Beet Pesto

Vibrantly pink, nutty, tart, and tasty, this Beet Pesto is absolutely delectable.
Continue reading “Beet Pesto”

Sarson da Saag, Makki di Roti

**Note: Original post created Jul 2017.  Updated October 2021**

The first time I was introduced to this traditional Punjabi meal was during my wedding planning. My husband and in-laws requested that this be on the menu somewhere. I didn’t understand what it was or the goodness of it until quite a bit later (much later than my wedding). Of course, during my wedding, I didn’t remember eating or tasting anything with so much going on. After I got married, I remember my mother-in-law making it a few times for my husband and seeing the pure joy on his face as he ate the Saag and Roti. I felt, wow, such a simple meal (for Indian food) and yet it brings him so much happiness. Of course I decided to try it out on my own.

I am always told, even to this day, how this is supposed to be a really hard recipe to master. I’m definitely not making it the way my mother-in-law does, but my shortcut recipe has managed to impress her, my husband and my daughter! As they say, a way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. I’m already in my hubby’s heart, but this is one recipe that guarantees a spot for any of you out there looking to impress your significant other.

Sarson da Saag is basically a vegetable dish made of Mustard Greens. It is very earthy in taste and rich not only in flavor but nutrients also. Mustard Greens provide an abundance of potassium and Vitamins K, A, C, and E. Traditionally, it is cooked in water and hand churned until you get the creamy, buttery consistency. If I had the time, I might try it. But since I don’t, I obviously created a shortcut (my handy dandy blender). Try it out and tell me what you think:

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The saag tastes great on its own, but man does it just go a whole other level with Makki di Roti. Makki di Roti is basically corn bread. It’s not your traditional Roti that is usually soft and pliable. This is a bit thicker and can hold all that saag without getting the roti soggy. One more thing – Makki di Roti is typically made by flattening the dough between the palms. I am using a different technique by placing the dough in between a ziploc bag and rolling it out with a rolling pin. This just works better for me.

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Looking for more Indian recipes?  Check out some of these:
Sprouted Moong Beans Sabzi Gujarati Style
Instant Pot Rajma (Kidney Beans)
Methi Thepla
Instant Pot Kali Dal
Avocado Roti

Here are the tools I used for this recipe:

 

Quinoa Fiesta Salad

Fresh and beautiful veggies from across the rainbow to make amazing salads are my favorite.  This Quinoa Fiesta Salad is one of my family’s favorites.  As a mom, it makes me happy that the girls are getting so much nutrition in one bowl.  The kids look at the colors and get excited to eat a rainbow and I love that they are enjoying fresh and healthy ingredients!

This salad does triple duty which I love.  A dish which becomes a meatless entree can also serve as a side dish or a salad depending on my mood.  The cherry on top of this recipe is that it takes less than 30 minutes to make and is very forgiving if you need to substitute or leave out ingredients.

HOW DO I MAKE A QUINOA FIESTA SALAD?

1.  Cook the quinoa.  While the quinoa is cooking, you can get the dressing and your other ingredients ready!
2.  Make the Cilantro Lime Dressing.  I love this dressing because it is so light.  If you choose to leave it out as I do for my girls, simply replace it with a drizzle of Olive Oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.
3. Combine all of your ingredients in a large bowl and toss well to mix.
4.  Enjoy and get addicted to this salad as much as my family and I are!


Here are the tools I used for this recipe:

 

Sweet Potato and Beet Hash with Fried Eggs

**Original post published Nov. 2020.  Updated Aug. 2021**

A couple of months ago, I won our local Farmer’s Market cooking competition and part of my prize was a big box of fresh goodies from the market.  I don’t know if I’ve ever been so excited to get fresh veggies and fruits!   I honestly felt like a contestant on Chopped from The Food Network in that I wanted to use all of my produce and come up with a delicious dish.

Well, considering there were so much produce, I’m not sure I would be able to eat more than 3 bites of any dish made from all of the veggies and fruits!  One of my favorites in that box was the beet greens with their beautiful red stems.  I’ve had quite a few people ask me what I use them for and what they can cook out of them.  A definite go to are to cook them down like collard greens but I wanted to do something more creative and decided to add the beet greens to a hash and topping it with an egg made it the perfect breakfast for a busy day or a big, healthy lunch bowl.

