Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Spinach Pakoras with Royal Dip

I first had these delicious veggie fritters at a stand at the farmer’s market.  I’d never seen them before, but it was love at first bite!  I swore I’d have to find a way to make them at home – and I did!  Spinach Pakoras with Royal Dip are healthy, tasty, vegetarian and gluten-free too!  These Indian snacks are eaten with a minty yogurt dip and are a popular street food.

The only ingredient that may be a bit tough to find is chickpea flour.  Also called gram flour or besan flour, it’s just dried garbanzo beans ground powder-fine.  I made it at home, and while it took a bit of time because my food processor is wimpy, it worked very well!  If you do grind your own, you will need to sift it through a fine sieve, and return any pebbles to the food processor for a finer grind.  After that, it’s smooth sailing.  Bob's Red Mill has a really good packaged chickpea flour, and is available at most grocery stores.  If you’re lucky enough to have an Indian grocery store nearby, stop in and buy some chickpea flour – and whatever else catches your eye and tempts your nose!
Spinach Pakoras with Royal Dip

  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1 tablespoon cilantro, finely minced
  • 1 tablespoon mint, finely minced
  • 1 cup chickpea flour
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon  ground fennel seeds
  • 2 tablespoons rice flour (or use more chickpea flour, or use regular flour)
  • 2 cups fresh spinach or other hearty greens (mustard, collard, kale), chopped
  • 1/2 onion, cut into very thin strings
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup water (may use more or less)
  • oil for frying:  grapeseed, coconut, peanut, or vegetable oil
  1. Make the Royal Dip:  stir together the yogurt, garlic, cilantro, and mint.  Cover and refrigerate.
  2. Mix together the chickpea flour, curry powder, fennel, and rice flour in a large bowl.
  3. Mix in the spinach and onion. Stir to combine.
  4. Add about 3 tablespoons of water and stir.  Mix it all very well.  You don’t want a thin batter – you just want the flour to be wet and coating the veggies.  Add a bit of water until you make a thick batter.
  5. Heat the oil over a medium burner and drop the pakora batter in by the tablespoonful.  Try to flatten them out a bit so they are pancake-shaped as opposed to spherical.  Cook for about 3 minutes until crispy, then flip and cook the other side.
  6. Remove pakoras to a paper towel-lined plate and sprinkle with a bit of salt.  Serve hot with the Royal Dip.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Sausage & Mushroom Stuffed Shells with Pumpkin Sage Béchamel

Whoo, that’s a long title!  And I’ll be honest – this does take a bit of time to prepare.  But if you have an extra hour on a Sunday night and want to make a delicious dinner with generous portions that you can eat the whole week through and not stop loving – try these Sausage and Mushroom Stuffed Shells with Pumpkin Sage Béchamel.
I was going to post my take on this recipe, since I made a few changes for my family, but I didn’t take careful note of my measurements. Food blogger fail!  So I’m just giving you the recipe I found at A Beautiful Bite.  I do want to note that I switched out cottage cheese for ricotta in this recipe, and it worked great.  Just buzz it in the food processor for a few seconds and it’s indistinguishable from the pricier ricotta.  Also, I ran out of sage and I had to garnish with parsley.  In any case, this recipe was a big hit, and it reheats well, so we’ll be seeing this again in our house.
 Sausage and Mushroom Stuffed Shells with Pumpkin Sage Béchamel
(Recipe Courtesy of A Beautiful Bite)
  • 1 pound pasta shells, cooked al dente
  • 32-ounce ricotta cheese (or use cottage cheese)
  • 2/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ground pepper to taste
  • 1 pound Italian sausage (I used sage breakfast sausage)
  • 2 large yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 4 fresh sage leaves, thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/3 cup ricotta cheese
  • 6 fresh sage leaves, thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated for topping (I skipped this)
  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine ricotta cheese, Parmesan, egg, salt and pepper.  Set aside.
  2. Cook shells according to directions on box.  Drain and let cool.
  3. While shells are cooking, brown sausage in a large skillet.  Remove from skillet and place meat on a paper towel to drain.  Reserve 1 tablespoon of the fat to cook the onions in.
  4. Cook onions in fat over medium heat until translucent.  Add garlic and cook for just a minute.  Add mushrooms and sage and cook for another four to five minutes.  Remove from heat and add cooked sausage.   Allow to cool for several minutes.
  5. Stuff shells with ricotta mixture, then top with sausage mixture.  Place shells in a 9×13 baking dish.  Set aside while you prepare béchamel sauce.
  6. In a large heavy pot, melt butter over medium heat.  Add flour and cook, stirring, for several minutes.  Add milk, pumpkin, yogurt, Parmesan, and ricotta.  Cook for a few minutes to thicken.  Add sage, salt and pepper.
  7. Pour béchamel over shells.  Top with extra grated Parmesan.  Bake at 350*F for forty minutes.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Apple Spice Baked Oatmeal

I have returned!  It’s a new year, and I’ve decided to make a bit more time in my schedule to post on Frugal Girlmet again!  First I’ll bring over recipes I had posted for a ministry blog I was contributing to – Girlfriends Coffee Hour – that never made it over to FG.  Then back to the kitchen (and then the keyboard) for more new entries here.  Let’s jump back in with…

Apple Spice Baked Oatmeal!  

As usual, I read over several recipes, made a few changes, and came up with something to call my own.  This was easy to make, and serves 6-8 for a hearty breakfast.  You can also make it the night before and reheat portions in the microwave.  This is a great way to start your day.  Bon apetit, my friends, and God Bless!

Apple Spice Baked Oatmeal

   coconut oil or butter for greasing your baking dish
   2 apples, chopped (no need to peel)
   2 cups rolled oats
   1/2 cup brown sugar
   1 cup nuts, divided – Try walnuts or pecans.  I used whole almonds and let the kids crush them with my meat mallet!
   1/2 cup raisins
   1/2 teaspoon salt
   1 teaspoon baking powder
   1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
   1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
   2 eggs
   2 cups milk
   1 teaspoon vanilla extract
   1/2 stick butter, melted
   vanilla yogurt, to serve

1.    Preheat oven to 325*F.  Grease your baking dish – mine was an oval dish, but you can use a deep 8″ or 9″ Pyrex.
2.   Spread the chopped apples in the bottom of your dish.
3.   Mix together the oats, sugar, 1/2 cup nuts, raisins, salt, baking powder, nutmeg, and cinnamon in a small bowl.
4.   In a large bowl, beat the eggs with the milk and vanilla.  Stir in the oat mixture, then stir in the melted butter.
5.   Pour the oat mixture over the apples and sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup of nuts.   Bake for about 45 minutes.  You want the oatmeal to be set and the top a bit golden and crusty.  Serve warm, with a big spoonful of vanilla yogurt on top.