Applesauce

Now I know what you’re all thinking.  Really?  Applesauce?  How boring!  How bland and uninteresting!  We want excitement!  Well…applesauce is about the most exciting thing I’ve done in awhile, besides the pumpkin puree, which I already talked about.  Applesauce can be exciting.  And easy.  Honest!

First, buy apples.  I used Royal Gala and Macintosh for mine, I prefer the batch that is royal gala only.  It’s sweeter.  I also used my slowcooker for this, because I’m lazy.

Applesauce

6lbs apples, cored and quartered (leave the peel on!)

1/4 cup lemon juice

1 cup water

sugar to taste

1. Put cored and quartered apples into the slowcooker (better be a big one!).  Add the water and lemon juice.  Cover and cook on high 3-4 hours.  Once apples are soft and mushy, puree with an immersion blender.  You could use a regular blender or food processor as well if you like, but an immersion blender is more fun.  Add sugar to taste.

I was lazy this year and froze my applesauce instead of canning it.  You could process jars of applesauce in a hot water bath for 15 minutes before storing in a cool, dry place if you really wanted to, but I decided to freeze it in jars instead.  You could also freeze it in ziploc bags if you wanted.  Unsweetened applesauce is great for baking, you can replace up to 1/2 of the oil or margarine called for in a recipe with applesauce.

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Ash-e Jow (Persian Barley Soup) Recipe

I was all kinds of motivated this weekend and made a new kind of soup.  I did use the lamb called for in the recipe, mostly because I still have most of the lamb I bought last december in my freezer and need to find new ways to use it.  This has really gotten me to try different ethnic food simply because I didn’t grow up with lamb and don’t just want to eat the chops and leave the rest because I don’t know what to do with it.  It’s pretty awesome.  This soup was made in the slow cooker instead of on the stove top.  It’s hearty, but light at the same time.  It doesn’t have much for seasoning or spices, which really allows you to taste the ingredients.  It’s really, really good.  You can leave out the lamb completely for a completely vegan soup, or you can substitute chicken, beef or pork instead of the lamb. 

Ash-e Jow

2-3 tbsp olive oil

1 lamb shank (I used a half leg roast, bone in)

2 onions, diced

2 carrots, diced

1 tsp turmeric

3 quarts stock or water

1 – 15oz can kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1 – 15 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1/2 mixed lentils (can use any lentils you want)

1 cup pot or pearl barley

1 lb spinach (fresh or frozen)

salt and pepper to taste

1 cup sour cream or plain yogurt (I forgot this…oops)

1. Heat the olive oil in a skillet, brown the lamb shank on all sides.  Put lamb in slow cooker.  Add onions, carrots and turmeric to the skillet, cook till onions are soft (5-7 minutes) and put into the slow cooker.  Add water, let cook on high for up to 3 hours. (my slow cooker cooks very hot)

2. Add the beans and lentils, simmer another 30-45 minutes.  Add the barley and simmer about another 30 minutes.  Take out the lamb shank, remove the meat from the bone and dice.  Add lamb back into the soup along with the spinach and salt/pepper.  Cook till spinach is wilted, stir in sour cream or yogurt (optional) and server. 

Variations:

substitute half the barley for brown rice

change up the types of beans

use pork, beef or chicken instead of lamb (bone in if possible, makes a better stock)

I forgot to add the sour cream, might have been better with it, I’ll have to try adding some to the next bowl I have.   This recipe filled my 6.5 quart slow cooker and gave me 3 quart jars, 4 pint jars and a large ziplock square container of soup.  Unfortunately one of the quart jars and 2 pint jars didn’t seal properly and I will need to throw them out.

Recipe adapted from here.

Beans and Student Loans

It’s been a crazy few weeks recently.  I’ve been doing a lot of prep-ahead foods and simple salads for lunches.  I worked 2-10pm the last two weeks and I can already tell that once I’m in school all morning, preparing food on the weekend is going to be insanely important so that I don’t spend money on junk food downtown!  Last weekend I made a simple bean salad which I adore and might post later.  This weekend I made baked beans from scratch and a quinoa and avocado salad.  I haven’t eaten much of the salad yet and so I will wait to post the recipe, it might need tweaking!

