Friday, August 4, 2017

Kofta Kebabs with Yellow Rice and Veggie Skewers..and Hummus and Tzatziki Sauce

We made some kofta kebabs with yellow rice and veggie skewers. We got some zucchini and yellow squash and cucumbers from our local farmers market and it was the perfect timing for kebabs! We have some dill that we grew and used that in both the kebabs and the tzatziki sauce. It was a pretty labor intensive meal but it was well worth it.
The yellow rice was a new one for us. It was a different way of making it with the saffron and letting the saffron steep. It was very exciting and turned out excellent. The only thing we would add next time is some peas, but unfortunately, we had none on hand at this time. We left the cinnamon out of the rice because it didn't sound that good and Alona is not a fan of cinnamon, especially in non-sweet dishes. Also, we used our multi-cooker to make the rice - just because we love that it cooks it perfectly every time and we do not have to babysit it!
We actually added cinnamon to the kebabs and think that it was a mistake and it should definitely be left out next time.

Original recipes:
Yellow Rice: http://www.mypersiankitchen.com/mena-cooking-club-yellow-rice/
Kofta Kebabs and Tzatziki: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchen/kofta-kebabs-with-tzatziki-recipe-2118052

Plated!

Fresh off the grill!

Tzatziki

Hummus

Yellow Rice

Ready to grill!

Ingredients:

Yellow Rice:
2 tbsp sunflower oil
2 cups rice - washed and rinsed
1/4 tsp turmeric
1 generous pinch of saffron
3 1/2 cups hot water
5 cardamom pods
Salt

Kebabs:
6 cloves garlic
1.5 tablespoon kosher salt, plus a pinch
1.5 pound ground beef
6 tablespoons very finely chopped onion
3 tablespoons chopped dill
1.5 tablespoon ground coriander
1.5 teaspoon ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon - OMIT NEXT TIME!!!!!
3/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
Freshly ground black pepper

Grilled flat bread - we used the mini naans from Costco

Tzatziki Sauce:
2 cups sour cream
1 medium cucumber, peeled, and shredded on a grater
2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus a pinch
2 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon lemon juice
3 tablespoons fresh mint, finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh dill finely chopped

Directions:

Yellow Rice:
1. Boil about 4 cups of water.
2. Very lightly crush the 5 cardamom pods in a mortar with a pestle. Do not squish them apart, just enough for the pods to slightly open. Take them out and put them aside.
3. Crush saffron with a pinch of salt in the mortar with a pestle until it is a fine powder.
4. Add about 2 tablespoons of water to the saffron salt mixture and let it sit for about 5 minutes.
5. Pour sunflower oil into the rice cooker and set it to "White Rice".
6. After the oil warms up, add the turmeric and let it cook for about a minute.
7. Add the rinsed and drained rice, cardamom, and brewed saffron. Add some salt. Add about 3.5 cups of the hot water.
8. Mix everything, close the rice cooker and let it cook!

Kofta Kebabs:
1. Smash the garlic cloves, sprinkle with a generous pinch of salt, and, with the flat side of a large knife, mash and smear mixture to a coarse paste. Mix the paste and the remaining 1 tablespoon salt with the meat, onion, dill, and spices.
2. Make 2 inch oval balls and mold them around the skewers. about 3-4 should fit onto each metal skewer. Using a flat metal skewer works best as these tend to slide off the round skewers.
3. Pre heat the grill to medium high.
4. Grill the kebabs about 4 minutes per side until cooked.

Tzatziki:
1.  Wrap the grated cucumber in a thick paper towel or kitchen towel and squeeze as much liquid out as possible. If you have the time, you can add salt and let it sit over a colander for about 20 minutes before squeezing out the liquid.
2. Make garlic paste with garlic and salt.
3. Add cucumber, garlic, lemon juice, dill and mint into the sour cream.
4. It is best if the tzatziki sauce sits before serving, but not critical. 

What we liked:

It was a very fun meal to make. 

What we didn't like:

The cinnamon was really unnecessary. 

What Kaspian thought about it:

He liked the kebabs and Astrid absolutely loved the rice. 

Next time:

No cinnamon :) 

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Aquaponics - GreenHouse!

Remember, that Aquaponics greenhouse we were building. Well, it's up and running!!!!

Here are some updates!

There are plants growing. They were planted on 7/14/2017 and sprouted 6 days later on 7/20/2017.
Unfortunately, there was an incident on 7/26 Wednesday where the water got left on at a trickle and the sump tank flooded causing the 10 or Koi fish that we had to not survive due to temperature changes.

The plants are doing well and seem to be growing. We got a nitrate and ammonia testing kit to monitor the chemical levels. We will get some goldfish hopefully tomorrow. They should be more hardy than the Koi.

We got 33 bags, a whole pallet, of hydroton. They are expanded clay pellets. To wash them, Nick constructed a special sieve to wash off the powder that coats them as that is not healthy for the system.
The pallet filled up 5 of the tanks that we have set up.

























Gnocchi with Cream Sauce and Pine Nuts

Back to our Gnocchi experience. This was our favorite recipe that we had made a couple of times. The sauce is pretty perfect and the spinach and cream sauce complement the gnocchi beautifully. We will definitely make this again.
The first time we made with Parmesan, as you can see in the picture, but it actually tastes far better without it!

For the base recipe we used this: http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/brown-butter-gnocchi-with-spinach-pine-nuts
Served!

Cooking!

