Claudia and Hans Make Stuff

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Classic White Bread

A few years back, my mom and I were walking through an art fair in Tallahassee, FL and we came across a stand by Neal Pottery. Among the beautifully made pottery was one piece that caught my eye: a small blue round pot with handles. The inside was not smooth but instead featured a spiral. Next to the pot stood a little booklet with bread baking recipes…I was intrigued. After a few questions about the functionality of the pottery piece, in which one can bake a one pound bread.

Not so sure if I was sold because of the looks of the pot or the functionality of it.

Since the purchase I have used the pottery several times. It works great. I am sure that the recipe below that was inspired by a recipe that came with the pot can be baked in any other baking dish. The bread is small enough to finish it within a couple of days between two people.

1 1/8 teaspoons dry yeast
1 cup very warm water
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon butter (use vegan butter to make vegan)
1 teaspoon salt
2 ½  to 3 cups organic all-purpose flour

1. In a medium sized bowl, combine the yeast, sugar, and water. Cover and allow time for the yeast to “bloom” (about 20 minutes).
2. Add the butter and half of the flour. Work the butter and the flour in with a fork. Add in the remaining flour (it is very dry where we live, so I only used 2 ½  cups flour). Knead the dough for about 3 minutes.
3. Shape the dough into a ball, and place in a greased Neal Pottery bread baker (I used a little bit of olive oil to grease it). Cover loosely with plastic wrap (also greased) and allow the dough to rise until the top of the dough is about ½ to 1″ over the rim of the pot (approximately 60 to 75 minutes).
4. Uncover and place in a cold oven and bake at 350 degrees for approximately 40 minutes. Carefully remove the bread from the pottery and tap the bottom of the loaf–it should sound hollow.
5. Allow the loaf to cool (on a wire rack, optional) before slicing. Enjoy with jam (we forgot to take a picture 😦 ). Bread also works great to make grilled cheese


Neill's White Bread_6_small


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Delicious & Easy Chickpea Curry

So the semester has started…I am teaching four upper level division classes plus wanting to start a science outreach project at local high schools…oi…very busy.

I am supposed to be working on a review paper…but I am sitting in the train right now, commuting home from work and decided to write up a couple of recipes that we recently tried.

I love chickpeas…it’s a bit weird but I could eat them straight out of the can. So when I came across another chickpea recipe, of course I had to try it. I like the Curried Indian Chickpea recipe that I blogged about earlier. However, this current recipe suggested very different spices to experiment with. I modified the recipe to our liking and here is what I made:

Ingredients (3-4 servings):
1 tablespoon ghee (if not at hand use another “fat”, such as olive oil or butter)
1 yellow onion, sliced
4 garlic cloves, minced
½ to ¾ teaspoon chili powder
½ to ¾ teaspoon salt
½ to ¾ teaspoon ground turmeric
½ to ¾ teaspoon paprika
½ tablespoon ground cumin
½ tablespoon ground coriander (as we thought we did not have any at home, we left this spice out, turned out we did have it…I will add it next time)
2 (14.5-ounce) can organic chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 (14.5-ounce) can organic chopped tomatoes
½ to ¾ teaspoon garam masala (available as powder at Whole Foods)

1. Heat the ghee in a medium pan. Add the onion and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, using medium heat until onion is soft. Add all of the spices (except garam masala) and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly.

2. Stir in the chickpeas and tomatoes. Simmer over low-medium heat, covered for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. If you are planning on serving the dish with rice, start preparing the rice. Rice usually takes about 20 minutes to be made. We used Jasmine rice following the instruction on the package.

3. Stir in the garam masala and simmer, covered, for an additional 10 minutes.

4. Serve with rice and naan bread. Enjoy =)


Note: This dish stores well in an airtight container in the refrigerator and can easily be reheated in the microwave.



Curried Chickpeas_3_small

Costco sells really yummy naan bread


Adapted from a recipe book that I used to own but rarely ever used, since I thought that most of the recipes wouldn’t taste good to me.

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Crunchy Kale Chips

I only had kale chips once…and it’s quite a while ago. One of my best friends made kale chips and brought them to the beach. My last beach trip before moving to the (Wild) West.

Those chips were amazing…and I kind of had always wanted to make some. Well…today after making the Tropical Green Smoothie for breakfast and roasting the spaghetti squash seeds…it seemed perfect to also make kale chips.

Here is what I did:

1. From the kale leaves, we had bought from Whole Foods, we had about 6 or 7 large kale leaves left. I washed the leaves thoroughly and even more thoroughly dried them using a kitchen towel. I tore the leafy part away from the stems and discarded the stems. Then, I tore the leaves into large bite-size pieces.

