We are not huge fans of burgers. We avoid them when we can. But there are some days when we like a good burger. I personally like chicken burgers and rarely get vegetarian burgers. I have many friends who are absolute fans of black bean burgers. I decided to try my hands at making them at home. But instead of black beans, I used whole masoor. These masoor burgers were hearty, delicious and spicy, the way we like it. They made a very filling dinner.
Spicy masoor burgers make filling and delicious meal.
We are pizza fans, instead of going out and eating pizzas, I have started making them at home frequently. I make the pizza dough with one pack yeast (with recipe given below), use half of it and freeze remaining half. So we have pizzas once in a week or two. Making everything at home gives me enough options to customize it the way I want. I usually completely skip cheese. Sometimes I use marinated paneer as topping, sometimes I use basil pesto instead of traditional tomato pizza sauce.
Last week, when I wanted to make something different, I thought about calzone. I have been thinking about making them for so long, but somehow never did. I made a spicy stuffing with loads of vegetables. Unlike the traditional stuffing where cheese is normally used along with other stuff, I left out cheese. These came out so delicious. V kept asking why I had not tried them before. They were like baked cousins of samosas. I will be making these more frequently with different stuffing. Pizza dough: 1 pack active dry yeast 1 and 1/2 cups whole wheat flour (or atta) 2 cups all purpose flour (or maida) 1/2 tea spn dried oregano 1 tea spn brown sugar or honey 1/2 cup milk 1/2 cup water 1/4 cup olive oil 1 tbl spn butter 1 egg (optional, use water Salt
Method: Heat the water till it is lukewarm (I just microwave it for 15 secs), ie, till it is warm to touch. Add sugar or honey to water and add the yeast. Keep is aside for about 5-10mins till the water becomes frothy (indicating the yeast it active). Now add all other ingredients and mix well. Once it becomes a dough, knead the dough very well for 8-10mins. I make the dough in my KitchenAid stand mixer with dough hook. Apply some olive oil to a big bowl and keep the dough in it covered. Leave it in a warm place for 2-3 hrs till the dough doubles in volume. Now use the dough to make pizza.
Heat oil and fry garlic. Then add onion, celery, carrots. Fry for few minutes.
Add chilli powder, turmeric, garam masala and fry. Add tomatoes, salt, mix and let it cook till the mixture is dry.
Now add remaining vegetables – peas, corn, broccoli. Cover and let it cook on a medium low flame. When all vegetables are cooked, take the kasuri methi on the palm and slightly crush with fingers and add to the vegetables. Mix well.
Assembling : Preheat the oven at 400F for 10mins.
Take small balls of dough and roll them into 1/4 inch circles. Keep 2 tbl spn of stuffing on one half and fold the other half on top like a moon. Press the edges to seal. Brush the top with water (which gives the color when baked), sprinkle a little salt and chili flakes(optional).
Bake in 400F oven for about 15mins or till the top is golden brown. (I opened the oven at around 10mins and brushed the tops with water once again and kept them back). Then I turned them upside down, brushed the other side with water and baked again for 5mins just to make sure they got crispy from other side too (this is optional step). Brush the top with a little olive oil for some extra taste. Serve hot. I used half of the dough which made 5 calzones.
PS: – This is just a method more than a recipe. Experiment with different stuffing and any store bought/homemade pizza dough. – The stuffing was so tasty, I served the left overs with chapatis next day. It will go well with any bread, naan, rotis, chapatis or simple curd rice. – Serve them hot right out of oven for best results. – Make sure the stuffing is very dry. Any moisture in it would soak the dough. – Make them smaller and serve as starters at parties, they will surely win many hearts. – Above dough recipe can be used to make pizzas. It makes delicious and soft pizza base.
For last few years, I have been making something simple like pasta, sandwiches, pulavs etc for lunch that I can easily pack for Ishaan. So I usually make Indian dishes for dinner. But lately once in a while the child asks “ani sheet? (rice again)?” or “chupati nakka aaji (I don’t want chapati)”. So I am consciously trying to make something different. He also was asking for chicken, so I decided to make this baked chicken which I had seen many times on TV. I served it with a simple bulgar wheat salad. We all loved how juicy, tender and delicious the chicken turned out.
Ingredients: 4 large pieces of chicken thighs 1 cup thick buttermilk (or use yogurt thinned and beaten well) 1/2 tea spn chilli powder Olive oil 1/2 cup parmesan cheese 1/2 cup Italian breadcrumbs 1/2 tea spn each of dried oregano, parsley Salt
Add chilli powder and salt to buttermilk and mix well. Add the chicken pieces to it and keep it aside for few hours (I refrigerate it). Heat the oven at 375 for 10mins.
On a dry plate, mix cheese, breadcrumbs, oregano, parsely.
