Sweet Potato Curry Soup

Saturday, October 1, 2011

September: Fall Harvest

The theme for this month arose from a place of selfishness.  I was in need of some apple-y goodness, along the lines of apple pie or apple crisp, and I knew that nothing would satisfy this desire until I had one of those fall treats in my belly.

Enter the Dine-o-round.

I didn't hesitate to select fall harvest as the theme.  Nor did I hesitate to shamelessly beg my most favorite-est dine-o-round pals to make one of those dishes for our dessert for the evening.  Lindsay happily obliged, and I knew that even if everything else was terrible, the night would be a success in my eyes thanks to some good ol' apple crisp.

Luckily for us, everything else tasted great, too.  Although, I'm still on the fence about whether or not sweet potatoes qualify as a fall harvest vegetable....

Fall Harvest Menu:

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Enchiladas -- It's really hard to screw up enchiladas (especially when you cheat and use store-bought enchilada sauce), and these tasted pretty good.  I personally felt as though there were a lot of competing flavors going on and think these would be better NOT served in enchilada form.  (I know!  The horror!)  Sweet potatoes and black beans are a great combination, but I would have enjoyed it more without the enchilada sauce.

Butternut Squash Tamales -- These tamales were amazing.  Period.  Sadly, Libby doesn't think they were worth the 2.5 hours it took to make them....  (Cue sad violin music.)  Libby made the following changes to the original recipe:  she only used one of the chilies and she discarded the seeds since her kids would be eating them, too.  However, the tamales didn't turn out very spicy and next time (glimmer of hope) she'd include both chilies, but still remove the seeds. Also, Libby didn't wrap the tamales with the ties, as the original recipe suggests; rather, she assembled them the standard way,  which she learned about via You Tube instructional video.

Apple Crisp -- This dish perfectly satisfied my cravings and I was more than happy to take some of the leftovers off of Lindsay's hands!  Lindsay used a mixture of Granny Smith and Golden Delicious apples and she said that next time she would omit the water in the recipe and reduce the sugar by half to let the natural sweetness of the apples shine through.

If you're looking for a little fall inspiration in the kitchen, I would recommend any of these delicious dishes!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

April: Mexican!

For the April Dine-O-Round I chose Mexican Night as the theme. I made one old favorite recipe (with a twist) and a couple new ones. Libby and Mel also brought some very tasty dishes and I think the whole thing was definitely a success!

My husband LOVES Mexican food and will let me make enchiladas whenever I want. The problem is, I hate rolling them. I find it time consuming, messy, and frustrating (because the corn tortillas break so easily and I hate having to heat them up in small groups). I learned a trick from the Godsey's though, which is to tear the corn tortillas into quarters and turn the enchiladas into a layered casserole. Same great flavor and tons easier! My next project will be to make homemade enchilada sauce, as I'm just not feeling satisfied with the canned stuff.

 Cottage Cheese Chicken Enchiladas
 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - boiled and shredded
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 (7 ounce) can chopped green chile peppers
  • 1 (1 ounce) package taco seasoning mix
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 cups cottage cheese
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pinch ground black pepper
  • 12 (6 inch) corn tortillas
  • 2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1 (10 ounce) can red enchilada sauce 

  1. To Make Meat Mixture: Heat oil in medium skillet over medium high heat. Add chicken, onion and green chile peppers and saute until browned, then add taco seasoning and prepare meat mixture according to package directions.
  2. To Make Cheese Mixture: In a medium bowl mix sour cream with cottage cheese and season with salt and pepper; stir until well blended.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  4. To Assemble Enchiladas: Heat tortillas until soft. In each tortilla place a spoonful of meat mixture, a spoonful of cheese mixture and a bit of shredded cheese. Roll tortillas and place in a lightly greased 9x13 inch baking dish. Top with any remaining meat and cheese mixture, enchilada sauce and remaining shredded cheese.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 30 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly.  
Another one of my favorite chicken enchilada (or any other chicken dish) tips is to use rotisserie chicken and save yourself the time of cooking it yourself. Plus its so yummy!!
I also made a black bean and corn salad with a lime dressing that I thought was AWESOME. I will definitely be making it again, and also plan to use the lime dressing on my next taco salad. The recipe is pretty flexible and could be good with orzo or quinoa.