2. Once the leaves were torn, in a bowl I added 1 ½ teaspoons of olive oil to the kale pieces. I used my hands to make sure that each leaf was slightly coated with olive oil. (Make sure to not drown your kale with too much oil. This will result in kale chips that are soggy.)

3. I sprinkled the kale with Himalayan Pink sea salt and mixed the leaves one last time.

4. Then I spread the kale evenly on two baking sheets making sure that the kale leaves were not laying on top of other leaves.

5. Then I baked the kale leaves at 300 F for about 10 minutes. I briefly removed the baking sheets and used a wooden spatula to move the leaves and turn them. I replaced the baking sheets and continued baking for another 15 minutes before pulling the baking sheets out of the oven.

6. I left the kale chips to cool on the baking sheet.

7. Enjoy   =)

(P.s. I was not going to make Hans try these. The chips have just been sitting on the counter–benefit of living out West, because the kale chips actually are staying crisp and crunchy. And guess what…Hans has been sneaking a kale chip here and there when passing the plate.)

Note: Perfect for people who need to increase their salt intake due to low blood pressure (like me). These chips can be made with varying amounts of salts. I guess I will make these kale chips more often, as I can make sure to increase my salt intake without adding fat that would come from eating most store-bought salty snacks.

Kale chips_3_small



Health benefits of kale:
* It is low in calories but rich in protein, fiber, folate, omega-3 fatty acid, phosphorous, potassium, calcium, and zinc.

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Can Spaghetti Squash Seeds be Roasted?

YES, ABSOLUTELY. And they are superdelicious. I love pumpkin seeds, but have not had any since Halloween. Lately, I have been experimenting with winter squash seeds and those are as amazing as pumpkin seeds.

Last week, I roasted butternut squash seeds. They were delicious, but unfortunately they are already all gone. Lucky that I saved the spaghetti squash seeds. I  roasted them today and they turned out amazing.

The recipe I used is essentially the same, but I am re-posting it here with pictures from the spaghetti squash. I did browse the internet for inspiration to use other spices, but did not really find anything I likes. So I just went with Himalayan Pink Sea Salt again…and they are delicious =)

How to roast spaghetti squash seeds:

1. Clean the seeds. It’s a bit messy and tedious, but necessary. Based on other’s suggestions, it works really well to plunk the seeds plus the “guts” into a big bowl of water. Using your hands, you can then break the “mess” apart. The “guts” will sink to the bottom, while the seeds will float to the top.

2. Boil for 10 minutes in salted water. Fill a medium-sized pot with water and add approximately 1 teaspoon salt. Add the seeds and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook uncovered for 10 minutes. Based on pumpkin seed recipes, this allows the seeds to be easier digest and produces a crispy outer shell.

3. Drain the seeds and lightly using paper towel. Using a colander drain the seeds and dry them using a paper towel. The seeds will stick to the paper towel, just use your fingers to rub them off.

4. Coat with extra virgin olive oil. I like to place the dried seeds in a small bowl and coat them with 1/2 to 1 teaspoon extra virgin oil. This way, all of the seeds are evenly coated with the oil before spreading them onto a baking sheet.

5. Spread the seeds onto a baking sheet in a thin layer. Make sure to spread the seeds as thin as possible with minimal overlap. Sprinkle with your favorite seasoning. I used Himalayan Pink Salt.

6. Roast seeds at 325 F for 8 minutes. As our oven is a bit temperamental and does not cook at an even temperature, I reduced the initial bake time from 10 minutes to 8 minutes. Take the baking sheet out after 8 minutes and stir the seeds. Return the baking sheet to the oven and cook for an additional 5-10 minutes. During the last 5 minutes of baking, remove a couple of seeds and crack them open. The inner seed should have a golden tinge to it. Make sure to not burn the seeds, if the inner seeds are brown, they got burned. When done, remove from oven. It may be helpful to pour roasted seeds onto a plate to cool, if they remain on the hot baking sheet, they may continue to roast.

7. Enjoy =)

Spaghetti Squash Seeds_9_small


Benefits of spaghetti squash seeds:
* Spaghetti squash seeds are rich in unsatured fats, omega 3 & 6 fatty acids, and protein.

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Incredibly-Easy Tomato Salsa

I have posted recipes for Tomatillo Salsa and Tomato and Tomatillo Salsa For those who either shy away from using tomatillos or do not have tomatillos on hand, of course you can also make salsa just using tomatoes. Remember the quality and taste of your taste will be directly proportional to the quality of the ingredients.

A couple of weeks ago, I used up the last tomatoes from our garden to make salsa with (except the cherry tomatoes that I roasted, I will post about those soon). These heirloom tomatoes were grown all organic and offered a variety of different tastes. Store-bought tomatoes will work, but they may not taste as amazing as home-grown tomatoes or tomatoes from a local farmer. Also, ideally use tomatoes that were bought in season, you can taste the difference.

