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!

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:

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!

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!

Coconut Jalapeño Dressing

I’ve been really getting into making my own dressings lately.  I like it because it’s easy to control the ingredients, eat healthy, and so fun to get creative with out of the box dressings!
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When I was thinking about this dressing, I knew I had to do something different so that I can keep a hint of the sweet coconut while incorporating other flavors.  As they say, sweet and spice makes everything nice (or something like that anyway).  Of course I had to add jalapeño peppers to this to give it a kick and the best part is you get a hint of each of the flavors without one overwhelming the other.
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I paired this with a Rainbow Crunch Salad (coming soon!) and it was absolutely amazing.
Try out this coconut jalapeño dressing with these other recipes:

Desi Masala Bowl
Zucchini Corn Cakes on a bed of Grilled Peach and Pineapple Salsa
Crispy Chickpeas and Sweet Potato Tacos

Tomato Avocado Cucumber Salad

Summer salads are my favorite.  Simple ones that take less than 10 minutes to make are even better.  Ok let’s be honest, pretty much any salad is my favorite.  They’re just so delicious and fun and contrary to popular belief, don’t have to be filled with just greens!
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When I started making this tomato avocado cucumber salad, it was originally for the girls so I can get them used to eating fresh uncooked veggies too and in salad form.  For them of course I did a simple dressing of oil, salt and pepper, and for the adults, I added a couple more ingredients to bring it to the next level.
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Just like the salad, the dressing is simple and I didn’t worry about making it separately.  I just added the dressing ingredients directly to the salad and gave it a good toss.  Saves me on an extra dish and also, worrying about the ratios of oil to acid.

What do I need for the DRESSING?
Olive Oil
Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
Salt
Pepper
Red Chili Flakes

What do I need for the SALAD?
Tomatoes
Avocado
Cucumber
Red Onions
Oregano – lots of it
Basil – definitely tons of it

Ok I know what you’re probably thinking.  Lots of Basil and Oregano in the salad?  Have I lost it?  Actually, surprisingly no!  The peppery basil and the earthy oregano completely transform this dish!
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When I made this salad, it was supposed to be for a side and I actually ended up eating a little more than a side’s worth which left no room for dinner………

So it’s safe to say this salad can be a side or an entree!

From my kitchen to yours, enjoy this delicious salad!

How to Build a Cheese Board

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Cheese boards are so delicious, easy to pull together and fun to share with friends, on a date night, or sometimes, even for a simple dinner with some wine!  Yes, I have eaten cheese boards for dinner, though it hasn’t happened much lately and I just found out of one my closest friends does the same with her husband!  A cheese board for dinner is actually fun!

Building one takes less than 10 minutes and you can make it as fancy or simple as you want.

TYPES OF BOARDS:
There are many different types.  One of my favorites that I use is my slate board, but I also have a wooden and a marble one.  To build a cheese board for the hubby and me, I use the slate one or the marble one for just myself.  When we are hosting a dinner I like to pull out my large wooden one so that there is plenty to go around for everyone.  If I have a party, I’ll pull out all three and save the smallest one to create a kid’s cheese board (more to come on that one).  There are some cute individual slate boards also if you want to do a social distance cheese board so each person has their own.
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Cheese knives are also important and I like this set which also tells you which is to be used for the type of cheese you are serving.  A simple set like this one is also handy to have.

THE CHEESE:
Think variety with texture and type of milk.  I like to have about 3-4 different cheeses on my board.  My favorite is goat cheese, so I will always have that on my boards.  This takes care of my soft cheese but if you want a different type of soft cheese, try Camembert, Feta, or Brie.


Move on to the semi-hard cheeses and there are so many options!  One of my favorites is a wine soaked cheese that my cousin Sweetu introduced me to.  This is available in most grocery stores now so just check out the cheese section and look for one!  Some of my other favorite semi-hard cheeses include Gruyere, Manchego, and Gouda.  Pick 1 or 2 of these and add them to your cheese board.

