Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Sauteed Broccolini

Broccoli is almost a staple in my kitchen, and gets used many different ways. But on days when I just want to fix a quick dinner, my go-to recipe is to saute it with different spices for a variety in flavor. For a change, I decided to get a little fancy and bought some broccolini instead of reaching out for broccoli at the grocery store. The tender stems of broccolini are just as delicious (and nutritious) as the florets. A quick saute with garlic and lemon juice was all it needed to make the fresh broccolini a lovely side dish. I decided to take the flavor up a notch with some pine nuts and Feta cheese. Not only did it help the taste, it also really enhanced the textures of this simple dish.


Ingredients: (Serves ~4)
8 oz broccolini - thick stems removed.
1 tsp lemon juice (adjust to taste)
2 cloves of garlic - minced
1 Tbsp pine nuts
1-2 Tbsp crumbled Feta cheese
Salt (optional - I didn’t use any as Feta cheese was salty)
Ground black pepper (optional)
½ tsp oil for sauteeing

Heat oil in a pan over medium heat. Add garlic and saute for a few seconds until fragrant. Add broccolini, stir to coat with garlic and cover and cook for a couple minutes. Remove lid, add lemon juice, salt and pepper, stir and cover for another minute until broccolini starts browning. Add pine nuts, and saute uncovered for a couple minutes until the broccolini has softened to your liking. Remove from heat and stir in Feta cheese. Serve warm as a side.



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Saturday, June 25, 2016

Cashew Date Bars

I LOVE cashews - they are by far my favorite type of nut. It is always dangerous to keep cashews in the house because I will inevitably over-indulge in them and finish half the container in one sitting! I figure since they are one of the healthier nuts to eat, and since we rarely get cashews (they can be quite expensive!), a cashew-binge every once in a while won’t hurt in the long run.

But, as some binges go, there is regret after - regret that I didn’t have the fortitude to make the cashews last longer! Making trail mix sometimes helps, but I’m just as likely to scarf that down as I am plain cashews. Then I was introduced to the amazing idea of a cashew cookie bar (Nakd and Larabar are two popular brands), in which pulverized cashews and dates are smashed together to form a delicious (and healthy!) snack. These treats can also be a bit pricey, so (as with many things here on our blog) I set out to make my own. I added some cocoa powder, which helped tone down the sweetness of the dates, and a little vanilla extract to maintain the moisture balance which helps the bars keep their shape. The result was a tasty, healthy treat I could feel good about eating - and since the dates are quite dense and nutrient-packed (good source of potassium, magnesium, and dietary fiber), a little goes a long way to satisfy both my cashew cravings and my sweet tooth!

~1 cup raw cashews
~2 cups dates, pitted and chopped
~2 TBSP unsweetened cocoa powder
~1 tsp vanilla extract

Place all ingredients together in a food processor and process until you get a nice homogenous mixture. If the mixture is too wet or dry, adjust the amount of nuts or fruit as desired.

Line a flat-bottomed container with plastic wrap and pour in the mixture, and pack it down firmly.

Refrigerate for at least half an hour to help it set, then cut it into bars of desired size. If you have other types of moulds (for cookies or candies) you could also use those, pressing the mixture firmly into the moulds for a variety of shapes.


Keep bars refrigerated until ready to eat. Enjoy with a cup of coffee or tea!


Other recipes you might like: cashew date smoothie

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Thursday, June 23, 2016

Mango Relish

Growing up in India, summer was synonymous with playing in the sun, coming home with parched throats to drink cool water from earthen pots, and most importantly - mangoes! I literally can’t stress enough the excitement over Alphanso mangoes. Ripe Alphanso mangoes are beautifully bright yellow, have a tender texture that’s not as fibrous as a lot of other varieties, and the taste is really what rightfully gives them the title of ‘king of mangoes’.
Out here in the US, you can buy really expensive Alphonso mangoes, but I typically settle with other varieties that are more easily available, and honestly - fairly delicious! A ripe, sweet mango is particularly suited for making a sweet and sour relish. This quick and  simple recipe uses ripe mangoes for sweetness, lemon juice for tartness and cilantro & ginger to bring out the freshness of all the ingredients. My favorite way of eating this is with avocado toast, but it makes a wonderful dip for chips and crackers, or can be used as a relish for topping grilled chicken, fish, or tofu.


Ingredients: (Makes ~ 1 cup)
½ cup chopped ripe mango
¼ cup chopped onion
1 Tbsp chopped cilantro
⅛ tsp grated ginger
½ tsp lemon juice (or to taste)
1 small Roma tomato - deseeded and chopped
1 small pinch of red pepper flakes (or to taste)
Mix all ingredients. Adjust red pepper and lemon juice to your liking. Serve with tortilla chips or crackers. For sweet and sour mango-avocado toast, spread mashed avocado on toasted multigrain bread. Top it with mango relish and enjoy!



