Friday, June 10, 2011

Cucumber Peanut Salad

It's been so hot here for thepast few days (no, I am NOT complaining! - I like the heat). But, I have not felt like eating much in this heat. I saw this recipe for Cucumber Peanut Salad some weeks ago and it looked really interesting. Did not seem like any Indian food that I had ever tasted, but so refreshing and simple. That's what I love about is the simplicity of the cooking. In spite of how simple everything was to make, there was a complexity to the taste with the sugar, salt and lemon juice mixing with the spice.

It was such a good salad and so simple - took me 20 minutes after I got home from work. The changes I made were -

-No toasted coconut. Just did not have it and did not want to wait till I got a chance to buy it.

-Added a handful of cooked garbanzo beans to the mix.

-Used oil instead of ghee for tempering (or roasting the mustard seeds and cumin).

I'm making this dish (again!) for a potluck this weekend and may add some red pepper for more color :)

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Peanut butter and chocolate balls

How can anything bad come out of peanut butter and chocolate with very little else. We were having a party a few weeks ago and this was a great idea for a vegan treat. I was searching on vegweb and found this recipe. It was a very simple recipe. But I did not add the sugar because most cereals tend to have a lot of sugar in them already. I chose frosted flakes, now you know why I did not need more sugar in my recipe :)
I made this again, recently. When V was training for a half marathon, this seemed like a perfect little snack. But, it's yummy even when not training for a half-marathon :)

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Roasted chickpeas

One of my 'strengths' while cooking is to ensure balance in our meals. I don't obsess about it (anymore?), but all our meals contain a vegetable, some starch and adequate protein. That is one of the biggest 'criticisms' of a vegetarian meal - is the lack of protein. So, I make sure that we get enough in each meal. But, snacks are not so easy. V has an absolute dislike for yogurt (can't believe he is a Tamilian!!) and even the soy yogurts I have won't work. I have been trying to find a variety of quick snacks that have a high protein content. That search brought to 'roasted chick peas'. I did not follow any recipe....I just decided to roast chickpeas.

I took 1 can of chickpeas, dried them out on paper towels and left them out for a few more minutes.
Spread them on a cookie sheet (either line with parchment paper or use a Silpat). I sprayed Olive Oil (Trader Joe's version of Pam), added paprika and salt.
Placed it in a preheated oven (at 400 degrees) for 40 minutes.

It was yummy. Definitely NOT as crunchy as I would have liked it. So for extra crunch (and protein), I added some dry roasted peanuts. It was a great snack and very filling.
I could see adding raisins for a different flavor, but I was looking for a pure protein punch.
Any other ideas for protein snacks??

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Banana peanut butter and jelly muffins

I'm sitting in a hospital room while a very close friend of mine is recovering from surgery. She had an accident while riding her bike earlier today and needed surgery for a broken ankle. Her first surgery ever. While waiting, I started looking through my files of photos and noticed this photo. I made this a few weeks ago - on a whim. Another friend was over at our home helping us decorate little V's room with vinyl clings. The room looks even more adorable and the wait is even harder (wow, how many topics can I cover in one paragraph!). After we were done decorating the room, I decided to try these muffins. We ate them hot from the oven and they were yummy!!
I started off with this recipe and decided to add a little jelly to the middle. It tasted like our breakfast - peanut butter on whole wheat bread, with jelly and bananas!! Of course, I reduced the sugar in the recipe - I reduce the sugar in most of my recipes. And I changed the recipe to muffins. So, I filled half the muffin tin with dough, added a spoonful of jelly and then topped it with more dough.

I loved being able to use the peanut flour for another recipe. And it tasted like there was peanut butter in there, not just peanut flour! Sad that Trader Joe's has discontinued it. I wonder why....


Sunday, April 10, 2011

Brussel Sprouts, Roasted!

Raise your hands if you hated brussel sprouts at some point in your life! I have heard that most people did not like them. I can't remember ever eating this vegetable growing up in India, but I am sure if I did, I did not enjoy it either. My mother never roasted anything.
Last year, over Thanksgiving, our cousin made a very tasty roasted Brussel Sprout dish. One batch with bacon and the other without. I don't think much of the dish actually reached the dinner table. It was mostly eaten with oohs and aahs as part of the 'tasting' by everyone! I tried to recreate that dish (without bacon, of course). I served it with the pasta featured here.

This is really really simple version of roasted brussel sprouts. There are so many things that can be done to make it fancier.

