Cilantro Chutney

Vibrant, fresh, mildly spicy, and packed with flavor, this Cilantro Chutney is a necessity in Indian cuisine.   This particular chutney is made using fresh cilantro, mint, curry leaves, green chilies, cashews and spices.
Continue reading “Cilantro Chutney”

Rosemary Caprese Skewers with a Balsamic Glaze

These skewers are by far one of my favorite snacks!  Often times, if I am hosting a party, they usually make an appearance.  The best part, my girls love to eat them too (minus the basil and glaze)!  Super easy to assemble, healthy, and 5 simple ingredients.  You really can’t beat that!

For the skewers, I kept the Basil in the caprese, but the addition of rosemary gives it a little boost.  Rosemary can be strong which is why just the hint from the skewers is perfect here.  Bite sized, creamy mozzarella, tangy grape tomatoes, sharp basil, the sweet balsamic glaze finished off by fresh rosemary is definitely going to be one of the best foods I eat today!

Making the balsamic glaze is pretty simple too!  I used to be nervous about making the glaze because it seemed too daunting.  Then one day, I figured, I’ll try it and see what happens.  I can’t believe I was ever so nervous!  Literally I’m boiling balsamic vinegar with a little brown sugar and that’s pretty much it!   Oh.My.God. It tastes so good, I could drizzle this glaze on pretty much anything!

So what are you waiting for?  Try out these delicious skewers and impress your guests with a fancy-ish appetizer!

From my kitchen to yours, I hope you enjoy these Rosemary Caprese Skewers with a Balsamic Glaze.

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:

Avocado Wedges with Sriracha Crema

⁄Crunchy on the outside, creamy and buttery on the inside, these avocado wedges are the perfect snack.  They are remarkably tasty, easy to make, and impressed my 5 and 4 year olds.  Honestly though, anything that is breaded and fried is an automatic win in my book.  I’ve had these in tacos too and seriously, they are delicious.

HOW DO I CHOOSE THE RIGHT AVOCADO FOR THIS RECIPE?
Personally, I like to use avocados that have just turned ripe.  They’re still a little firm but ripe enough to be creamy when eaten.  A good scale to use is if they are good enough to use for Guacamole then they are too soft to use for these wedges.  You don’t want the wedges to melt and loose structure because they are too ripe.

AIR FRYER vs BAKING
I used an air fryer for this recipe because it gives the crispy exterior that you would see when deep frying.  If you don’t have an air fryer, baking is just as good but beware that it will take a little longer to cook them.  I have given instructions for both in the recipe card.

ARE THESE HEALTHY IF THEY’RE FRIED?
Yes they are because they’re air fried!  And avocados are definitely healthier than traditional potato wedges.  Don’t get me wrong, I love potatoes in all its many glorious forms but I do love a healthy alternative any day.  Here are some of the many nutritional benefits to these Avocado Fries:

  • Provides about 5 gm protein per serving
  • Almost ¼ of your DRI Fiber
  • About a third of your Folic Acid DRI
  • Almost ¼ Vit. K requirements
  • Great source of potassium, phosphorous, Vit. A, and Vit. B6

So what are you waiting for?!  Try these incredibly delicious Avocado Fries and fall in love with a new way of eating fries!

Here are the tools I used for this recipe:

 

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:

Watermelon Radish and Fennel Salad with a Ginger Lime Dressing

Ok so I know that the name alone makes this salad sound like an explosion of so many different flavors and it is!  But….. that’s what makes this salad work so well!

Between my obsession for salads and my inclination towards making my own dressings, my salad game is going strong right now.  I’ve been wanting to use watermelon radish for a while now because of it’s flavor and just how pretty it looks!

Here are a few fun facts about watermelon radishes:

  • They are nutrient dense with Vitamins K, A, E, C, and B6.
  • High in antioxidants
  • High in fiber, calcium, potassium, and iron among many other minerals
  • One serving of watermelon radishes has over 1/3 of your daily Vit. C requirements!
  • They’re just so darned pretty


The fennel was added in to balance out the peppery flavor of the radish (though, to be honest, I wasn’t sure how the hubby was going to like it as he is not a big licorice flavored guy.  The best part about eating fennels to me is the licorice!).  Luckily, the fennel taste was mild when combined with the flavors of the salad.

As to the Ginger Lime dressing, adding the hint of ginger balanced with a little honey in the dressing and the lime to brighten up the salad, it was the perfect choice to use this for the salad.

When I think about this salad, it really has a great balance of sweet, spicy and tangy!  So perfect for a lunch meal, side dish, or a Covid free Thanksgiving dinner!

From my kitchen to yours, enjoy this salad!

Here are the tools that I used:

Samosa Puffs

Every Indian household is sure to have samosas for any occasion.  Whether we were visiting relatives or friends, at a wedding, holidays, celebrations of any kind…. well, you get the point!  Samosas everywhere.  When I went off to college, my mom used to make dozens and dozens and put them in large zip top bags that I would freeze and microwave them as I was in the mood for them.

My roommates and friends at college also benefited.  There were many nights sitting in our common room studying over samosas, sharing heartbreaks or girl talk or just hanging out.

