Kale chips

Ewwww…that is the reaction I get from the husband. But he is over-reacting! How do I know? Because I don’t remember him putting even put one of these in his mouth 😛 Most people I know don’t like kale. I must admit that I’m not super-fond of it either. However, I do enjoy them in this form.

Kale is very high in beta carotene, vitamin K, vitamin C, and reasonably rich in calcium. Kale also contains sulforaphane, a chemical with potent anti-cancer properties. Need I say more about it’s nutritional value?

There are some people who claim that these chips are akin to potato chips. they are L-Y-I-N-G! It is sacrilegious to put potato chips and kale chips in the same category. They are both nice in their own ways. Ever since I start low-carbing, I’ve enjoyed kale chips as a snack. The best part is that they are really simple to make. I hope you take the step towards making these 🙂 Also, you must keep in mind that the more fresh the kale, the better tasting the chips will be.

Ingredients:

1 bunch kale (I get the triple washed packet from Trader Joe’s)

1 tbsp olive oil

salt, pepper and paprika – to taste

Method:

Preheat the oven to 300F.

If you have the washed and chopped variety of kale, it does take less time to put this together. I simply air dry the already chopped kale from the packet for a little bit before continuing with the rest of the recipe.

If you are buying a whole bunch of kale, make sure you remove the ribs, tear them into bite sized pieces, wash and THOROUGHLY dry them. This step is very important, because even if the kale has an iota of water, you will have soggy kale, no chips!

Once the kale is completely dry, put it in a bowl, drizzle it with olive oil and season it with salt, pepper and paprika.

Lay the leaves on a baking or cookie sheet and bake them until crisp, turning about half way through – approximately 10-20 mins. Every oven is different so make sure to keep an eye on it after about 10 mins. they do have a tendency to burn quickly.

You can serve these as snacks or finger foods. You can store these chips in an airtight container for a few weeks. The chips in the pictures are slightly darker because I had to bake them a second time, they got soft because I failed to notice that my airtight container had lost its seal 😛

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Broccoli Brie soup

I like the broccoli cheddar soup at Panera. Apart from the side that it has a lot of sodium, it’s pretty tasty. It’s the same with the french onion soup as well. Ever since my IR diagnosis, my tryst with bakeries hasn’t gone too well. There is a lot of bread at Panera (that I am not supposed to eat). So I am almost always stuck with a soup and salad combo. Sigh. I love sandwiches, especially paninis 😦

Anyways, before I go back into sad storytelling mode, I decided to try a twist on the broccoli cheddar soup, substituting brie for cheddar. My friend B from Mongolia recently asked me what I did with broccoli stalks, after using the head of broccoli. Threw in the trash, was my answer. Duh. Well, she said she made soup with it. *Lightbulb moment*

I hope you are brave enough to try it and I also hope you enjoy it as much as the hubby and I did 🙂 This is great for lunch or dinner!

Ingredients:

Broccoli stalks – 2 (the thick stalks)

Vegetable stock – 1 cup

Chicken or veggie bouillon cube – 1

Brie cheese – 4-6 ozs (or less, if you are extremely conscious) – save a few pieces for garnish

Salt and pepper- to taste.

Dill and parley – for garnish

Method-

Clean and chop the broccoli stalks and pressure cook them in the stock until the stalks are really soft. You can do the same in a stock pot. It will take additional time to cook, that’s all.

Using a hand blender puree the stalks in the remainder of the stock until very smooth.

Add the bouillon cube and bring to boil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Go easy on the salt, bouillon cubes normally contain a lot of salt.

Next add the brie cheese and reduce the heat. Mix until completely combined.

Ladle into soup bowls. Garnish with the remaining cubes of brie and a dash of dill and parsley

How simple was that? I will be trying the broccoli cheddar soon (when I have some more broccoli stalks saved ;))

Bon Appetit!

 

Tofu-mushroom-bell pepper stir fry

I’m not super fond of tofu (I know it’s healthy and all!), but I try coming up with interesting recipes in the hope that I will like one of them (secretly hoping the husband likes tofu too *fingers crossed*) ! While surfing www.foodgawker.com (officially my fave thing to do!) I found this recipe and I thought it was interesting. Finally after making it, since the husband did not complain while eating, I think I have a winner in the tofu section 🙂

Ingredients:

1 pack extra firm tofu, cut into cubes

4 cloves of garlic, minced

1 green bell pepper, cut into chunks

10 oyster mushrooms, sliced

4 shiitake mushrooms, stalk removed and sliced

1 tbsp tamari soy sauce (you can also use any other dark soy sauce)

1 tbsp oyster sauce

1 cube chicken bouillon (use vegetarian bouillon if you want a completely vegetarian dish)

1 tsp cornstarch

2 tbsp water

Cooking oil (not olive oil, sesame will do. I used canola.)

