Category Archives: Entrees

Everyday Dinner: Skillet Grilled Cheesy Whole Wheat Quesadillas

Vegetable Dinner Quesadillas

Would you like a cheese paratha?

Varun’s aunt asked him during one of our visits to Mumbai. His default answer. No.

Knowing that this is something he would like, I asked her to make one for me instead.

And when he saw the crunchy, cheese oozing paratha, he wanted to have one too.

Recently we bought whole wheat tortillas and while preparing a salad for Vipul, I wondered about our dinner. It had to be quick and easy, since Varun wouldn’t allow me to tinker around in the kitchen for long.

A cheese paratha inspired whole wheat quesadillas were born.

Spring onion, cilantro and ginger were quickly sliced up and mixed with a bit of salt and paprika. Cheese was grated and added to the mix.

A tortilla roasted on the skillet. The mix spread out, tortilla folded and then grilled on other side.

Within minutes, we had a piping hot meal that was enjoyed by all ( Vipul had one wedge as the aroma of grilled cheese was hard to resist!)

Skillet Grilled Cheesy Whole Wheat Quesadillas Recipe

Makes 2 servings

  • 2- Ready made whole wheat tortillas or roti (from Indian stores)
  • 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 2 spring onions sliced ( white and green parts)
  • 1/2 inch knob of ginger root peeled and minced
  • Handful of cilantro leaves finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika or red chili powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 teaspoon oil for grilling

1. Mix all the ingredients from cheese to salt in a bowl. Taste and adjust for seasonings.

2. In a skillet, heat a whole wheat tortilla. One heated, flip it over. Spoon the cheese mixture liberally and fold in half. Cook on each side for a minute or so till the cheese melts. Take care that the tortilla doesn’t burn.

3. Cut into wedges and serve warm with fresh fruits and salad.

A Yellow Whole Wheat Egg Yolk Pasta

Egg yolk whole wheat pasta

Sorry for the almost weeklong absence. This was the week when most of the pre-school applications for Varun were due. And we had not even toured some of the schools; which is mandatory in some cases before applying.

With Vipul at work, the task was on me and I was driving all over the town to attend the last few tours that the schools had. I joked one evening that we need a SCRUM board to just track the schools and their process (plus other things we had to do like pick up house keys, find a pediatrician closer to new house, possibly look for an interim preschool closer to our new apartment etc).

Egg yolk whole wheat pasta

To be out and about, I used to have a heavy breakfast (fried eggs and cereal) so it would tide me over till lunch.

I don’t like yellows in my eggs. Its been the case since I was young and before the low-fat/carb diet etc were even part of my vocabulary. I can’t stand their smell unless it is poached or baked.

Egg yolk whole wheat pasta

So, what do you do with the yellows? They are actually rich in vitamin A and D, folic acid, potassium and selenium – not to mention protein and omega-3 fatty acids. The bulk of nutrition in an egg is in the yolk.

Instead of discarding them as I previously used to do, I used a recipe that I read in Jamie Oliver’s cookbook to make a pasta dough with  flour and egg yolks. Knead this with a little water like nobody’s business. And you have a dough that can be rolled, filled or shaped.

You will have a naturally yellow whole wheat pasta that is rich in nutrients and then can be made into anything you like. I don’t have a pasta making machine, but it can easily be rolled thin and cut up to make fettucine.

Egg yolk whole wheat pasta

I gave a small dough to Varun and he rolled and played with it while I made the rest for us. This pasta cooks in a couple of minutes and topped with olive oil, parsley and pepper was one the yummiest meals in a while.

Am in love with making fresh pasta. Next time, I plan to add some chopped spinach or kale to sneak in some veggies!

Egg yolk whole wheat pasta

Whole Wheat Egg Yolk Pasta Recipe

  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups whole wheat flour + 1/4 cup for rolling
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil ( for greasing)
  • 7-8 cups water (to boil pasta)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon fresh parsley chopped
  • Olive oil, parmesan cheese to top and serve per taste

1. Take the flour on  the counter and form a well in the center.  Add egg yolks. And a little bit of water.

2. Oil your hands. Mix a little bit of yolk and flour, in circular motions, incorporating more and more flour on each pass. The mix does get hard, dry and crumbly. Don’t give up. Use a little bit of water if it’s too dry. Keep kneading.