Finally, the hard cheeses that are waiting for their turn!  Asiago, Parmegiano Reggiano, Pecorino Romano and Cheddar are some of my favorites.

Once you have picked out your cheeses, try spreading them out around the board so that you have space to include other foods.

THE SIDES:
This is the perfect time to get creative.  I always add the basics of crackers or bread and sometimes both.  You can also add in some breadsticks if you have.  Those always taste good!

Add in some fresh fruit – anything you have on hand.  Grapes are a traditional choice you can always bet on.  Other options include thinly sliced apples or pears, strawberries and raspberries.  Think color when you are adding these to your board as you want it to pop!
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A little sweet is always welcome to the board.  My favorite go to includes fig marmalade or honey.  Pair them with any of the cheeses and it’s sure to become an instant hit!

If you have something sweet, there has to be space for something salty too!  I love having some nuts on the board and to add the salty to my crunchy, I include Roasted Chili Almonds.

There will be times when I want some extras.  A really good option is roasted garlic (recipe to come soon…check back!) and/or some artisan bread.  In the cheese board pictured for this post, I included an artichoke focaccia bread.  A little of the roasted garlic butter spread on the focaccia is simply divine!
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Don’t stress when you build your board and just have fun.  I like to build the board about 20-30 minutes before serving.

Finally, sit back, enjoy your cheese board and have fun!

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!

Spiced Plum Crumble Bars

One of my very good friends, Diana, has a plum tree that produces an abundance of plums every year.  One of my favorite memories is when Sanaya was just over a year old, we had gone to her house and she let us pick plums in her backyard.  We had so many plums in our hands, I had walked away to put them in a basket.  When I came back, Sanaya had eaten half a plum (most of the juice was around her mouth and on her clothes) and was holding another she was getting ready to dive into.  It was one the best afternoons ever!
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We are a fruit loving family and we don’t discriminate (well, unless it’s mangoes – then everyone has to fend for themselves while I devour them).  At any given time, there’s always fresh fruit in the house and I love that my girls share mine and hubby’s love for them.  In honor of Diana’s plum tree (which I heard may not be around much longer and I almost cried), I got creative and added a little spice spin to these crumble bars.
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I love this recipe because it is so easy to come together.  For the filling, I stayed true to Salted Mint‘s filling.  I tried out a few different variations but I love this one the best because it is simple, adds the warmth of star anise and cinnamon and tastes amazing!
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For the crumble, I added hints of ginger and cardamom (I seriously felt like I could call this a Chai Spiced Plum Crumble because of the similar spices used). And the best is I can use the same mixture for the crust and crumble!
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For the oats, I used old fashioned oats and mixed it by hand.  You can absolutely pulse it in a food processor until you get a crumbly mixture.  Here is the food processor I love and use:

I don’t think anyone can stop eating just one bar!  These are so crumbly, flaky, sweet, tart, and have just a little hint of spice which just warms your insides up!

This recipe makes about 16 squares in a 8×8 baking pan.

Notes:
To store, place in a sealed container and keep in fridge for up to 1 week or in freezer for up to 2 months.

Keep the skin on the plums!  I wasn’t sure about this when I first started experimenting but it just becomes a part of the jam and you can’t even notice it!
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From my kitchen to yours, I hope you enjoy these delicious plum crumble bars!

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.

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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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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!

Roasted Cilantro Mint Chutney

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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!

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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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.

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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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!

Instant Pot Tortilla Soup

Tortilla Soup is one of my favorite soups.  Especially this instant pot recipe which takes only 4 minutes to cook!  It’s filled with delicious veggies and spices like ancho chile and chipotle powder to build a good depth of flavor.  Perfect for a hectic weeknight or a cold day, this tortilla soup is a great way to use up pantry essentials.  Continue reading “Instant Pot Tortilla Soup”

Tropical Fruit Smoothie

This is the most perfect afternoon drink on a hot summer day.  We’ve had temps in the high 90’s and low 100’s lately so we’ve been making ice cold drinks to stay cool.  One of our favorite is this Tropical Fruit Smoothie.  Though we can’t be in the tropics, the girls and I decided to bring the flavors of the tropics home.  Continue reading “Tropical Fruit Smoothie”

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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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!

