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Chana Saag with Kale

February 11, 2014


One of my favorite traditions at work is our monthly cookbook club. It’s so fun to select a book, pick a recipe and get together with a bunch of other people who love to cook and discuss what we liked and didn’t like about said book. Sometimes it’s an incredibly successful cookbook club, sometimes it’s only okay.  But that’s the point, right? It’s so rare that I get a chance to make more than one or two recipes out of any given cookbook, so getting to taste 10 to 15 recipes at once really gives a feel for what the book is about and the quality of the recipes.

Our most recent selection was Isa Does It by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. The book is entirely vegan but the part that really knocked my socks off was the fact that I feel I could serve these recipes at a dinner party to vegans and non vegans alike. The recipes were warm and comforting and incredibly filling. Although there is a fair amount of chopping and slicing and dicing involved in all the recipes, they were all fairly easy to prepare and didn’t require many specialty ingredients. Bonus: I don’t think “vegan cheese” or “vegan meat” was used once!

I left cookbook club this month feeling like I had eaten Thanksgiving dinner, though I didn’t feel weighed down or gross (albeit a little too full) like I sometimes do over the holidays. The food was nourishing, light and hearty all at once, and I fell in love with Isa’s casual and funny way of writing a cookbook.

The Chana Saag with Kale that I made for cookbook club was universally one of the favorite dishes that was prepared, and I couldn’t wait to make it again in my own kitchen to share with you. I tweaked the recipe slightly, mainly by adding more kale and slightly different spices to suit my tastes, but the recipe is incredibly forgiving and easy to adapt based on what you have on hand. However, I would strongly suggest not leaving out the lime juice, because the hit of tangy citrus really brings this dish together.

Chana Saag with Kale
This recipe is adapted from a recipe of the same name from Isa Does It by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. I fell in love with Isa's version, which calls for kale instead of the more traditional spinach. Kale is heartier and holds up better, which is important for leftovers. Since this makes a lot, there are bound to be leftovers! I like this dish heavy on the kale, but feel free to use less if you aren't a huge fan of kale.
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon salt (plus more to taste at the end)
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon garam masala
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric (optional)
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper, more or less depending on desired heat
  • 1 can (28 oz) whole tomatoes
  • 2 cans (14.5 oz each) chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (14.5 oz) light coconut milk
  • 8 cups chopped kale
  • Juice from 1 lime
  1. In large stock pot or Dutch oven, heat oil over medium high heat. Add onion and cook 3 to 5 minutes until lightly browned and softened. In small bowl, combine curry powder, garlic powder, cumin, salt, black pepper, garam masala, turmeric and cayenne. Add spice mixture to onions and cook 1 minute more to toast the spices.
  2. Add in the juice from the tomatoes to deglaze the pan, scraping the bottom and sides of the pot. Crush the tomatoes with your hands as you add them to the pot. Add the chickpeas to the pot along with the tomatoes. Cover and simmer 10 to 15 minutes, stirring once.
  3. Add in the coconut milk and heat through.
  4. Add the kale and cook 5 minutes more or until kale is cooked and softened slightly.





Peanut Butter Chia Breakfast Pudding

February 10, 2014


Let’s talk about breakfast. It is, after all, the most important meal of the day, but you already know that, don’t you? I’m always amazed at how many people don’t eat breakfast. Maybe that’s because I go to bed each night thinking about what I’m going to eat each morning for breakfast.

Breakfast gets your ready for the day and prepares you for whatever challenges you may face. Take, for example, when I put too much shredded beef down the disposal all at once on Saturday and it led to a major clog in our basement drain when all the beef tried to go down the pipe at once. Yeah, can you imagine how happy my husband was about that? I imagine he’ll be even less pleased when we get the plumber’s bill today. Thankfully. I had a large, healthy breakfast to keep the hangry (hangry = hungry + angry) at bay while dealing with said plumbing issues.

Since we haven’t been able to use the sink in our kitchen, cooking has been reduced to zero this weekend. We’ve been eating down leftovers from our fridge and freezer and using paper plates, bowls and silverware. This chia pudding has also been on rotation since it doesn’t require a pot/pan to prepare and is incredibly filling. It makes you feel like you can take on the world and fix all the plumbing issues. Okay, maybe that’s an overstatement, but you get the idea.


If you’re new to the chia pudding game, don’t be afraid of their less than stellar appearance. The chia seeds plump up as they sit in liquid like milk, water or yogurt, taking on a gel-like consistency similar to tapioca. Chia seeds are packed with fiber, omega-3s and calcium, among other things. Plus, when you’re eating them you just feel super healthy. That’s got to count for something, right?

Since a lot of people (including me) are interested in nutrition when it comes to breakfast recipes, I did a rough calculation of the nutrition information in this recipe, not including the bananas or dark chocolate chips and assuming you’re using stevia instead of brown sugar.

Peanut Butter Chia Breakfast Pudding
Recipe type: Breakfast
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1
Creamy chia pudding made with almond milk and peanut butter is the perfect breakfast when topped with sliced bananas and dark chocolate chips for a bit of decadence.
  • ½ cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 1 tablespoon creamy natural peanut butter
  • 1 packet stevia or 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt
  • Toppings such as sliced bananas or dark chocolate chips
  1. In small bowl, stir together the almond milk, chia seeds, peanut butter, stevia, vanilla and cinnamon until well combined. Continue to stir for 1 minute longer.
  2. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes (or overnight) until the chia seeds are plumped and mixture is thick. Top with banana slices and dark chocolate chips before serving.

