Red Lentil Coconut Basil Curry

A few weeks ago our dishwasher stopped working.  This was not a big surprise; the appliances in our kitchen are all from the late 1970s, early 1980s if you’re feeling generous.  The joys of renting an apartment is that you can know nothing about dishwashers, and yet, they still somehow magically get fixed.

Except in this case, we now have a new fridge and a new stove, but our dishwasher is still sad and broken.  On the bright side, when we cleaned out the fridge, we also tackled the cabinets.  I found a bag of red lentils my mom bought when the baby was first born.  I also found a green curry paste that went bad in May 2013.  Do lentils + curry = dinner?  Though the can of paste went in the garbage, we dined on this delicious concoction last night.

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Red Lentil Coconut Basil Curry

  • coconut oil
  • 1 onion, sliced thinly
  • 4-6 garlic cloves, minced
  • about 1 teaspoon grated ginger (I keep mine in the freezer for just this occasion)
  • big handful curry powder
  • about a teaspoon cumin
  • about half a teaspoon cinnamon
  • about a teaspoon salt
  • just a sprinkle of red crushed peppers
  • half a teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 jalapeno, minced
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • about 4-5 leaves basil
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • a big handful baby spinach
  • juice from half a lime
    • to serve: naan or rice, Greek yogurt, green onions
  1. In a large  skillet, heat the coconut oil over a medium heat and add onions. Saute about 4-5 minutes, and add garlic and ginger.  Cook until everything is nice and soft.
  2. Add all of the spices (curry powder, cinnamon, salt, turmeric, cumin, crushed red peppers) and the jalapeno and give everything a good toss through. (Don’t be afraid to add a little more coconut oil to keep the spices from sticking to the pan.)
  3. Add the lentils, coconut milk, stock and basil.  Turn the heat down and simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add the spinach and fold in gently, letting it wilt.  Add lime juice and adjust seasoning to taste.
  5. Serve with rice or naan, and a dollop of Greek yogurt.  Top with a bit of green onion for a nice finish.

The Verdict:

The answer to the question above is a resounding yes.  This is so, so good.  Even better, it’s healthy (I think).  Best of all, this cooks itself in about 25 minutes, total.  That includes the time to cut your veggies and mince your garlic.  Yes.

Slow Cooked Coconut Curry Chicken

While I grant that it’s totally odd to be eating heavy slow cooker dishes when the temperature outside is approaching 100 degrees F and every time we step outside I melt into a small puddle that incidentally seems to attract all the mosquitoes in the DMV area, the slow cooker seems to be one of the few ways I actually get dinner to the table these days.  Just another reason for my love affair with the crock pot: dinner can basically be done by the time baby goes down for and then wakes up from his first nap.  And I can spend the rest of the day feeling like at least I accomplished one thing.

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Slow Cooked Coconut Curry Chicken

  • 2 pounds bone-in chicken breasts, skin removed
  • salt and pepper
  • coconut oil
  • 2 cans coconut milk
  • a big heap fresh basil
  • a big handful yellow curry powder
  • a handful chili powder
  • 1 large red onion, chopped
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • a big squeeze chili paste or 1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch or flour
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated or minced
  • to serve:
    • cooked rice or barley
    • cilantro
    • more basil
    • sour cream or Greek yogurt
  1. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat.  Add a little bit of coconut oil.
  2. Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper.  Add them to the pan (don’t overcrowd the pan!) and get a nice brown sear on each side.  Remove to a plate while you assemble the slow cooker ingredients.
  3. In the slow cooker, combine coconut milk, basil, about 2 teaspoons salt and a teaspoon pepper, curry powder, and chili powder. Stir to combine and then add the red onions, garlic, and chili paste/jalapeno.  Place the seared chicken on top.
  4. Cook on low for 6-8 hours and then remove the chicken; let it cool for a few minutes so you can shred it.
  5. As chicken cools, add the ginger to the slow cooker.  Combine a little bit of cornstarch or flour with about a tablespoon cold water and give it a quick stir – add this to the slow cooker to help thicken the sauce a bit.
  6. Shred the chicken, removing the bones, and then return it to the crock pot.  Cook on low for another ten minutes or so.
  7. Serve on rice (we used barley – oh so good), topped with cilantro.

The Verdict:

Of all the dishes in slow cooker land, this is the one I’ve heard the most rave reviews from my husband about.    In fact, I was pretty sure I shouldn’t be posting this recipe, with the 100 degree heat and all, but then Husband asked: “but what if you forget how you made it?!”  I won’t, because I basically just adapted to our taste from this fabulous lady, but your wish is my  command, honey.

Banana Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies

I’ve gained new appreciation for lots of things I’d never before considered before I became a walking dairy cow mom.  Showers, for instance.  I didn’t know I was such a proponent.  (In fact, I am pretty sure I was on the low end of the shower bell curve.)  No longer, my friends.  I am PSYCHED when I get to shower.  Ramps are another biggie – our first bout of activism: lobbying our condo board association to reinstall a lobby ramp.  Chairs with arm rests – helpful to have something to push off of when trying to stand up.  My friends, who brought us lunches and dinners and sent me funny Bitmojis and fruit to the hospital.  My mom.  Oh, my mom.  My mom was everything those first few weeks.  Cook, grocery shopper, house cleaner, baby changer, bottle washer, life giver.  At one (let’s be honest, very low) point, I found myself breastfeeding my baby in a Wendy’s parking lot, my mom spoon-feeding me a Frosty, and I realized: this is motherhood, and it is NEVER. GOING. TO. END.