Using the heel of your hand, massage and knead the dough till it comes together and eventually becomes soft and pliable. This took me about 15 – 20 minutes.

3. Set the dough aside for 30 mins to rest.

4. Set water for pasta to boil.

Flour the counter and then roll the pasta into largish ovals/circles and cut up using a knife. Or use a pasta making machine if you have one.

5. When the water has a rolling boil, add the pasta. Cook for about 2 minutes till the pasta floats to the top.

6. Season with salt and pepper. Top with some olive oil, parsley and cheese.

Serve warm!

 

 

Butternut Squash and Black Beans Burgers

Butternut Squash and Black bean burger

Taking a break from the desserts that I have been posting here lately, I wanted to share with you a recipe for a really tasty, sweet and spicy veggie burger. After all a little bit of spice is nice.

No, no, I hope I didn’t lose you at “veggie” or the “spicy” part. These are damn good vegetarian burgers. Vipul who doesn’t care for veggie burgers enjoyed them . Thats saying a lot! And hence the atypical second post for today.

Butternut Squash and Black bean burger

Butternut squash is so good for us – fiber, beta carotene, loaded with Vitamin A and C and even folate – it is a super food in itself. Pair it with black beans – a protein powerhouse- you have a healthy and filling burger. A can of black beans saves some hassle and roasting the squash brings out its natural sweetness. Paired with some chili powder, cumin and ginger, the patty dough is tasty as is.

Mustard and ketchup are the simple accompaniments to keep the focus on the flavors of the patty.

The best part, it can be made ahead and kept frozen for a quick weeknight healthy meal.

Give it a try this weekend. I guarantee even pickiest of eaters will love it.

Butternut Squash and Black bean burger

Butternut Squash and Black Bean Burgers Recipe

  • 2 cups butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili powder
  • 1/2 + 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 can black beans, drained
  • 1/2 inch knob of ginger root, grated
  • 1/4 teaspoon green chili pepper finely diced
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons freshly chopped cilantro leaves
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil to fry the patties

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Toss the squash cubes with olive oil, cumin seeds, chili powder and salt. Bake for 30 mins till tender. It should be easy to mash them up with a spoon.

2. In the meantime, wash the black beans well and marinate them in lemon juice, ginger root, green chili pepper and salt. Set aside till the squash is done.

3. Remove the squash from the oven. Let it cool a bit. Mash it well with back of a spoon.

4. Mix the squash, black beans and bread crumbs. Taste and adjust seasonings. Shape into patties.

5. Heat oil in a frying pan and fry the patties about a minute or two on each side taking care not to char them.

Serve them on sandwich or burger or in enchiladas or simply as is with a bit of mustard and ketchup!

Baked Basil Pesto Chicken Breast with Spanish Rice

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One of the first few things that we cooked in our apartment post the move, is basil pesto chicken with spanish rice. A staple at our house, this is one complete meal that can be cooked in about 30 – 40 mins. Its rich with veggies, protein and is gluten-free.

It comes together with the starter ingredients listed in my previous post on setting up a new kitchen. Leftovers make a flavorful lunch the next day.Serve with a green salad to add more veggies or with some garlic bread and wine to make it more festive.

Note:

1. Cooking time will vary based on rice used. Jasmine rice will cook faster than brown rice or basmati rice. Follow the timing instructions from the rice packet.

2. Rice to liquid ratio will also vary by the kind of rice used. Basmati rice uses 1: 2 while jasmine needs 1: 1 1/4. Follow this proportion from the rice cooking instructions. For drier rice, use 1/4 cup less liquid than mentioned on the directions.

