Thursday, April 30, 2020

Roasted Veggie Lasagna

I still remember the time I had lasagna for the first time in the US about 20 years ago. I was in awe of my husband's cousin who had made it. Multiple layers of pasta, flavorful veggies, spinach, ricotta and other cheeses- how can anyone make something as complex as this at home. Little did I know that over the years this seemingly complex dish would be broken down to a series of simple steps by my "chef brain" with several permutations/combinations of ingredients and variations!

While improvisations like using frozen spinach, crushing spinach vs not crushing it for the right texture, substituting cottage cheese for ricotta cheese to cut down on some calories and raise the nutrition bar seem trivial, the most important one came several years ago with the discovery of "no boil lasagna noodles". Gone were the days of struggling to handle the cooked sloppy with lasagna breaking apart during the process. Over the years I would realize, you don't even need to buy the "no boil noodles" in particular because ANY lasagna can be made the "no boil" way! It is the moisture from the filling layers and the sauce with the baking time in the oven that cook the noodles while infusing all the amazing flavors in them. Good bye over cooked messes!

So here's just one of my over a dozen variations of lasagna that I recently made. And like most of my meals, this requires minimal prep time (under 30 minutes total is my goal with my limited attention span, constantly multi-tasking nature and the urge to accomplish as much as I possibly can in a limited time!!)

INGREDIENTS

  • ANY lasagna noodles- about 250 GM
  • Good quality marinara pasta sauce- 1 jar
  • Pesto- 2 tbsp
  • Alfredo sauce- 1 cup (optional)
  • Chopped veggies like- Red onions, summer squash, zucchini, Eggplant, carrots, sweet/bell peppers- 1 of each 
  • Cooked chopped or crushed spinach- 1/2 cup
  • Egg white- 1-2 (optional for binding)
  • EVOO- 1 tbsp
  • Garlic cloves- 3-4
  • Salt, pepper and chili flakes to taste
  • Low fat Cottage cheese- 2 cups
  • Mozarella cheese- 1/2 cup 
  • Parmesan/pecorino cheese- 1/4 cup

METHOD

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Grease a glass baking tray. Combine the sauces in a mixing bowl. Spread the chopped veggies on a large baking tray greased with olive oil and toss them with some EVOO + salt, pepper and fresh chopped garlic. Roast the veggies in the oven for a total of 20-22 minutes mixing half way and checking again at around 18 minutes mark. Mix the roasted veggies with cottage cheese (or ricotta cheese), cooked chopped spinach, salt, pepper, chili flakes and egg whites in a mixing bowl. 
Start the layering by spreading sauce at the bottom of the baking tray followed by the uncooked lasagna sheets. Spread the veggie cottage cheese mixture on top and then the sauce again. Repeat with the final layer of lasagna and sauce. Top with shredded mozzarella cheese and parmesan cheese. Cover the tray with Aluminum foil and bake at 375F for 35-40 minutes first. Remove the foil from the top and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes. Let it rest for 10-15 minutes, cut and serve. 
Pair with mixed greens 🥬 or a simple 🥗 salad.
Bon-apetit! 




Sunday, April 26, 2020

Healthy and Tasty couscous sweet potato veggie burgers

My brain usually has an inexhaustible supply of meal ideas with repetitions of meals spread out several weeks if not months apart. This extended quarantine does challenge that track record at times. Saturday dinner was one such instance. So I asked my 10 year old foodie son, Kahan for dinner suggestions. And he looks up some ideas on "Tasty.co" and goes, "Mumma, how about we make burger patties from scratch?" And images of all the possible ingredients in the fridge started snapping in front of me. "Bingo! Those ignored honey wheat buns, that rarely ever used celery and that sweet potato begging to come out of its home would love to be finally put to good use!" I was sold on the idea and while he went through the different options about chick pea vs black bean burger, the sunflower seeds version seemed to strike my fancy! 

So Kahan and I decided to improvise the recipe based on what we had on hand and boy were we all delighted with the final outcome! So here's the simple yet flavorful and healthy veggie burger recipe. 


Ingredients
  • Boiled sweet potato- 1
  • Cooked cous cous- 3/4 cup
  • Chopped carrot- 1 medium
  • Chopped celery- 1 stalk
  • Chopped scallions- 2-3
  • EVOO- 2 tsp
  • Seeds and nuts mix (sunflower and other seeds)- 1/2 cup
  • Salt to taste
  • Chili lime seasoning- 1 tsp
  • Garlic power- dash
  • Tandoori masala- 1 tsp
  • Paprika powder- 1 tsp
  • Lettuce, Tomato, Avocado, pickles, ketchup, Sriracha ranch, buns and cheese slices to assemble
Directions
Combine all the ingredients and mix well or use a food processor pulsing a few times to make the patty batter ready. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Use half cup measure to lay out the patties on a greased baking sheet. Spread them out a little to make even thickness patties. This makes about 5-6 good size patties. Flip them after 15 minutes. 

