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:

Spinach Stuffed Chicken Casserole

The original idea with this recipe was to make Spinach Stuffed Chicken Breasts.  But I sent hubby to get this week’s groceries.  I’m not sure if I’ve shared this before but sending the hubby out for groceries is always picking a random card from a deck.  You never know if you will get the groceries you asked for but he will definitely come back with items you never knew about or sometimes with everything but what was on the list.

Luckily this time, I did get my chicken….. just not the breast – he came back with tenders.  So imagine my surprise when I’m in the middle of making dinner and I have chicken I cannot stuff.  Since it was almost dinner time and I would very quickly have 2 little munchkins turn into monsters if not fed, I had to do some quick thinking.  Between my hubby’s quirky shopping and my quick thinking, I’m excited about this casserole!

The kids loved it and the hubby took seconds and leftovers to work for lunch!  Talk about a win-win.  Anyways, on to the this delicious recipe!

I love this recipe because it’s fairly healthy, easy to make and not much fuss!  You can even make it ahead and keep it in the fridge, then just pop it into the oven when you are ready for it.

The stuffing is easy with spinach and cream cheese being the star.  I kept the chicken pretty simple with just a salt and pepper seasoning because I used my Veggie Pasta Sauce for the top and then layered on some cheese to give it a little melty, gooey finish.

Try it out and tag me to tell me what you think!  From my kitchen to yours, I hope you enjoy this Spinach Stuffed Chicken Casserole!

Garlic Herb Pizza Dough

Dough just before it’s smoothed and oiled to set aside so it can rise

Pizza is one food my girls are very picky about.  I know… I was surprised too!  Usually, kids love pizza but my oldest decided she didn’t like pizza after having it at 7 different birthday parties in a span of 1 month.  I get it, I totally do.  I would be tired of it too!

For me, pizza is the ultimate go to with unlimited toppings and variations.  I didn’t want Sanaya to feel an aversion for one of the most loved foods on this planet so I stepped in.  After trying so many different pizzerias, I finally decided to make it at home.

Obviously could not wait to eat this….!

This Garlic Herb Pizza Dough is so delicious and light.  When the dough is rolled out, it’s not too thick and makes for a nice flatbread.  Some days, I will roll it out into 1 large pizza and others, I’ll get the girls involved and have them decorate their own personal pizzas.  Either way, you can’t go wrong with this delicious garlic-y, herb-y pizza dough!

Try it out!  It is so delicious!
From my kitchen to yours, enjoy your pizza party!

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!

Instant Pot Rajma (Kidney Beans)

I feel like almost every culture has their version of beans and rice.  There’s the Latin style with adobo seasoning, the African style flavored with smoked paprika and garlic, Creoles use the “holy trinity” for theirs, Jamaican red beans and rice have coconut milk and scotch bonnet peppers, the Japanese use Adzuki beans with their rice, and the Indians have Rajma Chawal.

Why are red beans and rice so common everywhere?

I don’t know.  But what I do know is they make a complete protein when eaten together so it’s really beneficial to vegetarians and vegans who don’t get their complete proteins from animal protein to feel full.

I never thought Rajma was all that special until my friend Sumit made it one day.  He makes the most amazing Rajma so I never bothered to learn because I could just call him up!  But now he’s moved to a different state and it’s not as readily available so I have tried and tried and tried to perfect my Rajma.

From my kitchen to yours, I hope you enjoy this classic dish of Rajma!

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!

Methi Thepla

Growing up in a Gujarati household, anywhere we went, you were guaranteed to have theplas packed.  Whether we were traveling by car, plane, train, pretty much any vehicle, Mom would always have a foil packet filled with theplas.  I would always get annoyed that we would be the family opening a packet of “Indian smelling food” but guess what…. I am my mother now.  Quick to make, easy to pack, not much fuss and muss associated with them, and filled with nutrition, they are the perfect snack or meal to have.

Easy to eat anywhere on the go, similar to a thin tortilla, theplas are made by adding fenugreek leaves (methi) to the dough before kneading it.  Instead of water, this dough uses yogurt as a binder making it a healthy and delicious meal or snack.

