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!

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!

Easy Chicken Ramen with GF Noodles

I was never a big ramen fan until my sister-in-law Sarika took me to this tiny little ramen restaurant in Oakland.  I can’t stress enough how good that ramen was.  It was simply delicious with layers of flavor in the broth and each bite just filling you with warmth and comfort.
IMG_8033
Recently, Taste Republic and I decided to partner together to come up with some new recipes and when I saw their gluten free linguini, I knew I wanted to make ramen with it instantly.  Fresh pasta that are thin enough to substitute for traditional ramen noodles and they cook in just 3 minutes!
IMG_8032
IMG_8037
This recipe literally took me less than 30 minutes to make and part of the reason is I used rotisserie chicken.  A perfect weeknight recipe that’s a little different from having to precook in an instant pot or slow cooker (don’t get me wrong, I love both of those devices!) and you can still make a delicious meal in 30 minutes – yes please!
IMG_8044
Here are a few more weeknight meals you may enjoy:
Greek Tortellini Salad
15 minute Masala Pasta
Sausage & Zucchini Linguini
Roasted Garden Salad
Instant Pot Tortilla Soup

From my kitchen to yours, I hope you enjoy this recipe.
IMG_8044

What you’ll need:

*Disclaimer:  I have partnered with Taste Republic to use their gluten free pastas for my 30 minute meal series.  This recipe is a product of that partnership.

Popeye Muffins Yum

Popeye muffins are one of the girls’ favorites.  I started making these when the girls were too young to eat leafy greens but old enough to eat more than pureed meals.  They were an instant hit then, and luckily they still are now.  Vibrant green, sweet and soft…. you can’t go wrong with these!

Continue reading “Popeye Muffins Yum

Avocado Roti Yum

My youngest is in love with Roti.  Give her roti and yogurt and she will happily eat it all day.  Unfortunately, there’s not much nutrition in plain rotis (well, some fiber I suppose and lots of carbs.  And they do taste really good).  So I’ve been coming up with ways to make roti that will satisfy her roti cravings as well as make me happy that I’m feeding her something nutritious.
20190904_160932.jpg
These avocado rotis are one of my better creations I think.  The girls loved the green color of the roti, there was just a hint of avocado in it without overpowering it, and even if the girls didn’t eat any sabzi (veggies) on the side, at least they were still getting some in their roti.
20190904_160941.jpg
Wait….avocado is a fruit – what veggies are you talking about? Yes it is, but there’s a secret ingredient in here that no one suspected.  Drumroll please……..
Spinach! Yep, not even my husband figured out there was spinach in these rotis.  I actually had been struggling with this recipe for a while because I had the flavor profile down but they wouldn’t stay green once I added the flour to the avocados and a certain ratio was necessary otherwise, it would change the essence of the roti.  I happened to also be making spinach dal – another favorite of my youngest – and thought, why not add some spinach to the roti dough.   Worth a shot.  And what a shot let me tell you.  It gave the green color I was looking for, added some extra fiber and calcium.  Like I said, win-win!
20190904_173902.jpg
20190904_174535.jpg
Try it and tell me what you think!

Ingredients:
1 ripe avocado
2 c fresh spinach
2 c multigrain flour
¾ tsp salt
½ lemon, juiced
2 – 3 cloves garlic
½ tsp jeera (cumin seeds)
½ tsp jeera powder (cumin powder)
½ green chili (or to taste)*
1 Tbsp Avocado Oil
¼ c water

Directions:
In a food processor, add avocado, spinach, salt, lemon juice, garlic, jeera, jeera powder, green chili, and water.  Blend on high to get a smooth and creamy texture.
Combine the puree and the flour in a bowl and knead into a soft dough.  You can add a little extra flour if the dough feels too wet.
Roll into a ball and lightly cover with a little oil.  Cover and let stand for 10-15 minutes.
When you are ready to make the roti, preheat a flat skillet n med-high heat.
Divide the dough into equal sized golf balls.
Lightly dust a wooden board or your counter with dry flour and roll out a dough ball into about 5″ diameter.
Place the roti on the preheated skillet and continue the process with the remaining dough balls.
The roti on the skillet will start bubbling within approximately 20-30 seconds.  Flip it over once so both sides are par cooked.  At this point, remove from skillet with a pair of tongs and grill directly on the flame so that it puffs up like a balloon.
Remove from heat, apply a small amount of ghee on it and serve hot with sabzi or dal (or yogurt).

