One of the hardest parts about giving up six main food groups and items for baby A (she has protein digestion issues so I’m not eating dairy, wheat, eggs, fish, soy or peanuts) is finding quick, easy weeknight meals. Through a lot of trial and error, J and I have learned that some meals that look easy aren’t and some that look time-consuming are actually simple. This is a simple one. We’d put off making Lamb Tagine with Potatoes and Chickpeas from Williams Sonoma because it looked complicated. We were throughly surprised to learn it was easy and perfect for a busy weeknight.
Lamb Tagine with Potatoes and Chickpeas
In a small fry pan over medium-low heat, toast the cumin and coriander seeds, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 5 minutes.
Transfer to a spice grinder, add the peppercorns, paprika, ginger and the 2 tsp. salt and grind until well combined. Set aside. If using ground, skip the grinding step and just combine in a small bowl. Mix with a fork.
In a tagine over medium-high heat, warm 1 tablespoon of the olive oil until almost smoking. Working in batches, brown the lamb on all sides, 3 to 4 minutes total. Transfer to a plate. If you don't have a tagine, we used our most favorite pasta pot.
Add the remaining oil and the onion to the tagine or pot, reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring, until translucent, about 8 to 10 minutes.
Add the garlic and the spice mixture, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is caramelized, about 2 more minutes.
Add the lamb, water, potatoes and the 1/4 cup cilantro and bring to a simmer.
Cover the tagine or pot and adjust the heat so the mixture gently simmers.
Cook for 45 minutes, then add the chickpeas and lemon juice.
Continue cooking until the lamb is tender, about 45 minutes more. Taste and adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper.
Garnish with cilantro and serve. Accompany with couscous or rice.
I LOVE this dish. It’s flavorful and warming and just delicious. It’s as good cold as it is right from the stove.
Life with a newborn (now technically an infant!) was hectic before I went back to work. Now, it’s even more of a whirlwind and I started looking for shortcuts for many meals, especially breakfast. Since my usual dairy laden cereal and breakfast bar are now out due to baby A’s milk protein issues. Enter my favorite kitchen appliance (aside from the food processor): the crockpot.
With some steel cut oats, the applesauce I made and froze this fall and a few other ingredients I had an easy breakfast that I didn’t have to think about! Even better, it was automatically dairy free!
Overnight Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal
Spray the crockpot with non-stick spray. Add the apple sauce.
Add the water and cinnamon and sugar.
Stir to combine. Just make sure the oats are all in contact with the liquid.
Cover and cook on low for at least 7 hours.
I accidentally cooked mine for 9 and it turned out fine. This is what it looked like when I woke up.
Spoon into bowls and enjoy!
Optional: If you are using plain applesauce, plan to add some cinnamon. You can also sweeten with honey or white sugar if you prefer. You can also add nutmeg.
Delicious, easy and filling. I can’t wait to try more overnight breakfast options especially as baby A grows! It also reheats well if you have leftovers.
In case you haven’t guessed, I love bread. I especially love fresh from the oven, homemade bread. While at Langlois Culinary Crossroads in New Orleans for cooking school, I learned just how easy it is to make delicious, wonderful bread at home. From scratch. Even though it officially takes two days, I promise it is really worth it.
Note: The most important ingredient is a clay or cast iron dutch oven or clay pot with a tight-fitting lid. We found this one from Lodge on sale and couldn’t be happier.
Langlois Crusty Bread
Wish together the flour, salt and yeast in your favorite mixing bowl.
Add the water and mix until a "shaggy mixture" forms.
As Chef Matt said when showing us how to make this, it should look like a wet dog.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside for at least 12 hours or overnight. Longer in this case is better.
The next day (or 12 hours later) place the dutch oven and lid in a 450-degree oven so the pot and the oven are heating at the same time.
Turn out the dough on a heavily floured surface and shape into a ball.
When the oven (and the dutch oven) reach 450 degrees, place the dough in the center of a piece of parchment paper and put the whole thing in the dutch oven with the parchment paper side down.
