Gosh October flew by! Where did it go? How did you spend it?

I spent mine with one too many Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Lattes or Pumpkin Chai Teas. Snuggling with Lyla. Taking obligatory pictures out of plane and car windows (I might have been driving, but stalled in traffic for that one). And enjoying mountain views from my hotel balcony. And homecoming with my sister in law.

I’m also trying to game less, since I spent a fair amount of time in September and early October on Guild Wars 2, saving the world with some awesome peeps from across the continent (and potentially globe). Leveling new characters and having a good time.

But I realized, as I’m want to do after gaming binges, that how I spend my time is in my control. So I’m controlling the video gaming habit going into year end. So that I can read more. Here are some articles:

  • The Laborers that keep our Facebook (and other social media) free from things we don’t want to see. I mean crap — how many of us think about this? And how many of us would want that job? Thank you.
  • This savory tart. I know it’s fall, and we’re moving away from tomatoes and towards winter squash. But seriously: yum.
  • This book. The nerd in me is stoked.

And then today, I drove by a bakery I don’t always make it to and indulged myself in some fresh baked bread. A treat from my time growing up in Germany. And really, isn’t fresh baked bread the perfect way to end a post?

pretzel rolls | kitchen notes and other sundries

I am willing it to be fall through my choice of weekly entrees. It’s a conscious effort to try and persuade myself it’s not really 90+ degrees as we close our October, but truly it’s a cooler climate we live in. A climate where the warm smells of chicken roasting in the oven, and the enveloping warmth of curry spices and coconut milk are needed to sustain through brisk temperatures.

Enter this dish below. Fragrant coconut milk rice. Creamy, delicata squash. Toothy french green lentils. Warm curry spices.

Curried Lentils and Squash

We definitely ate this the first day, because the smell in the house was irresistible. Even better: for lunch over the next few days. The flavors spend time deepening in complexity and melding together with the rices. Even good cold.

Warm Curried Lentils & Delicata Squash 

  • 1 small red onion, finely diced
  • 2 small delicata squash, rinsed
  • 1 bunch of lacinato kale
  • 1 cup of French lentils
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, split
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 – 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon fenugreek powder
  • 1 or 2 shots of sherry vinegar
  • 1 cup of brown rice
  • 1  15 oz can of coconut milk
  • 1 cup of water

In a medium saucepan, bring the can of coconut milk to a boil. Add the rice and lower the head to a simmer. Cover with a lid and simmer until the rice is cooked through, about 20 to 30 minutes. Check the rice at 20 minutes and add time in increments of five minutes.

Meanwhile, sauté the red onion in a large sauté pan with olive oil and 1/4 teaspoon salt for about 20 minutes. Stir every so often to avoid burning the onions. The onions should start to take on a darker color, but will not be fully caramelized. Add in the spices, kale, and squash. Add more olive oil if needed and sauté for about 5 minutes over medium heat.

Add the lentils and the cup of water. Place a lid on over the sauté pan and cook on medium-low heat for about 20 minutes. The lentils should still be a bit chewy, but the kale and squash cooked.

Taste. Add the remaining salt, pepper, and the sherry vinegar for some acid.

Serve with the coconut rice.

Curried Lentils and Squash

This month has brought a few articles my way about cooking, eating, and growing up with food. The first is Mark Bittman’s New York Time’s article “Getting Your Kids to Eat (or at Least Try) Everything.” The second a series on Epicurious about cooking after baby, chronicling learnings from some of my favorites, include Smitten Kitchen author and the Wednesday Chef. Even Cooking Light took time this month to touch on the relationship we have to cooking.

Which go me thinking…I’d love to hear from you. Why do you cook? What is your history with cooking? Eating? And then the proverbial question, do we eat to live or live to eat?

 

Stuffed Peppers | Kitchen Notes and other Sundries

We had a bit of a scare last night. Casey woke me up at 3:30 am, unable to find our dear sweet Lyla. The screen door to the balcony was open and she was no where in the house. Frantically, I looked over the edge of the balcony for sights I don’t even want to think of, but instead I heard her distinctive “where the hell is everyone?” meow. We found her, puffed up to double her size, on our downstairs neighbors porch. After much and continued worrying (plus one call to the 24 hour vet), we seem to be doing okay. Lyla is her joyous self, all her functions seem to be working, and she probably thinks she just went on the adventure of a lifetime. In fact, she’s currently supervising the writing of this post from her standard perch between keyboard and computer screen.

If you’ve had a similarly harrowing night, these stuffed peppers may help out. Hearty and comforting. Mostly healthy. Flavorful and packed with fresh veggies and herbs.

onions and garlic | kitchen notes and other sundries

Bell Peppers | Kitchen Notes and Other Sundries

  • 1 medium red onion, finely diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and pressed through a garlic press
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 zucchini, diced
  • 1 large handful (about 3/4 cup) of flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
  • 2 cups spinach, chopped
  • 1 lbs ground sausage (meat of your turkey, chicken, pork)
  • 1 cup of brown rice
  • 2 tablespoons of goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1 cup of shredded nutty flavored cheese, like a manchego or comte
  • 4 large, stable (able to stand on their own) red bell peppers.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

In large saute pan, heat about 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the diced red onions over medium to medium high heat. Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Watch the onions, stirring them as they cook. Once the onions turn translucent, about 3-5 minutes in, turn the head to medium-low and allow the onions to cook for an additional 10 to 15 minutes. Stir occasionally to avoid the onions browning.

