Monthly Archives: January 2012

February’s Challenge: Daily Exercise

My New Year’s resolution was to come up with twelve different month-long challenges for myself.  Oh, and to follow through with them.  Things that I know will help me be happier, healthier, and more balanced.  In case you somehow missed it, January’s challenge (technically three weeks rather than a month) was to stick with a clean eating/ detox plan.  If you’re going to be a stickler about it, I fell 1.5 days short of my three-week goal.  But then again, if you’re going to be a stickler about it, go away.

I have a handful of challenges I’m planning to use in the next few months, and it was hard to decide which one to pick for February.  While not all of the challenges are focused on my physical health, I am choosing to keep my momentum going and build off of this past month’s healthy eating.  As I’ve mentioned before, I know that eating right is only one piece of the puzzle when it comes to being healthy.  I also know that I find it easier to stick with one piece of the puzzle when the other pieces are also there.  Thus February is going to be the 30 Minutes of Exercise for 30 Days Challenge.  Yes, I know that February only has 29 days.  It’s a good thing I’m doing this on a leap year.  Then I’d be short-changing myself 2 whole days.

Actually I was going to give myself a head start this morning.  But I woke up feeling like I was fighting a cold, so it didn’t happen.  So, this 30 Day challenge will run from February 1st to March 1st.  While my throat is still feeling a little funky tonight, I am determined to start tomorrow.  In the event that this cold knocks me out completely, I am allowing for some flexibility- if I miss a day I will tack those 30 minutes on to another day or two.  After all, it’s important to have a contingency plan for pushing past extenuating circumstances.  At the same time I don’t want to get into the habit of doing that too much (e.g., exercising 45 minutes/day for two days and then skipping a day).  The purpose of this challenge is to make exercise a part of my daily routine rather than just trying to accrue a certain number of minutes over the course of a week or month.

What am I counting as exercise for this?  I thought about strictly focusing on yoga, but then I realized that if we are lucky enough to get another sunny, unseasonably warm day in the next few weeks and I want to take advantage of it, taking a brisk walk should count.  Most likely there will be a lot of yoga and yoga-related things.  Maybe the occasional dance party.  Don’t expect to hear me talking about running.  I don’t believe in running.

This whole thing scares me more than the January challenge.  I am back in school now, so my days are busier.  On Mondays and Tuesdays I don’t get home until 8 pm, so I will have to get myself to exercise first thing in the morning.  That alone will be a challenge.  Plus I am way better at abstaining from things (like caffeine or sugar) than I am at actively adding something to my day.  Maybe if I think about it as abstaining from laziness that will help.

My intent is to keep a daily log and then give you, my dear readers, a weekly update.  It is quite possible there might be some extra Exercise Challenge-related entries, but if you don’t hear about this for a couple days, don’t fret.  I (hopefully) have not quit; I am just assuming that you aren’t interested in reading daily updates consisting of “Woke up at 6 am.  Did yoga.  I hate sweating.”

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Filed under Exercise, Life

Two (or Three) Ingredients Are Better Than One: Five Awesome Flavor Combinations

I don’t know if I would say that I have mastered basic cooking.  I mean, don’t you have to be able to successfully cook a pot of beans before you can say that?  But I think I have enough experience that I can focus on things that are a little more advanced, or “taking it to the next level” as my husband would say.  For me, this means feeling comfortable playing around with recipes and making them your own.  And a big part of that is understanding how different ingredients work together.  (And just as importantly, which ones don’t work together!)

I am developing my own intuition about these things, but when I need some ideas or reassurance that what I am about to throw into the pot won’t ruin my dinner, I love to consult The Flavor Bible.  I highly recommend that you check it out and add it to your culinary library  In the mean time, here are some of my favorite combinations.  While none of this is particularly groundbreaking, I hope it will inspire you to experiment a bit with new ingredients or to think of new ways to use some of your old favorites.

Also… I decided to stick with my own photos for this, and came to the realization that even though these are some of my favorite ingredients, I don’t have many photos of them.  This means I have not cooked with them enough since I started this blog.  So, expect to see more recipes with these ingredients soon!

1. Tomato + Basil + Mozzarella

The best thing about this threesome?  They require pretty much zero effort to play nicely together, and rarely result in relationship troubles.  Layer slices of tomato, mozzarella, and basil leaves, drizzle with a little olive oil (and balsamic vinegar if you want), season with salt and pepper.  That’s it.  No heat required.

