Category Archives: Main Dish

Vegan Chicken Curry

Last week in my Instagram account some of you may have seen a photo I posted of a vegan chicken curry recipe I had made. I have been wanting to share this recipe for the past week!

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The recipe is my take on my dad’s chicken curry recipe which he used to make when I was a kid. We didn’t eat a lot of meat in the house (like ever, since my mom is a vegetarian and did the majority of cooking) but every now and then he would bust out the pressure cooker, some chicken, his spices and spend hours making this delicious curry.

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Daddio!

My dad is incredibly charismatic, hardworking, serious but still has his silly and fun side and he instilled so many characteristics my sister and I carry with us today.

My parents are now jet-setters. I think I might have mentioned that once or twice before, but they are. My dad is a professor of engineering at a private technical school up here in Michigan and he takes a sabbatical every year and teaches overseas. My mom, retired from secondary education, goes with him because, well, why would she stay here in the cold by herself? So I pretty much don’t see my parents from about December-June each year. It’s hard, sure, but I just think of how they finally get to have time together, seeing the world! Plus he gets to teach in a far more relaxed environment every where else in the world than America where stress and long hours are the norm.

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Parents at my wedding

I miss my parents a lot – a little more than usual – and realized that I missed just having a comfort meal with them. My sister and I can each probably name off 10 things my mom makes that we absolutely love that we consider comfort food. But for both of us, my dad’s chicken curry was by far our favorite thing he made for us (well, ok aside from his famous Sunday French Toast).

I emailed my dad and asked for his recipe, but he’s been so busy teaching, so I decided to try to take a stab at making his curry with vegan chicken. And I have to say, it turned out pretty well! I used Gardein Chicken Scallopini as the protein, but you could easily use tofu if that isn’t your thing. Meatatarians can of course use chicken.

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Just a few simple ingredients and this was ready to eat in about 45 min., including inactive time. I remember it took my dad a few hours to put his chicken curry together since he’d let the chicken marinade, then cook in the pressure cooker, he’d also make the garam masala fresh. I always make a giant batch of masala so I had that on hand, and using vegan chicken meant no pressure cooker!

So my version might not be exactly like his, but it certainly was comfort food for me and reminded me of Saturday night dinners at home.

And, it felt like maybe all of us weren’t so far away from each other.

Vegan “Chicken” Curry
 
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A vegan take on South Indian chicken curry
Author:
Recipe type: vegan, vegetarian
Cuisine: Indian
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 2 cups meatless chicken breast protein (Gardein Chicken Scallopini or similar; about four scallopini pieces), thawed slightly and cut into cubes/pieces
  • 2 tbsp lemon, juiced
  • 1 large garlic clove, grated
  • ½-inch piece ginger, grated
  • ½ tsp red chili powder
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • ½ tsp cumin powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • ½ cup yellow onion, chopped (1 small onion or ½ medium onion)
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 2 tsp ginger, grated
  • ½ tsp (or more if you desire!) garam masala (make your own or buy store bought)
  • 1¼ cup tomato sauce (3/4 of a 15-oz. can)
  • ½ cup lite coconut milk
  • Salt to taste
  • Cilantro leaves for garnish
Instructions
  1. For the marinade:
  2. Combine chicken pieces, garlic and ginger paste, turmeric powder, chili powder, cumin powder, lemon juice and salt into a small bowl. Stir to coat all pieces. Cover bowl with saran wrap and set aside for 15-20 min.
  3. For the curry:
  4. Add olive oil in a saucepan or large skillet until heated. Add onion and sprinkle with pinch of salt to help sweat them out. Cook until 2-3 minutes until onion is soft and translucent.
  5. Next add the garlic and ginger and cook 1-2 minutes.
  6. Add tomato sauce and garam masala. Cover and cook 5 minutes until simmering. Give it a quick taste, add more garam masala if needed.
  7. Add chicken pieces back in, leftover marinade and all, stir, cover and cook 5-8
  8. minutes.
  9. Add the coconut milk, stir, give it another taste and add more salt or spices as needed. Leave uncovered and cook another 5 minutes.
  10. Garnish with cilantro leaves and serve over rice, quinoa or grain of choice.
Notes
Could substitute Greek yogurt instead of using coconut milk if you want it vegetarian vs. vegan
Could use chicken instead of vegan chicken for the carnivores!

What comfort foods remind you of home?

Guest Post: Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie

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I’d like you all to say a big hello to Richard! He is Amber’s husband, now a good dude friend to both REB and me, and he also happens to be a fantastic cook.

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Something Amber and I started last year was A&A Night where we would get together once a week because both our hubby’s were busy studying with schoolwork or had class. Sometimes I would cook and sometimes she would, but most of the time Richard would step up and cook for us. And I am grateful that he does! A recipe of his that I have enjoyed on more than one occasion is his vegetarian shepherd’s pie. It’s time the world know the secrets behind his delicious recipe. I asked Richard to share this recipe on my blog in a guest post and he happily agreed to write it. I hope Richard will come back and share more recipes on the blog, but for today here’s his herbivore-friendly shepherd’s pie!

