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Quick & Easy Aloo Chana Masala-Inspired Curry Dish

by ColleenTags: , , , , , Categories: Recipes

When I’m in the mood for a good comfort food that doesn’t involve pasta or cheese, I automatically think of Indian. The warmth, as well as the vibrant colors and pleasant aroma of the wide array of herbs and spices really make my mouth water and awaken my taste buds long before I take that first bite. Additionally, when I’m looking for a meal that is really filling but don’t necessarily feel like eating meat, Indian food is the perfect choice. Anyone who has had the chance to peruse an Indian lunch buffet can tell you that the variety of vegetarian options is quite impressive, from Palak Panner or Vegetable Jalfrezi to Naratna Korma, Baingan Bharta or Dum Aloo, just to name a few.

Fortunately the Internet is teeming with variations of recipes for all of these dishes specific to region of origin, and the availability of the many different spice blends makes it possible for you to duplicate them right in your own home.

It is with respectful humility that I offer the following recipe into the pool. Please note that I make absolutely no claims of authenticity with regard to this recipe. It is simply my own take on a dish that I regularly order in my local Indian restaurant. My modest copycat is quick to assemble and cook, hearty and full of flavor, and smells amazing. So if you’re looking for something different for dinner tonight; something with minimal effort after your challenging workday; pick up some Garam Masala (a spice mixture containing ground cumin, coriander, cardamom, black pepper, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg) at your local grocery store, along with a few other common inexpensive ingredients and prepare yourself for a real treat.

Additionally, this recipe can be put together in the crock pot and cooked on low throughout the day, waiting to warm and comfort you as you unwind.

This recipe can’t be any simpler. Measurements can be approximate and you can feel free to delete or add any ingredients that you might have around your kitchen. Get creative!

I had on hand:

1 medium yellow onion
6 cloves of garlic
4 large Russet potatoes, cleaned and chopped
1 can of chick peas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
1 25-ounce can of crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon of raw coconut oil – olive or vegetable oil will work if you don’t have coconut – I love the flavor the coconut imparts to the dish
1 tablespoon of butter
1 tablespoon ground ginger – fresh ginger can be used instead, but I just had the dried
2 tablespoons of Garam Masala seasoning (alternatively, you could put together your own version by combining ground cumin, coriander, cardamom, cinnamon, black pepper, cloves and nutmeg, to taste)
1 teaspoon of turmeric
2 cups water
Salt and pepper to taste

curry ingredients

 

To Make:

1. Melt butter and oil in large pan (with lid) on medium low.

2. Mince onion, garlic and – if using – fresh ginger and cook in the oil, sweating the vegetables for about 3 minutes. For some heat, feel free to add in chile peppers. I didn’t have any on hand, otherwise I would have.

 

curry pot

3. Add your chopped potatoes and chick peas to the pan, increase temperature to medium high and stir, cooking for about 3 minutes.

4. Add spices – Garam Masala, turmeric, and ground ginger – to the pan, stirring to coat the potatoes and chick peas.

5. Open and add in can of crushed tomatoes and stir.

6. Add 2 cups of water and stir  (I also had half a can of coconut milk left over in the fridge from a recipe earlier in the week.  I replaced some of the water with the coconut milk – the added richness was divine!). Place lid on the pan and let it cook until boiling. If you need to raise the temperature, feel free to do so. Once the mixture is boiling, turn on low, put the lid back on and just let it go, returning every 15 minutes or so to stir.

Cook until potatoes are tender (I like my potatoes starchy and falling apart). If you like it thicker, take the lid off and continue cooking until some of the liquid evaporates and it’s more like a thick sauce (That’s how I like mine!)  Salt and pepper to taste.

Eat as a stew, or put over some Basmati or Jasmine Rice – or whatever you have on hand! There’s no real wrong way to make an Indian-inspired dish; the spices really do the work for you. When you’re tired and hungry and want something comforting but don’t feel like ordering takeout, this recipe will definitely satisfy.

Try this recipe out and let me know what you think! Make any changes? Feel free to share! Enjoy!