Assemble the burgers and enjoy with your favorite condiments and salad. 









Monday, April 20, 2020

Beet paneer kofta curry

A dish is usually cooked up in the mind before being cooked in the kitchen; that's the story of a home chef! Variety is the spice of life and good food nourishes the soul. On that note, those cooked beets in the fridge needed to go in a dish besides a salad or beet raita. The blanched spinach in the freezer was doing nothing more than taking up space. Time to get them married off in a dish!
The gravy, made in the Instant pot is super easy with no saute needed there is no compromise on flavors.

Ingredients
KOFTA-

  • Grated Boiled beets (I cook them in Instant pot)- 2
  • Grated Boiled potato- 1
  • Grated paneer- 1/2 cup
  • Corn startch- 1 tbsp (can substitute with all purpose flour or skip altogether)
  • Chopped green chillies and giner- 1 tbsp
  • Oil to grease the Appe pan
  • Salt to taste


CURRY/GRAVY-
  • Tomatoes chopped- 2 large
  • Green chilly- 1
  • Ginger- 1 small piece
  • Garlic- 2 cloves 
  • Onion chopped- 1
  • Butter or ghee- 1tbsp
  • Cumin- 1 tsp
  • Spinach (optional)- 1 cup
  • Cashew pieces- 2-3 tbsp
  • Spice potli- cardamom, star anise, black pepper corn, cinnamon, cloves wrapped and tied in a small cloth pouch. (Can substitute with a tsp of garam masala)
  • Bay leaf- 1
  • Water- 2 tbsp
  • Salt to taste
  • Sugar- pinch
  • Sour cream, heavy cream or plain Greek yogurt 
Method

Combine all the Kofta ingredients in a mixing bowl and form a dough. Heat the appe pan with some oil in each section and place the kofta balls, cover and cook on medium flame for about 4-5 minutes on one side. Flip and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Kofta can be fried alternately. 

Place all the gravy ingredients in the Instant pot except the sour cream/heavy cream. Cook on high pressure for 7 minutes. Release the pressure after 10 minutes and blend in a blender after removing 
the spice pouch and the bay leaf. Transfer to a pan on the stove top and heat. Adjust salt as needed and a pinch sugar to balance the flavors.

Place the Kofta in the gravy right before serving and garnish with sour cream/heavy cream or greek yogurt. Enjoy with Roti or Naan (or by itself if on a low carb diet!!). 



NOTE- The gravy can be made in pressure cooker or stove top as well. 

Place all 

Combine all the gravy ingr

Roasted cauliflower Thai curry

Home chefs find inspiration in everything around them. Compound that with quarantine, a refrigerator full of produce, daily exposure to Master Chef season 6 and a  newly found "getting to know Instagram" approach and the result is new dishes! So that's the story behind this curry and pretty much most of the meals being whipped in the kitchen these days.

Tired of the usual Aloo Gobi? Try this Thai take on Gobi and you are sure to please your taste buds and your families quest for variety. 

Ingredients
  • 1 small head cauliflower florets
  • Green beans- 5-6 cut length wise
  • Bell pepper- 1 cut into squares
  • Olive oil - 2 tsp
  • Minced garlic- 1 tbsp
  • Ginger- 2 tsp
  • Brown sugar/Jaggery- 2 tsp
  • Coconut milk- 1 can
  • Thai green curry paste (or red curry paste)- 2tbsp
  • Thai dry chili paste- 1 tsp (optional)
  • Lemon juice or lime juice- 2 tsp
  • Salt to taste
  • Cilantro or basil to garnish

Serves 4-6. Sub 30 minute dish.

Method

Preheat the oven to 400 F. In a large sheet pan lined with aluminum foil with non stick spray, spread the vegetables evenly and drizzle with olive oil and some salt. Roast in the oven for about 15 minutes or until cauliflower appears charred but not burnt. In a sauce pan mix coconut milk, brown sugar/jaggery, minced garlic, grated ginger, Thai chili paste, Thai curry paste and mix well with a hand blender if needed. Simmer on low to medium stove top for 10 minutes. Add the roasted veggies, salt, lemon juice and mix well and turn the heat off. Garnish with basil or cilantro and serve hot with brown rice.