Cover with the lid and either return to the oven, or slide the wire rack back in and close the oven door (I find the second way to be the easiest rather than trying to lift the super hot dutch oven in and out of the oven more than once).
Cook covered for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, remove the lid and reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees.
Bake for an additional 30 minutes.
Remove the bread from the oven and place on a cooling rack. (This means take it out of the dutch oven.)
There are directions for stuffed bread, but I haven’t tried it yet. I want to get the basics down first. In my first few trials (and errors!) I learned valuable lessons, like the difference between iodized and kosher salt, that sometimes the times are off and it is ok to cook bread a little longer to get a more golden crust. If you do accidentally use iodized salt and the bread is a bit on the salty side, treat it like a bagel and just don’t salt the eggs for the bagel, egg and cheese sandwich (it evens out in the end). It’s been hard not to make this every single weekend since we returned!
I always thought baklava was too complex to try at home. Then C found this amazing recipe in The Complete Middle East Cook Book and not only proved me wrong, but it was hands down the best baklava I’ve ever had.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
If your walnuts and almonds are whole, or not ground pretty fine, throw them in the food processor.
Mix the nuts, sugar and spices together in a bowl.
Butter the sides and bottom of a large baking dish.
Place one sheet of the fillo dough on the bottom of the baking dish and brush with melted butter. Repeat eight times.
Spread some of the nut mixture over the buttered fillo dough. Top with another sheet of fillo dough.
Top with a second sheet of fillo dough.
Spread the remaining nut mixture over butter fillo dough.
Top with the remaining nine sheets of fillo dough, making sure to butter each sheet. Brush the top with butter and using a sharp knife, cut a diamond shape and sprinkle with water to prevent the top layers from curling.
Bake on the center shelf for 30 minutes.
Then move up one shelf and cook for another 30 minutes. You'll want to keep an eye on it, if the top browns too quickly, cover with foil.
While the baklava is cooking, make the syrup. Note: we've discovered the longer the syrup sits, the better it is. We've even canned it for later.
Place the sugar, water and honey in a medium-sized pot over medium heat.
Stir until the sugar is dissolved.
Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil.
Be careful! This boils quickly and the last thing you want is for the mixture to boil over. Manage your heat and let boil for 15 minutes. We found stirring continuously helps prevent boil overs.
When the baklava is done baking, spoon the syrup over the pastry. Leave it alone for several hours (this step is the hardest, but I promise it is worth it).
My opinion: This recipe takes more than the hour of baking time and makes at least 30 pieces. You might want to cut them small, unlike some treats this is best in small, completely satisfying quantities.
For Oscar night back in February, J found the perfect dishes to go with Argo. After that first try, we perfected this hummus recipe, which was surprisingly easy. Everyone who tried it liked it and I wish we’d made a bigger batch this last time. A side of Garlic Bagel Chips absolutely makes this dish!
2 15-ounce cans garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons tahini (sesame seed paste, we found ours in the ethnic isle at HyVee)
3 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice (we didn’t have fresh lemons on hand and just used the refrigerator version)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 1/2 teaspoons minced canned chipotle chilies (we used chipotles in adobo sauce, which added an extra smokey flavor and we also available at HyVee)
2 large garlic cloves, minced (in truth we used about a tablespoon total)
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 4-ounce jar sliced pimientos in oil, drained
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro (if you have it, great, if not no big deal)
Reserve 3 tablespoons garbanzo beans for garnish if you want, we didn’t and just food processed them in. Tip: do not use a blender. I’ve tried and promise you’ll regret it. Burned out motors do not smell appetizing! Using a food processor, pulse the remaining garbanzo beans and next seven ingredients until smooth. Add pimientos and pulse until pimientos are coarsely chopped. Transfer hummus to a medium bowl. Stir in cilantro. Season hummus to taste with salt and pepper (we used sea salt and white pepper). Sprinkle with reserved garbanzo beans. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Bring to room temperature before serving.) Accompany with bagel chips.
I’ve only recently joined the ranks of those who like hummus and now that I’ve tasted this will never go back to store-bought blandness. It was so easy and with the extra garlic and white pepper a future go-to dish for carry-ins and pot lucks.