Crock Pot Curried Lentils

December 6, 2010

We at the Goose regard Julie as our resident authority on the subjects of style-on-a-budget and food.  When she told me about this Crock Pot lentil recipe, I could tell right away that it had all the makings of becoming my new family staple: ease, economy, ingredients that I usually have on hand and the ever-popular “curry factor.”

The hardest part to this recipe is just gathering all the spices the first time, if you don’t already have them. I recommend buying a large bag of garam masala — you’ll use a fair amount to make this soup, and then have it ready for the next time.  You don’t have to use a crock pot for this recipe; it will work fine on the stovetop with a heavy base pot with low to medium heat.

1 lb lentils

1 large onion

5 cloves garlic

4 grated carrots

2 ½ T tomato paste

3 tsp salt

1 tsp coriander

½ tsp cumin

3 bay leaves

2 qts boiling water

¾ cup olive oil

4 T balsamic vinegar

¼ tsp pepper

2 T garam masala

1 tsp curry powder

You can add other vegetables that you have on hand. Put everything in a crock pot and cook on high for at least 4 hours or on low for 7 hours.

-Kelly at the Goose

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I found this recipe when I was looking for something to make on Dinner Co-op night. As always with Dinner Co-Op, I needed something that would easily feed six adults and six kids.  This recipe, when doubled, fit the bill, and turned out to be quite a crowd pleaser. My kids had three servings each and were happy to hear they could have the leftovers the next day.

If I had a filing system for my recipes, I’d file this under “slumber party fare.”  For grown-up palates, I could see lightening this up in the summer by adding layers of fresh corn and tomatoes and a mound of cilantro on the side.  Either way, this quick, easy dish is sure to please the people at any party.

Ingredients

2 large onions, chopped

1 1/2 cups chopped green pepper

1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained

3/4 cup picante sauce

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained

8 (6 inch) corn tortillas

2 cups (8 ounces) shredded reduced-fat Mexican-blend cheese

OPTIONAL TOPPINGS:

1 1/2 cups shredded lettuce

1 cup chopped fresh tomatoes

1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions

1/2 cup sliced ripe olives

Directions

In a large saucepan, combine the onions, peppers, tomatoes, picante sauce, garlic and cumin. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Stir in the beans. Spread a third of the mixture in a 13-in. x 9-in. x 2-in. baking dish coated with nonstick cooking spray. Layer with four tortillas and 2/3 cup cheese. Repeat layers; top with remaining beans.

Cover and bake at 350 degrees F for 30-35 minutes or until heated through. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Let stand for 5 minutes or until cheese is melted. Serve with desired toppings.

-Kelly at the Goose

Unpacking the Bagged Lunch

January 30, 2010

I learned early on in my lunch-packing career that sending a nice, shiny apple in my kids’ lunches was simply sentencing that apple to a day of rolling around in a lunchbox only to return to me in the evening bruised, unappreciated and ready to become applesauce. Sometimes I dream of moving  to a tropical island, where I would send fresh kiwis and mangos with my children to school, and maybe even little coconuts with straws!  But, alas I live in Ithaca, NY, where apples are just about the only fruit that I can count on being able to afford year round.  Because of this, my household eats a lot of apples.and here’s what I do with them when I pack them in lunches. 

* Slice them and put them in a bowl (an apple slicer is very handy for this)

* Toss them with enough bottled lemon juice to cover the apple.            

* Sprinkle cinnamon sugar on them (make the cinnamon sugar up ahead of time and keep it in a shaker). 

* Put them in an air tight container and send them off!

Do you have a simple, healthful, lunchbox suggestion to share? The more ideas we can exchange the more we can collectively avoid those annoying lunchbox item boycotts!  To get you started, here is the short list of currently accepted lunchbox fare in my household:

*Peanut butter and banana sandwiches

*Peanut butter and honey sandwiches

*Hard -boiled eggs

*Tofu Kan

*Tofu pups with melted cheese and ketchup, wrapped in a tortilla (yes, they’re cold by the time they eat them)

*Homemade cookies that I freeze (see School Cookies and Lisa’s Sunflower Cookies)

*Dinner leftovers often work for one child, but not the other

*Tuna fish works for one, but not the other

*Veggie Stix (Good Healthy Natural Foods)

*Kashi TLC Cereal Bars

*One of my kids is a vegetarian now, so this isn’t exactly “currently” accepted, but turkey luncheon meat and cheese rolls used to work

Please help me add to this list!  My girls cannot live on cinnamon apples alone.  Leave your suggestions in the comments below, and then bask in the gratitude of lunch-packing moms everywhere.