Thanks Aparna! Before I started living with my future wife in 2007, microwaving a burrito or making boxed mac and cheese was the extent of my cooking expertise. This suited me just fine when I was single because I’m very lazy and cooking real food seemed to be more trouble than it was worth. When I moved in with Amber she was a student and since I had no job and wasn’t in school yet, cooking duties defaulted to me and my microwave classics were no longer sufficient. My creations in those early days weren’t always nice to look at or particularly edible, but I slowly learned a thing or two and figured out how to make pretty decent food.

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Fast forward to 2014 and I still do all the cooking. Amber and I have been married for almost six years and she’s been a vegetarian slightly longer than that. I’m not a vegetarian, but making a meat and non-meat version of dinner each night sounded like a bummer so our dinners are straight up vegetarian. This has forced me to be more creative and try new things because it’s easy for me to make an awesome meat dish, but an amazing vegetarian dish takes a bit more effort and finesse.

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I rarely follow a recipe when I cook. I tend to get inspiration from a recipe and then make my own version of it which often leads to multiple variations of a particular dish as I tweak things here and there to perfect it or change certain ingredients. My shepherd’s pie is a good example of this because it’s so easy to change what you use as the filling to keep yourself from getting bored with it. The version posted here uses frozen vegetables because it’s super easy and sometimes you just need a really easy dinner option.

Without further ado, Richard’s vegetarian shepherd’s pie:

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5.0 from 1 reviews

Guest Post: Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie
 
Simple dinner that’s pretty damn tasty.
Author:
Recipe type: vegetarian, main dish
Cuisine: vegetarian
Serves: 5
Ingredients
  • 4 medium potatoes (any will do, I used russet)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • ¼ cup of milk
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • ½ tablespoon sriracha (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 small white onion diced
  • ½ tablespoon fresh garlic diced
  • 2 cups chopped mushroom (any variety)
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1½ cup frozen peas
  • 1½ cup frozen carrots
  • 1 pound soy crumbles
Instructions
  1. Cut up potatoes into large chunks, place into a pot, and cover with water. Boil potatoes until soft, about 20 mins.
  2. Put 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a stock pot over medium-low heat.
  3. Dice white onion and garlic, add to stock pot.
  4. Preheat oven to 375.
  5. Once, onions begin to turn translucent (about 5 mins), add frozen corn, peas, and carrots.
  6. In a measuring cup or bowl combine vegetable stock, soy sauce, and sriracha. Whisk together and add to stock pot 5 minutes after frozen vegetables, bring to a simmer (don’t worry if it looks a little soupy, the soy crumbles will soak everything up).
  7. Chop mushrooms and add to stock pot along with soy crumbles.
  8. Allow mixture to heat through, add salt and pepper to taste, and then transfer to a 9″ x 13″ baking dish (or any suitable dish or dishes).
  9. Drain potatoes and place in large bowl, add butter and mash. Add milk and salt/garlic and mash some more.
  10. Distribute mashed potatoes evenly over filling and put the whole thing into the oven. After 30 minutes in the oven you’re ready to eat.

 

He’s being humble folks – he’s a great cook and this recipe is proof of that. Give it a try, you will love it! He is right though. You can totally alter the ingredients for the filling, or maybe even use mashed sweet potato for the topping if you want to get more fiber in there. But honestly, a bowl of this shepherd’s pie is totally perfect as is, especially during this Michigan Polar Vortext nonsense.

A big thank you to Richard! I hope you will return soon to share another tasty recipe!

 

Israeli Couscous “Risotto” Primavera

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March has officially become one of the busiest months for me! I have something happening every single weekend this month. Let me prove it (because I know you’re all dying to know ;)…):

  • March 2 – We celebrated our friends birthday last weekend, and had a night on the town. It was so great to catch up with everyone!
  • March 9 – Attending a day conference for work (hooray developing skills!) and then in the evening I get to see Diana from Veggie Next Door!! She and her fiance (squee!) are visiting their friends in Ann Arbor and I’m so excited to see her again, and hopefully make some new friends!
  • March 16 – I’ll be in the Chi for St. Patty’s weekend to visit the seester and my friends out there. Taking a nice long weekend from work to just kick back and have fun.
  • March 23 – SHOOTING MY FIRST WEDDING! Can I even begin to tell you how excited I am to be doing this? One of my best friends and I have been asked to photograph the wedding of someone she knows, and she and I are over the moon about it. I’ve also already planned to assist another one of my amazing photographer friends with weddings she’s doing this spring and summer. Yay! It will be amazing experience and hopefully slowly get my feet into the whole biz ;)
  • March 30 – GARBAGE! I have wanted to see Garbage live since I was in high school! Yes, I’m almost 30 and yes my friends and I will likely be the oldest people there. But then again, maybe we won’t. I’m sure there are still 30+-year-olds living in their 14-year-old bodies who are as excited as I am ;)

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Another happy news announcement: I’m registered for my first 5K! I’m doing the Color Run in Ypsilanti May 11 so I’ve been hitting the gym to run until I reach the 3.1 mile mark. I can’t wait for it to get warm outside so I can do some running outdoors. I think anyone can agree that running outdoors > running on a treadmill indoors.

