Posts Tagged 'carrot'

Caramelized Sweet Onion Dip

Last Friday the snow had mostly melted, although it was still in the mid-30’s. I went out to see what will need to be done to clean up the garden for spring planting in April. To my amazement, things were growing under the snow. There was arugula and lettuce, and some scrawny green onions. But the biggest surprise was a whole row of carrots!
onion dip carrots
Mind you, it was mid-February. it has been down to 4 degrees at night, and is still regularly in the 20’s. How did these things survive! I made quick work of the carrots – they were amazingly sweet, crunchy and delicious. After I scarfed down a couple of them, I made myself a plate of veggies and dip to snack on.
onion dip with veggies
I have been looking for a non-fat onion dip. Mind you, you can make regular onion dip with non-fat sour cream and onion soup. But that is a bit salty, and it contains MSG, which I am trying to avoid. So I have been experimenting to come up with a tasty dip.  This dip is easy to make, and I expect you could add herbs and such to it. It is better if you refrigerate it for a day so the flavors mellow.  Now I have something to pack with my lunch veggies.

Caramelized Sweet Onion Dip

Cooking spray
1 large sweet onion (Walla Walla, Vidalia, or other kind)
¼ teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon onion powder
16 oz (2 cups) non-fat sour cream
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 Tablespoon soy sauce.

One big beautiful onion

One big beautiful onion

Coarsely slice the onion. Spray a large frying pan with cooking spray. Over medium heal, caramelize the onion by “steam “frying” (See HINT).
onion dip onions cooking
When the onions are golden brown, put them in the food processor and pulse a few times.

onions almost caramelized

onions almost caramelized

Add the salt, pepper, onion powder, and sour cream and process everything until well blended. Add the lemon juice and soy sauce. Process again for a bit. The texture will be a bit lumpy. Put in a container and refrigerate overnight. This has 0 grams of fat, and makes at least 8 quarter cup servings, although I usually just spoon it into a bowl and dip away. Its good with lower fat chips and crackers, too – but be sure to count those grams in your daily fat gram count.
onion dip

HINT: Often, the only reason you need a tablespoon of oil (14 grams of fat) in a recipe, is to brown onions.  But you really don’t need the oil. Spray a pan with cooking spray, heat over medium heat, and add onions or other vegetables. Stir frequently. Every little while, add  about 2 tablespoons of water and stir. Each time the pan gets dry, add a little more water, until the onions are the shade of golden brown you want. The trick is not to let them burn, and to be patient stirring and adding water.


A Platter of Pickles

I have been having an urge to make pickles. Not the kind of pickles that you put up in big jars using a canner – I used to make those pickles when I was doing more earth mother sorts of things. I even still have the canner and tools.  I have been thinking about quick pickles, the kind you mix up an hour and after sitting in their brine for an hour or overnight, they’re ready to go. I found several recipes for quick pickles in a recent Sunset magazine.  I made these to take to an office barbecue – a change from the usual potato salad and cole slaw.

The cucumber pickles were gone by the tie the barbecue was over – none left to take home.  I had carrot pickles left, and they kept surprisingly well for a week or so. When a friend came to dinner and I brought them out to snack on, they still had a lot of crunch.

Mustard and Ginger Pickled Carrots

10 to 12 medium carrots (about 2 lbs.)
2 cups distilled white vinegar
3 Tablespoons sugar
3 Tablespoons kosher salt
3 quarter-size thin slices fresh ginger
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced lengthwise
3 Tablespoons yellow mustard seeds
1 Tablespoon coriander seeds
1/4 teaspoon red chile flakes

Peel carrots and cut into 1/4-in. matchsticks.

Bring 3 cups water and all ingredients except carrots to a boil in a large saucepan. Reduce heat to low and simmer 1 minute. Add carrots and simmer until almost tender, 2 to 3 minutes.

Transfer carrots and liquid to a bowl and let cool to room temperature. Chill, covered, overnight to let flavors develop. Serve cold. Keeps, chilled, up to 1 week. Makes 6 cups with 0 grams of fat.