From my kitchen to yours, I really hope you enjoy this one.

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.
20190508_142541.jpg
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!
20190508_143103.jpg
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!).
20190508_143014.jpg
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.
20190508_142700.jpg
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!
20190508_143114.jpg
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!

Punjabi Kadhi Yum

Kadhi is a very popular and a staple dish of India.  Different parts of India have their own version.  Sindhi kadhi has veggies in it; people from the state of Haryana put green chickpeas in theirs; South Indians also put veggies in theirs including squash, carrots, peas and potatoes; Rajasthani and Gujarati kadhi is usually a little on the thinner side while the Gujaratis also add okra in theirs on occasion and the Punjabi’s add pakoras to their version of kadhi.
I’m a Gujarati and so I’ve been raised on the thinner version of kadhi.  Even then, there is no one version.  Kadhi is usually yellow in color from the turmeric added to it but Gujaratis make a version without the turmeric in it and more sour yogurt is used – this type of kadhi is usually served at weddings.  Growing up it was one of my favorites and I would always ask my mom to make wedding kadhi when I was going home for the weekend.  I still call it that.  Yeah…. I know.

Just thinking of the word kadhi makes me reminisce home, comfort, and curling up with a warm bowl, eating it as a soup.  So when I married my Punjabi husband and was introduced to their version of Punjabi kadhi, my idea of kadhi came to a halt.  It was different from what I grew up with alright, being much thicker with more stuff in it than I was used to.  I think the biggest surprise, let’s say, that I had when having Punjabi kadhi was the pakoras that are put in it.
20190503_134934.jpg

My idea of a pakora is eating it on a rainy day with a cup of chai in hand.  Needless to say, this one took a little getting used to.  But, I’ve come around I suppose.  And as usual, I’ve put my twist on it.
There was a lot of experimenting the type of pakoras I wanted to use and the spices.  I remember one of the first times I made this, one of my best friends from college, Ashi, had come over with her family.  She’s Punjabi too so I was hoping to use her as a taste tester.  I’m so glad I did because she helped me figure out which spice would work and that adding a little more will only enhance the flavor.
20190507_102115.jpg
As for the pakoras, they are typically made from onion and potatoes but I wanted to give a “healthy” spin to something I’m frying (oxymoron, I know) so I decided to use spinach instead of potatoes.  And let me tell you, they taste sooooooo much better!
20190507_102154.jpg
My biggest change to this traditional recipe:  I finish off cooking the pakoras in the oven.  This makes them crispy and won’t “melt” them in the kadhi.  When I first started making this dish, my pakoras would disintegrate into the kadhi because they were too soft.  I found that toasting them in the oven helps keep their shape and they do soften up when added to the kadhi so you don’t taste the crunch but I love the toasted red color it adds.
From my kitchen to yours, I hope you enjoy!

Ingredients:
For the Kadhi:
1 c Besan (chickpea/gram flour)
2 c yogurt
1 med onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1″ ginger knob, grated
1 tsp fenugreek seeds (methi dana)
1 tsp cumin seeds (jheera)
3 dried red chilis, split in half
1 tsp turmeric
3-4 curry leaves
1 tsp cayenne pepper (Kashmiri Deggi Mirch)
1 ½ tsp coriander powder (dhania powder/ dhana jheeru)
1 ½ tsp cumin powder (jheera powder)
2 Tbsp Kasoori Methi
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
Salt to taste

For the Pakoras:
1 lg yellow onion, sliced thinly
1 c spinach, roughly chopped
¾ c chickpea flour
½ tsp cayenne pepper
½ tsp cumin powder
½ tsp turmeric
½ tsp coriander powder
½ tsp carom seeds (ajwain)
½ tsp coriander seeds
½ tsp salt
oil for frying