So yeah, March is going to go by fast I’m sure, and there’s so much more exciting stuff happening almost every weekend after, but I’m ready for all the fun! Plus I’ll get to cross off a handful of things on that lovely list I have going ;)

So to celebrate and live in the fun and also help prep my meals for the week, I decided to make risotto. Since it’s one of my favorite foods, it had to be done. The biggest difference this time was I used Israeli couscous instead of Arborio rice. I just used more couscous, and less stock and added a whole lotta veggies. In the end it tasted like the real deal but wasn’t as heavy. The great thing about risotto is you can add whatever you want to it and it probably won’t taste bad. For this one, I used carrot, zucchini, baby Bellas and asparagus spears. I could see all kinds of veggies going into this though: leeks, artichokes, roasted eggplant, peas, peppers.. have fun with it!

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Hashtag dopeshow anyone?

Yeah, I said it.

5.0 from 1 reviews

Israeli Couscous “Risotto” Primavera
 
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Tastes just like classic risotto primavera, but lighter and creamier!
Author:
Recipe type: Risotto-ish, vegetarian
Cuisine: Italian-ish, vegetarian
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ¾ cup carrot, diced
  • 1 cup zucchini, diced
  • 8 oz. Baby Bella mushrooms, sliced
  • 10 oz. frozen cut asparagus, thawed
  • 1¼ cup Israeli (pearled) couscous
  • ¾ cup dry white wine
  • 3 cups unsalted vegetable stock
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Instructions
  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter to a large pan over medium high heat until melted.
  2. Add the chopped zucchini, carrot and sliced mushrooms and cook until tender and softened, about 8-10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, add 3 cups vegetable stock to a saucepan and keep warm over low to medium heat.
  4. When the vegetables are done, remove from pan, set on plate and set aside.
  5. In the same pan, add the remaining oil and butter.
  6. Add the couscous and cook 2 minutes or until lightly toasted
  7. Add the white wine and cook 1-2 minutes or until alcohol is cooked out.
  8. Next add stock about ½ cup (or ladle) at a time, stir until absorbed. When the couscous has absorbed some of the stock, add another ½ cup.
  9. After 2 cups of stock have been added, pour the cooked vegetables back to the pan with the couscous. Continue ladling ½ cup until all the stock is gone.
  10. Add the thawed cut asparagus, cheese, salt and pepper and stir until all combined and the couscous is cooked.

Cookbook Challenge #2 – Quinoa Pilaf

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I brought Isa Chandra’s Appetite for Reduction cookbook to work with me and read through it as I had my morning cup of coffee. I ended up looking at her recipe for cranberry-cashew biryani and knew I needed to make it.

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However, as much as I love her recipes and love that in this cookbook everything is 400 calories or less per serving, I wanted to change the recipe to fit my taste buds better.

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My sister and I were emailing each other all day talking about recipes, our mom’s recipes, cooking and planning my visit to Chicago in March (hooray!). I told her about this recipe and how I wanted to change it to fit my dietary needs. She reminded me that “biryani” is actually all spice. It does not usually have dried fruit in it, and I wanted to use some kind of dried fruit. So we both realized what I wanted to make, was really a pulao or pilaf.

The biggest changes I made were the cooking process in general, using quinoa over Basmati rice to help keep it low-carb for me, and using dried apricots instead of cranberries.

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garam masala made fresh

If you didn’t know, apricots and cumin are two of the most yummy flavors when combined. Next time you make a curry dish with cumin, add a little dried apricot in there – your world will change completely.

This dish turned out amazing. How do I know that? When REB got home from class and had it for dinner, he said, and I quote, “Whole Foods should have this in their hot bar.”

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This is how I know this recipe is a keeper. And how I know he’s a keeper too ;)