The vibrant orange and red colors of the root veggies as they are being cooked, the bold green of the beets…..eeek!  I’m salivating just thinking about this recipe.   The best part is all the nutrition you get in this sustainable hash:

  • high in dietary fiber
  • high in folate
  • good source of potassium
  • good source of non-dairy calcium (the beet greens are)
  • great source of B-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin (these flavonoids have strong anti-cancer and antioxidant properties)


Topping this hash with a fried or hard boiled egg adds a little extra protein though to keep it vegetarian/vegan, you can always replace the egg with a grilled tofu steak.

From my kitchen to yours, enjoy this delicious and healthy Sweet Potato and Beet Hash!

Grilled Eggplant Sandwich with a Basil Pistachio Pesto

This eggplant sandwich has it all.  Earthy spices rubbed onto grilled veggies that have just a hint of a smoky flavor, fresh mozzarella melted just enough from the heat of the veggies.  Oh, you can’t forget the rustic basil pistachio pesto that brightens up the whole sandwich in each bite.
Continue reading “Grilled Eggplant Sandwich with a Basil Pistachio Pesto”

How to Cook Brown Rice

When I first started making brown rice, I was a bit intimidated.  I can cook Basmati rice with my eyes closed but when it comes to brown rice, the ratio to water is different, cook time is different, and sometimes, there is a chewy bite to brown rice.  I felt so out of my element.

I have tried multiple ways to cook brown rice and this recipe has become my fail-proof method.  Even better, I’ve nailed both stove top and Instant Pot methods so you can choose what works for you.

Having rice in the fridge has helped me on numerous occasions.  I can use it to make Pineapple Fried Rice, serve it on the side with a salmon, serve it up with lentils and so much more.

WHAT IS BROWN RICE?
Brown rice is actually rice with the hull still on it making it a whole grain.  The germ and bran are in there too which gives it a chewy texture and nutty flavor.  Because brown rice has the hull, germ, and bran, it takes longer to cook.

BE PATIENT
Trust me.  I feel like I’m constantly on the go, but this one recipe will make you stop and smell the roses.  And it’s worth it.  All you have to do is keep the cover on the saucepan and not mess with it.  Once it’s done cooking, let it rest.  Just like all meats, rice also wants a little rest after spending all that time cooking to perfection.  The additional 5 minutes of steam will make the rice fluffy and soft.

*Pro Tip: Start your rice first then work on dinner.  Your rice will cook in the background while you get everything else done and not have to wait much.

HOW DO I SERVE BROWN RICE?
So many options!  Try one of the following:
Citrus Herb Salmon with a Mango Pico and Cilantro Lime Rice
Pineapple Fried Rice
Zucchini Moong Dal
Mahi Mahi with Garlic Lemon Sauce
Instant Pot Rajma (Kidney Beans)
Instant Pot Black Eyed Peas Curry

Here are the tools I used for this recipe:

 

Zucchini Moong Dal

As I raise my girls, it has become very important to me that they keep connected to their roots and one of the ways I do this is through food.  Lucky for me, they both love the typical comfort food fare of “Dal Chawal” or Lentils and Rice.  A twist on the traditional Moong Dal Fry, this recipe adds zucchini and is low in calorie but nutrient dense.

Ready in just 15 minutes, this has become my latest go to recipe when I’m tight on time.  Because moong dal cooks very quickly, I don’t soak them for more than 20 minutes.

Nutrition is also very important when I’m serving this dish as a main meal to the girls, and this dish doesn’t disappoint.
1 cup of zucchini moong dal gives you:

  • 156 kcal
  • 8.7 gm protein
  • 7 gm fiber


As to cooking it over the stove versus the instant pot, traditionally, the dal was boiled first then added to the spices.  I love just using one pot to make the whole dish so I usually add the uncooked dal into the spices/gravy mix then cook it in the instant pot.

I hope you get a chance to try out this delicious recipe and enjoy it as much as my family does.

Looking for more lentil/dal recipes?  I’ve got you covered.  Check out some of these amazing dishes:
Sprouted Moong Beans Sabzi Gujarati Style
Spinach Dal 
Instant Pot Kali Dal 
Adai Waffles / Lentil Waffles

Here are the tools I used for this recipe:

 

Italian Stuffed Artichoke with a Garlic Cayenne Dip

Artichokes are abundant everywhere you go these days.  My favorite are the ones from our local Farmer’s Market.  You can taste the fresh quality and they are so much easier to cook than the store bought ones.

