Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Vegetable Pakoras

Okay, I know I said "No more curry," but I found this when I was looking for a recipe to use up some sweet potatoes and cauliflower. We had tons of leftovers in the fridge, so this was meant to be a nice little side dish, to accompany the curries and chilis that have been lingering for a week. So, basically, this was an easy recipe, that kind of reminded me of a veggie latke. I had a few problems with the flavor, though. Basically, these were kind of bland. I didn't quite follow the recipe as directed, because I made an attempt to cut down on the peanut oil, and I used egg whites instead of a whole egg. I didn't really think this would affect the flavor, but it most definitely did. This is a habit with me - I always try to trim the fat out of recipes, and then I am disappointed when they don't have a fabulous flavor. So... these had the potential to be great, and next time, they will be. I take full credit for the fact that these didn't make it to 4 bowls. They were pretty good, but they needed that mango chutney boost, to really taste great. I will try these again, when my fam is in the mood for curry!

3 Bowls. I should have followed the recipe as directed...

Vegetable Pakoras

These Indian fritters get their intensity from Madras curry powder. A hit of chutney cools the palate.

Yield: 6 servings (serving size: 2 pakoras and 1 tablespoon chutney)

3 ounces all-purpose flour (about 2/3 cup)
2 teaspoons Madras curry powder
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup water
1 large egg, lightly beaten
3/4 cup (1/4-inch) diced peeled sweet potato
1 cup (1/4-inch) pieces cauliflower
1/2 cup finely diced onion
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 jalape�o pepper, finely diced
3 tablespoons peanut oil, divided
6 tablespoons mango chutney

1. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, curry powder, cumin, and salt, stirring with a whisk. Combine 1/3 cup water and egg, stirring with a whisk. Add egg mixture to flour mixture; stir until smooth. Cover; let stand 10 minutes.

2. Place sweet potato in a small saucepan; cover with water. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes or until just tender. Drain and cool to room temperature. Add sweet potato, cauliflower, onion, cilantro, garlic, and jalape�o to flour mixture; stir until well combined (batter will be very thick).

3. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 1/2 tablespoons oil to pan, swirling to coat. Drop 2 tablespoons batter into pan, and flatten slightly with the back of a spoon. Repeat procedure to make 6 pakoras. Reduce heat to medium, and cook 4 minutes on each side or until browned. Remove from pan; drain on paper towels. Repeat procedure with remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons oil and batter. Serve with chutney.

CALORIES 198 (30% from fat); FAT 6.5g (sat 1.2g,mono 2.9g,poly 1.9g); IRON 1.5mg; CHOLESTEROL 35mg; CALCIUM 26mg; CARBOHYDRATE 30.9g; SODIUM 393mg; PROTEIN 3.5g; FIBER 1.9g

Cooking Light, DECEMBER 2008

Monday, January 24, 2011

Chili-Spiced Chicken Soup with Stoplight Peppers

Gotta love a spicy chicken soup... This recipe had a little blurb up at the top, saying that it was like a soup version of a chicken fajita. That sold me. We adore soup, on a cold winter evening, and this was about as warm and cozy as I could have hoped for. I didn't think I could like a soup with so many peppers, but boy oh boy - it was a tasty one. Maya and Jonah slurped it down, and even Kevin was impressed.
Make this. It's easy and tasty, and not too spicy for tiny mouths. 4 Bowls.

Chili-Spiced Chicken Soup with Stoplight Peppers and Avocado Relish

Finalist, Family Dinners

My husband likes Mexican food tacos, fajitas, burritos. This recipe is everything you'd find in a fajita in a healthy, tasty soup instead. Jamie Miller, Maple Grove, Minn.

Yield: 8 servings

Spice blend:
2 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon canola oil, divided
1 1/4 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch-wide strips
2 cups chopped sweet onion
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 cup chopped green bell pepper
1 cup chopped yellow bell pepper
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups fresh corn kernels
1 (32-ounce) carton fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1 (28-ounce) can fire-roasted crushed tomatoes, undrained
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/3 cup chopped green onions
1 teaspoon grated lime rind
3 ounces queso fresco, crumbled
1 diced peeled avocado
Cilantro sprigs (optional)

1. To prepare spice blend, combine first 6 ingredients in a small bowl.

2. To prepare soup, heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick saucepan over medium-high heat. Add chicken; sprinkle 1 1/2 tablespoons spice blend over chicken. Sauté 8 minutes or until done; cool. Chop chicken; set aside.

