Friday, September 9, 2011

Paneer Rolls

Paneer (indian cottage cheese) originates from India. It is a widely used ingredient among south and north indians ranging from appetizers to main dishes and winding up with desserts. I have tasted several appetizers with paneer and some of my favorites being paneer tikka, cornflakes paneer and bharwan paneer (will save these recipes for another post). Recently, we had a small gathering, and of course, I was trying to create a good spread to satisfy vegetarians and meat eaters. So, I made paneer rolls as one of the appetizers with two different batches...one with bread crumbs coating and the other with crushed cornflakes. My personal favorite was the one with the cornflakes coating that turned out crispy and it ended up being a big hit among guests too. The best part about this dish is that you can prepare the rolls before hand and stick them in the refrigerator. The rolls are ready to be fried anytime. Enjoy your crunchy treats!!

Ingredients:

8 oz low fat paneer, finely grated
1 small onion, finely chopped
2-3 green chillies, finely chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped
1/2 tsp red chilli powder (adjust to taste)
1/2 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp garam masala powder
1 cup cornflakes, crushed(use a rolling pan)
5 bread slices (white or wheat bread with the edges trimmed)
Oil, enough for frying
Salt, to taste

Method:



In a bowl, add the grated paneer, onion and green chillies. Mix well. Add salt, red chilli powder, coriander powder, garam masala and cilantro.

In another bowl, dip the bread slices one by one in water and quickly squeeze out the excess and add to the dough (adding bread slices gives a nice texture). Mix all the ingredients so that they blend well.

Make small rolls (pick any shape of your choice) and then coat with crushed cornflakes.   Refrigerate for 30-45 mins or until you want to fry them. 

In a pan, heat oil and fry the rolls until golden brown. Serve with chilli garlic sauce/ ketchup.

Makes 10-12 rolls.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Stuffed Mushrooms

Mushrooms, as most of you know, is a low-calorie food and a great source of vitamin B. It has a meaty texture and comes in several varieties with the most commonly used ones being white (button), portobello, oyster, shiitake and enoki (thin and long white) mushrooms. It is widely used in asian cooking but equally gaining significance in italian and american cuisine as well. Generally, I cook with mushrooms as an ingredient in my soup or gravies but wanted to try making stuffed mushrooms for a change. These stuffed mushrooms work great as a bite size appetizer but you can transform it to a nice dish by serving the stuffed mushrooms with 
béchamel sauce (using vegan butter and soy/almond milk) and some fresh salad.

Ingredients:

12 oz Crimini mushrooms  
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 cup frozen spinach, thawed
Mushroom stems, finely chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 - 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (adjust to taste)
1 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
2 tsp nutritional yeast
1/2 - 1 tsp dried parsley (adjust to taste)
1 tbsp fresh parsley
Salt, to taste

Method:


Clean the mushrooms by rinsing them and patting them dry. Remove the mushroom stems and chop them finely.

In a pan, heat oil, add the minced garlic and onions and fry until onions are slightly golden brown. Now, add the spinach and mushroom stems. Cook until slightly done.

Add the crushed red pepper flakes, dried parsley, bread crumbs, nutritional yeast and salt. Cook for few minutes. 

Fill each mushroom cap with the prepared stuffing. Preheat oven to 375° F.  In a baking pan, spray some oil and place the mushrooms. Bake for 30-40 mins until the mushrooms are done. The mushrooms tend to get too brown if left for longer, so make sure you take them off appropriately.

Makes 16-18 mushrooms (depending on the package)

Monday, August 8, 2011

Three Bean Salad

Bean Salad is a summer salad dish with different beans such as green beans, yellow wax beans, kidney beans, black-eyed peas, garbanzo beans and onions or other vegetables like bell peppers, etc., It is usually prepared with a vinaigrette which is slightly on the sweeter side. Beans are packed with protein and fiber which can help lower cholestrol levels as well as fill you up. You can use your choice of beans and mix it up for variations.

Ingredients:

1 cup green beans, steamed and cut into bite-size pieces
15.5 oz can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
15.5 oz can dark red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
1 small green bell pepper, chopped (optional)
1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped
5-6 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped (optional)

For dressing:

4-5 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp cider vinegar (or white vinegar)
2 tbsp dijon mustard
Juice of 1 lemon
1- 1 1/2 tbsp honey (adjust to taste)
1 tbsp sriracha hot sauce (optional)
1 clove garlic, minced
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste

Method:

In a bowl, add cider vinegar, dijon mustard, minced garlic, lemon juice, honey, sriracha sauce and olive oil. Whisk all the ingredients together. Add salt and pepper to taste and whisk well. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, add the green beans, garbanzo beans, dark red kidney beans, red onion, green bell pepper, sun-dried tomatoes and chopped cilantro.