When I first starting eating these, my roommate in college introduced me to dipping them in butter.  While they tasted good dipped in butter, I can only imagine all of the calories and cholesterol my body was ingesting.  So I started using yogurt as a dipping base instead and I love it.  The yogurt dip is so easy to change the flavor profile and I can keep it as simple or complex as I am in the mood for.  This particular recipe, I kept it on the simple side with a little roasted garlic, cayenne, and salt mixed into the yogurt.

The traditional way of eating artichokes is by steaming them.  I could (and actually have) eaten many whole artichokes all by myself.  The husband used to eat them but eventually tired of steamed artichokes and stopped.  I really wanted to him to share my love for artichokes so I’ve been trying many other ways to cook them.  I’ve roasted (and burnt) them in the oven, stuffed them with various fillings that just didn’t hit the spot before I created this recipe.

All I can say is, you have got to try it!  Oh man am I excited to share this stuffed artichoke recipe.  Here are a couple of tips though when you are making these artichokes:

  • Get fresh artichokes from your local Farmer’s Market.  Trust me it makes a difference.  The time spent cooking, the quality in taste, and the ease of prepping the artichokes are worth it!
  • When you are prepping your artichoke, slice off the top quarter of the vegetable and make sure you trim off the ends of each leaf.  Using your hands, gently push apart the leaves to create a wider space in the center for the heart to hold more of the stuffing.
  • Put some muscle into removing the choke.  Having stretched the artichoke to be able to hold the filling, it will be easier to remove the choke and the hair-like filaments.


Well….. what is the stuffing?  Oh man, the most delicious and easiest to make.  I used:
red onion (the color comes out so pretty)
bread crumbs (a combination of Italian seasoned and panko)
garlic (of course!)
lemon juice
vegetable broth (though you could replace it with white wine – the taste would still be excellent)
Parmesan cheese
a hint of pepper

Because I am stuffing the artichoke, I also did a 2 step cook.  First, I par-steamed the artichoke while I made the stuffing, then I baked it all in the oven to finish cooking the artichoke and get that glorious color on the Parmesan cheese.

I really hope you get a chance to try this recipe out as it has become one of my favorites already!

From my kitchen to yours, I hope you enjoy this Italian Stuffed Artichoke with a Garlic Cayenne Dip.

Farmer’s Market Crudites Platter with Hummus Two Ways

One of my favorite times of the year is the spring when the Farmer’s Market starts to get bigger with more and more farmers who start to bring a larger variety of produce and goodies.  I’ve mentioned in the past that I like to make a menu for the week (more so my kids don’t complain they want something else than what is served), but what I haven’t mentioned is how I love going to the Farmer’s Market to do my weekly produce shopping.  Sometimes, I will even tailor some of my dishes to include produce I find at the Market.

Recently, I partnered with our local Farmer’s Market (Danville Farmer’s Market) and I will be creating recipes for them a few times a month in the hopes that I can bring awareness to locally farmed produce at all of our farmer’s market.  Having fresh, organic produce and supporting the local farms is a win-win.

This Spring Crudites Platter is so beautiful, we all had a bit of hard time digging in.  No one wanted to mess it up.  Ah well, our stomachs won that round.  The beauty of this platter is that you are not restricted to the same produce I picked up.  Pick up what your farmer’s market has, just make it colorful.

Here is what I used:

  • Purple Cauliflower (chop these into big chunks)
  • Rainbow Baby Carrots (trim the stems off and save to make pesto – be sustainable!)
  • Radishes
  • Watermelon Radishes (slice these a little thick into rounds to give a beautiful effect)
  • Snap Peas
  • Cucumbers (I sliced these on the diagonal for aesthetics.  Feel free to slice into rounds or sticks to make them easier to serve)
  • Cherry Tomatoes

As for the hummus, I chose purple sweet potato and red beets to be the base of each hummus.  For the Red Beets, I roasted it with garlic, then pulsed it with a little tahini and a few other ingredients.  This is by far one of my favorite variations on hummus.  Paired with all that beautiful produce, it’s perfect!

For the Purple Sweet Potato, I baked it in the oven then pulsed it with tahini as well.  Though the idea behind both hummus’ are the same, the flavor profile differ vastly.  Yet both are addicting.

I hope you have a chance to make a beautiful Spring Crudites Platter like this for your next gathering.  I promise you will love it.

Try it out and let me know what you think!

