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 Potato and Beet Hash with Fried Eggs

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!

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

*This is an ad post.

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.
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From our kitchen to yours, I hope you enjoy this 15 Minute Masala Pasta!

Homemade Paneer

Paneer is a staple in any Indian household.  It is so versatile, the possibilities are endless.  I’ve marinated it in Roasted Cilantro Mint Chutney and grilled it over the BBQ, you can also grill it and use it as an addition to a salad, make Paneer Cabbage Cups, Matar Paneer, and most famously known Palak Paneer.
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It may sound daunting but making paneer at home is actually very easy.  There’s literally 2 ingredients involved – milk, and an acidic agent to separate the curd.  I like homemade better than store bought because you can choose which type of milk you want (low-fat or full-fat) and there are no preservatives like in the store bought ones.
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How to make paneer at home:
Step 1: Boil the milk
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Step 2: Add in your acidic agent and keep stirring to help the solids separate from the whey
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Step 3: Drain the whey so you have just the solids left over
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Step 4: Rinse the solids to remove smell and taste of acidic agent
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Step 5: Squeeze out excess water and hang the paneer to remove moisture
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Step 6: Mold the paneer into desired shape
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Step 7: Remove the block of paneer from the cheesecloth and use as desired
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Notes:
1. I suggest double lining the cheesecloth so that it is more sturdy and holds the paneer well when draining. This is the cheesecloth that I use and love!
2. Acidic agents that can be used are lemon juice or vinegar.  I’ve found vinegar works better with curdling the solids without leaving behind a tart taste in the paneer
3. Keep the acidic agent close by so you can use it as soon as the milk is ready so it doesn’t boil over.
4. If you need to add more acid, add a teaspoon at a time.  Adding too much can make the paneer rubbery

From my kitchen to yours, I hope you have fun and enjoy making your own paneer!

Pineapple Fried Rice

I’m all about summer and summer foods these days.  This Pineapple Fried Rice is the perfect balance between sweet, spicy, crunchy, soft, and a burst of flavors.  Best of all, it takes 20 minutes to make!  A fun weeknight recipe, or a weekend recipe with some Thai Curry on the side.  Go ahead, try this out and bring a taste of Thailand to your home.
Continue reading “Pineapple Fried Rice”

Paneer Cabbage Cups

Paneer Cabbage Cups are a light and healthy dish that is packed with a burst of flavor and texture in each bite.  The spicy jalapeño, a pop of lemon, the crunch of the cabbage and the creaminess of the paneer and avocados.  And if you know me, the vibrant colors of all the different veggies bring this together in the most perfect way.  You just can’t go wrong!  Continue reading “Paneer Cabbage Cups”

The Best Veggie Quesadillas

There’s no wrong way to make a quesadilla.  It’s one of those foods that can be served as a quick weeknight meal, an after school snack, bite sized as a party app; filled with just cheese, grilled veggies, or shredded meat! The possibilities are endless.
Continue reading “The Best Veggie Quesadillas”

Brown Butter Toasted Tortellini Yum

I’m a pasta lover and and am so proud to say so are my girls.  I can get them to eat almost anything as long as I pair it with pasta.  The only caveat, they keep changing what type of sauce they want.  First, I couldn’t get them to eat anything but marinara sauce, then they moved on to pesto, and now they are stuck on brown butter. Continue reading “Brown Butter Toasted Tortellini Yum

Greek Inspired Crepes Yum

This recipe is one of my favorites.  I learned it almost 4 years ago in Arizona.  We had gone for the weekend to hang out with Pankaj’s friends from college.  It was Sunday morning and we decided to do a fun brunch.  Rupal (our friend who we went to visit) suggested we make Greek Crepes.  OMG have I been hooked on them since! I don’t know about her, but I know I definitely stumbled through this one, pretending I knew what I was doing when in fact, all I knew how to do was make the crepes.  The Greek part was literally Greek to me. Continue reading “Greek Inspired Crepes Yum

Roasted Brussels Sprouts Salad Yum

Brussels Sprouts are a vegetable that I didn’t realize I liked until I was an adult, going out on the town and pretending to eat it like I loved it with friends who actually did.  One day, I realized, I actually do like it.  Especially when they’ve been either fried or roasted so the outer leaves are nice and crunchy….ummm, I’m salivating just thinking about them again! Continue reading “Roasted Brussels Sprouts Salad Yum

