Tuesdays…and Eggplant Basil Curry.

Tuesdays are busy.
I’m typically up around 6:15-6:30 in the morning and have about an hour of devotion time – reading my bible, prayer, worship, journaling, drinking tea…you know, all that good stuff. Then I’m off to work around 9 until 4:15 usually, get home, make dinner, head to the yoga studio for 5:30, clean and check people in, take class from 6:30-8, tidy up, head home, and sit down to eat dinner around 8:30 or 8:45 with the man of my dreams. Then it’s just kind of random tasks or wind down time until bed. Phew.
I’m sure you all know what it’s like! 🙂
I say all that to say, Tuesdays are typically quick and easy meal days. But that doesn’t mean it’s gotta skimp on taste!
A while back Joe & I went on a date night to Thai Pan Asian, a restaurant in New Haven, and I had an eggplant curry dish that I LOVED…and devoured. I love curry, remember??
This past Tuesday I thought I’d try my hand at crafting a dish with some ingredients from that date night meal.
I had an hour from when I got home from work to cook, clean up a bit, change, and be at yoga; so I chose to serve it over quinoa because it cooks a lot faster than rice. Other than that, my plan was keep it a simple, one skillet process that is still yummy. End result: success.
Eggplant Basil Curry with Quinoa
serves 4-5
Ingredients:
For quinoa:
1.25 c dry quinoa
2.5 c water
For curry:
Olive oil for pan
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 of large eggplant, or about 3 c or so, 1 inch cubes
One 15oz can chick peas, drained & rinsed
2 hot house or beefsteak (so ironic) tomatoes, cut into medium chunks
2-3 Tbsp curry powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp of crushed red pepper (1/2 for mild spice)
2 Tbsp of agave or honey
1/4 c veg broth
14 leaves fresh basil, chopped (see my favorite way of cutting leafy things…)
Directions:
Heat a large cast iron skillet, or other large skillet to medium high (7 or 8) heat.
Add oil and toss in eggplant and salt. Cook for about 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until eggplant is browned and starts to become tender.
*Start quinoa while eggplant is cooking.* (read package for instructions, but generally: put quinoa & water in a pot, cover with lid & bring to boil. Once boiling turn heat to low & simmer for 15 minutes until water is absorbed. Remove from heat and fluff. )
Stir in chick peas. Cook for a couple minutes then add tomatoes, 2 Tbsp curry, garlic powder, crushed red pepper, agave or honey & veggie broth.
Turn the heat up to high and let liquid come to a boil for 3 minutes then turn heat to low. Let it simmer on low for about 8-10 minutes until tomatoes are rendered down & eggplant is soft but not mushy.
Turn off heat, stir in basil and let the flavors meld for a few minutes. Taste to see if you need more curry or salt and add as your taste buds so desire. Then, serve over quinoa and enjoy!

Scrumptious – that’s a good word.

I am trying to get better at the whole measuring thing because I’m typically winging it, or eye balling it and going by taste!!!
I offer my experiences and encourage you to experiment, have fun and make it your own!
So, yes, Tuesdays are busy days…but being in the kitchen, preparing a meal for my husband and I to enjoy, grounds me again to gratitude in the present moment, and brings me back to that thing called joy.
Maybe your busy day is Monday or Wednesday, or every day these days. Find joy in the little things. See the every day moments you’ve become tired of in a new light. Life suddenly becomes more simple.
And at the end of the day, there’s always a simple plate of eggplant curry to delight you along the way.
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A Few of My Favorite Things.

Happy 4th of July my friends!

July has always been my favorite month. I was reminiscing about this to my hubby as we were driving through some back roads near our home town a couple of days ago.

For one, I absolutely LOVE summer. Sunshine, waves crashing, sand beneath my feet, a cool breeze blowing through my hair…it all rejuvenates my soul.

It is the season for picnics, the char of grill flames, bonfires and fireworks. Utter delight.

