Tag Archives: spicy

Spicy, Smokey, Sweet Roasted Chickpeas

The best thought I had on Thursday, was knowing that Friday was around the corner. I can’t wait for the weekend. I feel like the work weeks are busier than they need to be. So much so, I find myself getting to work before 8, sometimes before 7:30 and working until almost 5 or past that. It’s not like I should complain.

I really do love what I do. But when you’re in meetings almost all day, every day, it’s hard to get the actual work done! I’m lucky to have an amazing team that keeps things going and moving forward when I’m not around. I’m sure I’d be 8479374938 times more stressed if that wasn’t the case.

So when I finally did leave the office, and then took my 25 minute bus ride home, I was beat. I fed the pups, laid down on the couch and this happened.

But shortly after that, the chickpeas happened. I wanted nothing more than to have the worst kind of snack in the world (read: ice cream, chips, chocolate, anything!) but we don’t have those types of things in the house (except Skinny Cows, but wasn’t in the mood for that). So I made the roasted chickpeas and it was the perfect snack.

I’ve made roasted chickpeas a million times before and they’re usually savory with rosemary and sea salt, salt and black pepper, sriracha and franks red hot…and you get the point. I still need to try making sweet ones, but this time, I wanted a blend of it all because I couldn’t decide between spicy and sweet.

So Triple S was born: spicy, smokey and sweet.
•Spicy and smokey was the garam masala. I make my own, but you can also buy it already made. I made a small batch of garam masala but without the cardamom so it was more smokey with the cumin and coriander.
•Sweet came from the cinnamon and brown sugar. A beautiful combination.

And all was right in the world. At least for the day anyway.

Spicy, Smokey and Sweet Roasted Chickpeas
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: snack, appetizer
  • 1 can (15 oz.) garbanzo beans, drained, rinsed and dried
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons garam masala (homemade or store bought)
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 425°F
  2. Drain, rinse, dry the beans and put in a small bowl
  3. Add olive oil, garam masala and brown sugar.
  4. Toss well
  5. Spread onto a baking sheet in single layer.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes, tossing after 20 minutes.
  7. Chickpeas are done when they are toasted and crispy.

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
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Vegetarian, Entree, black beans, burgers
Serves: 6
  • 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)
  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?

Israeli Couscous with Roasted Veggies and Tempeh

I don’t know about any of you, but I’m one of those gals who likes the pearled, or Israeli, couscous and not the superfine kind. I think the latter is a little too gritty but maybe I’ve never had it made correctly.  This recipe had roasted veggies, spices, chickpeas and tempeh. Proteinalicious!

Before this recipe, I had never made couscous before. I always see it made on the cooking shows I watch, but I’ve never actually been “brave” enough to make it on my own. Maybe the idea of fluffing it with my fork just scared me, who knows. Luckily I have a husband who likes having culinary adventures and let’s me tag along for the ride.

The great thing about this recipe is that it had a lot of Indian spices in it! And by a lot, I mean two. Ha. It had garam masala and turmeric. I always keep a batch of garam masala in my kitchen, but sometimes I act like my mom and make it fresh during the cooking process.

Here’s my recipe for it if you’ve never made it and want to sometime! Turmeric is another great spice. I don’t think it actually tastes like anything, but it does make your dishes turn a beautiful yellow color and stains your nails and fingertips!

I guess these two spices just remind me of home and my mom’s kitchen, so I was really excited to find a non-Indian recipe that also used them! I have to say, this dish turned out fantastic. It was a little time consuming but it turned out pretty great. REB was responsible for cooking the tempeh so I just got the instructions/process from him but didn’t take any pics :(

The original recipe was just the Israeli couscous with the grilled veggies, but we don’t have a grill and didn’t feel like pulling out the stove-top grill. So we roasted our veggies and since there really wasn’t a ton of protein in the dish, we decided to make tempeh to top it off. REB made the tempeh with an orange glaze, which I know sounds weird with the spiced couscous, but it actually went together so nicely. The sweetness paired well with the spice. They were pretty happy together. And I was too ;)

Israeli Couscous recipe adapted from Three Many Cooks
Orange glazed tempeh adapted from 101 Cookbooks

For the tempeh:
•4 oz. Soy Tempeh (we used half a block of this Light Life Tempeh brand), cut into thin triangles or 1/2-inch strips
1 tablespoon olive oil (for cooking)
•1/2 cup fresh mandarin juice or orange juice (about 4-5 mandarins)
•1 teaspoon minced garlic (1 clove)
•1 teaspoon lite soy sauce
•3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
•1 teaspoon honey (use maple syrup instead to make this dish vegan!)
•1 teaspoon ground coriander

