Last Friday I  mentioned I was going to show you the nice drawstring purse my mom made me, so here it is!

Handmade drawstring purse made of kimono fabric

My mom loves to sew and makes a LOT of bags and purses, from tiny cell phone sizes to large grocery totes. She uses all kinds of fabric patterns and combines them to make bold and beautiful creations to sell and sometimes give away to friends and family. She told me this particular fabric came from the wedding kimono of her friend, Shigeko, who gave away pieces of the beautiful, silky material to her friends. I have never heard of anyone giving away pieces of their wedding dress, and if you have ever seen a kimono up close, you will truly appreciate the gesture of of being given such a fine piece of cloth!

Can you can see a faint image of the “tsuru” (Japanese crane)with its wing outstretched?

Handmade gifts really are the best, and sometimes there’s just no right way to express the feelings of gratitude, love,  surprise, and even humility except with a genuine, heartfelt “thank you.” :)

I have a few handmade items to share, though they’re not gifts, but rather plates of food! Yes, it is time again for this week’s episode of…


Thank you to Jenn at Peas and Crayons for continuing to support us food-lovin’ bloggers with a forum to discuss our favorite (and sometimes not-so-favorite) meals, snacks, and adventures in cookery. Our theme this month is “sensible snacking,” and although I have a fridge full of healthy fruits and veggies, they tend to be part of my main meal rather than as a snack. The “sensible snacks” I have are chocolate bars filled with peanuts, hazelnuts, or rice crispies, so to their credit (and mine,) they could be considered sensible snacks because: 1) I eat them in moderation, and 2) more nuts and rice crispies means less sugar from the chocolate! This may be stretching the idea of sensible snacking to its limits, but I’m just working with what I’ve got…which happens to be chocolate! :)

Aside from I did some experiments with my flavor of the week, curry, and came up with a nice side dish for an easy weeknight meal. But before we talk about that, let’s go over the other two important meals of the day!

I mentioned in last week’s WIAW post that I had a crazy sweet tooth, and thankfully it is gone, or at least shrank to normal size. Breakfast was a typical peanut butter and raspberry toast with coffee. No extra toppings like Nutella or coconut whipped cream topping today!

The extra peanut butter I slathered on went well with these apple slices.

Lunch was an overflowing rainbow salad (those are avocados peeking over the side!) some Tostitos scoops and Diet Peach Snapple:

King Friday kept me company during lunch

In-between snacking were a few of these hazlenut chocolate squares:

Look at those hazelnuts…TONS of them!

My original plans for dinner got brushed aside after reading Justa’s Fancy-Schmancy Grand Slam Bacon post! Bacon is quite the charmer, so instead of chicken katsu curry rice (which I will try to make for Friday’s post) I made my own original BLATMATCHes! Bacon, Lettuce, Avocado, Tomato, Mushroom, Apple, Turkey and CHeese sandwichES!)

BLATMATCHes with seasoned curry fries and corn

As you can see, I used four dinner rolls to try and contain all the goodness this BLATMATCH had to offer. And to go with it, some fresh corn on the cob and a good pile of seasoned curry fries (note: this is my husband’s dinner, mine was half a sandwich surrounded by lettuce & tomato.) The potatoes I used were small round ones, the kind in the salted potatoes bag, and they were starting to get wrinkly. I’ve heard they make better fries when they get a little wrinkly, but I have not yet perfected my home fries recipe so cannot say for sure. I’ve also added some brown rice flour to help carry the flavor better, and I was also hoping it would help with the crisping of the fries, but it didn’t seem to have too much of an effect on the crispiness. Other than that, the taste was awesome, especially with the cayenne pepper. Give this curry fry recipe a try and let me know what you think!

Seasoned Curry Fries, serves 2
Watch the time, cooking it too long will char the spices and make your fries bitter-tasting…and burnt.

1 pound potatoes, cut into batons & laid on paper towels to absorb excess moisture
2 teaspoons curry seasoning of your choice
2 teaspoons brown rice flour (optional)
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
a couple dashes of cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons oil

Directions:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, combine curry seasoning, brown rice flour, salt and cayenne pepper. Add potatoes and toss with a large spoon. Drizzle olive oil and  toss to evenly coat. Pour fries onto a baking sheet lined with parchment or silpat and spread out into a single layer. Bake for 12 minutes, stir fries so they can brown on the other side and return to oven, baking for another 6-8 minutes or until golden brown.  Enjoy with BLATMATCHes.

What’s your favorite kind of dinner sandwich? Do you have a signature dish or do you look in the fridge and grab whatever’s there? (that’s how the BLATMATCHes were born!)

Enjoy your Wednesday, eat well!

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There are 18 glass jars of spices sitting on a rack next to my stove, plus another two and a half dozen mismatched bottles I keep with my baking ingredients, and about a half dozen plastic baggies of herbs and spices tucked away in the cabinet. On a weekly basis I use only a handful of these spices and the rest are individual ingredients, when combined, make one of the most fragrant blends on the face of the earth: curry seasoning!

We grew up eating a curry that my mom would make with huge chunks of beef, potatoes, and McCormick curry spice. I have to admit that it wasn’t my favorite dish as a kid, but as I grew older I found out there were other kinds of curries besides the one we had at home, and in more colors (and flavors) than green!