If you have a little more time, throw tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil in between two slices of bread or on pizza dough.  Or roast cherry tomatoes and add them to pasta with little balls of mozzarella and sliced basil.

Have I mentioned that I miss summer?

2. Cilantro + Lime

Recently my sister-in-law stated that she often cooks by smell, and I realized I tend to do the same thing.  If you ever watch me handling fresh cilantro, there is a 96.3% chance that you will see me holding it up to my nose.  (Don’t worry, I’ll wash it before I do anything else.)  I know there are people who hate the smell (not to mention the taste) of cilantro.  Once, in fact, I almost got in a fight with a dude at the grocery store who was loudly complaining about how the fragrant cilantro was permeating the entire produce section.  (It was, and it was amazing.)  I don’t understand the cilantro haters.

What makes cilantro even better?  Lime.  And I love the smell of lime just as much.  Last week after cooking Black Beans with Apple Salsa, I couldn’t figure out why my hands smelled so good, and then I realized the last thing I did before we ate dinner was squeezing a lime wedge over my food.

Obviously, lime and cilantro are found together in a lot of Mexican dishes.  Some of my favorite recipes where they both really shine are Bon Appetit’s recipe for Coriander Chicken Tostadas with Refried Beans and Grilled Fennel and ceviches like the one I made last summer.   For a veggie option, check out Creamy Cilantro-Lime Slaw. (Greek yogurt can be used in place of the sour cream if you want to lighten it a bit.)  You can find a similar but even lighter slaw as a part of the recipe for Crispy Black Bean Tacos with Feta and Cabbage Slaw (the tacos are awesome, too).

To get a quick cilantro and lime fix, stuff a bunch of fresh cilantro in a margarita, similar to how mint is served in mojitos.  I would say it is way better than a mojito, but that is only because mint is to me what cilantro is to cilantro-haters.

3. Orange + Cardamom + (sometimes) Pistachio

This flavor combination always reminds me of some of my favorite desserts at Indian and Afghan restaurants.  I don’t have much to say about it except that it’s awesome.  This Mascarpone Tart with Honey, Oranges, and Pistachios takes advantage of all three ingredients.  If you’re more of a cake person, try Olive-Oil Cake with Candied Oranges.

Or, if you’re feeling a little lazier, try this: take a bowl of store-bought rice pudding (preferably Kozy Shack) and stir in some grated orange zest, ground cardamom, and chopped pistachios.

4. Butter + Shallots + Thyme

I haven’t necessarily used these guys together that much, but when I was sautéing mushrooms the other night and was hit with the aroma of melting butter, sizzling shallots, and fresh thyme, I realized I need to keep them in mind more often.  Imagine of all the things you could do with these as a starting point: Corn on the Cob with Shallot-Thyme Butter, Salt-Roasted Potatoes with Roast Shallot and Thyme Butter.  For a main course, think about slathering a good steak or chicken breast with this trio.

5. Chocolate + Cinnamon + Cayenne

I’ve gotten to the point that if chocolate does not have a little sea salt or spiciness to it, it just doesn’t taste quite right to me.   And I think it’s funny that people still seem to be weirded out by the idea of putting cayenne in chocolate.  Didn’t Juliette Binoche already sell everyone on the idea more than ten years ago in Chocolat?

Anyway, if you are one of the people who has yet to taste chocolate spiked with chile, please give it a try.  As I’ve mentioned before Dagoba’s Xocolatl drinking chocolate is amazing, and takes just a few minutes to prepare.  For those of you willing to put in a little more effort, try Chocolate Chile Bread Pudding.  Or for one of the most decadent sundaes you’ve ever had, try this combination: brownie + vanilla ice cream + Mexican Chocolate Sauce* + Chipotle-Cherry Whipped Cream.   (Brownie optional.)

*This recipe calls for Mexican chocolate.  If you cannot locate it, try a substitution suggested by a helpful Epicurious reviewer: per 8 ounces of chocolate, stir in 2 tsp cinnamon and 8 drops of almond extract.

Oh, the other cool thing about chocolate and pepper?  They go so well together that they are willing to take turns playing the supporting role and letting the other one shine.  Just like chile enhances chocolate, adding a little chocolate to a savory dish like chili or chicken mole will add depth without making it seem like you melted a Hershey bar over your chicken.  I don’t have any particular recipes to recommend at the moment, but I will almost** guarantee that if you sprinkle a little cocoa powder or chopped bittersweet chocolate into your favorite chili recipe, it will make all the other spices and flavors pop a little more.