Roasted Brussel Sprouts
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Cut sprouts in half and place in a baking pan. Add chopped garlic cloves (4)
Separately, mix 2 T olive oil with salt and pepper to taste.
Coat vegetables and garlic with olive oil mix.
Bake for 20 minutes. Flip the sprouts and bake for 10-15 more minutes.

V likes them browned, so I baked them for 35-40 minutes.
These were such a hit that I tried a modification that I found here with 'honey' dijon mustard. It was too mustard-y and tangy for me. But, V adds mustard to most everything and he really liked it. I made a quick mixed rice with broccoli, day-old rice, cajun spice and some morning star grillers and served both with Trader Joe's Three Pepper Salsa - a favorite around here!!

Sunday, April 3, 2011


My potter-audiologist friend is trying to be gluten-free (they are already a vegetarian family). I was thinking about my food habits and realized that other than breakfast (peanut butter and jelly most mornings), our other meals often don't have any wheat or gluten.
I ate Mujadarah at a local Middle Eastern restaurant (Blue Nile). It was a good meal. But, it felt really oily. I saw this recipe a few months ago and wanted to try it.
When I decided to try it, I was not sure what we would think. It seemed too simple. Not spicy enough. Not enough spices. I did not know what I would think of it. V loves caramelized onions. I'm not sure that I enjoy them quite so much as he does. But, I liked them a LOT in this recipe. And I LOVED the recipe. It was simple but really tasty.
I used medium-grained white rice, not Basmati. I also used green lentils rather than sprouted brown lentils.
Definitely something I will make again!!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Chickpea Tagine with carrots

Now that Em is back, so am I :)
I have been cooking regularly, but just been lazy to write about it.

I made this dish a few weeks ago when it was colder. Although the Tagine looks solid in the photo, it can be made into a stew or served over a grain.
I subscribe to Vegetarian Times regularly. I read each magazine I get, pull out recipes that I want to try and file them away. I never really get back to them. Now, I subscribe to the weekly recipe from Vegetarian Times. When I see a recipe online, I save it and make it. I am sure if I went back to my file of ripped out Vegetarian Times recipes, I would find the one I decided to try. I wonder what it is about the online version of recipes that makes it easier for me to try. It is the same thing with blogs. I am more likely to try a recipe from a blog than a cookbook. I bought a couple of vegan cookbooks because I read a recipe I really enjoyed on a blog. Since that first week, though, I have not really gone back to the cookbooks. Any suggestions to reduce this over-reliance on the internet? I love reading the cookbooks and the magazine - it just does not translate to action.
With that story, this Chickpea Tagine with Carrots also came to me through an email. Changes I made -
1. Dried cranberries instead of currants
2. Agave nectar instead of honey
3. No yogurt
4. Added vegan sausage pieces towards the end of the boiling
5. Added dry roasted peanuts at the end
6. And you probably already know this - Cilantro instead of parsley. I am such a huge fan of cilantro and don't really like the taste of parsley..

And I served it over brown rice. It was a really good, hearty meal!!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

"Meat"balls, Zucchini Bread, Charred Tomato Soup

Finally have some time to catch up on my blogging. I have not been cooking quite as much as I would like but here are some things I have tried recently:

Spaghetti and Meatballs I have made these a few times. I use Gimme Lean sausage, raw cashews instead of walnuts and skip the part about adding garlic powder and black pepper while they are cooking. I seem to burn them each time but they still taste fine. They are family friendly and my husband has requested them several times so I guess they have become part of our rotation.

Benz Zucchini Bread This is very yummy and cooks very nicely. I always halve the recipe since I do not need two loaves. The changes I make are: only using 1/2 cup sugar and less oil than requested, left out raisins and nuts because then my kids would never eat it. On one attempt, I tried to use half whole wheat pastry flour and used applesauce/sweet potato baby food (since I still have a bunch collecting dust in the cabinet) instead of the oil but it was terrible and I threw most of it away :(

Charred Tomato Soup I was watching Alex's Day Off on the Food Network one morning (not sure why since I really dislike Alex on Chopped) and she made this soup which looked easy enough. I did not have any vermouth so I just used white vinegar and it added a nice kick. Balsamic would have worked too. My husband made this on his own a few weeks later so I guess he enjoyed it. I just used the immersion blender and left a few chunks the first time but honestly I preferred it almost completely smooth so that is how the second batch was made.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Egyptian Kosheri

Every few weeks, a couple of friends (J and H) and I cook together. We each make large quantities of a dish or two, divide them up into 3 servings and we each come home with 3-4 ready to eat meals. Freeze some, eat some and enjoy them for a couple of weeks. Whenever I talk with J or H, though, they still have left-overs and we finish our food within the week. The food is great, but the laughter and fun cooking together is what I enjoy. Such wonderful energy in the room. I have heard of other 'supper swaps'. Do you have any that you recommend?