Add the vinaigrette to the beans and toss well. Serve immediately or chilled.

Makes 4-5 servings.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Spice Cuisine turns One!!!

It feels good to see Spice Cuisine turn one. How times flies!! Normally, when we look back on past stuff, you always wish you could have done certain things differently and newer ideas start cropping up....just like how I feel now. I see so many blogs celebrating their blog birthdays with sweet treats. For a change, I decided to lay low and celebrate the blog's birthday in my own simple way by recollecting old memories and staying motivated to cook and share more recipes.

Back home, when I first entered the kitchen, mom would let me be her sous chef (not exactly but lets just keep it that way...makes me feel good) and  help her with little things. My expertise back then was preparing tea, making dosa (of course, with the batter prepared by mom) and omelettes for dad. I should probably call myself as an accidental cook (making visits to the kitchen only when my mom was not around, more so, out of desperation and hunger pangs). When I first left for U.S., I felt a bit blind sided without much hands-on about cooking and my primary resources were some of my mom's recipes and cookbooks that she sent along. 

My cooking skills have come a long way since then, and the more I got involved, I discovered my passion for cooking and baking. Although, I try my best to serve simple and healthy dishes to family and friends, every once in a while, I think its perfectly fine to indulge in fried fantasies or sweet heaven. I agree that it gives a sense of satisfaction (and less of the guilt) when we enjoy healthy lifestyle by making minor substitutions to everyday cooking without any compromises on our taste buds. But, let's face it...variety is the spice of life!!! So, enjoy cooking new dishes, add your own little touch and make things interesting.



Friday, May 13, 2011

Roasted Sweet and Red Potato Salad

Potato salads are served as a picnic food and a common dish in casual dining. It is prepared by tossing boiled potatoes with mayonnaise and minimal seasoning which is served warm. Here's a guilt-free version of the traditional potato salad which tastes great and has fewer calories too.

Ingredients:

3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
3 medium red potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
1 large red onion, diced
1 large red bell pepper, diced
2-3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp vegan mayonnaise  (or regular mayonnaise)
1 tsp honey mustard
1/2 - 1 tsp paprika (adjust to taste)
1/4 cup chives, finely chopped
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste

Method:


Preheat oven to 425°F.

In a large bowl, add the sweet potatoes and red potatoes. Add 2 tsp of olive oil and toss well to coat the potatoes. Spread the potatoes over the baking sheet and roast until the potatoes turn slightly brown, for 25-30 mins, stirring occasionally.

In a bowl, toss the onion and red pepper with 1 tsp of olive oil. Stir into the potato mixture and roast for 12-15 mins or until the vegetables are tender.

In a bowl, combine the vegan mayonnaise, honey mustard, paprika, salt and pepper with 1 tbsp olive oil and whisk all the ingredients together.

Transfer the potato mixture into a serving bowl. Add the chopped chives and pour the dressing over the potato mixture and toss well. Server warm.

Makes 3 servings.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Mixed Bell Pepper Chutney

Bell Pepper (also known as sweet pepper/capsicum in other parts of the world) comes in different colors such as red, yellow, orange and green with red bell peppers being the sweetest. Peppers are a good source of essential vitamins, nutrients and lycopene which helps prevent some forms of cancer.

Most of the times, I use green peppers as they taste neutral and work well in rice varieties, gravies and grilled vegetables. For a change, I decided to use mixed bell peppers to prepare a chutney in an attempt to balance the sweetness with the perfect amount of heat to compliment it. The chutney tasted good and was a nice variation from the usual ones....give it a try.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cup mini peppers or mixed bell peppers, diced
1 medium onion, diced
2-3 cloves garlic
5-6 dry red chillies (adjust to taste)
2 tbsp channa dal (split chickpeas), optional
Tamarind paste, to taste

Salt, to taste
2 tbsp oil

For seasoning:

1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp urad dal (black gram dal)
Few curry leaves
1 tbsp oil

Method:

In a pan, heat oil, add the red chillies,channa dal, onion, garlic and bell peppers. Sauté until the onions turn light brown and the peppers are slightly done. Set aside and let the mix cool down.

In a blender or food processor, grind the sautéed mix along with tamarind paste and salt. Add little water, if required. Pour in a serving bowl.

In a small pan, heat 1 tbsp oil, add mustard seeds, urad dal and curry leaves. After the mustard seeds start spluttering, pour the seasoning on the ground chutney and mix well. Serve with idli or dosa.

Makes 3-4 servings.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Italian Pasta Salad

Pasta Salad can be prepared with any type of pasta tossed with either a vinaigrette or mayonnaise-based dressing. It can be served chilled and is commonly served as an appetizer but filling as a main course as well. Pick vegetables like broccoli, carrots, peppers, onions, olives and parmesan cheese that blend well and also complement the season. To toss a quick salad together, I stuck to a store-bought italian dressing but you can make your own too!!