Fenugreek leaves are an under appreciated green that I have not seen outside of Indian food culture.  Some of the healthy benefits they provide are:

  • lowering blood sugar
  • reducing cholesterol levels
  • reducing inflammation
  • increasing milk production for nursing mothers
  • help with appetite control

Adding in the yogurt to knead the dough helps provide calcium and protein.  I use a multi grain flour to make these and between that, the yogurt, and the fenugreek leaves, 3 of the food groups are already incorporated into these theplas!

Added benefit, “roti” and yogurt is one of the girls’ favorite meals so it’s easy to sneak in different veggies and they’ll gobble it up.

Try out these methi theplas at home and I hope you like them as much as we do!

From my kitchen to yours, enjoy!

Chimichurri Sauce

This chimichurri sauce is a must have in your kitchen.  Traditionally served with meats, I use it on salads, meats, and vegetable dishes.  I first had this a couple of years ago when I was trying out a new recipe.  I love the simplicity of the flavors combined with the layers of all the elements you can taste. Continue reading “Chimichurri Sauce”

Chocolate Samosa

Rakhi is here and I wanted to make it special for the girls’ cousin Krish.  Traditionally, a sister ties a Rakhi (similar to a friendship bracelet) on their brother’s hand and feed them their favorite sweet.  In return, the brother gives his sister a gift as a token of love and both promise to honor and protect each other.
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It’s a really great festival to celebrate siblings and I wanted Krish to feel special.  So I asked his mom what his favorite desserts are and she said anything with chocolate (my kind of kid!).  I set my brain to work and really thought about different desserts I could make for him.

When I first thought of this fusion recipe, I was excited, nervous, and skeptical of how it would turn out.  As I started making it though, I saw this was going to be one of my best creations yet!
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What is a Chocolate Samosa?
A chocolate samosa is a delicious fusion of sweet chocolate (and your favorite add-ins) with a crust of a samosa.  Traditionally, a samosa is a savory snack made of a roti dough crust and filled with a potato pea mixture which is deep fried.

I took the concept of a samosa, and gave it a pie crust filled with Nutella.  Let me just say, I felt like complete bliss eating this delicious dessert!

To make these beauties, I made my pie crust and kept the dough in the fridge for an hour to keep it cool.  When making pie dough, you have to use cold butter and ice water but if the dough starts getting to room temperature, it can get sticky and hard to handle.

Once I pulled it out of the fridge, I divided it into 13 portions, rolled them out and cut them in half to make the samosa cones.  Fill them about 3/4 of the way with Nutella then seal the seam.  Freeze these for an hour (you can even keep them in the freezer up to 3 month) then when you’re ready, bake them for 15 minutes!
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Add-Ins
I did straight up Nutella for this one but who’s to say you can’t make other creations?  Here are a few ideas:

  • Coconut
  • Toffee
  • Almonds and sea salt
  • Pistachios
  • Cashews
  • White chocolate and hazelnut

Try it out and enjoy this delicious creation for Rakhi, Diwali, or any day you’re in the mood for some samosas and chocolate!

From my kitchen to yours, hope you fall in love with these Chocolate Samosas like I did!

Breakfast Soufflé Bites

These Breakfast Soufflé Bites are so quick to make, delicious, and fun to play with the toppings.  Even better, you can make them ahead and freeze them to reheat on a busy morning.

Yum

Light, airy and packed with protein and a variety of nutrients, you don’t have to worry about what healthy breakfast to make in the mornings.  Wrap them in foil, pop them in the freezer and when you want to eat them, reheat in the toaster oven or oven and they’re the perfect breakfast on the go meal.
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Here are the add-ins I used:

  • Mushrooms and Spinach
  • Tomato, Basil and Mozzarella
  • Mexican Fiesta – bell peppers and onions with fajita seasoning
  • Broccoli and cheddar
  • Jalapeño Popper – jalapeños and cheddar cheese
  • Leftover Jamboree

What toppings will you play around with?

From my breakfast table to yours, I hope you enjoy this!