**Between my statistical training and the influence of my attorney father, I am hesitant to absolutely guarantee anything without an extensive contract.  I accept no responsibility for failed dinners or disappointed diners.  But if you give this a try based on my suggestion and love it, I will happily take the credit.

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Filed under Cooking, Food I Didn't Cook

Last Night’s Dinner: Black Beans and Rice with Sweet Potatoes and Apple Salsa

When you decide you are going to be selective about what you eat and avoid foods that are overly processed, contaminated with pesticides, or grown with antibiotics and hormones, you have to be flexible.  There are going to be times that you need to adapt a recipe you had in mind to fit with the ingredients available to you.

Perfect example… I had my eye on a recipe for black beans and rice, topped with shredded rotisserie chicken.  The problem?  The organic market I go to doesn’t sell rotisserie chicken.  And I don’t think I can eat non-organic chicken anymore.  Not a big deal though.  I’d just pick up some chicken breasts and cook them myself.  But when I got to the market I remembered that they get their chicken delivered every Thursday, so by Wednesdays they are pretty much wiped out.  Ditto for pork and steak.

Time to improvise….  How about… sweet potatoes?  Yes, I know: sweet potatoes are nothing like chicken.  But I had some at home already, and it seemed like they would go well with everything else.  I also was eager to use the sweet potatoes before a certain little girl cat discovered my new hiding place for them.  Because a couple nights ago just as I was falling asleep, I heard a THUD in the dining room and walked out to find Matilda on the counter, staring down at a sweet potato on the floor.  A sweet potato with some little teeth marks in it, that is.  I’m impressed- she somehow managed to get it out of a basket and then knock it onto the floor.

Anyway… this was very close to being vegan, except that I didn’t have vegetable broth at home, so I had to use chicken broth.  But that could easily be changed if you want it to be vegan.  Or, if you’re wanting meat, check out the original recipe from Bon Appetit: Black Beans and Rice with Chicken and Apple Salsa.

Apples might seem strange with this, but the tartness and crispy texture add a completely different dimension to familiar Mexican flavors.  I look forward to trying this again in the future with chicken, but even without, it was yummy and very filling.

Black Beans and Rice with Sweet Potatoes and Apple Salsa (serves 4-6, adapted from Bon Appetit, January 2012)

Cook enough brown rice to yield 4 cups, cooked, according to package directions.

In the mean time…

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Peel two sweet potatoes and cut into 1-inch chunks.  Place sweet potatoes on a rimmed baking sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with ground coriander.  Season with salt.  Roast until tender, turning occasionally, about 20-25 minutes.

Peel and chop one Granny Smith apple.  In a small bowl, toss with about 1/4 cup chopped cilantro and one teaspoon fresh lime juice.  The original recipe also calls for two tablespoons chopped red onion.  I won’t lie- I looked at that salsa and pictured how it would pop with some red onion in there.  But I left it out.  For Nick.  That’s love.

Heat two tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Cook 1/4 cup chopped onion and 1/2 green bell pepper, chopped until soft, about 6-7 minutes.  Add three minced garlic cloves, one teaspoon ground coriander, 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin, and 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder, stir for 2 minutes.  Stir in three cups chicken broth and two 15-oz cans of black beans, drained and rinsed.  Bring to a boil, and then reduce to medium heat.  Smash some of the beans with the spoon.  Stir until sauce thickens, about 8-10 minutes.  Season with salt, pepper, and lime juice.

Divide rice and beans among bowls.  Top with sweet potatoes and apple salsa.  Garnish with cilantro and lime wedges.

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My New Favorite Thing: Needle Felted Critters

This blog entry is dedicated to my mom.  Because I know she’ll like it and I’m pretty sure a good combination of nature and nurture from her is why I got so excited about this topic.  As my dad put it, my mom “likes little things that look like the big things.”  (Let’s hope that doesn’t apply to everything.)

It’s a good thing classes haven’t started yet, because then I might feel a little guilty about the amount of time I spent last night browsing Etsy for handmade, pocket-sized animals.  Why was I doing this?  Well, because I happened to notice  that one of my favorite bloggers, Movita Beaucoup, had a page with some needle felted animals she crafted, like Morley.

Image by Movita Beaucoup

If I was lucky enough to have Morley live with me, I am pretty sure I would carry him everywhere.  And probably talk to him.  Because the way his head is tilted clearly indicates that he is a good listener.