These samosa puffs are a fun twist to the traditional samosas that are usually filled in a cone made of freshly  kneaded dough.  The girls had fun with the flaky pastry and loved that I kept the filling with the traditional potatoes and peas that they are used to.

From my kitchen to yours, I hope you enjoy these delicious Samosa Puffs!

Rainbow Crunch Salad

Bright, crunchy, colorful and easy to assemble with a creamy coconut jalapeño dressing, this salad is a perfect addition to your meal.

Easy to make, this salad has plenty of texture, meets my rainbow requirements, and is quick to pull together for any meal.  A twist on the traditional slaw, the Rainbow Crunch Salad is a healthier version with a low cal coconut jalapeño dressing to finish off a delicious salad.

With school started, life still crazy between Covid, fires, and whatever else you want to throw in there, I want to keep it easy and quick for this salad.  Chopping the veggies doesn’t take very long and the Coconut Jalapeño dressing is blended in less than a minute.

Here’s what you need for the salad:

  • Red Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Colored Bell Peppers
  • Cucumber
  • Edamame
  • Nuts

I’ve used this as a lunch meal, a side salad for fish and chicken dishes, or even a quick afternoon snack if I had some leftovers.

Try it out!  From my kitchen to yours, enjoy!

Best Ever Baba Ghanouj

Growing up, I was never a fan of eggplant.  I’m not sure if it was the seeds, the flavor, or the way it was cooked but I just didn’t take to it.  So imagine my surprise when I went out to a Mediterranean restaurant with some friends and ended up loving my first bite of Baba Ghanouj!
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Yep.  It was love at first taste!

The smoky flavor, the silky texture, and a guilt free snack all rolled into one.  What’s not to love?

Roasted or Grilled?
I personally love it grilled either over the stove or especially on a bbq,  The flavor of the char stays in every bite which totally makes this recipe so amazing.

How do you eat it?
Baba Ghanouj is usually served as an appetizer with pita bread and crudités.  I have on occasion been known to add it to a Falafel bowl if I’m in the mood.  It tastes really delish!
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This particular recipe is made without tahini, which is a sesame seed paste traditionally used to make baba ghanouj and hummus.  I did add a lot of garlic and some cayenne and smoked paprika to enhance the smoky flavor.

food processor or by hand?
Honestly, both work but I prefer my food processor as it gets the job done quicker and I prefer a smoother texture.

Go ahead and try it out!  This recipe will not disappoint!
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Roasted Cilantro Mint Chutney

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Yum

Growing up in an Indian household, chutneys are a must. They are an integral part of any Indian household. Whether you are eating Dosa or Adai Waffles / Lentil Waffles with tomato or coconut chutney, or samosas with cilantro or tamarind chutney, or Kati Rolls or Bombay Masala Sandwiches with chutney used as a spread, it’s always prominent in Indian food.
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There are so many different kinds of chutneys prepared so many different ways, I just love the versatility of these dips.  I tried to a different approach to my Roasted Cilantro Mint Chutney by roasting the cilantro and mint with some cashews, chickpea flour, and plenty of spices.
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As you roast the herbs, they develop a char which carries into the final product and gives it just a hint of smoky flavor and smell when you eat it.
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I’ve used this chutney recipe to eat with Adai Waffles / Lentil Waffles, Paneer Cabbage Cups, Spinach Dal Paratha, Aloo Paratha, and Avocado Roti.  What will you eat it with?
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From my kitchen to yours, I hope this chutney becomes a staple for you!

Roasted Masala Chickpeas

I’ve been making these chickpeas at home as a healthy snack option so I don’t turn to junk food and my girls have fallen in love with them too.  I initially started them with a basic salt, pepper, olive oil and paprika seasoning.  We love the basic and use them not only for snacking, but in salads, tacos, as a topping for soups (yup), and pretty much in anything I can add it to. Continue reading “Roasted Masala Chickpeas”

Stuffed Mushrooms

The hubby loves his mushrooms.  I on the other hand am not the biggest fan of them.  So when we got married and he found out I didn’t like them, he was a bit devastated.  BUT, I still make them occasionally….. especially when he comes home with a large container of them.
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I secretly like it when he comes home with so many mushrooms because that means I have to get creative with them.  This time around, he brought home baby bellas and they were larger than usual, which is perfect because I knew I wanted to stuff them right away!
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I didn’t want to use too much cheese in the filling, and like anything, I want to pack a punch of flavor so I opened my fridge and stared at it for a few minutes.  Seriously, I just stood and stared.  And my eyes fell on a container of chives and onions cream cheese so I knew that was going to pull it all together!
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I also added red bell peppers (for color and crunch) and some paprika and cayenne pepper for a kick.  The hubby, and my sis-in-law Shivani, loved these!  Score!
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Yum
They are pretty quick to make and don’t require much effort.  Go ahead, try them out.