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Monday, June 20, 2016

Broccoli and Mushroom Roll-ups

Any buttery flaky pastry gets infinitely better with a creamy filling in the center - be it something sweet like nutella, pastry cream; or savory like spinach & ricotta cheese. With pre-made pastry dough, delicious appetizer roll-ups can be whipped up in a snap! This time I used broccoli and mushrooms for the filling, and gave it a creamy component by mixing in some cream cheese. While broccoli and mushrooms are some of my favorite ingredients, you can follow the same steps with any other vegetables of your choice, ensuring that you’ve cooked out most of the moisture so it won’t leave the pastry soggy.


Ingredients: (Makes 8 pieces)
1 cup chopped broccoli florets
4 oz chopped mushrooms (~1.5 cups)
½ small onion - chopped
2 cloves of garlic - minced
1 tsp oil
Salt, black pepper to taste
2 oz cream cheese - can use low fat
1 tube of Crescent rolls (8 pieces) - can use reduced fat

Heat oil over medium-high, add onions and garlic and saute for a minute. Add mushrooms and reduce them to about half, stirring occasionally. Add broccoli, season with salt & pepper, and saute for another minute. Turn the heat to low, add cream cheese and mix well. Take the pan off the heat once completely combined.


Preheat oven to 375 F (or as per package directions for the pastry).

Roll out the Crescent dough and gently tear apart each triangle. Add about a Tbsp of the filling at the wide edge and roll towards the other end. Press down on the seam to seal it.

mushroom broccoli crescent rolls.jpg

Place the roll-ups on a greased baking sheet (or lined with parchment paper), and bake in preheated oven for ~12-15 minutes until golden brown. Serve warm.



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Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Roasted Corn Quesadilla with Tomatillo Salsa

A few weeks ago I made a sweet and sour roasted tomatillo and apple salsa. It was a lot more than I could devour with chips in just a couple days, so I froze some of it and have been using it in different ways since - dipping sauce for veggies, dressing for salads, spread for sandwiches etc. Here’s another recipe that brings out the bright flavors in this salsa - crispy quesadilla with corn tortillas and a roasted corn, pepper and beans filling.


Ingredients: (Makes ~4-5)
8-10 Corn tortillas
½ cup roasted tomatillo & apple salsa (Click here for recipe)
¾ - 1 cup shredded Mexican blend cheese (or other quick melting cheese - I used Queso Chihuahua Shredded cheese)

1 cup sweet corn
1 small red bell pepper - chopped
½ small onion - chopped (~¼ cup)
½ cup black or kidney beans - cooked (or from a can)
1-2 cloves of garlic - minced
1 tsp oil
Salt, black pepper - to taste

To make Filling:
Heat oil over medium-high and add garlic and onions. Saute for a minute, then add the pepper and corn. Let them cook until browned, stirring occasionally. Add the beans, season with salt, pepper, mix well and take off the heat.

Warm two tortillas on both sides. Spread about 1 Tbsp of salsa on one of the tortillas. Top it with 2-3 Tbsp of filling mixture and about 2 Tbsp of shredded cheese. Place the other tortilla on top.


Press down with a spatula and cook on medium heat until the bottom is browned and crispy. You can use a little bit of butter/oil if you like. Gently flip the quesadilla and cook the other side until crispy. Cut into wedges and serve with more salsa for dipping.  



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Sunday, June 12, 2016

Mashed Potato Waffles

Mashed potatoes with mushrooms are one of my favorite ways to eat potatoes.  They’re similar to the filling I make for the Ukrainian dumplings called Varenyky (or this lazy variant). I’m also a fan of tater tots, even though that may not be the healthiest way to eat potatoes. What I love about them is the soft potatoes encapsulated in a crispy exterior. So, I figured why not play with similar textures using mashed potatoes which are inherently soft, but can be crisped up using very little fat with the help of a waffle maker! These waffles turned out even better than I had expected - still creamy and fluffy on the inside, they had a nice crisp on the outside, and even some crunchy edges!


Mashed potatoes
6 small red potatoes
4 oz portobello mushrooms - chopped
2-4 garlic cloves - minced
1-2 tsp butter
2-4 Tbsp skimmed milk
2 Tbsp chopped greens (I used spring onions. Dill, chives work really well too)
Salt, black pepper to taste

Mashed potato waffles
2 cups mashed potatoes (Any recipe will do - my preferred recipe is given below)
1 egg - beaten
⅓ cup whole wheat flour (or all purpose)
1 tsp baking powder
2-3 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
½ cup buttermilk
Salt to taste
Oil/butter to grease waffle maker

To make mashed potatoes:
Scrub the red potatoes and remove any sprouts (eyes). In a large pot with lightly salted water, boil the potatoes until soft.

