Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Channa Masala (Indian Chickpea Curry)

Masala = Spice Mix = The heart and soul of any Indian Food

Garam Masala = My new favorite spice = smells like Chai tea

I've been on a bit of a vegetarian Indian food kick lately and have stocked my spice drawer accordingly. Channa masala is a classic Northern Indian dish that I came across on seriouseats.com and decided to give it a whirl after sampling something similar at Trader Joe's (they had a vegetarian Indian food sample night recently). It is a curry made of chickpeas that is beautiful in color, fragrant and rather healthy.

Ingredients (serves 2)
1 T olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove
1/2 T ground coriander
1 t ground cumin
1/4 t ground cayenne pepper
1/2 t ground turmeric
6 T chopped tomatoes (or half a can)
1/2 cup water
1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 t paprika
1/2 t garam masala
1/2 t salt
Juice of 1/4 lemon
1/2 jalapeƱo, stemmed, seeded, and chopped
1 t fresh ginger, grated


Pour olive oil in a skillet set over medium heat. When warm, add the onion and cook until soft and beginning to brown, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.

Add the coriander, cumin, cayenne, and turmeric. Stir until combined and cook for 30 seconds or so, or until it is very fragrant.

Stir in the tomatoes. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Dump in the chickpeas and the pour in the water. Stir until combined, and then bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer. Add the paprika, garam masala, salt, and lemon juice. Cover and cook at a simmer for 10 minutes.

Sprinkle in the ginger and jalapeno. Cook for another 30 seconds. Season with salt if needed.


  • I served this over Trader Joe's garlic naan. It comes in the frozen section of their store and it is delicious!
  • I hear it is also served with rice.
  • I found all of the spices that you can't find at a regular grocery store at Cost Plus World Market. They have a nice selection of unusual and exotic spices.
  • This was pretty mellow in terms of heat. If you want to kick it up a notch add more jalapeno or forget to deseed it!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Organic Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

I made this for Wendy's Birthday last weekend. Recipe is from Bon Appetit online. The recipe called for using everything organic. I used organic carrots, flour, and sugar but didn't go to the extreme to find things like organic cream cheese. I think I would recommend adding a little more coconut if you like it to give it more texture as well as some golden raisens if you are in to those. I added toasted walnuts, but probably would have added more than the 3/4 cup the recipe calls for if I did it again. This is also one of those recipes you could use applesauce instead of some of the oil to make it healthier due to the density of the cake.

1/3 c shredded unsweetened coconut
1 lb organic carrots
1 c chopped pineapple
1 1/2 c organic all purpose flour
1/2 c organic whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 c organic cane sugar
2 t baking soda
2 1/4 t cinnamon
1 t salt
1/2 c dark brown sugar
3/4 c canola oil
1 T vanilla extract
3 eggs
frosting recipe (below)

Preheat oven to 350. Spray 2 eight inch round cake pans with nonstick spray and line the bottom with parchment paper.

Place the coconut in a cup of warm water to soften it for 15 minutes.

Put carrots in the food processor and process for 1 minute. Add the pineapple and puree, 1-2 minutes until smooth.

In a large bowl, sift together dry ingredients. Add brown sugar and whisk to break up pieces.

Drain the coconut and place it in a medium bowl. Add the oil, vanilla, eggs, and carrot-pineapple puree, whisk to combine.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry, mixing with a spatula to incorporate, but not overmix. When the batter is almost mixed, add chopped walnuts if desired. Pour batter into prepared pans.

The recipe called to bake for 55 minutes, however, I checked mine after 30 minutes and it was done. Let the cakes cool in the pan for 15 minutes, invert onto a rack and cool completely before frosting.

Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

3 8 oz packages reduced fat or nonfat cream cheese (I used 2 nonfat and 1 light)
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 t grated lemon zest
1 1/2 T lemon juice
1 T vanilla extract
2 3/4 c powdered sugar

In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the cream cheese and butter on med high speed until combined and airy, about 2 minutes. Mix in the lemon juice, zest, and vanilla.

Sift the powdered sugar. Turn mixer to low speed and slowly pour into frosting mixture.

Fill the inside of cake and frost the outter layer. I 'decorated' the cake by mixing the remaining frosting with yellow food coloring (and then later with green) and putting into frosting bags. I recommend putting the frosting in the fridge for a bit if you want to use it to decorate the cake in order to make it a little stiffer. As a side note, I think the recipe made a little too much frosting unless you wanted to really mound it up on the cake. I also used this frosting on red velvet cupcakes this week and it is a nice airy and not too sweet frosting to compliment many types of dessert.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Baked Ziti

I apologize for the super ugly picture. It was a last minute Marshall family decision that this must be posted so it was taken with my camera phone that I am still not very capable with. This recipe uses very few ingredients and comes together quickly and pretty delish so I thought I'd share.

1 16 oz bag penette pasta (mini penne)
1 16 oz container part skim ricotta cheese
1/4 c grated Parmesan cheese, plus additional for topping
1 large egg
4 cups shredded part skim mozzarella cheese
2 8 oz jars organic marinara sauce (I used Trader Joe's)
1 T dried Italian seasoning
1 handful fresh basil, finely chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Boil pasta per package directions. Drain in cold water and set aside. Whisk ricotta, Parmesan, egg, Italian seasoning, basil, and salt and pepper in a large mixing bowl until combined. Add pasta and mix until pasta is thoroughly coated in cheese mixture.

In a large casserole dish coated in cooking spray, add half the pasta cheese mixture, top with 1 jar of marinara sauce and 1/2 the mozzarella cheese. Add another layer of pasta, sauce and cheese. Top with additional Parmesan cheese as desired and sprinkle with a little Italian seasoning blend. Bake uncovered at 375 until bubbly, about 30 minutes.

*This can be made up to two days ahead and refrigerated.
*This recipe yields enough to feed 8 (or more if you have a salad) people. You could easily half it and use a smaller dish.
*I was in a hurry and put this recipe together in about 15 minutes. It makes a great weeknight meal. If you had more time, you could always use home made marinara.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Dijon Pizza with Pear, Arugula, Goat Cheese

First off— if you like spicy, go to Trader Joe's and get yourself some of their Dijon mustard! It is unique blend they import from France and it is delicious and unusual compared to the average jar of Grey Poupon. I have always trusted TJs to sell great products at a good price and at $1.60 something for 13 ounces I guess you can't beat it.

Moving forward from my tangent, I am skipping my backlog of recipes to present you with this new pizza recipe. It is loosely inspired from this month's Bon Appetite and the flavor combination is pretty divine. I created it as an "experimental" pizza when we had pizza night last week and paired it with a more traditional "super veggie" sort of pizza. It was so delicous, we actually finished this one first! This pizza took about 10 minutes to prepare which is always a plus for a busy weeknight.

one package prepared pizza dough
corn meal
2 bosch pears, skin on, sliced into thin slivers
4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
2 T dijon mustard
handful of arugula
6 red onion "rings"
1/3 cup parmesan blend

Let pizza dough set out of fridge for 15 minutes. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Flatten out pizza dough in a 12 - 15 inch round. Lay on a baking sheet sprinkled with corn meal or in a pizza pan. Prick the dough with a fork and par bake in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove from oven.

Spread a thin layer of Dijon onto the dough. Top with arugula and then sprinkle goat cheese and onion rings throughout.Arrange pears in a circular pattern. Sprinkle entire pizza with parmesan cheese.

Bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and golden. Let cool for 5 minutes out of oven and serve.