Here are the tools I used for this recipe:

If you are looking for more delicious recipes, check these out:
Roasted Masala Chickpeas
Roasted Red Pepper Hummus
Spicy Garlic Hummus
Crispy Chickpeas and Sweet Potato Tacos

Couscous Arancini

I first learned what arancini is when I was watching Giada on Food Network.  Man they looked delicious.  Rice and cheese mixed together, battered, and fried.  I don’t think you can go wrong.  I love the salty and creamy and cheesy combination.  Oh I can go on and on!

Well, seeing it on tv and actually trying them are two different things.  The first time I tried it was on a date with the husband.  Oh.My.God!  All I wanted was to eat these delicious arancini for every course!  Seeing them on tv, then actually eating them are two different things, and I’ll tell you what.  Eating is absolutely much better for this case!

I’ve made quite a few attempts over the years to make these.  Initially, they melted as I was trying to fry them.  Then the seasoning was off, and each try I missed something until finally, I was able to make a delicious batch!  I’m so glad this was one project I didn’t abandon!

About a month ago, we had leftover pearl couscous (it seems we always do).  I wanted to upcycle it and have the girls eat it in a different way and instantly I thought of arancini.  It was a long shot but in my mind, I thought, hey, a leftover grain that could potentially bind with cheese.  All I had to do was season it correctly.   Results?  The kids want me to make this for them everyday!  Let’s not get carried away though.  I did make quite a few and had to really work on distracting the girls with other foods because they are just as in love with arancini as I am!

Try these out for appetizers, make them a little larger and have them for a main course, make them bite sized and serve them for parties.  I served them with warm marinara sauce and a sprinkle of chopped basil and for me, that was the perfect pairing.

From my kitchen to yours, I hope you enjoy these decadent Couscous Arancini!

Here are the tools I used to make this recipe:

Mexican Rice with Black Beans

When I was in college, I used to buy the boxes of Spanish/Mexican Rice with the seasoning packets in them so all you had to do was follow the instructions.  As a carb lover (and with a better metabolism than I do now), there were days that I could polish off a whole box of rice for a meal.  I know it says serves 2 or 4 or however many.  It didn’t matter.  I love my rice and carbs.  No judgement please.

Anyways, over the years, I started experimenting on my own as I became more familiar in the kitchen besides using boxed “instant” foods.  As I did, I learned what I liked, what I didn’t, and how to change that.  One of my “ah-ha” moments was when I didn’t have any tomato sauce to add and the closest thing to a tomato based product I had in my tiny apartment was a jar of salsa.  My rice was already cooking so I decided, why not.  It was the.best.decision.ever!

The flavor that jar of salsa added was unbelievable!  I’ve changed around a few ingredients since then but that jar of salsa has been an unwavering element in this recipe.

The changes I made?  I substituted brown rice in place of white.  Sure it takes longer to cook but you can put together this dish in the instant pot in half the time, or just let it simmer over the stove top with a timer.  When it’s this good, it’s worth the wait!  Additionally, you get more fiber, magnesium, and quite a few other vitamins and minerals compared to white rice.  If I’m going to eat rice, I’m going to make it count!

The other major change I did was to add black beans to this dish.  Check out these amazing benefits of black beans:

  • Combined with rice, black beans help make this dish a complete protein which is important for those who are on a vegetarian or vegan diet
  • 1 cup of black beans provides approximately:
    • 15 gm protein
    • 15 gm fiber
    • 64% DRI Folate
    • 20% DRI Iron

Have leftovers?  No worries.  I used them to make bean and rice burritos for the kiddos and they loved it!  I love upcycling my foods!

From my kitchen to yours, I hope you enjoy this delicious plate of Mexican Rice and Beans!

Here are the tools I used (I’ve made this both in the Instant Pot and over the stove so I’m including both types of vessels below):

 

Middle Eastern Vegan Protein Bowl

Looking for a healthy way to get protein without compromising flavor?  Well, you’ve come to the right place.  This Vegan Protein Bowl has hints of spicy, tangy, herby, and definitely brings a Middle Eastern vibe in each bite!

Simple to make and ready in just 30 minutes, you have got to try this delicious bowl.  So let me tell you a little bit about the ingredients I chose.  For my grain, I used quinoa because it packs more of a protein punch but you can definitely use any other grain.  Bulgur or Farro would be excellent substitutes to keep in line with the Middle Eastern food theme.

For added protein and crunch, I used garbanzo beans.  I love snacking on these so I actually made double the amount and the girls ended up eating most of them!

