Monday, November 16, 2015

Diwali 2015

Rangolis including underwater one on bottom left

Neerja's rangolis using pen
Diya chaat
Hara bhara rockets

Italian breadstick sparklers

Rangoli salad

Savory pinwheels (bhuee chakra)

Sweet pinwheels

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Cherry Tomato Snackers

Cherry Tomato Snackers
These are bite size cherry tomatoes filled with seasoned cream cheese and topped with toasted almonds. They need a bit of work but are totally worth it!

Here's how I make Cherry Tomato Snackers:

Wash the cherry tomatoes, dry and slice each in half. Using a small melon baller, scoop out the seeds and pulp (you can use this in other recipes).

Take about 3 tbsp. plain cream cheese (thawed to room temperature) in a bowl and season with salt, pepper, paprika, dried mint and Costco no salt seasoning mix. Or use flavored cream cheese of choice and vary seasonings per your taste. Fill a small ziplock bag with this cream cheese mix and press into a cone.

Cut off a small end of the bag. Pipe the cream cheese mix into each cherry tomato half. Top with a piece of almond (I have used almonds toasted with little salt & pepper). Serve immediately
 either as is or on a bed of greens.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Yogurt-stuffed Mini Peppers

Yogurt-stuffed mini peppers
This recipe is adapted from Yogurt Culture recipe book that I browsed at the library. I loved it the moment I read the recipe and wasted no time in trying it out. I was so happy with the results, this one goes in my "favorites" list now!

Here's how I made the Yogurt-stuffed Mini Peppers -

3 tbsp. yogurt - hung in cheesecloth overnight in the fridge
1 tbsp. fresh mozzarella cheese - crumbled
Seasonings - salt, pepper, paprika and dried mint
1 tbsp. chopped walnuts
7 mini peppers
Olive oil for roasting peppers

To make filling combine the hung yogurt, mozzarella, walnuts and seasonings.

Wash the peppers and cut of the tops. With the sharp end of a peeler, scope out the seeds and lining.

Using a small spoon fill the peppers with the yogurt stuffing.

Heat oil in a pan and saute the peppers on medium heat, uncovered till browned on all sides, about 5 to 10 mins.

Serve warm as an appetizer or part of a meal.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Cucumber Avocado No-Cook Soup

Cucumber Avocado No-Cook Soup

Here's a quick, easy and healthy lunch option perfect for hot days when you don't want to spend time near your cooking range.

Here's how I make this Cucumber Avocado No-Cook Soup:

1 English cucumber - peeled and roughly chopped (if using other variety of cucumbers please deseed)
1 ripe avocado - scooped and roughly chopped
2 tbsp. plain yogurt
1/2 to 1 cup water
1 lemon - juiced
Seasonings - salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, other seasoning mix or herbs of choice (I have used Costco brand no salt seasoning mix in above pic)

Blend the cucumber, avocado, yogurt, water and lemon juice till smooth. Adjust water to desired consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately or chill for upto 1 hour. Top with red pepper flakes, herbs and seasoning mix of choice and serve with some crackers or chips.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Lettuce Wraps

Lettuce wraps with Cucumber and Hummus filling

If you are looking to cut carbs while still keeping a vegetarian diet, this is an excellent choice for lunch or snack. It is very versatile also, you can change fillings per your choice.

Start out with iceberg lettuce. Separate and clean the leaves and pat dry. If leaves are very big, cut them to size you want.

In the picture above I have spread some hummus and topped with cucumber slices and red pepper flakes. Below are some other kinds of stuffings I use. Wrap the lettuce leaf around the filling. If desired, use a toothpick to hold the wrap. Enjoy immediately.

Lettuce wrap filled with Muester cheese, cucumber slices and red pepper flakes.

Lettuce wrap filled with spicy guacamole and sliced cherry tomatoes

Lettuce wrap smeared with Indian tomato pickle and topped with tomatoes, cucumbers and carrots

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Cucumber snacks

Cucumber cups
 These are super easy, no cook snacks, perfect for hot summer days and elegant enough to serve guests as well. They are well loved by adults and kids alike.