Quinoa Pilaf
 
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A low-carb twist on classic Vegetable Pulao that uses Indian spices, mixed vegetables and dried fruit. Adapted from Isa Chandra (and my mom)!
Author:
Recipe type: vegan, vegetarian, main dish
Cuisine: Indian, vegetarian, vegan
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • ¾ cup quinoa
  • ¼ cup dried apricots, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1½ teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons grated ginger
  • 1½ cups frozen mixed vegetable blend (my blend has carrots, peas, green beans and corn kernels)
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala (I make mine fresh, but you can use store bought)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 cup water
  • ¼ cup unsalted whole cashews, toasted
  • Cilantro (optional garnish)
Instructions
  1. In a rice cooker or medium pot, cook quinoa according to packaging instructions. I used ¾ cup quinoa, with 1½ cups water in my rice cooker.
  2. Add the chopped dried apricots directly to the quinoa so they cook together — the quinoa took about 20-25 minutes to cook in the cooker. May take longer on stovetop.
  3. When the quinoa is cooked, pour into a bowl and set aside
  4. In a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat, heat olive oil.
  5. Add the mustard and cumin seeds, cover the pot with a lid and let the seeds start to pop.
  6. Next add the minced garlic and grated ginger and cook for one minute.
  7. Add the frozen mixed vegetables, garam masala, turmeric, salt, red pepper flakes and stir well for one minute.
  8. Add the tomato paste and water and stir.
  9. Cover the dish and let it come to a boil and reduce so the curry is slightly thickened and most of the water is gone- about 3-5 minutes.
  10. While the curry is boiling away, toast the cashews in a small, dry pan until golden
  11. When the curry has reduced, add the cooked quinoa to the skillet and stir well to combine all the flavors. Give it a taste and adjust your spices if needed.
  12. Toss in the toasted cashews.
  13. Serve immediately with pickle, chutney or additional curry dish.
  14. Optional garnish: chopped cilantro

 

After doing the math, I found that this recipe was only 229 calories per serving, almost 5g of fiber and almost 8g of protein. I think next time I might add some garbanzo beans or mushrooms to up the ante on the protein.

What are some of your favorite cookbook recipes?

Resolutioner No More

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I didn’t make any resolutions for 2013. I have that list of things I want to do before I’m 30 (9 months and counting. I need to step up my game and get crack-a-lacking!) and while some health related items are on there, I think that list is sufficient and as close to resolutions as I’ll get.

I used to be one of those “resolutioners” are the gym. You know, the one who signs up for a membership at big, corporate gym on January 1 and says to themselves, “I’m going to work out every single day, not eat and I’ll lose weight. Hooray!”

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Not so much hooray. It would only last about a month. I have a gym membership now at a much smaller, locally-owned place, sure, but I haven’t been there since the holidays. I’ve been working out at home in our basement gym, attending Russa yoga classes downtown near my work, and trying to change things up to keep the workouts interesting. I am definitely one of those people who gets bored very easily. If I change it up, it actually makes working out tolerable and fun ;)

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I know it’s not easy to get your butt to the gym. One of my friends once told me, “The hardest part is lacing up your shoes.” and once you do that, you’re set. How I feel about working out, especially at a gym now, is a complete 180 from before.

I hated going to the gym back then, and quickly realized that I had signed up for something I wasn’t 100% committed to doing. I wanted to lose the weight, but wasn’t prepared to do anything that comes with wanting that to happen. I wasn’t prepared to up the intensity of my workouts, do both cardio and strength training to get a full body workout, eat healthier, cut out junk, etc. So like a lot of people, I stopped going and then bitched and moaned that they were ripping me off.

A lot of you have read my journey to wanting to be healthy. It wasn’t easy but I’m finally in a place I can appreciate. Do I have bad days? Yes. Do I have great days? Yes. Do I sometimes get too obsessed about caloric intake, lack of protein, fat and carbs consumed and calories burned? Absolutely. BUT! I don’t stop. I work out. I cut out the junk. And I definitely eat better and as a result, feel better. I also know results won’t happen overnight. It took me a LONG time to figure that one out ;)

One way of keeping healthy is one of my favorite things to do: making new recipes that are healthier forms or vegetarian/vegan forms of a classic recipe.

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So now onto the food and real purpose of this post. Stuffed peppers are a classic recipe in my opinion. We have made them before, but we kind of made them blindly and didn’t really measure out ingredients, or think about what kinds of healthy ingredients we could put into them.

I lightened up this newer recipe and it ended up being completely vegan. And delicious.