Once the onions are cooked, add the carrots, zucchini, and garlic. Stir to combine. Continue to cook over medium heat. The garlic should begin to become fragrant and the zucchini and carrot should start to soften. A smaller dice on the carrot means that the carrots will cook faster. Taste the veggie mix at this point. What’s missing? Consider adding some shallot pepper, red pepper flakes, etc if desired. Allow to cook together for about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the vegetables from the pan in a separate bowl. Set aside the bowl for later.

In the same sauté pan, cook the sausage of your choice. In the recipe above, I used wild boar sausage from a local shop. This recipe would also work well with mild or medium spicy pork sausage, or really any chicken or turkey sausage as well. If the sausage you use is spice, you should not need to add any additional flavoring. Cook until the sausage crisps up.

Add back the veggies. If desired, add a splash of white wine or water to help scrap the tasty bits off the bottom of the pan. Add in the pre-cooked brown rice. Mix together the veggie, sausage, and rice until well combined. Taste again for any additional flavors. I found the spice from the sausage, and the small amount of salt and pepper at the beginning, when combined with the caramelization and browned bits from the cooking, made for a tasty flavor. Turn off the heat, remove pan from the hot burner, and add in the crumbled goat cheese.

Next, prep your bell peppers. Rinse all the peppers thoroughly. Using a sharp knife, cut off the top of the peppers. Scrape out the insides with either a spoon or knife. In a deep rimmed backing dish, add in about 2 to 3 good glugs of olive oil. Yes, glug is an official type of measurement. Also add about 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon into each of the four bell peppers.

Spoon the rice and sausage mixture into each of the bell pepper cups. Top with the grated cheese, and place into the baking dish. Bake in the oven for about 30-45 minutes. The skin of the bell peppers should start to soften, the cheese on top melt and bubble. The house will smell fantastic.

Serve whole bell peppers for a full dinner, or split in half to serve with additional items. Also makes wonderful lunch left overs. If you do have any additional rice filling mix, save that for lunch or an afternoon snack.

stuffed peppers | kitchen notes and other sundries

 

stuffed peppers | kitchen notes and other sundries

Hello from some place other than Arizona! It’s warm, rainy, humid, and it’s not Florida. But it is filled with friends old and new, and it’s just too bad to not have enough time for everyone.

Tonight, for dinner, I met up with a wonderful group of people so large, we took up at least two twelve person booths. There were spring rolls, egg rolls, dumplings, red curry, sushi. All delicious. Made of course better by the power of conversation, which you know I’m a fan of. Blame the extrovert in me!

So, here  are some recipes from across the web that I’m inspired by after this tasty evening.

Warm and spiced butternut squash curry perfect for cooler weather.

All the best of a crispy Samosa in a soup.

Pot stickers for a quick and easy meal. And I do mean quick and easy once the effort has been made in making them :)

Enjoy your mid October week!

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Granola Bars | Kitchen Notes

I’m traveling again. Three trips in one month is certainly a variance from my usual home-body habits. I don’t dislike travel; there’s a whole part of this blog that shares trips across the country and continents with you. I do dislike much of the food associated with travel (who does like it?). Airplane food, even the non complimentary kind, is all one mushy, salty texture that sits like a lump in your stomach after you’re done eating it.

When we traveling to Pennsylvania in August for our friend’s wedding, I backed us cold noodle salad with veggies and spicy peanut sauce. It felt nearly indulgent to sit in the Atlanta airport during our layover, twirling and slurping our home made deliciousness while others sat next to us with bags of fast food.

I plan on taking a few of these for the flight on Monday. They may crumble up, but will still be good over yogurt at the hotel the next morning. For certainly, these granola bars whole or crumbled will have more dimension than the granola served at hotel continental breakfast. Another bonus is the speed to readiness. Mixing ingredients together is the hardest part!

Granola Bars, adapted from Food52

  • 1 1/2 cups oats
  • 3/4 cup whole almonds, lightly salted
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/3 cup roasted pepitas
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/4 cup shelled sunflower seeds
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup apple sauce
  • 1 cup salted almond butter

Line a freezer safe baking dish with parchment paper. I used a large jelly roll pan for my recipe.

In a separate bowl, combine oats, almonds, cranberries, walnuts, pepitas, coconut, and sunflower seeds together. Add the honey, apple sauce, and almond butter. Using either a wooden spoon or your fingers, combine together until it starts to clump.

Using the wooden spoon or spatula, pour the mixture into one side of the pan. Use the back of the wooden spoon to press the granola into the pan, forming an even layer. Depending on the size of your pan, you may or may not fill up the entire sheet. This was the case when I used the large jelly roll pan.

Cover with plastic wrap and freezer overnight.

When ready to eat, use a knife to cut large squares. I keep mine in the freezer, but they can also keep for a day or two in the fridge. If the granola comes apart, don’t worry…just add some yogurt and call it delicious!

Granola Bars | Kitchen Notes

Granola Bars | Kitchen Notes

I want to take this moment to sincerely apologize to my readers, because this Slate article speaks the honest truth and I know I’ve misused the term “caramelize the onions.”

Yes.

I am flawed.

I do love a good caramelized onion. I agree with this article that in truth a good caramelized onion takes at least 20 to 30 minutes, possible 45 to 60 if done over low heat. And after reading through many of my recipes, I realize that I faulted to the phrase “until caramelized” rather than better descriptors. For example, you know that point when yellow onions go from translucent to a warmer honey color? Or maybe that point when red onions start to look sorted and lighter in color? See, no reason to jump straight to using “caramelized” as a descriptor.

What do you think? After reading the article, can you recall recipes you’ve transcribed with that alluring descriptor?

onions | kitchen notes

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