Here's how to make these Cucumber snacks:

Take a chilled English cucumber, if desired peel the skin completely or at intervals for a design or keep unpeeled. Cut into 1 inch rounds. Use a small melon baller to create a hollow in each cucumber slice. Take care not to poke a hole thru the other end of the slice.

Fill each with guacamole by spoon or piped in. You can substitute with hummus, pesto or other filling of your choice.

Serve immediately.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Dates and Nuts Laddoos (sugar-free)

Dates and nuts laddoos (sugar-free)

If you want to avoid sugar, yet enjoy a sweet and healthy snack, these Dates and Nuts laddoos are for you. And they are nutritious to boot. The recipe is from Manjula's Kitchen.

Here's how I made these date and nut laddoos:

1 cup pitted mejdool dates
1 cup mixed nuts - almonds, pistachios and walnuts (all unsalted)
1 tsp unsweetened cocoa pwd
pinch of salt

My dates were quite soft, so I just added them to the food processor and let it run for a minutes. Then add the salt and cocoa pwd and run it again for a min or 2 until it forms a lump.

Chop the nuts roughly. Take the dates lump from the food processor and knead it with the nuts till well incorporated, about 1 min.

Grease your palms with ghee and form into laddoos. Enjoy!

Green smoothie

Green smoothie
Here's a refreshing and healthy way to drink your veggies and fruits. Here's how I make Green Smoothie:

2 handful baby spinach (I use the bagged kind)
1 handful cilantro
2 cups cubed honeydew melon
1 small avocado
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup cold almond milk

Blend all ingredients. Add more lemon juice or some honey if needed. Enjoy immediately.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Dumplings and vegetables soup

Dumplings and Vegetable Soup
Dumplings and Vegetables Soup

A recent edition of Relish food magazine that comes with our newspaper had a recipe for chicken and dumplings soup. I based this soup on that, but of course made it vegetarian. Spices and veggies can be modified to suit your taste as this is a very versatile recipe. I went for a Mexican flavor for the soup.

Here's how I made Dumplings and Vegetables Soup:

Heat 2 tsp olive oil. Saute handful of onions till softened, about 5 to 7 mins on medium heat. Add finely minced garlic (1 clove) and cook 2 mins. Add veggies - I have used frozen Trader Joe's Veg Medley and frozen chopped spinach. Cook till thawed. Add 3 cups vegetable broth, 1 cup salsa, 1 tsp cumin pwd, 1/4 tsp paprika, little salt and sugar to taste.

For the dumplings - take 1/2 cup Bisquick mix. Add handful of finely chopped or grated veggies - I have used finely chopped colored peppers and grated carrots. Add 1 tbsp shredded cheese if desired - I have used Mexican cheese blend. Add little seasonings to taste - I used salt, pepper and cumin pwd. Add about 2 tbsp milk, little by little, and mix till it comes together like dough.

Add the dumplings mix, spoonful at a time, to the soup. Cook uncovered for 10 mins on medium heat, stirring once in a while. Then cover and cook on low for 10 mins. Add more broth or water as needed to get desired consistency. I kept the soup quite thick, not runny.

Serve this soup hot/warm. We enjoyed it with some quesadillas.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Superbowl Snacks

Today is Superbowl Sunday and since Seattle Seahawks are in the finals this time also, there is great excitement all around. We will be watching the game at our friend's place. Not being a big sports enthusiast, I am gonna show my spirit more in the food department.

Here's my prep for this afternoon:

Superbowl Stuffed Bread Buns
Superbowl Stuffed Bread Buns

 I haven't made bread in ages, so was aching to make some. This gave me the perfect chance to make football shaped stuffed bread buns.

For the stuffing I used a mix of potatoes, onions and green bell peppers. I spiced it up with pav bhaji masala, salt, sugar and lemon juice.