Roll the chicken pieces in the dry mix. Spread some olive oil on a oven safe dish (I used cast iron pan) and keep chicken pieces on it. Bake the chicken for 15mins and then turn and bake another 15 mins. (The time depends on thickness of chicken, so for first few times, check if it is cooked after 10mins). Serve hot.
I was introduced to quinoa about 4 years ago. Some of my ex-colleagues talked about it all the time. Although I was intrigued, I had no interest in trying it. Then a day came when we were advised to reduce all kinds of starchy carbs. Our doctor told us to stop eating white rice and move to brown rice if we wanted. I started looking for things that would replace rice and I came across quinoa again. This time, I wanted to give it a try.
Read more about quinoa on Wiki. It has a slight bitter taste, which although reduces when you wash it few times before using, does not completely goÂ away. We somehow could not develop a liking for it. Since it is full of protein, I started making dishes with lots of vegetables and quinoa. Our favorite has to be this lemony quinoa. Then one day V declared, he didn’t want to eat quinoa anymore. I had a huge pack of it purchased from Costco and I wasn’t going to give up so easily.
Then one day, I tried mixing quinoa with pearl couscous. The child loves these pearl shaped couscous (although he is not a fan of the tiny traditional couscous). The dish became a hit and now it is on the menu once a week atleast.
1/2tea spn chopped jalapenosoptional or use red pepper flakes
1/4tea spn each dried basil and oregano
1/2tea spn lemon pepperÂ seasoning or 1 tbl spn lemon juice
Olive oil and butter
Wash quinoa in water a couple of times.
Bring vegetable broth to boil and add quinoa, couscous. Cover and let it cook till all liquid is absorbed. Take off the heat and let it cool. Now fluff them with a fork. Keep aside.
Heat little olive oil and butter (butter for extra taste) and add vegetables. Fry them for few minutes and then add jalapenos (or pepper flakes).
Now add cooked quinoa-couscous, lemon pepper or lemon juice, dried basil and/or oregano. Mix everything very well.
PS: I add broccoli along with other vegetables sometimes or serve it with a side of steamed broccoli. Instead of cooking quinoa-couscous separately, they can be added to vegetables, pour the broth over it and let it cook.
Breakfast in my house is usually a typical Indian spread – either uppittu/upma/dosas/idlis. I cook both lunch and breakfast in the mornings. V tells me to take a break once in a while when we can just eat cereals. But breakfast for me has to be something hot and savory!. Since he loves waffles, I bought a waffle iron last year. I made waffles a couple of times, then it sat in one corner (Thank god for lot of cabinets in my kitchen – but they are all overflowing now!). Yesterday I thought Ishaan would love these and I wanted to bring out the waffle iron. Anything that looks interesting is a hit with the kid. He looked at it and he was super excited. (He hates all kinds of sweets, so he didn’t eat much! I am planning to make a savory version soon for him). These came out super delicious. I follow easy way out and just mix everything in one go. It took less than 10mins to prepare the batter. You can increase the amount of flax seed powder, I was worried that the smell of it would be too strong for us.
Ingredients: 1 and 1/2 cups wheat flour 1 and 1/2 cups all purpose flour 1/2 tea spn baking powder 1/2 tea spn baking soda 1/4 cup grated zucchini 2 tbl spn butter 2 tbl spn sugar A pinch salt 1 egg 1 and 1/2 cups buttermilk 1 tbl spn flax seed powder
Mix everything well. Spray a waffle iron with some baking spray. Then pour the batter on it. (Follow the instructions on the waffle iron to make them). Serve with maple syrup.
Ishaan started going to daycare at a very young age. When he was around 1 year old, they made him sit on his highchair to eat. He was all excited about feeding himself at that age. I was not a very big fan of the food provided at daycare – especially lunch, most of which was non-vegetarian. I buy mostly Organic vegetables/chicken, so the thought of him eating something else everyday at daycare was not easy to digest for me. I started sending his lunch boxes (luckily this was the only daycare which allowed us to send food!). There were hits and misses, some days he would eat everything and some days he refused to touch food. Once in two weeks, they had mac and cheese on the menu. The teachers there gave him a little bit of it to him and he would happily eat it. That’s how his love for mac and cheese started. Soon it became the one dish that he would eat without fuss anywhere. Since it is a part of most of the kid menus here in US, it made us easier to eat at restaurants. I never gave him mac and cheese at home, he would eat it only outside.
But then, I wanted to start making it at home. As most of my friends know, I am very fond of making things from scratch. Somehow I almost always messed up the sauce. Since it is the single most important part of this recipe, the entire dish gets spoiled when the sauce is not good. Finally a tip that I read somewhere on the internet helped me. "You have to add the cheese after switching off the heat". That was such a big help.
