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Thursday, February 9, 2012

Crockpot Chickpea, Lentil & Butternut Stew

Okay, folks. It's time to take another extended break from the blog. Thank goodness I don't do this blogging thing for a living. I'd be fired by now! But at least I am giving notice for once, as opposed to just falling off the face of the earth. Because I am without the capacity to cook (or bake without restraint, said the blogger as she stuffed yet another giant peanut butter chocolate chip cookie, fresh from the oven, into her mouth. Note to self: blog these babies!!) at the moment. And because I can't seem to discuss anything but the bar exam and laws that could potentially be tested, I'm signing off for a few weeks. But I must say that I'm looking forward to my return. When I come back, I'll be post-bar exam Ashley, one year older, and with a super exciting announcement!! Oh the suspense, I know.... :)
For now, here is a wonderful stew that I made in the crockpot last week while Ron was in Minnesota. It's not the most glamorous meal to leave you with but it was really quite good. It lasted me the entire week Ron was gone. It was filling and I felt satisfied while eating it because it is packed with veggies and chickpeas and lentils and good stuff like that. As per usual, I added raisins and nuts because I just feel it's necessary to have the sweetness and crunch to combat the textures of the stew. It was delicious. I even substituted some diced sweet potato for the butternut squash. I highly recommend checking it out because it's so simple and lasts for days. Enjoy! And see you soon!
Crockpot Chickpea, Lentil and Butternut Stew
from Eat, Live, Run
Yield: 4-6 servings
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp olive or canola oil
  • 1 large carrot, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
  • 2-3 tsp garam masala
  • 1 butternut squash (about 3 lbs - average sized, peeled and chopped)
  • 1 x 28-ounce can diced tomatoes in tomato juice
  • 1 quart vegetable broth
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 2 15-ounce cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1-2 tsp sea salt (to taste)
  • fresh minced cilantro, optional, for serving
  1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrot and jalapeno and saute for about six minutes. Add the minced garlic and saute for 30 more seconds, and then add the garam masala, stirring well to coat. Remove from heat.
  2. Place the chickpeas, butternut squash, canned diced tomatoes, red lentils, vegetable broth and onion mixture in crockpot. Turn the heat on LOW and cook for 8-10 hours.
  3. Season with sea salt to taste and serve with minced cilantro on top, if desired. And mix in raisins and chopped almonds if you are like me. :) 

Friday, February 3, 2012

Cinnamon Streusel Pumpkin Pie

I made a pie the other day. A pumpkin pie. A cinnamon streusel pumpkin pie. Just out of the blue, for no reason other than the fact that I wanted a damn pumpkin pie. Well, I guess last Monday was National Pie Day so I was kind of inspired to bake a pie because of that. And I've also been craving a pumpkin pie since I didn't make one for the holidays this year. And ever since Ron had a bite last time and "realized what he'd been missing out on" (his words) I've wanted pumpkin pie. So, I guess there were reasons.
I'd mentioned in the previous post about our recent vacation-mode eating. I'm pretty sure I can pinpoint the culprit. I'm currently studying for the bar exam. In other words, I'm a total stressball. The bar exam is the test, after you receive your J.D., to become a licensed attorney. It is two days long, full of essays and tough-as-hell multiple choice questions, and tests your knowledge in various areas of the law. For the Minnesota exam, the test-takers are responsible for thirteen areas of law. I've been "studying" for about 3 weeks now. There are less than 4 weeks remaining until exam day. And, well, I had my first freak-out session the other night. It wasn't a big freak-out. I expect that they will continue to grow in duration and size. But it did involve chucking a large book across the room and swearing loudly. Ron looked at me and said "Well, I'm surprised it's lasted this long." I suppose I had been relatively calm leading up to that point. But I started on the multiple choice questions, feeling confident, and subsequently missed 50% of them. Hence, the flying book.

Now, I've heard from multiple people that this is normal. But I still sent a sanity check email to my friend Colette. She and I have similar study behaviors and habits and I knew she'd calm me down. She did. Thank you, Cole! And thank you for reassuring me that getting even 50% of these questions correct is okay. I realized that a lot of my annoyance was because I wasn't studying for myself, but for the BarBri schedule. And this simply does not work for me. I have never been a person who studied in the "traditional" sense and excelled. So now is not the time to try and do somebody else's thing. I've learned what works for me and what doesn't. So, I decided to switch gears on my study schedule and move forward with what I know works for my learning style. What does not work? Listening to offensive and annoying lecturers. What does work? Condensing the material in my own words so I can recite the entire area of tort law from memory as I walk around the neighborhood, attracting interesting looks as I audibly say things like "If a giant vat of flour falls on your head, use res ipsa loquitur because the thing speaks for itself!!" Weird. I know. But it works.

So, to combat some stress, I turned to baking. But I opted for a "light" recipe and an easy recipe that used pre-made crust (to avoid having dough meltdown). This pumpkin pie was so easy to throw together and seriously, it was the best pumpkin pie I've ever had. It was just so good. It was an interesting take on your usual pumpkin pie with the streusel on top. I enjoyed the extra crunch. We thoroughly enjoyed it. And I'll use it as my pumpkin pie recipe of choice from here on out.
Cinnamon Streusel Pumpkin Pie
from Cooking Light
Yield: 12 servings
  • 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 (15-ounce) can unsweetened pumpkin
  • 1 (14-ounce) can fat-free sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 (15-ounce) package refrigerated pie dough (such as Pillsbury)
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour (about 1 1/2 ounces)
  • 1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup regular oats
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 Tbsp chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 2-3 tsp water
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. To prepare filling, combine first 8 ingredients (cinnamon through condensed milk) in a large bowl; stir with a whisk.
  3. To prepare crust, roll dough to an 11-inch circle. Fit dough into a 9-inch pie plate coated with cooking spray. Fold edges under; flute.
  4. To prepare streusel, lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 5 ingredients (through 1/8 tsp ginger) in a bowl. Cut in butter with a fork until crumbly. Sprinkle with water, tossing with a fork just until lightly moistened.
  5. Pour pumpkin mixture into crust; sprinkle with streusel. Place pie on a baking sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 50 minutes or until a knife inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from baking sheet; cool completely on a wire rack.