Sweet Potato in Curry and Cinnamon

My daughter doesn’t like vegetables. She’s been fighting it for years. But for someone who really wants to be vegan and healthy, she has to learn to eat her veggies somehow. Last week, being home from college, she decided to experiment a little in the kitchen. She found one sweet potato and decided to combine it with Indian flavors that we all love so much. When she let us try the end result, we were all blown away. It came out DELICIOUS!! So Indian tasting on one hand, and so original on the other. She actually invented a dish, and a really good one, too. I’m so proud of her!

So, we made it again last night, this time with measurements, so I can post the recipe for all of you to enjoy.

Ingredients:
3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
3 tbs oil
1 ½ tsp cinnamon
2 tsp curry powder
black pepper
Salt

Dressing:
1 cup chopped cilantro leaves
4 large cloves of garlic, minced
Juice and zest from 1 large lime
3 tbs oil

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 425F.

In a large bowl, mix the sweet potatoes with the spices. Line a baking sheet with tin foil, and spread the sweet potatoes on top, in one layer.

Roast the sweet potatoes until they are soft, about 15 minutes.

In the meantime, in a large bowl, mix the dressing ingredients.

Remove the sweet potatoes from the oven and toss them in the bowl with the dressing. Coat all pieces with the dressing but be careful not to mash the sweet potato.

Return to the baking sheet, turn the oven to hi broil and broil for a few minutes, until the sweet potatoes are roasted and crispy.

Remove from the oven and try not to finish everything while you wait for it to cool off.

Chicken in Orange juice and Tarragon

Lately, like most of us, I’ve been busy getting ready for the possibility that we may have to hunker down due to Covid-19. It is very stressful to try and think of everything we might need at home, plan my shopping trips to the stores in a way that I can get everything in one trip while trying to avoid everyone, and in addition, still go to work, keep my distance from my coworkers and smile and hang out as if all is normal. It’s exhausting!! When it came to cooking, that meant I didn’t want to spend time preparing anything special that required time or effort. I needed my time and my head clear for others matters. So this was the motivation behind this really surprisingly delicious dish.

This chicken recipe is so delicious and tastes so gourmet that I’m still surprised how easy it was to make it. I had chicken thighs waiting for me in the fridge and I knew I had to cook them before they go bad. I looked to see what I could through on the chicken quickly to give it some flavor. I had in the fridge half an onion and some tarragon leaves that started to look tired. I decided to chop the onion and the tarragon and add to that juice, pulp and zest from one orange. Put it all in a Ziploc bag with the chicken, marinated for half an hour, then roasted it in the oven. Piece of cake… and the result was amazing! I will surely make this dish again.

Ingredients:
2 ½ lb boneless chicken thighs
Juice from one orange with the pulp
Zest from one orange
1 medium red onion, diced
½ cup chopped tarragon
2 tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper

Preparation:
Place all ingredients in a gallon size Ziploc bag, close the bag and shake well until chicken is fully coated with the marinade. Keep refrigerated for 30-60 minutes.


Turn oven to 375F.
Place chicken thighs on a baking sheet and cover with the marinade.

Bake for 40 minutes.

Did I say delicious!!!?

Eggplants and Bell Peppers in Vinegar

This dish is a Moroccan salad served as part of a mezze table. It is one of my favorite salads ever! The combination of eggplants (my favorite veggie) and peppers with garlic and vinegar is divine! In our house we eat it as a side dish or on a sandwich. It is best to make it a day before you plan on serving it, to let the flavors combine.

Ingredients:
3 eggplants, cubed
oil spray
4 bell peppers, grilled
5 sprigs parsley, chopped thinly
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup white vinegar
3 tablespoons oil
Salt

Preparation:
Preheat your oven to 400F.

IMG_1136

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spray it with oil spray. Spread the cubes of eggplant on the baking sheet in one layer and spray on top with the oil. You may need more than one baking sheet to accommodate all the eggplant. Bake in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes, until eggplant is turning golden brown. Remove from the oven.

Peel the grilled peppers, discard of the stem and the seeds, and cut the flesh into ½ inch strips.

IMG_7213

In a large bowl, combine the strips of peppers, roasted eggplant, parsley, garlic, oil, salt and vinegar. Mix well and let sit for a few hours to a day before serving. This salad tastes best the following day, after all flavors are absorbed.

IMG_7214

Beef and String Bean Stew

The following dish is one of the dishes I grew up on. Both my Kurdish grandma (my mother’s side of the family) and my Persian aunts (my father’s side of the family) used to make this stew. They each had their own methods and they used different spices, so the dish tasted a little different, but the result was always great. My mother used to make this stew a lot at home, usually substituting chicken or turkey for the beef. Again, the end product came out tasting different, but still always delicious.