In completely un-food-related news…I got accepted to university!  They sent me my registration appointment date email before they sent me the “congrats you can continue taking classes” email.  Way to organize emails UofW!  I immediately applied for manitoba student loans once I found out I was accepted and have to sign and return some papers before they can complete the application.  I hope I get accepted so I don’t have to go begging  pleading  asking my parents to co-sign a student loan through a bank somewhere.  I’m also going to be sending Adrian some money this month and he’ll be out in August for 6 months.  A friend of mine has found him a job too!  The only other “large” purchase I need to sort out this summer is an acer aspireone netbook for school purposes.  I figure it’ll be easier to take notes and carry around all the time.  Staples has them for $300, which is a decent price.

Back to food!  The baked beans are completely vegan, a little bit spicy, a little bit sweet, and very very tasty with toast.  This was my second batch and is the best one yet.  It really is true that the more you eat beans and lentils, the less you feel their…erm…effects.  I canned these beans and have them sitting in the fridge for when I’m hungry but don’t have much time, or when I’m lazy and just want to re-heat something!  I try to always have some soup or something in jars in the fridge and it usually works. 

Baked Beans

3 cups white navy beans

12 cups water

3/4 cup ketchup

3/4 cup maple syrup

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup mollasses

1 tbsp worcestershire sauce

1 1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp chili powder

1 tsp red pepper flakes

1-2 onions, diced

1. Soak beans overnight or at least 8 hours.  Drain and place in slowcooker with the 12 cups of water.  Cook on high for 2-3 hours.  Drain, saving the water, and place back in the slow cooker.

2. Mix remaining ingredients, pour over beans.  Add enough bean cooking water to cover by about 1/2″.  Let cook on low for 8-10 hours, stirring occasionally.  Keep some bean water handy just in case the sauce caramelizes before the beans are done.  Store in jars or in ziploc freezer bags and freeze.

Turkey Bean Chili

Since I’m sort of kinda occasionally trying to use up the meat that I’ve purchased in the past I decided to make a large pot of Turkey Chili this weekend.  I only used half the amount of turkey I was supposed to and added extra beans since that’s my favorite part anyway!

Turkey Bean Chili

1 lb Ground Turkey

1 onion, chopped

1 green pepper, chopped

4 (14oz) cans diced stewed tomatoes

1 can Kidney Beans, drained and rinsed

1 (15oz) can Chili Beans, not drained

1 (15oz) can Black Beans, drained and rinsed

1 (15oz) can White Beans, drained and rinsed

1 (15oz) can Pinto Beans, drained and rinsed

1 tbsp Chili Powder

1 Jalapeno, diced

1 tsp Cumin

1 tsp Salt

3/4 tsp Black Pepper

1. Brown the Turkey in a frying pan, place in slow cooker.  Saute the onion and peppers in the pan untill onions are translucent.

2. Add everything into a slow cooker, cook on high for 2-3 hours or on low for about 6-ish.  Can cook longer then this if it needs to.

Personally it wasn’t nearly spicy enough.  I left all the seeds in the jalapeno too.  Next time I will add some diced banana peppers, another jalapeno and probably more chili powder to up the heat.  I also used mostly beans that I cooked myself from dry and froze in 2 cup portions.   The spice level allowed me to give some to my parents, I hope they enjoy it when they try it!  One of the nice things about chili is that it’s easy to freeze and keeps awhile.  It’s something I’ll have to tweak a bit, but is a good base to build from.

Fig and Cranberry Slowcooker Oatmeal

At about 10pm last night, when I was supposed to be crawling into bed, I decided to throw some of my new steel cut oatmeal into the slow cooker to see how it was going to work out.  The recipe inspiration came from this cookbook.

Fig and Cranberry Slowcooker Oatmeal

1 cup steel cut oats

2/3 cup sweetened dried cranberries

2/3 cup chopped dried figs

4 1/2 cups water

1/2 cup soymilk

1. Put everything into a 2 quart slow cooker.  Cook on low for 8-9 hours.  Serve with brown sugar and soymilk.

It was alright, I definitly prefer the taste and texture of steel cut oats to rolled oats in oatmeal, but it wasn’t as sweet as I thought it would be as I find dried figs rather sweet.  The figs weren’t as…figgy…tasting and I couldn’t really taste the cranberries.  I added about 1 tbsp of brown sugar and a drizzle of soymilk after the initial taste and it was much better afterwards.  It filled my 2 quart slowcooker and I put the rest in the fridge for tomorrow and the weekend.  One of the best things about doing this was that it took me literally 5 minutes to throw everything together and turn it on.  It would also be really easy to add different types of dried fruit.  (dates, cherries, raisins, and apples come to mind)  Adding some chopped walnuts or pecans before serving would also be tasty.