As to the veggies, I used a few different ones as I wanted to get the colors in.  To give it some warmth, I roasted the cauliflower with the garbanzos and to keep a cool factor, I made a salad of tomatoes, avocados, cucumbers, and fresh herbs.

So it’s not just what ingredients I use but how much nutrition this delicious bowl provides.  In addition to almost 20 gm of protein, you are also getting:

  • Half of your daily recommended intake (DRI) of Fiber
  • 40% of DRI Iron
  • More than the recommended intake of Folic Acid
  • Meeting at least 20-50% of most of your Vitamins and Minerals DRI

The best part of making this recipe is that even though there are several different steps and techniques, you can multitask and get them all done at once without chaos in the kitchen!   Roast your veggies, while your quinoa cooks and you are making the Avocado Salsa!  So simple and easy!

Last but not least, I added a hummus dressing to pull it altogether.  I love making my own dressings and there is no way I would leave one out of a bowl this delicious.  And to be honest, I really think the hummus dressing really marries all the flavors together so perfectly.  So what are you waiting for?!  Try this recipe out and let me know what you think.  Leave a comment below, give it a star rating, or tag me on Facebook or Instagram!

From my kitchen to yours, I really hope you enjoy this delicious Middle Eastern Vegan Protein Bowl!

Here are the tools I used:

Herb Roasted Acorn Squash with Pomegranates and Pistachios

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This fall and winter season I have been obsessed with acorn squash and pomegranates.  It only made sense that I find a way to combine the two together.  The girls love the rainbow shape this takes on when cut so I wanted to create something fun for them too.

The great thing about acorn squash is that it is a little sweet naturally but it will still take on any flavor you give it.  If you haven’t tried them yet, I made some Fire Roasted Poblano Tacos recently with acorn squash part of the filling.  It took on the spices really well so I wanted to go on the opposite spectrum this time and season it with something a little more mild.

I chose mostly fresh herbs that would bring out the more earthy flavors.  To help give it a little crust, I also added a little Parmesan.

Anyways, here are a few fun nutrition facts about acorn squash:

  • A nutrient dense food, acorn squash is loaded with vitamins, minerals and fiber yet is comparatively low in saturated fat, sugar and salt.
  • Great source of phytonutrients, particularly carotenoids which have antioxidant properties.
  • Acorn squash is a starchy fruit, however, because it is so nutrient dense, there’s a good balance to eating this squash. The high fiber content slows down digestion which helps you stay full longer and slows down the release of glucose in your blood.  This process helps in maintaining weight and stabilizing your blood sugar.

So now that you know about my favorite squash this season, let’s move on to my favorite fruit of the season.

Pomegranates!

  • Pomegranates are known as one of the healthiest fruits on Earth!
  • High in fiber (7gms in 1 cup of arils), they also contain an impressive amount of protein (3gm in 1 cup of arils), and 16% of DRI of Folate (also in 1 cup of arils)
  • A great source of antioxidants which help with anti-inflammatory properties.
  • they improve exercise performance by delaying fatigue and increasing blood flow.

Basically, this is one healthy dish that you can have this winter season and enjoy every bite of it!  Try it out and tag me on Instagram @bitofspice146.

From my kitchen to yours, I hope you enjoy this delicious Herb Roasted Acorn Squash with Pomegranates and Pistachios.

Here are the tools I used to make this dish:

 

Tinseltown Tostadas

I think hands down, these are one of my favorite holiday foods.  I’ve had so many and I don’t think I can tire of them.  Snacking is one of my favorite activities.  These delicious tostadas make it so much easier as they are low in calorie, healthy, and guilt-free.

High in fiber, antioxidants, a good source of protein, and rich in vitamins and minerals, these delicious Tinseltown Tostadas definitely pack a punch!

Between the Serrano peppers and the watermelon radish, there were some strong flavors.  I knew I wanted to use the pomegranate arils to give it a sweet note (and make it look pretty).

But it needed depth so I played around with a few options before settling on the hummus and avocado.  And yet the radish was still giving off a bit of a pungent taste and therein comes the smear of pesto.

There are so many random flavors that they work despite wanting to prove the opposite.

Make these delicious Tinseltown Tostadas this holiday season and you won’t be able to stop eating them.  From my kitchen to yours, I hope you enjoy them!

The tools I used for this recipe are:

Fire Roasted Poblano Tacos

We are a taco loving family.  I started the kids out simple with the basic filling of either ground meat or refried beans and some veggies and lots of cheese.  Though we love the basics, which often times provide a sense of comfort and nostalgia, I wanted to try something new.