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Baked Basil Pesto Chicken Recipe 

  • 2 Chicken breasts thawed and cut into 1 – 2 inch cubes

For Marinade

  • 1 teaspoon garlic, finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons pesto sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon parsley (dried)
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano (dried)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil

For Baking 

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoon pesto sauce

1. Marinade the chicken breasts with all the ingredients listed above and set aside for at least 15 mins. You can use the time to make and prep the Spanish Rice ( recipe below).

2. Preheat the oven to 350 F ( 180 C).

3. Grease an oven safe dish with olive oil. Spread 1 tablespoon of pesto over it. Layer the chicken over the pesto taking care not to overlap them. Spread the remaining pesto over the chicken.

Wrap foil over the baking dish.

4. Bake for 10 – 11 mins. Test with a fork to ensure juicy but cooked chicken.

Serve warm.

Spanish Rice Recipe

  • 1 teaspoon canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon finely diced garlic
  • 1/2 red onion finely chopped
  • 1/2 red bell pepper finely chopped
  • 2-3 brocollini florets finely chopped ( including their stems)
  • 1 roma tomato finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 cup long grain rice
  • 1 1/2 cups – 2 cups chicken broth or water
  • Salt to taste

1. Heat oil in a pot and add garlic. Once the garlic sizzles ( but is not brown yet), add onion. Cook till the onion is translucent for about 2 mins.

2. Add pepper and brocollini and sauté them for  a minute. Then add the roma tomato. Cook for another 2- 3 minutes till the tomatoes cook and wilt.

3. Add rice and sauté for another minute allowing rice to cook in the juices from the veggies.

4. Now add the chicken stock. or water. Add paprika and salt to taste. Stir well. Cook on medium flame for about 10 minutes till rice is cooked.

Serve warm.

Enjoy!

Pepper Rice With Hot Tomato Carrot Soup

Pepper rice

Its raining, in fact pouring all day here in Hyderabad. So much so that when I went to pick up Varun I was soaked to the skin. I somehow managed to keep him dry.

We came home, a bit cold and wet. And I wanted something light and piping hot for dinner.

Soup came to my mind. Or rather rasam did. I didn’t have any curry leaves on hand so wondered how rasam would taste without it. Without another moment’s hesitation I decided to make simple tomato carrot soup. Now that  alone wouldn’t be sufficient for dinner. I always wonder when people say they had soup for dinner, how much of that tureen of soup they had? I decided to make some rice so Varun could eat plain rice if everything else failed.

When I opened the fridge to take out carrots and tomatoes, I saw the red and yellow bell peppers smiling at me. They wanted to join the party and thus the idea of a simple bell pepper rice along with the soup was born.

Rice was being cooked. Tomato and carrot were merrily boiling with a clove of garlic and a couple of peppercorns. I diced up green onions and bell pepper and then went to solve a couple of puzzles with Varun.

Once the rice cooled, I quickly stir fried the pepper with simple spices ( turmeric, bay leaf and cinnamon), puréed the soup’s vegetables and then added cooked rice to the pepper stir fry.

Within minutes we had a hearty and comforting dinner ready to eat.

Varun was hungry by now and we sat down with our respective meals.

Making the dinner was super easy, if only other things in life were as quick and easy!

Pepper Rice and Tomato-Carrot Soup  Recipe

For Pepper Rice

  • 1 cup long grained rice
  • 2 cups water to cook rice
  • 1/2 cup green onions sliced ( just the white and pale green parts)
  • 3/4 cup yellow bell peppers cubed
  • 3/4 cup red bell pepper cubed
  • 1 teaspoon oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 inch cinnamon stick
  • 2-3 medium-sized dried red chillies
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon urad dal soaked in water for 10 minutes or so
  • 1 tablespoon channa dal soaked in water for 10 minutes or so
  • Pinch of turmeric
  • Pinch of red chilli powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/4 cup green onions ( green parts) diced (for garnish)

For Tomato Carrot Soup 

  • 2 roma or 1 beefsteak tomato
  • 1 carrot – peeled and chopped into 1 ” peices
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 3 pepper corns
  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups water
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

To Make the Pepper Rice

1. Set the soup ingredients (other than salt and pepper) to boil while  the rice cooks. Once rice is done, fluff it and set aside.