-Kelly at the Goose

How long have you been a Mama Goose customer and how did you hear about us?

About 3 years. I think I noticed the old shop one day while I was visiting Ithaca. We stopped in and I’ve been a fan ever since!

How many kids do you shop for and how old are they?

I shop for my 3 kids (girls ages almost 6 and almost 7 and a boy 2.5) but I always keep an eye out for things to pick up for my friends kids too.

What are your favorite kinds of purchases at MG? Your biggest “score”?

I think my favorite purchases were a new ergo and prefolds! I used to buy all my diapers online, but shipping prefolds can be really expensive. It’s great to buy cloth diapers in person. I grab jeans and other pants when I can, but my middle child loves crazy skirts and dresses too.

Why are you in Ithaca?

I usually come to Ithaca just to visit Mama Goose! Really! I am planning a trip in the next week or two.

When I get a minute to myself, the first thing I want to do is.…

knit! Assuming all my housework and errands are done! I’m a single mom, so every minute without the kids is a great opportunity to play catch-up.

On a typical day, when I’m not with my kids, I can usually be found.…

running errands or at the local yarn shop.

I know I’m having a bad day when….

the kids are getting on my nerves. Usually we get along great and we all go with the flow. When I start to get irritated with them, I know I’m having a bad day.

The thing that scares me the most about being a parent is.…

the possibility that my kids won’t like me when they grow up.

The thing that brings me the most joy at this stage of parenting is….

crazy toddler antics! My two year old son is so funny and he creates so much trouble! It’s great being able to share it all with my girls. They have just as much fun observing (and rescuing) Finn.

My parenting mantra is….

“Treat them as you would like to be treated.”

One of my child’s favorite book or toy is….

“Nuggy”. It’s a blue bear head blankie that my oldest latched onto when she was a year old. Six years later Nuggy still goes almost everywhere with us, and my other two children help keep an eye on him.

One lesson I learned from an older family member is….

you do what you have to do. My late ex-grandmother-in-law used to tell me about how she took care of 9 children while her husband occasionally worked the graveyard shift. She told stories of scrubbing the floor on her hands and knees, beating rugs out on an old fence, and stretching every penny. She once said to me, “It didn’t matter if I had dropped dead on the kitchen floor. I’d still have to get up and make dinner.” She was a tough lady and a great inspiration.

Before kids, I never could have fathomed….

how much time you spend cleaning things! Cleaning children, cleaning clothing, cleaning dishes, cleaning floors….the list just goes on and on.

Two things that are different about me than five years ago are.…

I am much more patient and far better at being organized.

Most people in Ithaca don’t know that I once….

went bungee jumping in Italy.

I have to admit, I love my….

mini-van. I never wanted one, I didn’t want to be a soccer mom. I’m just way too cool to have a mini-van. Then of course the kids grew and didn’t fit in my little Saturn anymore. I sucked it up, bought a mini-van, and now I love it! It’s great having so much space! The kids aren’t squished and they have their own cupholders! I wish it was more fuel effiecient, so I don’t drive it all the time, only when I need too – but I still love it!

Someday I hope to return to….

Cozumel, Mexico. I could use a nice vacation!

Write your own tagline or motto.

I found this quote by Lady Bird Johnson in my page-a-day calender. “Walk away from it until you’re stronger. All your problems will be there when you get back, but you’ll be better able to cope.” I think it’s great advice.

A recipe you’d like to share is….

Peanut Butter Apple Wraps

Spread peanut butter, apple cinnamon cream cheese, and caramel apple dip on a whole wheat tortilla. Roll up and enjoy!

We also make this with peanut butter and bananas or apples.

Name one grocery item that can always be found in your kitchen.

Popsicles.