Butternut Squash and Thyme Risotto Yum

One of my favorite Italian dishes is risotto.  It’s so creamy, decadent, and delicious.  I started experimenting with the basics of making risotto about 9 months ago.
When I first started making it, I was a little intimidated.  To be honest, I had to work up my nerve to attempt it for quite a while as I had heard stories about how hard it is to make risotto.  One day, I decided to just go for it.  If nothing else, I have frozen pizza to serve the family.  (Yep, I always have frozen pizza on hand …. though, currently I stock this amazing cauliflower crust pizza with veggies on top.  Ummm, anyways, story for another time.)
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I must have looked through a dozen recipes to see which didn’t intimidate me and seemed the easiest.  In hindsight, they are all easy.  You see, I think people get overwhelmed with the idea that you have to babysit this dish.  You literally do.  It’s not a quick and easy weeknight dinner but it is an amazing labor of love.  From start to finish, I would say cooking this specific dish (we’re including the time to roast the squash), I spent about an hour in front of the stove.  About 80% of that is stirring the risotto so it doesn’t stick, 10% was prep work and 10% was zoning out the kids while they screamed their latest rock concert with Frozen lyrics.
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The secret to a perfect risotto, you have to stir the broth in one ladle at a time.  Yep, a bit tedious, but this is definitely one of those times where patience brings very delectable rewards.
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During my extensive research to find an “easy” recipe for risotto, I also looked into why I couldn’t just add the broth all at once.  One reason that I found for adding the broth slowly is that by doing so, the rice releases the starch slowly and therefore, giving the dish its creamy texture.  Adding the broth all at once, covering it and leaving it to cook can ruin your risotto in two different ways.  One, the water will sit at the bottom from lack of stirring the risotto and can burn the dish from the bottom.  Second, instead of giving the risotto its creamy texture, dumping the broth all at once can make break the rice and make it mushy rather than keeping the rice kernels whole but cooked and creamy.


I know this seems like a lot but really, it’s just reinforcing the fact that you need to add your broth slowly and you will have an amazing risotto.
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The only other tip I want to add is to constantly check for salt.  I used veggie bouillon combined with water for my broth in this recipe.  You can use a low sodium broth also.  The bouillons tend to have a higher sodium content so don’t add salt until you’ve tasted it.  The parmesan cheese also brings a lot of salt content with it.  The last thing you want to end up with a salty risotto you can barely eat (trust me, I’ve done this too.  Speaking from unfortunate experience).  Keep tasting as you go.
Fun fact, arborio rice looks very similar to idli rice.  In fact, I picked it up and almost used it before I realized there was a slight difference.  The idli rice is a little plumper than arborio.  Of course, I did more research and found that idli rice can be used as a substitute for arborio because of its a medium grain.  When you compare the two side by side, they look very similar.

From my kitchen to yours, Enjoy!

Ingredients:
1½ c butternut squash, cubed
1 ½ c arborio rice
1 med onion, diced finely
5 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbsp thyme, roughly chopped
6 c veggie broth
1 c Parmesan cheese
¾ tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
2 Tbsp Oil (Avo or EVOO)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400ºF.  Toss squash with 1 Tbsp oil, salt and pepper.  Spread out on a baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes.
In a large pot, heat veggie broth until it comes to a boil, then lower the heat to low and cover.
Meanwhile, In a deep and wide pan, heat oil and add onions.  Cook for 7-8 minutes until they are cooked through and translucent.
Add in the garlic and cook for 1 minute on med-low flame.  Add in the risotto and 2 Tbsp thyme and cook for 8-10 minutes until the rice is toasted and has a light golden red color to it.
Add in 1 ladle of broth and wait for it to burn off while you keep stirring the risotto.  As it burns off.  Keep adding the broth 1 ladle at a time until you use up all of the broth.  As the risotto cooks with the broth, you’ll notice it getting plumper and creamier.  When all of the broth is used up, and cooked into the risotto, the texture should be thick and creamy.  Turn off the heat and mix in ¾ c Parmesan and mix well.
Add in the butternut squash and remaining thyme and mix.
Serve hot into bowl and garnish with some of the remaining Parmesan cheese.

Enjoy!