If you chose to substitute the chicken or turkey for beef, you do not need to cook the meat separately. Put all the ingredients in the pot at the same time, bring to a boil, lower the heat and cook for an hour.

Ingredients:
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions, diced
3 lb beef shanks, bones removed
2 lb fresh green beans
2 tbs tomato paste
3 cups fresh or canned pureed tomatoes
4 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon black pepper
Salt
1 tsp cinnamon (optional)
½ tsp turmeric (optional)

Preparation:
In a large pot heat the oil on high heat. Add the onion and sauté until onion is translucent.

Cut the meat into 2 inch cubes and add to the pot. Seal the meat stirring it occasionally. Lower the heat to medium-low and cook for 30 minutes.

Trim the ends of the string beans and cut them in half. Add to the pot together with the pureed tomatoes, tomato paste, garlic, and the spices. Stir well.

Cover the pot and cook for an hour and a half.

Every once in a while, stir the contents of the pot and make sure the stew has some liquid to cook in (not a lot). Add a little water if needed, so the stew doesn’t get burned.

Serve over white rice or mashed potatoes, or just dip some good bread in the sauce and enjoy!

Homemade Tomato Sauce

Most people I know in the U.S. do not make their own tomato sauce at home. They rather buy it ready-made in a jar, heat it up, and duct their pasta. Maybe this is a habit they developed since going to college, or maybe they think that making tomato sauce from scratch is involved and takes a lot of work. Whatever the reason, if you like to cook, this should be one of the easiest things you can make, and the result is so much better than the store-bought version.

I like to make large quantities of the sauce (double or triple the recipe below), especially when fresh tomatoes are cheap, and divide into portions. I keep some in the fridge and freeze the rest. This way, we always have the sauce available, and we use it not only as pasta sauce but also as a base (if there is no oregano in it) for other dishes.

If you can’t get your hands-on fresh tomatoes, you may substitute with a large can of pureed tomatoes, and reduce the amount of tomato paste to 1 tbs.

Ingredients:
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, chopped thinly
5 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
6-7 medium ripe tomatoes, cut into quarters
2 tablespoon tomato paste
½ tsp sugar (optional)
½ tsp dried oregano (optional)
Salt and black pepper

Preparation:
In a medium size pot, heat the oil and sauté the onion and garlic until golden.

Place the tomatoes in a food processor and puree them. Add them to the pot and cook for five minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the tomato paste, sugar, oregano, salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook covered for another 20 minutes. If your tomatoes have a lot of liquid in them, leave the pot uncovered and cook until the contents of the pot are reduced to half. You want to end up with a relatively thick sauce, not soup.

My Dad’s Very Yummy Veggie Delight

Raw diet is a big trend in the U.S, but my parents are not from here. They haven’t heard of veggie shakes and raw food diet. Yet, they eat very healthy. For the last 30 years (at least), they have been having a large bowl of vegetable salad, made fresh by my mother, as their dinner every night.

My dad, with a stroke of genius, came up one day with this amazing pureed vegetable salad that makes you want to eat raw vegetables three meals a day. It immediately became a staple dish in my parents’ home, although not instead of the traditional salad. This shake has become one of our favorite breakfasts.

Whether you are into health food or not, this is a wonderful and a very yummy way to eat your veggies. This is not a shake, so don’t expect it to be smooth or liquid. You eat it in a bowl with a spoon.

We like to wash and chop enough veggies for 3-4 days at a time. We divide them into daily portions, so every morning we blend the contents of one bag for breakfast (enough for 2-3 people). It saves us time in the morning and we also don’t end up not eating the veggies just because we get lazy preparing them. The things we add fresh at the last minute are the avocado, lemon juice, oil and spices. The amounts given below are a daily portion ( for 2-3 people).

1 large tomato
1 small cucumber or ½ large cucumber
½ red bell pepper
1 medium carrot
¼ of a small onion
½ bunch cilantro (1 packed cup)
½ bunch flat parsley, leaves only (1 packed cup)
½ packed cup fresh mint leaves
1 piece of fresh ginger, peeled (about 1 inch in diameter)
¼ avocado
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or cold pressed flaxseed oil
Freshly squeezed lemon juice from 1 lemon
Salt to taste

Cut the tomato, cucumber, pepper, carrot and onion to large pieces and place in a food processor.

Add the rest of the ingredients and process until veggies are all well pureed. The consistency should be of a somewhat thick soup. If the mixture is too thick, add a little bit of water and pulse it a little longer.

The puree is best eaten fresh, but can also be refrigerated for up to one day. After that, it loses its wonderful fresh flavors and probably some of the nutrients as well.