For the couscous:
•2 cups Israeli (pearled) couscous
•1 small zucchini cut julienne then cut in thirds to make small strips
•1 red bell pepper cut julienne then cut in half to make small strips
•1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
•1/2 cup grape tomatoes, halved
•1/2 cup chopped onion
•1 teaspoon minced garlic
•3 teaspoons garam masala (I know that sounds like a lot, but this will make it good and spicy)
•1 teaspoon turmeric
•3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
•1 cup water
•S&P to taste
•1/4 cup chopped cilantro, plus some extra for garnish
•2 tablespoons olive oil, plus additional for roasting vegetables

Start by preheating your oven to 400°F. Add the bell pepper and zucchini in a single layer on a rimmed cookie sheet, toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Bake for 30-35 minutes checking on them halfway and tossing again.

Meanwhile in a large pot, heat the 2 tablespoons olive oil and let it get hot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Next add the garlic and cook an additional minute or two.  Then add the couscous and spices and stir to lightly toast the couscous, about 2-3 minutes. Add the vegetable broth and cup of water. Bring the whole thing to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium, cover and let it simmer for another 10 minutes or until most of the liquid is gone. It will be very thick!

While all that is happening, heat a separate skillet with 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium high heat.  Add the tempeh and cook 5 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Then add the liquid mixture and let it simmer and reduce for about 10 minutes. It will turn into a glaze.

When the couscous is finished, add in the chickpeas, roasted vegetables, halved tomatoes and cilantro. Top with tempeh, garnish with cilantro and serve!

This made so much! I think we easily could have served 6-8 people. You could definitely feed more if you were serving it as a side dish. This can also be made vegan. Actually I think without the tempeh, it already is vegan. Either way, this is one dish I don’t mind having a lot leftovers!

Have any of you made couscous before?
Do you prefer the traditional fine couscous, or this pearled kind?

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Spicy Paneer Tikka Masala

After making the tandoori masala yesterday, I wanted to make paneer tikka masala so I could actually use the mixture. The last time REB and I went out for Indian food, he ordered this dish and it was incredibly delicious and not too spicy. I decided to try making it based on what I remembered tasting and also looking at a few recipes online. I went a little overboard on the spices and it was a lot more spicy than it probably should be, hence the name I gave the dish ;)

I must say, I kind of prefer it this way. I think REB does too since he had a bit of it tonight! Be warned: this is incredibly spicy and if that isn’t your cup of tea, take it down a notch! I think I’ll probably change a few things when I make this again, but I’m pretty pleased with the overall outcome. Serve it up with some naan or rice and enjoy!

Spicy Paneer Tikka Masala

•12 oz. paneer, cut into 1-inch cubes
•3 Roma tomatoes, pureed
•1/2 cup red onion, chopped
•4 cloves garlic – 3 finely minced, 1 to grate over the dish
•2 tablespoons grated ginger
•3 tablespoons plain, nonfat yogurt (they didn’t have regular yogurt, so I grabbed some Greek. It worked fine)
•1 teaspoon coriander powder
•1 green chili, finely minced
•1/2 a 14.5-oz. can of crushed tomatoes
•3 tablespoons heavy cream
•1 1/2 teaspoons garam masala
•1 tablespoon tandoori masala
•1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
•1/2 teaspoon chili powder
•2 tablespoons olive oil
•1/2 teaspoons chopped cilantro
•Salt to taste
•Cilantro for garnish

The first step to making this is to marinate the paneer. I know that sounds funny, but it helps keep it moist and spicy!
Combine the yogurt, coriander and 1 tablespoon of grated ginger in a bowl with the paneer. Stir and cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Heat a large, deep skillet with some oil and wait until it is hot. Add the paneer cubes one at a time and pan-fry them until golden brown on all sides. Be careful not to overcrowd the skillet. Once you’ve cooked all the paneer, transfer to a plate and set aside.

In the same skillet add the onion and cook for 5 minutes until translucent.  Add the turmeric and stir. Then add the 3 chopped garlic cloves and green chili and stir to cook through. Add the pureed tomato and cook for 10 minutes until cooked and slightly thickened. Add the other tablespoon of ginger, grate the other clove of garlic, add the chili powder, garam masala and tandoori masala. Continue cooking over medium-high heat for another 5 minutes. Next add the 1/2 can of crushed tomatoes. You may need to add more garam masala because the crushed tomatoes tend to be a little bland. You could just add the salt at this point (more or less depending how it tastes). Add in the cream, stir it all together, cover and let it simmer for 10-12 minutes. The gravy should start to thicken nicely.

Add the paneer back in, careful not to break it apart, and let the whole thing cook for another 5 minutes or just until the paneer is warmed up again. Add in the chopped cilantro and stir. Transfer to a bowl and garnish with whole cilantro. Enjoy with rice or naan!