So then I got curious.  And suddenly it was three hours later and I had flagged twenty-five little fuzzy animals on Etsy.  Here are some of my favorites:

This little guy comes with his own home!

Hamster with crocheted play hut by BitsofFiber

Of course there were lots of cats who caught my eye….

Oliver the Orange Kitty Cat by LittleElfsToyshop

Eskimo Kitty by Lazzi217

There are sooo many bunnies I want to share with my sister!

Easter Bunny Baby Rabbit by SteviT

Bunny Friends by darialvovsky

Black & White Bunny by TCMfeltDesigns

Teeny Tiny Gray Bunny by LittleElfsToyshop

Apparently you can actually get custom sculptures of your pets!  I told Nick that if we ever find ourselves in a position to lavish each other with extravagant gifts, I would like a custom needle felted version of Bailey and Matilda.

Custom Two Kitty Pin Cushion by BayColonyDesigns

Custom Poseable Dog by GourmetFelted

There are even DIY kits you can purchase!

DIY Brown Cat kit by HanamiBoutique

But my favorite….?

Axolotl by CreturFetur

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Filed under Animals, DIY Projects, Guilty Pleasures

Grocery Store Strategery

Yes, strategery.  Because that word makes me laugh.

This actually began as a response to a comment on a previous blog entry, but it got so lengthy, I decided just to elaborate here instead….

Today I started a new, informal challenge: to continue sticking with the healthier food habits I’ve been working on for the last few weeks.  Even though there is nothing keeping me from eating cheese and bread and pretty much whatever I want, I found myself turning to meals I was eating during the cleanse.  This morning I had blackberries sprinkled with shredded coconut and gluten-free oats, with some almond milk.  Lunch was a raw kale salad.  Except for the trace amounts of milk in the hot chocolate mix I had as a snack (with more almond milk… less calories and more calcium than cow’s milk), I’ve gotten through the day so far on a completely vegan diet.   And while I’m debating whether I want to have brown rice or whole wheat pasta with dinner, I don’t really plan on eating any animal products tonight, either.

To keep this going will require some planning and preparation.  I need to make sure I have the kitchen well-stocked.  My sister suggested planning the week’s dinners on Sunday and grocery shopping for the week.  She and her fiance do this over breakfast on Sunday mornings.  I think that’s an awesome idea… they are way more organized than Nick and I are.  The difficulty for us is that Nick doesn’t always know ahead of time if he is going to be around for dinner.  So whenever I happen to stock the fridge with a week’s worth of meals, inevitably things go to waste.  Or I get anxious about things going to waste and that results in too many conversations where I’m asking Nick if he is going to be around, or trying to force food on him.  I don’t like to be the crazed food pusher.

But I do try to plan ahead to some extent.  So, if you have a schedule that is too up-in-the-air to plan the whole week’s dinners, or you’re just too much of a commitment-phobe to decide on Sunday what you’ll want to eat on Thursday, here are some of my suggestions:

  • Plan one, two, or three specific dinners, depending on just how much of your week is still TBD.  Base them around things that won’t go bad quickly (pastas, legumes…) or things that can be tossed in the freezer if, come Tuesday, you realize you’re not going to be cooking chicken this week.
  • If, like me, you have evenings where you’re eating solo, stock up on vegetables that can be easily cooked in small quantities (Brussels sprouts, leafy greens) or make things that will work well as leftovers for lunch (this is probably why I eat a lot of pasta).
  • Borrow this rule from clothes-shopping gurus: does this item work with other things you have?  Just like you don’t want to buy a pair of shoes that will go with nothing you own, you don’t want to buy a bunch of zucchini, if nothing else in your shopping cart or pantry at home will work well with it.  Even if you don’t have a specific recipe, have a couple ideas about what you could do with a particular ingredient.
  • Flexibility of perishable items is also key.  I like buying leafy greens because I am happy eating them raw as a salad for lunch, or cooked as a part of dinner.  I am more conservative in getting vegetables I will only eat raw (cucumbers) or cooked (broccoli) since there are fewer opportunities during the week for me to eat them.
  • Be willing to go to the grocery store a second time during the week.  It never fails that, even when I have a comprehensive list and plan on only making one trip to the store that week, there is something I either forget or cannot find.  So knowing that I’m probably going to be back by Wednesday or Thursday anyway keeps me from being compelled to overbuy.