Directions:
For the Kadhi:
In a medium sized mixing bowl, whisk yogurt to a smooth consistency.  Add in the gram flour and continue whisking until all lumps are smoothed out.  Transfer to a deep pot, add in 4 cups of water, salt and turmeric.  Mix and simmer on low-medium heat.
In a pan, heat oil and add cumin seeds, dried red chili, fenugreek seeds.  Once the fenugreek seeds are light red in color, add in curry leaves and let cook for 30 seconds.  Add in the onions and sauté until they are golden brown.  About 5-6 minutes.  Add in the garlic and ginger and sauté for 1 minute.  Add in the cayenne pepper, coriander powder, cumin powder and mix well.  Let it cook for 2-3 minutes to so the spices bloom.
Add the onions to the kadhi and mix well.  Cook on low-medium heat for about 30-45 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes.  The kadhi will thicken as it cooks.  Add more water if it is too thick.  When it’s done, turn off stove and add in kasoori methi and stir.

For the Pakoras:
Add the onions and spices in a bowl and mix well.  Let it rest for about 20-25 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400ºF.
Add in the spinach and gram flour and mix.  The water released from the onions will help bind the batter together.  It should be a little on the thicker/dry side but if it is too much, add water 1 tablespoon at a time.
Using a spoon, drop medium sized pakoras in hot oil to fry.  Pull them out when they are just under done and lay them on a plate lined with a paper towel to soak up excess oil.
Transfer to a baking dish and bake for 5-7 minutes to make them crispy.

Add the pakoras to the kadhi and serve with steamed rice.

Enjoy!

 

Palak Paneer

Palak paneer is one of my husband’s favorite dishes, and recently becoming one of my daughter’s favorite dishes too.  This is a win-win recipe for me because it’s full of iron. calcium, protein, and fiber.  The fact that my toddler will gobble it up…. score for Mom!
Here’s my quick and easy version.  Hope you enjoy it!

20180214_132107.jpg
Blanching spinach is pretty easy (though I have to admit, I was intimidated the first time I heard of the process).  Simply dunk the spinach leaves in boiling water for about 3 minutes and using a slotted spoon (so there’s not much excess hot water tagging along with the spinach), pull out the spinach and again dunk them in a bowl of ice water.  This blanching process cooks the spinach without wilting it and keeping intact it’s beautiful, vibrant green color.  Pretty cool, huh!

20180214_133957.jpg
Tomatoes and onions are part of most Indian dishes. I love using this duo to test out various spice combinations for new or upgraded recipes!

20180214_134402.jpg

Ingredients:
For the Spinach Puree:
9 oz fresh spinach
1-2 green chilies (depending on your spice level)
3 garlic cloves
½” ginger knob
3c boiling water

For the Gravy:
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 small tomato, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
½tsp cumin seeds
¼tsp turmeric powder
½tsp cayenne pepper
½tsp garam masala
pinch of hing
1 bay leaf
7oz paneer, cubed
1Tbsp EVOO
Salt to taste

Directions:
For the Spinach Pureé:
Blanch the spinach and make sure to drain it of any excess water.  Add it to the blender with garlic cloves, ginger, and green chilies.  Blend to a smooth puree and set aside.

For the gravy:
In a nonstick pot, heat oil and add cumin seeds.  Once they start to splutter, add the hing (asafoetida) and bay leaf, and sauté for 30 seconds.  Add the onions and sauté until they are lightly golden.  Add in the garlic and cook for 30 seconds.  Make sure you don’t brown the garlic as the aroma and the taste will cook off.  Add the chopped tomatoes and cook until the water starts to separate.  At this point, add in cayenne pepper, garam masala and turmeric and mix well.  Add in the spinach puree and mix well.  Add in the salt and mix well.  Cook for about 8-10 minutes to make sure the spinach is cooked, and the gravy thickens.  Add in the paneer and mix well.  Cook for 2 minutes so the paneer cubes can become softer.

Serve hot with Naan or Rice.  Enjoy!

