Thursday, May 24, 2012

Taco Bites


I think the pictures are themselves self-explanatory! Do I need to say more? I made cups by baking the wonton wrappers, added ground chicken spiced up with little bit of taco seasonings and garnished with sour cream, salsa, shredded cheese, green onions and lettuce. 

Make these for your little ones and enjoy their lit-up faces!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Let The Grilling Begin!

May long weekend, which is Victoria Day Weekend has come and gone, marking the official beginning of grilling season.  This is the long weekend for us Canadians a weekend before the Memorial weekend for the U.S. The weather was great those 3 days.  Unusually hot and sunny. I was thinking about starting the bbqing on Monday but then I realized that Sunday evening we were going to attend a South Asian Heritage party and Monday, my baby was going to a friend’s house for bbq and fireworks.  So I cleaned up the bbq to start my favorite cooking process-grilling-for the Summer 2012! And here’s what I made for us. I usually grill more food than we eat for one time as I use all the grilled food for our week’s lunches.

Grilled Alfredo Chicken Pizza

Grilled Stuffed Mushrooms

Grapefruit, Mango and Pineapple Salsa

Monday, May 21, 2012

Stacked Potatoes

I love, love, love potatoes! I am not sure if I have mentioned this on these pages, but a few years back, during the season of Lent, I gave up potatoes! That was huge for me. All my family and friends when they found out about this, they were like, whoa, this is what you call real fasting! Lizy, giving up potatoes…huge! It was huge. I was cooking with potatoes, making it for family. But I wasn’t putting it in my mouth. Week after Easter, my hubby and baby almost choked me to death! Reason being, I was eating potatoes and only potatoes and they were forced to eat that as well. I mean, who’s gonna cook for them separate meals when I am already pressed for time?! Since then, I haven’t done anything like it. You can be crazy once, not all the time!

This being our long weekend, Victoria Day Weekend, I made a special dinner for the family. This is the side I made. I actually sliced potatoes thin in order to make chips. Then I changed my mind and instead of deep frying the potatoes, I made this stacked potatoes which were baked in oven. They came out lip smacking good. Both father and son absolutely enjoyed it. And for me, I have already planned to make another big casserole of this potatoes that could last me for a whole week!

Stacked Potatoes

3-4 large potatoes
Salt and pepper to taste
3-4 garlic cloves, grated
2 tbsp fresh parsley, grated
3-4 tbsp oil

How to:

Clean the potatoes and using sharp knife or mandoline, slice them as thinly as you can.
Place the potatoes in the cold, salted water for about 15 minutes.(I left the skin on)
Wash the potatoes in cold running water.
Arrange them in upright position in an oven-proof baking casserole.
Liberally sprinkle salt and pepper on potatoes, making sure insides of the potato stacks get enough seasoning.
Heat up the oven to 450° F.
Heat up the oil, add garlic, cook till it’s light brown.
Remove from heat, add parsley.
Drizzle hot garlic oil over potatoes and in between potatoes.
Cover and bake in the hot oven for about 15 minutes.
Uncover and bake again till potatoes are golden brown.
Serve hot stacked potatoes with grilled chicken or any of your favorite main.
You can also sprinkle your favourite cheese once the potatoes are out of the oven to jazz it up.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Pizza Dip

You know me friends that I love making pizzas at home and my family love eating those pizzas. This time around, in order to eat a bit healthier, I decided to skip the dough base and make something that would resemble a pizza minus the base. And it just turned out to be a dip..a delish, lip smacking hot dip. I made a mistake having this dip with the thin bread sticks as those sticks were too thin to scoop the dip with. So we ended up munching on these sticks and having this dip with bread chips. It has all the goodness of tomato sauce, cheese and veggies. This is a perfect hot dip for cold wintry Friday nights when we cuddle up in our comfy blankets, in front of the fire place to watch the movie.