Makes 6 servings

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Mattar tofu

I make a lot of Indian curries. There is one that REB absolutely loves, called mattar paneer. However, I don’t make it that often since it’s pretty much the most unhealthy thing one could eat. Paneer is a type of cheese, similar to feta, but it’s really bad for your health. Not only that, but this dish also has sour cream in it, which in large consumptions, also not that great for the figure.

I made a variation of the dish last night and substituted tofu for the paneer. It worked like a charm. I couldn’t cut out the sour cream, but using light, or fat-free works just as well. I’m sure you could even use milk instead of cream. However, the sour cream adds a tang that sort of brings the whole dish together.

If you do want to use paneer, you can buy a frozen block from any Indian grocery stores. Some even come already cut up into cubes for your convenience. If you want to make your own paneer, that’s not too hard either, but it takes a lot of time since…well, you’re making cheese from scratch. Ha.

Maybe I’ll post something on how to do that another time. Let’s make some curry though!

What you’ll need:
•1 tablespoon vegetable or olive oil (1/2 for the tofu, 1/2 for the curry)
•1 1/2 cups firm tofu, cut into cubes
•2 cups pureed Roma tomatoes (maybe not pureed, but chopped up pretty finely)
•1/2 cup chopped onion (not pictured)
•1 tablespoon grated ginger
•1/4 teaspoon minced garlic (don’t need a lot in this dish!)
•1/3 cup fat-free or light sour cream
•1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder (not pictured)
•1 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
•salt to taste
•2 curry leaves
•1 cup frozen peas
•1/2 cup water (not pictured)
•1/2 teaspoon tamarind concentrate (not pictured)

Let’s talk about the garam masala. I’ve mentioned it once before I’m sure, but it’s the most common spice used in almost every Indian dish. It’s essential, it’s fragrant, it’s delicious. You make it by simply dry roasting several spices and then grinding them to a fine powder. I’ll have to make another post one day about how to make garam masala from scratch.
But for now, I have a mom who loves me dearly and made me this entire jarful of garam masala.
It’s OK to be jealous. Buying store-bought masala will never compare to the depth of spice and flavor of doing it yourself.

OK, enough spice-talk, let’s get cooking…

Start by preparing your ingredients, and puree or roughly chop two Roma tomatoes. I love Roma tomatoes. They’re tangy, juicy and de-li-cious! I have a mini food processor for this kind of task. You could just as easily use a blender to help you out, too. Or, if you don’t have either, warm up the tomatoes in the microwave for a few seconds, then use your hands to smush them. Yes, smush is a word. Use it. It works.

Put 1/2 tablespoon of oil in a shallow skillet or frying pan and wait for it to get screaming hot. Then, carefully place the tofu pieces (or paneer if you do want to use that) into the pan. It should start sizzling! Cook the tofu for about 4 minutes or until golden brown.

Like so. I had two batches I had to pan-fry, but they each took about 4 minutes for each side to get brown. Once of the tofu (or paneer) is cooked, transfer them to a plate with a little sprinkling of water on the bottom. This will help keep the tofu (or paneer) moist while you continue cooking.

In a saucepan, heat the other 1/2 tablespoon of oil and let it heat up a bit on medium-high.

Add the onions and the turmeric. Let them cook about 2-3 minutes (shouldn’t take long if your pan is hot!)

Next, add the garlic (very little!) and the tomatoes. You can also grate the ginger at this time. Give it a good stir and let it cook another 5-7 minutes. The juice from the tomatoes will help create a gravy, or masala as we call it.

Once that’s cooked a bit, stir in the sour cream. The color will turn a lot lighter and at this point you can add some salt (1/4-to-1/2 teaspoon). Also, add in your garam masala.

Add in the frozen peas and raise the heat a bit, since the peas (being frozen) will cool the down the dish. Add in the water (not more than 1/2 a cup). Cover and let the curry come to a boil.

Once it’s come to a boil, remove the lid and add in your tofu (or paneer).

If you are using paneer and not tofu, you must be careful not to break apart the paneer when stirring it into the dish. Since I used firm tofu, it was pretty good at holding its shape.

Add in the curry leaves and the tamarind concentrate. Tamarind concentrate is used in the tamarind chutney when eating samosas. It also adds a tang and burst of flavor when added to any curry dish. You don’t need a lot, since the flavor is so strong. Another bonus is that it helps to thicken the curry.

Cover the pan and let it simmer for 5-10 minutes.

Give your curry a taste. You may need to add more garam masala, ginger or salt depending on how spicy you want your dish to be.

Serve it hot over cooked basmati rice.

Nomlicious. Enjoy!