Resolutions and Chicken Curry

cheap easy chicken curry vegan paleo options gluten-freeDid you make New Year’s resolutions? I almost never do. It seems to me if that if you want to change something in your life, you should just do it — go for it — change it, not try to force yourself to do that at an arbitrary time like the beginning of the year.

There is something symbolic and oddly satisfying about starting the new year with the best of intentions, though, with the optimism inherent in deciding that this year is going to be different. This year, I’ll make it to the gym three times a week. This year, I’ll keep up with blog posts. This year, I’ll finally read the financial magazines my husband constantly leaves around the house. This year, I’ll work harder to bring my lunch, not buy it.

Bringing my lunch is always a goal I’m working to achieve. Though I do get a break in the middle of the day for lunch, it’s also my chance to run errands, get a few extra hours in, or practice yoga. And with the price of a Cobb salad at my favorite lunch place reaching $10, it’s cheaper to bring lunch, too.

Curry is perfect for the purpose. It does have a smell, but it’s the kind that will have your officemates jealously wondering what you brought. It’s not too spicy, so you won’t spend the rest of the day smelling like it, and best of all — it has vegan and Paleo options to help you meet your other resolutions.

I borrowed most of this recipe from this one at Food52. The chickpeas were a last-second inspiration, but I love how they help stretch just a few chicken thighs into a meal that can feed you for at least three lunches. If you’re vegan, swap out the chicken for chickpeas and add the extra curry directly to the sauce. If you’re Paleo, swap out the chickpeas for extra chicken and maybe bump up the curry a little.

Whatever way you do it, it’s a delicious way to start the year off right.

Easy Chicken Curry
 
Author: Kate Wutz
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 20 mins
Total time: 30 mins
Serves: 4
A warm and comforting chicken curry with vegan and Paleo options that will help you stick to your New Year’s resolution of bringing lunch to work. Or, you know, just being an awesome cook.
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, pressed
  • 2 1/2 tsp curry powder, separated
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (omit if desired)
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 2 tsp tomato paste
  • 3 boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into bize-sized pieces
  • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can full-fat coconut milk (make sure it’s thoroughly blended! Shake it up.)
  • White or cauliflower rice, if desired, for serving
Instructions
  1. Heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook for 6-8 minutes or until soft. Add the garlic and cook for another minute, then add 1 tsp curry powder, remaining spices, and tomato paste. Stir to combine.
  2. Toss chicken pieces in a plastic bag with the remaining 1 1/2 tsp curry powder and salt and pepper to taste. Add to pan and cook until they start to brown, about eight minutes. Add chickpeas about three minutes in.
  3. Once chicken in brown, pour in coconut milk and stir to combine. Simmer over medium-low heat for about ten minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. Serve with white or cauliflower rice, naan, or whatever your heart desires.
 
Notes
To make vegan, simply replace the chicken with another 15-ounce can of chickpeas. Add the extra 1 1/2 tsp curry to the onions with the rest of the spices.[br]To make Paleo, replace chickpeas with three more chicken thighs and continue as directed.

 

 

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Pumpkin Caramel Chai Ice Cream

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You guys are going to flip your lids. I’m not kidding. This is the best vegan ice cream I’ve ever made, and it’s totally perfect for those of you who are, you know, not in Idaho where the weather is feeling fall-ish. 

It all started when I had kind of a revelation a few weeks back. There was a business trip, I was tired, and I was craving a pumpkin spice latte…but it was 75 degrees outside. Luckily, apparently someone had anticipated this very problem, because there exists in this world a frozen blended pumpkin spice coffee situation. I’m almost embarrassed to tell you guys how fast I sucked one down.

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Anyway, that and this wonderful brown sugar bourbon ice cream recipe from the New York Times inspired this vegan pumpkin caramel chai ice cream. Turns out, pumpkin and coconut milk go together incredibly well, as do coconut milk and chai and pumpkin and chai. The whole experience of eating this is incredibly harmonious, as the spices add warmth and bring out the sweetness of the pumpkin.

The minimal brown sugar is worth it for this treat, in my opinion. It’s just enough to add a velvety caramel note that brings together all of the other flavors. However, if you are very anti-refined sugar, you can just use maple syrup, though the flavors won’t be as complex. 

Top this with some candied pecans, extra caramel sauce, or just enjoy alone out of the freezer as we’ve been doing. It’s a great way to bring a taste of fall into warmer climates.

Pumpkin Caramel Chai Ice Cream
 
Author: Kate Wutz
Serves: 1 quart
A vegan ice cream infused with notes of caramel, chai tea, and that ubiquitous pumpkin. Stir into coffee if you’re feeling really naughty.
Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • 2 14-ounce cans coconut milk, full fat
  • 1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom
  • pinch black pepper
Instructions
  1. In a large saucepan, heat the brown sugar and water over medium-low heat until the sugar melts and the caramel turns reddish-brown.
  2. Add coconut milk and stir. Don’t panic when your caramel freezes up! It will melt as your coconut milk heats up. Continue to stir over medium-low heat until the coconut milk has totally come together (no lumps) and the caramel is totally incorporated.
  3. Remove from heat. Whisk in pumpkin puree, vanilla, and spices. Taste at this point and adjust spices as desired.
  4. Put saucepan in the fridge and cool for about two hours. Freeze ice cream according to your ice cream maker’s instructions (though mine took about 30 minutes). Store in the freezer; take out of freezer about 10 mins before serving and allow to soften.
 

