Purple Dinner

I don’t shop. Not even for groceries. I find it overwhelming. My husband enjoys shopping or at least doesn’t mind it, so he does the majority of our grocery runs. I plan the weekly menu, write the list, then we go through the staples to see what else we need and off he goes. Perfect for me.

Every now and then I pop into a grocery store to see “what’s new”. A few days ago we went into a store together and I started eying all of the “purple” fruits and veggies. “Oh wouldn’t it be fun to have an all purple dinner!”, I exclaimed as I filled bags with purple foods.

Now I realize some people my find purple soup and salad a bit off putting. I don’t think I would serve the purple soup at a dinner party, but I found it to be a very amusing theme. We may have other color themed dinners in the future!

So what did we have?

Purple Cauliflower Soup:

purplesoup

My husband thought it was a bit bland, the kids did not like it, and I loved it. I thought it was creamy and perfect. Basically you cook everything as you would any soup (saute onion, add other stuff until cooked, then puree it). This is an unofficial write-up for now.

Soup: 1 white sweet potato (wish I had a purple one!), 1 small head purple cauliflower, 2 cups stock, 1/2 onion, herbamare to taste

Purple Salad:

purple

Red cabbage (I think it looks more purple then red), young lettuce leaves, violets from the yard, carrots cut with cookie cutter, chives, and a few purple cauliflowers. Not photographed is the peanut butter dressing that I made to drizzle on the salad. If only I had purple carrots… they do exist you know… but the orange made a fun splash of color!

Also a buffalo burger topped with a red onion and purple plum pickle. (I combined vinegar,  honey, water, and ginger on the stove and brought it to a boil. Then I poured it over red onions and purple plums. It was delicious but a bit tart- not enough honey.)

Stuffed Squash

Stuffed Squash

I think this is naturally cute so I didn’t make an extra-cute version. I do think it could be nice in a bento lunch so I might try that someday. I came up with this recipe for Thanksgiving. A nice substitute for stuffing. Also a unique use of broccoli (I think!).

Stuffed Squash Recipe
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2-6 Sweet Dumpling Squash or Delicata Squash (how many squash is really up to you- how many do you plan to eat?)
olive oil
salt

1 cup Lundberg Rice Mix (the rice mix really makes this dish- I don’t recommend a substitute)
2 cups vegetable stock (or water)
1 tablespoon buttery spread or butter
Broccoli stems, pealed and diced (about 3/4 of a cup or however much you have)
3/4 cup corn (fresh or frozen)
1/2 cup cranberries (fresh or frozen)
Herbamare (or herbs and salt)

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Preheat the oven to 350-425 degrees (any temp is fine). Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Salt them lightly. Pour a bit of oil onto a baking sheet and place the squash face down in the oil (I swish them around a bit). Bake until soft and easily pierced with a fork. (Time depends on squash size and oven temp but about 30-50 minutes.)

Cook the rice in the vegetable stock.

Heat buttery spread in a saute pan on medium-low heat. Saute the broccoli stems, corn, and cranberries until the broccoli is al dente. Remove from the heat, stir in the rice, and add Herbamare to taste.

Fill the squashes with rice and serve hot.

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Shared on Allergy Free Wednesdays,

Squash and Corn Pancakes with Cilantro Dressing

Squash pancakesOK, these just don’t look as pretty as I would like. Please¬† don’t hold that against the pancakes. Trust me, these are delicious and you will want a gallon of the dressing if you love cilantro as much as I do. In fact, if you don’t get around to making the pancakes, go ahead and make the dressing for your next salad.

bento

I cooked a bit of the pancake batter in the waffle iron to make mini buns. There are two mini hamburgers here- although the photo doesn’t do it justice- they really are quite cute. With little picks in them. And a bagel (from my cookbook) on the other side.

Squash and Corn Pancake Recipe
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Dressing
2 limes, juiced
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
salt

Pancake
2 cups chopped onion
1 cup corn
1/3 cup rice flour
1/4 cup cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cup cooked smashed squash (Delicata, Acorn, Red Kuri)
1 egg

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Combine all of the dressing ingredients together in a food processor and blend until mostly smooth.

Combine all of the pancake ingredients together and cook as you would any pancake on a skillet over medium-low heat with a touch of oil. Flip them when they are cooked on the first side.

Serve the pancakes hot with dressing.