Ingredients:

2 cups dried tri-color rotini pasta
1/4 cup celery, chopped
1/4 cup green onions, chopped (or red onions would work too)
1/4 cup black olives, pitted and sliced
1/4 cup pickled jalapenos, sliced
1 medium green bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup roasted red bell pepper, chopped
12 grape tomatoes, halved
1 tsp italian seasoning
1/4 - 1/3 cup lite italian dressing
1 - 1 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper (optional)
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese, for garnish (adjust to taste)
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste

Method:


Cook the tri-color pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, add boiled pasta, celery, green bell pepper, roasted red bell peppers, olives, grape tomatoes, pickled jalapenos and green onions and mix well.

Add the crushed red pepper, italian seasoning, salt and pepper to taste and toss all ingredients together. Cover the bowl with a plastic wrap and refrigerate for  30 mins or longer. Garnish with parmesan cheese and serve chilled.

Makes 4-5 servings.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Avocado Shake

Avocados taste great raw, the most common variety being Hass. Avocados are mostly used in savory dishes but little did I know that in Brazil, Indonesia and Vietnam, they are widely used in dessert drinks. The avocado shake made in Vietnam (known as Sinh to Bo) uses condensed milk along with the sugary goodness. I decided to make a lighter version using soy milk. One more sweet treat for your taste buds...

Ingredients:

1 large ripe avocado
1 cup soy milk or almond milk
Few ice cubes
1-2 tbsp agave nectar or honey (adjust to taste)
2-3 tbsp sliced almonds, chopped (optional)

Method:


In a blender, scoop the avocado flesh. Add soy milk, ice cubes and agave nectar and blend until smooth. Add more soy milk if you want a thinner consistency and adjust the sweetness to suit your taste (I used 1 tbsp agave nectar as I like mine less sweet). You can also drizzle some chocolate syrup on top or blend along with your shake. Garnish with chopped almonds and serve cold.

Makes 2 servings.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Apple Cranberry Quick Bread

Cranberries work well with baking recipes. Normally, I use them when I make home-made granola or orange-cranberry scones. Although, the only time I use apples is for fruit salads or when making apple crumble. I like using apple sauce for baking as it can be a good egg substitute. So, why not combine all these to make an apple cranberry quick bread ? The spices combined with the rest of the ingredients with just enough sweetness is a perfect anytime treat.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup canola or vegetable oil
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
1 medium apple, peeled,cored and cut into small chunks
6 oz unsweetened apple sauce
1- 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon powder (adjust to taste)
1/2 tsp nutmeg powder

For the streusel topping:

2 tbsp chopped pecans
2 tbsp all purpose flour
2 tbsp light brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
1 1/2 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes

Method:


In a small bowl, prepare the streusel topping by adding the all purpose flour, light brown sugar, cinnamon powder, chopped pecans and mix well. Add the unsalted butter amd mix with the ingredient until it resembles a crumbly texture. Set aside.

In a bowl, combine the sifted all purpose flour, granulated sugar, salt, baking powder, cinnamon powder, nutmeg powder, chopped walnuts and dried cranberries. Mix all the dry ingredients well.

Add the apple sauce to the dry ingredients and mix well. Now, add the oil and stir until all ingredients blend together.  Add the diced apple pieces into the batter and mix.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Grease a medium loaf pan with cooking spray and pour the batter into the loaf pan and level out the top. Spread the streusel topping over the batter until fully covered. Bake for 50-55 mins. Insert a toothpick to check if it is baked all the way through.

Allow it to cool for 15-20 mins and cut into slices.

Makes 12 slices.

Lima Beans Curry

Lima Beans is a good source of fiber and high in protein. It helps regulate blood sugar levels and also lowers cholestrol. It can also increase energy levels by helping restore more iron. Well, I didn't know about these facts when I initially started cooking it, but I guess I can start using it more frequently hereafter. This is a recipe that I learnt from my mom and it seems to be a hit everytime I make it. So, give it a try!!

Ingredients:

1 big onion, finely chopped
2 medium tomatoes, finely chopped
1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 1/2 -2 tsp chilli powder (adjust to taste)
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
Salt, to taste
16 oz pack frozen lima beans
3 tbsp grated coconut
4-5 almonds
1/4 tsp fennel seeds
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped
Tamarind paste, to taste (optional)

For seasoning:

2 tbsp oil
5-6 cloves
4-5 small cinnamon sticks
Few curry leaves
2 tsp mustard seeds

Method:


In a pressure cooker, add the lima beans, chopped onions, tomatoes, ginger-garlic paste, chilli powder, salt, turmeric powder, plain yogurt and mix well. Pour enough water for it to boil (say 1- 1/2 cup). Pressure cook for 1-2 whistle.