The bread is made using my trusted recipe:

Heat 1 cup water to 100-110F, add 1 packet yeast and 1 tbsp sugar. Mix well and leave aside for 10 mins. It should froth by then.

Take 4 tbsp melted butter, 1.5 tsp salt and 1/2 cup milk pwd in a big bowl. Add the frothy yeast mix to it. Now add 3 cup flour, 1 cup at a mix. Mix well. Knead for 5 mins. Add few drops of oil and keep kneading another 5 mins. Cover the bowl and keep in a warm place for 2 hrs. The dough will double in size by this time. Punch down the dough, divide into about 15 balls. Stuff each ball with the potato mixture. Bring ends together and seal shut. Shape into oblongs and press ends slightly to give them football shape. Place on a baking sheet which is covered with foil. Cover the buns with a moist paper towel or kitchen towel. Keep in a warm place for 1 hour. Then brush tops with milk and bake in a pre heated 350F oven for 1/2 hour or until light brown on top.

Let them cool before decorating with the lace. For this I used room temperature Nuefchatel cheese with a pinch of salt and chaat masala. I also added few drops of milk to make it easier to pipe it. I filled this mix in a plastic bag, made a small cut in a corner and piped the lace onto the football buns.

Superbowl Gulab Jamuns
The host had requested for gulab jamuns, so I decided to give them a slight twist by making them oblong (football shaped). I used Chitale Gulab Jamun mix and followed the package directions to make the jamuns. I prepped only 1/3rd the stated quantity of syrup as I did not want the jamuns floating around in the syrup. I dunked the jamuns in the hot syrup only for about 5 mins each, then drained and plated them. For the football lace, I used melted white candy and almonds slivers (for the small lace across the center).

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Gul Poli

Gul Poli

Gul Poli is a traditional Maharashtrian sweet dish, made around the time of Makar Sankrant. 

It is a thin, crispy roti filled with jaggery (gul) and gram flour mix. I like it best when it is fresh and warm, served with a dollop of ghee.

I make it in 2 ways depending how crisp I want it. My dad can only eat soft foods, hence I make it as soft as I can for him.

Here's how I make Gul Poli (crispy version):

Stuffing - 1/2 cup grated jaggery (gul), 2 tbsp gram flour, 2  tbsp sesame seeds, 1 tsp poppy seeds (khus khus), 1/2 tsp cardamon pwd, 1/2 tsp nutmeg pwd.

Microwave the poppy seeds at 30 sec intervals for 1 min. stirring in between.

Microwave the sesame seeds at 30 sec intervals for 2 mins, stirring in between.

Cool both, then grind coarsely.

Microwave the gram flour at 30 sec intervals for 2 to 3 mins stirring in between.

Microwave the gul for 1 min or so until melted.

Mix the melted gul, roasted gram flour, powdered sesame and poppy seeds and cardamon and nutmeg pwds. Use a few drops of milk and ghee to form into a lump. Divide into 6 balls.

Dough - 1/2 cup wheat flour, 2 tsp plain flour, pinch of salt. Mix well. Add enough water to form into a dough. The consistency of the dough should be same as that of the gul mixture. So if your gul mixture is slightly loose, make a softer dough. Let the dough rest for 1/2 hour, then divide into 6 balls.

Then roll out each dough ball into small puri. Place 1 gul mixture ball on it. Bring sides of the dough together and seal close. Flatten between palms. Roll into a thin roti, using flour (wheat or plain or rice flour) to dust liberally.

Roast on a non stick pan on medium heat until light brown spots appear on both sides.

To make softer version of Gul Poli:

Ingredients for the filling are same as above. Make sure the gul is finely grated. Do not microwave the gul. Just mix the grated gul with the roasted gram flour, ground sesame and poppy seeds and cardamon and nutmeg pwd.

The dough is also same as above. You can make 2 small thin rotis from the dough, spread the gul mix evenly over 1 roti, wet the edges with water, cover it with the other roti, press edges to seal and roll into a bigger roti dusting with flour. Roast per above method.


