Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Spicy Peanut Stew with Butternut Squash and Chickpeas

My mouth instantly started to water as this stew began to rumble on my stovetop.  Smells of garlic, ginger, cumin, and cinnamon filled my house and I could hardly wait for dinner (I made it early in the day and had to fight the urge not to eat it for lunch).  There is something about a big pot of stew that speaks to the comfort food girl inside of me.  (It also speaks to leftover girl inside me...I love good leftovers for lunch and this makes really, really great leftovers.)

Spicy Peanut Stew with Butternut Squash and Chickpeas

3 tablespoons canola oil
2 medium red onion, finely diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 Serrano pepper, seeded and finely chopped
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 can (14.5 ounces) crushed fire roasted tomatoes
1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste
1 cup creamy natural peanut butter
4 cups vegetable stock
1 butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2" chunks (about 1 pound 4 ounces of cubed squash)
2 cups cooked chickpeas
1/2 cup spicy peanuts, roughly chopped (recipe follows)

To Serve

Grain of choice
Finely chopped kale or roughly chopped baby spinach
Cherry tomatoes, sliced
Cilantro, roughly chopped
Spicy Peanuts

Add the oil to a large soup pot set over medium heat.  Heat oil until it just starts to sizzle then add the chopped onions and sauté until transparent; about 5-6 minutes.  Add the garlic, Serrano pepper, and ginger and sauté for 1-2 minutes.  Next, add the cumin, turmeric, and cinnamon and stir until everything is combined and the spices are fragrant.

Add the fire roasted tomatoes, tomato paste, peanut butter, and vegetable stock to the pot and stir to combine.  Stir in the squash, chickpeas, and chopped spicy peanuts.  Bring the stew to a low rumble and reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 35-40 minutes or until the squash is just tender.

Serve the stew in bowls and top with a scoop of your favorite grain, finely chopped kale (or spinach), sliced cherry tomatoes, cilantro, and spicy peanuts.

*I actually like to put my greens in the bowl first and pour the hot stew over the top.  This helps soften the greens especially if you’re using kale.

Spicy Peanuts

1 1/2 teaspoons canola oil
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
A generous pinch of fine sea salt
1 cup dry roasted unsalted peanuts

In a small bowl, stir together the oil and spices.  Add peanuts to the bowl and toss to evenly coat.  Heat a small skillet over medium heat; add peanuts and cook for 3-5 minutes or until the peanuts are hot and just barely toasted.  Remove from skillet and let cool.

Recipe slightly adapted from Oh, Ladycakes 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Hot Chocolate and Cacao Nib Whipped Cream

The temperature outside is quickly dropping and winter is just around the corner.  Yesterday was cookie day and it was a balmy 34° while I was selling.  My fingers were near frozen, practically icicles.  It also snowed this past week and our grass held on to the first dusting of snow (at least for a few hours) which sent me in full hot chocolate mode.  Every year around this time I break out my white hot chocolate mug and enjoy a really hot (like almost burn your tongue hot) cup of hot chocolate after my kiddies are tucked in bed.  I love it so much (especially with the new addition).

So what's this new addition?  I'm so excited to tell you.  Yesterday while eating lunch I was listening to a podcast where the subject was cacao nibs.  Just a few weeks ago I purchased three packages of cacao nibs from Amazon (have I mentioned that I really love Amazon) and those nibs were calling out from my pantry to be used.  During the podcast they mentioned a cacao nib infused whipped cream and a cacao nib sable cookie and within moments I had cream and cacao nibs in a small saucepan heating on my stove and some butter, sugar and eggs mixing in my kitchen aid.  Sometimes I can't help myself and I get impatient and need to make something the moment I hear about it.  Well I'm very happy to say that this cacao nib infused whipped cream has made my cup of hot chocolate even more dreamy and delicious.  Often when reading (or in this case listening) about a recipe I become impatient and have to make the recipe right then.  My impatience paid off this time (being impatient doesn't usually fare so well).  I love that the cream is unsweetened and has bitter undertones, it really is the perfect partner for my cup of hot chocolate.

Cacao Nib Whipped Cream

1 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup roasted cacao nibs

Place heavy cream and cacao nibs in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.  Remove from heat and cover.  Let steep for 30-40 minutes.  Set a strainer over a bowl and pour cream/cacao nib mixture through the strainer, pressing on the solids to extract the liquid.  Discard the cacao nibs.  Chill the cream for several hours or until very cold.  Just before serving, whip the cream to your desired consistency.  Serve on top of your favorite hot chocolate (this is mine) along with a sprinkle of cacao nibs.  Perfect!

Recipe adapted from SCHARFFEN BERGER