Grind coconut, almonds and fennel seeds to a fine paste with little water. Set aside.

After lima beans cooks, add the ground paste and boil for 2-3 mins. Add tamarind paste, if required.

In a pan, heat oil, add cinnamon, cloves, mustard seeds along with the curry leaves. When the mustard seeds start to crack, pour the seasoning on the lima beans curry.

Garnish with cilantro leaves and serve hot with rice or rotis.

Makes 4-5 servings.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Chilli Soy Chunks with Peanuts

Soy Chunks is a common ingredient in my pantry and it can be used for pulaos, curries, etc. and serves as a great meat substitute. Most of the times, soy ingredients blend well with asian flavors. So, I decided to make a chilli soy chunks with peanuts (almost similar to Kung Pao Tofu). The soy chunks absorb the flavors from the spicy sauce which makes this dish much more tasteful. As a variation, you can replace the soy chunks with medium firm tofu (shallow fried).

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups dry soy chunks
1 medium green bell pepper, diced
1 small red onion, diced
3-4 green chillies, finely chopped
5-6 dry red chillies
2 tbsp oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 inch grated ginger
1/4 cup dry roasted peanuts
Salt, to taste (optional)
1/4 cup scallions/green onions, finely chopped

For the sauce:

4 tbsp reduced-sodium soy sauce
4 tbsp tomato sauce
1 1/2 tbsp red chilli paste

Method:


In a small bowl, add soy sauce, tomato sauce, red chilli paste and whisk together. Set aside.

Cook the soy chunks according to directions in the package. Rinse them in cold water and squeeze out the excess water from the chunks.

In a pan, heat oil, add red chillies and fry until it turns slightly dark on both sides. Add onions, bell pepper, green chillies, grated ginger and minced garlic. Sauté until the onions are translucent and bell peppers are slightly cooked.

Add the soy chunks and toss them with the onions and bell peppers. Cook for 6-8 minutes until the soy chunks blend well with the other ingredients.

Add the prepared sauce along with 1/4 cup water to the soy chunks and mix well until all the ingredients are coated well with the sauce. Cook for about 8-10 minutes or until the chunks absorb all the flavors. If you want it more saucy, add 1/2- 1 cup water and 1 tsp cornflour (mixed with little water). Cook for few minutes until the sauce becomes slightly thick.

Add roasted peanuts and toss well with the soy chunks. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Garnish with green onions and serve hot with noodles or rice.

Makes 3 servings.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Cookies are one of the easiest sweet treats to bake. I was looking for an eggless oatmeal cookie recipe and came across quite a few. By making slight modifications, I ended up with a simple and chewy oatmeal cookie that was hard to resist. You can use these cookies to make whoopie pies using a hazelnut spread (like Nutella) or even use light whipped cream (you can freeze them for 10-15 minutes until they set) sandwiched between two cookies.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup (or 1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/8 cup boiling water
1 cup quick oats
1/3 cup raisins
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup chopped walnuts

Method:


In a mixing bowl, add melted butter (room temperature) , brown sugar and vanilla extract. Whisk until all the ingredients turn smooth and fluffy.

Add the sifted flour, salt, baking soda mixed with boiling water and mix all the ingredients.

Stir in the oats, raisins, semi-sweet chocolate chips and walnuts (the cookie batter might seem slightly wet and sticky, thats ok).

Preheat the oven to 350° F.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and drop the cookie dough using a tablespoon (or teaspoon for smaller cookies) and slightly flatten it. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven and cool for 5-10 minutes. Serve warm and chewy oatmeal cookies.

Makes 20 medium sized cookies.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Thai Red Curry with Vegetables

Thai Cuisine is known for spicy food and has a great balance of sweet and spice in recipes. Some of the popular dishes are Thai red curry and green curry that is served with rice.  Thai Red Curry is a rich and spicy curry made with coconut milk and red curry paste. Normally, I use a store-bought red curry paste (I prefer Thai Kitchen's) as it has all the ingredients you need, so why go through the trouble of making a paste?? Add your choice of vegetables and enjoy the spicy red curry!!

Ingredients:

13.5 oz can light coconut milk (you can use regular for thicker curry)
1 medium red bell pepper, diced
2 medium potatoes, diced
2 medium carrots, diced
1/2 cup baby corn
1 small onion, diced
2 tsp red curry paste
1 tsp red chilli paste (optional)
Salt, to taste
1/2 cup fresh snow peas
1/2 cup broccoli florets
1/4 - 1/2 cup water (use less, if you want it thicker)
1/4 cup  fresh thai basil leaves

Method:


In a stockpot, add the coconut milk and simmer on medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Now, add the red curry paste and red chilli paste (adjust to taste) and boil until the raw smell of the red curry paste goes away.

