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Thai Red Curry

Oh let it snow, let it snow, let it snow… well, it does not snow where I live but certainly a cold winter. I like to sit next to the fireplace, cuddled inside a blanket and sip some hot tea. Who wouldn’t like that comfort? Winter also calls in for healthy eating for me since not eating healthy is an easy choice considering the fact that its so cold outside and less walk in the parks etc unless I am committed in going to the gym, which surely am not. And winter is also a season of festivities and parties – potlucks, wines, beer and so much fun. Every year I host christmas party at my place and call family over. It really feels festive to have people around rather than being alone. Kids look forward to this party you know why, the presents. The unwrapping of each and every present gives them so much excitement and watching them unwrap brings me chills. That smile on those innocent faces is worth a million bucks!
Ok, coming back to food, now I wanted to make something quick and easy yet flavorful and healthy and kids and adults will like it. Parties should be fun and not be stressful for me so I was thinking what to make and after giving considerable thought I narrowed it down to Red Curry. It’s spicy, tasty, has tofu, tons of chunks of vegetables in a savory coconut sauce. I am so glad I made it because everyone loved it. Here is the recipe to a easy breezy recipe.

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Ingredients: (For about 12 people)

– 1 Big red bell peper
– 2 Cups broccoli florets
– 2 medium size carrots
– 1/2 extra firm tofu
– 2 medium size zucchini
– 1 8oz. can baby corn
– 10 String beans
– Thai Red Curry paste (Mae Ploy or Thai Kitchen brand)
– 14 oz light coconut milk
– 1 tbsp vegetable oil
– Salt per taste
– 4 cups rice

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Directions:

Wash and chop all vegetable in big chunks, say about 2 inch pieces. In a wok, heat oil, then add the vegetables except zucchini. Sauté for about 5 minutes, then add about 1 tbsp of red curry paste, sauté for about 2 minutes. Now add the coconut milk, bring it to a boil, simmer, cover and let it cook until 3/4th done. Now add the zucchini, let it cook. Add salt, taste and add more curry paste as per your taste. Before turning off the stove, add tofu, mix and cover it with a lid. Just before your guests arrive, turn on your rice in the rice cooker so that you can serve it hot with the scrumptious thai red curry.

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Squash, chipotle and bean bonanza chili

Recipe of the Day

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I defy all bean haters to dislike this chili. Likewise you squash haters out there. And those few and far between pessimists with no faith in meatless chili. But maybe that’s my bias as a lover of these foods? Maybe you have to like all vegetables in order to love vegetarian chili? As far as I know my little brother only ate one vegetable–and no others–until his mid-20′s (it was broccoli). Would he have set down his steakums and ramen for a bowl of my chili?

Make this spicy. 1) Because spicy is good and if you don’t like spice, build up to it. You will be richly rewarded. 2) You want it spicy because the squash, corn and cilantro cool it down a little, as does the rice and greek yogurt.

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You can add whatever vegetables you want, such as carrot, mushroom, zucchini, red onion, celery. I tend to use bell peppers, onions and garlic. You can add in any kind of bean you like, or all kinds of beans. I recommend a mix of black and pinto beans with a little bit of kidney beans. This is one of those occasions when you can use leftover beans you cooked and stored in the freezer.

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Ingredients for 4 people

4-5 cups of cooked beans (black, pinto and kidney beans or all black beans)
1/2 small butternut (or other) squash, cubed
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeño chili (seeded or not, depending on your spice super power)
2 chipotles from a jar of chipotles in adobo sauce, chopped (secret weapon pantry ingredient)
1/2 each of green, red, yellow bell peppers, diced (or other vegetable combo, whatever!)
1 onion, diced
4-6 pickled jalapeño slices from a jar
1 tbsp cumin
1 tsp ancho chili powder (optional)
1 or 2 tsp chili powder (or chipotle chili powder if you don’t have the canned chipotles)
1 veg stock cube
2-3 fresh or canned tomatoes chopped
1/2 cup corn
large handful cilantro, chopped
olive oil
salt and pepper
water as needed

For the rice

2 cups basmati rice
handful of cilantro, chopped
1 clove garlic
sea salt and fresh ground pepper
extra virgin olive oil
juice of one lime

Garnish

strong cheddar cheese
greek yogurt or sour cream
or neither if you want it vegan!

** Being specific on this recipe is really hard for me as I’ve made this about twice a month for many years now (with or without the squash) and kind of do it on autopilot. The leftovers are wonderful as enchiladas, burritos, chili omelette or nachos. I also cook this in a small pot or a big pot depending on how many people are eating. So please know that this is chili and can be corrected and adjusted as you go. Word to the wise, if you’re unsure of cooking with chilies and chili powders then be careful. You can always add in more spice later, or serve a hot sauce! It is harder to de-spice the chili if you throw everything in and then realize that, oops, smoked paprika is about as spicy as you can handle.
1) Rinse and cook the basmati rice. American long grain rice is great too but I tend to use my perfect basmati.
2) While rice is cooking, sauté the garlic, onion and jalapeño chili (as well as the harder veggies like carrots or celery if using) until soft.
3) Add in all the other ingredients except the corn and cilantro–the bell peppers, beans, squash, chipotles, veggie bouillon and spices. Add in enough water for a good chili consistency. Stir to break down the veggie bouillon. The beans will absorb some water–add more to keep the chili consistency like a hearty stew.
4) Bring to boil and then turn down to simmer. Cook until squash is tender.
5) Add in the corn and chopped cilantro. Adjust seasoning if needed, for example you may need more chili powder or salt and pepper.
6) When the rice is cooked, fluff with a fork. Add sea salt (about 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon) and garlic clove to a pestle and mortar and grind to a pulp. Add this to the rice along with the chopped cilantro, lime juice and a couple glugs of extra virgin olive oil. Mix with a fork until all the flavorings are combined.
7) Serve the chili over the rice and add shredded cheese and Greek yogurt unless you want to leave out the dairy.

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