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

Mango Pico

Mango is my absolute favorite in the whole world!  Done.  That’s it.  If I were stuck on an island and there were mangoes, I would be set.
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Yum
That being said, I think for my hubby, it would be salsa.  Honestly, I’ve never seen a salsa that man has not devoured.
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I love this mango salsa because it is so fresh, tangy, sweet, and spicy all at the same time!  I’ve paired this the traditional way with chips, fish, tacos, fish tacos, as a dip during parties and more recently with Hawaiian chicken.  There’s no wrong way to eat mango pico!
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The mango pico that I made is very easy and simple but it packs a punch of flavor.  I go a little heavy on the spice to balance the sweet of the mango and only 5 ingredients needed to make.

From my kitchen to yours, enjoy this recipe!

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”

Fresco Carpaccio

So, traditionally, a carpaccio is an appetizer made of thinly sliced meat.  I decided to take the technique and make my own summer version of that.  The sharp tang of lemon, the fresh fruit, and the crunch of toasted pistachios on top are an amazing combination.  This Fresco Carpaccio is great as an appetizer for any dinner or party you are hosting, or just follow what I did and make a plate for yourself, and enjoy it in the sun!
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Yum
I really didn’t want to stop eating it!  Hubby and I finished it within minutes and this has become another of our favorite summer recipe.
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The best part, this is so healthy for you with not too many calories or fat, there’s no cooking involved, and it takes 10 minutes to make (I’m not counting how long you have to wait for it to marinate).
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Notes:

I highly recommend marinating this as the flavor of the dressing will be sharper and will help breakdown the raw taste of the zucchini since you are not cooking it.

I used a mandolin for this but if you don’t have one, no worries.  Use a potato peeler and make thin ribbons of the zucchini and cucumbers.

What fruits and veggies will you use?  Share your pictures!

From my kitchen to yours, enjoy this carpaccio as much as we did!

Ingredients:  
1 zucchini
1 cucumber
1 avocado
1 lemon, zested and juiced
¼ c Avocado Oil
2 Tbsp pistachios
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste

Directions:  
1.  In a large bowl, mix together lemon zest and lemon juice.  Whisk to mix well.
2.  Add in oil and whisk 2-3 minutes until oil and lemon juice have emulsified.
3.  Add in salt and pepper and whisk one last time to mix.  Set aside.
4.  Trim the ends of the zucchini and cucumber.  Using slicer or peeler, make very thin ribbons.
5.  Add zucchini and cucumber ribbons to dressing and toss to coat each ribbon equally.
6.  Cover bowl and marinate in fridge for 30 minutes.
7.  Meanwhile, on a med flame, heat up a small skillet.  Add in the pistachios and toast 3-5 minutes until they are nice and crunchy.
8.  Give the toasted pistachios a rough chop and set aside.
9.  Pull zucchini and cucumber out of fridge.
10.  Thinly slice avocado.
11.  In a plate, line up each fruit with one slightly on top of the previous one.  If you have any dressing left, drizzle a little on top.  Garnish with toasted pistachios.

Enjoy!

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”

Lentil Barley Soup Yum

A few years back, when I was sick, my husband brought home a veggie barley soup by Wolfgang Puck.  I fell in love instantly and now, it’s the first one I want when I’m feeling a little under the weather or even in the mood for some comfort soup.  There’s a heartiness about it without the fuss of heaviness to it.  As much as I love Chef Puck’s soup, I wanted to create my version at home.
For a couple of winters, I tried several variations but was never satisfied with it because none of them measured up to Chef Puck’s soup.  Well, how can anything really?  Anyways, I kept at it and I think I’ve found a great version that works for me.  I’m sure you will enjoy it as much as I do.
I found all of the produce at the farmer’s market, making it more sustainable, organic, and healthy (c’mon, we all know there’s more sodium in a can of anything….no matter how delicious it tastes!).
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I just love having fresh veggies, and for me, the more the better!  Added benefit, when my daughter was cooking this with me, she said, “Mamma, we’re eating the rainbow!”  Made me so proud as I’m trying to teach her to eat her colors to get a variety of nutrients.  Score 1 for Mom!
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If you’ve been following my blog, you’ll figure out that I’m a barley addict!  But really, what’s not to love?  It’s high in protein, high in fiber and has so much nutrition!
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So… what are you waiting for?!  Try out this delicious goodness and enjoy some comfort with rainbows and barley like me.

Ingredients:
½ c pearl barley
½ c green lentils
½ med onion, diced
1 med carrot, diced
3 ribs of celery, diced
½ zucchini, diced
½ yellow squash, diced
1 potato, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 bay leaf
1/3 c tomato sauce
4 c low sodium veggie broth
1 c water
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
½ tsp turmeric powder
salt to taste
pepper to taste
cilantro to garnish

Directions:
In a deep pot, heat olive oil and sauté onions until they are browned.  Add in garlic and sauté for another 30 seconds to let the aroma bloom.  Add in all the veggies and sauté for a few minutes until the veggies are tender.  Mix in the spices and bay leaf.  Cook for 2 minutes.  Add in the tomato sauce and mix well.  Cook for 3-5 minutes.  Add the barley, lentils, veggie broth, water, salt and pepper.  Mix well and cook covered for 30 minutes.  Taste and season with more salt and pepper if necessary.
Serve with a slice of garlic bread and enjoy!