Add red bell pepper, snow peas, potatoes, carrots, baby corn, broccoli florets, onion and thai basil along with 1/4 cup water and salt to taste. Simmer on medium-low heat for 15-20 minutes or until the vegetables are almost cooked. Garnish with chopped thai basil and serve hot with brown or white rice.

Makes 4-5 servings.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup

Soup is one of the most comforting food on a cold wintry night. Several months ago, I tried the Trader Joe's Roasted Red Pepper soup among the many others and I have been hooked to it ever since. I liked the flavors although it is a bit sweet for my taste buds. I tried to replicate the soup as much as I could but with a little bit of heat added to it. The verdict... I liked my soup much better than Trader Joe's. Give it a try...

Ingredients:

1 large onion, finely chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup crushed tomatoes
2 1/2 cups water
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper 
3-4 whole fire roasted red pepper, finely chopped 
2 tbsp butter or olive oil (I used butter)
1/2 cup fat-free half-and-half
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste

Method:



In a stock pot, melt butter and add the onions and sauté for 4-5 mins. Add the garlic and crushed red pepper and sauté for 2 mins until raw smell goes away. 

Add the crushed tomatoes, roasted red peppers (I used store-bought), water, salt and pepper. Simmer for 20-25 mins until the vegetables are tender and the flavors blend together. Adjust the seasoning and add more salt and pepper, if required. 

Add half-and-half and puree using a hand held immersion blender until smooth.  Allow the soup to boil for 2-3 mins. You can garnish the soup with chopped basil (optional). Serve hot.

Makes 5-6 servings.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Chilli Paratha

Chilli Paratha (also known as Kothu Parotta/Kothu Roti) is a popular dish in Southern India. Kothu parotta is a common street food but gaining popularity in restaurants too. The ingredients are minced and mixed repeatedly until they blend well. Kothu parotta can be prepared with or without meat. Meatless kothu parotta can be made with finely chopped vegetables to give the minced texture to the dish. It is served with onion raitha.

Ingredients:

6 Parathas, cut into small pieces
5-6 green chillies, finely chopped
1/2 cup frozen peas and carrots, thawed
2 medium potatoes, finely chopped
1 large onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup tomato sauce
3-4 tbsp tomato ketchup
2 tsp chilli powder (reduce quantity if you want it less spicy)
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp ginger-garlic paste
Salt, to taste
3-4 tbsp oil
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, finely chopped

Method:


In a deep pan, heat oil, add onions and green chillies. Sauté onions until translucent. Add the ginger-garlic paste and fry for 2-3 minutes.

Add the peas, carrot, potatoes, chilli powder, cumin powder and coriander powder (adjust spices to suit your taste). Allow the vegetables to cook until they are almost done. Add the tomato sauce (or crushed tomatoes) and salt and cook  for few minutes until it turns out saucy but not too thick.

Add the paratha pieces to the saucy mixture and toss well to coat them. Add tomato ketchup and mix well. Fry for few minutes until all the flavors blend together and add chopped cilantro and mix with the parathas. If you find the chilli paratha to be a little dry, add more tomato sauce or ketchup. Serve hot with onion raitha.

Makes 3 servings.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Pesto Fettuccine

Fettuccine (means 'little ribbons') is a type of flat pasta which looks like a pile of ribbons. Traditionally, Fettuccine pasta is served with tomato and cream-based sauces. Dried fettuccine pasta is made using durum wheat and is cooked al dente (cooked but not too soft or overdone).

One of the classic italian dishes is Fettuccine Alfredo which is filled with creamy goodness. Since, I wanted something lighter and refreshing, I decided to make a pesto fettuccine. Pesto is a sauce made by pounding the ingredients and is normally made with basil, pine nuts and olive oil with salt and pepper.  I have always wanted to try making pesto but had a bag of Arugula staring at me for over a week. So, I ended up making Arugula pesto and it turned out good as well as flavorful.

Try replacing the classic ingredients in a recipe and give it your own twist for a nice family dinner night.

Ingredients:

For Arugula Pesto:

5 oz fresh arugula
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup almonds
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste

For the Pasta:

6-8 oz dried fettuccine
1 tbsp butter
1 tsp minced garlic
3/4 cup frozen or canned artichoke hearts
10-12 asparagus spears (cut into bite-size pieces)
1/2 cup frozen spinach, thawed
Arugula pesto, as desired (I used approx. 3 tbsp pesto)
Grated parmesan cheese, for garnish

Method:


For the pesto:

In a blender, add the arugula, almonds, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper. Grind to a fine paste and set aside. Pesto can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

For the fettuccine:

Cook the dried fettuccine according to package directions with salt. Drain the fettuccine and reserve some pasta water for later. 