Rainbow Fajita Bowl

Summertime salads are one of my favorites to eat.  They’re simple, light, filling, and don’t take much time in front of the stove or oven.  I love this Rainbow Fajita Bowl because it is so easy to pull together and you can eat it as a dinner meal or prep it on the weekends for weekday lunches.
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Yum

It’s vegan but if you’re looking to add in some chicken, super simple to do that too.  I’ll include it in the notes below!   You can marinate the chicken 30 minutes ahead or overnight but still get an amazing, tasty, juicy chicken too!
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But on to my bowl.  I just love the colors in this salad.  And the fact that my girls ate it because of the rainbow foods (ok, well maybe they ate one leaf of salad but at least I got one in!).  Drizzle with some chili lime dressing and you’re set!  The spice, the crunch, the sweet corn… I think this salad bowl is calling my name for lunch again today!
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Get your kids involved in this one.  Once you have all the ingredients ready, have them help you assemble them for make ahead lunches for you  and your kids!

From my kitchen to yours, enjoy this rainbow of colors and burst of flavor!

Breakfast Oat Muffins

Breakfast is such an important meal for everyone.  It’s been more relaxed for us lately due to the quarantine, but when school restarts, it’s going to get crazy in my house.  With two kids in two different schools that are miles apart and me rushing to make sure both are on time.  Yeah, I can imagine how smooth that is going to be! Continue reading “Breakfast Oat Muffins”

Instant Pot Black Eyed Peas Curry

When Sanaya, my eldest, was about 3 years old, we had gone to Pankaj’s cousin’s house for a play date.  Sanaya and her cousin Aarya are besties.  They’re only 2 months apart in age and our families have gone through the journey of parenting together since we were pregnant.

Anyways, this story is from a time when Sanaya was very picky about food, especially Indian food.  Though I feel like in her short life, she’s either been picky or a proper foodie.  Kids!
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Yum

My sister-in-law, Aarya’s mother had made a black eyed peas curry.  I remember growing up my mom making this often so I got excited but nervous also.  Will Saanu eat it?  Will she like it?  I’m hoping she likes it because I’m really trying to get the girls to have an appreciation for Indian food.
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Surprisingly, and luckily, she loved it and for once, ate most of her food without a fuss.  I felt like I found a magical key.  Since then, this is one recipe I make often for the girls, especially when I’m in a pinch as it takes less than 30 minutes to make.
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These black eyed peas are perfect for a weeknight meal.  Not only are they delicious and quick to make, they are also rich in fiber, protein and non-dairy calcium.
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Notes:
I soak them at the beginning of meal prep.  If you don’t want to soak them, simply increase the cook time from 12 minutes to 20.

You can store any leftovers in the fridge for up to 3-4 days.

For Stovetop: Soak black eyed peas for at least 1 hour.  Then boil them in 4 cups of water for 45 minutes.  Drain and add to spices as indicated in step 5.  Add only 1 c water and cook for an additional 15 minutes.

For Slow Cooker:  Follow directions below and cook on low for 6 hours.

From my kitchen to yours, I hope you enjoy this Dal (Lentil)!


Instant Pot Black Eyed Peas Curry

  • Servings: 4
  • Print

Ingredients:

1 c dried black eyed peas, soaked

1 onion, chopped

2 tomatoes, chopped

4 garlic cloves, minced

1″ ginger knob, grated

1 bay leaf

1 tsp cayenne pepper

½ tsp turmeric

2 tsp coriander powder

1 tsp garam masala

1 tsp salt

2 c water for cooking

1 Tbsp lemon juice

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 tsp cumin seeds

½ tsp hing (asafoetida)

Directions:

1. Set Instant pot to saute mode.  Add oil and let heat.

2. Add cumin seeds and hing.

3. When the cumin seeds start to splutter, add in onions, ginger and garlic.  Saute for 3-5 minutes, until the onions are tender and translucent.

4. Add in the tomatoes and spices and cook for 3-5 minutes, or until the oil starts separating from the tomatoes.

5. Drain the water from the black eyed peas and add to the instant pot.  Add the 2 c water and mix well.

6. Cover instant pot and set vent to sealing postion.

7. Change setting to manual/pressure cook mode and set timer for 12 minutes.

8. When the timer goes off, let pressure release naturally for 10 minutes before releasing the remaining pressure.

9. Add lemon juice and give a quick stir before serving.

Serve with Naan or Rice.