Stuffed Peppers with Curry-Spiced Quinoa
 
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A healthy twist on a classic recipe using quinoa, meatless crumbles and spices! This can easily be made into a meat dish or just vegetarian with the addition of cheese.
Author:
Recipe type: Main Dish, Entree
Cuisine: vegetarian, vegan, main dish
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • ¾ cup cooked quinoa
  • 4 whole medium-sized red bell peppers, halved lengthwise
  • Non-stick spray
  • ½ cup red onion, finely chopped
  • 1½ cups vegan meatless crumbles (I used Boca brand)
  • ¼ cup water
  • ½ cup frozen corn kernels, warmed or thawed
  • ¾ cup diced tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons vegan worchestershire sauce (I use Wizards brand found at Whole Foods)
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon curry powder
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 3 dashes Franks red hot sauce (or Tobasco if you prefer)
  • Pinch of salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Parlsey (optional garnish)
Instructions
  1. Cook the quinoa according to instructions on package (I cooked mine the night before) and set aside
  2. Preheat oven to 350°
  3. Fill a large pot with water and let it come to a boil
  4. Stand the bell peppers up and cut down the middle, lengthwise so they are halved. Take out the seeds and membranes. Arrange all 8 halves in a 9 x 13 baking dish
  5. Once the water is boiling add the bell pepper halves (4 at a time) into the water and blanch for 3-5 minutes. Remove, drain the water out and arrange back in the dish. Set aside.
  6. In a large skillet, spray the non-stick spray and let it heat over medium heat.
  7. Add the onion and cook for 2-3 minutes until slightly tender.
  8. Next add the meatless crumbles and let them warm through in the pan.
  9. Add the water and stir. Let the whole thing cook away for 3-4 minutes.
  10. Add the tomatoes and corn, followed by the garlic, Worcestershire sauce and all the spices.
  11. Lastly, add the cooked quinoa and stir to combine.
  12. If the mixture gets too dried out, you can add a little more water.
  13. When everything is well mixed, give it a taste and adjust your spices and add salt and pepper accordingly (if needed).
  14. Remove from heat and distribute evenly among the halved bell pepper boats
  15. Bake the dish at 350°F for 20 minutes then heat under the broiler for 2 minutes or until the tops are slightly browned and crisped.

The best thing about this dish is that it’s under 300 calories per bell pepper. You really can’t beat that! So if you are a resolutioner, start the year off right with this healthy, low calorie recipes that is incredibly filling!

And while I’m not quite the “resolutioner” now as I was way back when, I do still set goals for myself. I just know I can’t expect them to be achieved, or see the results overnight. What I do know is that I plan to make 2013 rock as much as 2012 did!


Do/Did you set any resolutions or goals for yourself for 2013?

Cookbook Challenge #1 – Isa’s Quinoa Salad

Remember that list of 31 things I want to do before I turn 30? The 31 Before 30 list? Yeah, I kind of forgot about it, too. I always do this to myself. I make an awesome list, set of goals, or even resolutions and usually only get 75% done.

So I happened to take a peek at the list, scrolled through it, and came to number #25 and literally said, “Oh shit.”

Read it and weep, Aparna:

Prepare and cook at least two recipes from each cookbook I own.

Now for any normal person, this is not a big deal. This is actually something very easy to accomplish for most. But for someone like me, who constantly forgets she owns cookbooks because she either alters recipes she finds online, puts a twist on her mom’s recipes, or creates new recipes all together, this is a problem.

I don’t even own a lot of cookbooks. I own, like….[counting] 11 cookbooks. So this should be easy. That’s 22 recipes I need to get done in a year. Well, at least 22 recipes (damn technicalities).

The only one I’m kind of pissed and/or worried about is cooking from The Pioneer Woman’s cookbook aka ALL MEAT, BUTTER, FAT AND CARBS RAWR. Quite frankly, I’m not as big a fan of hers as I used to be, and I don’t even know why I have this cookbook or ever wanted it. Her demeanor, her show and her overall premise is not very appealing to me nor do I relate to it in any way. [Pause for gasps and people leaving blog]

But I digress…

So as I was perusing through this cookbook, and on the phone with REB as he was driving home from work, we were playing the “what should we make for dinner?” game. It’s a game we hate and one we play almost every night. I mentioned I was reading Isa Chandra’s cookbook to him and maybe an idea for dinner would come from it. He seemed intrigued. Actually, he didn’t, but he did say, ” Yeah, that sounds good.” I’ll take that as intrigue and interest.

I love Isa Chandra. I love that I relate to her food aesthetic and I love her recipes. I looked through her cookbook and post-it’ed the hell out of it with recipes I want to try. And while on the phone with REB, came across this recipe, which we happened to have almost all the ingredients for in the kitchen.

Isa’s Quinoa Salad with Black Beans and Toasted Cumin Seeds was perfect. Everything in the Appetite for Reduction cookbook is 400 calories or less per serving, uses fresh ingredients and is full of proteinalicious recipes! REB and I are newbs to quinoa, and we can’t get enough of it. It’s easily becoming our favorite substitute for pasta or rice. Plus, anything with cumin seeds? Duh. Has my name all over it.

So one recipe down, 21 (excuse me, at least 21) to go!

Quinoa Salad w/ Black Beans and Toasted Cumin Seeds
 
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Our twist on a low-cal, full-of-protein, fresh-ingredient salad! Adapted from Isa Chandra
Author:
Recipe type: main dish, vegetarian, quinoa
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa, cooled
  • 4 on-the-vine tomatoes (it’s all we had. I would prefer Roma), finely diced (remove some excess liquid if you can)
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted in dry pan
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • ⅓ cup scallion, chopped
  • 1 can (15 oz.) black beans, drained and rinsed
  • ¼ teaspoon salt (more if you need it – we didn’t)
  • Juice of two limes
Instructions
  1. Cook quinoa according to directions on package. Once cooked, put into a mixing bowl, and let it cool.
  2. In a dry pan, toast cumin seeds until aromatic. Remove from heat and set aside.
  3. In a separate large mixing bowl, add chopped tomatoes, lime juice, honey, olive oil and cumin seeds and mix.
  4. Stir in the cooled quinoa, add the salt, scallion and black beans.
  5. Enjoy at room temperature or cold!
  6. Optional garnish: chopped scallion or cilantro
  7. Vegan option: use agave nectar instead of honey

Lemon Pulihora [Indian Lemon Rice]

Yours truly is home sick. I hate being sick. I hate when I know that I’m getting sick and finally have to tell myself that I should stay home. That’s exactly what happened this morning.