In a pan, melt butter and add minced garlic. Sauté garlic and add asparagus, artichoke hearts and spinach. Sauté the vegetables until almost cooked.

In a large bowl, add the vegetables, fettuccine, pesto and a ladle of the pasta water (keeps it from drying out). Toss them together until the fettuccine is coated well.

Garnish the fettuccine with grated parmesan cheese and serve with crispy garlic bread.

Makes 3 servings.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Vegetable Enchiladas

Enchiladas is one of the most common food in mexican cuisine. An enchilada is a corn or flour tortilla rolled around a filling and covered with a chili sauce. Enchiladas can contain any type of filling like meat, cheese or vegetables and one of the typical ingredient being beans. They are topped with cheese, sour cream and/or fresh cilantro. Here's a simple mexican recipe to add to your collection...

Ingredients:

1 cup broccoli florets, cut into small pieces, steamed
1/4 head red cabbage, thinly sliced
1 medium green bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 medium tomato, finely chopped
1/2 cup yellow corn kernels
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped
1/4 cup spring/green onions, finely chopped
15 oz can of dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
10 oz hot enchilada sauce
3-4 tbsp hot taco sauce
2 tbsp spicy taco seasoning
5 flour tortillas (or use whole wheat or corn tortillas)
1/2 cup cheddar cheese
1/4 cup light sour cream (optional)

Method:


In a bowl, add the dark red kidney beans (you can replace it with black beans or refried beans) and slightly mash it. Add the taco seasoning and mix well. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Heat a skillet and slightly warm each tortilla before rolling it with filling. In an 8ʺ x 11ʺ baking dish, add a thin layer of enchilada sauce and assemble each tortilla as follows:

Lay the tortilla on a plate, layer it with dark red kidney beans, 1 tbsp each of broccoli, corn, green bell pepper, red cabbage and tomato. Add hot taco sauce and roll around the filling. Place the tortillas in the baking dish with the rolled ends on the bottom.  Repeat the procedure for each of the tortillas.

Pour the enchilada sauce over the tortillas until they are covered completely. Top the tortillas with the remaining chopped tomatoes, spring onions, cilantro and cheese.

Bake for 25-30 mins until the cheese is melted and the sauce starts to bubble up. Allow it to cool for 2-3 mins. Serve enchiladas with a dollop of sour cream on top (optional).

Makes 5 servings.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Avocado Salad

Salads is one of the simplest ways to get in your veggies. Salads can be served as a side-dish or even as a main course with some protein added to it. Avocados have the perfect texture for making any kind of salad recipe. It is important to pick avocados that are slightly firm but yields to gentle pressure which helps make a good salad. Here's a simple salad recipe...

Ingredients:

1 medium red onion, diced
1 large red bell pepper, diced
1 large avocado, peeled, pitted, diced
1 cup yellow corn kernels
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, finely chopped
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
1 tbsp olive oil

For salad dressing:

2-3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp dijon mustard
Salt, to taste
1 tsp pepper powder
1 tbsp lemon juice (adjust to taste)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp sriracha sauce (optional)
1/4 cup buttermilk

Method:


Preheat the oven to 375°F.  In a cookie sheet, add the diced onion and red bell pepper. Toss some olive oil, salt and pepper. Mix well and spread evenly on the cookie sheet.  Roast the vegetables for 15 mins. Keep aside and cool the vegetables.

In a small bowl, prepare the dressing by adding olive oil, dijon mustard, salt, pepper, lemon juice, garlic, buttermilk and sriracha sauce. Whisk all the ingredients together and keep aside.

In a large bowl, add the roasted onion, red bell pepper, yellow corn kernels, avocado and chopped cilantro. Pour the dressing (not all of it, just enough to coat the veggies) on top of the vegetables. If you feel like adding any greens, you can use bite-sized pieces of romaine lettuce (optional). Add chopped cilantro and toss them all together and serve.

Makes 3 servings.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Vegetable Barley Soup

Barley is a cereal grain that is gaining popularity as a health food which is used mostly in soups and stews. Barley is known to improve nutrition, regulate blood sugar and also acts as a diuretic. Soups are always a favorite in my home. So, what better way to use a healthy grain loaded with vegetables than in a soup?? I like barley as it makes the soups thicker but tastes lighter too. Here's a warm and comforting soup for a cold wintry night.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup barley, dry roasted
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium carrots, chopped
2-3 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 cup frozen green peas, thawed
1 medium potato, petite diced
5 cups vegetable broth or water
1/3 cup crushed tomatoes
2 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
Salt, to taste
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp italian seasoning
1 1/2 tsp chilli powder (adjust to taste)
Lemon juice, to taste (optional)

Method:


Dry roast the barley and keep aside.

In a stock pot, heat olive oil, add onions and garlic. Sauté until the onions are translucent. Add carrots, celery, green peas and potatoes and sauté for 5 mins.