Method:

Stir together soy sauce, oyster sauce, chicken bouillon, cornstarch, and water in a non-reactive bowl.  Set sauce aside.

Remove tofu from package and try and drain as much water out of it as possible. Cut into ¾ inch chunks.

Heat 2 tbsp of cooking oil in a skillet over high heat. When oil is smoking hot, add the tofu. Panfry, stirring occasionally, until tofu is browned on all sides, about 4-5 mins. Remove the tofu and set aside.

In the skillet add another tbsp of oil and reduce heat to medium-high. Stir-fry the mushrooms until they start to soften, and then add the green bell peppers and minced garlic. Toss the mixture around a few times to cook the peppers, but make sure they’re still crisp, between 30 seconds and 1 min. Add the fried tofu and stir-fry carefully, making sure you don’t break the chunks of tofu, just until heated through, about than 1 minute.

Add the sauce, and stir into the mixture until thick, less than 30 sec. If sauce is too thick, add a little more water and stir it in thoroughly.

Serve hot with steamed rice.

Bon Appetit!

Spicy tofu

The past few weeks have been quite ‘busy’…I hate the word, but tend to use it a lot! Busyness in life makes me stressed. For the most part I am a laid back Type B personality. As much as I love rushing around getting things done, I do not enjoy the pressure that comes with it. When I am stressed I also cook…a LOT…so that’s good for the blog 🙂

I have been trying to follow some recipes I had requested from my mom and my MIL. They include spicy pork curry and roast beef. I did try all of them, but forgot to take pictures 😛 I will be trying them again soon, with a new twist. When I do, I promise to post the recipe and the pictures. I also tried lemon bars for the very first time and they turned out great!

A few weeks ago, I was on an Asian food roll. Here’s the recipe for spicy tofu that we had.

Ingredients:

1 pound extra firm tofu (cubed)

1 red onion, sliced

1 red green pepper, sliced

1 serrano pepper

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1/3 cup water

3 tbsps vinegar

3 tbsps soy sauce

1 tbsp brown sugar

1 tsp cornstarch

1 tsp red pepper powder

2 tbsps canola oil

Method:

Pat the tofu with kitchen towels, removing as much water as you can before you cube it.

Heat oil in a large pan or wok on medium high. Add cubed tofu and fry until golden brown.

After the tofu is browned, add sliced onion, bell pepper, serrano pepper and garlic. Toss it until the vegetables are just tender, about 5 mins.

In a different bowl combine the water, vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar, cornstarch and red pepper powder.  Pour over tofu and vegetables to coat. Simmer everything together until the sauce thickens.

Serve either with rice or vermicelli

Bon Appetit!

 

Quinoa salad

I mostly peruse through recipes online when I’m cooking something new. That has changed a little bit in the past week. Ever since I got my membership at the local library, I’ve been using it to bring lots of low-carb recipe books home 🙂 However the recipe I followed for this lentil quinoa salad is from here.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 1 1/4 cups water, plus 2 cups
  • 1/2 cup red lentils (masoor dal)
  • 1 teaspoon mustard (the one we use for sandwiches)
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1-2 tbspns olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 tbspns lemon juice
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • A handful of chopped fresh cilantro leaves
Method:
Put the quinoa in a sieve and rinse in cold water. In a large microwave-proof bowl with a cover, add the rinsed quinoa and 1 1/4 cups water. Cover and microwave on high for 9 minutes. Let it sit for 2 minutes then stir. Quinoa should be tender enough to eat, but not mushy.
Put the lentils in a sieve and rinse in cold water. In a saucepan, simmer the lentils in 2 cups water until the lentils are tender, but not mushy. This will only take a few minutes, if you are using other lentils, it might take longer. Drain and cool.
In a small bowl, whisk the mustard and vinegar together, and drizzle in the oil as you continue whisking. Add the garlic powder, lime juice, salt, and pepper, to taste.
Assemble the salad by mixing the quinoa, lentils, green onions, and chopped cilantro. Top the salad with the dressing, toss to coat and serve.
Enjoy!!