A lot has happened since my last post! We bought a new bed and as I sit in it right now all comfy and cozy, I thought maybe I should play catch up and share a recipe I made weeks go! It’s an Indian lemon rice recipe. It so very much reminds me of my mom and quick dinners she would make for my sister and me when my dad was out of town, or if we were just home for lunch on the weekend.

Puhilora translates to “sour rice” but it’s not really sour. It can be made in a lemon or tamarind variety. The lemon just happens to be my sister and my favorite kind. It’s very easy to make, too!

Lemon Pulihora [Indian Lemon Rice]
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Main dish, side dish, rice
Cuisine: Indian, South Indian, vegetarian
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 3 cups of Basmati rice – cooked and set aside
  • ½ tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seed
  • 1 teaspoon channa dal
  • 1 teaspoon asofetida (hing) powder
  • 2 green chilies finely minced
  • ¼ diced red onion
  • ½ tablespoon turmeric powder
  • 8-10 fresh curry leaves
  • 2 whole lemons, juiced
  • S&P to taste
  • 2 tablespoon peanuts
  • Optional ingredient: dried red chilies
Instructions
  1. Start by cooking the rice (3 cups rice, 2 cups water) and set aside. Don’t use too much water because you want the rice kernels to separate easily and not be mushy. I use a rice cooker, but you can cook on the stove according to instructions on the package. I also use Basmati rice, which is traditionally used for Indian cooking. Once the rice is cooked, fluff and set aside.
  2. In a large deep skillet or pan, heat the olive oil and add the mustard seed, channa dal, hing powder and green chilies. Cook over medium flame or heat until you start to hear the mustard seeds sputter and pop.
  3. Next add the onion and turmeric and stir to combine all the flavors.
  4. Add the rice and coat well with the oil mixture.
  5. Add the sesame oil and stir well.
  6. Give the rice a taste and add salt and pepper according to your tastes.
  7. Add in the curry leaves, and lemon juice, then cover and let cook/steam for 5 minutes.
  8. In a separate, small dry pan, add the peanuts and toast.
  9. Transfer the rice to a bowl and top with peanuts.
  10. Serve it up with some yogurt, chutney or mango pickle and enjoy!

It’s so incredibly good and you can change it up how ever you want and adjust the spices!

We enjoyed ours with mango pickle and it was the perfect dinner, but could easily be a lunch or side dish to your Indian meal. Enjoy!

What are your favorite Indian dishes to prepare at home?

Storms and Sunshine

 

I’m alive!

Well, sort of. I have been so freaking busy with work it’s ridiculous. I started a lead role (hooray!) at work, but I have been so busy (phew :-[) but I love it (hooray!). REB has been busy with work too being the big shot network admin guy on campus and that has meant we've either come home from work super late, or we've had other things going on after work.

I hate having off weeks with the hubs. We try to do a date night once a week, but it doesn't always happen. Truth be told, one of my favorite things is being able to just sit and have a meal with him. At least we still work out together at night! Hooray weights! Hooray cardio! Hooray hooray!

Anyway most of our dinners have been quick things like veggie burgers on salad, savory stuffed sweet potatoes (one guess who those were for :)), or fending for ourselves in general. Awful. I should be a good Indian wife and have dinner on the table for my man every night! [pause for jokes]. OK I take that back. I did make baked samosas a few nights ago. But really, my sister made the filling and had brought me the extras. I merely put it into poked puff pastry and baked it off. HEY. That took time! And they were tasty.

Where was I? Oh yeah. We’ve been so busy that I was determined to cook my man (and me!) a meal that would be satisfying and not too heavy.

Enter sunshine and summer in a bowl.

Or in layman’s terms: Caprese Israeli couscous with heirloom tomatoes.

It’s seriously the one thing I needed after these past few weeks! And let’s not forget how depressing the weather has been. If it isn’t 90 or 100 degrees outside, it’s storming. I decided to change all that today. It was the first night we both got home at a reasonable time, I had enough time to replenish our fridge and pantry thanks to Trader Joes, and I even had enough time to be one of those people who buys flowers at the store “just because.”

I also managed to pick up those little beauties you see in the bottom right. Just call me super woman. I told REB I wanted to make something fresh and light for dinner and that’s exactly what I did. Nothing screams fresh to me more than heirloom tomatoes, a light vinaigrette and a grain I haven’t had in ages.