Sweet and Sour Cucumber and Red Onion Pickles

1 pound Persian or English cucumbers, ends trimmed
1/2 medium red onion, halved lengthwise
1 stalk fresh lemongrass (I used I Tablespoon lemon grass paste)
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon ground coriander seeds
1/8 teaspoon pepper
3/4 cup Champagne vinegar (I used Zinfandel vinegar, which was all I had)

Slice cucumbers and onion very thinly on a mandoline or with a knife. Put both in a medium bowl. Peel tough outer layers from lemongrass and smash core with a meat mallet or back of a small heavy saucepan until flattened. Mince core and add to bowl (or use the paste that comes in a tube).

Whisk sugar, salt, coriander, pepper, and vinegar together. Pour over cucumber mixture and chill at least 1 hour, stirring gently a couple of times. Serve cold. Keeps, chilled, up to 1 day. Makes 3 ¼ cups at 0 grams of fat.

Pumpkin Carrot Cake

The weather is cold, and I’m cooking up a storm just to keep the kitchen warm. Last weekend I made a huge pot of chicken soup, to which I added barley and vegetables. It’s packed in the freezer for hot lunches at work – and occasionally for dinner when I’m freezing and tired.

I’ve been craving baked goods, and was looking for a recipe that could be made in an 8 or 9 inch cake pan. This is just large enough when the purpose is eating it at home, and not taking the goodie to a potluck where most of it will be eaten and only a bit left for me.  Really, contrary to the opinions of many I lack will power and my chief strategy for restraint is not having too many things to tempt me in the house. A whole Bundt cake would just call out to me to be eaten several times a day.

This is one of the tastiest little cakes I have ever made. It has a lot of interesting ingredients like pumpkin and dried cranberries. It is very moist and delicious. The original recipe came from Cooking Light, but I made it lower fat with the applesauce substitution trick. Also, the recipe said it was 9 servings, but they would really be huge pieces – almost plate size. I cut it into 16 pieces (there’s nothing that says you can’t eat several pieces if you want more – I did.)

Pumpkin Carrot Cake

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1 large egg white
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
1 Tablespoons butter, melted
2 Tablespoons applesauce
1 Tablespoon grated orange rind
3/4 cup raisins
1/2 cup grated carrot
1/3 cup dried cranberries
Cooking spray
2 Tablespoons coarsely chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray an 8 inch square baking pan with cooking spray.

Lightly spoon flours into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. In a medium bowl, whisk together flours and next 4 ingredients (flours through salt). Place egg and egg white in a large bowl. Beat with a mixer at medium speed for 30 seconds. Add brown sugar, pumpkin, oil, butter, applesauce, and orange rind. Beat until well blended. Add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture, stirring just until moist. Stir in raisins, carrot, and cranberries. Spoon batter into prepared 8-inch square baking pan. Sprinkle with pecans. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack. Makes 16 pieces at 2 grams of fat/piece.

This is the cake I was making when my beloved old Olympus camera broke.  I’m still not used to the pictures the new one takes.

Moroccan Carrot Salad

The tree is finally decorated.*

I am spending Christmas Eve making something to take to my neighbor’s house tomorrow for Christmas dinner. They requested a side dish and, because I couldn’t decide which to make, I made two – a Moroccan carrot salad and a broccoli gorgonzola casserole. Both of these are make-aheads, which is exactly what I want so I can have a relaxed Christmas morning, which I hope will include a long soak in my giant bubble tub. The broccoli awaits the crumb topping and baking tomorrow, so here is the salad.

This recipe, originally from the New York Times, includes rose water, which can be gotten in some super markets and in Asian stores. Rose water is very evocative to me. I open the bottle and I am transported back to Mumbai, where I sit, sari-clad, on the flat roof of our apartment building. It is evening, and the other women in the building are also on the roof, eating bhelpuri (a puffed rice, cilantro and  savories snack) and sweets scented with rose water. We laugh, talk, and tease one another in a brief respite from days spent cooking for husbands and tending children. The rose water in this salad is not very strong, but it gives the carrot a slightly mysterious flowery essence.