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

Masala Omelette Yum

These days, I’ve seen and heard friends and family tell me they are working harder than ever, missing meals during the day.  Some are working from home trying to manage homeschool, work and life in general.  Others have a profession that is an essential role to our community right now and are giving so much to us.  While I hope missing meals doesn’t become daily routine, here is a breakfast omelette that will start out anyone’s day on the right foot! Continue reading “Masala Omelette Yum

Microgreens Salad Yum

About a month back, we finally had a weekend free to take the girls to the Farmer’s Market which we’ve desperately missed during the winter months.  The girls love tasting all the fruit samples and of course stopping at the kettle corn stand, while I love to check out all the new produce and imagine different recipes I can create. Continue reading “Microgreens Salad Yum

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

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!

Desi Masala Bowl Yum

Lately, I’m hooked on salad bowls.  They’re so delicious, easy to make, loaded with healthy foods and vibrant in color – ensuring you get a variety of nutrients.
I’ve been talking to my daughters about “eating the rainbow” and this was a fun way to help them do that.
Another reason I really like to do the salad bowls is because it’s so easy to play around with the cuisine type, the textures, and the flavors.  I can add raw and roasted veggies, nuts, and choose whichever grain I want.  There’s really no wrong way to make these and super easy to substitute an ingredient you may not have.  Honestly, food can’t get easier than that!
We’ve been doing a lot of non-desi (non-Indian) foods lately and I wanted to get the girls into Indian spices without going over the top.  Plus, I don’t think I can go without Indian food and spices for that long anyways.

For the sweet potatoes, I did a simple roast with an addition of paprika for color and flavor.  I’m using paprika to gradually build up the girls to trying cayenne and other types of peppers and spices so this is especially great for those of you who prefer milder spices.
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I also roasted some chickpeas as those are so easy and delicious to make.  It made me proud that both my girls were eating them as soon as they cooled down from the oven.  These turned out so good and honestly, I had to go back and make more because between the three of us, we snacked on most of the beans! I’m definitely adding it to my snack rotation list!
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The dressing on here was probably the hardest to figure out as I wanted Indian flavors but nothing too intimidating.  I used almond butter to give it a little bulk and the addition of a little protein is always appreciated.  Because I had already used a lot of spices for the chickpeas, I fell back a little with the dressing and opted for curry powder, turmeric (for the color and my youngest happened to have a cold which needed some help) and some fresh garlic and ginger (which appears on 90% of Indian cooking!).
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I left the quinoa simple by cooking it only in salt water as there are so many flavors going around, I felt if I added more, everything would get lost in a chaotic world of spice.
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For the rest of the ingredients, it was nice to have the crunch from the vibrant red cabbage, the creaminess of the avocado, and oh! those toasted cashews were just the icing on top of a great salad!
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Try it out!  From my kitchen to yours, I hope you enjoy this one.

Ingredients:
1 Sweet Potato, diced into 1″ cubes
1 avocado, sliced
1 cup red cabbage, shredded
1 cup baby spinach
½ c quinoa, rinsed
¼ c raw cashews
2 Tbsp & 1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp paprika
Salt and pepper to taste

For the chickpeas:
1 15oz can chickpeas, rinsed, drained & dried with a paper towel
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp cumin powder
2 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp garam masala
¼ tsp salt

For the dressing:
¼ c almond butter
½ lemon, juiced
1 tsp lemon zest
1/3 c water
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp honey
1 tsp curry powder
½ ginger, grated
1 tsp turmeric
½ tsp salt

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400ºF.  In a baking sheet, toss sweet potatoes, 1 Tbsp olive oil, salt, pepper and paprika.  Mix well and roast for 20 minutes.
In a bowl, combine all the ingredients for the chickpeas.  Transfer to baking sheet and bake for 35 minutes.
In a medium pot, heat water and ½ tsp salt.  When it comes to a boil, add the rinsed quinoa and reduce heat to medium low.  Cover and cook quinoa for 15-20 minutes.  Remove from heat and use a fork to fluff it.
In a small pan, mix ½ tsp olive oil and cashews.  Toast on medium heat until they are a light golden red color.  Turn off heat and remove pan.  Set aside to use as topping.
For the dressing, combine all of the ingredients in a mason jar and shake well.

