What We Ate This Week: Week 2

If you missed the introduction to this series of posts last week, you can catch up here: Week 1.

Sunday - Beef & Vegetable Stir Fry

I tried a new recipe, and while it had good flavor (the one change I made was to use half the oyster sauce, replacing the other half with hoisin as another beef stir fry recipe suggested) I will probably use a low sodium soy sauce next time. It was a little too salty. These brightly colored vegetables were very welcome on a bitter and windy day.

Monday - Chicken Marsala

On Monday we celebrated my grandfather-in-law's birthday. I made Chicken Marsala with sliced Baby Bella mushrooms, whole wheat pasta, oven fried garlic Parmesan green beans, a salad, bread (a store bought loaf), and a lemon cake.

Tuesday - Tacos

No picture, no recipe. Everyone knows how to make tacos, right? :)

Wednesday - Thai Chicken Soup

The combination of fiery heat, sweet coconut, and bright citrus flavor is so good for cold outside and colds within. The worst respiratory ick that I can remember having in quite some time descended on our family mid week, prompting this meal that always feels like health in a bowl. Y'all, I miss being able to breathe.

Using this recipe as a base, I add julienned vegetables and substitute kaffir lime leaves for the lime juice. The minute those lime leaves hit the hot soup, magic happens.

Thai Chicken Soup

1-2 T. light olive or vegetable oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 T. minced fresh ginger
4 cloves of minced garlic
2-4 T. Thai green curry paste, depending on how much heat you like
32 oz. chicken broth
1 19 oz. can coconut milk
2 T. fish sauce
4 T. brown sugar
12 kaffir lime leaves
1/2 tsp. turmeric (optional, for color)
1 1/2 lbs. chicken breasts, sliced 1/4" thick
a few cups uniformly sliced/chopped vegetables--I do two sweet bell peppers, a few carrots, and a large zucchini

For serving:
Cooked and rinsed rice noodles
Chopped peanuts

Heat the oil in a large stock pot over medium heat. Saute onions until soft, then add the ginger and garlic. Saute 1 minute, then add the cream from the coconut milk, the curry paste, and the chicken, as well as any hard vegetables, like carrots. Cook, stirring, until the chicken begins to lose its pinkness. Add the rest of the coconut milk, chicken broth, fish sauce, sugar, turmeric, and lime leaves, torn width-wise to release the flavor. Bring to a low boil, add bell peppers, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer gently until vegetables are tender, then add any additional soft vegetables, like zucchini. Continue simmering a few minutes until all the vegetables are tender but not mushy, and chicken is cooked through. To serve, ladle soup over rice noodles and top with peanuts.

Thursday - Pumpkin, Barley, and Sausage Soup

I've blogged about this soup before, with a more appetizing picture.

Friday - Chana Masala/Punjabi Chole

I might be the only person with an Instant Pot who isn't completely in love with it. I have sometimes had to give it a little push to make it seal properly even after extensive troubleshooting, and it has sometimes had trouble coming to pressure with the amount of food I've tried to cook in it, even though I have a large pot, adequate room and liquid, etc. etc. About half the recipes I've tried for it have also been duds for one reason or another, either lacking in flavor complexity or in the opposite direction, far too salty. I did not prefer the pulled pork I made under pressure to the pulled pork I've made in my slow cooker. Some things just taste better cooked low and slow, or browned in cast iron (everything tastes better cooked in cast iron, imo). That said, once in a while it does something really well, and then I'm glad to have it. This Chana Masala was one of those things. I read about half a dozen recipes, then mashed together the spices from these two in a way that made sense to me, and possibly will not to anyone else. :)

I happened to have dried split desi chickpeas (chana dal) on hand, so that's what I used. I soaked them for about 2 hours beforehand in hot water, changing the water twice. Most recipes call for whole chickpeas, and say to soak for 8 hours or overnight.

Instant Pot Chana Masala

2 cups dried, soaked chickpeas
2 T. oil or ghee
1 onion, finely chopped
1 bay leaf
2 tsp. minced garlic
2 tsp. minced ginger
2 tomatoes, chopped (I used a 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes)
2 tsp. coriander powder
2 tsp. dried mango powder (amchur)
2 tsp. cumin powder (most recipes say it should be roasted cumin powder)
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. chana masala spice powder
1 tsp. turmeric
4 green cardamom pods
1/2 tsp. black pepper
2- 2 1/2 cups water (I used the larger amount)
cilantro leaves, for garnish (optional)

Using the saute function, heat the oil in the Instant Pot. Add the onion and bay leaf and cook, stirring, until the onion begins to brown. Add the garlic and ginger, stir, then add the tomatoes. Cook for 5-7 minutes until the mixture reduces slightly and begins to form a paste.  Add the spices, stir, then add the chickpeas and water, and stir again. Secure the lid, close the pressure valve, and cook for 35 minutes on high pressure. Release pressure, discard the cardamom and bay leaf, and serve with rice or Indian bread.

Saturday - Chili & corn bread

Our favorite, slightly sweet cornbread recipe comes from the The Fanny Farmer Baking Book. My ground beef chili is easy, and I tend to eyeball amounts. Generally, I brown about 1 1/2 lbs. ground beef with a diced onion and a few cloves of minced garlic, two diced bell peppers, and a diced jalapeno or two. Add 1 tsp. salt, 1 heaping T. of chili powder, 1 T. of taco seasoning, 2 tsp. ground cumin, 1/2 tsp. oregano, and a bay leaf, and stir. Add a 28oz. can of crushed tomatoes, a can of corn, drained, and 3 cans of beans, drained and rinsed; last night it was two cans of black beans and one of red. Then simmer for at least 45 minutes-1 hour. Depending on how thick or soupy you like your chili, you might like more tomato. You can add red pepper flakes or more jalapenos for additional heat. I typically taste it after it has simmered for a half hour or so, and tweak seasonings if I need to.


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