Pizza Dip

1 cup cream cheese
½ cup pizza sauce or Marinara sauce
1 cup diced bell peppers
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Red pepper flakes(optional)

How to:

Heat oven to 400° F.
Whip the cream cheese until smooth.
Spread in a oven proof glass dish.
Layer pizza sauce on top of the cheese.
Bake for about 15 minutes or until heated though.
Now sprinkle with diced peppers, red pepper flakes and cheese and bake for further 10 minutes or so until cheese is melted.

Enjoy with your favorite chips or crackers.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Stuffed Mushrooms & Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day to all my dear friends, with kids and with nephews and nieces!

Hope this day brings sunshine, memories of lifetime and happiness.

Another cruise favorite appetizer of ours! All 3 of us love this appetizer. I finally managed to buy the plates to present the stuffed baked mushrooms and the same weekend, nice big white mushrooms went on sale! So, no excuse for me to not make it. I followed exact same recipe as I purchased the cook book from the cruise a few years back. I omitted butter completely from the recipe. Normally, the appetizer comes with deep fried slice of bread and mushrooms swimming in the butter. It’s ok when you are on vacation but I definitely do not want to feed my family “unhealthy(!)” food at home! Doesn’t matter they like that food so much. With me, it’s either my way or highway! I used a bit of EVOO and that’s it. But the dish came out very good and I did get the accolades with comments that next time, please use some butter!

Stuffed Mushrooms


15-16 medium sized white mushrooms
1 tbsp chopped onion
1-2 garlic cloves, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
¼ cup Panko breadcrumbs
Cheddar cheese, shredded, as needed(or any cheese)
4 tbsp EVOO

How to:

Clean the mushrooms.
Detach the stems, do not discard.
Chop the stems finely.
Heat 1 tbsp EVOO in the pot.
Add onion and garlic.
Saute till onion is slightly golden brown.
Add chopped stems, salt and pepper and cook till the mixture is dry.
Now fill the mushroom caps with onion mix, arrange them in the plate.
Top the mushrooms with bread crumbs.
Drizzle with 1 tbsp EVOO.
Sprinkle shredded cheese and bake in 400° F oven till the cheese melts.
Sprinkle chopped parsley if desire.
Serve hot.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Sukhadi-A Gujarati Treat!

Once again, I did it! As soon as I found out about Julie’s ginger and peppercorn event, I knew I will go the Asian route. We use both spices as well in India but Asian cooking has distinct use and flavor of ginger and peppercorns. Started brain storming. Thought about making the ginger sauce with some kind of stir fry. And thought, hmmm, this is so obvious. I should come up with something that is again different and not everybody has heard about. So, I landed at home again! I made Sukhadi(pronounced Soo-kha-dee). I grew up eating this sweet. It's kind of a fudge, without milk I should say. It’s mainly made during winter months because it is believed that all the ghee, jaggery and ginger provide the body much needed heat and comfort in those cold months. When mom was here with me, she used to make it all the time in winter months. She would wait till about 20 minutes to our arrival home, start making it, and give us the still-hot, melt-in-your-mouth sukhadi. It is indigenous to Gujarat region. So here I am, another treat from home. Enjoy!



2 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup grated jaggery
1 cup ghee
4 tbsp dry ginger powder
Melon seeds for garnish, optional

How to:

Keep aside a shallow plate, greased with a bit of ghee.
Melt the ghee in a wok on medium high heat.
Roast the flour in ghee till it gives the nice aroma and it is golden brown, for about 7-9 minutes.
Add jaggery and ginger powder, stir vigorously and pour into the greased plate.
Let the mixture set and cool down a bit.
Cut into pieces and serve.

Sending this to Prabha's’sginger and peppercorn event.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

‘Hot N Steamy’ Chili!

Whenever May 5th falls on the weekend, I prepare a Mexican menu for dinner, just to celebrate Cinco De Mayo.