Monday, April 13, 2020

Cauliflower Rice with stir fry veggies/tofu bowl

This “easy-peasy” sub-15 minutes meal cuts no corners in flavors and freshness of ingredients. One thing is certain- you won’t  miss the carbs in this flavor burst medley!
Ingredients
Cauliflower rice-2 cups
Green beans (fresh or frozen)- 1/2 cup
Brussels sprouts (fresh/frozen) chopped- 2/3 cup
Shredded 🥕 carrots- 1/2 cup
Broccoli 🥦 florets 2/3 cup
Mushrooms 🍄 chopped (optional)- 1/2 cup
Green onions/chives chopped- 2
Minced garlic- 1 tbsp
Extra firm tofu pieces- 1 cup
Fried egg for topping (optional)
2 tbsp canola oil
Soy sauce- 1 tbsp
Chili garlic sauce- to taste
Good vinegar (white balsamic or rice wine)-2 tsp
Everything but Bagel seasoning 🧂 (Trader Joes)- a dash to sprinkle (or add roasted sesame seeds instead)
Cilantro/parsley to garnish
Salt to taste
Black pepper to taste

Method 
In a non stick pan, heat oil and add chili garlic sauce. Shallow fry the tofu pieces and set aside. In the same pan, add some more oil if needed and sauté the 🧄 garlic and add the veggies one after the other with salt and black pepper. Cook on medium to high heat. Add cauliflower rice, soy sauce, chili sauce, vinegar and stir well. The veggies will preserve their freshness and color as they are only cooked for a total of 4-5 minutes. Add the tofu pieces, adjust salt, sprinkle the sesame seeds or “Everything but bagel” seasoning and garnish with parsley or cilantro. Top with fried egg and enjoy this flavorful protein bowl.







Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Instant Pot Mexican Rice

Food blogging has taken a back seat this past couple of years with the newer practice taking up most of the time and energy. Instant pot happened around the same time as the practice and boy it has been a game changer in my kitchen. This Mexican rice recipe was inspired by the IP Vegetarian chili recipe. Wholesome and delicious one pot meals with minimal prep score big in a busy mom-boss's kitchen!

Ingredients

  • Rice (Brown, white, long or short grained- your choice)- 1.5 cups
  • Black beans- 2/3 cup soaked in water for 4-5 hours
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 3-4 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 jalapeno- chopped finely
  • finely chopped veggies like celery, carrots, zucchini, spinach
  • corn (fresh/frozen/roasted)- 1/2 cup
  • Water- 2 cups
  • Taco seasoning- 2 tsp
  • salt to taste
  • Lime juice to taste
  • Chopped cilantro to garnish
  • Mexican shredded cheese to garnish
  • Avocado- 1 chopped to garnish
  • EVOO or canola oil- 1 tsp
Directions

Turn the IP to Saute mode and put oil in the pot. Saute onion, garlic, jalapeno for 2-3 minutes. Add all the chopped veggies, beans, rice, seasoning and water, salt. Close the lid and and cook on High Pressure for 8 minutes. Vent after 10-12 minutes and add the lime juice and mix well. Serve with the garnishes. 

Roasted curried cauliflower-corn soup

When life gives you cauliflower, you tend to make Aloo Gobi, Gobi masala or Gobi paratha as a devout Indian home chef. That was me until I was fed up of the first two options and lacked the time and patience for the stuffed Gobi paratha option. And that is how this soup was conceived!

Ingredients

  • Cauliflower florets (frozen or fresh)- 2-3 cups (or 1 cauliflower head)
  • Frozen or fresh corn kernels (I use roasted corn)- 1/2 cup
  • Onion- 1 medium chopped into large pieces
  • Coconut milk reduced fat- 1/2 cup
  • EVOO- 1 teaspoon or more to roast
  • Vegetable broth- 1 cup
  • Roasted cumin powder- 1/2 teaspoon
  • Garam masala powder- 1/2 teaspoon
  • Turmeric powder- 1/2 teaspoon
  • Smoked paprika- 2 teaspoons
  • Balsamic vinegar- to garnish
  • Salt/pepper to taste
  • Cilantro/parsley chopped to garnish
  • Smoked gouda or goat cheese - per taste
  • Tortilla strips to garnish
Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Spread the chopped cauliflower florets and the onions on a non stick sprayed cookie sheet. Coat them in EVOO lightly and sprinkle some salt and pepper. Bake for 15 minutes rotating the sheet once in-between. Blend the roasted veggies with vegetable broth and roasted corn. Heat the soup on a stove top on medium to low medium heat and add the coconut milk and the seasonings. Let it simmer on low for a few minutes. Serve the soup hot garnished with cilantro/parsley, cheese, balsamic vinegar and tortilla strips. Enjoy with sour dough bread or Avocado toast.
https://photos.app.goo.gl/LZ71fcmjarkV5XDm6