Chickpea and Sweet Potato Stew – the 2022 Revision

Yes, I’m messing with the spice mix. So far I like the changes. Changes from the first version Chickpea and Sweet Potato Stew are in bold. In this revision I used dried chickpeas instead of canned. The night before rinse one cup of dried chickpeas with 2-3 changes of water. Then add enough fresh water to cover the beans and soak overnight. (These little guys will approximately double in size so make sure you add enough soaking water). Before cooking, drain well, rinse and toss into a pot. Add enough water to cover, bring to a boil then reduce the heat to simmer. Add some garlic and onion powders and simmer for 1.5 to 2 hours.

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp minced fresh ginger (or 1 tsp ginger powder)
  • 1/2 sweet onion, diced
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ginger powder
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • crushed red or cayenne pepper to taste
  • 3 cups cooked chickpea
  • 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and diced
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 15oz. can no salt diced tomatoes
  • 4 cups MOL vegetable broth (MOL= more or less)
  • salt and pepper, to taste

  • Add the onion, garlic, and ginger (fresh if you have some, powder if not) to a soup pot with the olive oil and sauté over medium heat Add the green pepper and saute for another few minutes.
  • After a few minutes toss in the chili powder, smoked paprika, sweet paprika, cumin, cinnamon, thyme, and red pepper flakes or cayenne. Keep sautéing for another few minutes.
  • Add the potatoes, tomatoes, carrots and chickpeas to the pot. Pour enough vegetable broth into the pot to cover the ingredients by an inch.
  • Turn the heat up and bring to a boil.
    After boiling, turn the heat down to low and simmer for about an hour, lid on partially covered. Stir occasionally. Add more broth/cooking liquid as the stew thickens.
  • After an hour taste and adjust your seasonings. The amounts of seasonings I used results in a very mild stew.
  • Serve over rice (or not).

Confessions

This revision has been sitting in my unpublished drafts for a long time. It was time to revisit, cook and taste again to see if it was worth keeping around. I had a half bag of frozen carrots and a third bag of frozen corn. They got tossed into the pool. The corn is a nice addition, bringing in a little sweetness.

The dried cup of chickpeas makes approximately 3 cups cooked. I used the cooking liquid and less vegetable broth.

I’m flying solo this week. At least I have breakfasts and lunches ready to go.

Bechamel Sauce

I took the time to write this down because I know someone will ask for the recipe.

  • 6 tablespoons salted butter
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 2 cups 2% milk
  1. In a saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add flour and stir frequently, breaking up any tiny lumps.
  2. Add the milk and half and half one cup at a time. Keep whisking or stirring until smooth.
  3. Add the cheese and cook, stirring constantly until you start to see bubbles on the sides of the pan. When you see bubbles, turn the heat to low.
  4. Simmer stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens. Turn the heat off and allow to sit until needed.

What You’ll Use This Sauce For

  • It’s what will make your Baked Penne with Two Sauces pink, half Bechamel and half red sauce.
  • Instead of a layer of ragu or cheese, use as a layer in your lasagna. Don’t tell anyone you did this. Keep your guests guessing on why YOUR lasagna tastes so good.
  • A great start for mac and cheese. Add a lot more cheese please.
  • A pizza or bread-stick dipping sauce.

I guess I should update my Baked Penne recipe.

Make Homemade Veggie Burgers

Krista Navin has been a vegetarian since she was a teen, and says these imitation meats have been creeping onto more menus. It really hit home when Burger King replaced its veggie patty — made by vegetarian stalwart brand Morningstar Farms — with the Impossible Whopper. “I find those types of burgers uniquely off-putting,” Navin says. “I think they have actually done a really good job making them like the real thing and that is exactly the thing I don’t want.”

