage space and back and forth again.

First Day Ingredients
2 cups water
1 cup dry white wine (I use Sutter Home Sauvignon Blanc)
2 lemons, sliced
3 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds
1 1/2 poun raw medium shrimp, unpeeled

Second Day Ingredients
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese
3 anchovy fillets, rinsed
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 small scallions, minced (including a good 3 inches of green)
Salt and ground pepper to taste

Water crackers and cucumber slices for serving

First Day Directions
Mix the water, wine, lemon slices, chopped garlic cloves, peppercorns and mustard seeds (basically, everything except the shrimp) in a medium saucepan over high heat. Bring the mix to a boil and let it boil for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to low — and add the shrimp (still in their shells). Simmer for 3 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the shrimp cool in the liquid for about 20 minutes. Put the whole mixture in the fridge overnight.

Second Day Directions
Drain and peel the shrimp. Take out that food processor, and add the cream cheese, anchovies, butter, lemon juice and Dijon mustard. Process the mix utnil smooth. Drop in the peeled shrimp and pulse to chop it finely, you want some shrimpy texture in that dip.

Transfer the mixture to a large bowl, stir in the scallions and season with salt and pepper. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and chill it overnight.

Third Day Directions
Let the shrimp sit for an hour at room temperature before serving it with water crackers and those thinly sliced cucumbers.

26 June, 2012  |   Comment

Toddler Pizza Party

I know, I know.
I’m not supposed to even acknowledge on the Internet that I was ever busy.
But, my friends, life is filled with life.
I’d better appreciate it.

And in the meantime, I’d better share it.
(Lest I forget.)

Pizza party.

Sunday, we built our own pizzas.

We decorated one dollar pizza crusts. At the store, the dough was hidden next to the half-frozen spinach dip and refrigerated specialty pizzas, but if you looked closely, maybe you’d find it too. With the cheese, the sauce and some root beer, the whole dang trip came to $8.34.

This was important this week.
Dinner for less than $10.

Pizza party.

We stretched and tossed the dough, putting exactly what we wanted to on our pizzas. All the ladies chose cheese, more cheese, more cheese and sauce.

My manfriend chose pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms, onions and basil. He guarded that pizza with hipchecks and squinty eyes just like a man in a house full of ladies would do.

Well done, handsome.

Pizza party.

We put our pizzas in the oven for 12 minutes at 420°.

We raised our glasses and said, “I’m thank you for the trees and Auntafee and this great food and grandmagrandpa and my birthday party and Pinot and Mama-not-Papa and Papa-not-Mama and [HEY] we don’t talk to each other like that and [CLINK] love you and you and you and you.”

Pizza party.

We had a pizza party. With salad.
It didn’t cost a lot.

You could do that too.
Yes. Do that.