Today's recipe of Egyptian Kosheri is from the last time we cooked together. H made the dish (it's on the left in the picture) and it was really great! Neither H nor J are vegan or even vegetarian, but we make vegetarian dishes so I can eat too :) The recipe for this dish was from some magazine/newspaper - I can't tell. I asked H for the recipe and she gave it to me along with 3 other recipes copied one on top of another! So I can't give credit where it's due! H followed the recipe completely. I think I may make some changes when I make it next - mostly, add more chilli powder/flakes or hot I made a side of sauteed spinach (a bag of frozen spinach with some minced garlic, some nutmeg, salt and 1 T olive oil).
The Kosheri tasted great and was really nutritious. The article in the magazine says that this is street food in Egypt. Yum!!

Egyptian Kosheri


1 cup raw brown or green lentils, rinsed well
Salt, to taste
1 cup raw elbow macaroni
1 cup raw basmati rice
1 cup canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 T olive oil
1 Large onion, halved and thinly sliced
3 gloves garlic, minced
1 chilli pepper, seeded and minced (serrano or jalapeno or anaheim)
1/4 tsp turmeric
1 cup tomato puree

Cover lentils generously with salted water and boil. Once the water boils, reduce heat and continue to cook till lentils are completely cooked. drain and set aside.

Similarly, cook pasta till al dente and rice in separate pots and set aside.

In a large pot, heat oil. Add onions, garlic, chillies and turmeric. Saute 10-12 minutes or till onions are browned.

Add tomato puree and simmer for 5 more minutes.

Add lentils, macaroni, rice and chickpeas. Mix well.Bold


Changes I would make to this dish -

Nothing!! Or

- Add hot sauce or chilli powder
- Add peas or sliced pepper
- Season with cilantro or parsley and some lemon juice.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Peanut Sauce from peanut flour

When I was entering my calories into Sparkpeople, and as I was waiting for something to come to a boil on the stove, I clicked on a link to Healthy Peanut Sauce and Tofu Marinade. I really enjoy peanut sauces and am always on the search for the perfect bottle. I have tried the one from Trader Joe's, Target and from Taste of Thai. I add to the peanut sauce with peanut butter and even a sweet chili sauce. And I have made my own peanut sauce - mostly using peanut butter.

The recipe seemed really easy and healthy too!! Luckily for me, friends and I were doing a trip to Trader Joe's the next day. I was not sure if I would find the peanut flour, but I did. I tried the recipe that night.

As you can tell from the (really bad) photo, I added veggies to the Tofu to make it a full meal of a stiry fry with some brown rice on the side. I had to increase the recipe by 50% to account for the veggies. I also added some sweet chili sauce and some Sriracha sauce. While the peanut sauce was tasty, it was lacking in sweet and spice. So, that was my fix.

As the stir fry stayed on the stove longer, it changed the texture of the peanut sauce and made it slightly thick. The taste was great and it was very filling, without too many extra calories that come from coconut milk and other additives in the pre-made sauces.

Now, I am on a kick to try to find other ways to use this flour. All the recipes that I have found so far tend to use vegan butter (1/2 cup to a cup) in the baking recipe. I don't want to cut out flour from my baking completely either. So, I am going to have to play with other recipes that I have liked in the past (banana peanut butter cookies, chocolate chip cookies, banana bread, burgers, pancakes etc). If you have any other ideas, I am open to them!!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Chocolate Holiday Cupcakes

Happy New Year, 2011 to all, especially you, Em!
Although my last post was in the new year, I forgot to wish everyone. Better late than never :)
The reason the new year was on my mind is that I made these chocolate cupcakes for our friends' new year party. When I was thinking about the concept for the cupcakes, I imagined that I would buy frosting and write 2011 on each cupcake or I would find a fun new year topper for each etc etc. You can see from the photo, though, that they all remained dreams. I was lucky I got the cupcakes ready in time for the party!!

