Lemon Chickpea Orzo Skillet

An effortless one skillet vegan recipe filled with sun-dried tomatoes, artichokes, chickpeas, spinach, grilled lemon slices, and of course orzo!  Simple, healthy ingredients that come together quickly for a perfect weeknight meal, this Lemon Chickpea Orzo Skillet is a dish that everyone can enjoy!
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Instant Pot Kali Dal

**Original blog posted March 2020.  Updated March 2022**
Kali dal is a very popular Punjabi dish and one of those comfort food meals that my husband has grown up with.  It has also become one of Sanaya’s favorite comfort foods too so of course I had to find a way to perfect this recipe for both of them.  I would say this recipe rotates in our house at least every 2 weeks.

I love it for its nutritional content, loaded with protein, fiber and low in carbs and calories.  With all the rainy days we’ve had recently, this is one recipe I can’t pass up.  An easy, one-pot meal, this goes great with naan or rice.

Yep, I put a ton of jalapeños as a garnish.  Traditionally, it’s cilantro. But, it actually tasted good with the extra jalapeños on top!
A while back, we had a potluck and playdate with my friend Janani and her family.  I don’t remember what I made, but I do remember that both my husband and I fought for the last bite of her dal.  It was A-MA-ZING!  It had a burst of flavor to it that we were both impressed and he actually said it was one of the best dals he has had in his life…. that’s huge coming from a Punjabi!

Most recipes of this specific dal have a basic of three spices, and I’ve found pretty simple in flavor.  Works great for many but Janani’s recipe just had this burst of flavor, you didn’t want to stop eating it.

I begged her for her recipe, tried making it and failed.  I tried a few more times to the point my hubby was actually sick of seeing dal…….oops.  So I went to Janani’s house, had her tell me exactly what to do while I made it with her watching over me.  I’ve been using her recipe ever since, however, I did make a few changes to it.  I know, I know, why?  I changed a little of the technique on which ingredients she cooks in what order, and changed the ratio on some of the basic spices but they are all there.  The changed version is what I have listed below but if you’re interested in her original version, message me and I will send it to you.

When I talked to Janani about her recipe, that’s when I figured out it’s the spices and the amount of tomatoes that she uses which give the dal its integrity in flavor.  You really need to try out this recipe.  It’s so delicious!
If you don’t have an instant pot, follow the same instructions for a slow cooker and set slow cooker time for 8 hours.

Here are the tools I used for this recipe:

 

Sweet Potato, Black Bean, and Brown Rice Skillet

This easy, one pan meal is a hearty and healthy vegetarian meal the whole family can enjoy.  Ready in just 30 minutes, it’s nutrient dense, packed with protein and fiber.  Made with simple ingredients, this Sweet Potato, Black Bean, and Brown Rice Skillet is colorful, tasty, and satisfying.
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Dragon Fruit Smoothie Bowl

This Dragon fruit Smoothie Bowl is a beautiful, quick, and easy tropical breakfast recipe!  Dragon fruit, also known as pitaya, is nutrient dense food packed with antioxidants, low calories making it a great option for vegan and paleo diets.  Made with just 3 ingredients, dragon fruit, mango, and coconut water, add your favorite toppings and enjoy!
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Haldi Doodh (Golden Milk)

Growing up in an Indian household meant turning to natural and food remedies for minor ailments.  If you had a tummy ache, Mom made us eat carom seeds or even cumin seeds.  If we had a cold sore in the mouth, she would make us keep a clove on the sore for a few hours.  There are so many more remedies that my mom and grandmother used but the one I remember and is most popular these days is turmeric.

As soon the cold weather set in or the first cough or sneeze of the season was heard, my mother would add turmeric to everything we ate.  She would also make us drink Haldi Doodh or turmeric milk before bed each night.  As a child, I hated this.  As an adult and a mom, it is now my go to.  Over the years, I’ve changed it from the basic turmeric and milk to adding a few new ingredients.  Take a look!

  • Turmeric – the most important ingredient as it has natural anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.  The powder form is most commonly used though sometimes, I do use the actual root.
  • Black Pepper – has anti-inflammatory properties and improves brain function.  It is most important in this recipe because it activates the curcumin properties in turmeric therefore making the turmeric much more effective.
  • Honey – is full of antioxidants, antibacterial, and antifungul properties.  It’s also an age old remedy used to help sore throats.
  • Cardamom pods – have antioxidant and diuretic properties, and is rich in compounds that help fight against inflammation.
  • Ginger – also has anti-inflammatory properties, helps lower blood sugars, and improve heart disease risk factors.  Ginger also helps fight against bacteria and viruses which can help reduce the risk for infections.
  • Cinnamon – is also loaded with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties.  In addition, it helps lower blood sugar levels, and helps fight bacterial and fungal infections.