Close up



Ingredients:

1 16 oz package of fresh gnocchi
2 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons pine nuts
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 shallot, sliced
1 (10-ounce) package fresh spinach, torn
1/2 cup of heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

1. Cook gnocchi according to package directions, without the salt; drain. If using fresh gnocchi, be careful not to over-cook as they might start falling apart and getting mushy!
2. Heat butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add pine nuts to pan; cook 3 minutes or until butter and nuts are lightly browned, stirring constantly. Add shallots and garlic to pan; cook 1 minute. Add heavy cream and bring to a boil. Add gnocchi and spinach to pan; cook 1 minute or until spinach wilts, stirring constantly. Stir in salt and pepper. 

What we liked:

This dish had really great flavor!

What we didn't like:

Nothing, it was yummy! Doesn't microwave too well though...the gnocchi get a little rubbery.

What Kaspian thought about it:

He liked the gnocchi, as long as there was no sauce. Astrid loved everything. 

Next time:


Hummus

We wanted hummus, so we made it ourselves one day. So fast, quick and easy! Delicious.
We always have tahini on hand so the only thing we really need to buy special is the chickpeas.
Making your own hummus is so quick and easy and it's always fresh.

Here is the base recipe that we used: http://www.inspiredtaste.net/15938/easy-and-smooth-hummus-recipe/

It's great with some chips, or carrots, or celery to dip in with!



Ingredients:

1 15-ounce can chickpeas
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup tahini
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Salt to taste
2 to 3 tablespoons water
Sumac powder for serving

Directions:

1. Add everything into a blender (we use the NutriBullet) and mix!
2. Place into a serving bowl. Sprinkle with sumac powder and serve!

What we liked:

So quick, easy and delicious!

What we didn't like:

Nothing, it was great!

What Kaspian thought about it:

He LOVES hummus. Even more than his sister. 

Next time:

No changes. 

Chicken Gnocchi Soup - ala Olive Garden

We recently bought some gnocchi at Costco and have been having fun with new recipes. We also have a recipe to make gnocchi, but we haven't quite gotten there yet.

This was a really great soup. It wasn't quite like Olive Garden's, but it may have been even better in some regards. We also didn't like the soup as much as a cream sauce with spinach and pine nut gnocchi recipe, but it was fun to try something different. We can definitely see this recipe as being great for a colder evening or a nice rainy day.

Here is the original recipe: https://therecipecritic.com/2016/09/creamy-chicken-gnocchi-soup-olive-garden-copycat/

Close up

Prepared!

Served!

Goodness in a bowl!

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup onion, diced
½ cup celery diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
¼ cup all-purpose flour
2 cups half-and-half
1 14 ounce can chicken broth
1 Tablespoon fresh thyme
1 cup shredded carrots
1 cup fresh spinach leaves, chopped
1 cup diced cooked chicken breast (I used rotisserie)
1 16 ounce package potato gnocchi
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1. In a large pot add butter and olive oil.
2.Over medium high heat sauté onion, celery and garlic until tender. Add the flour to create a roux and cook for another minute.
3. Slowly add the half and half and chicken broth and stir until it starts to thicken. Add the thyme, carrots, spinach, chicken and gnocchi.
4. Simmer for about 5 minutes or until gnocchi is cooked and soup is thickened.
5. Salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately.

What we liked:

It was a fun new recipe

What we didn't like:

Nothing, it was good. 

What Kaspian thought about it:

He liked the gnocchi, although he mostly wanted them out of the soup. Astrid loved everything.

Next time:

I am not sure if we will make it again. While it was fun to try, it didn't really seem as memorable to make again 

Banana Nut Muffins ...with chocolate!

We have made these muffins twice now. The first time we made them using just the base recipe. They turned out delicious. They do come out a little brown, but I think that is because of the amount of butter in them. It seems like a lot, but it is really worth it.
The second time we made them, we added chocolate chips - this made the muffins even better! From now on we will definitely do this modification more often! We also added a little bit of coconut flour (just for fun!) There didn't seem to be much taste difference, it seemed maybe a little sweeter. But, it could be a good mix in for those with dietary restrictions in regards to the amount of flour they can have. Wouldn't recommend substituting too much with the coconut flour, but a small amount turned out just fine.
Also, we did not separate the banana to mush a part of it separately. We just put all of it into the stand mixer. This seemed to work out fine and we still maintained texture in the muffins as we wanted.
This recipe does seem to make more than the original recipe suggests...seems like all the muffin/cupcake recipes do! Not sure if it's because we are at altitude here or something else. We ended up making 36 mini muffins and 12 large muffins.

Here is the original recipe: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/tyler-florence/banana-nut-muffins-recipe-1915828

With Chocolate chips!

Attempt #2 with choc. chips

Original Recipe

Original Recipe Muffins



Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3-4 overripe bananas
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and spray with oil 2 muffin tins. (We would also do a mini muffin tray with the 2 muffin tins - you should have enough batter.)
2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
3. Add the bananas to an stand mixer fitted with a wire whisk. Whip the bananas and sugar together until mixed. Add the melted butter, eggs, and vanilla and continue beating.
4. Mix in the dry ingredients just until incorporated. Remove from stand mixer.
5. Add in the nuts and chocolate chips.
6. Spoon the batter into the muffin tins to fill them about halfway.
7. Bake until a toothpick stuck in the muffins comes out clean about 20 minutes. The mini-muffins will need less time - test with a toothpick. It should be 12-15 minutes for them. 

What we liked:

This is a great recipe. The muffins are really delicious especially with the chocolate chip additions!

What we didn't like:

This recipe does feel like more work than others though. 

What Kaspian thought about it:

He loves the muffins. SO does Astrid! - especially the chocolate chips. 

Next time:

It would be fun to add some sugar crystal sprinkles to the top of the muffins for prettyness. 

Astrid Hair Days

There is a lady at Astrid's Daycare that does awesome hairstyles! Here they are.
Astrid won't let us touch her hair, so we get to really enjoy it when she comes home with these fun creations on her head :)