Sarson da Saag, Makki di Roti

The first time I was introduced to this traditional Punjabi meal was during my wedding planning. My husband and in-laws requested that this be on the menu somewhere. I didn’t understand what it was or the goodness of it until quite a bit later (much later than my wedding). Of course, during my wedding, I didn’t remember eating or tasting anything with so much going on. After I got married, I remember my mother-in-law making it a few times for my husband and seeing the pure joy on his face as he ate the Saag and Roti. I felt, wow, such a simple meal (for Indian food) and yet it brings him so much happiness. Of course I decided to try it out on my own. I am always told, even to this day, how this is supposed to be a really hard recipe to master. I’m definitely not making it the way my mother-in-law does, but my shortcut recipe has managed to impress her, my husband and my daughter! As they say, a way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. I’m already in my hubby’s heart, but this is one recipe that guarantees a spot for any of you out there looking to impress your significant other.

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

20170630_131629

Wash the mustard greens and remove the stems. Coarsely chop them by hand. Also, wash the spinach and set it aside.

20170630_132129

In a deep pot, heat some EVOO. Add onions and sauté until they are translucent. Add in the garlic and ginger.

Add in the coarsely chopped mustard greens and sprinkle the salt over it. The MGs are quite bitter so it takes a good amount of salt to counteract the earthy tones.
If it looks like it’s about to spill out of the pot, then you’re on the right track. The MGs will shrink just like the spinach so don’t be scared that you are adding too much. There can never be too much greens.

20170630_132641

See! I told you it will shrink down. Now, add in the spinach with enough salt to account for it’s bitter taste.

20170630_132749

Yes, this is going to shrink down too. You’ll have a lot less than you imagined. I used to think, wow, I’m making so much and it ends up being just enough for dinner and maybe a lunch leftover.

20170630_133313

Yep, that’s pretty much what you’re left with after overflowing your pot with spinach and mustard greens!

If you try to taste your dish at this point, it’s going to be quite pungent even after adding all that salt! The trick here – add in some cornmeal. It will help thicken the saag and mellow out the greens.

20170630_134326

Mix it well and pulse it in the blender until you get a smooth, creamy texture. This is not the smooth or the creamy texture. I just took it out of the blender too quick and had to put it back in and pulse a few more times.

20170704_191341

This is the dark, smooth and creamy texture that you should get.

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

20170704_185922

In a bowl, add the corn flour and carom seeds. Add water a little at a time as your knead the dough.

20170704_190032

Divide the dough into equal portions and place between the plastic of a ziploc.

20170704_190323

Roll it out with a rolling pin. Don’t worry if the edges aren’t smooth. Corn Flour is gluten free and tends to stick so the sides may not come out smooth (mine sure don’t!).

20170704_190428

On a tava or pan, add a little oil before placing the roti to cook so it doesn’t stick to the pan.

20170704_190438

Let it cook for a couple of minutes then turn it over and cook for a few more minutes. Make sure to add a little oil to both sides so it doesn’t stick to the pan.

Ingredients:
Sarson da Saag:
2 bunches of Mustard Greens, stems removed, coarsely chopped
1 bunch spinach
1 med red onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1inch knob of ginger, grated
1 Tbsp salt
2 Tbsp EVOO
2 Tbsp Corn meal

Makki di Roti:
2 c Corn Flour
1 tsp carom seeds
1-1 ½ c cold water

Directions:
For the Saag:
In a deep non-stick pot, heat 1 Tbsp EVOO. Add in onions and sauté til they are translucent. Add in the ginger and garlic and sauté for 1 minute.
Add in the mustard leaves and sprinkle with ½ Tbsp salt. Mix in well and when they start to shrink, add in the spinach. Sprinkle the spinach with the remaining salt. Mix in well until all the greens have shrunk and started to cook. Add in the corn meal.
When the corn meal has mixed in well and the greens are cooked, turn off stove and place the mixture into a blender. Pulse until you have a smooth and creamy texture.
In the same pot, add 1 Tbsp EVOO and the blended mixture. Cook on low heat for 2-3 minutes.

For the Roti:
In a bowl, add the corn flour and mix in the carom seeds. Add cold water a little at a time while kneading the dough. You want the dough to be a little soft and sticky but not wet. It should form in your hands without falling apart.
Divide the dough equally into balls. Place one inside a plastic ziploc and roll with a rolling pin into a flat tortilla shape.
On high heat, place a little EVOO on a tava/frying pan. Add the roti and cook for a few minutes. Add a little oil on the top and flip to cook on the other side.

Serve hot!
Enjoy your Sarson da Saag and Makki di Roti.