It’s Time to Put Actual Veggies Back Into Veggie Burgers — https://www.eater.com/23274496/veggie-burger-vegetarian-should-be-made-from-vegetables

Results from the Brazilian Longitudinal Study of Adult Health (ELSA-Brasil), which included participants aged 35 and older, showed that higher intake of UPF was significantly associated with a faster rate of decline in both executive and global cognitive function.”Based on these findings, doctors might counsel patients to prefer cooking at home [and] choosing fresher ingredients instead of buying ready-made meals and snacks,” co-investigator Natalia Goncalves, PhD, University of São Paulo Medical School, Brazil, told Medscape Medical News.“Participants who reported consumption of more than 20% of daily calories from ultraprocessed foods had a 28% faster rate of global cognitive decline and a 25% faster decrease of the executive function compared to those who reported eating less than 20% of daily calories from ultraprocessed foods,

More Evidence Ultraprocessed Foods Detrimental for the Brain – Medscape – Aug 01, 2022. https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/978365?src=rss

UPF consumption was associated with worse performance in Animal Fluency among older people without pre-existing diseases. Decreasing UPF consumption may be a way to improve impaired cognition among older adults.

Association between ultra-processed food consumption and cognitive performance in US older adults: a cross-sectional analysis of the NHANES 2011–2014 — https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00394-022-02911-1

“You used to eat those commercially prepared veggie burgers.”

“I don’t eat them anymore. It’s better to make your own.”

Faithful followers know what happened during the inferno summer of 2022 because of my earlier post on Spinach, Mushrooms and Onion. I’m still working feverishly to reduce the number of packages of frozen vegetables to make room for other items. The other day I used up a package of frozen spinach and about a cup and a half of cooked chickpeas to make Chickpea and Spinach Burgers.

Yup, that’s right. No recipe. The Boss said,

“Go ahead and toss all of the spinach in the mix.”

So I did. Instead of Chickpea and Spinach Burgers I ended up making Spinach Burgers with a Small Spattering of Chickpeas Somewhere in the Mix.

I promise to post if and when I’m totally happy with the results.

Spinach, Mushrooms and Onion

OOPS

The past week has been one of those terrible horrible no-good weeks that hit the checking account hard. I won’t list all of the things that stopped working but one thing hurt the most.

The side by side refrigerator/freezer died. I think this appliance was over 30 years old. it functioned as our second unit, a place to keep drinks cold and to stock up on frozen foods to prepare for the future food shortages and higher costs. Buying mass quantities of frozen vegetables as a hedging strategy against higher prices works well until your freezer dies.

I managed to STUFF a large number of frozen bags into our primary freezer. But I have to cook and eat a large number of these frozen bags of goodness to make room. So I started with a bag of spinach.

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 large sweet onions sliced thin
  • 8 oz white button mushrooms sliced thick
  • 2-3 garlic cloves minced
  • 12 oz frozen cut leaf spinach
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  1. Heat olive oil in a large nonstick frying pan over medium high heat.
  2. Add mushrooms and saute for five minutes. When browned…
  3. Add onions. Reduce heat to medium. Saute for five minutes. When browned…
  4. Add garlic. Saute for one minute.
  5. Add frozen spinach (no need to defrost). Saute for 15-20 minutes. You want the spinach to be drier but not too dry.
  6. Add butter, salt and pepper to taste.
  7. You are done. Now decide what you’re going to do with this stuff.

What to do?

  • Quesadillas
  • Omelette
  • side dish
  • mix with ricotta and Parmesan cheeses for stuffed shells
  • or lasagna
  • melt some cheddar for a quick sandwich/tortilla filling
  • toss with pasta for a quick meal
  • open a can of white beans, drain/rinse and mix with broth for a quick soup

Welcome to my world.

Grilled Zucchini

“How did you make this?”

The last time I wrote about zucchini was back in 2019 when the same question was asked (probably by the same friend) which motivated me to write down how I make Zucchini, Corn & Red Pepper.

This super simple recipe is the perfect side vegetable when you have your grill fired up and ready for your perfectly seasoned chicken using the world famous Iki Marinade. Three squash will be enough for six side servings.