I think that is all the grocery store wisdom I have for now.  And if you have any food shopping organizational/planning ideas, I welcome your suggestions!

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The Cleanse: It’s Over!

So Week Three of The Cleanse was going pretty well.  I even survived a catered lunch on Friday at a conference, despite the fact that their idea of a vegetarian option was a sandwich containing mushrooms smothered with cheese.  The only gluten-free, dairy-free, minimally processed choice was Maryland crab soup which, other than the sodium content, probably fell within my restrictions.  It’s a good thing I brought some snacks with me.

By Saturday I was getting a little lazy.  I had planned on making Rice Noodles with Broccoli-Almond Pesto for lunch, but I just could not bring myself to pull out the food processor again.  So I made a version with “deconstructed pesto”; I just tossed all the pesto ingredients, in their whole form, in with the noodles.  Was it the most amazing lunch I’ve ever prepared?  No.  But it worked.

Still, I sensed my willpower weakening.  It wasn’t so much that I was eager to eat tons of bread, cheese, and chocolate with a big glass of wine on the side as it was that I was just so tired of cooking.  And tired of washing dishes.

Emily and I had already agreed to cut The Cleanse one or two meals short.  She was going to a party on Sunday afternoon to watch the Ravens game, and didn’t want to have to worry about what she ate.  And I was ready to let Nick back into the kitchen for a change, especially if he was in the mood to make pizza.

But even knowing there were only 24 hours left, I texted Em on Saturday afternoon.

“How about we just end things now?  We could still have a healthy breakfast tomorrow morning…”

“Why do you want to stop now?”

“I don’t want to cook dinner tonight.”

“Okay.  Want a brownie?”

This is how awesome my sister is- on Friday night she baked brownies for her fiance and his friends.  She even cut them up.  It would have been so easy to just cut off a tiny, tiny bite, but she didn’t.  She rocks.  But the leftover brownies were taunting her on Saturday.  So, within 15 minutes of us agreeing that we would settle on a 19.5-day cleanse rather than a 21-day cleanse, she was delivering brownies to my door.

I waited to have my brownie until after dinner that night.  But I did have the little Dove dark chocolate that has been sitting in a bowl for the last few weeks- one of the last remnants of the Christmas goodies.  It was … okay.  But not amazing.  There were no fireworks, no rainbows, no orgasmic revelation of, “Oh my god, Chocolate, I have missed you so much!!!”  And yes, part of me did expect that to happen.  But it didn’t.  Which was good.  It reminded me that it’s okay to enjoy some indulgence, but to save it for the things I really love.

So, where did I go for my first post-Cleanse meal last night?  Panera.  I wanted to ease back into things, and I knew there would be some tasty, balanced options that would keep me from being tempted to go all out.  Plus, in case my digestive system did freak out from dairy or gluten, I didn’t want to associate something I really love with getting sick.  So I had some soup and salad, with a little cheese and whole-grain bread.  And a glass of wine when I got home.  My stomach seems to have accepted everything just fine.

Tonight Nick will be making pizza.  And I will be having wine.  But overall, I’m still feeling motivated to continue incorporating the principles of the cleanse into my regular eating.  At the beginning of the month, I had written down five goals, or things I hoped to get out of the cleanse.  Overall, I think I accomplished them:

1. To kick-start some weight loss. Yup… probably lost around five to six pounds, bringing me back to where I was before the end of the semester and the holidays.  Since I’ve gotten used to eating smaller meals, and I’m starting to have more energy again, I’m hoping with continued careful eating and more exercise I can continue down this track and lose 8 to 10 more pounds. Doing so will put me back to around where I was when I felt my best.

2. To get back on track with eating balanced meals.  Between eating more convenience foods during finals and all the baked goods around the holidays, vegetables and fruits definitely had taken a back seat.  This cleanse helped put them back as the focal part of my meals.  And even though I don’t have a meal plan for this coming week, my grocery bags today were full of kale, Swiss chard, Brussels sprouts, apples, and sweet potatoes. 

3. To encourage myself to try new healthy foods.  I’ve finally accepted red peppers.  And I learned to like almond milk.  I’m running out of new green vegetables to try, but I’m more open to using them in different ways.  Except smoothies.

4. To get into a habit of planning ahead and having ingredients for healthy meals and snacks on hand.  Some of the lunch recipes were my favorites.  I’ll be making the chickpea and brown rice burgers regularly.  And I have a bag of nuts and dried fruit in my car for hunger emergencies.