Basically, every spice added to this recipe has anti-inflammatory or antioxidant properties or both.  I normally use cow’s milk when I make this for the kids but I have made it with almond milk and it has turned out just as good.  I do recommend not to use sweetened milk if you are using a plant based milk as it changes the taste of the final product.

Here’s to wishing a healthy winter and a Happy New Year with my first recipe this year!

Here are the tools I used for this recipe:

 

Beet and Butternut Squash Salad

A perfect combination of fall flavors, this salad is perfect for lunch or as a side for dinner.  Roasted beets and butternut squash are served over peppery arugula, tangy feta cheese, earthy walnuts, sweet pomegranate arils.  Tossed in a maple dressing that is easy to make and shake, this beautiful salad is gluten free and nutrient dense!
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Cranberry Apple Quinoa Salad

This Cranberry Apple Quinoa Salad is filled with bursts of sweetness, texture, and nutrients.  The quinoa soaks up a delicious Maple Dressing and the arugula gives just a hint of a peppery note.  What’s best is it’s great to eat for lunch, or have as a side dish.
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Autumn Squash Soup

Creamy and nourishing, this delicious Autumn Squash Soup is just perfect for a cozy dinner at home during these cold days.  This soup is a spin off of Panera’s Autumn Squash Soup without the extra calories.  But don’t worry!  It still tastes amazing and just like Panera’s.  The best part is that whilst you make this delicious soup, your home is going to smell like fall.  Can it get any better?
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Sarson da Saag, Makki di Roti

**Note: Original post created Jul 2017.  Updated October 2021**

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:

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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.

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Looking for more Indian recipes?  Check out some of these:
Sprouted Moong Beans Sabzi Gujarati Style
Instant Pot Rajma (Kidney Beans)
Methi Thepla
Instant Pot Kali Dal
Avocado Roti

Here are the tools I used for this recipe:

 

Quinoa Fiesta Salad

Fresh and beautiful veggies from across the rainbow to make amazing salads are my favorite.  This Quinoa Fiesta Salad is one of my family’s favorites.  As a mom, it makes me happy that the girls are getting so much nutrition in one bowl.  The kids look at the colors and get excited to eat a rainbow and I love that they are enjoying fresh and healthy ingredients!

This salad does triple duty which I love.  A dish which becomes a meatless entree can also serve as a side dish or a salad depending on my mood.  The cherry on top of this recipe is that it takes less than 30 minutes to make and is very forgiving if you need to substitute or leave out ingredients.

HOW DO I MAKE A QUINOA FIESTA SALAD?

1.  Cook the quinoa.  While the quinoa is cooking, you can get the dressing and your other ingredients ready!
2.  Make the Cilantro Lime Dressing.  I love this dressing because it is so light.  If you choose to leave it out as I do for my girls, simply replace it with a drizzle of Olive Oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.
3. Combine all of your ingredients in a large bowl and toss well to mix.
4.  Enjoy and get addicted to this salad as much as my family and I are!


Here are the tools I used for this recipe:

 

Crispy Goat Cheese Salad with Arugula and Figs

Fresh, peppery arugula topped with golden, crispy goat’s cheese medallions and paired with sweet figs all pulled together with a drizzle of olive oil.  This salad seems like it is so simple but the layers of flavors combined with the comforting, warm goat cheese are the ideal salad either as an entree or a side to any dinner.
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Sweet Potato and Beet Hash with Fried Eggs

**Original post published Nov. 2020.  Updated Aug. 2021**

A couple of months ago, I won our local Farmer’s Market cooking competition and part of my prize was a big box of fresh goodies from the market.  I don’t know if I’ve ever been so excited to get fresh veggies and fruits!   I honestly felt like a contestant on Chopped from The Food Network in that I wanted to use all of my produce and come up with a delicious dish.

Well, considering there were so much produce, I’m not sure I would be able to eat more than 3 bites of any dish made from all of the veggies and fruits!  One of my favorites in that box was the beet greens with their beautiful red stems.  I’ve had quite a few people ask me what I use them for and what they can cook out of them.  A definite go to are to cook them down like collard greens but I wanted to do something more creative and decided to add the beet greens to a hash and topping it with an egg made it the perfect breakfast for a busy day or a big, healthy lunch bowl.

The vibrant orange and red colors of the root veggies as they are being cooked, the bold green of the beets…..eeek!  I’m salivating just thinking about this recipe.   The best part is all the nutrition you get in this sustainable hash:

  • high in dietary fiber
  • high in folate
  • good source of potassium
  • good source of non-dairy calcium (the beet greens are)
  • great source of B-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin (these flavonoids have strong anti-cancer and antioxidant properties)


Topping this hash with a fried or hard boiled egg adds a little extra protein though to keep it vegetarian/vegan, you can always replace the egg with a grilled tofu steak.