A brief history of this is that Cinco de Mayo—or the fifth of May—commemorates the Mexican army's 1862 victory over France at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War (1861-1867). A relatively minor holiday in Mexico, in the United States Cinco de Mayo has evolved into a celebration of Mexican culture and heritage, particularly in areas with large Mexican-American populations. Cinco de Mayo traditions include parades, mariachi music performances and street festivals in cities and towns across Mexico and the United States.

Thankfully, this year again, it fell on Saturday. And we need an excuse to eat Mexican. It is so close to Indian cooking and yet, so different. Exactly 10 years ago, in 2002, we took our first cruise to Mexico. Since then, we have fallen in love with the country, the culture and the food. I went all nuts when I first saw the mango and pomegranate trees, the plants of bougainvillea and hibiscus blooming with colorful flowers and of course, the tiny lizards! I truly felt as if I have been transported to India. Of course, the language was totally different but the people, the warmth and readiness to welcome the guests-all the same as us Indians. Since then, we have been to Mexico a few times and every time I feel enchanted by the country and rich natural beauty it possesses.

Long story short, I made this chili. It was so perfect as the weather here is crazy cold. We had such mild winter and now since last week or so, it has cooled down so much. So the chili was a perfect appetizer to start off the dinner. No one realized that it is ‘meatless’! that was an added bonus. I used Nutrela crumbs to make this chili.

Vegetarian Chili

 2 cups Nutrela Crumbs, cooked per package direction
 2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 large onion , chopped
 2 cloves garlic , minced
 2 tbsp Mexican chili powder
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp ground cumin
Salt and pepper to taste
1 can (28 oz) diced tomatoes
1 can (29 oz) red kidney beans , drained and rinsed
2 cups vegetable stock or water
1 cup finely grated carrot
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 cup corn kernels
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tbsp lemon juice
Shredded cheddar cheese, slices of avocados, sour cream for garnish(optional)

How to:

In large Dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat; cook onion and garlic, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 4 minutes.
Add chili powder, oregano, cumin, salt and pepper; cook, stirring frequently, for 1 minute.
Add Nutrela crumbs, tomatoes, beans, stock, carrot and tomato paste; bring to boil.
Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer, stirring often, until vegetables are tender, 30 minutes.
Stir in corn; simmer until corn is heated through, 5 minutes.
(Make-ahead: Let cool for 30 minutes. Refrigerate, uncovered, in airtight container until cold. Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 1 month.)
Stir in cilantro and lemon juice.
Garnish with all the fixings like sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese, avocados etc, serve.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Penne Primavera Al Forno

Primavera means Spring! Pasta primavera is not a dish originated in Italy though. I was watching a cooking show and found out that it was created in Nova Scotia province of Canada(Yay!) and then travelled to New York city in 1970s. from there, it became popular. Pasta primavera contains short pastas like penne, fusili, farfalle and any vegetable that stays crunchy after cooking like broccoli, carrots, zucinni, asparagus, onion, peas. And of course, tomato sauce. Then top it off with mostly Parmesan cheese. It is usually made in sofrito and garlic. I have seen this dish with creamy alfredo sauce but that weighs down the goodness of the veggies. So I always prepare this dish with lots of veggies in marinara sauce and cheese. This time, I added a twist. I made it al forno(from the oven). Just for fun. We can do whatever we want in our kitchens with our dishes, right?

Penne Primavera Al Forno

14 oz. penne,cooked as packaged directions
2-3 cups marinara sauce
2-3 cups veggies of your coice
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 each carrot and celery chopped
1 medium onion chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
¼ cup olive oil

How to:

Saute carrots, onions and garlic in hot oil.
Add veggies, saute till tender but crunchy.
Add marinara sauce, cooked penne.
At this point, if you want to have just the Penney Primavera, just sprinkle cheese and serve.
If you want it Al Forno, transfer the pasta in an oven proof dish.
Sprinkle cheese and put the dish in the hot oven till cheese is bubbly and golden.