I expressed interest in making couscous, but also wanted caprese. BOOM. This was born.
What we ended up with was a caprese couscous with a deconstructed pesto….lemon…dressing…thing. It was good. And you should make it. Because I said so.

Did I mention I started a lead role and I’m now more assertive than ever?

No? Oh Ok. I started lead role at work! Hooray!

Caprese Israeli Couscous
 
Prep time
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Author:
Recipe type: entree, side dish, vegetarian, heirloom tomatoes, couscous, pearled couscous, basil, pine nuts
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • COUSCOUS:
  • 1⅓ cups Dry Israeli (pearled) couscous
  • 1¾ cups water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup mini heirloom tomatoes, halved, quartered, whatever
  • 4 ounces (1/2 container) bocconcini (baby) mozzarella, halved
  • 10 whole basil leaves, chiffonade
  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts, lightly toasted
  • DRESSING:
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic, minced
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 whole lemon, juiced
Instructions
  1. Start by bringing the water to a boil.
  2. In a separate pot or sauce pan add the couscous and olive oil and cook over medium heat until lightly toasted, stirring occasionally.
  3. When the water is boiling, slowly add it to the couscous.
  4. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover and let it simmer for 12 minutes or until the liquid has been absorbed.
  5. While the couscous is simmering away, wash the tomatoes and cut them in half. The small ones you can leave whole. Set aside. Do the same with the mozzarella. Stack the basil, roll tightly and slice thinly to create ribbons.
  6. In a small dry pan, add the pine nuts and cook over low heat until toasted. Remove from heat. Keep your eye on them so they don’t burn!
  7. Once the couscous is cooked, transfer to a bowl. Add the tomatoes, mozzarella, basil and toss lightly. The heat from the couscous should melt the mozzarella a little.
  8. For the dressing, combine balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, minced garlic, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Pour over couscous, add the tablespoon of olive oil, give it one good toss. Sprinkle the toasted pine nuts on top and enjoy!

 

The best thing is having leftover to take to work tomorrow. I think once I get into the groove of things, I’ll be back to my old self. At least I have the weekend to look forward to. I hope to have some culinary adventures! Stay tuned :)

Do you ever get into cooking slumps and do “fend-for-yourself” nights?

Spicy Black Bean Sliders

Confession: I like miniature foods.

The idea that someone would make food in mini form is freaking adorable to me. What’s not to love? The foods that are made to be miniature are cute and prevent one from eating too much. It’s a win-win for everyone in my opinion.

Most of the time – and this is common with most if not all – restaurants can make miniature foods, but they’re on the unhealthy side. Doused in mayonnaise, deep-fried, you name it. Everyone knows unless you’re eating some place where you can see how your food is prepared, you have no idea what kind of “healthy” decisions they’re making back there.

I wanted miniature food in the form of sliders over the weekend. I won’t lie, there is a great bar the next town over that makes some pretty yummy vegetarian sliders. They make them with tempeh and ones with black beans. The problem is they slather so much mayo on it that it’s almost inedible. Almost.

I had the brilliant idea of making my own black bean sliders.

And let me tell you: I’m glad I did. I knew the recipe would be relatively easy and I had most all the ingredients at home, except for the dinner rolls which I purchased the day I made them, so they’d be nice and fresh.

They turned out exceptionally well if I do say so myself.

I take it as a huge compliment when my husband tells me when what I’ve made is “really freaking good.” He does like my cooking, don’t get me wrong, but there are only a handful of things we both stop and say “Damn. That recipe is for sure a keeper.”

Safe to say this one is in the books.

I must warn you though: these are really spicy! You can adjust the spice level to your taste :)

Recipe adapted from Mother Thyme

Spicy Black Bean Sliders
 
Prep time
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Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Vegetarian, Entree, black beans, burgers
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 2 15-oz. cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • ½ cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
  • 2 shallots, finely minced
  • 2 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons ketchup
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoon Sriracha hot sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Franks Red Hot sauce
  • 1½ tablespoons fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ⅔ cup Panko bread crumbs (more if your mixture is too wet)
Instructions
  1. Add the drained, rinsed black beans to a bowl. Using a potato masher, mash the beans until desired consistency.
  2. Next add the corn, shallot, garlic, cilantro, ketchup, Sriracha, Franks Red Hot, salt, cumin, black pepper and cayenne pepper and mix well.
  3. Fold in the Panko bread crumbs until the mixture comes together nicely.
  4. Store the mixture in the fridge for 10-15 minutes.
  5. Form patties (about 1-inch diameter of each black bean ball) and set on a plate.
  6. Place the patties back in the fridge for 5-10 minutes.
  7. In a large skillet, heat up 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil.
  8. Cook patties 5 minutes on each side until crispy on each side.
  9. Optional: add a slice of cheese to each patty and cover the skillet to help melt the cheese. You can also toast some the cut rolls in a separate pan to help crisp them up before serving.
  10. Makes 12 sliders; Serves 6 (two sliders per person)

 

Make ‘em this summer. You won’t regret it.