Black Bean & Corn Salad with Lime Dressing 

  • 1/3 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen corn kernels
  • 1 avocado - peeled, pitted and diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 6 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
  1. Place lime juice, olive oil, garlic, salt, and cayenne pepper in a small jar. Cover with lid, and shake until ingredients are well mixed.
  2. In a salad bowl, combine beans, corn, avocado, bell pepper, tomatoes, green onions, and cilantro. Shake lime dressing, and pour it over the salad. Stir salad to coat vegetables and beans with dressing, and serve.  
Mel brought some Spanish rice that was quite tasty.
I think dessert really took the night. Libby made an AMAZING Tres Leches cake (so amazing that Andy has requested it for his birthday next week). I hope I can do it! And to go with it I made Spicy Mexican Chocolate Semifreddo. I had ribbed and seeded the jalapenos for the semifreddo and next time I think I'll leave those in to up the spice a bit.

Spicy Mexican Chocolate Semifreddo
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream, chilled
  • 1 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped
  • 2 jalapeño chiles, chopped
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Two 4-ounce bars bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


  1. Line a greased 4 1/2-by-8 1/2-inch loaf pan with plastic wrap, leaving a 2-inch overhang. In a saucepan, bring 1/2 cup cream, the mint and jalapeños to a boil, then remove from the heat and let stand for 15 minutes. Strain; discard the solids.
  2. In a double boiler, using a handheld electric mixer, beat the eggs, sugar and salt at high speed until tripled in volume and thick, about 8 minutes. Remove the bowl from the water and beat the mixture until cooled to room temperature, about 5 minutes. Mix in the jalapeño cream, chocolate and cinnamon; stir in the vanilla.
  3. Using clean beaters, mix the remaining 1 cup cream until stiff peaks form. Fold about one-third of the whipped cream into the chocolate mixture, then fold in the rest. Spoon into the prepared loaf pan, cover and freeze until firm, about 5 hours.
  4. Uncover the semifreddo and invert onto a chilled platter. Slice crosswise into 6 pieces and sprinkle with more cinnamon before serving.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Indian in August!

Hi all (3 of you)!  Sorry for the super looong hiatus.  It's pretty much all my fault.  

We did not end up doing the "dining in the dark" theme because none of us could think of particularly good foods to do, but rest assured, now that we have all been exposed to the idea, we will all keep it in the back of our minds, ready to notice the perfect foods when they make themselves known.  
I then changed the theme to be Melon and we were all set to go, and then the day of the event, I ended up with some stomach bug and so we post-poned.

I decided to change the theme yet again because I wasn't particularly ecstatic about the dish I chose, and Melons weren't particularly in season as they were before, AND I finally found a great Chicken Tikka Masala recipe, so I had to do Indian before someone else took it!  Jay and I love Indian food.  We actually went out for Indian on our first date <3
I think everything turned out rather well! The Chicken Tikka Masala may not be exactly authentic, but it tasted great to me, and more similar to the one at Bombay House than any other recipe I've tried.  (and I've tried many...)  It's relatively easy too, and it's great for summer because the chicken is grilled.  I will say, though, that I hate grilling chicken on skewers (it's such a pain to flip them!) so I just cut my chicken into long skinny strips for the grill and then cut them up to bite-sized with my wooden spoon when I added them to the sauce.

I also made my own Naan- it's not actually that hard, the trickiest part being getting the setting on your stove just right so you don't burn them.  I just used regular all-purpose flour.
Lindsay made the Samosas from a recipe I've tried in my Moosewood cookbook.  It is a really awesome vegetarian cookbook, for anyone interested.  It's really old and everything in it is hand-written and hand-drawn.  I always have quite a bit of extra filling when I'm done, but that's fine with me because it's delicious by itself and actually makes great baby food.

Vegetable Samosas
from Moosewood Cookbook pg. 155

1 hour to prepare (before frying)                    4 or 5 servings as main

These are turnovers with a yogurt pastry and a curried vegetable filling.  They are deep fried until golden and crisp, and served immediately.  You can assemble them several hours in advance, storing them in refigeration until frying time.  Serve them with chutney and plenty of raita (both of these in Sauce Chapter) and chunks of fresh, raw fruits and vegetables.

    2 lg potatoes, cooked and mashed
    1 c finely-minced onion
    2 med. cloves crushed garlic
    ½ t fresh-grated ginger root
    ½ t mustard seeds
    ½ t ground coriander
    ½ c diced carrots, cooked until just tender
    ½ c cooked green peas (cayenne pepper to taste)
    1 t. salt
    juice from ½ lemon
    2-3 T butter

Heat butter in heavy skillet.  Add garlic, ginger, onion, salt and mustard seeds.  Saute 6-8 min, or until onion is soft and clear.  Combine all ingredients, except peas, and mix well.  Fold in peas last, taking care not to smash them.

