November 2009


My Aunt is sort of a Granola.  Sort of a Little Miss Sierra Club.  But that’s good, because she keeps me on my toes as far as being conscious of the effect that I have on the world.  Unlike her, I am not exactly a gardener, but what I CAN do is cook.  So I have resigned myself to the fact that the most effective way that I can help out plant life is to make it into something yummy.

My Aunt  also likes to obtain her meat products locally, and as organically produced as possible.  There just so happens to be such a meat place relatively near here, and I always like to accompany her when she goes there.  The main reason for this is that I have found that I don’t handle red meat very well, due to all of the hormones, antibiotics, and other crap that they shoot into the meat.  It most definitely affects my physical and emotional well-being when I eat Abused meat products.  So, when I go to this organic place, I load up on organic meat, and then I strategize for a few months about what to cook with it, while it sits in my freezer.

The lamb used in this recipe was obtained from the meat place that I mentioned above.  So no being locked in a dark box, being fed cardboard, and being shot up with Buddha-Knows-What.  Yes, it’s a baby animal, but I’m sure it had a good life.  And what better tribute could I pay to this poor little creature that gave its life for my dinner, than to make it into something that is entirely, unbelievably awesome?

Yep.  Don’t you love my jacked-up reasoning???

So anyway, here is a completely amazing recipe for Moroccan Lamb Stew, made in my trusty slow-cooker, accompanied by Apricot Couscous. 

Keepin’ it real, baby…

Moroccan Lamb Stew

 

Ingredients:

  • 1-3 lbs lamb, cubed
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 3 cups cubed peeled yams  and/or carrots (1 inch)
  • 2 cups thinly sliced onions
  • 1 cup pitted prunes (Yes, PRUNES.  Now just shut up and throw them in there!  You won’t even be able to tell, I promise!)
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 can (14 oz) diced tomatoes
  • 1 can (10 oz) beef broth
  • 3/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • (1-2 Tbsp Moroccan spice mix, if you have it.  This mix includes cinnamon, parsley, black/red/white pepper, and spearmint.  Mine is from Pendery’s Spices.)
  • 1 cup red wine  (ONLY cook with wine that you would drink!  Always!)
  • 2-3 Tbsp honey

Directions:

  1. Put lamb in a 4 to 5 quart (4 to 5 L) slow cooker, and dust with flour.  Stir to cover all pieces. 
  2. Top with the rest of the ingredients.
  3. Cover and cook on low heat setting for 6 to 7 hours or until meat is tender.
  4. Increase to high heat setting and remove the top for 30 minutes-1 hour if the stew needs to thicken.
  5. In the meantime, bask in the yummy, heavenly scents filling your entire house…!!!

 

And, to accompany the stew….

 

Apricot Couscous

Ingredients:

  • Couscous of your choice  (Mine was from a box.  If you are using bulk couscous, the couscous/water ratio should be about 1:1.)
  • 6-8 dried apricots
  • OPTIONAL:  Ras-el-hanout spice mix

Directions:

  1. Soak the dried apricots in very hot/boiling water for one hour.  (This is so that later, when you are eating your couscous, you won’t think that you are gnawing on gummy bears.)
  2. Chop apricots.  I like to get my pieces to the size of raisins.
  3. Add apricots to the water that you will use to make couscous, and boil the water.  Add Ras-el-hanout if you have it.  If not, no biggie.
  4. Stir couscous into water, cover, remove from heat, and let sit for 5 minutes.
  5. Serve lamb stew over couscous.***

 

***  My husband said that this stew is one of the TOP TEN things I’ve ever made for him.  EVER!  So I guess it’s pretty good?

Here is a video created by my friend Rich Kronfeld.  (You may have seen him in SIX DAYS IN ROSWELL.)

Enjoy!

Fall is finally here, and with the cold weather comes the best time for BAKING!

So to start the season off right, last night I made Pumpkin Bread!

For the recipe, I used the Official Libby’s Pumpkin Bread recipe, with a few minor alterations…

Ingredients

  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil (feel free to replace with applesauce for lowfat version.)
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten  (replace with 2 mashed bananas for vegan version)
  • 16 ounces canned unsweetened pumpkin
  • 3 1/2 cups flour (I used whole wheat flour)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • ***NOTE:  For the above spices, I used 3 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice***
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • zest and juice of 1 orange
  • ***OPTIONAL***   assorted nuts for sprinkling
  • ***OPTIONAL***   1 cup chopped walnuts

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour 2 9 by 5 loaf pans. Stir together sugar and oil. Stir in eggs and pumpkin. Combine dry ingredients in separate bowl. Blend dry ingredients and water/orange juice into wet mixture, alternating. Divide batter between two loaf pans. Top with nuts if desired.  Bake for ~1.5 hours, or until cake tester comes out clean. Let stand 10 minutes. Remove from pans and cool.

