Lent 2013 Challenge Day 33: Curried Rice by the Dashboard Light

Last night’s adventures included a visit to a homeschoolers’ used curriculum sale. It was early enough in the evening that I could not have made it if I had waited until Mr. M’s train returned him home. Thus, we had to pick up Mr. M at a train station along the way and go to the sale as a family. That ended up being a good thing, because the rest of the family found better goodies than I could have done on my own. Had we not been playing by the Lent 2013 Rules, however, we would’ve just picked up something for dinner along the way. That was not an option last night.

Instead I made Chickpea Curry In A Hurry, a nutritious one-dish meal. Erm, one Thermos meal. We packed this up in our Thermoses and threw in a few tall, lidded cups of lemonade. It wasn’t paradise, but it was certainly satisfying.


So here we go!

Chickpea Curry in a Hurry (prep time: 20 minutes as long as you’ve made your rice ahead of time)

1 15oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 sm onion, finely diced
1 tsp salt, divided
2 T oil, divided
1 1/2 c plain yogurt
1/2 c mayonnaise
2 tsp curry powder
1 tsp ginger powder
1 1/2 c cauliflower florets, chopped
1 medium yellow bell pepper, diced
1/2 c vegetable stock
1 c prepared rice

In a small bowl, toss chickpeas with paprika and black pepper and set aside (this will help the flavors and colors get all melded and pretty).

Sautee onion and 1/2 tsp salt in 1 T oil over medium-high heat until golden brown. Combine browned onion with yogurt, mayonnaise, curry and ginger (again with the melding and the pretty). Set aside.

In the same skillet, sautee seasoned chickpeas, diced pepper and cauliflower over medium-high heat for about 3-5 minutes. Pour remaining 1/2 tsp salt and vegetable stock over all. Reduce heat to medium-low and cover, simmering for 3-5 minutes. Remove lid and stir in yogurt sauce and rice.

Don’t let the long list of ingredients scare you. This is one of the easiest recipes ever. We usually make this with chicken or eggplant, but it’s just as awesome with chickpeas. If yours is another busy family that can’t seem to find a way to avoid picking up fast food on your way to choir practice or soccer games or contortionist class, Thermoses are a really good investment.


Lent 2013 Challenge Day 3: Are you going to Scarborough Fair?

Roasted Fennel and Chick Peas (prep time: 15 minutes)

1 fennel bulb, cleaned, trimmed, and sliced
1 can chick peas, drained
3 medium potatoes, scrubbed and chopped into 1″ pieces (leave the skins on)
1 c baby carrots
1 onion, sliced thin
1 tsp each of… wait for it… parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme
salt and pepper to taste
1 T minced garlic (or less–we totally overdo the garlic around here, because of, you know, the vampires)
1/4 c olive oil

Dump everything into your slow cooker, being sure to mix well after adding the olive oil. Set your slow cooker on low and walk away for just about as long as you’d like. Give it all a good stir before serving.  The slow roasting really mellows out the fennel, so if you’re like me and more than a little afraid of that much licorice-flavor in your veggies… just put on your big-chef panties and buy the fennel.

Yes, YES, my friends, you can put things in a slow cooker without any fluid. I don’t know where we all got the idea that you must have fluid in your slow cooker. Maybe it was the condensed soup companies or something, but it’s not necessary. You can bake potatoes (white and/or sweet), roast carrots, make puddings… I could go on and on. I’d better not, though, as my family is waiting for me to join them for Netflix and Doctor Who.


Ash Wednesday 2013: Besan Pancakes with Carrot Salad

Here we go! For those of you following at home, each dinner must take no more than 20 minutes to cook. We didn’t say those 20 minutes had to be all together, did we? First, let’s start with how I spent my morning:


Carrot Salad (Time: 10 minutes)

1 lb carrots
1 c Greek yogurt
2 T chopped cilantro leaves
1 tsp each turmeric, coriander, ginger
1 tsp lemon juice

Wash, peel, and grate your carrots down to the smallest nubs you can manage. Chop the remaining nubs as small as you can get them. Combine all ingredients except lemon juice and refrigerate 6 hours or overnight. Just before serving, add lemon juice.

The carrot shredding is the part that took 8 of our 10 allotted minutes. It also took this off of my thumb.


If that portion of my manly thumb fell into the carrots, does this count as flesh meat?