What are some recipes you’ve made that you deem more successful than others?

Comfort Food

 

Hello you lovely readers :)

Did everyone enjoy their weekend? Did you do anything fun?

I certainly didn’t do a whole lot. REB is in Chicago for a few days for a conference and he left on Saturday and will be back on Wednesday night, late. I had a pretty low key weekend though, hanging out with the furballs, folding laundry, cleaning, and of course cooking!

I haven’t cooked in about a week. How horrible is that? With the travel to Chicago last weekend and eating salads at home or making them at Whole Foods during the week, I just never got around to making anything exciting. I need to make sure such a hiatus doesn’t happen again. But no matter! I remedied that on Sunday. I was in deep need of some comfort food. There was nothing wrong or any particular reason except that I wanted some comfort food.

What screams comfort more than pot pies? I had never made pot pies before and I couldn’t believe how easy it was to make. I made them vegetarian but I also threw in some tofu for added protein and meatiness. You could certainly use Boca-brand Meatless Crumbles, Morningstar Chick’n Strips or just leave out the meat substitute completely and keep it with just veggies! Of course you can make them with meat for any meat eaters in your family. The possibilities are absolutely endless.

Individual Tofu and Vegetable Pot Pies

•6 oz. firm tofu, cut into small cubes
•Non-stick spray
•2 teaspoons olive oil
•1 shallot, finely chopped
•2 teaspoons minced garlic (1-2 garlic cloves)
•1 carrot, diced (about 1 cup)
•2-3 stalks celery, diced (about 1 cup)
•1 medium-sized Yukon gold potato, diced (about 1 cup)
•1 cup (8-oz. carton) baby Bella mushrooms, diced
•1/2 teaspoon salt
•1/2 teaspoon black pepper
•2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
•1 1/2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
•1 tablespoon cream (you can use less)
•1/2 cup frozen baby peas
•2 teaspoons dried thyme
•2 teaspoons dried parsley
•2 sheets puff pastry, thawed

Method

Preheating your oven to 375°F

Start by cooking the tofu in a pan with non-stick spray until browned on all sides, about 3-5 minutes. When it’s done, transfer to a bowl that has a little water in it, to help keep it moist, and set aside.

In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the shallot, garlic, carrots and celery and cook until the shallots are translucent and softened, about 2-3 minutes. Add the potatoes and mushrooms, salt and pepper and stir. Cook until the mushrooms are softened and reduced in size, about 5-8 minutes.

Sprinkle the mixture with flour and stir well until all the vegetables are coated well. Let it cook a minute or two or until the flour is dissolved and you’ve cooked the flour taste out of the dish. Add the vegetable broth and cream and stir well. Leave uncovered and bring to a simmer. Near the end, add the cooked tofu cubes and stir. Once the tofu is heated through, turn off the heat and add the frozen peas and herbs (parsley and thyme). Stir and set aside.

It’s time to prepare your ramekins! I bought some ramekins recently and they worked perfectly. They were about 8 or 10 ounces and I loved the color and texture! Anyway, roll out the puff pastry (you may need to flour your board and some of the pastry sheet) and cut 1/2-inch strip and wrap it around the edge of each ramekin. Then cut a circle larger than the size of the ramekin. Wet the strip that’s already on the ramekin, and place the larger circle on top. Using a little more water, press down the sides so the bowls are covered. Take a fork to crimp the edges and cut some slits in the top to let out the steam while they bake.

Now they’re ready to bake!

Optional: You could do a simple egg wash (one cracked egg mixed with milk or water) on each pastry and then sprinkle with coarse salt so it bakes up suuuuper golden

Bake them for 20-25 minutes or until the tops are golden brown. The smell in the house was absolutely amazing!!

So I guess TECHNICALLY you should let them sit for 5-10 minutes to let them cool before you dig in. But what’s the fun in that?

The filling was so hot and gooey, the tofu and vegetables cooked perfectly and the pastry? Ohhh the pastry. So flaky, golden and delicious. It all turned out so great and it was so, so easy to make! I enjoyed one for myself and then put the rest in the rest in the freezer so REB can have some when he’s home later this week <3 :)

Storage tip: Once the pies are completely cool, take some parchment paper and place on top of the pastry. Then wrap the entire ramekin tightly in aluminum foil (be careful not to crush the pastry crust), and then place in a Ziploc bag. Let as much air out before you seal ‘em up! Label and freeze! They should be OK for 1-2 months! When you’re ready to re-heat, set it out to thaw for 20 minutes, preheat your oven to 375 and bake for 30-45 minutes.

Comfort food is a necessity – in moderation – and it totally hit the spot for me!
Each pot pie is just around 400 calories, so it’s not too terrible!

Enjoy!

What’s your favorite comfort food?