Friday, April 18, 2014

Vegetarian Dinner: Tabouleh & Chickpea Falafel

I tend to prefer vegetarian cooking and eating, but I am no vegetarian. Growing up, we were not big meat eaters anyway, so I can go days on end without having any. When we do eat meat, the quantity is pretty small in comparison to what a lot of people are used to. In general, I feel better after a fresh meal like this one, so I tend to cook this way most of the time.

Tabouleh is a pretty common dish where I come from (I'm half Middle Eastern), so it's something I've made pretty much since I can remember. For several years now I have been opting for quinoa instead of bulgur because I think it tastes even fresher. Nowadays a quinoa tabouleh is pretty common place. The same goes for yogurt cucumber salads. They are a very common dish in Middle Eastern food, and like tabouleh, super easy to make (actually, easier). Lastly, falafel. I tread lightly when calling these "falafel" because they are made with chickpeas rather than fava beans, which is traditionally what a falafel consists of. Nevertheless they are made in a similar manner and therefore, conceptually, are falafel. 

Quinoa Tabouleh

A lot of times I see this dish prepared where the more obvious ingredient is the quinoa (or bulgur) versus the parsley. I say, to each their own, but the way it's generally made is with a majority ruling of parsley and the other ingredients scattered about. 

Ingredients:

• 1 large bunch of parsley, finely chopped
• 1/4 cup chilled quinoa (boil in 1/2 cup water for about 15 minutes, be sure to not let this overcook, place in freezer if cooking it around the time you are making the salad, so it can chill as you chop the rest of your ingredients).
• 1 tomato
• 1/4 of an onion
• Olive oil
• 2 lemons
• Salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

• Cook your quinoa and let chill. Finely chop all the ingredients listed above (parsley, tomato and onion).
• Place all the ingredients in a large bowl, drizzle a generous amount of olive oil over, squeeze both lemons and season with salt and pepper. Toss all the ingredients together and you're done.

Chickpea Falafel

These can be difficult to keep together while cooking, depending on how their consistency turns out. So handle with care, even if they seem to be getting mangled they will still taste delicious.

Also, there are quite a number of recipes out there, this one is my own adapted from a mishmash of browsing recipes and common sense.

Ingredients:

• 1 can garbanzo beans
• 1/4 of an onion, chopped
• 1 cloves of garlic
• A small handful of parsley
• 2 or 3 tablespoons of flour
• Olive oil
• 1 teaspoon cumin
• 2 teaspoons coriander 
• Salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

• In a blender, blend all the ingredients listed above (beans, onions, galic, parsley, a dash of olive oil, and spices, salt and pepper). You'll notice that they will not blend easily without a little water, if you need the water (the olive oil was enough for me) be sure not to add too much, just enough to get the ingredients moving.
• Remove your blended ingredients and place in a bowl. At this point I felt the consistency needed thickening so I added a few tablespoons of flour and mixed well with a spoon. 
• Heat some olive oil in a frying pan, and form small rounded patties by hand, carefully placing them into your frying pan. 
• Let them cook on each side until well browned. I would say about 2-3 minutes per side. 

Cucumber Yogurt Salad

This is a variation of this recipe I posted last summer. The only differences is I omitted the dried mint and chopped the cucumbers much smaller so they would work as a dip for the falafel.

Ingredients:

• 2 persian cucumbers (if you don't have persian cucumbers be sure to peel the skin of the larger varieties)
• 3/4 cup plain yogurt
• Olive oil
• 1 clove garlic, minced
• Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

• Finely chop your cucumbers and mince your garlic.
• Place the yogurt in a bowl, toss in your cucumbers and garlic, drizzle with a generous amount of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. 
• Mix all ingredients very well.

I garnished my falafel with some chopped chives. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

When Comfort & Fashion Collide

1 // 2 // 3 // 4 

I'm going to go ahead and admit it, I caved and got Birkenstocks. I had been thinking about doing it for about a year, and eventually something in me said "just try it." At first I thought I was too short to handle the enormity of these shoes, didn't have long enough legs to rock them and made fun of my hippie husband too many times for wearing them to be able to join the birky-crew. I did come up with a few rules to follow though, so if you are a five footer like me and maybe even pregnant read on (I'll probably also post an outfit wearing them sooner or later so you can all judge whether I rock them or not).

I think in general, these rules tend to work, no matter your body type. Seeing as they are a chunkier shoe, I say go for loose and leggy outfits or super fitted pants. If you think you can manage, slouchy yet tapered pants seem to work too.

Color wise, go for whatever is you. I found that I was most attracted to the black patent and gold (I went for gold since Nordstrom was all sold out of the black patent). The white is a bit geriatric to me, but every time I see them on other people I think they look fresh and fun.

Anyways, if comfort and fashion collide, why not try it out?


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Basic Cinnamon Rolls

Two of my favorite sugary treats are cinnamon rolls and donuts. It's something about the gooey bready-ness. Unwinding the twists in the roll and getting to that golden gooey center. I'm a sucker for it. It's a good thing cinnamon rolls are mostly pretty time consuming, so the impatient person that I am would rather not make them that often.

While they are time consuming, I don't think they take that much effort. The time is mostly what they need to rise.

I'm not entirely sure where this recipe came from, it's in a "family recipes" book my mother printed for everyone. When I was pregnant with Jude I went on a cinnamon roll kick and made them every couple of days trying to perfect the recipe. This could be that recipe. 

I will note, with any sort of roll, many factors can affect how they turn out. How you handle them, the weather, your yeast and how old it is, etc. Honestly, just try them and go from there perfecting and adjusting.

Ingredients:

1/4 ounce package yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup scalded milk
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter melted
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg
3 1/4 cups bread flour

Filling:

1/2 cup melted butter
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

Directions: 

• Preheat your oven to 350ยบ
• Dissolve the yeast into the warm water and set aside. In the bowl of your mixer blend milk, sugar, melted butter, salt and egg. 
• If you are doing this with a Kitchen Aid mixer, remove your paddle attachment and put the hook on (this is for mixing dough).
• Add about 1 1/2 cups flour and mix until smooth. 
• Add the yeast mixture and then mix in the remaining flour. Mix until it is all combined into a ball. 
• Place the dough on your work surface and knead for about 5 minutes.
• Let it sit in lightly greased bowl in a warm corner of your kitchen, covered with a damp rag, for about 2 hours. The size should double.

• Before rolling out the dough get your filling ingredients together. 
• Roll your dough out to about 9x15, I tend to like to keep mine a little thicker, so I will sometimes roll it a little smaller. 
• Butter and sprinkle the dough and roll up. Cut your rounds (I always end up with about 8, but this will depend on how wide you cut them).
• Grease your pan with some melted butter and sprinkle a little sugar before you place the rolls.

• Cook for about 20 minutes in your preheated oven.

Enjoy!