Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Pay attention, Mother Nature.

I'm not going to pretend nutritionists would approve of this, but I'm firmly of the mindset that you should drink while you cook. Which is why one of my favorite things to do is either pour a glass of wine or make a cocktail before I start prepping. I generally do this right after I work out, so it's like a congratulatory appetizer. Fabulous.

The cocktail of choice is generally a dirty martini. The way I like it is to combine a handful of ice cubes, vodka (I don't know, I pour til it covers the ice quite a bit), a splash of vermouth, and an ounce or so of dirty martini mix (like Dirty Sue) or green olive juice in a shaker. Shake well, and pour into a martini glass over a couple of hardcore olives. I like garlic stuffed or blue cheese stuffed. Best olives I've found are at Trader Joes-get the brine packed, not oil packed. No joke, they're amazing.

The husband's idea of a cocktail is a little easier-went the Stone Brewery route in this case. And if I could still drink beer, mine would be, too. But that's ok...shaking a martini makes me feel important and all 007'ish.

But that was just me getting started last night. I'm ready for cooler weather, so I'm trying to persuade Mother Nature to hurry things up by wearing fall clothes and making fall foods. As the high today is 80, I'm not sure she's paying attention, but I can always just crank up the a/c and pretend while I eat my stew.

My favorite stew is a Moroccan vegetarian recipe I got from Cooking Light. It's not necessarily the best choice for picky company, as we've learned, but we like spice, so we love it.

Everytime we eat it, though, one of us wonders whether it wouldn't be good with last night I tried it. Works great. Lamb would be good, too, I'm sure, but lamb is one of those ingredients I'm afraid of, so I use very sparingly.

If you want to keep it veggie, just ignore the beef part and use veggie stock instead. And make sure and give yourself plenty of time...this one's a prep cook's dream/nightmare. Though I totally cheated and bought pre-chopped onion. When I'm already dicing carrot and potato, some things are worth paying for.

Moroccan Stew
(adapted from a vegetarian Cooking Light recipe.)
Olive Oil
1 lb lean stew meat
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup yellow onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 serrano chile, finely chopped (use gloves)
1 potato, peeled and diced
1 can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained, rinsed (or low-sodium)
1 can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 tbsp cumin
2 tsp turmeric
2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp salt, plus some
1 tsp cinnamon
dash allspice
handful cilantro, chopped
non fat greek yogurt(or sour cream)
3 cups cooked rice

Sprinkle meat with salt and pepper. Heat about 1 tsp oil at high heat in a large stockpot and brown meat, a couple minutes each side. Add enough chicken broth to come about 2/3 up the beef. Bring to boil, then reduce to simmer, cover, and cook about 25 minutes.

Drain the meat into a medium bowl. Save the broth.

In the same pot, saute onion, carrot, garlic, and serrano in a splash of olive oil about 6 minutes. Add potato (tip, if you cut them far in advance, soak them in salty water. When you're ready to use them, drain first), spices, chickpeas, meat, and about a cup of the broth from the beef. Cover and simmer 10 minutes. Stir in tomato. Simmer another 10 minutes.

Serve 1 and a half cups over 1/2 cup rice. Sprinkle some cilantro, and add a dollop of yogurt on top. Should make 6 servings

About 375 calories, 8g fat, 50g carbs, 7g fiber, 25g protein


  1. Love the blog, you crack me up and make me want to eat at the same time.

    I also heart Cooking Light... I've been getting that magazine for years. I'll have to pass along some of my favorites.

    I'm totally making that flank steak and this stew... yum.

  2. Thanks for the Dirty Sue shout out!!! I actually own the company. Shoot me your address and I will happily send out a care package.

    Really appreciate the mention.