Ingredients (Makes approximately 5 cups):
3 cups chopped tomatoes (I used a variety of garden-grown heirloom tomatoes)
1 onion, diced
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (2 frozen cubes of freshly squeezed lemon juice)
½ jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
1-2 garlic cloves, finely minced
salt and pepper, to taste
cayenne pepper, cumin, and chili powder, optional

Preparation (5 minutes):
1. Place tomatoes, onion, garlic, and jalapeno pepper in a blender. Add the lemon juice and blend until desired consistency.
2. Add spices (For this batch, I only added salt and pepper).
3. Enjoy fresh with chips.
4. Keeps well in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a few days. Alternatively, the salsa can also be frozen or canned for longer storage. I will post a more detailed blog about storage under “Useful Ideas” (RECIPE WILL APPEAR HERE).


Note: I seeded the tomatoes before using them. Not because of the taste or consistency but in order to preserve the seeds. We want to be able to plant these heirloom tomatoes again next year. I will post how to save tomato seeds some time soon under “Useful Ideas”, see below.

Note: You can find two options for storing salsa here:

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Crock Pot Lentil Soup

So not all recipes turn out how they are supposed to…tonight’s kitchen experiment is a great example. I got the inspiration from a cook book and modified some minor things…at least I thought they were minor. It turns out that maybe brown lentils (as suggested by the recipe) and little green lentils (as I used) may not cook the same way.

The taste of the soup was great but the lentils stayed chewy, even after pouring the content of the crock pot into a pot to simmer on the stove for an additional 35 minutes. So I will have to do some reading about the different types of lentils, because they may not be used interchangeably as I thought. I will definitely try this recipe again with brown lentils.

Ingredients (2-3 servings)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 celery rib, chopped
1 large carrot (I love using rainbow carrots)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/4 cups dried brown lentils, picked over and rinsed
5 cups vegetable stock (2 1/2 veggie bouillon cube and 5 cups water)
1 teaspoon soy sauce
Salt and ground pepper, to taste

1. Heat the oil in a large sauce pan over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, carrot, and garlic. Cover and cook for 8-10 minutes, or until softened. Stir occassionally.

2. Meanwhile pick over the lentils and rinse them. An easy way to pick over the lentils is to spread them out on raised baking sheet (see picture). You do not want to miss this step. Check for anything that is not a lentil (e.g., tiny rocks) and damaged lentils. After picking over the lentils, make sure to rinse them. If they are too small for your strainer, place them in a bowl. Gently fill bowl with water and carefully drain the water. REpeat 2 or 3 times.

3. Transfer the cooked vegetables to a 3.5 quart crock pot, add the lentils, water, veggie bouillon cubes, and soy sauce. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.

Trouble shooting: The soup was still very “soupy” and the lentils were still harder than expected after 7 hours. So I increased the temperature to high for the last hour, with not much success. I ended up pouring the Crock pot content in a large pot and simmered the soup for an additional 35 minutes on medium heat on the stove. The soup thickened a lot, but the lentils were still not as soft as I thought they should be.

Based on the package instructions, the lentils should be simmered for 35-40 minutes. Since I had never cooked with little green lentils before, I will now have to read up on the different types of lentils and their corresponding characteristics.

Lentil soup_6_small

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Spaghetti Squash Made Easy

What is a spaghetti squash?

I had no idea what spaghetti squash is or how to make it. Hans’ mom gave us one a few days ago and tonight I learned why it is called spaghetti squash AND I learned one to prepare it.

The preparation was actually quite simple…ONCE you master getting through the rather tough outer shell. Make sure to use a sharp knife. Cut away from your body and watch your fingers. Or if you are like me, have someone else cut it…and meanwhile walk around the house nervously hoping nobody gets injured.

Once the fruit is cut open, the fun begins.

How to prepare spaghetti squash:
1. Cut the spaghetti squash in half, length-wise. Be careful to not cut yourself.

2. Scoop out all of the seeds and “guts” surrounding the seeds. If you are as obsessed with pumpkin seeds like me, you want to save those seeds and roast them later.

3. Meanwhile, pre-heat the oven to 400 F. Place both halves on a baking sheet with raised edges. Place the spaghetti squash on its cut side. Add a bit of water to the baking sheet to prevent the squash from drying out. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the “meat” is soft.

4. Remove from oven and eat with fork straight out of the shell. (Littlest clean-up that way). Hans suggested to sprinkle a bit of Himalayan Pink Salt on it and he was right it is REALLY DELICIOUS. Enjoy =)

Half was plenty for me. Hans ate the other half.

Half was plenty for me. Hans ate the other half.

Healthful benefits:
* Low in calories, but rich in fiber and various vitamins (including A, C, B2, B3, B6, and K). It is also rich in manganese, folate, and omega-3 fats.