Meatless Monday: Ginger Curry Pita

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Last week I got a text from my friend with the above picture and the text “I wish you were here to not order the ginger curry pita with me.” We’ve been going to lunch at Java Joe’s for years, and we used to order the same thing every time – the ginger curry pita. In the past year they have redone their menu and no longer have the ginger curry pita. That’s a shame, as it is incredibly delicious.

So she got me thinking about that tasty lunch. I was lamenting that I would never eat it again, but then I remembered that 8 years ago we raved about it so much a staff member gave me the “recipe.”

I say “recipe”not recipe because when I dug out the slip of paper I found this: a list of ingredients and no directions.

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I decided to use this as a starting point to recreate the pita for home. I wanted to make a smaller batch – we may buy chickpeas by the case at Costco, but a food service can is a bit much. There were no directions for how to prepare this, but it struck me as something that was cooked low and slow with minimal fuss, so I decided a crock pot would be good here.

I’m happy with how this turned out, and I will be making it again soon. It’s a great sandwich for lunch. Elliot and I are both big fans, and Audrey doesn’t outright hate it (that is a win when cooking for a 2 year old). It reheats well, and keeps for a few days in the fridge.

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Ginger Curry Pita

Serves 4-6

2 cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed

3 T Teriyaki Sauce

1/4 red onion, chopped

1/2 green pepper, chopped

1/4 head cabbage, chopped

1 T ginger

1 T curry powder

1 T honey  or 1 t agave

Put ingredients in crock pot and cook on low for 6-8 hours. The timing on this is not critical -you just want to cook down the vegetables and have the flavors meld together.

Serve on flat bread. Pita or naan would work well.

If you don’t have a crock pot you can still cook this. Cook the onion and peppers in a dutch oven until soft in a little bit of neutral oil.  Once soft, add the spices and cooked until fragrant. Add the remaining ingredients and cook on low until slightly mushy.

 

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Egg Noodle Casserole

Last night I made a casserole just to use up random ingredients I had in my kitchen. I end up with a lot of random things when I send my husband to the grocery store. I’ve started  sending him photos of what we need and give him precise directions on where to find the items in the store (why yes, I do consider myself detail oriented, why do you ask?). But there are occasionally issues, like when he can’t find the frozen egg noodles so he buys a bag of dried egg noodles. Or when he confuses a grocery list with a Costco list and we end up with a six pack of cream cheese.

I figured I could use up some random things. If it was good we would eat it. If it was kind of gross John and Elliot would eat it (they will eat anything). It turns out it was so good John requested that I make it again in the future. That’s why I decided to blog about it, more so I could remember it more than I feel that this recipe has to be in the blogosphere.

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Bagged Parmesan does not melt. Or get brown.

Egg Noodle Casserole (Serves 8)

  • 1 bag No Yolk Egg Noodles
  • 1 8 oz brick cream cheese, softened (totally OK to do this in a microwave)
  • 1 jar marinara
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 bag frozen veggie meatballs (OK without. Also OK to use real meatballs)
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • Parmesan for the top

Preheat oven to 350. Put a pot of water on to boil. While water is coming to a boil shred the zucchini on a box grater and put in a  clean kitchen towel set over a colander over a bowl. Defrost the meatballs in the microwave so the casserole doesn’t take as long to bake. Or don’t. You do you.

Boil the noodles as directed on bag. While the noodles are boiling squeeze the zucchini in the towel. Once dried, add to a mixing bowl with the brick of cream cheese. Mix them together. Add the pasta sauce and mix some more. Add a pinch of red pepper flakes and the bag of frozen meatballs then stir some more. Open some wine or do some dishes or something until the noodles are done.

When pasta is done drain it and add to a greased 9 x 13 pan. Add the sauce. Mix it around so the noodles are evenly covered. Sprinkle parmesan over the top (don’t buy the bagged Kraft stuff, as it was pretty disappointing in this application). Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes before serving.