I also have a new appreciation for one-handed meals.  And a fast and loose definition of what “meals” entail – these cookies, for instance.

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Banana Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 6 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg, brought to room temperature
  • 1 super ripe banana
  • splash vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1-2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 – 1 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut
  • optional – pecans, almonds, your preferred nut.

 

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar together in a bowl.  Slowly beat in the egg, banana and vanilla.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda and fluff it all through with a fork; slowly add the dry ingredients to the butter/sugar mixture.
  3. As a last step, stir in chocolate chips, coconut & (optional) nuts.
  4. Use an ice cream scoop to measure out about half a scoopful onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper.  Bake for about 9-12 minutes, depending on your oven.

 

The Verdict:

Goodness these are delicious and I am pretty sure that’s not just because I am always ravenous.  Fluffy and light, they don’t keep longer than a day or two before they start to lose their texture…which wasn’t a problem around here.

 

Slow Cooked Chicken Coconut Curry

On March 7, the Capital Weather Gang – the coolest (ha!) gang around – declared winter in DC to be officially over.

The CWG is a really big deal around here.  Like when they say tomorrow is a Four Domes day  (– that’s four Capitol domes to you, non-DC native) – you KNOW you’re sleeping in late tomorrow, and at the very best, you’ll be “teleworking.” Hello, federal government.

So when they said winter was over, and spring was here, and that there’d be no more snow, and that only sunshine and puppies and rainbows were ahead, we BELIEVED them.  The whole CITY believed them.  There were discounts at coffee shops and consignment stores to celebrate the arrival of spring.

In other words, I live in Washington, DC, ok?  I shouldn’t be waddling to work in my down coat on April 13th.  CWG, next time, knock on wood when you make declarative statements like “pronouncing winter over now is really, really safe.”

The only saving grace is that it’s totally acceptable to make really heavy, spicy, ridiculously easy winter curries in our crock pot.

Slow Cooked Chicken Coconut Curry

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  • 1-2 pounds chicken breasts, cut into cubes
  • 2-3 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
  • 2-3 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 1 can coconut milk (light is fine)
  • 1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons sambal oelek
  • 1 big handful curry powder
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • a big pinch salt
  • 1 big pinch pepper
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • optional – chopped jalapeno (*note – between the sambal oelek and the red pepper flakes, this dish is one hot wollop of a dish)
  • 2-3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • for serving:
    • cooked basmati rice
    • chopped cilantro
    • coconut flakes
  1. Put all ingredients from chicken through black pepper in the crock pot and give it a good stir.  Cover and cook on low for four hours.
  2. At the four hour mark, add the bell pepper and cook for about 20 minutes.  Add a bit of cornstarch to thicken up the mixture and cook another 10 minutes or so (don’t let your bell peppers get soggy).
  3. Serve with rice and your desired toppings.  Keep some milk/water nearby because it will light your mouth on fire (in a good way).

The Verdict:

Plentiful, spicy-ful, ridiculously easy, and definitely good for making you think about warmer climates, where there are no down coats and no domes looming in your future.

 

 

 

Homemade Granola.

Turns out when you’re pregnant, you wake up at night.  Repeatedly.  As far as I can tell, this is due to three main reasons:

  1. Baby throws all night “how hard can you thrash around” ragers.
  2. My bladder is now the size of a shelled pistachio.
  3. At some point around 4AM, my stomach realizes it hasn’t eaten in SIX WHOLE HOURS and the situation needs to be rectified, ASAP.

I have therefore spent far too many 4AM time slots contemplating what I will eat for breakfast.  After I made this for the first time, I’m happy to report my contemplation has changed from “what” I will eat, to “when” an appropriate time to go eat might be.

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Homemade Granola

  • 3 cups old fashioned oats
  • slightly less than 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • big pinch of salt
  • about 1/3 cup honey
  • slightly less than 1/4 cup vegetable, canola or coconut oil
  • dash vanilla extract
  • you can customize anyhow you like, but for my part, I like slightly more than a 1/2 cup each of the following ingredients:
    • unsweetened shredded coconut
    • slivered almonds
    • dried cranberries
  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the oats, sugar, cinnamon and salt.  Set aside for a moment.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the honey, oil, and a dash of vanilla.  Slowly mix together with the dry ingredients, until all oats are coated.
  4. On a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper, spread the oat mixture in a thin, even layer.  Bake at 300 for 15 minutes.
  5. In a small bowl, mix together your add-ins: coconut, cranberries, and almonds, in my case.
  6. Remove the oats from the oven and gently mix in your add-ins, so they’re evenly distributed in the pan.
  7. Pop the whole thing back into the oven for another 10-15 minutes, or until the oats are golden brown.
  8. Remove – and as hard as it is – let cool for about 10-15 minutes before stirring and breaking up the crumbles.  It’s worth it, trust me.

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The Verdict:

I can’t believe how late in life I came to this epiphany: granola is amazing.  Serve on top of a big bowl of plain Greek yogurt (I find the granola sweet enough) and berries, and watch your hunger dissipate for at LEAST 2-3 hours.