Add the crushed tomatoes, vegetable broth, salt, pepper powder, red chilli powder, italian seasoning and barley to the vegetables. Mix well and simmer for 20-25 minutes until the vegetables and barley cook.

After the vegetables and barley is cooked, add water, if required, for the desired consistency. Add the chopped parsley and lemon juice and stir well. Cook for 3-5 mins. Serve hot.

Makes 5-6 servings.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Veggie Loaf with Gravy

Loaf with mashed potatoes and gravy is one of the classic comfort foods in the U.S. Being a vegetarian, I wanted to try making a veggie loaf using some different grain other than the usual soy-based or brown rice. The veggie loaf can be prepared with several variations like oats, bulgar wheat, brown rice or even textured soy protein. I decided to go with bulgar wheat. This is a savory veggie loaf which is healthy and flavorful.

Ingredients:

1 cup bulgar wheat
1 1/2 cup boiling water
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 medium carrot, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
8 - 10 oz mushrooms, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
1/2 cup walnuts, finely chopped
1-2 tbsp reduced-sodium soy sauce
Salt, to taste
1/2 tsp black pepper powder
1-2 tsp cayenne pepper (adjust to taste)
1/2 tsp italian seasoning
1/2 -1 cup bread crumbs (whole wheat or regular)
2 tbsp nutritional yeast (optional)
1/4 cup tomato ketchup or tomato sauce
Cooking spray, for coating the loaf pan

Method:


In a bowl, add the bulgar wheat and pour boiling water over it. Soak until the bulgar is tender and absorbs most of the water for about 15 mins.

In a nonstick pan, heat 2-3 tbsp of water (a trick I learned in one of the health books) and add the onion, garlic, carrot, celery and red bell pepper.  Cook over medium heat for 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add the mushrooms and cook until the vegetables are soft and the mushrooms are brown, about 5 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350° F.  Drain the excess water from the bulgar wheat.

In a bowl, add the bulgar wheat and vegetables. Add salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, italian seasoning, nutritional yeast (adds a cheesy flavor without the calories), tomato ketchup, walnuts, parsley and 1/2 cup bread crumbs (add more, if required) and  stir for 1-2 minutes until the mixture holds together.

Coat a 5ʺ x 9ʺ loaf pan with cooking spray and spread the loaf mixture and smooth the top. Top the loaf with tomato ketchup or sauce. Bake for 50-55 mins. Allow it to cool for 10 mins before slicing it.

Cut the loaf into 1/2ʺ slices and serve with mashed potatoes and gravy. You can use the left over slices as a sandwich filling to replace your usual burger patties.

To prepare the gravy:

2 cups water or vegetable broth
1 tsp garlic powder
2-3 tbsp reduced-sodium soy sauce
Pepper, to taste
2 tbsp all purpose flour

In a saucepan,  dry roast the all purpose flour and add the vegetable broth and stir with a whisk until the mixture begins to thicken. When the gravy becomes thick, add the garlic powder, soy sauce and pepper.  If the gravy is too thick, add a little water to get the desired consistency.

Makes 12-14 slices.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Egg Curry

Egg is a protein packed versatile ingredient. In Indian cooking, there are several different egg recipes which are prepared region-wise. It is a north-indian based egg curry and this curry can be used as a base and substituted with paneer (indian cheese)  and green peas.

Ingredients:

1 large onion, finely chopped
2-3 green chillies, slit lengthwise
3 large tomatoes, diced
5 cashews
5 almonds
6 eggs, boiled and peeled
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 1/2 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1 1/2 tsp red chilli powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp ginger-garlic paste
Salt, to taste
1 tsp black mustard seeds
3 tbsp oil
Few curry leaves
1/4 cup cilantro leaves

Method:


Boil the eggs and remove the outer shell. Make small cuts in each egg and set aside.

In a blender, grind the cashews and almonds to a fine powder. Add the diced tomatoes and make a fine paste.

In a pan, heat oil, add mustard seeds, cumin seeds and curry leaves. When it splutters, add the onions and green chillies. Fry well until the onions are translucent.  Add the ginger-garlic paste, turmeric powder and red chilli powder and fry for 4-5 mins.

Add the ground tomato paste, coriander powder, cumin powder and salt. Mix well and cook until all the flavors blend well and the raw smell goes away.

Now, add the boiled eggs into the gravy and cook for 5 minutes (the slit in the eggs will help the spices to infuse into them). Garnish with cilantro leaves. Serve hot with rotis or rice.