We enjoyed this with red wine and an imagined salad (we didn’t have the stuff for a salad in the house, but it would have been delicious). I’m planning on giving leftovers to the kids for lunch for several days.

If you make this let me know!

 

5 on Friday: Baby Finger Foods from Trader Joe’s

Welcome to 5 on Friday. Today isn’t the happiest of days for me. I’m sad and tired and want to focus on my kids because it cheers me up. So that is what we’re doing today.

Mr. Elliot is now nine months old. That means we’re moving away from baby food and on to table food. Thank God, because feeding a baby tiny spoonfuls of food is the most excruciatingly boring part of parenthood. I thought it was bad with Audrey, and it has turned out to be that way with Elliot too.

How does Elliot feel about table food? He’s a big fan. He really likes waving now, so it is getting hard to get a picture of him without his hand in the way.

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Moving to table food means that he’s now eating what we’re eating as long as it isn’t honey or a choking hazard. We just started doing mostly table food this week, so I’m keeping the textures soft as we get started.

Last week I headed to Trader Joe’s to pick up a few things that we love to eat that we wanted Elliot to try. You can get these items at any store, but they are super cheap at Trader Joe’s, which is very important to a budget conscious SAHM.

Avocados

Audrey and I eat a lot of avocados. We like avocado toast. We like avocado on our eggs. We like avocado slices. Bubba from Forest Gump is to shrimp what we are to avocados. Luckily Elliot appears to be just as much of a fan as we are.dsc_0030

Full Fat Yogurt

I could spend $6 on baby yogurt or $3 on Trader Joe’s yogurt.  This yogurt is delicious. Audrey and I have it with breakfast a lot, and Elliot appears to like it even more than us. The cups might be a little bigger than baby yogurt cups, but Elliot doesn’t have an issue finishing one. The vanilla also doubles as “dip” in our house for waffles. Audrey is 43% more likely to try something if there is dip involved.dsc_0032Bananas

$.19 a banana. You can’t beat that. dsc_0045-copy

Sweet Potato Gnocchi

It’s soft. It’s delicious. Both of my kids would like it for every meal. I have the following conversation 6 days a week. I would have it 7, but John gets up with her one day of the weekend.

Me: “What do you want for breakfast, Audrey?”

Audrey: “Gnocchi”

Me: “It’s breakfast, we aren’t having gnocchi.”

I gave Elliot gnocchi earlier this week and he gobbled it right up. I’m sure I’ll be having the same conversation with him before I know it. dsc_0281

Cereal Bars

These are not a food that we eat every day. These are special diaper bag treats for when I have tired, cranky, hungry kids and I need them to stay happy for 5 minutes. I’ll pull these out if we are at a restaurant and it is taking a long time or we are running late for dinner and still have to drive home and they need a snack. dsc_0029

Next week I’ll post about something other than Trader Joe’s. Probably. No promises.

5 on Friday: Trader Joe’s

Welcome back! I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and a fine New Year’s Eve. We had a great Christmas – there is nothing like having a 2 year old on Christmas morning. After Christmas every one of us got sick, so there was a slightly longer break than planned in the 5 on Friday series. We’re on the mend, and I can get back to telling you about one of my favorite grocery stores – Trader Joe’s.

I go to TJ’s about once a month (when Aunt Kathy watches the kids for my big errand day), but I squeeze in a bonus visit when we are running low on staples. Especially when we are out of the number one thing I get at Trader Joe’s:

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We go though A LOT of sweet potato gnocchi. I usually buy six packages. It is supposed to feed 3 adults, but it feeds one adult and one toddler in our house. We rarely have leftovers, and it is not because I am the one eating a bunch of it. Audrey LOVES it.