There’s Japanese curry, a rich brown gravy that uses beef stock and tastes great with udon (thick rice noodles) or on top of steamed rice. There are the coconut-based Thai curry dishes in red (hot,) green (hot) and, my favorite, yellow (not as hot.) And there are the various herbs and spices that make up Indian curry seasoning (take a whiff, it’s just like aromatherapy!)

A popular and tasty Japanese curry, S&B (image source: http://www.foodpakexpress.com)

My favorite Thai curry, but I cannot find it around here: Mae Ploy yellow curry paste (image source: http://www.amazon.com)

Curry seasoning is so versatile, you can use it in anything from omelets to burgers. Making your own dry seasoning blend isn’t as difficult as it seems, but you will need about ten different herbs and spices, as well as a coffee grinder. Once you make your own curry seasoning, you will find it difficult to go back to the pre-ground, prepackaged blends from the grocery store. And with your ready supply of spices you’ll be able to try new kinds of blends, and maybe even make your own authentic recipe! Check out www.myspicesage.com for a complete selection of seasonings, teas, freebies, recipes, and great prices on spices.

Here’s what we had for dinner: turkey bean burgers! I added a tablespoon of Indian curry powder and 1 1/2 teaspoons of Kosher salt to the mix, plenty of flavor packed into these tasty little sliders:

Spice up your sliders with a spoonful of curry seasoning

In addition to the burgers, I also spiced up the burger topping, which can also be a side dish, sandwich filling, or topped with chopped tomato and wrapped in lettuce leaves for an easy meal on the go!

Below is the recipe for the quinoa-sweet potato topping. The quinoa and sweet potato were already cooked so throwing this together is super fast and easy. Got extra sweet potatoes? Try my sweet potato haupia pie recipe, it’s gluten-free and delicious!

Quinoa and Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Indian Curry Seasoning

Ingredients:

1 roasted sweet potato (poke potato w/fork all around, then bake in 400 degree preheated oven for 20-30 minutes. Cool, peel off skin and use the mushy insides.)
1 teaspoon Indian seasoning, such as Garam Masala
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 to 1 1/2 cup cooked quinoa

Directions:

Mash sweet potato with seasoning and salt, stirring well. Add quinoa, adjusting amount to your liking. Serve as a burger topping, salad topping, sandwich filling, or top with chopped tomato and wrap in lettuce leaves. Enjoy!

Top with chopped tomatoes and fresh herbs for a quick and easy vegan dish.

So what’s YOUR favorite curry dish? Do you prefer it home made or at a restaurant? Do you eat it with rice? Potatoes? Roti? Share your curry experiences here, I’d love to hear from you!

Last month I started planting some lettuce and herbs around the outside of our house. I realize I don’t have much patience and would rather get trays of plants than start them from seed, because I seem to have forgotten what I planted in the trays. I think it was sweet and red rubin basil, but I’ll know for sure in a few weeks!

So far the lettuce has been untouched by insects and animals and the kale is taking a while to grow:

Mostly lettuce with cilantro up front, lemon grass, green onion & chives to the right and scrawny kale way in the back.

I also planted some easy-growing mint and sage in a planter by the patio, and this beautiful curry plant is doing great on its own:

The elegant curry plant: looks like rosemary, smells like chicken.

Now, both my parents were in the agriculture business, growing tomatoes and roses and a lot of other plants and produce. You would think that I inherited some of their talent, but I always found it a struggle to keep mint plants alive and can’t figure out why my basil won’t grow. This time it’s a little different, so I’m hoping my attempt at growing plants in the ground rather than black plastic buckets will break my streak of bad luck.

So while I wait for my plants to grow, I’d like to announce the winner of the Frito-Lay Gluten-Free Prize Pack! The winner was determined through an unbiased Canadian coin-toss. And now, the winner of this awesome giveaway is…..

Gabby from The Veggie Nook!

Congratulations on winning this awesome gluten-free prize pack! I’m sure you’ll enjoy munching on these tasty Tostitos and Lay’s chips while learning more about eating Gluten-Free on a Shoestring, woo hoo!

Now, earlier I mentioned those mystery seedlings possibly being basil plants (I really hope they are!) Here’s a good recipe to try with any type of basil pesto you may have. The walnuts (or pecans, if you prefer) give it a nice, hearty crunch and the addition of mushrooms give it a more meaty texture.

Walnut Pesto with Mushrooms – serves 2

1/3 cup walnuts or pecans, lightly toasted and broken into pieces
1/4 – 1/3 cup cream
1/2 cup basil pesto
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
additional walnuts or pecans for garnish
Cooked noodles

Instructions:

In a blender, add walnuts and  pesto, blend until combined and nuts are chopped, but do not puree.

In a medium frying pan, sautee sliced mushrooms in olive oil over medium heat until softened, about 3-5 minutes. Add pesto and walnuts, stir for about a minute. Slowly add cream and stir to combine for about 2 minutes or until it just begins to simmer.

Serve over cooked noodles, sprinkle with parmesan cheese and extra walnuts or pecans.