Crispy Chickpeas and Sweet Potato Tacos Yum

When I first started experimenting with this recipe, I wasn’t sure how the sweet potato was going to work in my tacos.  I debated constantly trying to pair a different vegetable, but ultimately, I kept coming back to the sweet potatoes. Continue reading “Crispy Chickpeas and Sweet Potato Tacos Yum

Veggie Pasta Sauce Yum

When my kids were younger, I had a bit of a hard time getting them to eat certain vegetables.  Even today, my oldest will not eat any type of leafy green because it’s a “salad” and she doesn’t eat salads apparently.  My youngest pretty much copies her Sissy and does whatever she says.  Sanaya loves spinach….. if it’s cooked down into a saag, blended into her Popeye muffins or hidden in this veggie sauce.
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This recipe came into being when Aishani was new to eating foods at about almost 1 year old.  Sanaya used to love pasta and Aishani liked it because she was all about finger foods and rotini was big enough for her to hold in her cute little pudgy hands.  Added benefit, I can make a batch, freeze it for future use on a last minute day.
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I load this pasta sauce up with onions, carrots, bell peppers, spinach, and frozen mixed veggies.  I also add tons of spices including turmeric, especially in the winter which is rich in it’s anti-inflammatory properties.  It’s such a healthy pasta sauce and my wonderful kids don’t even notice further than it being a red pasta sauce.  Try it out…. trick your kids or even spouse and see if they notice the difference!
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From my kitchen to yours, Enjoy!

Ingredients:
1 med onion, chopped finely
1 bell pepper, chopped finely
1 carrot, chopped finely
¼ c frozen mixed veggies
¼ c spinach
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 jar (about 1½ pounds) your favorite pasta sauce
¼ tsp ajwain (carom seeds)
¼ tsp haldi (turmeric)
½ tsp lal mirch (cayenne pepper)
¾ tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
2 tsp Italian seasoning
1 Tbsp Avocado (or Olive) Oil
salt to taste
pepper to taste

Directions:
In a deep pot, heat oil on medium flame.  Add in the carom seeds.  When they splutter, add in the onions and sauté until translucent, about 3-5 minutes.  Add in garlic and sauté for another 30 seconds.  Add in the turmeric, and let it bloom for about 30 seconds.
Once the turmeric has mixed in well, add in all the veggies except the spinach, spices, salt and pepper.  Mix well and cook for about 10 minutes or until they are tender.  Finally add in the spinach and sauce and cook for 2 minutes stirring constantly.
Turn the flame off and with a hand blender, blend the veggies into the sauce.  You should get a chunky consistency though if you prefer a more smooth texture, you can blend in a blender.  If it’s too thick, add 1 Tbsp of water at a time until you achieve your desired consistency.
Taste and adjust for salt.

Serve with your favorite pasta!

Zucchini Corn Cakes on a bed of Grilled Peach and Pineapple Salsa

Phew! That’s a long name for sure.  And the name lives up to the punch that it packs!  We had a BBQ on the 4th and had plenty of food leftover.  I definitely didn’t want to eat the same stuff for the next few days so I figured, this is when I need to get creative and upcycle it. Continue reading “Zucchini Corn Cakes on a bed of Grilled Peach and Pineapple Salsa”

Polenta & Veggie Pot Pie

I love rainy days!  All I want to do is curl up with a blanket in front of the fireplace, read a book with a cup of chai in my hand.  That probably won’t happen till my kids are off to school.

In the meantime, I decided to put together a hearty stew that warms you from your fingers to your toes.  I took the stew a little further and decided to put a spin on it.  I made cute pot pies but instead of the traditional pastry shell, I used polenta and cheese for the crust.  It tasted so delicious, the creamy polenta and the melted cheese just got all of us, especially my daughter hooked!

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I have these cute little Le Creuset cocottes that I got as a gift from our close friends a few years ago and thought my 2.5 year old will get a kick out of eating from it.  And boy was I right!  She insisted on eating her leftovers the next day from these adorable pots!  I was just happy she loved the stew as much as the cocottes!

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I hope these warm you up on a cold rainy (or snowy) day like it did us!

Ingredients:
½ onion, chopped finely
1c cubed butternut squash
1 jalapeño, seeded and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 14.5oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
¼c AP flour
2Tbsp tomato paste
2Tbsp cayenne pepper
1tsp smoked paprika
1tsp cumin powder
¼tsp oregano
½tsp salt (or to taste)
¼tsp ground black pepper
2c veggie broth
1Tbsp Sriracha sauce
¼c milk
2Tbsp EVOO

For the Polenta:
2c Veggie Broth
2c milk
1c Polenta
¼tsp salt
¼tsp pepper
3Tbsp Butter
3oz sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400ºF.