She asks for gnocchi, and hearing a two year old say gnocchi is only one of the reasons I love it. I like that I can pull it from the freezer and have lunch on the table 7 minutes later (with two little kids speed is of the essence more often than not). I love that the first ingredient is a vegetable. Audrey hates eating vegetables, so any time I can get her to eat a vegetable I consider it a win. dsc_0312

Unexpected Cheddar

I wish I could afford to have Montgomery Cheddar on hand at all times, but I can’t. I can, however, always have Unexpected Cheddar on hand. It’s shockingly good for the price, complete with those crunchy cheese crystal things that make you want to do a happy dance. I like it plain, on crackers, or mixed in with my scrambled eggs.

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Pub Cheese Cheddar with Horseradish and Golden Rounds Crackers

This cheese spread doesn’t taste enough like horseradish in my opinion, so if you aren’t a horseradish fan don’t let the name fool you. The cheese is excellent spread on fake these fake Ritz crackers.

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Bananas

They have really cheap bananas, and I have a toddler. It’s a match made in heaven. Unlike Costco and Aldi, where you buy bananas in huge bags, you get to pick your bananas out. I’ve been burned with bad banana bunches in bags before, so Trader Joe’s is my banana spot.

Spicy California Roll Sushi

Is the sushi great? No. It’s fine. It’s the kind of sushi that is best described as “won’t give you food poisoning.” That being said, John and I used to go out for sushi every week. Now that I stay home we can’t afford that, so sushi is a treat. At about $4 for a pack of spicy California roll it is affordable on my budget, so it is my lunch after every Trader Joe’s trip. There would be a picture, but I always eat it before I remember to take a picture, so you just need to imagine it.

What do you like to buy at Trader Joe’s? Did I miss any of your favorites?

Every Friday (OK, most Fridays) I share 5 things I think you should know about. What would you like to hear more about?

Hot Chocolate Hack – Nutella Cocoa

I am a big fan of hot cocoa. I like rich, decadent, coffee shop cocoa – the fancy pants stuff that is a special treat. The kind of drink that says “Hello winter! Let’s get cozy!”

It has suddenly gotten really cold in Des Moines. When it starts go get cold and I’m pulling out my winter gear I start craving cocoa. With two little kids it is hard to get out, so I am not able to pop out and get cocoa when the craving hits.  Last week I tried Nutella cocoa at Gateway Market and I decided I needed to recreate it at home. It turns out that decadent coffee shop cocoa is remarkably simple to make at home. It is so simple I took several photos just so it would seem more complicated.

This is a great recipe to break out when you have friends over and you want to impress them with your very special chocolate hazelnut cocoa that is super duper hard to make (yup, I’m advocating lying to your friends so you look like a culinary visionary). The best part is, you probably already have the 2 ingredients in your house. The only two things you need are nutella and milk.

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Step 1: Choose your mug. How big is it? I picked a 10 oz mug.

Step 2: Measure out your milk. You will want a few ounces less of milk than will fit into the mug. I measured out 8 oz for my 10 oz mug.

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Step 3: Pour your milk into a saucepan and start to heat it on medium low.dsc_0210

Step 4: Scoop out 2-3 tablespoons of Nutella. Try not flinch at the large amount of Nutella on your spoon. dsc_0216

Step 5: Stir the Nutella into the warming milk. Get so excited about the impending yummy you forget how gross your stove is (mental note: clean stove).dsc_0218

Step 6: Whisk the Nutella into the milk until it is smooth and the cocoa is hot. dsc_0224

Step 7: Pour it into a mug. Spill a little bit on your counter (optional).dsc_0227

Step 8: Drink it up. Marshmallows would be a great addition.dsc_0229

It is so delicious I almost wish it wasn’t so easy to make. With cold weather hitting most of the country this week it is probably a great time to try it. I would love to hear what you think of it.

5 things on Friday: Aldi

Every Friday I’m going to share five things I think you should know about. I’m going to start with 5 things from one of my favorite stores – Aldi.

I love a bargain. Clothes, shoes, you name it, I love a good deal. One place I love to go to score a great deal is Aldi. I make a trip monthly to stock up on my favorite products. They are high quality and much cheaper than the grocery store, Target, or even Costco.