While potatoes are cooking, add the mushrooms and garlic in a pan over medium heat. Cook stirring occasionally until the mushrooms are reduced to half (no oil necessary if using a nonstick pan).

Mash the potatoes with the skin on, add butter and mushroom mixture. Add skimmed milk - one Tablespoon at a time until a smooth creamy consistency is achieved. You can leave the potatoes lumpier if you prefer them that way. Add chopped greens and mix well.


To transform the creamy potatoes into crispy waffles:
Mix baking powder with the flour. Add flour mixture, eggs and Parmesan cheese to the mashed potatoes, mix well. Add buttermilk and mix. Season with salt if needed.

Grease both sides of waffle iron. Add ¼ cup of batter (for each waffle), and cook until browned on both sides.

Serve immediately with a dollop of sour cream and/or ketchup. This makes an excellent any-time snack, but can be turned into a filling breakfast with fried eggs and some fresh fruit on the side.



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Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Spinach Artichoke Souffle

Our hands-down favorite breakfast item to get at Panera is their Spinach Artichoke soufflé. Though it has both spinach and artichoke and lots of protein from eggs, it is not necessarily the healthiest breakfast choice Panera offers - it has roughly 25% of a day’s worth of calories and 33g of fat - but oh boy, is it tasty! Since we usually end up indulging in one just about every weekend, I figured I ought to try making it at home - hopefully helping both our waistlines and our wallets!


Ingredients: (makes 4 soufflés)
4 large eggs
¼ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
2 TBSP reduced fat sour cream or Greek yogurt (I used yogurt)
½ tsp baking powder
Salt to taste
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup frozen spinach, thawed (can use fresh chopped, packed)
2 artichoke hearts, chopped
1 TBSP chopped red bell pepper (I didn’t have bell pepper, but I did have pimentos, so I tried those instead)
~4 TBSP additional shredded Parmesan cheese for topping
1 frozen puff pastry sheet, thawed (I used Phyllo dough, it came in a box with 2 large rolls - I ended up using about half of one roll)


Heat oven to 400F.

In a bowl, beat 3 eggs. Add yogurt (or sour cream), baking powder, salt, garlic, bell pepper (or pimentos), and ¼ cup Parmesan cheese, and mix well. Add spinach and artichoke and stir to combine.


In a small bowl, beat remaining egg. Roll out pastry on parchment paper or Aluminum foil and cut into 2 squares/rectangles about 3-4 inches on one side (this ended up being about half of one roll of the Phyllo dough).


Each square will have about 20+ sheets - separate them into stacks of about 10 each, to end up with 4 squares/rectangles of pastry with about 10 sheets in each stack. With each square, gently separate the layers of pastry one at a time to brush with the egg wash. (Note: you can also do the egg wash first before cutting the sheet into squares.)


Carefully lift each pastry square and lay in soufflé cups or baking pan. Spoon 3-4 TBSP of the spinach artichoke mixture into each cup and top with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese. Fold the pastry corners over top of the egg mixture and brush the tips with extra egg wash.


Bake 20-25 minutes, until pastry turns golden brown. Let cool 5-10 minutes before removing from pan.


Dig in and enjoy the Panera-style deliciousness!

~ Karla

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Saturday, June 4, 2016

Chai Oatmeal

My weekday breakfast typically involves something quick like oatmeal, fruits or smoothies, while the weekends call for more elaborate preparations such as pancakes, stuffed omelettes, fresh squeezed orange juice etc. However, once in a while oatmeal sneaks back into weekend breakfasts with some delicious flavors such as carrot cake oatmeal, or this chai flavored oatmeal. I have seen several recipes for chai spice oatmeal, but they seldom are made with chai, which really means tea. This recipe has very little spice (just cardamom), but is made with fresh brewed black tea and milk, just like Indian chai. If you’re a chai lover, I’m sure you’ll enjoy this!


Ingredients: (Serves 2)
½ cup freshly brewed black tea (unsweetened)
1 cup skim milk
¾ cup old fashioned rolled oats
1 tsp cardamom powder
1-2 tsp brown sugar - optional
Chopped fruit - optional (I used apples)
Chopped nuts - optional (I used walnuts)

Mix tea and milk and bring to a boil over medium heat. Add oats, cardamom powder, sugar and cook stirring occasionally for ~6-8 minutes until the oats are cooked. Remove from heat and serve warm topped with chopped fresh fruits and nuts.



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