To assemble:
Line a bowl with spinach and add the quinoa, sweet potatoes, avocado slices, shredded cabbage, toasted cashews, and drizzle with almond curry dressing.  Enjoy!

Top 20 Brown Rice and Quinoa List!

The other day, I opened up my blog to type up a recipe and I got a notification.  Most of my notifications are the usual responses to my recipes but this one was different.  I had to read it a couple of times to make sure I was reading it correctly.  Rebecca, from www.simplerecipeideas.com, had compiled a top 20 list of the best Brown Rice and Quinoa recipes and mine made the list! I was honored that my Quinoa, Brown Rice and Black Beans was chosen for her top 20 and thank you Rebecca for including me and mine in your list!

When I came up with this recipe, I was had just discovered the Seeds of Change Brown Rice and Quinoa pouches.  They are so delicious, I could finish a whole pouch in one go (which could usually be enough for 2 servings!).  To make myself feel a little less guilty, I decided to add some veggies and beans, give it a southwest-ish flavor profile, and voila!  I ended up making a delicious meal out of the pouch!  It’s great because this is a 10 minute meal recipe, or a great side dish.  Check it out at the link above and tell me what you think!

Roasted Garden Salad

I don’t like to labor over big meals during the summer time – I’d rather spend my time outdoors!  To me, summertime is all about simple but filling foods and clean eating so I can enjoy the sun as much as possible.
This salad is just that.  It’s refreshingly light, satisfying, healthy, easy, and best of all, I can do it within 20 minutes!

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It truly is a one pan deal – all you have to do is line all the veggies in the pan, roast them in the oven and voila!
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I added in some roasted chickpeas for crunch and protein… let me tell you this completed the salad in the best way possible.
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Ingredients:
1lb fresh arugula
1 Bell Pepper
1 Onion
1 Zucchini
1 Yellow Squash
1 14oz can of Garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 Tbsp Italian Seasoning
2 tsp smoked paprika
2 tsp Balsamic Vinegar
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste

Directions:
Heat oven to 350ºF.  Sliced all veggies and line in a baking sheet.  Drizzle with EVOO, add salt, pepper and Italian seasoning.  Mix well so all the veggies are equally seasoned.

Meanwhile, in another tray, spread out garbanzo beans in a flat layer.  Drizzle with EVOO, add salt and pepper and toss to coat evenly.  Sprinkle paprika on the top but don’t mix it.

Bake veggies for 20 minutes and beans for 20-25 minutes.  In a bowl, add arugula.  when veggies and beans are done, add them to the arugula.  Drizzle EVOO lightly, add balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper and toss.  Enjoy this salad as much as I do!

Teriyaki Salmon

Recently, we’ve been eating a rotation of mostly the same foods as at least 50% of our household has been taking shifts getting sick.  Well, I’m happy to say, we’re (hopefully) finally getting to the tail end of it so that means no more soup or tea!  My hubby recently picked up some Udon noodles for me (he knows I like them a lot!) and I’ve been trying to figure out what I want to do with them.  Sure they taste great on their own but let’s get real, they taste even better paired with a delicious filet of salmon.
I’ve also been playing around with my version of a teriyaki sauce.  Most of the recipes I found online included a sake but since I was going to experiment on my toddlers as well as my hubby, I decided to leave that one out.  I have to say, this sauce turned out pretty delicious – I even dipped my brussels sprouts in the leftover as if it were a dipping sauce.  Try it out and tell me what you think!