Modifications to the original recipe -
Less sugar. I seem to make that modification often. I doubled the recipe, but halved the sugar and it was sweet enough for me. I used almond milk (plain) and mint extract. V did not enjoy the batter when I was trying to get the pan clean! (too minty), but really liked the final product.
No complaints at the party either - everyone who tried it said they enjoyed it.
What a way for me to start the new year - with chocolate :)

Happy New Year again :)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Pretzel Tart

So we finally made the Chocolate and Peanut Butter Pretzel Tart but we made it as a pie since we do not have a tart pan. Actually, I am sorry to say my husband made it for himself even though I had planned to make it as a gift (what a terrible wife I am). He suggested that you add more than the recommended 1/4 cup of peanut butter since there is so much chocolate. It was soooo heavy but very delicious too. The crust was ridiculously complicated involving lots of refrigeration which I think could be skipped and still lead to the same end result. I think the pie/tart needs a little tweaking to lighten it up a little since it is so dense. I also wonder if you can make a peanut butter creme with some of the cream or soy creamer also so there is more of a PB layer. The MimicCreme is a nice product that is sort of like an evaporated milk or condensed milk which is handy for baking. It is made from almonds and cashews. There are two sweet versions-one sweetened with cane sugar and one sweetened with erythritol which is a natural sweetener with a zero glycemic index. We used the sugar free version and it was very good. Overall, this was a good combination of flavors and we will likely try it again to see if we can perfect it. Luckily my daughter had a sleepover so it is mostly gone now!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Indian-spiced Bean Dip

This is a hard blog to write. I am not sure how I made this dip. It was just a process that ended in this dip. And I really really liked the dip. An Indian friend also enjoyed the dip - she had things to say about the texture, crunch from the onions etc. I don't know if I can recreate this recipe - either on my own, or in this blog. But, I'll try to identify the steps of the recipe and hopefully, it will work for someone.
I needed to make something for a party and I ended up taking an afternoon nap. When I woke up, I had an hour to make something. My first thought was to make the chaat or something like it. But, I had made this last time we went to a party for this couple. But, that's where I started.
I put some onions and tomatoes in a pan - thought it would be the basis to start the dish. But, it's winter and the idea of a cold dish was not so appetizing. So, I added oil to a pan and added the onions and tomatoes. To that, I added chaat masala and date-tamarind chutney that I talked about in the chaat post. After a few minutes of the spices mixing together, I added a can of kidney beans that I first rinsed. To this, I added salt and chilli powder based on taste. There was a LOT of tasting!!
I used the immersion blender to puree the beans, but not entirely. There were some chunks remaining - especially of the onions and tomatoes. To end, I added some lemon juice and cilantro. This entire post was based on the taste of ingredients - I hope it makes some sense.

Crunch - onions
Acidity - tomato, lemon juice
Tang/Sweet - date tamarind chutney
Spice - chaat masala and chilli powder

It was a great mix of flavors and textures.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Curried Lentils with Butternut Squash

I recently pinched a muscle in my neck and ended up at the doctor's office. While I waited I read the WebMD magazine in which I found this recipe for Curried Lentils with Butternut Squash. It looked very easy and you know how I love butternut squash so I decided to make it today since tomorrow is back to work and I want the refrigerator to be full. I only added 1/2 tsp of chili powder and it is plenty hot. I did not mash the squash since it seemed unnecessary. Also, I have no idea what kind of lentils I used since they only said "Lentils" on the package. I only know that they are not the red ones. I used sweetened coconut (since that was all I had) on top and baked it for 10 minutes at the end to brown it. I would have to say that it was a nice sweet touch! I believe the curry powder I used also had some cinnamon in it to so there were nice sweet and spicy flavors to this dish. I think I will likely make this again since it was an easy, everyday sort of recipe. Hopefully it will make a nice cold salad for my lunch tomorrow also!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Vegan Mac and "Cheese"

I got a new cookbook this Christmas called "Quick and Easy Vegan Comfort Food" by Alicia C. Simpson. So far it does not look amazing but there were several great reviews for the mac and cheese written onto the amazon website so we tried it. It took a very long time but the result was really yummy. It was not particularly cheesy but the taste was good. There was a very similar recipe on the VegNews website. There are a few differences since the VegNews version uses margarine and torn up slices of bread. The Vegan Comfort Food cookbook did not have these ingredients. Next time I will omit cayenne pepper since I am not a hug fan.

Hopefully I will make the pretzel tart before the end of the weekend. Just finished making chili and cornbread (which I make all the time). Happy New Year to all!