In a nonstick pan, over medium heat, add EVOO.  Once the oil is heated, add onions and sauté for a couple of minutes.  Add garlic and cook for another 30 seconds.  Now add the butternut squash and for about 10 minutes or until it becomes tender.  Make sure you don’t over cook it as the squash can get a mushy texture.  Add in all the dry spices and mix well.  Cook with the spices for a 1-2 minutes so they bloom and flavor the squash.  Now, sprinkle in the flour.  Stir for about 3 minutes so the flour cooks.  If the flour doesn’t cook through, you’ll be able to taste a raw, gritty flavor which is so unappetizing.  Add the veggie broth, tomato paste, and Sriracha, raise to a simmer and cook until it has thickened.  Once it has thickened, add in the milk and black beans.  Cook for another 5 minutes.  Taste and adjust for salt.

Spoon the mixture into 4 individual baking dishes or one pie pan and place on a baking sheet with a 2 inch lip.

For the polenta, add the veggie broth and milk in a saucepan and bring to a boil.  Lower the heat and whisk in the polenta slowly.  If you add it all at once, the polenta will be lumpy and not cook through.  Keep stirring until the polenta thickens, approximately 10-12 minutes.  Add in the butter and season with salt and pepper.  Spoon the polenta over the pot pie filling and top with cheese.

Bake in the oven for about 18-20 minutes or until the polenta is golden brown and the cheese is melted.
Remove from oven, garnish with fresh parsley and let it warm you to your toes as you dig in to this deliciousness!

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Zucchini Tacos

I’m addicted to cooking shows.  There.  I said it. I admit it.  I guess it’s not bad considering other things people are addicted to these days.  Every Saturday mornings, you can find me glued in front of the television watching my favorite show, The Kitchen.  I can’t bear to miss a single episode.  A few weeks ago, they had guest chef Nikki Dinki on the show who shared her zucchini tacos recipe and instantly I knew I had to try those.

They are amazing!  Forget eating them as tacos, my DH ate them on its own.  SO DELICIOUS!  I did make a few slight changes to her recipe to adjust for ingredients I had in the kitchen/pantry.  Hope you enjoy them as much as we did!



Ingredients:
4 medium zucchini, shredded
2/3 c shredded Mozarella cheese
2/3 c Italian bread crumbs
2 eggs
1 tsp cayenne powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
Olive Oil Cooking SprayDirections:
Preheat oven to 450ºF.Place shredded zucchini in microwave safe bowl and heat on high for for about 3 1/2 minutes.  Mix the zucchini around and replace in microwave for another 3 1/2 minutes.  Let it cool then place in a cheesecloth and drain as much of the water out as you can.  The drier it is, the better your batter and taco shells will turn out.

Add the eggs, cheese, bread crumbs, cayenne, cumin, salt and garlic powder.  Mix well into a dough-ish batter.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spray lightly with Olive Oil Cooking Spray.

Make 8 portions in the shape of balls from the batter, the size just a tad smaller than a tennis ball.  Flatten them directly onto the baking sheet into 5″ diameter rounds with your hands.  They shouldn’t be too thick as the inside will not cook properly.  Bake for 15 minutes.  The taco shells should be slightly golden brown.  Once you remove them from the oven, let them cool slightly before adding filling to shells.

Enjoy!

Original recipe by Nikki Dinki

Pomegranate Eggplant

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This is one of my favorite recipes.  It’s such a simple go to; you can wow friends and family, or just make it for dinner when you’re short on time or feel lazy enough to not make something elaborate.  I originally found this recipe in a cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi.  I’ve since adapted it to suit my palate but regardless of which version you try, I’m sure you’ll love the impact of so many flavors and textures packed in such few ingredients.

Here’s what I did:
Preheat your oven to 400°F.

Chop the eggplant into 2 inch cubes.  Add in dried thyme, rosemary, salt, crushed chili flakes, and olive oil.  Toss it all to mix well.
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Line a baking sheet with some aluminum foil and place the eggplant on there, skin side down.
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Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the eggplant is cooked through.  Make sure it’s not overcooked, otherwise, it gets mushy and definitely does not taste good!

The eggplant should look something like this:
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When you’re ready to serve, plate up some eggplant and drizzle a little tzatziki sauce over it.  Finally, sprinkle some pomegranate seeds and enjoy.