Definitely no beans or meat.

I know, but trust me!  This is amazing!  You want to know why I say this?  I had to make it 5 times before I was able to get a single photo of it taken.  The first time I made it, these tacos flew so fast, I didn’t even realize what happened.  This also happened the second, third, and fourth time.  The fifth time, I made it well in advance so no one could get into them and I could actually take a photo to share with you my enthusiasm around these tacos.

So, I fire roasted the poblanos to give it a more earthy, smoky flavor.  If you don’t have a gas stove, you can totally do this on your BBQ grill or even in the oven.  You will still get that amazing smoky flavor, I promise!

Instead of beans or meat, I chose to use acorn squash to roast with ancho chili and chipotle powder.  These peppers give it a kick without making it too spicy and also enhance that smoky flavor, especially from the chipotle pepper powder.

I’m not done though!  Making this go one step further, I made a Habanero Crema with avocados, roasted garlic and a little yogurt to balance out the habaneros.

Serve it with microgreens instead of lettuce or cabbage, and top it off with a little salsa verde, and you have what I think is one of the most amazing tacos of the year!

Seriously, I’m just going to stop now and give you the recipe.  You really have to try it.

From my kitchen to yours, I hope you enjoy these delicious Fire Roasted Poblano Tacos.

Tandoori Gobi (Cauliflower) Zucchini Boats

I’ve made zucchini boats a few times so far.  Each time has been to use up leftovers from our Skinny Skillet Enchilada the previous night.  They turn out really good and Sanaya loves them but it’s the same flavor profile so as much as I love it, I still crave something a little different.

I knew I wanted to create a different filling and haven’t done much with Indian food lately so I played around with my options.  I kept circling back to this one idea of Tandoori Gobi as the stuffing.  I’m not sure where I thought of it but it wouldn’t go away so I decided, ok, let’s give it a try.

I have a great Tandoori marinade recipe that I have been using with chicken so I decided, to use the same for the cauliflower.  I treated the cauliflower as the chicken substitute and marinated it overnight also.

The cooking part was a little tricky as I didn’t want a soggy Zucchini Boat and the marinade definitely looked like it would promise a lot of liquid.  Simple trick, I baked them separately, then stuffed the zucchini with the cauliflower and broiled it on high for 5 minutes to get a good char.  Can I just say, Oh so delicious!

Also, please don’t throw out the flesh of the zucchini when you scoop it out to create the cavity for the cauliflower.  Let’s be sustainable here and make some Zucchini Bread out of it!

One more thing I love about this recipe is that it is totally a weeknight meal.  So the time on the recipe card may be a little daunting, but it’s the ease of it.  And most of the time you spend is waiting for the flavors to marinate.  It really takes maybe 15 minutes to put the marinade together, then the next day, 5 minutes to shell out the Zucchini and the rest of the time, you are waiting for it to finish baking.  Honestly, it can’t get any easier for a weeknight meal.

Serve this delicious boat with a cooling Mint-y Pomegranate Raita to finish it off.

From my kitchen to yours, we hope these Tandoori Gobi Zucchini Boats rock your world!

Ratatouille

The year was 2013, I had been married only a couple of months and was hosting this grand Thanksgiving for my in-laws.  My mother-in-law is vegetarian as am I and so I wanted something special for a veggie dish at the table instead of roasted veggies.

No offense to roasted veggies, I love them.  In fact I eat them all the time and therein lies the problem.  I wanted something “fancy”, something different that I don’t have on any given night.

So I scoured the internet and landed upon this gorgeous picture of Ratatouille and thought, I can make this!   And I did.  It didn’t look so pretty but hey, that’s ok, I hoped it would taste delicious though.  It was bland.  There literally was no flavor profile to it and safe to say, both my mother-in-law and I were disappointed.

She was nice enough to pretend it was good but I couldn’t even do that!

So ever since, I’ve been on a mission to create a Ratatouille that has layers and dimensions of flavor.  Safe to say, I think I found it!

Here’s the secret!

  1. Make a sauce that keeps everyone wanting to lick it off the plate
  2. Season the top of the veggies and not just with salt and pepper!  With actual herbs!
  3. Make enough sauce so that veggies are half drenched in it and the rest will cook in the steam of the boiling sauce in the oven.

I have been playing with the recipe for a while now and when I made the final version, I was satisfied aesthetically.  The question was, would my girls eat the eggplant in it?