This goes with…

Besan Pancakes (Time: 10 minutes)

1/2 c Greek yogurt
1 c milk (more for thinner batter, if desired)
1 1/2 c besan (chickpea flour–usually available with specialty flours in your baking aisle)
1 tsp salt
Optional whisk-ins: ginger garlic, cumin, coriander, turmeric, fresh cilantro leaves

Blend yogurt and milk until smooth. Whisk into remaining ingredients until it looks like the consistency of your favorite pancake batter. Whisk in more milk (or water) if you’d like it thinner. Heat a frying pan on medium and spray with cooking spray (or rub with a paper towel dipped in oil). Once pan is hot, pour ¼ c of batter then swirl it around to thin out the pancake. Cook the pancake on one side until it’s almost completely dry on top and golden on the bottom. Flip and cook until the other side is golden, too. Eat as-is or stuff with carrot salad, above.

A note about the cilantro: We can usually get a large, fresh bunch for about one dollar. We chop it up as soon as we get it, portion it out into ice cube trays, fill the trays the rest of the way with water, then freeze and pop out to be stored in freezer bags, thawing as needed. Don’t waste that cilantro! We are counting this as part of our 2 hours/weekend food prep.

I have all sorts of thoughts that I have had going through my mind today, all sorts of fears and worries and joys.  Sharing them here would make this post much better than it is.  However, sometimes we just have to be satisfied with enough; on Ash Wednesday, we are called to find satisfaction in less what what we think would be enough.  We have to find a full belly on five loaves and a few fish to feed the five thousand.

What’s on your menu?

A Festival of Firegrilled Flatbread

Here’s another one so easy that I can barely call it a recipe.

  1. Heat up the grill.
  2. Make a batch of quick thin-crust pizza dough (we were very hungry after a day of creek trekking, so I made a batch and a half).
  3. Stretch out dough into 2-4 circles.  Brush with olive oil.  Grill 3-4 minutes/side.
  4. Cut flatbreads into wedges.
  5. Serve with toppings, such as:
  • Shredded cheese
  • Goat cheese crumbles
  • Teeny Tiny Taco Topping
  • Flavored cream cheese
  • Mushrooms in olive oil and thyme
  • Obatzda
  • Hummus
  • Black bean spread
  • Tomato salad, aka chopped tomatoes with olive oil, minced garlic and fresh basil.  I made a batch of this while the dough was resting; my kids dug into it, and then I had to make more while the pizza was on its first side; my kids dug into it, and then I had to make more while the pizza was on its other side; then I put the tomato salad on top of the refrigerator and told the children to go away until dinner was actually served.
  • Whatever bits of vegetable and meatless protein you have on hand.  This is a great way to use up leftovers.


Kids, eat your vegetables!

Ah, pakora: the chicken nugget of the Indian subcontinent



2c chickpea flour
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp cumin
2 tsp salt
1 1/2 c water
1 medium eggplant, shredded & purged in salt water for 2+hours
2 c coarsely chopped cauliflower
1 sm onion, thinly sliced into rings
12 spinach leaves, shredded
1/2 c chopped cabbage
oil for deep frying

Whisk together first five ingredients and let sit in a warm place for 30 minutes (I used this time to chop cauliflower and spinach and thaw previously chopped cabbage). Heat oil to 375F. Stir vegetables into the batter. Drop vegetable-batter into heated oil by the tablespoon, and fry a few at a time. Drain on paper towels and serve immediately. Dipping sauce options include: chutney, raita, sweet & sour sauce (I even saw one recipe suggest tomato ketchup–wha?).

The kids helped me make a mild and a spicy mint chutney as well as a cucumber raita. They also helped me send the eggplant through the food processor’s shredding disc. Honestly, the pakoras themselves weren’t all that time-consuming. The sauces took a while, because we made them from our own garden herbs. If I hadn’t had writing to do, we were going to make naan to go with these, but, well, I’m not made of time.

By the way, this makes a HUGE batch, and we only had one left at the end to feed the dog. Even the toddler ate her serving.

Chickpea Rice Pilaf

Fast, cheap and easy.  I hope nobody thinks, “You are what you eat.” 

Our Favorite Chickpea Rice Pilaf
1 T olive oil
1 T butter (or vegan-friendly spread)
1 sm onion, finely chopped
1 c jasmine rice
1 c chopped vegetables (we’ll be using carrots, green peppers & celery
1 15oz can of chickpeas, rinsed & drained
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tsp each dried parsley, basil and thyme
2 1/2 c vegetable stock

In a large saucepan, melt oil and butter together over medium-high.  Add onion, rice, and vegetables, and stir over medium heat until rice is golden brown.  Add chickpeas, seasonings and stock, and cover immediately.  Reduce heat to low and leave covered for twenty minutes.