Moroccan Carrot Salad
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
5 large carrots, peeled and coarsely grated (3 1/2 to 4 cups)
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 Tablespoon rose water
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
4 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup finely chopped parsley
Salt and black pepper to taste
1 Tablespoon sugar, optional

Toast the coriander and cumin in a dry pan over medium-high heat, shaking often to avoid burning, until just fragrant and slightly darker, about 3 minutes. Although the recipe did not call for it, I crushed the coriander and cumin in a mortar and pestle so the pieces in the salad would be smaller. I think you can use them either way.
Combine spices with remaining ingredients in a bowl and mix well. I added a tablespoon of sugar at this point because my carrots were not very sweet. Refrigerate, covered, for one hour or up to 24 hours. Stir before serving. Makes 6 servings at about 3 grams of fat/serving.

*What, you may ask, is a nice Jewish girl doing with a Christmas tree? I have been collecting ornaments for over 40 years. It all started innocently with an ornament received as a gift, and now anyone who knows me will tell you I am obsessed.  There are no lights on my tree to detract from my precious ornaments, and I hang each one and remember where I got it and why. It is like a memory book I open each Christmas.

Moroccan Vegetable Stew

Has this ever happened to you – you have the big holiday meal planned down to the dessert, and then your Aunt Bea calls to let you know that your Cousin Lynn is now a strict vegetarian and is rather upset when she has to eat around the edges of meat-based meals.  Now what do you do? Your Passover dinner focuses on brisket or lamb; your planned Easter dinner has a ham centerpiece.

This Moroccan Vegetable Stew is a meal centerpiece in itself. I created it from a combination of similar stews when the caterer for our congregation’s community Passover seder needed to come up with a main dish to serve alongside the roast chicken.  We needed a dish to meet both the needs of our several vegetarians, plus the rules of Passover, which in our congregation means no flour, naturally (and thus no pasta), no mixing of milk and meat on the table, and no beans or grains.  It also had to be capable of being made ahead, and not too difficult to prepare. A tall order!

The beauty of this stew is that it meets all the criteria and is absolutely delicious.  You can also improvise a bit on the vegetables and use what you have at hand, although I recommend keeping the carrots and eggplant. I have substituted green beans, zucchini, and squash for the parsnips with great results.  The trick is to cut all the vegetables to about the same size.  It cooks in the slow cooker, so it is no fuss. The stew is mysteriously sweet, given that it has no added sugar, and has a little kick to it because of the cayenne pepper. If you want to have a bit less kick, reduce the amount of pepper.

You can serve it over couscous (but not for Passover) or rice, or serve sour cream or yogurt with it to dollop on top (no, not for Passover).  I made a big cooker full this morning before I went out for a meeting.  When I came home late in the evening, the house smelled sweet and spicy.  The weather had turned to a cold rain, but I had a big bowl of this stew to warm me.

So go out, get some vegetables, throw them in the slow cooker, and by the time Cousin Lynn shows up she’ll think you slaved all day to make a special dish for her.  But don’t be surprised if all the other relatives polish off bowls of it – at our community seder it is almost more popular than the chicken.

Moroccan Vegetable Stew

1 Tablespoon olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
5  cups vegetable (or chicken) broth (about 3 cans)
4 large carrots peeled and cut into 1/2-inch lengths
2½ cups eggplant, peeled and diced into 1 inch pieces (about 1 medium eggplant)
2½ cups parsnips peeled and cut into 1/2-inch lengths
2 cups cauliflower broken into small florets
1 cup diced onion
2 cans (14 1/2 oz. each) stewed tomatoes (be sure to get the original and not Mexican or Italian)
¾ cup dried currants
1½ teaspoons kosher salt

Pour olive oil into a small frying pan over medium-low heat. Add garlic and spices and cook, stirring often until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes, being careful not to scorch the garlic. Set aside.

Add broth, carrots, eggplant, parsnips, cauliflower, onion, stewed tomatoes (with juices), currants, salt, and the garlic spice mixture to a slow cooker (at least 5 quart) and stir to combine.  I mixed a bit of the broth into the spice mixture so I could scrape every bit of it  out of the pan.

Vegetables waiting to be diced

Cover slow-cooker and cook on high until vegetables are tender to bite and flavors are blended, 8 to 9 hours. Makes 6 servings (more as a side dish) at about 3 grams of fat/serving.