Instant Pot Chole Yum

Growing up, one of my favorite North Indian dishes has always been Chole.  Whether we were eating at a wedding, an Indian restaurant, or requesting it as my special birthday dinner, Chole has always been a constant and a comfort in my life.  The aroma of it freshly made in the air, just pulls at you.
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There are so many different versions of making this recipe based on where in North India you are.  Sometimes, even in the same region, recipes differ vastly from home to home.  I prefer mine to have a thick red gravy, which is best achieved I’ve found by adding an abundance of tomatoes (and I really mean A LOT)  and spices.  The best part is that this dish is such a classic, you can never go wrong.  Serve it hot with rice, naan or Bhatura and be prepared to be wowed!
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From my Kitchen to yours, I really hope you enjoy this.

Ingredients:
1 c dried chickpeas, washed and soaked overnight (at least 4 hours)
1 ½ c water
1 Tbsp Olive or Avocado Oil
5 cloves garlic, minced
1″ ginger, grated
1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
3 med-large tomatoes, finely chopped
1 ¾ c tomato sauce
2 tsp cayenne pepper (or to taste)
2 tsp coriander powder
1 Tbsp Chole Masala
1 tsp aamchur (dry mango) powder
1 ½ tsp cumin seeds
2-3 bay leaves
½ tsp peppercorns
1″ cinnamon stick
cilantro to garnish

Directions:
1. Start the instant pot on sauté mode.  Add oil and let it heat up.
2. Add cumin seeds and let them splutter.  Add in the cinnamon stick, peppercorns and bay leaf.  Sauté for 30 seconds.
3. Add ginger and garlic and sauté for another 30 seconds.
4. Add in the onions and sauté for 3-5 minutes until they turn translucent and start shrinking.
5. Add in the tomatoes, cayenne pepper, coriander powder, chole masala, and salt.  Cook for 2-3 minutes until the tomatoes start softening.  Add in the tomato sauce and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
6. Drain the water from the chickpeas and add them to the instant pot.  Mix well with the gravy and cook for 2-3 minutes.
7. Add in the water and mix well.  Turn off the instant pot, cover with vent to sealing position and change setting to manual/pressure cook for 40 minutes.
8.  When the instant pot beeps, do a 20 minute NPR (natural pressure release).  If the pin has not dropped at this point, release the pressure and open the instant pot.
9.  Change setting to sauté, add in the aamchur powder and let boil for 3-5 minutes.  Taste and adjust for salt.
10. Garnish with fresh cilantro and serve hot with rice, naan or bhature.

Enjoy!

Three Bean Chili

*Updated Oct. 16, 2020

Sundays in our house are dedicated to football. Now that the season has started, I’m challenging myself to find some healthier recipes to get us through the games. Sure the chicken wings, nachos, creamy dips, and pizza sound good but they definitely don’t pass the healthy test. This is a hearty chili loaded with veggies, beans and definitely falls into the comfort zone. It makes you want to curl up on the sofa with a warm bowl while you’re watching football (or a movie or your favorite tv show).


The heat of the ancho chili and cayenne give this a perfect balance to some of the sweeter veggies like the carrots and bell peppers.  Using the canned beans also take a lot of the work out of this dish for you and I’ve included both stove top and slow cooker versions so you can make it any way that is easiest and most convenient.

Add a squeeze of lime and a sprinkle of spring onions to finish off this chili before eating with a side of cornbread.  Nothing can beat this delicious chili on a cold winter day.  I’d like to say, I’m definitely ready for this winter season!

I’ve made this chili vegan and it can remain so with toppings such as spring onions, cilantro, avocado and lime wedges.

Optional to add are toppings such as sour cream and cheese.  They will definitely soften up the taste if you choose these!

From my kitchen to yours, I hope this 3 Bean Chili brings a little warmth to your day!

I’ve made this both on the stove top and in the slow cooker.  Here is the equipment I used to make the chili: