Category Archives: Recipes

Asiago crusted penne with crimini mushrooms and garden greens

When I was a little girl with pigtails and Mary Janes, we lived in suburban Texas, where as the saying goes, the tallest thing on the horizon is a Coke can. There are vast expanses of grass, dotted in the spring and summer with dandelions and little purple flowers – I still don’t know what they’re called. I’d bring bouquets of these flowers home for my mother on my way home from the school bus stop, and she’d put them in a little glass everyday.

I soon learned that dandelions were ‘weeds’, and I stopped thinking of them as having any value. As I grew older and started seeing dandelion greens for sale in high end grocery stores, I was convinced that we weren’t all talking about the same plant. Why on earth would someone pay good money to buy weeds? As it turns out, though, people do. And for good reason.

Dandelion greens are rich, flavorful, and apparently quite nutritious. Now I have my own backyard and garden, with those pesky dandelions taking up way too much space. I pull them up dutifully, and they come right back. Today, I thought to myself, why not see if this dandelion green thing works for me? I’m pulling them up anyway, what if I just throw them in dinner?

I was not disappointed.

Thrown together with garlic shoots also foraged from the garden (another story for another day), a tomato and a sweet Italian pepper, the greens made a lovely addition to a simple weeknight meal – let’s see what S has to say.

A handful of dandelion greens – try to use the smaller inside leaves before the plant flowers, they’re more tender and less bitter – went into a cold water bath with garlic shoots from the yard.

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Crimini mushrooms have a nice round flavor that balances the bitter greens perfectly. Sauté them with olive oil, salt, and crushed red peppers.

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In the meantime, boil water and cook your pasta till al dente. I used penne, but you can use anything small – farfalle, orecchiette, even elbow macaroni would work.

Rinse your greens well. Garden greens are delicious but are covered with grit and soil. I rinsed about 4 times, I suggest you do the same. Chop or tear them into smaller pieces.

Wilt the greens in the pan. I use cast iron so it can go straight into the oven. Add a diced pepper or two if you’d like. We got some beautiful artisan red peppers at the market last week. This seemed like the perfect place to use up the last one.

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Add a dollop of ricotta and herbs of your choice – I went for thyme and oregano – and stir in the pasta.

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Finally, toss with a handful of mozzarella and top with Asiago and pop it in the oven.

It only took about 20 minutes, and made for a delicious meal.

Who knew?

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Egg Substitutes!

Here’s an article I wrote for http://www.eatology.co on substituting eggs in different recipes! Enjoy!

Cooking without eggs is daunting. Some people are allergic, others have weird quirks, and some just don’t eat eggs, really. Whatever the motivation may be, the number of people looking for ways to cook and bake without eggs is getting higher by the day. The limitations of vegan recipes ranges from dry, crumbly cakes to timid fritters that can’t hold their own against a pot of hot oil. Although there are numerous variations and substitutions that can be made, unless if they’re precisely tailored to the recipe, you won’t get the results you’re looking for.

 

So how do you know whether or not the recipe will work, you ask? Well, here are some excellent tips on replacing eggs or working around them in recipes ranging from sweets like cookies and breads to savories like fritters and breaded items!

Here’s more!

Scrumptious (eggless) Banana Bread from scratch!

There’s very little that is more heart-warming and more capable of giving you a fuzzy feeling inside than the cozy aroma of freshly baked goodies wafting through the house. Things like banana bread, zucchini bread, chocolate chip cookies and oatmeal raisin cookies are what I like to think of as comfort food. But I grew up in a household where baking was pretty much non-existent. I have one vague recollection of baking cookies from frozen dough with my cousins. I think I might have been 5 or 6 years old. It’s only after I went to college that I started baking and I really wanted to bake banana bread, because I absolutely love it. If I ever wanted banana bread, I was usually disappointed because eggless banana bread is pretty much nonexistent, as is banana bread without walnuts (I’m allergic). So I searched and searched, and finally managed to put together this recipe, which appears to be working for me.

 I’ve tried different variations on it, and whatever I’ve tried has turned out pretty great. What I love about this particular recipe is that in spite of the eggless-ness, the bread turns out light and fluffy, and sweet but not too sweet. You should definitely try your own variations and let me know what you think.
Ingredients 
1 1/2 cups white flour
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
4 tbsp butter or vegetable oil
3-4 ripe bananas, mashed
2 tbsp plain nonfat Greek yogurt
a handful of raisins
a handful of pecan pieces
Method
-Preheat oven to 350 degrees-
1. Make sure your bananas are mashed until there are very few lumps. Try not to puree though, because that makes the bread less fluffy.
2. Sift together your dry ingredients until they are well mixed.
3. Mix all of the ingredients together except the raisins and pecans.
4. Cover the raisins and pecan pieces with a light dusting of flour to ensure that they don’t sink to the bottom of the pan.
5. Pour the batter into a buttered 9×11 cake pan.
6. Bake at 350 degrees for about 55-60 minutes or until chocolate brown and cooked all the way through.
7. Enjoy and try to leave some to share with your family and friends!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  You can try variations with chocolate chips, a little bit of cinnamon and nutmeg for a spiced version, or a version with different nuts like almonds or walnuts. Let me know if you have any other good ideas!

Kruti’s Kitchen: Black quinoa salad with fresh chevre, avocado and corn with cilantro-lime dressing

Today’s recipe comes to us courtesy of my old friend Kruti. Recently married and about to receive her medical degree (while keeping up a crazy dancing schedule), Kruti rightfully posted a celebratory message today declaring this particular culinary adventure a success. I haven’t tried it yet myself, but I trust that she would have done a fantastic job.
I’ve kept the recipe in her words, as she sent it to me. I hope it gives you a sense of the fun-loving girl she is! 🙂
As always, suggestions and input please!

Black quinoa salad with fresh chevre, avocado, corn + cilantro-lime dressing

FOR THE SALAD:
– 1 cup cooked quinoa
– 1 oz. goat cheese (can use feta if goat cheese is not available)
– 1 avocado
– 2 husks of fresh corn (frozen variety A-okay too :))
– 1 tomato
– 2 tbsp olive oilFOR THE DRESSING:
– cilantro
– 1 lime
– 2 tbsp olive oil
– 1 tbsp sugar
– 1 tsp saltDirections: After cooking the quinoa, set aside to cool. Meanwhile, peel the corn and cook on high heat in 2 tbsp olive oil until the corn starts to get a grilled appearance. Set aside to cool as well. Dice the tomatoes. Mix in corn and tomatoes with the quinoa and refrigerate. Right before you are ready to eat, top with freshly cut avocado, crumbles of chevre, and the dressing. Add a voila for yumminess:)!

Dresssing: Pulse some cilantro, lime, sugar, and salt in a food processor and add olive oil while pulsing. Season to taste!

Spinach and Corn Enchiladas

An old post from understocked veggie kitchen!

This is one of my favorite dishes that I always love to make whenever I want good, home-cooked Mexican food. I’m not really sure how authentic it is, but it sure does taste good. It’s also a big hit with my teenaged brothers who could probably eat a whole pan of it in one sitting (I think they actually did that once).

This is obviously a recipe that I can only make when I’m in the states, but it’s superquick and superdelicious. You can try different variations with onions, bell peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms, and any other veggie that tickles your tastebuds.

Ingredients

12 fajita sized tortillas
Shredded or grated Mexican cheeses – Cheddar, Monterey Jack, Pepper Jack, Colby Jack, whatever you like
1 can enchilada sauce (I like mine spicy)
1 package frozen chopped spinach or 1 bunch fresh spinach, washed and chopped
1 can whole kernel sweet corn, drained
chopped jalapenos to taste
any other veggies you want to throw in
a dollop of butter for the pan

Method

1. Combine the chopped spinach and the drained corn in a large microwaveable bowl and microwave until the spinach is wilted. It takes me about 4 minutes in my microwave. If you prefer, you can do this stovetop as well.

2. Pour half of the can of enchilada sauce into the veggie mixture and mix well.

3. Take as much cheese as you’d like and stir it into the veggie mixture. I’m not giving an amount because how cheesy you like your enchiladas depends on personal preference.

4. Spoon about two tablespoonfuls into each tortilla and roll it into a burrito. (I’ll try to add pictures later.)

5. Place the rolled enchiladas into a 9×11 buttered baking pan, seam side down.

6. Pour the liquid from the veggies as well as the rest of the enchilada sauce over the enchiladas.

7. Top them with the chopped jalapenos and sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top.

8. Bake for about 15 minutes or until the cheese bubbles at 350 degrees.

9. Serve with black beans and rice.

10. Enjoy and try not to eat this for lunch and dinner everyday even though it’s that good.

Note – Credit goes to my cousin Lalitha for this recipe. Thanks!

My Very First Quinoa Bowl!

I’ve been hearing a lot about quinoa lately. It seems to be all the rage with everyone from hippie health freaks to Indian aunties who want to keep their husbands from getting diabetes. It’s being used as a replacement for rice, oats, millet, you name it. My dad’s been recommending quinoa to me for a while, telling me that it’s the secret to getting through my increasingly never-ending days, but I haven’t really known how to get started using it.

Heidi over at 101 cookbooks has several recipes up that I’ve never tried, so today seemed to be a good day to get started on my own quinoa adventure. I bought quinoa at Whole Foods a couple of weeks ago, but it’s been sitting in my pantry, forlorn and sad-looking. My refrigerator is home to a bag of yellowing brussels sprouts and borderline wrinkled grape tomatoes, so it was time to give them all a chance at life. My inspiration came from this recipe, but I didn’t have several ingredients that I would have loved to include, like tofu and baby bella mushrooms. In the end it turned out to be quite simple, a quick mix of brussels sprouts, roasted cherry tomatoes, toasted pine nuts and pesto stirred into a fresh, hot pot of quinoa. Since Chicago is still freezing (what is going ON?), this was a lovely one-pot lunch that warmed me up and filled me up at one go. I’m ready to hit my long day of work now, satisfied that I’ve done my part towards being healthier!

Ingredients:

1 cup cooked quinoa
8-10 small brussels sprouts
grape tomatoes – you can use however many you want
1-2 tablespoons pesto – here’s a recipe in case you don’t have store-bought
a handful of pine nuts
a pinch of sea salt
a teaspoon of brown sugar
a splash of olive oil
Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Slice the grape tomatoes and Brussels sprouts in half.

3. Stir together a splash of olive oil, a pinch of sea salt and a teaspoon of brown sugar and pour the mixture onto the tomatoes.

4. Gently toss the tomatoes in the mixture and arrange them cut-side-up in a baking dish.

Aren't they cute all lined up?

5. Do the same with the Brussels sprouts and arrange them in another baking dish.

6. You can throw in the pine nuts along with the Brussels sprouts.

7. Bake everything in the oven for 30-40 minutes, or until the tomatoes are well roasted and the Brussels sprouts are golden brown.

Ready to pop into your mouth!

8. Stir everything but the tomatoes into the quinoa along with a spoonful of pesto and a pinch of salt.

9. Transfer the whole dish into a plate and top with the tomatoes.

10. Enjoy!

Carrot-Almond Bites

There were a couple of inspirations for today’s baking adventure, one of which was my brother’s gentle hint-dropping. I started out planning to make a carrot cake – banana bread hybrid, but ended up making some sort of cookie-muffin hybrid instead. I’m not 100% satisfied with it, but it’s pretty good. And it’s definitely not that bad for you.

Here was my inspiration, which led me to another, very similar recipe. I modified, basically based on what I have in my kitchen, and came up with a pretty decent result. Enough dillydallying, you say? Okay, here goes!

Ingredients:

1 cup quick oats
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 ripe, mashed banana
1 cup shredded carrot
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup butter
1 tsp vegetable oil
1/3 cup slivered almonds
a sprinkling of allspice
a sprinkling of nutmeg

Method

1. Combine the flour, oats, salt and baking powder together.

2. Melt the butter, and combine with sugar.

3. Stir the butter mixture into the flour-oats mixture.

4. Stir the banana and carrots into the mixture. Add the milk and oil and stir to combine.

5. Add the spices to taste and whip the whole thing together.

6. Combine with almonds.

7. Drop by the teaspoonful onto a buttered sheet or a cookie pan. These do rise so your drops can be small.

8. Bake at 350 degrees for about 10-12 minutes, or until you think they’re done! The color doesn’t change much, so you’ll have to gauge by texture.

Enjoy!!!

Some things that I might change if I made them again – A nut like pecan might work better than almonds. Also, I would shred my carrots smaller. I think cinnamon would be lovely, but I left it out because my mother doesn’t like cinnamon.

I do think I like baking with carrots and I will try that carrot loaf tomorrow. I’ll be sure to let you know what comes of it!

What would you do with this cookie-muffin-bite? How would you spice it up?

Jennifer’s Kitchen, Installment 1

This recipe comes to you courtesy of my dear friend Jennifer, who lives in Alaska. Hence the warm soup. This came out of a recipe exchange, thanks to another close friend of mine.

  

Acorn Squash and Apple Soup

Serves 5

Ingredients:

1 medium acorn squash
1 Tablespoon canola oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 leek (white part only), chopped
1 tart apple (such as Granny Smith), peeled, cored and chopped
3 cups vegetable broth (try to use something thick and flavorful)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Preparation:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut acorn squash in half, length-wise. Remove seeds and pulp. Set on a rimmed baking sheet or pan. Bake until the flesh is tender when pierced, roughly 45 to 90 minutes (depending on size). Remove squash from oven and cool.

2. While the squash is cooling, heat the canola oil over medium-high heat in a large, heavy pan . Add the onion and leek. Sauté until the onion is translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the apple. Cook for 1 minute.

3. Scrape out the cooked squash from skin. Discard skin. Add cooked squash to the pan. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and cook for 5 minutes, stirring often.

4. Add the broth to the pan. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 30 minutes. Remove the pan from heat and cool.

5. In a blender or food processor, puree the soup in batches until smooth. Heat soup just before serving. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Enjoy!

p.s. I wonder how a different combination would be – perhaps a butternut squash and bosco pear soup? anyone adventurous enough to try it

Balsamic Glazed Mushrooms

Here’s another recipe exchange find – courtesy of my old friend Hima.

These look like they could be incredibly versatile  – write in with your tweaks and modifications, folks!

Ingredients:

4 or 5 large portabella mushrooms
extra virgin olive oil
balsamic vinegar
salt
pepper
rosemary
other spices of your liking

Method

1. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil.

2. Lay the mushrooms gills down and brush the tops with salt, pepper and the olive oil.

3. Flip over, and do the same but this time brush balsamic vinegar on them.

4. Take rosemary (dry or fresh) and dust over the gills of the mushrooms,

n.b. *the dry rosemary is more potent than the fresh*
5. Season to taste.
6. Put them in an oven for about 20 minutes at 300 degrees until they’re tender.
7. Serve w/ a dollop of Goat Cheese in the middle.
Hima’s serving suggestion:
“You can either slice them and serve them on a salad, on a sandwich or eat them alone.  I usually end up making these with a small side of wheat pasta tossed with olive oil and some fresh diced tomatoes, basil, pine nuts and parmesan.  It takes no time to prepare and it’s a super easy clean up.”
Readers: any other serving suggestions? what other spices and herbs would you try?