Variation: Some recipes called for ladling about 3 cups of the vegetable mixture into a blender, holding the lid down with a towel and whirling until smooth. Return purée to slow cooker and stir to blend. This makes a somewhat thicker gravy, but it is not necessary

Sweet Carrot Salad

This is a quick salad that makes a good buffet or potluck dish.  The carrots with the slightly sweet and sour spiced dressing is quite refreshing.  I served it chilled, but it holds well enough without wilting to serve at room temperature.  The original recipe is from Cooking Light. I used baby carrots, because that is what I had in the house. Regular carrots would work well, but I would choose slender ones rather than big soup carrots.

Sweet Carrot Salad

5 cups  (1/2-inch-thick) carrot slices, cleaned and peeled
2 garlic cloves, halved
2/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2Ttablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon paprika

Combine carrot and garlic in a large saucepan. Cover with water; bring to a boil. Cook 8 minutes or until tender; drain. Discard garlic.

Combine lemon juice and remaining ingredients in a medium bowl, and stir well. Add carrot to lemon juice mixture, tossing to coat. Serve salad at room temperature or chilled.  Makes 8 servings with virtually no fat per serving.

Carrot salad

Carrot Cucumber Salad

This is a quick salad with a Korean flair.  It first appeared in Cooking Light and is a nice buffet dish. It also makes a good lunch take-along with a bit of kick.

Carrot Cucumber Salad

3 Tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 Tablespoons rice vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons canola oil
2 teaspoons dark sesame oil (available in the Asian section of the grocery)
½ teaspoon minced garlic
¼ teaspoon ground red pepper
2 cups chopped peeled and seeded cucumber
1 (10 ounce) bag matchstick-cut carrots (or cut your own)
1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds

Combine first 7 ingredients (soy sauce through red pepper) in a large bowl, stirring well with a whisk.  Add cucumber and carrot and toss well. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Makes 8 servings at 2.7 grams of fat/serving.

HINT: To seed cucumbers, cut cucumber lengthwise into quarters.  Use a knife or spoon to scoop out the seeds.


Oatmeal Coconut Snack Bars

I snack a lot – in the office, in the car on the way home – basically, all the time. One of my principles is that a snack should be 4 grams of fat or less. Of course you can snack on lots of non-fat food like fruit.  Grapes that have been cleaned and separated,  for example, are good to eat when driving home.  I’m not much on carrots and celery unless I have dip, although slices of red or orange pepper are tasty.  I’ve gotten in the habit of carrying snack food with me at all times, lest I get ravenously hungry and stop for a bite to eat of some high fat goody.  I often carry what I refer to as “food bars”, the chewy bars you buy in the grocery, since they pack in a purse or pocket well. There are some bars that meet the 4 gram requirement, but a lot of the tastiest bars are 8 grams or more, and since they’re not that filling, it seems like a waste of fat grams (and money) to eat them often.

So I have been making my own food bars.  These snack bars, which were called “breakfast bars” when the recipe appeared in American Profile, are rather moister than store bought bars.  I packed them each separately in a zip top snack-size bag, and they kept and traveled well.  I also froze about half of them.

Oatmeal Coconut Snack Bars

1 cup quick oats
1 ½ cups apple juice
1 ½ cups all purpose flour
½ cup toasted wheat germ
¾ cup shredded sweetened coconut, divided
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup packed brown sugar
½ cup unsweetened applesauce
2 cups finely grated carrots
2 eggs, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a 9 x 13 inch baking pan with cooking spray.  Combine oatmeal and apple juice in a microwave safe bowl. Cover and heat on high for 2 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes.

Lightly spoon flour into measuring cups and level with a knife.  In a large bowl, whisk together flour, wheat germ, 1/2  cup of the coconut, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  In a separate bowl, whisk together brown sugar, applesauce, carrots and eggs.  Fold into flour mixture.  Add oatmeal mixture and stir until just blended.

Spoon into baking dish and sprinkle with remaining ¼ cup of coconut.  Bake 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  This makes 18 large bars at 2 grams of fat/bar.


Note:  These were good, but I wasn’t that crazy about the coconut, which I usually like. Somehow it didn’t go with the other flavors that well.  I’m going to experiment with other nuts, and maybe raisins or dried cranberries.  I’ll let you know how the experiments come out.

Gadjar Kari (Carrot Curry)

Carrots are a sweet vegetable that can be used in many ways – think carrot cake.  In India, they make a candy called gadjar halwah, which is soft and sweet, and often studded with pistachios, topped with edible silver foil, and served for special occasions. Because of their sweetness, carrots combine well with other sweet ingredients, even if the end result is not a dessert.  This curry is a little unusual because one of the sweet ingredients is a banana.