5. To bring my focus back on emphasizing eating for nutrition first, and eating for pleasure as a secondary thing.  Shortly into the cleanse, I realized, so what if I get a lot of pleasure out of food?  It’s one of the things I’m most passionate about, and I’ve decided that’s okay.  And it’s okay if sometimes the food that I’m passionate about has lots of butter, or even sugar.  That is, as long as “sometimes” means once a week or so, rather than once a day.


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Last Night’s Dinner: Pumpkin and Shrimp Curry

I am pretty sure that if your husband sneaks into the kitchen right before bed because he “just wanted to look at the leftovers” it means you cooked a pretty awesome dinner.

There are only a few days left of The Cleanse and while I’m still going strong, I’m also getting a little bored with using recipes from only one source.  So yesterday when I was ripping out pages from last year’s Bon Appetit magazines, and I came across an exciting recipe that seemed to fit within The Cleanse guidelines, I jumped on it.  While none of the Whole Living Detox recipes use shellfish, it is also not explicitly listed as something to avoid, so I figured shrimp would be okay.  And since the canned pumpkin and coconut milk were both unsweetened, that seemed acceptable as well.

Using pumpkin in something other than desserts has been on my culinary to-do list for a long time.  I still have plans to make kaddo borawni at some point, but a curry using canned pumpkin puree seemed like a good weeknight dinner.

Once again I am grateful for the reviews on Epicurious, from which I anticipated that the recipe might need a little bit of tweeking, mainly in upping the amount of curry powder.  And I liked the other suggestions I read for using garam masala as well.  Some people suggested cutting back on the amount of vegetable broth, but I thought the original quantity was fine.  This might have been because I made a couple additional changes, though.  I used more butternut squash since I had some to use up, and I also added some cauliflower that was eagerly waiting to leave my fridge.  So the extra “stuff” in the curry might have made it less soupy.  Also, I hate buying tomatoes in the winter so I used canned diced tomatoes instead.

Oh, one more thing.  I cooked the whole thing in a big skillet rather than a large saucepan.  Does this make a difference?  I don’t know.  I had two motives for doing so, and neither of them were concerned with improving the recipe.  First, my large saucepan was already occupied by brown rice.  Second, I really wanted to be finished cooking before 30 Rock started, and I thought maybe the larger surface area would allow me to cut back on some of the cooking times.  Again, I don’t know if this actually is true.  But letting everything simmer for 15 instead of 20 minutes did not appear to have any detrimental effects.  Because Nick thought this was one of the best things I’ve ever cooked.

Pumpkin and Shrimp Curry (adapted from Bon Appetit via Epicurious)

2 tbsp olive oil

1 cup finely chopped onion

1 tbsp minced ginger

1 tbsp minced garlic

10 oz of diced tomatoes, drained (about two-thirds of a 14.5 oz can)

1 15-oz can of pumpkin puree

2 cups vegetable broth

1 cup unsweetened coconut milk

2 1/2 tsp curry powder*

1 tsp garam masala*

1/8 tsp cayenne pepper*

1 cup chopped cauliflower florets

1 1/2 cup roasted butternut squash, diced

1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 1/2 tsp fresh lime juice

Cooked short-grain brown rice

Chopped cilantro

Fried shallots

*For all the spices, these are estimates, as I don’t usually measure spices.  I’m sorry… I should start doing that if I’m going to share recipes with you guys….  My estimates are on the low end, so start with that and then up the amounts to your taste.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add onion and ginger and sprinkle with salt; saute until soft, about 5 minutes.  Add garlic and cook for 1 minute.  Stir in tomatoes and pumpkin puree; cook, stirring frequently for about 10 minutes.  (They said to cook until pumpkin was golden-brown, but mine was kinda that color to begin with.  So I figured after about 8 to 10 minutes I could move on to the next step.)  Add vegetable broth, coconut milk, curry powder, garam masala, cayenne pepper, and cauliflower.  Simmer about 15-20 minutes.  (I think all the flavors are well-blended after 15 minutes; if you want your cauliflower a little more cooked, let it simmer a bit longer).  Add squash, shrimp, and lime juice.  Simmer until shrimp are cooked and squash is warm.  Season with salt to taste.

Spoon curry into bowls and place a scoop of brown rice in the center.  Garnish with cilantro and shallots.

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Filed under Cooking, Last Night's Dinner, The Cleanse