YUM!

The Sassy Radish makes SWEET POTATO GNOCCHI!!!

http://www.sassyradish.com/2009/10/sweet-potato-gnocchi/

 

In case you weren’t aware of this yet, I am the current Cupcake Queen of my department at work.  What that means is, whenever someone has a birthday, I bring in cupcakes.  I actually volunteered for this job, because I like to cook, and when the former Cupcake Queen left our department, no one else wanted to take over her duties.  So I sort of crowned myself.

 

Yesterday was a coworker’s birthday, so I had to bring the cupcakes.  While shopping the day before, I was totally agonizing over what kind of cupcakes to make, because although usually I can drag some sort of creative response out of the Victims as to what flavor cupcakes they want, this girl gave me absolutely no clue.  So I just kind of had to wing it.

 

I had seen an interesting recipe in a cookbook for marble swirl cupcakes with dulce de leche icing, and it looked easier to make than the carrot/cardamom cupcakes that were also in the book.  Also, I thought that more people might like the marble cupcakes, instead of some differently-spiced (cardamom) cupcakes with a flavor that they probably couldn’t identify. 

 

In the interest of both time and budget, I had already decided to get a box mix, instead of making everything from scratch.  I dunno.  Call me lazy.  So I went to the grocery store to get supplies.   I saw ONE box of marble cake mix there, and it looked kind of…sad.  It was a mostly yellow cake, with very minute flecks of fudge in it.  Not marbly at all.  So I looked for Plan B.

 

I ended up getting a box of spice cake mix.

 

…Cue a trip down memory lane…

 

When I was a very little girl, my mom used to get me birthday cakes of whatever I was totally obsessed with at the time.  Before the age of 5, I remember having a Holly Hobbie cake, a Raggedy Ann cake, and another cake with some sort of Sesame Street character (Big Bird?).  Those were all well and good, but the best birthday cake ever was still to come…

 

After my parents divorced, my sister and I lived with my mom.  As I recall, she was pretty broke.   But that didn’t stop her from making me the best birthday cake ever!

 

Back in the late 70s, you could get boxes of cake mix that included a little tray to bake the cake in.  The tray was about the size of the box, and I think it included a packet of cake mix and a packet of icing.  So it was pretty much an all-inclusive cake experience.

 

So anyway, my mom got this cake kit and baked me a cake for my birthday.  (I think it was my 5th or 6th.)  The flavor was Spice Cake.

 

As I recall, she did the hard part—reaching up to turn on the oven, (Which was electric.  Very sad…) mixing the batter, and putting the cake in to bake.  I, however, got to do the fun part!  I got to knead the packet of icing, and then I think I even got to ice the cake!

 

And let me tell you, eating a cake that you made with your mom, fresh out of the oven, is pretty much the best way to celebrate a birthday.  Store-bought cakes may be pretty, but homemade cakes are full of LOVE. 

 

Tastiest.  Cake.  EVER.

 

My mom gets kind of freaked out that I remember EVERYTHING, but maybe she’ll feel a little better knowing that I remember the good stuff, too.  ;-]

 

Oh, and about the cupcakes:

Everyone LOVED the spice cake cupcakes with the dulce de leche icing!  It was the first time EVER that I didn’t have to take any leftovers home!  Yay, me!

 Recipe:

  • 1 box spice cake mix
  • (+ whatever ingredients the box says to get)
  • 1 container cream cheese icing
  • 1 tsp cinnamon, plus more for sprinkling
  • Caramel sundae topping (Or caramel Magic Shell)
  1. Bake cupcakes according to directions on box
  2. Let cool for at least 30 minutes
  3. Mix 1 tsp cinnamon into icing
  4. Ice cupcakes
  5. Decoratively apply caramel to tops of cupcakes.  My original intent was to squirt in stripes, then drag a toothpick to make a sort of marble effect.  This did not work.  Instead, I had caramel everywhere, and I sort of tried to salvage the design as well as I could.  But the ugliness did not deter the consumers.  So I guess it doesn’t matter what they look like anyway… 
  6. Sprinkle tops of cupcakes with more cinnamon.  Because more is more…