The inspiration for vegetable mac and cheese came from none other than Ishaan himself!!. Our latest favorite restaurant is Sweet Tomatoes – it has soups and salad buffet. He loves mac and cheese there. I have watched them make it many times. They make a smooth sauce and add it to macaroni. They mix it all and keep it in a hot pan. I give him some vegetables like peas, corn etc in one plate and mac and cheese in another. He recently started adding peas,corn to mac and cheese before eating!. Wow, my little chef!!. So I started making this version at home and he loved it. First time he picked all zucchini pieces and threw them away, but next time it didn’t bother him so much. V and I love this because of vegetables.
The quantities mentioned below are approximates. I do not measure any ingredients. While serving it to Ishaan, I just add some spoons of butter.
Ingredients: 1 and 1/2 cups elbow macaroni 1 cup mild cheddar cheese + about 2 tbl spn for topping 1/2 cup milk 1 tbl spn all purpose flour 1 tea spn butter 1/4 tea spn pepper + 1/4 tea spn red pepper flakes 1/2 tea spn dried basil 1/2 cup tomato 1/2 cup carrots 1/2 cup zucchini Olive oil 1/2 cup peas and corn (not in pictures) 1/4 cup parmesan cheese (optional) Salt
Method: Cook macaroni according to package instructions. Keep it aside. Cook carrots in little water. In a bowl, combine tomato, zucchini, peas, corn, dried basil, little salt, little olive oil, pepper, red pepper flakes and microwave for 2mins. This can also be done on stove top if you wish. In a thick bottomed pan, melt butter. Add flour and mix. Let the flour cook, but do not burn it. Very important step. Now add the milk and let the sauce thicken. Take off the heat. Add cheddar cheese and mix very well till all cheese is melted. If you add the cheese too soon, the sauce will separate, so be very careful. Needs some trial and error to get this right. The sauce has to be very smooth. Preheat the oven at 350F. Now in a oven safe dish (lightly apply olive oil to the dish), mix macaroni, carrots, vegetables, sauce. Mix them. Top it off with remaining 2 tbl spn cheddar cheese and parmesan cheese. Bake in the oven at 350F for about 6-7mins till cheese is melted. (This step can be done on a stove top instead of oven if you do not want to use oven). I mix everything with a spoon as soon as it comes out of oven to get a smooth consistency.
I am trying to include more chicken into our diet. Although I mostly make Indian dishes at home, once in a week, I experiment with new dishes. This was one such dish which came out really well. If you are a vegetarian, you can leave out chicken in this, it will still taste very good. It is a rich and creamy dish we absolutely loved.
Ingredients: 1/2 lb tender tender chicken 1/2 lb small cut pasta 1 cup vegetables – onion, corn, carrot, red bellpepper Dried basil, red chilli flakes flakes – according to taste 1 cup cheddar cheese 1/2 cup tomato Olive oil/butter 1/2 tea spn pepper 1 tbl spn whipping cream Salt
Method: Apply salt and pepper to chicken pieces and grill them till they are done. Cook the pasta according to package instructions and keep it aside. Heat olive oil/butter and add corn, carrot, onions, bellpepper. Add some salt, basil, chilli flakes. Cover and cook for few minutes till the vegetables are soft. Preheat the oven at 350F. Take an oven safe dish. Spread the vegetables. Then the chicken, followed by pasta. Spread the cream on it, followed by cheese. Spread tomato on top. Bake in the oven for about 8-10mins till the cheese is melted. Serve hot.
I have heard so much about Quinoa in last couple of years, didn’t even know about the existence of such a thing until then. Read more about Quinoa. After observing it for a while on many food blogs and watching my friends eat, I finally decided to try it. I bought a small batch from Whole foods and kept in my pantry. Yes, thats all I did. After few weeks, when I noticed it, I made something and we did not like it’s taste. So remaining sat in the pantry begging to be used.
For last couple of days, I wanted to try it out again, thanks to a cookbook I was reading at that time. So this week, I again tried it and we loved the taste. This lemony Quinoa and a hearty soup was our lunchbox yesterday. I think I am going to try this again soon and also try some more recipes with Quinoa in near future.
(I have no idea if this is available in India or what is it called in any other languages).
Ingredients: 1 and 1/2 cups Quinoa 1/4 cup sliced onion 1 tbl spn black olives 1/4 tea spn pepper powder Little butter 1/4 cup chopped capsicum (bellpepper) 1/4 cup corn 1 tea spn chopped jalapeÃ±os 1-2 tbl spns lemon juice Salt
Method: Cook Quinoa according to package instructions in water or vegetable stock or chicken stock. Add salt while cooking. As the Quinoa I had did not come in package, I just cooked in salted water 1:2 (quinoa to water) ratio for about 10mins (covered). In a separate pan, melt butter and add onion, capsicum. When they are slightly cooked, add corn, salt and cook till corn is done. I used frozen corn which took just about 1 min to cook. But if you are using fresh ones that take long time to cook, separately cook it and add to onion-capsicum mixture. Now add olives, pepper powder, jalapeÃ±os cooked Quinoa and mix well. Add lemon juice, mix well and take off heat. Serve hot.