Monthly Archives: November 2012

Pecan Bars

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Well, we are officially into Holiday season! I hope you all had a happy Thanksgiving and ate to your heart’s content. My family ended up with tons of leftover sides, but barely any leftover turkey, interestingly enough. My mother did have enough to make turkey stew out of, however, which was delicious as always.

This time of year is always considerably busy for my family – my grandmother, my cousin, and I all have birthdays within a week of Thanksgiving. I spent the past 5 days at home, celebrating all of our birthdays and feasting on turkey, of course. My birthday isn’t actually until tomorrow (Monday, boo) – I’ll be turning 23. The age 23 always reminds me of that Blink 182 song “What’s My Age Again?” with the line “Nobody likes you when you’re 23”, haha. Hopefully that won’t really be the case, but it’s still strange getting used to the fact that I am done with college and really in the “real” world now.

The recipe I have today is one that I found on The Comfort of Cooking. I’ve always loved pecan pie, but learned it typically contains a huge amount of sugar and calories. A slice of traditional pecan pie can hold up to a third of one’s daily calorie intake – ouch. These pecan bars come in at under 200 calories a bar, so you don’t have to feel quite as guilty about eating one (or two). Cutting back slightly on the amount of sugar and serving this dessert in bar form rather than a slice of pie helps make these treats more diet-friendly. I made them for Thanksgiving and my family members really seemed to enjoy them. They would also make a great addition for a holiday party or Christmas dessert.

Pecan Bars
adapted slightly from The Comfort of Cooking
makes 24 1 1/2-inch bars

Ingredients:

  • 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 10 Tbsp/5 oz. cold butter, cut into small cubes
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup light corn syrup*
  • 8 Tbsp/4 oz./1 stick butter
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups chopped pecans
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

*If you prefer not to use corn syrup or are unable to due to dietary restrictions, cane syrup or brown rice syrup may be substituted. These can be found in the baking aisle or health foods aisle of your local grocery store.

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Using a pastry cutter or pastry blender, combine flour, granulated sugar, salt, and 10 Tbsp butter to make the crust. If you don’t have either of these tools, you can actually perform this step by squeezing the butter and flour mixture between your fingers until it resembles small crumbs. Watch this video to learn more. This is the method I used.
  2. Press the crust into a greased 9 x 13 inch pan. Bake for 17-20 minutes, or until crust starts to turn light golden brown.
  3. To create the filling, combine 1 cup brown sugar, 1 cup corn syrup, and 1 stick butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a low boil, stirring gently, and remove from heat.
  4. Pour 1/4 of the filling into beaten eggs. Stir, and add egg-sugar mixture back into saucepan to combine. Stir in 2 1/2 cups pecans, vanilla extract, and cinnamon.
  5. Pour pecan filling on top of crust, spreading evenly. Bake for 32 – 34 minutes, or until set. Let cool completely before cutting.

Cut butter into flour using a pastry blender, cutter, or your hands until mixture resembles small crumbs.

Press mixture into a greased 9 x 13 inch pan to create crust. Bake at 350 for 17-20 minutes.

Combine brown sugar, corn syrup, and butter in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Whisk in eggs, and then add pecans, vanilla extract, and cinnamon.

Pour mixture over crust and bake at 350 for 32-34 minutes, or until set.

Pecan bars are done once filling is set and no longer jiggles when moved.

Slice into squares after they’ve cooled completely

 

🙂

 

Curried Lentil & Kale Soup

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I’ve been on a soup kick lately. Lately meaning since approximately June. Or maybe that’s when I started to realize that I just really love soup. There is something about a homemade bowl of soup that is so satisfying to me. It’s warm, filling, and who can say no to a one-pot meal? Soup is one of the cheapest and easiest meals to make on your own, and it’s super simple to reheat for a quick leftover.

Indian cuisine is something I knew little to nothing about growing up.  When I was in high school, my dad and I decided to check out a local Indian restaurant he had heard good things about. I didn’t know what to order and wasn’t crazy over my food, thinking from then on that I just wasn’t a big fan of Indian food (in my narrow-minded seventeen-year old brain). Fast-forward to college, and I’m surrounded by a huge selection of international cuisines from all around the world. Senior year of college, I tried out Indian food again, and this time I loved it. My favorite dishes are the ever-popular Chicken Tikka Masala and curried lentils – two items you’ll find on just about any Indian restaurant menu.

This curried lentil and kale soup is a winner in my book. It’s fast, inexpensive, healthy, and filling. I used chicken stock as the base, but sub veggie stock and you’ve got yourself one tasty, hearty vegan meal. Lentils are a great source of protein, fiber, and iron, making them a go-to option for many vegans and vegetarians. If you have missed all of the hype over the super food kale, then you have likely been living under a rock. (Only kidding – check out this page to learn more about the health benefits of kale.)

Basically, if you like curry and you’re looking for a simple, fast, and healthy soup to keep your belly full, this guy is the one.

Curried Lentil & Kale Soup
serves 4-5

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 3 carrots, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 – 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (1/4 for less spice)
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/3 cup tomato paste
  • 1 quart low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 1/2 cup lentils, rinsed and picked over
  • 4-5 stalks kale, leaves torn into small pieces (or 8-10 cups of your favorite greens)
  • optional: serve with chopped green onions, cilantro, a dollop of plain yogurt, and warmed Naan

Your ingredients (ignore the coconut milk, I didn’t end up using it)… and naturally I forgot to include the kale, but I’m sure you all know what that looks like!

Directions:

  1. In a large frying pan, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil. Add diced onions and carrots and cook for 10 minutes or until slightly softened.
  2. Add garlic and rest of spices. Saute for 1-2 minutes.
  3. Transfer veggies to a 3-4 quart cooking pot. Add tomato paste, stock and lentils. Stir and bring to a boil, then let simmer over low heat for 15-20 minutes, or until lentils are tender.
  4. Optional: using an immersion blender or regular blender, blend the soup to achieve a smoother texture. I left mine slightly chunky. (If using a regular blender, wait until soup has cooled slightly.)
  5. Add kale and stir, continuing to simmer for another 10-15 minutes, or until kale is tender and has turned dark green.
  6. Serve with optional toppings and enjoy.

Saute diced onions and carrots until softened slightly

Stir in spices and saute for another 1-2 minutes

After picking over lentils, rinse and drain (I used a combination of red and green lentils)

Transfer sauteed veggies to a cooking pot and add chicken or veggie stock, tomato paste, and lentils. Stir and bring to a boil, then return to a simmer and cook until lentils are soft, about 15-20 minutes.

Optional: To achieve a thicker, smoother soup, use an immersion blender or regular blender (If using a regular blender, remove soup from heat and wait until it’s cooled slightly)

Your soup will look something like this if you choose to blend it.

Stir in kale and let the soup continue to simmer for another 10-15 minutes, or until kale is tender and has turned dark green.

I apologize for the bad lighting in the photo, but this is what the soup looks like when it’s finished

Serve with warm Naan and optional toppings (I simply added chopped cilantro)

🙂