Applesauce Pouches

My absolute favorite thing to buy at Aldi is applesauce pouches. They are less than $2 for a box of 4. They go in my diaper bag for an easy snack stash and are added to meals as a treat. I love the apple strawberry pouches, so I get more of those than any other flavor. These are delicious, and a great way to get some fruit on the go.

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Mini Bear Grahams

I have a toddler, so these are a must buy.  These generic Teddy Grahams are just as good as the real deal, but are much cheaper. I like that they come in individual packs. These are a special treat, so if I had to open a big box they would go stale before we finished them. These go into my diaper bag and are really good at preventing meltdowns when Audrey is tired.

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Little Journey Fruit and Veggie Pouches

This fall Aldi came out with a line of baby and toddler products. My favorite items are the Little Journeys fruit and veggie pouches. It is hard to get Audrey to eat vegetables, but she has never turned down a pouch. At around $.80 for an organic pouch it is a steal. I rarely see fruit and veggie pouches for less than $1.

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She loves the pouches so much she started picking one for lunch as soon as she discovered the stash. I would prefer that she eat her vegetables, but for now pouches work for us.

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Raisin Cinnamon Bread

I love this stuff. Audrey loves this stuff. It is great toasted with butter. It’s even better made into french toast. I only buy one loaf each trip, but if Elliot ends up liking is as much as Audrey and I do we will be buying two loaves each trip soon.

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Dubliner Cheese

Audrey isn’t the only one that gets snacks when I go to Aldi. I also get a treat for me. I love Dubliner cheese, and Aldi has it for under $4. I like to keep this stocked for snacking. It’s also a great addition to a cheese plate when friends come over (yes, I always have cheese plate supplies).

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What are your must buy Aldi items? Are there any Friday Fives you would like to hear about? Please share your ideas with me.

Audrey’s Birthday Party

I used to love throwing parties. I would make elaborate recipes. I would bake a cake from scratch. I would put thought into the decorations. Then I had kids…and I got older….and lazier. I don’t do that stuff anymore. I had a birthday party for Audrey only because John wanted to have a party. She’s 2. She doesn’t care. But I knew our family would want to celebrate with her, so I got to planning.

The first thing I did was to find a date that worked with my sister, Kathleen. As I have mentioned, we have a small house. It is too small to have a party with 12 guests. Kathleen graciously let me have Audrey’s party there.

The next thing I did was log on to Pinterest to get ideas. I found a lot of inspiration – there are a plethora of very elaborate Mickey Mouse parties for two year olds out there.

I ended up making a half-assed version of Mickey Mouse cupcakes that I found. I skipped the red frosting, red sugar, and yellow M&Ms in favor of something I would actually want to eat.

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I decorated her cake in a similar manner to the cupcakes, using whole Oreos and Mini Oreos. I added red sugar as an accent. I probably would do red and yellow M&Ms as a border instead if I had it to do over. I would also make sure the Mickey on the cake was oriented the same as the Mickey on the plate. She’s 2 though, so it doesn’t matter.

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For the cake I used a Funfetti mix. Sure, I could have made a cake from scratch, but this way I knew it would turn out. I made the my go to Creamy Vanilla Frosting recipe. I love the convenience of cake mixes, but homemade frosting is so much better than canned frosting.

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The decorations were sparse, just 3 balloons. One red, one yellow, and a Mickey happy birthday balloon. The Mickey balloon is still floating around my house, providing hours of entertainment a full week after the party.

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We had nachos to snack on. I love nachos, so this was a good excuse to eat one of my favorite foods. The toppings were queso (the fancy Velveeta and Rotel kind), refried beans, salsa chicken, guacamole, salsa, and black olives.

The party was a hit with Audrey. She loved the presents, wearing her party hat and skirt, and the cake. It was worth the work to spend time with our families and give Audrey a fun day.

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