And it also helps that my birthday is July 6th. 🙂

Every single year growing up my parents had a HUGE 4th of July party that doubled as a birthday party for my twin, Erica, & me. I am pretty sure that every human being that my parents ever had contact with came to this shin dig. Even family from out of state – Long Island, Staten Island, California, etc – would come. It was so exciting to see everyone, and it became such a highlight of the summer.

As you can imagine, Erica and I were in our glory. We had a massive in-ground pool and decent sized back yard, and we would run around and play with our friends and cousins like party animals. There was always a clown, or some form of entertainment, that undoubtedly picked us out of the crowd to be an assistant, or make us a balloon animal because we were the birthday girls. It may not seem that thrilling now, but back then it was a kid’s dream!

As the sun went down my daddy prepared an awesome fireworks show. One year he destroyed the grass in our front yard with “The Waterfall”. I just remember a long wire being tied from one tree to another one across the yard, and a colorful blast of glittery sparks cascading down to the ground for what seemed like FOREVER. It was a hit with everyone, except for maybe my mommy when she saw the big patch of dirt that was left where lush green grass once grew. Worth it.

These are such fond memories. Looking back now I understand why a love for summer, and this month especially, is engrained into my being! I look forward to making special memories like these with my husband and the children we will have.

Today, we are going to be celebrating this day at a picnic with some dear friends from our church community, City Church. The hosts, Joe & Nancy, dominate on the grill. They make a mean burger & grilled pizza! They were also kind enough to provide veggie burgers…yay!

As a vegan, especially just starting out, it can be intimidating to go out to typical functions that are meant to be enjoyed with loved ones. Maybe vegetarian or vegan options are not always provided, which leaves you worrying about what you can or can’t eat.  Or, you end up eating something you really don’t want to, then potentially start feeling guilty about it. Who needs a damper like that getting in the way of fun and making fond memories?!

I have learned to not set myself up for failure and stay prepared. It may seem simple, but you’d be surprised!

Amongst all of my other loves is my love for home made veggie burgers. There are a couple veggie burger recipes that I adore, one of which I am sharing with you today. When ever I make them I wrap 2 individually in plastic wrap and throw them in the freezer so they will be ready to take with me when needed. This has been a life saver multiple times already this summer!

Now, this recipe is super simple & super easy – whether you’ve been in a hospital for 7 hours and need a quick dinner, or want a tasty veggie burger to take to take to a picnic, it’s a winner.

Puttanesca Inspired Veggie Burgers

(recipe adapted from Isa Chandra’s Quinoa Puttanesca)

Makes 6 Burgers

Ingredients

1 c cooked quinoa

2 cups oat flour (old fashioned oats + food processor = oat flour.)

1 15 oz can of cannellini beans, pureed in food processor (chick peas work fine too.)

1 flax egg (1 Tbsp flax meal + 3 Tbsp water, whisked together)

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 c kalamata olives, sliced

1/4 c capers

1 c crushed tomatoes (+ some for topping, optional)

1 tsp dried thyme

1 tsp marjoram

1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (use 1/2 tsp if you don’t so much care for spice)

2 tsp fennel seeds

Directions

Add all ingredients – except the crushed tomatoes – into a large mixing bowl and use hands to combine until incorporated.

Once incorporated add 1/2 c of crushed tomatoes and combine with hands. You want it to be kind of like the consistency of chop meat, so slowly add as much of the remaining crushed tomato as necessary to get a mixture that is moist, but slightly sticky & able to hold the shape of a burger.

Heat a cast iron skillet to medium-high heat, drizzle with olive oil and mold 6 patties while the pan heats up.

Cook the patties for about 6 minutes or so on each side, or until they have a nice brown.

Serve on a delicious bun of your choice & enjoy!

For toppings I enjoy warm crushed tomato sauce, roasted red pepper, fresh basil leaves, lettuce & a pickle on the side!

dee-licious.

Great news – they taste even better on the grill – so get out there and fire it up! 😉

What fun traditions do you & your family have? Do you have any tricks or tips that help you stay prepared for picnics and BBQs?

Have fun at all your holiday festivities!!