Your favorite business in Ithaca other than MG is….

I like to visit the yarn/fabric shop near the commons. Darn, I can’t think of the name. (Blogling note:  The store is called Homespun.)  They carry yarns I can’t find locally.  

Are you on Facebook and/or do you Tweet?

 I’m on Facebook, but I don’t use Twitter.

A group, club, organization, blog or business that you’d like to introduce and link to is…. 

http://freerangekids.wordpress.com/ I’ve been reading this blog for a while now and I really enjoy it.

-The Geese at the Goose

What is it about the texture of potatoes that turns some kids noses up? Deep fry them and parents and kids alike are rushing to the table. Boil them up in a soup and sideways glances and last minute dinner invitations to the neighbor’s ensue! At the Goose, we have found that this Rustic Potato Leek Soup is popular across the spectrum of young choosy eaters. And, the bonus, it’s super easy and quick to make.

Ingredients:

  • 4-5 pounds leeks
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter (works fine with Earth Balance margarine)
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 5 1/4 cups  chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 3/4 pound potatoes (about 5 medium), cut into 3/4-inch dice (peeled or not peeled, red or white)
  • Salt and ground black pepper

Directions:
Cut off roots and tough dark green portion of leeks, leaving white portion and about 3 inches of light green portion. Clean leeks. Slice leeks in half lengthwise and chop into 1-inch pieces. (about 11 cups.)

Heat butter in large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium-low heat until foaming.

Stir in leeks, increase heat to medium, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until leeks are tender but not mushy, 15 to 20 minutes; do not brown the leeks.

Sprinkle flour over leeks and stir to coat evenly. Cook until flour dissolves, about 2 minutes.

Increase heat to high; whisking constantly, gradually add stock.

Add bay leaf and potatoes, cover, and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, until potatoes are almost tender, 5 to 7 minutes.

Remove pot from heat and let stand, covered, until potatoes are tender and flavors meld, 10 to 15 minutes.

Discard bay leaf and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve immediately.

This soup can be refrigerated in airtight container for a day or two. Warm over low heat until hot; do not boil.

PotatoLeekSoup

Potato Leek Soup

There you have it, a great soup to warm your kitchen and family. Let us know if you tried it out or have  your own variations. We’re on Facebook and Twitter, so don’t be shy!

-The Geese at The Goose

Co-op Dinners

October 5, 2009

Imagine, 2 nights a week, a fully-prepared home cooked dinner arrives at your door for you and your family to enjoy.  It’s what our family calls The Dinner Co-op.
Here’s how our co-op works: Three families, including ours, have agreed to share the responsibility of nightly dinner preparation. Each family cooks one night a week for all three co-op families (five adults and six kids). Then, two nights a week each coop family receives a delicious meal!

Our Dinner Co-op is vegetarian and we limit cheese for one of the children. Other than that, I let my burgeoning produce drawer* be my inspiration and motivator.  This week, Chard poked out of every drawer in the fridge so I made Chard Cheese Pie from Laurel’s Kitchen.

Laurel's Chard Cheese Pie

Laurel's Chard Cheese Pie

I don’t know what possessed me, but I felt the perfect accompaniment to this dish was veggie pigs in a blanket. Yes, I did consider making the biscuits from scratch, but cut myself a break and bought the cans. They’re just so fun to open.

Vegie Pigs in a Blanket!

Vegie Pigs in a Blanket!

I absolutely love finishing off scraps and space hogs in the refrigerator so already I feel good about this coop. Currently, we’re making piping hot deliveries by car or on foot, but I’m dreaming of a large sturdy wagon.  And there goes the delivery service now …

Delivering dinner for 8.

Delivering dinner for 8.

Cooking for eleven people takes some adjusting. I found the easiest way for me to pull it off was to carve out one morning, or an entire slow moving day, for cooking. While I have everything out, I try to make a soup or something else for us to get through the weekend.  I bet we’re all over-cooking in an effort not to wind up short. I’m finding that I have a lot of leftovers to choose from when packing lunches. But, that’s a plus!

-Kelly Goose

*You too can have a burgeoning produce drawer. Check out this link for a CSA near you.  http://www.localharvest.org/