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Curried Sweet Potato Hummus

January 10, 2014

It seems like we’ve been in a constant state of football watching over the last three weeks. Does anyone else feel that way? Not that I’m complaining considering my love for football rivals that of my former football player husband. With bowl games and playoff games and the like, we’ve been doing a lot of entertaining as well.

When it comes to entertaining for bowl games and playoff games, I like to keep things pretty simple. Last week I made a big pot of my mom’s amazingly easy chili and served it with corn chips and cheddar cheese. It meant I could keep the soup hot in the slow cooker, people could help themselves when they were hungry, and I could focus on watching the game instead of tending to guests. Which perhaps makes me a bad host now that I think about it.

I’m also a huge fan of serving dips like hummus and layered taco dips because they’re equally as easy and a little more substantial. In the name of mixing things up, I decided to add a little creaminess and sweet flavor to my most recent batch of hummus by using cooked sweet potato and a sweet curry our friend brought back for us from the Philippines when he was home for Christmas. The flavors played so nicely together that I had to find a similar type of curry if you’re interested in buying some for your home. Just follow the link below for a similar curry to the one I used!


Sweet Potato Hummus 
Makes about 2 cups hummus
1 can (15 oz) chickpeas/garbanzo beans
1/4 cup tahini
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 1/2 teaspoons sweet and spicy curry powder (such as this kind)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (more or less depending on the heat level you like)
1/2 medium sweet potato, peeled, cooked and cut into cubes
2 to 4 tablespoons water
Salty chips (such as pita chips) or veggies for dipping

In food processor, combine chickpeas, tahini, olive oil, garlic, curry powder, salt, cumin, black pepper and cayenne pepper. Blend or process until well combined and smooth.

Add the sweet potato and process, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary, until smooth. Add enough water to reach desired consistency. I used about 2 tablespoons because I like my hummus a bit on the thicker side. Transfer to a storage container and refrigerate.

Happy Cooking!

*This post contains Amazon Affiliate links. I recommend and stand behind any products with links listed and receive a small amount of compensation if you purchase a product through these links.


Beet-Apple Juice

October 22, 2013


It’s Tuesday. Tuesday is way to early to start making complicated recipes that require a lot of brain power, right? I thought so. Now that I’m curbing my caffeine addiction, I’ve been dragging a little bit. I think I’m over the worst of it, but I’m still not on my game 100%. I just keep reminding myself that the worst is over. But then I got a huge zit on my chin and I’m thinking that somehow that is related to my lack of coffee. It’s like my body is trying to tell me something.

So, instead of sharing a recipe that requires a lot of brain power, I’m sharing a stupidly simple recipe for juice. Do you really need a recipe for juice? Probably not. But if you’re looking for a killer combination, can I suggest beets and apples. Apples because they are plentiful these days and beets because they make your juice pretty and are packed with nutrients.

Beet-Apple Juice
4 red beets (or golden beets, but it won’t be as pretty)
4 apples

Put in a juicer and drink! :)



Making Hummus at Home

October 13, 2013

Being a vegetarian, I consume a lot of hummus. It’s a great source of protein and makes a super healthy dip to enjoy while watching football games on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. It’s no secret that I slather hummus on everything from sandwiches to veggies to pizza.

I’ve known that making hummus at home is easy for a long time, and I’ve even made a couple batches of hummus in the past, but I never got into the habit of regularly making it at home from week to week. Instead, I would shell out a lot of money for hummus at the grocery store. I think what deterred me was the fact that most good hummus recipes called for the inclusion of tahini, or sesame seed paste, in order to get the taste and texture achieved by store brands. And since a jar of tahini can be a little pricier (on par with a nice jar of almond butter) I thought it seemed silly to buy a jar just to use a couple tablespoons in a recipe for hummus. I didn’t really take the time to think about the fact that a single jar of tahini could last me weeks of not months.

For the past couple months, I’ve been making it a weekly routine to whip up a batch of hummus for the week. It’s much less expensive than buying it at the store and the results are delicious. Plus, I love being able to customize the hummus I make and control what ingredients are put into the mix. This recipe has been in heavy rotation at our house, and I think the addition of buffalo wing sauce really punches up the flavor. It’s not so much that you’re overwhelmed with buffalo flavor, just enough to add a little heat. Of course, you could leave out the buffalo sauce and sub a little bit of extra olive oil and water instead.


Buffalo Hummus
*2 cans (15 oz each) chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
*1/4 cup buffalo wing sauce
*2 tablespoons olive oil
*2 tablespoons tahini (sesame seed paste)
*1 to 2 tablespoons water to thin, if necessary/desired
*1/2 to 1 tsp. salt (taste at 1/2 teaspoon and add more salt if desired)
*1/2 teaspoon paprika
*1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped

*Combine all the above ingredients together in a food processor and process 2 to 3 minutes, scraping down the sides of bowl as necessary, until hummus is smooth and well blended. If desired, you can add 1 to 2 tablespoons water to thin the hummus a bit, or omit the water completely for a thicker hummus. Transfer to a plastic storage container to store. Store in refrigerator.

Happy Cooking!

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