From my kitchen to yours, enjoy this delicious and healthy Sweet Potato and Beet Hash!

Grilled Eggplant Sandwich with a Basil Pistachio Pesto

This eggplant sandwich has it all.  Earthy spices rubbed onto grilled veggies that have just a hint of a smoky flavor, fresh mozzarella melted just enough from the heat of the veggies.  Oh, you can’t forget the rustic basil pistachio pesto that brightens up the whole sandwich in each bite.
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How to Cook Brown Rice

When I first started making brown rice, I was a bit intimidated.  I can cook Basmati rice with my eyes closed but when it comes to brown rice, the ratio to water is different, cook time is different, and sometimes, there is a chewy bite to brown rice.  I felt so out of my element.

I have tried multiple ways to cook brown rice and this recipe has become my fail-proof method.  Even better, I’ve nailed both stove top and Instant Pot methods so you can choose what works for you.

Having rice in the fridge has helped me on numerous occasions.  I can use it to make Pineapple Fried Rice, serve it on the side with a salmon, serve it up with lentils and so much more.

WHAT IS BROWN RICE?
Brown rice is actually rice with the hull still on it making it a whole grain.  The germ and bran are in there too which gives it a chewy texture and nutty flavor.  Because brown rice has the hull, germ, and bran, it takes longer to cook.

BE PATIENT
Trust me.  I feel like I’m constantly on the go, but this one recipe will make you stop and smell the roses.  And it’s worth it.  All you have to do is keep the cover on the saucepan and not mess with it.  Once it’s done cooking, let it rest.  Just like all meats, rice also wants a little rest after spending all that time cooking to perfection.  The additional 5 minutes of steam will make the rice fluffy and soft.

*Pro Tip: Start your rice first then work on dinner.  Your rice will cook in the background while you get everything else done and not have to wait much.

HOW DO I SERVE BROWN RICE?
So many options!  Try one of the following:
Citrus Herb Salmon with a Mango Pico and Cilantro Lime Rice
Pineapple Fried Rice
Zucchini Moong Dal
Mahi Mahi with Garlic Lemon Sauce
Instant Pot Rajma (Kidney Beans)
Instant Pot Black Eyed Peas Curry

Here are the tools I used for this recipe:

 

Mini Upside Down Spiced Peach Cakes

Sweet and juicy peaches combined with warm spices in this moist and tender cake is the perfect end to your summer dinner parties.  Peach Season is upon us and these delicious upside down peach cakes are the perfect bite sized desserts for your party!

Whenever it is peach season during the summer, I tend to over buy fruits that are limited and that I’m addicted to.  Mangoes, figs, peaches are just a few on that list.  I love my fruit; raw and in its many infinite forms that I give them.  Last year, I was campaigning Grilled Peach Salsa because grilled peaches are just a summertime necessity during a BBQ.  Upcycling grilled peaches into a salsa was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made!

This year, I decided to move away from grilling and try something different.  I took the original idea of upside down pineapple cake and changed it around (mostly because our pineapple ended up as fried rice!).  But I also changed up the traditional upside down cake just a little.  At the bottom of the cupcake tin, I placed butter cubes and some brown sugar to give it a caramelized flavor then I lined the peach slices on the sides to keep their integrity of a peach and still be part of this upside down cake.

Every single bite has a juicy peach flavor because there are chunks of peaches hidden in the cake!  And for the best peaches, head to your local farmer’s market.  I bet you will be able to find fresh, organic, and juicy peaches.  I’ll use the ones from the store if I miss the market but they tend to be underripe and I have to wait a few days to make sure they are perfectly ripe for me to eat or even use in recipes.

Many people are unsure of the skin – should you keep it on or peel it off?  I prefer to keep the skin on.  It doesn’t change the flavor or the integrity of the peaches but you do get to keep all of the fiber that the skin gives.

I hope you enjoy these delicious Mini Upside Down Spiced Peach Cakes as much as we did!

Looking for more delicious recipes?  Check out these:
Grilled Pineapple Peach Salsa
Grilled Avocado and Peach Salad
Fig and Pistachio Tartlets
Mango Coconut Panna Cotta Tart
Thandai Infused Rainbow Crème Brûlée (Vegan)

Here are the tools I used for this recipe:

 

Italian Stuffed Artichoke with a Garlic Cayenne Dip

Artichokes are abundant everywhere you go these days.  My favorite are the ones from our local Farmer’s Market.  You can taste the fresh quality and they are so much easier to cook than the store bought ones.