Grilled eggplant and quinoa salad

In my quest to eat low-carb food I have been reading a lot and definitely changing the way the husband and I eat. One change that we had made even before this whole lifestyle change was shopping for organic foods. 90% of our dairy, vegetables and meat are now organic.

The past week we visited our favorite people in CT while we were there for a wedding. K told me that she has now been eating more vegan/vegetarian food. She represents what I would like to be – a flexitarian, eating a more plant-based diet rather than an animal-based diet.

I also told a friend of mine that I can follow a diet as long as it tastes good, so I am on a mission to cook good tasting low-carb food 🙂 My first foray into it was cooking a vegetarian meal without bread, flour and sugar. I chose to grill eggplant that K had given me. It was grown by her next-door neighbor. I made a quinoa salad as a side dish. I adapted both recipes from ones I found online here and here. This was a really great and quick dinner! I’ll post the quinoa salad recipe soon.

Grilled eggplant-

Ingredients:

1 large globe eggplant
1 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 mashed garlic cloves
1 tsp paprika (add some cayenne if you want it hotter)
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper

Method:

  1. Peel stripes of skin off the eggplant to create a zebra pattern of skin and no-skin. It makes it easier to eat. Slice eggplant into ½ inch thick circles.
  2. Sprinkle eggplant generously with salt on both sides and lay them in a colander. The eggplant will release some liquid. This will help get rid of bitterness and make the eggplant less watery after it’s cooked. After letting it sit for 15 minutes dry both sides well with paper towels.
  3. In a large bowl, mix honey, olive oil, garlic, chili, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper to taste. Dunk both sides of each eggplant slice into this marinade.
  4. Preheat the grill to high (I use a stove top grill). Oil the grill.
  5. Place the eggplant slices on the grill and turn down the heat to medium-high. Grill until marked, about 3 minutes. Turn 90 degrees to make cross-hatch grill marks. Grill until marked, about 3 more minutes.
  6. Brush the slices with remaining marinade, flip and repeat the grilling procedure on the other side. Regulate heat so that the eggplant is browning, but not burning. Remove to a plate, and enjoy!

Stir fried soba noodles with lemon-ginger dressing

While I have always been fond of cooking, I started following recipe blogs only in the past 3 years. Mainly it was because I left all my recipe books at home in Bombay. But, ever since I discovered these blogs I have rarely felt the need to go look for a recipe in a book. Partly it’s because I know that the recipes in these blogs are made in a regular kitchen just like mine, as opposed to a hoity-toity chef’s kitchen 😛 Secondly, they are tested and tried recipes so I know that there is a lower chance of failing while trying them 😀

In my quest to eat healthy and to be on a low GI diet, I came across soba noodles, or buckwheat noodles. They are always available at Asian stores and are different from the regular noodles. Since they are, for lack of a better word, unique, in taste, I only made them once in a blue moon using ground meat or with beef and broccoli. Then I came across a blog that contains primarily Asian recipes. I rarely have all the ingredients available in my pantry, but when I do, I make it a point to try out recipes from the Steamy Kitchen.

Jaden Hair has done a fabulous job with her blog and I enjoy trying recipes from there. She also dabbles in a lot of fusion food, something that I enjoy doing too. So, here’s how I modified her tofu and soba noodles recipe:

Ingredients:

For the dressing –

Ginger, 1 inch, peeled and grated

1 tbsp. honey

1/2-1 tsp. chilli powder (or cayenne)

1 tbsp. lemon juice

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1/3 cup soy sauce

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp. toasted sesame oil

For the noodles –

Soba noodles – 3 bunches (they are normally packed in separate bunches in one packet)

1 tbsp. cooking oil (either olive or sesame oil)

1-1/2 assorted bell peppers, sliced (I use red, yellow and green, just because the end result looks colorful!)

Mushrooms – 1 small pkt, 6-8 oz.

Browned sesame seeds (optional)

Method:

To make the dressing, combine all the ingredients except for the oils in a blender (hand blender is more convenient and easy to clean!) Run the blender for a few seconds, until all ingredients are combined. With the machine running, pour in the oils. Adjust the chilli powder to taste, we have ended up with really spicy noodles a few times 😛

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the soba noodles until just tender, then drain.