One-Pallet Wonder – Spice Rack

by ColleenTags: , , , , , , , , Categories: DIY

I think I could probably function optimally if I had the luxury of hibernating all year long, awaking only for the fall season. Is that so insane? Or better yet, if three seasons out of the year were autumn-like, breaking for one month for a glorious snowy winter. I know there are too many obstacles to the practicality of this scenario, such as the obvious need for the spring and summer seasons to bring forth the beautiful leaves that eventually don their gold and scarlet hues, but a girl can dream, right?

What I’m saying, in a very verbose way, is that I feel so much more productive right now than any other time of the year. I’m still keeping on track with my weight loss journey, but I feel less obsessive about documenting it right now because I’ve got much more interesting ideas and projects on my brain. I’m getting organized too, which is really helpful to me when it comes to weight loss.

One of the organizational projects I’ve been working on is my kitchen. We’re renting, which has been really great, as we’ve been fortunate enough to have the most awesome landlord anyone could ask for. But as any renter knows, renting customarily severely limits your options when it comes to remodeling. In our case, the pink-and-blue flowered 1980’s styled wallpaper and giant white porcelain cabinet knobs were too much to bear and our landlord wholeheartedly supported our efforts to strip and paint the kitchen walls, and to replace the cabinet hardware with something less dated, like simple brushed nickel.

I have a lot of cookware and kitchen appliances and limited space; and if I’m honest, I’ve let quite a few of our kitchen cabinets become overrun with junk in the past 8 years that we’ve lived here. A perfect example is my “spice” cupboard, which very quickly became a spice-medicine-vitamins-and-any-other-junk-I could-shove-in-there cabinet. Yeah, it got really bad. After months of poring over Pinterest pins, I became obsessed with the idea of an organized spice rack made from pallet wood.

After securing a nice rough pallet from a friend, I proceeded to spend 3 months arguing with my husband over how to proceed. I could not find plans for a spice rack that suited me. I do a lot of cooking and baking and possess a wide variety of exotic spices, and as my goal was to completely clean out that darned cabinet, it was imperative that my rack be large enough to house my collection. Additionally – and this is where the arguing with my DH came in – it was my goal that the rack be made solely of the material from the one pallet.

Well, my babe came through for me. After roughing out a 3D model of his plans, he set to work prying apart and rearranging boards. As the pallet was a bit rough (which I personally loved), I decided on a distressed whitewashed finish, which goes along nicely with the look of my kitchen. I didn’t think to get a before shot of the pallet, but here is a shot of the shelf whilst being whitewashed.

rack

After being anchored to the wall, I transferred my spices to some tiny adorable glass canisters that I found on Amazon and labeled them with chalkboard stickers. I think the end result was really adorable (Actually, I think I’m going to touch up the paint in some areas yet). Also, I found some cute vintage fleur-de-lis hooks that I think I’m going to attach to the bottom to hang some measuring spoons and pot holders.

In addition to feeling better about my organized spices, I now have an entire cabinet that I can now dedicate to tea cups and coffee mugs for enjoying hot beverages on these cool fall evenings. It’s a win-win!!

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Rediscover Your Productivity While Working from Home!

by ColleenTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , Categories: Work-at-home Tips,Working from Home

From time to time, I find myself feeling a little frustrated when I don’t quite “have it all together.”  Case in point, I’m currently sitting in my home office which very visibly has not been vacuumed since my return from vacation nearly a week ago; the mail basket sitting on my desk is overflowing with envelopes I’ve yet to open; my voice mail box is so full it can’t take any new messages; and I’m sipping coffee from one of 3 drinking vessels left on my work station during the course of the week.  (About 10 minutes ago, I picked up the wrong mug.  Ugh!)
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How to Determine what to Charge for your VA (Or Any Other) Services

by ColleenTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Categories: Tips on Working from Home,Virtual Assistant,Working from Home

For a few years, a sizable portion of my income while working from home was made as a VA (virtual assistant).  While I did well and worked with some wonderful individuals (partners as well as clients), I soon became dispassionate about my work.  I was stubborn and slow to accept and learn about blogging as an important facet of running a successful business and I was overwhelmed by social media in general.  I’m not as stubborn as I formerly was regarding these common business tools, and while I still have so much learn about them, I am genuinely making the effort.
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