Alternatively, you can fill the dry gul mix in one small flattened dough, bring the edges together, seal, flatten between palms and roll into a bigger roti. I prefer this method as the gul mix spreads out evenly this way for me. Roast per above method. Be sure to serve this warm as it will crisp up as it cools.


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Zucchini -Squash Stir Fry with Indian Spices

Zucchini-Squash Stir Fry with Indian Spices

This recipe is adapted from Manjula's Kitchen. In the middle of winter I was suddenly craving for this summery dish. Found decent zucchini and squash in the grocery store, so immediately set about making this.

Here's how I made Zucchini-Squash Stir Fry with Indian Spices:

Heat 2 tsp oil in a large skillet or pan. Add 1 tsp panch phooran mix (ready made mix of 5 seeds - mustard, cumin, fennel, nigella and methi. Fry on medium heat for 2-3 mins until they start sizzling. Add 1 clove garlic, minced. Fry 2 mins. Add handful of onions - finely slit. Fry till softened. Add handful of slit red bell pepper, 1 chopped zucchini and 1 chopped yellow squash. (I chopped the zucchini and squash into thin semi circles). Add seasonings to taste - salt, cumin pwd, coriander pwd, little turmeric pwd, red chilli pwd, pinch of sugar. Stir gently so all the veggies are coated with the spices. Cover and cook on medium heat for 7-10 mins, stirring occasionally. The veggies should be cooked but firm. Finally sprinkle some amchur pwd on the veggies, toss to coat.

Serve this zucchini-squash stir fry with rotis or dal-chawal.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Pasta Primavera

Pasta Primavera
Here is a quick weeknight meal idea - Pasta Primavera - which I adapted from the Alouette Cheese website.

Here's how I made this creamy Pasta Primavera:

Handful of linguine - cook to al dente per package instructions. Drain, reserving 1/4 cup of the water. Coat the pasta with 2 tsp olive oil. Set aside.

Sauce - Heat 1 tsp olive oil. Add handful of chopped green onions, 1 finely chopped clove of garlic, handful of chopped baby carrots and handful of chopped tomatoes. Fry on medium heat for 5 mins. Ad reserved pasta water and 1/4 cup vegetable stock. Add 2 to 3 tbsp of Alouette Cheese spread (I had Garlic and Herb flavor on hand). Add salt, pepper to taste and 2 tsp of Italian seasoning mix. Stir well and simmer on low till cheese melts.

Add the cooked pasta. Stir well to coat the pasta with the sauce. Heat for 2 mins. Serve warm.

We had this with a spinach salad for a satisfying super quick weeknight meal.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Vangyache Bharith (with yogurt)

Vangyache bharit (Eggplant yogurt dip)

I've posted couple types of Baingan Bharta earlier - one with tomatoes and another with pumpkin. Today's recipe is a third variation of this.

Here's how I make Vangyache Bharith (with yogurt):

Wash and dry 1 big eggplant. Apply 1 tsp oil to coat it evenly. Make 3 to 4 lengthwise slits in the eggplant and insert 1 clove of garlic (peeled) in each slit. Bake in 450F oven for 1 hour, turning around every 15-20 mins. It will soften nicely by then. Cool slightly and peel the skin off. Discard the garlic. Mash eggplant (without skin) with fork.

Tempering - Heat 2 tsp ghee, add 1/2 tsp mustard seeds. When they stop spluttering, add 1/2 tsp cumin seeds, pinch of hing, few torn curry leaves, 2 green chillies (finely chopped) and 2 cloves garlic. Fry on medium heat for 4-5 mins.

Pour over mashed eggplant. Add 1 tsp salt or to taste and pinch of sugar. Add 1 tbsp peanuts pwd or roughly chopped peanuts. Add sufficient yogurt to make into thick sauce. Garnish with chopped cilantro.

Serve at room temperature or cold with roti, rice or as a dip with chips.

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