While the noodles are cooking, heat a nonstick frying pan over medium high heat and when hot, pour in the cooking oil. Add the sliced bell peppers and sear them for a few minutes. Add the mushroom and stir fry together for another minute or two, until the mushroom looks cooked (make sure it isn’t over cooked). It’s important to have the heat on high while adding the mushroom. Toss gently and turn off the heat.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the soba with the dressing, vegetables and the sesame seeds. Toss until well combined.

Enjoy 🙂

Mushroom rice

Tonight I was wondering what to make for dinner and I decided to cheat a little on my low GI diet 🙂 I had already made the spicy chilli-garlic chicken, so I thought of making a simple rice dish that went along with it. I had some mini portobello mushrooms lying in the fridge and if I didn’t use them soon I knew they would go bad. So, what did I do? Made mushroom rice of course! Most of the Indian mushroom rice recipes I found contained tomatoes in them and were either made to be flavorful with spices or hot with chilli pepper. I didn’t want to overpower the flavor of the chicken dish, so I decided to rustle up my own mushroom rice dish minus the garam masala and the tomatoes. Why the tomatoes? Because tomatoes and the chicken recipe just wouldn’t go together. Here’s the recipe –

Ingredients –

Rice – 1 cup

Baby portobello mushrooms, sliced – 8 oz.

Green onions, white portion and green stalks separated – 2-3

Cilantro – 3-4 springs.

Bay leaf – 1

Whole pepper corns 1/2 tsp

Cardamom – 3 whole

Cloves – 3-4

Oil – 1 tsp

Method:

Heat the pan with oil on medium heat. After the oil heats up add the bay leaf, peppercorns, cardamom and cloves. Saute them for a few seconds until you get their aroma.

Add in the white portion of the green onions and continue to saute until they are lightly browned.

Next, add the sliced mushrooms and saute until the mushroom is cooked. Be careful not to overcook it, or else the entire dish will be very soggy!

While the mushrooms are cooking, cook rice separately in a rice cooker. Make sure that the rice is not mushy and that each grain can be separated.

Mix the rice and the mushroom mixture.  Add the green onion stalks and cilantro as garnish.

Eat this while it’s still hot. It goes well with the chicken dish. The rice has its own flavor. The whole spices give it flavor, while not making it too spicy. I will be making this rice dish again with some other spicy dish on the side soon 🙂

Gajar subzi

I grew up eating a staple diet of rice and dal, at least on weekdays. On the side, we normally had at least one vegetable and sometimes a non-vegetarian dish. I haven’t really stuck to the same routine since I moved to the U.S. For one, I ate in the cafeteria for almost 9 months (probably the most fattening months of my life here)! Secondly, since a lot of people have asserted that rice is not the most ideal weight loss food, I have been trying to eat less of it (without much success). My fondness for rice makes me more South Indian than I appear to be!

This afternoon I had my friend S over for a meal. It was good to see her after long and to spend time together just talking and praying and sharing our burdens! She was my first friend in Denton and I will be forever grateful to God for placing her and others in my life. God always has been great in His timing and I’m always amazed at His providence. Meeting S today encouraged me and also helped me vocalize my anticipation about the future and my struggles in the present. We had a simple meal of rice, kadhi and gajar (carrot) subzi with khaman as appetizer. I forgot to give her the pedas I made as dessert, but there is always a next time! I haven’t mastered my kadhi and khaman recipes yet, when I do, I will post them. But I have made my gajar subzi a few times now and my housemates L&P have always liked it. That makes me confident enough to want to post it. Here it is!

Ingredients:

Carrot – 2-4 nos., grated

Oil – 1 tsp

Mustard seeds – 1 tsp

Cumin seeds – 1/2 tsp

Chilli powder – to taste

Salt – to taste

Water – 1/4 cup or as required

Procedure

Heat oil in a non stick pan with high edges at medium heat.

Add mustard seeds and let them splutter.

Add cumin seeds and let them brown slightly. Be careful not to let them burn.

Add in the grated carrots and mix well.

Add in 1/4 cup water. Depending on how many carrots you use make sure that there isn’t too much water in the pan either.

Next add chilli powder and salt and close the lid of the pan.

Let the carrots cook for about 2-4 mins. Keep checking to make sure the water hasn’t completely evaporated. In case it does, sprinkle some more water. Make sure the carrots do not stick to the bottom of the pan.You will know that they are cooked when they are tender, but not mushy.

By the time the carrots have cooked, the water would have evaporated. If it hasn’t turn the stove to medium-high and let the water evaporate as you keep stirring the carrots.

Serve hot!