20180212_172550.jpg20180212_172922.jpgThe best part about this sauce is that it is very simple and most people have these ingredients at home!   In a little mixing bowl, add the soy sauce, brown sugar, ground ginger, and minced garlic.  I also added a little flour, some chili pepper flakes and EVOO to the bowl.
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This is my favorite part of the recipe – sesame seeds.  The nutty flavor and crunch adds just the right note of balance.
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Whisk everything really well.  You want all the ingredients to blend well and make sure there are no lumps from the flour added.  They won’t cook and trust me – it can ruin the taste.
In a large bowl, line 2 6oz salmon filets and cover with the teriyaki sauce.  Let it marinate for at least 30 minutes.
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Coat the bottom of a cast iron skillet with EVOO and heat on high until it starts to smoke.  Reduce the heat and place the salmon skin side up and let it cook for 4 minutes.  Do Not Touch the salmon for the next 4 minutes.  I know people get anxious and want to check if it is cooking properly, is it burned, there’s a char type smell coming, etc, etc.  I assure you nothing is wrong with it.  In fact, the more you try to check it, the more it will not cook properly.
Once your 4 minute timer goes off, flip the salmon the other side and cook for another 3 minutes.
Serve with noodles or rice and enjoy!

Teriyaki Salmon:
Ingredients:
2Tbsp Soy Sauce
1Tbsp Brown Sugar
3 cloves minced garlic
1/4tsp ground ginger
1/2tsp chili flakes
1Tbsp sesame seeds
1/2Tbsp flour
2tsp EVOO

2 6oz Salmon filets (can be replaced with tofu or any of your favorite veggies)

Directions:
In a small mixing bowl, add all of the ingredients and whisk to combine everything.
Coat a cast iron skillet with EVOO and heat on high over the stove.  When it starts smoking, add salmon skin side up and cook for 4 minutes.
Flip and cook another 3 minutes.

Serve hot with noodles or rice.
Enjoy!

Baked Asparagus Fries with Yogurt Dip

I’m a big fan of Asparagus.  And of snacking.  And with asparagus being in season now, I’m trying to consume as many as I can!
A couple of years ago during Thanksgiving, we decided to have a potluck with the family.  One of our cousins brought the most delicious Asparagus fries with garlic dip and I have to tell you, they flew off the pan as soon as they were out of the oven.  Definitely a huge hit!  I could snack on these all day!
I’ll let you in on a secret – even though they’re called fries, I’ve baked them, making them healthy along with delicious.  One of the simplest recipes ever that can work as a side, appetizer or hey! a snack all for me!
Try it out:
Wash and pat completely dry the asparagus (if you don’t dry the asparagus completely, the mixture will not stick properly and will become clumpy in places – trust me, I speak from experience)
You’re going to need 2 shallow bowls – 1 for the whisked egg and 1 for the bread crumb mixture.
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Mix 1 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs and 1 cup grated parmesan cheese.

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Coat each asparagus first in the whisked eggs then in the bread crumb mixture and line on a cookie sheet.
Bake for 10-15 minutes till they are golden brown.  You don’t want to nuke them so they shrivel up, just enough to cook them.  You’ll get a nice crunch to them and they should still hold their original thickness.

For the yogurt sauce,
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Whip the yogurt so it looks nice and creamy and smooth.  Then add in the dill, salt and lemon juice.  Mix well and dip away!

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Here’s the recipe:
For the Asparagus:
1 lb fresh asparagus, trimmed 1″ from the bottom
2 eggs, whisked really well
1 c Italian bread crumbs
1 c grated Parmesan Cheese

For the Yogurt Sauce:
1/3 c non-fat plain yogurt
3 Tbsp fresh dill, chopped
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 425ºF.  Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and grease with cooking spray.
Wash and pat completely dry the asparagus.  Dip one at a time in the egg first then in the bread crumb mixture.  Line on baking sheet.  Bake for 10-15 minutes until golden brown.

For the yogurt sauce,
Whip the yogurt to a smooth and creamy texture.  Add in the dill, lemon juice and salt.  Mix well.  Serve with hot Asparagus fries.

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