Recently, they’ve become very finicky eaters and it can be a real struggle to feed them even their favorite foods sometimes.  But they both ate all the veggies and I couldn’t have been a prouder Mama!

Try this out for your next Holiday dinner, weeknight surprise, or Sunday dinner.  It’s easy to make ahead, stores in the fridge and freezer well and is fairly simple to make!

From my kitchen to yours, I hope you enjoy this delicious Ratatouille!

The tools that I used to make this recipe are:

Quinoa Stuffed Butternut Squash

Squash season is in full swing and I’m loving experimenting with all the different varieties out there.  One of my favorites is butternut squash.  It’s vibrant orange color, the sweet taste, and the versatility of the flesh is just great to work with.  You can mash it up or cube it and add it into most dishes.  For this recipe, I decided to throw a twist and stuff it instead.

This dish is perfect to add for the vegetarians (and non-vegetarians) at the Thanksgiving or Holiday table.  It’s rich and bold colors match the flavors that draw together the different fruits and veggies I’ve used.

Aside from being so flavorful, it is also extremely healthy.  Here are a few benefits you will get from this dish:

  • High in protein
  • Good source of Fiber
  • Good source of Iron
  • Gluten Free
  • Low in Fat
  • Good source of Potassium and Magnesium
  • Good source of Folate
  • Good source of Vit. C and Vit. K
  • High in Antioxidants

I know butternut squash is one of the harder squashes to chop but I have a trick!  Heat the squash in the microwave for 3 minutes and it will soften up enough that you can chop the ends easily and scoop out the flesh also.  I know putting a whole squash in the microwave might seem daunting, but trust me it works!

When I initially made this recipe, both the hubby and I found it a bit dry and realized right away that it needs a sauce or dressing to help it out.  After going through a few options, I settled on a simple Apple Cider Vinaigrette.  It has all the elements for the fall, doesn’t overpower the stuffing and gives you just enough of a pop in flavor.  Most importantly, the stuffing doesn’t feel dry anymore!

So….. what are you waiting for?  Try this out and make it a part of your holiday table or Sunday dinner! From my kitchen to yours, I hope you love this Quinoa Stuffed Butternut Squash!

The equipment I used for this dish are:

Sweet & Spicy Harvest Bowl

The weather is still pretty warm out but I am mentally ready for fall!  Especially with all the delicious veggies at the Farmer’s Market that are coming out for the season.  The pomegranates, Brussels sprouts, root vegetables and especially all the squash and pumpkins I’m seeing everywhere!  They’re all so beautiful, colorful and oh so yummy!

I was inspired during my last visit to the Farmer’s Market for this recipe.  I used acorn squash because it is mild in flavor and one of the easiest squash to peel and cut.  The beets added beautiful color and flavor (and lots of nutrition!), and crispy brussels sprouts once roasted are the perfect addition for texture in this bowl.

Here are a few other ingredients I used though, I definitely didn’t roast them:

  • Avocado
  • Red Pears
  • Feta
  • Toasted Pecans
  • Quinoa

As for the dressing, I debated whether to add one or not but in the end, I decided a simple squeeze of lime would do justice without taking away from the other flavors.

I was so excited just roasting the veggies because they looked so bright, bold and beautiful!  The spice that I added to balance the sweet of the beets and pears out was smoky chipotle pepper to the veggies that I roasted.

This is one dish that I think is going to come up often on our table through this season!  Make a big batch for a holiday dinner side, a small batch for a lunch or make it a meal for a weeknight!  It’s simple, healthy, delicious, and you get to eat many of your colors!

Here are some of the health benefits from this yummy bowl:

  • Low Carb
  • High in Fiber
  • High in Protein
  • Vitamins K, C, A, and B-6
  • Good Source of Iron
  • Good Source of Folate

Well!  What are you waiting for?  You have got to try this out!

From my kitchen to yours, I hope you enjoy this delicious Sweet and Spicy Harvest Bowl!

Fall Nourish Bowl

I love the Autumn season.  The colors, the change in flavors, the hint of crisp air and everything else about Fall is just perfect!

Making this nourish bowl with a hint of Fall flavors was fun.  I decided to roast the veggies with oregano and smoked paprika for some warmth in the taste.

For a pop of spice, I added charred Shishito peppers which made this dish so perfect!

Instead of dressing, I used hummus which becomes smooth and creamy as a dressing when combined with the hot roasted veggies.