Pastry & Procedure:
    2 c white flour
    1 t salt
    4 T melted butter
    ⅓ c yogurt
    water (<= ¼ c)

Sift together flour and salt.  Add melted butter, yogurt, and enough water to make a stiff dough.  Knead until smooth and elastic.  Roll out very thin ( ¼ -inch) on a floured board and cut into 4-inch circles.  Keep rolling and cutting until you’ve used all the dough.  PLace a T of filling (approximately... You might be able to fit more in.) in the center of each circle,leaving edges free.  Brush edges with a little water, fold over, and seal with a fork.

Heat a 3-inch pool of vegetable, safflower or soy oil in a heavy skillet to about 365 degrees.  Make sure the oil is hot enough (it should bounce a drop of water on contact.) Fry samosas until golden.  Drain well and serve.
Melissa made the Lassi's for a kind of dessert (in our experience, Indian desserts aren't that great...)  I've never heard of strawberry lassi's before but it was really good.  Melissa made two batches, the first with cinnamon instead of cardamom, and the second with cardamom.  Surprisingly, I think we all liked it better with cinnamon, though I would never think to put those two together.

All in all, we left stuffed and completely satisfied.

Monday, April 18, 2011

May's Theme...

I listened to a Meal Makeover Mom's podcast where they went to an event in Boston called "Dining in the Dark".  It sounded so fun I thought I'd do it too!  The idea is basically this: we would taste our food more thoroughly if we took more time to eat and really focused on our food when we ate.  They achieve this by eating blind-folded and they aren't told what they're eating.  This means, no silverware.  (because we are not skilled blind people who could do this without making a mess!)  All the foods had interesting or mixed textures and/or some kind of interesting/notable/pungent flavor.  We are not allowed to tell each other what we are serving.  I can't wait to see what everyone comes up with!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Holiday Feast

Wow. The Dinoround gals have truly let the blog go. The February dinoround is coming up on Saturday, and the last two dinners haven't even been documented!! It has been discussed with the ladies and we have decided it is officially the responsibility of the dinoround hostess to document her event in a timely manner. So let's see...that means the November dinoround is all ME (Lindsay).

The theme: Gourmet Holiday Feast

Inspiration: Last year (2010) I had subscribed to Martha Stewart FOOD magazine and around the holidays it was chalk full of really nice looking holiday fare. I just couldn't pass it up. At least three of the dishes were straight from the mag.

Here are some of the guests:Don't forget about this little guest.
And this little guest.
I wanted to keep the decor (or "tablescape" as the Food Network likes to call it...) fairly simple, but I couldn't help but get a nice arrangement for the centerpiece.
And of course, what kind of holiday meal is complete without sparkling cider?
Now...the food. We'll start with the main course and work our way down. First we have Martha's rib roast with herb crust. It came out a little rare, but I thought it was pretty darn tasty.
For side dishes we had Martha's spinach and gruyere souffle, compliments of Libby. I thought it tasted fantastic.
Melissa brought a classic: green bean casserole and it was very tasty.
I also made rolls. And by "made" I mean let rise and baked. I haven't yet had the urge to pursue the "bread arts", but right now I am in the process of testing all of the brands of frozen dough to find out which one is best. Any suggestions?
And finally, dessert. Martha's maple cheesecake with roasted pears.
I thought it was pretty good, but all in all I think I am done with Martha Stewart desserts. This is the third or fourth one I've tried and they are just a bit too snooty for me. They never taste more than pretty good, and they can be rather difficult to make look even remotely as pretty as the picture in the magazine. I think I'm going to stick to simpler and more ooey gooey mouth watering desserts from now on.

December was a busy month so we decided to skip to January. And for that we turn to Libby!!!

February's Theme...

Breakfast for dinner!

And stay tuned for updates of the last two dine-o-round get togethers.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Mini Foods

January's theme was mini foods.  Honestly, I mostly chose this because I really wanted to make my new favorite meatloaf recipe, and I like cooking it in muffin tins so you can make extra and freeze the amount your family will eat for later.  I decided mini-cornbread muffins were also appropriate.
The meatloaf is a Test Kitchen recipe, altered by my mother-in-law.  Here's a link to my google doc with her edits.  The glaze is sooo good and the meatloaf is especially tender and moist because of the secret ingredient- gelatin.  Weird eh?  If you're going to use the muffin tins, make sure you use extra lean ground beef, otherwise you will be super grossed out by the congealed fat that will appear on the surface.

The cornbread muffins are from The Bread Bible - I've really liked this cookbook so far.
You can see the changes I made at my note at the very bottom.

Melissa outdid herself and made mini quiches and sweet potato fries.  Both of which were delicious!

Lindsay cheated and bought her mini sesame seed cheesecakes from Les Madeleines.  I thought they were good, but I don't think anyone else was crazy about the sesame after-taste.  (I did have a cold though and was super congested, perhaps I didn't get the full taste).