3. Heat remaining 1 teaspoon oil in pan over medium-high heat; add onion, bell peppers, garlic, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Sprinkle vegetable mixture with remaining spice blend; sauté 8 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Stir in chicken, corn, broth, and tomatoes; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 15 minutes. Add lime juice.

4. To prepare relish, combine chopped cilantro and next 4 ingredients (through avocado).

5. Ladle 1 1/4 cups soup into bowls; top with 1/4 cup relish. Garnish with cilantro sprigs, if desired.

CALORIES 285 ; FAT 9.6g (sat 2.1g,mono 4.7g,poly 1.8g); CHOLESTEROL 648mg; CALCIUM 99mg; CARBOHYDRATE 23.1g; SODIUM 773mg; PROTEIN 27.2g; FIBER 5.5g; IRON 3.1mg

Cooking Light, MARCH 2010

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Chicken with Linguine, Leeks, and Tomatoes

Kevin made a request this week: "Please don't make any curries. I can't take it anymore."

In my defense, this family is so picky! No cheese, no red meat, no cinnamon, no nuts, no fish, blah blah blah. So, it really leaves me with a pretty narrow array of recipes and ethnic foods.

So... It took a while, but I finally found several recipes that I was excited to try. This one looked really basic, and it only used 1 pot, so I thought it would be perfect for a night when I wanted to make something quickly. This dinner tasted really delicious. It was so easy to throw together, and the flavor combination was perfect. It was slightly spicy, but had a nice sweet flavor from the leeks and peas. It called for linguine, but I made the mistake of using leftover soba noodles, which didn't work particularly well. They got a little clumpy, sticky, and overcooked. Oh well. The good news is, it was still really tasty, and the clean up was so simple. To make it even easier, you can buy the frozen leeks at Trader Joe's. I highly recommend this one.

Make this. It's great. 5 Bowls.

Chicken with Linguine, Leeks, and Tomatoes

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 chicken breast half and 1 cup pasta and vegetables)

4 (4-ounce) skinned, boned chicken breast halves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
Vegetable cooking spray
2 teaspoons margarine
3 cups sliced leeks (about 3 medium)
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup low-salt chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can no-salt-added whole tomatoes, undrained and chopped
4 ounces linguine, uncooked

Place each chicken piece between 2 sheets of heavy-duty plastic wrap, and flatten to 1/4-inch thickness, using a meat mallet or rolling pin. Combine 1/4 teaspoon of salt, garlic powder, and next 4 ingredients; sprinkle over both sides of chicken, and set aside.

Coat a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray; add margarine, and place over medium-high heat until margarine melts. Add the chicken, and cook 1 1/2 minutes on each side or until lightly browned. Remove from skillet; set aside.

Add leeks and garlic to skillet; cook over medium-high heat 3 minutes or until tender. Add chicken broth and next 3 ingredients; bring to a boil. Break linguine into 2-inch pieces; add linguine and chicken to skillet. Cover and cook over medium-low heat 15 minutes or until pasta is tender.

CALORIES 329 (13% from fat); FAT 4.6g (sat 0.9g,mono 1.3g,poly 1.3g); IRON 4.4mg; CHOLESTEROL 66mg; CALCIUM 108mg; CARBOHYDRATE 38.6g; SODIUM 364mg; PROTEIN 32.7g; FIBER 1.8g

Cooking Light, MARCH 1995

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Thai Root Vegetable Curry

I swear, after I post this review, I will stop making curries for a while. Seriously.