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Ingredients:
1 large eggplant, skin on, chopped in 2″ cubes
1 Tbsp dried thyme
1 Tbsp dried rosemary
1 Tbsp crushed red chili flakes
generous pinch of salt
1 Tbsp EVOO
1/2 c pomegranate seeds

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400°F
In a bowl, mix in the eggplant with the thyme, rosemary, dried chili flakes, salt and olive oil.  Toss well so every piece of the eggplant is covered with all the herbs.
Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and place the eggplant on there skin side down.
Bake 20-25 minutes until the eggplant is cooked through.
When you’re ready to serve, drizzle with tzatziki sauce  and top off with pomegranate seeds.

If you’re interested in the original recipe by Yotam Ottolenghi, click here.

Veggie Stuffed Peppers

There are many days recently where we end up eating leftovers because well, with a 4 month old who wants all the attention, it’s hard to spend time in the kitchen when her drooly smile beckons you to play.  Today however, the husband became the center of her attention allowing me a few moments to whip up veggie stuffed peppers.  Layered with rice, veggies and definitely cheese – this is one yummy pepper!

There are a couple different parts to it so bear with me.  Here’s how I made it:

For the rice:

In a nonstick pot, heat up some oil.  Add the cumin and wait till it starts to splutter.  Add the onions and saute till they turn translucent.  Oh boy! The kitchen smelled so good with just the cumin and onions cooking together, I couldn’t wait till it was done so I can just dig in!

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Once the onions are translucent, add in the tomatoes.  Be careful!  Don’t add the tomatoes when the onions are not done cooking.  The acid from the tomatoes prevents the onions from cooking all the way through and this will change the flavor profile.

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Saute the tomatoes for a couple more minutes until they are tender.  Add in the rice and saute for a couple of minutes so it can soak in some of the flavor.  Then add in the veggie broth, salt, and taco seasoning.  Mix well and let it cook for about 20 minutes until the rice is tender.  Turn off the heat and cover the pot.  This is key whenever I make any type of rice – letting the rice sit in its own steam for 5 minutes.  This ensures the rice is nice and fluffy and makes it taste so much better!

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For the Veggie Stuffing:

Heat some oil in a nonstick pan.  Add the onions and garlic and saute for a couple of minutes. Add in the yellow squash and zucchini and continue to saute for another 5 minutes.  Add in the black beans, salt, fajita seasoning, cayenne pepper and cumin powder.  Mix well and cook for another 2-3 minutes.

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To assemble the peppers:

Preheat oven to 375°.  Spray some cooking spray on a cookie sheet and line the peppers.  Spoon some rice into the peppers, followed by the veggies and repeat till you reach the top.  Sprinkle some cheese on the top and bake in the oven for about 15 minutes or until the peppers are tender.  Serve hot and enjoy!
I’ve included the full recipe below.  I hope you like it just as much as we did.

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For the rice:
1/2c rice
1c low sodium veggie broth
1tsp onions
1/2c finely diced onions
1/2c chopped tomatoes
1Tbsp taco seasoning
1Tbsp Olive Oil
salt to taste

In a nonstick pot, heat up some oil.  Add the cumin and wait till it starts to splutter.  Add the onions and saute till they turn translucent.  Once the onions are translucent, add in the tomatoes.  Saute the tomatoes for a couple more minutes until they are tender.  Add in the rice and saute for a couple of minutes so it can soak in some of the flavor.  Then add in the veggie broth, salt, and taco seasoning.  Mix well and let it cook for about 20 minutes until the rice is tender.  Turn off the heat and cover the pot.

For the Veggie Stuffing:
1/2c diced zucchini
1/2c diced yellow squash
1/2c finely diced onions
1 14oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
2 cloves garlic, minced
1Tbsp Olive Oil
1Tbsp Fajita Seasoning
1tsp cayenne pepper
1tsp cumin powder
salt to taste

Heat some oil in a nonstick pan.  Add the onions and garlic and saute for a couple of minutes. Add in the yellow squash and zucchini and continue to saute for another 5 minutes.  Add in the black beans, salt, fajita seasoning, cayenne pepper and cumin powder.  Mix well and cook for another 2-3 minutes.

To assemble the peppers:
2 bell peppers, halved, deseeded
1cup shredded cheese

Preheat oven to 375°.  Spray some cooking spray on a cookie sheet and line the peppers.  Spoon some rice into the peppers, followed by the veggies and repeat till you reach the top.  Sprinkle some cheese on the top and bake in the oven for about 15 minutes or until the peppers are tender.  Serve hot and enjoy!