For potlucks I often like to bring a vegetarian dish, since everyone can usually eat it.  This curry, adapted from The World of Jewish Cooking, came out unexpectedly spicier than I thought it would, but the people at the potluck thought it was just right.  In the picture below, I tempered it by serving it with yogurt – a fairly common accompaniment for my Mumbai neighbors.  Milk products cut the heat of overly spicy foods – I can’t remember the chemistry of this, but a glass of milk works better than a glass of water to wash down a fiery dish.  You certainly can reduce the amount of cayenne pepper if you’d like.

Carrot Curry

1 Tablespoon canola oil
1 Tablespoon cumin seeds
1 ½ teaspoons yellow mustard seed
1 ½ teaspoons ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cardomom
1 teaspoon curry powder
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (or to taste)
1 pound carrots, sliced, or 1 pound baby carrots
1 medium banana, peeled and sliced
¼ cup golden raisins
1 cup water
1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
ground black pepper to taste

Heat the oil over medium heat in a large pan. Add the spices (cumin seed through   cayenne) and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds. I mixed the spices in a little bowl beforehand so that I could add them all at once, and they wouldn’t burn while I measured out the other spices. Add the carrots and sauté until lightly colored, about 3-5 minutes.  Stir in the banana and raisins.  Add the water, salt, and pepper.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer until the carrots are tender, not mushy, about 20 minutes, Uncover, increase the heat to medium, and cook, stirring frequently  until most of the liquid is evaporated and the carrots and raisins are glazed, about 5-10 minutes.  Serve with rice.  Makes 4 servings at about 4 grams of fat/serving.


Carrot-Chocolate Cupcakes

Today is my daughter’s birthday.  Twenty-five years ago today, on her first birthday (and well before I had even heard about fat grams), I made a carousel birthday cake: 4 layers of home-made chocolate cake, filled and frosted with thick layers of home-whipped cream, animal crackers around the side, and topped with a paper canopy resting on straws, with a circle of animal crackers underneath.  She did what one-year olds always do with birthday cakes – attacked with both hands deep in the whipped cream, and shortly whipped cream and cake was all over her face and everything nearby.  Now she is a whole country away, but distance doesn’t deter a mother from celebrating.  The cupcakes are a lot leaner (as am I), but the love is the same.

The original recipe came from Cooking Light.  It was already very modest in fat, but I lightened it up a bit, because I wanted to add whipped cream (from a can).  These cupcakes are like little chocolate chip carrot cakes. Without the whipped cream, these will freeze very well, and be a great addition to lunch, or for a quick weeknight dessert.

Carrot Chocolate Cupcakes

1 pound carrots, peeled and sliced
1 3/4 cups sugar
4 Tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
2 Tablespoons canola oil
1/3 cup low fat buttermilk
1 large egg
1/2 cup egg substitute
2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 ounce semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate, finally chopped (I think 1 ounce of semi sweet mini chocolate chips would also work)
3 Tablespoons powdered sugar (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line 18 muffin cups with paper liners. Chop carrots in a food processor until finely minced. Combine carrots, sugar, applesauce, oil, buttermilk, egg,  and egg substitute in a large bowl.  Mix until well blended.  Combine flour, soda. And salt in a medium bowl and whisk together.  Add flour mixture to carrot mixture and stir until smooth.  Stir in chocolate.

Spoon batter into muffin cups. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Cool pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes.  Remove muffins from pan and cool on a wire rack completely.  Sprinkle with confectioners sugar if you are using it. One muffin (without the whipped cream) has about 2 grams of fat

Happy Birthday, dear daughter. This one’s for you.


I have lost 200 pounds. I did not do it through surgery – I don’t like knives and needles – or by joining a club, vigorous exercise, or rigorous dieting. I did it by gourmet cooking. To be precise, by cooking low fat, really delicious food. I love to cook as much as I love to eat. Food magazines are some of my favorite reading. I would feel deprived if I couldn’t have the sensuous experience of good food crossing my lips. This blog is about my perpetual feast, my passionate love of food, with recipes, photos, and occasional advice and principles that I have learned along the way.

More about me.

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