This nourish bowl is so filling, try it out for your next lunch or dinner.  You’ll be so satisfied and comforted.

From my kitchen to yours, I hope you enjoy this bowl!


Here are the cooking tools I used for this dish:

Spinach Chickpea Stew with Garlic Couscous

I’ve recently learned that my girls like chickpeas in any form.  I used to think it was just Roasted Masala Chickpeas that they gobbled down, but I’ve been paying attention and I’m glad I have!  Watching both of them gobble down this stew was amazing.  They are one of the few girls who also love to eat spinach in any form, cooked or uncooked (I feel blessed) so I knew I was going to use it to give some green to this dish!

I’m totally adding this to my weeknight meal list as it took me only 20 minutes to pull together!  I got the couscous started on the side and takes only 15 minutes to make!

Can you tell I’m ready for the autumn season to begin?  I’ve had a fun summer enjoying the hot weather but between the smoke from all the fires and a broken AC during the multiple heat waves, I am looking forward to the end of the year.  Hot stews are just the thing to warm you up during the cold months and this recipe is a great one where you get to spend more time enjoying the food than making it!

Try it out and let me know what you think.  Tag me on Instagram @bitofspice146 and use the #bitofspice146 hashtag.   I would love to see your versions of my recipes!

From my kitchen to yours, enjoy this delicious stew!

Skinny Skillet Veggie Enchiladas

Enchiladas are one of my favorite Mexican meals.  What I don’t love is the amount of work and clean up goes into making a good batch of enchiladas.  Making the filling, rolling the enchiladas, and the baking sometimes feels like too much work.  And I don’t always have an hour or more to dedicate on a weeknight when I am craving enchiladas.  Let’s be honest… I don’t think anyone does.
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These Skinny Skillet Veggie Enchiladas satisfy my cravings for enchiladas without the fuss.  I can make them in less than 30 minutes (yep!) and the only dishes I have to clean are my chopping board and skillet!  Literally made it super easy!

You can work ahead for these and have the veggies chopped up to save time but really, it’s not that time consuming.  Speaking of veggies, of course I added a rainbow of them.  Yellow squash, green zucchini, red bell peppers, purple onions, corn, and poblano peppers!

If you want to add meat, a quick shortcut is to add in shredded rotisserie chicken.  Cut down the amount of beans by half or increase the amount of enchilada sauce by another 1/4 cup to avoid having a dry dish.
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Make sure you are using an oven safe skillet.  Here is the one I like to use.  You only need to pop the skillet in the oven for 5 minutes so the cheese can melt and get a golden color.

For spices, I used smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, chipotle powder and a little ancho chili powder.  I know it seems like a lot, but a little of all of them really helps create a depth of flavor.

Serve it with some Mango Pico and Guacamole to add the finishing touches.
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From my kitchen to yours, enjoy this delicious meal!

15 minute Masala Pasta

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All I can say is that things are getting crazier!  My first born is starting Kindergarten tomorrow and though it’s going to be different because she’s going to be upstairs in her room instead of at a new school with new friends, I’m still an emotional wreck!  I just can’t believe she’s grown so much!  Where’s my baby that I brought home from the hospital?  I have a 5 year old now!
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Let’s talk food so I don’t have to think about that… for now.  This dish actually does take 15 minutes to make.  No joke.  How?  Because I use Taste Republic‘s gluten free, fresh fusili pasta.  The more I try their fresh pastas, the more I’m loving them.  So far, the cauliflower linguini, tortellini, and now the fusili have been on point!  Even better, because it is fresh pasta, it takes 3 minutes to cook!
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Once upon a time, the girls would eat nothing but red sauce with their pasta.  Then it went to green (pesto).  Then brown butter.  We are now back to the red sauce which I am thankful for because this masala pasta uses marinara sauce combined with spices to give it an Indian twist.
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Here are some ingredients that are key to this pasta:

Taste Republic Gluten Free Fusili – fresh pasta that is great with taste and time!
Frozen Mixed Vegetables – this is my first hack to make this dish in under 15 minutes.
Favorite Marinara Sauce – I use whatever jar I have opened in my fridge and it works perfect
Indian spices: cayenne pepper, garam masala, cumin powder, coriander powder – this give the pasta additional depth of flavor. Add just enough to give it a hint not take over the dish!

This fusion dish is amazing because of the mix of flavors and how quickly you can put it together.  Try it out and bring a little of India and a little of Italy to your home.