  • three large zucchini
  • salt and black pepper
  • onion powder
  • garlic powder
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • pinch dried basil
  • grated Parmesan/Romano cheese blend
  1. Heat up your grill.
  2. Scrub and rinse the zucchini. Dry thoroughly.
  3. Cut the ends off then slice each squash lengthwise and each half in half. You want four nice sized chunks each about 3-4 inches long.
  4. Arrange the squash in a baking dish and coat liberally with extra virgin olive oil. Flip the pieces so that they are cut side up.
  5. Lightly sprinkle with salt, onion and garlic powders.
  6. When your grill is nice and hot place the squash pieces onto the grill skin side down. Angle them if you want to make grill marks.
  7. Close the lid and grill for 1-2 minutes. Reposition the squash (for those grill marks) close the lid and grill for another 1-2 minutes.
  8. Flip the squash to cut side down. Repeat #7.
  9. The squash should be firm and cooked through after 8-9 minutes. Remove and place back into the baking dish cut side up.
  10. Lightly sprinkle black pepper, dried basil, and grated cheese.
  11. The zucchini can be served at room temperature or kept in a warmed oven prior to serving. If you use the oven to keep the zucchini warm remember they will continue to cook and might get mushy.
Photo by Ellie Burgin on Pexels.com

Tips and Otherwise Random Thoughts

You’ll note that the black pepper, basil, and cheese are added after grilling. I do this so that these ingredients don’t get burned/grilled off in the cooking process. For the Veganistas out there, leave off the cheese. I happen have a preference for Spanish extra virgin olive oil. The private label brand I buy sneakily substituted EVO from Portugal instead of Spain. Now I like Portuguese olive oil too. I specifically used a baking dish to hold the squash before grilling because I did put the veggies in the oven to keep warm.

The next time I grill zucchini I plan on grilling twice the number of squash. I’ll use the leftover squash in a pasta dish.

How To Decide if It’s a Lentil Soup Day

It’s a lentil soup day.

A lot of readers liked Spanish Style Lentils and so do I. But today I’m making my time tested lentil soup recipe which you can find here The Pandemic Pantry -Lentil Soup. Or if you’re feeling adventurous try one of the Lentil Recipes – The First Mess which to be honest I haven’t tried yet.

I’m glad I don’t need mushrooms because I used the one I bought recently in another dish.

Absolutely not an altered photo. Just one very large button mushroom.

I added more carrots and so far at the 30 minute mark I’ve used the entire quart of organic low sodium chicken broth. I did not use the mutant carrot because it went bad before I could use it.

You’re starting to see some interesting produce nowadays.

Today’s post was for the critic who complained about the lack of pictures in this blog.

White Bean and Sweet Potato Stew

Sunday is a good Beanday. A day of rest. Maybe a few, but not too many errands. Hang out the rest of the day at home and make a pot of beans for the week.

This morning I was compiling a dried bean inventory so that I wouldn’t buy more of what I already have on hand. My beans are in various containers in the pantry and on the kitchen counter. Some packages of dried beans are unopened. My quick inventory told me I had green split peas, adzuki, black beans, black eyed peas, red and brown lentils, chickpeas, pinto, mayacabo, white beans, and an unidentified variety which I had to research to figure out I had Cranberry beans!

The white beans were stored in a plastic baggie and fearing they may have been in the pantry since the last time I made Wing and Leg Navy Bean Soup I thought I would cook them. After a triple rinse I quick soaked them (rinse, drain, pour boiling water over all and cover for one hour). Drain again, cover with fresh filtered water, a little onion powder, garlic powder, one bay leaf. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to super low, and simmer for several hours.

Now I had a pot of beans before deciding what dish to make. After exhausting the possibilities I decided upon a White Bean and Sweet Potato Stew. My inspiration came from the same source as Spanish Style Lentils. So if you’re a visual learner, here you go:

Here’s a link to the original recipe – https://spainonafork.com/spanish-white-bean-and-sweet-potato-stew-recipe/

Here’s what I’ll eating all week.