When I first starting eating these, my roommate in college introduced me to dipping them in butter.  While they tasted good dipped in butter, I can only imagine all of the calories and cholesterol my body was ingesting.  So I started using yogurt as a dipping base instead and I love it.  The yogurt dip is so easy to change the flavor profile and I can keep it as simple or complex as I am in the mood for.  This particular recipe, I kept it on the simple side with a little roasted garlic, cayenne, and salt mixed into the yogurt.

The traditional way of eating artichokes is by steaming them.  I could (and actually have) eaten many whole artichokes all by myself.  The husband used to eat them but eventually tired of steamed artichokes and stopped.  I really wanted to him to share my love for artichokes so I’ve been trying many other ways to cook them.  I’ve roasted (and burnt) them in the oven, stuffed them with various fillings that just didn’t hit the spot before I created this recipe.

All I can say is, you have got to try it!  Oh man am I excited to share this stuffed artichoke recipe.  Here are a couple of tips though when you are making these artichokes:

  • Get fresh artichokes from your local Farmer’s Market.  Trust me it makes a difference.  The time spent cooking, the quality in taste, and the ease of prepping the artichokes are worth it!
  • When you are prepping your artichoke, slice off the top quarter of the vegetable and make sure you trim off the ends of each leaf.  Using your hands, gently push apart the leaves to create a wider space in the center for the heart to hold more of the stuffing.
  • Put some muscle into removing the choke.  Having stretched the artichoke to be able to hold the filling, it will be easier to remove the choke and the hair-like filaments.


Well….. what is the stuffing?  Oh man, the most delicious and easiest to make.  I used:
red onion (the color comes out so pretty)
bread crumbs (a combination of Italian seasoned and panko)
garlic (of course!)
lemon juice
vegetable broth (though you could replace it with white wine – the taste would still be excellent)
Parmesan cheese
a hint of pepper

Because I am stuffing the artichoke, I also did a 2 step cook.  First, I par-steamed the artichoke while I made the stuffing, then I baked it all in the oven to finish cooking the artichoke and get that glorious color on the Parmesan cheese.

I really hope you get a chance to try this recipe out as it has become one of my favorites already!

From my kitchen to yours, I hope you enjoy this Italian Stuffed Artichoke with a Garlic Cayenne Dip.

Farmer’s Market Crudites Platter with Hummus Two Ways

One of my favorite times of the year is the spring when the Farmer’s Market starts to get bigger with more and more farmers who start to bring a larger variety of produce and goodies.  I’ve mentioned in the past that I like to make a menu for the week (more so my kids don’t complain they want something else than what is served), but what I haven’t mentioned is how I love going to the Farmer’s Market to do my weekly produce shopping.  Sometimes, I will even tailor some of my dishes to include produce I find at the Market.

Recently, I partnered with our local Farmer’s Market (Danville Farmer’s Market) and I will be creating recipes for them a few times a month in the hopes that I can bring awareness to locally farmed produce at all of our farmer’s market.  Having fresh, organic produce and supporting the local farms is a win-win.

This Spring Crudites Platter is so beautiful, we all had a bit of hard time digging in.  No one wanted to mess it up.  Ah well, our stomachs won that round.  The beauty of this platter is that you are not restricted to the same produce I picked up.  Pick up what your farmer’s market has, just make it colorful.

Here is what I used:

  • Purple Cauliflower (chop these into big chunks)
  • Rainbow Baby Carrots (trim the stems off and save to make pesto – be sustainable!)
  • Radishes
  • Watermelon Radishes (slice these a little thick into rounds to give a beautiful effect)
  • Snap Peas
  • Cucumbers (I sliced these on the diagonal for aesthetics.  Feel free to slice into rounds or sticks to make them easier to serve)
  • Cherry Tomatoes

As for the hummus, I chose purple sweet potato and red beets to be the base of each hummus.  For the Red Beets, I roasted it with garlic, then pulsed it with a little tahini and a few other ingredients.  This is by far one of my favorite variations on hummus.  Paired with all that beautiful produce, it’s perfect!

For the Purple Sweet Potato, I baked it in the oven then pulsed it with tahini as well.  Though the idea behind both hummus’ are the same, the flavor profile differ vastly.  Yet both are addicting.

I hope you have a chance to make a beautiful Spring Crudites Platter like this for your next gathering.  I promise you will love it.

Try it out and let me know what you think!

Here are the tools I used for this recipe:

If you are looking for more delicious recipes, check these out:
Roasted Masala Chickpeas
Roasted Red Pepper Hummus
Spicy Garlic Hummus
Crispy Chickpeas and Sweet Potato Tacos