Makes 6 servings.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Coffee Streusel Cake

Baked goods are something that I resort to, when I have a sweet tooth. Most of the times, it is the smartest way to cook something with less amount of fat in cooking a dish when using an oven. I love to make cakes and like trying new recipes. Generally, cakes are decadent because of all the ingredients that goes into making it with the added sugar rush of the frosting. Sometimes, you are in the mood for a simple cake with not too much of the fuss and thats how I ended up with this recipe. I tried my own spin on the traditional coffee streusel cake and it turned out great. Give it a try!!

Ingredients:

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 cup superfine sugar (add more, if you like it a little sweeter)
2/3 cup milk
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 tbsp instant coffee powder, mixed with 1 tbsp boiling water
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
3 tbsp ground flaxseed (whisk into boiling water and let it stand for 3-4 mins)
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting (optional)
Cooking spray, for greasing the pan

Topping:

1/2 cup oat flour (make a powder with instant oats)
1/3 cup raw brown sugar
2 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 tsp ground allspice

Method:


Preheat the oven to 375° F. Grease a 9-inch cake pan with cooking spray.

In a bowl, sift the flour and baking powder, then add the sugar and mix well.

Whisk the milk, flaxseed mix (flaxseed whisked with boiling water), melted butter and coffee mixture together. Pour the wet ingredients onto the dry ingredients. Add the chopped walnuts and mix lightly together. Pour the batter into the cake pan.

In baking, streusel refers to crumb topping made with flour, butter and sugar that is baked on top of cakes, muffins or quick breads. But, I decided to try using oat flour instead (you can make oat flour by grinding either the old-fashioned or instant oats coarsely).

In a bowl, to make the topping, mix the oat flour and raw brown sugar together. Add the butter and mix well until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs (best to use your magic fingers).  Add the allspice and bring the mixture together in loose crumbs. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the cake batter.

Bake in the preheated oven for 50-55 minutes. Cover loosely with foil if the topping starts to brown quickly.

Cool the cake in the pan. Remove from the pan and dust with confectioners's sugar before serving (optional).

Makes 10-12 servings.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Idli Manchurian

Idli Manchurian, an Indo-Chinese recipe is very similar to its counterpart Cauliflower Manchurian. Like, I mentioned earlier, not really a fan of plain old idlis. Every now and then,  my mom used to try so many different recipes disguising the left-over idlis. Inspired from one of the many recipes my mom used to make, this is a simple and easy recipe that can be prepared in no time.

Ingredients:

10-12 idlis, cut each into 4 pieces
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 green chillies, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp grated ginger
1 1/2 tsp red chilli paste
1 tbsp green chilli sauce
3 tbsp tomato ketchup
1 tsp tomato paste
1 1/2 tsp cornstarch (mixed with little water to a fine paste)
4-5 tbsp reduced sodium soy sauce (adjust to taste)
Pinch of ajinomoto (MSG)
2-3 tbsp oil
1/4 cup spring onions, finely chopped


Method:


Typically, the idli pieces are deep fried but I shallow fried them and they tasted just as good. If you don't want to fry them, you can also bake them at 375° F for 15-20 minutes. Set aside the shallow fried idlis.

In a pan, heat oil, add chopped onions, garlic, green chillies, and grated ginger (personally, I like the fresh garlic pieces and grated ginger but you can also add 1 tsp ginger-garlic paste instead). Sauté the onions until they are soft and translucent.

Now, add red chilli paste, green chilli sauce, tomato ketchup, tomato paste, ajinomoto and soy sauce (adjust the chilli sauces to suit your taste). Cook for 5 minutes until all the raw smell is gone. Add the cornstarch paste and mix well for 2-3 minutes.

Add the idli pieces and toss well with the sautéed ingredients. Garnish with chopped spring onions and serve hot.

Makes 3-4 servings.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Peas Curry

Peas, fresh or frozen, is used in a variety of dishes ranging from rice to gravies. One of the most common recipes is Pea Soup that is consumed all over the world. In India, fresh or frozen peas are used in dishes such as Aloo Mutter (curried potatoes with peas) or Mutter Paneer (indian cheese with peas). This recipe can be made along with potatoes or paneer too.

Ingredients:

1 large onion, diced
3 medium tomatoes, diced
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp tomato paste
5-6 cloves
2-3 cinnamon sticks
1 1/2 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp ginger-garlic paste
Salt, to taste
1 tsp kasoori methi powder (dried fenugreek leaves)
1 cup frozen green peas, thawed
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, chopped

Method:


Grind the onion and tomatoes to a smooth paste. Set aside.

In a pan, melt butter and add the cloves and cinnamon. Add the ground onion-tomato paste and simmer until raw smell fades away and the butter starts to separate.

Now, add the ginger-garlic paste, tomato paste, chilli powder, cumin powder, coriander powder, kasoori methi powder and salt. Mix well and cook for 10 minutes.

Add the thawed peas and cook for about 5 minutes. Garnish with cilantro leaves. Serve hot with rotis.

Makes 5-6 servings.