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Cultural Studies: India

Continuing our weekly study of other cultures our family looked at India this week.

indiabento

When I was in college I spent a semester abroad in Sri Lanka. (Which of course is not the same as India but they eat very similar cuisine in Southern India.) One of the dishes that I always enjoyed was rice with raisins and cashews. My host family also ate okra at least once or twice a week. I never liked okra when I was there, but you know they say you need to try a food at least 7 times to acquire a taste for it. Well I can assure you I have tried it well over ten times and as of tonight I can say I still don’t care for it. The fun thing is that my 6-year-old discovered her love of okra tonight! So, for India night we had cauliflower rice with raisins and cashews and okra chickpea (dry) curry and coconut curried chicken. I will share the “rice” recipe with you below.

india

(My little one has rosy cheeks from a cold. She refused to taste any of the food. Her refusal to eat dinner is not unusual. We deal with this by banning snacking- she rarely gets a snack- and by feeding her the same food the next day at lunch in a smaller quantity. We have been on this parenting plan for a while and she went from only eating white foods to eating many, many varieties of fruits and vegetables.)

india2

Cauliflower Rice with Raisins and Cashews- Recipe
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1 teaspoon coconut oil
1/2 onion (about 1 cup), chopped
1/2-1 head cauliflower grated (I use the food processor)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/4-1/2 cup raisins (I like yellow raisins and I soak them so they are soft)
1/4-1/2 cup roasted salted cashews, chopped
salt to taste

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Heat the coconut oil in a wok (or well seasoned caste iron pan or non stick) on medium heat. Add the onion and once the onion begins to cook down, add the cauliflower and toss frequently until the cauliflower is cooked but not soft (easiest way to tell is by tasting). Add the remaining ingredients, toss, and serve hot.

Pecan Crusted Onion Rings

onion-rings

I never deep fried anything until this year. Then… I finally gave in to temptation. You see, it is almost impossible to eat fried foods at restaurants because their cooking oil is contaminated with gluten. Having gotten sick more than once trusting restaurants, I decided to take frying into my own hands. Of course I don’t really NEED fried foods, but a few times a year it sure is a treat!

I wanted to enter a pecan recipe writing contest, and this is the concept I came up with: Pecan Crusted Onion Rings. I made it cute with this bento; a pumpkin mouse, some savory squash pie (in my book) and jicama cut like Swiss cheese.

onionringcute

Pecan Crusted Onion Rings Recipe
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1 cup rice flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup pecans, ground (small bits are OK)
1 cup club soda or mineral water
1 egg

oil for frying

1 large onion cut into 1/2 inch rings

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Combine the rice flour, baking powder, salt, pecans, club soda, and egg together in a large mixing bowl to make a dipping batter.

Heat a pot of oil to 375 degrees.

Dip each onion ring in the batter then drop it in the hot oil and cook for a few minutes until golden in color. Remove from the oil and set out on a paper towel to drain.

Cook in small batches and enjoy fresh.

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Nutty Mushrooms

This is an adaptation of a recipe from “Mollie Katzen’s Sunlight Cafe”. Her recipe, Nut Crusted Mushrooms, is so clever and delicious, but it contains dairy. So we modified it a bit, but all the credit goes to her for these tasty morsels.

I was trying to decide how to incorporate these into a cute bento, so I sought my husband’s advice. He suggested a canoe. Of course he would think of a canoe; racing canoes is his favorite hobby. Some of you might be thinking, “Canoe racing? Where do you do that?” Well, there a many races and a New England Canoe club set up for people like us! (I race too sometimes.) Here is a photo from a race several years ago. I was actually 8-months-pregant in this photo but I tried to choose the most flattering angle for the blog post.

So, I really just used what I had on hand for the backdrop of the bento. Yellow Rice, a simple recipe in my cookbook- along with grapefruit, pomegranate, pistachios, and sugar snap peas.

My husband suggests preparing a warming tray or the oven on low to store these after they are cooked as they seem to get cold quickly.

Nutty Mushroom Recipe
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2 Port0bello mushrooms
1 egg
1/2 cup almonds
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/8 teaspoon salt
Black pepper
Pinch garlic powder
Olive oil

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Cut the mushroom caps into 1/2 inch slices.
Crack the egg into a shallow bowl and beat it.
Grind the almonds into a consistency of course sand. (Do not try to save time by using almond meal- it is too fine and doesn’t do well in this recipe.) Place the almonds, nutritional yeast, salt, black pepper, and garlic powder in another shallow bowl. (My husband suggests holding back some of the nut mixture as it tends to get clumpy when being dipped.)
Heat a bit of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Dip the mushroom slices in the egg, then in the nut mixture, and place it on the hot pan. Cook on each side until golden then place on a wire rack.

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