2. Heat oil in a wok. Once it is hot, add mustard and cumin seeds.

After they sizzle, add bay leaf and cinnamon stick. Keep stirring for 20 – 30 secs. Now add the dried chillies. Crush them if you prefer a spicier rice. Keep stirring while the spices cook without burning them.

3.  Now add urad and channa dal after draining the water. Let this cook for about 1/2 a minute. Keep stirring to prevent them from sticking to the pan.

4. Add the green onions, flash cook for 30 seconds. Add the bell peppers.

Cook for another couple of minutes.

5. Once peppers are partially cooked, add turmeric powder, chilli powder and salt. Taste and adjust seasoning’s.

6. Add the cooked rice, stir well. Taste and adjust seasoning’s. Cover with a lid and let cook for a minute or so on low flame.

7. To make the soup, blend the cooked soup ingredients together till there are no lumps. You can strain the soup to remove any lumps or skin.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve soup with rice while its still piping hot.

Andhra Special: Gongura Chicken ( Chicken in Sorrel Leaves Gravy)

Gongura chicken

For my 201’st post, I thought I should post a regional recipe. When I first moved to US in 2001, we all had packed food items from home – be it pickles, papads or even pulses. While we were getting adjusted to the new life there, we all bonded over homemade simple meals. News,updates,learning’s were shared. Daal-chaawal for the dil ( aka Chicken soup for the soul).

Most folks from Andhra had a bottle of gongura pickle.The tangy sour sorrel leaves picked in a hot oil tempering. The combination is amazing and most Indian stores across US stock this.  It soon became a staple in our house and even today stands next to mom’s sweet and sour pickle.

When we moved to Hyderabad, we were introduced to another Andhra specialty made with red sorrel leaves – Gongura chicken. And the pairing is classic. Italians have their Chicken with Spinach, North Indian with fenugreek leaves (Methi– chicken) and Andhra has it with gongura leaves.

Renuka making chicken

Alas not all places make it well and we have had varying degrees of luck. Some places it was too sour,others it was too bland. Till recently, Renuka, our cook made it when she saw chicken and gongura leaves. And it was lip-smacking good. So, good that I asked to make it again when we had friends over.

Cooking

She willing shared her recipe and blushed when I told her I would share it with you all on Internet.

I hope you all love this tangy chicken recipe as much as we did 🙂

Gongura Chicken Recipe

Serves 4

  • 1 lb chicken(boneless skinless cubed into bite sized pieces)
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1/2 cup red onion diced
  • 1/4 cup mint leaves roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup coriander leaves roughly chopped
  • 2 1/2 cups Gongura leaves – washed and roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon – turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon – garam masala powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons -coriander powder
  • 2 teaspoons – red chili powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 cups water

For the Marinade

  • 2 tablespoon yogurt
  • 3- 4 garlic pods minced
  • 1 inch ginger root peeled and grated
  • 1 green chilli diced
  • Juice from 1/2 a lemon ( about 1 tablespoon)
  • Salt to taste

 For the Coconut Paste

  • 2 teaspoons Desiccated coconut ( thawed if frozen)
  • 10 -14 cashew nuts ( unsalted)
  • 3 garlic pods -roughly chopped
  • 1 green chilli – roughly diced

1. Marinade the chicken in the ingredients listed above. Set aside for 30 minutes to an hour.

2. Heat oil in a pressure cooker ( or a pot with tight fighting lid). Add onions and fry till translucent. Add the coriander and mint leaves and saute them for about 30 seconds till wilted.

Then add gongura leaves and saute them for about a minute.

3. Now add all the spices – turmeric powder, chili powder, coriander powder, garam masala and salt. Keep stirring as you add the masalas so they wont stick to the pan and burn.

4. Add the coconut paste and cook through for another minute.

5. Finally add the chicken along with the marinade. Mix well. Taste and adjust seasonings. Add water.

Pressure cook for 2 whistles or cook till chicken is cooked through but not tough about 8 – 10 minutes.

Serve hot with rice or parathas.

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