This is another vegan Isa recipe (from Appetite for Reduction), and I loved it. Kevin thought it was so-so. It is actually a really cool recipe - I mean, who would have thought to roast brussels sprouts, butternut squash, turnips, and parsnips, for a curry?! Well, I loved the flavors in this one, but I think it was a bit strong for the rest of the family. Basically, I don't think my family loves Isa's curry recipes, because they are really high in flavor, but they don't have enough richness, because she cuts way down on the coconut milk. So, I don't think I'll be making this again, though I wish it was an option, because I really thought it tasted terrific. It was a green curry, which I've never made before, and the nutty sweetness of the roasted vegetables made it so tasty. I definitely had some problems with under-roasted parsnips and turnips, so I think I needed to make the chopped veggies a bit more uniform in size. Anyway, this post is a little "all over the place," but the moral of the story is - this was good. Really good, in my opinion. Maybe it's a little too "out there" for some, but I thought it was a winner...

I really wish I could post these recipes, but all I can say, is that you should really buy this book. She is brilliant, when it comes to blending amazing flavors, and doing it without destroying your kitchen, and killing your whole afternoon!

3 Bowls!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Isa's Lotsa Veggies Lentil Soup

As you may know, we love lentil soup in our house. It's funny, though, because there are some specific flavors that I think of, when I think lentil soup. I think Indian, tomato, barley, or even chicken and sweet potatoes. This recipe called for a bunch of things I would never think to put in a lentil soup, including tarragon, thyme, spinach, and zucchini. I didn't think I'd like it at all - especially when I took my first whiff, and it had a really "herbal" aroma, that I immediately disliked. After an hour of simmering, however, it looked and smelled divine in my house. The end result, was absolutely perfect, and tasted very different than the typical lentil soups I make. The other nice thing about this soup, is that it was a soup, and not a stew, which is usually how my soups turn out. This soup almost reminded me of a chicken soup, but you didn't miss the chicken. Amazingly flavorful, complex, and delicious.

Get the book. Make the food. Tell me about it. 5 Bowls.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

2nd Avenue Vegetable Korma

This week, I am reviewing Isa Chandra Moskowitz's new masterpiece: Appetite for Reduction. Isa is the author of Veganomicon, Vegan Brunch, and Vegan with a Vengeance. We love vegan delicacies in our house, so this was a welcome addition to my cookbook shelf. Well, actually, it's the first cookbook I've bought in ages, and I only did it, because I knew I couldn't find the recipes online, and I was really just dying to try some of these dishes. I went out to Trader Joe's on Tuesday, and loaded up with a lot of fresh produce. I was a tad intimidated, and concerned that I wouldn't use everything I bought, but I did it anyway. I had a few newbies and rarely used items in my cart, including brussels sprouts, kale, and cauliflower (which I just don't use all that often). I was really excited to get started.

Night One: A delicious and beautiful Veggie Korma. Korma originates in India, and is defined as a dish where meat or vegetables are braised in water or stock, and cream (or in this case, coconut milk). It also includes the typical Indian spices, like coriander, cumin, garam masala, etc. This recipe was really easy to put together, and it took very little time. We liked it. Actually, I really loved it, until Kevin said that he only thought it was "okay." That got me thinking, and suddenly, I didn't like it as much. The big problem with this dish, was that it was really only a side dish. There was no protein - not a bean nor meat substitute to be found. Now, I am typically okay with that. I could live on giant bowls of well seasoned veggies - but not Kevin. For him, this was seriously lacking in richness and substance. Don't get me wrong - it tasted great. It just felt like it needed a can of chickpeas, or chunks of Indian spiced tofu. I want to make this again, but it definitely missed the mark for my husby, so I'm not sure it will ever see its way onto our dinner table again.

I thought this was 4 Bowls, but Kevin calls it 3 Bowls. Can we compromise at 3.5?!
Sadly, I can't post this recipe, because of copyright laws. If I could find it anywhere on the internet, I might post it, but if it looks good to you, I highly recommend the book. Everything in it looks delicious!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Chicken Paprikash

This recipe looked so easy, and so delicious - I just had to try it. It's a quickie. It truly only takes 30 minutes (maybe less) to throw together. I threw in some frozen peas in the end, because I am always a fan of adding more veggies. The end result... Good. Not great, not even very good. Just plain good. I really liked all the ingredients, but when put together, the product was sort of one dimensional. I think if you like simple, home cooked meals, with nice, mellow flavors, you'd probably really enjoy this. I found it relatively bland. The caraway seeds lend a nice, nutty undertone, which I thought was the highlight of the dish. Basically, I think I've come to like more complex flavors, and this just didn't do it for me. That being said, it was a good, solid dinner, when you are pressed for time, and want to use up some canned tomato goods that are lingering in the pantry. I'd be very curious to hear other reviews of it. If you make it, let me know what you think!

