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!

Fresco Carpaccio

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enjoy!

Lentil Barley Soup Yum

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

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

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

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!

Zucchini Corn Cakes on a bed of Grilled Peach and Pineapple Salsa

Phew! That’s a long name for sure.  And the name lives up to the punch that it packs!  We had a BBQ on the 4th and had plenty of food leftover.  I definitely didn’t want to eat the same stuff for the next few days so I figured, this is when I need to get creative and upcycle it. Continue reading “Zucchini Corn Cakes on a bed of Grilled Peach and Pineapple Salsa”

Poblano Pav Bhaji Burger Yum

Poblano What?!  A burger with Pav Bhaji?! Yep you heard it right.  A Pav Bhaji Burger….. with Poblano Peppers.  Pav Bhaji is a very popular dish in India and among Indians everywhere in the world.  Back in the 1800’s, workers would take leftover veggies and turn it into a curry.  These workers usually could not afford much so they became creative.  I piggy backed on that creativity and put my own spin to a classic Indian dish. Continue reading “Poblano Pav Bhaji Burger Yum

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

Veggie Stuffed Peppers

There are many days recently where we end up eating leftovers because well, with a 4 month old who wants all the attention, it’s hard to spend time in the kitchen when her drooly smile beckons you to play.  Today however, the husband became the center of her attention allowing me a few moments to whip up veggie stuffed peppers.  Layered with rice, veggies and definitely cheese – this is one yummy pepper!

There are a couple different parts to it so bear with me.  Here’s how I made it:

For the rice:

In a nonstick pot, heat up some oil.  Add the cumin and wait till it starts to splutter.  Add the onions and saute till they turn translucent.  Oh boy! The kitchen smelled so good with just the cumin and onions cooking together, I couldn’t wait till it was done so I can just dig in!

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Once the onions are translucent, add in the tomatoes.  Be careful!  Don’t add the tomatoes when the onions are not done cooking.  The acid from the tomatoes prevents the onions from cooking all the way through and this will change the flavor profile.

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Saute the tomatoes for a couple more minutes until they are tender.  Add in the rice and saute for a couple of minutes so it can soak in some of the flavor.  Then add in the veggie broth, salt, and taco seasoning.  Mix well and let it cook for about 20 minutes until the rice is tender.  Turn off the heat and cover the pot.  This is key whenever I make any type of rice – letting the rice sit in its own steam for 5 minutes.  This ensures the rice is nice and fluffy and makes it taste so much better!

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For the Veggie Stuffing:

Heat some oil in a nonstick pan.  Add the onions and garlic and saute for a couple of minutes. Add in the yellow squash and zucchini and continue to saute for another 5 minutes.  Add in the black beans, salt, fajita seasoning, cayenne pepper and cumin powder.  Mix well and cook for another 2-3 minutes.

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To assemble the peppers:

Preheat oven to 375°.  Spray some cooking spray on a cookie sheet and line the peppers.  Spoon some rice into the peppers, followed by the veggies and repeat till you reach the top.  Sprinkle some cheese on the top and bake in the oven for about 15 minutes or until the peppers are tender.  Serve hot and enjoy!
I’ve included the full recipe below.  I hope you like it just as much as we did.

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For the rice:
1/2c rice
1c low sodium veggie broth
1tsp onions
1/2c finely diced onions
1/2c chopped tomatoes
1Tbsp taco seasoning
1Tbsp Olive Oil
salt to taste

In a nonstick pot, heat up some oil.  Add the cumin and wait till it starts to splutter.  Add the onions and saute till they turn translucent.  Once the onions are translucent, add in the tomatoes.  Saute the tomatoes for a couple more minutes until they are tender.  Add in the rice and saute for a couple of minutes so it can soak in some of the flavor.  Then add in the veggie broth, salt, and taco seasoning.  Mix well and let it cook for about 20 minutes until the rice is tender.  Turn off the heat and cover the pot.

For the Veggie Stuffing:
1/2c diced zucchini
1/2c diced yellow squash
1/2c finely diced onions
1 14oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
2 cloves garlic, minced
1Tbsp Olive Oil
1Tbsp Fajita Seasoning
1tsp cayenne pepper
1tsp cumin powder
salt to taste

Heat some oil in a nonstick pan.  Add the onions and garlic and saute for a couple of minutes. Add in the yellow squash and zucchini and continue to saute for another 5 minutes.  Add in the black beans, salt, fajita seasoning, cayenne pepper and cumin powder.  Mix well and cook for another 2-3 minutes.

To assemble the peppers:
2 bell peppers, halved, deseeded
1cup shredded cheese

Preheat oven to 375°.  Spray some cooking spray on a cookie sheet and line the peppers.  Spoon some rice into the peppers, followed by the veggies and repeat till you reach the top.  Sprinkle some cheese on the top and bake in the oven for about 15 minutes or until the peppers are tender.  Serve hot and enjoy!

Zucchini Bread

I still remember the first time I ever had zucchini bread… I was in college studying for finals with my roommate, and her mother had sent a care package with a bunch of goodies including zucchini bread.  It is the best zucchini bread I’ve had though I have made attempts to copy her recipe.  Here’s my version with a couple of twists in it.

Zucchini Bread

Grate about 3 cups of Zucchini (don’t drain the liquid, it helps keep the bread moist)

Grated Zucchini

In two bread pans, spray with cooking spray then lightly dust with flour and set aside.

Preheat Oven to 325ºF

In a large bowl, beat eggs, oil*, applesauce*, vanilla, and sugar together.  Add flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon to the creamed mixture and beat well.

Creamed Mixture

Add grated zucchini and stir until well combined.   If you’re adding nuts, this would be the time to put them in the batter.

Pour into bread pans and bake for 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted to the center comes out clean.  Cool on rack for 15-20 minutes before serving.

Zuchhini Bread

 

Ingredients:
3 1/2 c All Purpose Flour (you can use whole wheat to make it healthier)
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp Baking Powder
3 tsp Ground Cinnamon
3 Eggs
1/2 Olive Oil
1/2 c Applesauce
1 c White Sugar
1 c Brown Sugar
3 tsp Vanilla Extract
3 c Grated Zucchini (do not drain liquid from zucchini)
1 c Chopped Walnuts (optional)

* The original recipe calls for 1 c Vegetable Oil.  My healthier twist is to use 1/2 c olive oil and 1/2 c applesauce.  You’re welcome to cut out the applesauce and use 1 cup oil, however I have noticed that the applesauce also helps keep the bread moist.