 

Vegan Pumpkin Cheesecake

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Guess what? It’s finally — finally — pumpkin season for real. The leaves are changing, the nights are freezing (in Idaho, anyway) and the grocery stores are full of giant winter squashes. I ordered a Pumpkin Spice Latte the other day. ‘Tis the season.

I know you guys are excited, too — and that’s why I’m posting two weeks of sweet and savory pumpkin recipes! Because when it’s pumpkin season, I fully believe you should take advantage of that. Throw that stuff in everything. I am.

vegan gluten-free pumpkin cheesecake 1

This vegan cheesecake recipe is not just another pumpkin post, though. This is the vegan cheesecake that made me realize that regular cheesecake is not my favorite. Why would anyone ever eat an overly rich and super-sweet slice of modified cream cheese when they could be eating this incredible goodness? 

I finally worked out the kinks in my vegan cheesecake recipe and technique, and the result is a beautifully light (but still substantial) whipped filling made mostly of coconut milk, cashews, and pumpkin with the perfect amount of honey and spices. I actually made an audible oh my god this is so good noise when I ate my first bite of this. And with the pecan-date crust giving that delicious nuttiness with a touch of caramel flavor? Forget about it. 

Vegan Pumpkin Cheesecake
 
Author: Kate Wutz
The vegan cheesecake to end all cheesecakes — the one that makes you realize all other cheesecakes, non-vegan as they are, are kind of crap. Enjoy this taste of pure fall.
Ingredients
  • 25 pitted dates, soaked in hot water for 10 mins, then drained
  • 2 cups of pecans
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups cashews, soaked overnight, drained
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie mix)
  • 2 Tbsp maple syrup (or honey, if you’re not vegan)
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla
  • 3 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • pinch ground cloves
  • 1/2 cup of cream from the top of a can of coconut milk
  • pinch allspice
Instructions
  1. Make your crust: Process dates, pecans and vanilla in a food processor until it begins to come together. Press into a springform pan, and place in freezer.
  2. Make the filling: Process cashews, pumpkin, and sweetener in a food processor until about as smooth as you can get it, but before it turns into nut butter.
  3. Add vanilla and spices and pulse a few times to combine. Add in coconut cream and process until smooth, whipped, and the texture of, well, cheesecake. It will be a tiny bit grainy, but it’s not noticeable as you’re eating it.
  4. Pour filling over prepared crust. Freeze to solidify, then store covered in the fridge for up to a week. Yum.
 
Notes
* To get the cream from the top of a coconut milk can, first find a can of coconut milk that doesn’t make a noise when you shake it. Then, flip the can over and open from the bottom. Carefully drain off the thinner liquid, then scoop the white cream out. You should have about a half cup of cream. Use the extra in coffee 🙂

 

 

Mixed Berry Ice Cream (vegan, gluten-free)

mixed berry ice cream vegan

A wildfire started about six miles from my home on Sunday, growing from half an acre to 700 acres overnight. The entire fire station was thrown into a frenzy as people arrived to help, with sirens wailing and cars parked everywhere. While some manned the station and made sure there was staff to respond to medical calls in the area if necessary, others went to help protect homes in the face of the rapidly growing fire.

While far better people than I were throwing on their wildland fire protection gear and making sure they had enough water, I was making ice cream. Wildfires drive me crazy because I used to cover them for the local newspaper. I had complete freedom and justification to call every public agency I could think of to discover what the fire was doing and what would come next; I was the one the Wood River Valley could rely on for that information. Now, I have to wait and read the newspaper like everyone else, even as my new husband could be literally standing next to a house on fire with a hose in his hand.

So, I make ice cream to keep from going crazy.

Continue reading

Ginger Beet Smoothie (paleo, vegan, gluten-free)

ginger beet smoothie vegan gluten-free

Sometimes, I’ll eat something and feel like my entire body just rises up and says, “YES, YES, THIS IS WHAT WE NEEDED. MORE OF THIS, PLEASE.” It happens for me with Oh She Glows’ Pad Thai, even with a steak sometimes if I have been feeling particularly anemic.

It never happens with milkshakes, sadly, because I think it’s a special feeling you get only when what your body needs and what you can give it are exactly aligned. My body, as much as I want it to, never needs ice cream.

I had that feeling when I drank this smoothie, adapted from this one at Food52, a few days ago. Continue reading

Lamb Rendang (gluten-free)

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I had a recipe go rogue on me last week. I was just going along, minding my own business, following a recipe 
to the letter (very unlike me), and everything went to shambles.

But the flavors were so delicious that I have to give you the recipe anyway. I have totally tweaked the technique here, because somehow, I ended up trying to stovetop braise a piece of lamb in far too little liquid and with far too much heat (how? THE STOVE WAS ON LOW), then salvaging most of what was in the burnt pan and kind of starting again.

It was so worth it, though. The lamb is braised in a combination of curry, coriander, red pepper, orange zest and onion so savory it practically explodes with flavor on your tongue. The coconut milk adds just a touch of smoothness, and the braising method ensures the meat is perfectly tender.  Continue reading

Hatch Chile Casserole

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Have you ever heard of Hatch chiles?

Apparently, there are about two counties in New Mexico that have soil perfect for growing the best, most flavorful chiles in the world. They come into season in late August, early September, and when they are in season, the cognoscenti buy them in bulk. One of my former co-workers used to live in Taos, New Mexico, and told me that during the season, street vendors actually set up huge roasters and roast them right on the street.

So when I had the chance to buy 25 pounds of Hatch chiles through Bountiful Baskets co-op, I (or, rather, my boyfriend, who also lived in Taos) jumped at the chance. After splitting the box with two friends, I found myself with just under eight pounds of chiles.  Continue reading