  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1/2 large sweet onion, diced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 carrots peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 cup canned stewed tomatoes
  • dash apple cider vinegar
  • 3 cups cooked white beans
  • 1 large sweet potato peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2-3 cups organic vegetable stock
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika and 1/2 tsp regular sweet paprika
  • freshly ground black pepper and salt to taste
  1. Heat the olive oil in a medium sized stock pot
  2. Add the onion, bell pepper and carrot. Saute until the onion is translucent. Add garlic and both paprika powders. Saute briefly for about a minute.
  3. Add the tomatoes, vinegar and simmer for five minutes. Break up the tomatoes with a wooden spoon. Continue to simmer until the mixture thickens.
  4. Add the beans, sweet potato, and two cups of broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Simmer covered for around 30 minutes. Check and stir throughout this process and add more broth to desired thickness and to prevent sticking/burning of the stew.
  5. When the potatoes are tender the stew is done. Season to taste with freshly ground black pepper and salt.
  6. Makes approximately six large servings.

Now I need to figure out what to make with the butternut squash I baked in the oven.

Spanish Style Lentils

I always wondered how they make lentils in Spain. So I went You Tubing.

Then my mind wandered and thought “I wonder if this chef has a website?”

Of course he does. https://spainonafork.com/classic-spanish-lentil-stew-recipe/

And since I’m feeling lazy today (while giving credit where credit is due) check out either the video or website for ingredients and instructions for the Classic Spanish Lentil Stew, known in Spain as Lentejas.

My tweaks:

  • no red pepper because I didn’t have one in the fridge
  • only two cloves of garlic plus granulated garlic to taste
  • 1/2 cup canned stewed tomatoes instead of tomato sauce (adds sweetness)
  • 2 carrots instead of one (because I like carrots)
  • 2 bay leaves instead of one
  • One quart organic vegetable stock instead of five cups (thicker stew, less soupy)
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika and 1/2 tsp regular sweet paprika (watch that smokey paprika because it can be quite strong and overpowering)
  • no added salt

This is an excellent recipe if you are gradually adding vegan dishes into your diet.

The Boss liked it.

Chickpea and Cabbage Soup

There was a head of green cabbage in the fridge that needed to be cooked. So I made a simple saute of cabbage, onions, carrots and garlic then put the entire veggie mix back into the fridge for another day. I spend quite a bit of time being creative with food items in the pantry/freezer/fridge in preparation for massive food shortages in the near future. My WFH coworker likes soup for lunch and I’ve frozen single servings of different soups so we could have different soups together for lunch.

This soup starts with leftover sauteed cabbage. You can always make this soup by starting with a veggie saute if you don’t have leftover cabbage. I always have vegetable broth in the pantry and there were cooked chickpeas in the freezer.

My inspiration came from https://www.thefullhelping.com/spicy-cabbage-chickpea-soup/#recipe but the two recipes are not really the same. The quantities here make about two servings. I didn’t want to make a lot in case I didn’t like it (I liked it).

Accidentally Vegan Chickpea and Cabbage Soup

  • 2 cups leftover green cabbage and vegetables
  • 1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 cups organic vegetable broth
  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas (or one can, drained and rinsed)
  1. Everyone into a small pot
  2. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to simmer.
  3. Simmer for about 30 minutes
  4. Makes about two servings

Tips

Salt and pepper to taste. Adjust the quantities of spice to taste also. I tossed in some extra garlic powder because I like garlic. Red pepper flakes or hot sauce if you’re into spicy. Subbing pasta or rice for the chickpeas would work nicely (if you can’t or won’t eat beans). This soup freezes well.

Keep a Journal/Food Diary

Journaling, it seems, is one of the most successful strategies for achieving long-term weight loss.[3-4] It increases a person’s awareness of what they’re eating and helps to unveil habits and patterns of eating. A Kaiser Permanente study with 1,700 participants found that those who kept food diaries six days a week lost twice as much as participants who didn’t journal.[5-6] Keeping a food journal also encourages us to take in fewer calories.[4-5]

Could Keeping a Food Journal Be the Missing Link to Finally Losing Weight? — https://nutritionstudies.org/could-keeping-a-food-journal-be-the-missing-link-to-finally-losing-weight/

I write in my journal nearly every day. I used to keep a food diary within my journal but somewhere along The Path I stopped.

I’ve gained some weight.

I have started to track my food intake again.