Maybe you should try this, and tell me your thoughts... 3 Bowls.

Chicken Paprikash

This chicken paprikash recipe is a saucy dish best served with egg noodles. Toss the noodles with a bit of butter, caraway seeds, salt, and pepper for added flavor.

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 cup)

1 tablespoon canola oil
1 pound chicken breast tenders, cut into 1-inch strips
1 cup prechopped onion
1 cup thinly sliced red bell pepper (about 1 medium)
1 1/2 teaspoons bottled minced garlic
1/4 cup whipping cream
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained

Heat canola oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add chicken; cook 5 minutes or until browned, stirring occasionally. Remove from pan, and keep warm.

Add onion, bell pepper, and garlic to pan; sauté 4 minutes or until tender. Return chicken to pan. Stir in cream and remaining ingredients; cover and simmer 5 minutes or until chicken is done and sauce is slightly thick.

CALORIES 241 (31% from fat); FAT 8.2g (sat 2.4g,mono 3.3g,poly 1.7g); IRON 1.8mg; CHOLESTEROL 76mg; CALCIUM 51mg; CARBOHYDRATE 12.9g; SODIUM 507mg; PROTEIN 28.4g; FIBER 3.1g

Cooking Light, DECEMBER 2005

Soft Pretzels

This month, Food Network Magazine is featuring a spread of recipes for soft pretzels. I jumped at this one, and made them that same afternoon. There are various ways to stuff the pretzels (pepperoni, pesto, cheese, etc.), and several ways to top the pretzels (brown sugar, traditional salt, etc.). I chose to go the "everything" route. Think "everything bagel - pretzel style."

I have realized something about myself, as I have be honing my skills as a culinary artist. When it comes to detail, I am not the most attentive. When a recipe calls for shaping, rolling, or cutting dough, mine always seems to come out lopsided, broken, uneven, or just... funky. Take these pretzels, for instance. Each one is a different size and shape. Some of them have little pieces missing, and some of them have clearly been broken and reattached. Some of the little nubs are teeny tiny, while some are thick and doughy. So, basically, these look a tad mishmoshed, but that's okay. As my mom says, "That's what makes them look homemade." Okay... I crave perfection in my baked goods, but I guess it's not really in the cards.

Anyway, this recipe creates a delicious pretzel, but frankly,

Soft Pretzels


  • 1 1/2 tablespoons dry active yeast
  • 1 tablespoon agave nectar
  • 2 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • Assorted fillings, optional
  • Coarse salt or other toppings


Mix 1 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees F to 115 degrees F), the yeast and agave in a bowl. Set aside 5 minutes.

In a food processor fitted with the dough blade, pulse the whole-wheat flour, 2 cups all-purpose flour and the sea salt. Add 1 egg and the yeast mixture and pulse in 10-second intervals until the dough comes together, about 3 pulses. Turn out onto a floured board. Knead 10 to 12 times, adding up to 3/4 cup more flour if the dough is too sticky. Cut the dough into 4 equal portions; cover with a clean towel.

On a floured board, roll out one piece of dough into a 14-by-11-inch rectangle, 1/4 inch thick, with a shorter side facing you.

To make plain pretzels, cut the dough rectangle into seven 11-by-2-inch strips. For stuffed pretzels, follow the filling instructions, then cut into strips.

One at a time, pinch the cut long edges of each strip together and roll into a 12-inch rope with your hands. Transfer the rope to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Grab the ends and bring them toward each other, forming a U shape, then cross the left end over the right end to make a pretzel shape. Cross the left end over the right again to make a twist in the middle. Repeat with the remaining dough, spacing the pretzels 3 inches apart. Set aside for 10 to 15 minutes; preheat the oven to 475 degrees F.

Beat the remaining egg in a bowl. Brush the pretzels with the egg; sprinkle with salt or other toppings. Bake until browned, 16 to 18 minutes.