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Paneer Masala Toast

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I am in the last few weeks of pregnancy. In the home stretch. So far everything has been same as first pregnancy.

Except that since I am at home ( and pregnant and writing  food blog), I am hungry. A lot. All the time.

After breakfast. After lunch. And mostly immediately after dinner. Also especially around 4:00 pm.

I feel like a cow, grazing all day long.

Fed up with constantly raiding the fridge, I decided to make something more filling and scrumptious so that I could eat it again.

Paneer masala toast was born out of that necessity.

Hot buttered toast, spicy paneer spread on it and topped with cool crunchy tomatoes.

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I ate one. And decided to save one for Varun as he loves paneer. But it was so good that I made myself another one half an hour later. Gobbled it all up. Cleared it all up so there was no trace of it left.

I felt so bad ( for being a bad parent and not sharing it with Varun) and yet so good.

I have to make it again. In a bigger batch. And share with family. Because thats what home cooking and parenting is all about. Right? Right?

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Paneer Masala Toast Recipe

  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup fresh paneer crumbled ( use tofu instead of paneer)
  • 1 teaspoon oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 serrano chili finely diced
  • 1/4 cup finely diced red onion
  • Pinch of Cumin powder, Corriander powder
  • Handful of cilantro leaves finely chopped
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 slices of whole grain bread
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon pesto sauce
  • 2-4 slices of tomato

1. Heat oil in a skillet. Add cumin seeds once heated. As the seeds sizzle, add the chillies and red onion. Let the onion cook for a minute or so taking care not to burn it.

2. Add the spice powder and paneer. Add salt. Mix well.

3. Add cilantro leaves and let cook for another minute or so till the paneer is cooked. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Remove and keep aside in a bowl.

4. In the same skillet, heat tablespoon of butter. Grill bread slices in the buttered skillet. Flipping over once browned taking care not to char it.

5. Once the bread is grilled, spoon pesto sauce on one of the bread slices. Layer the paneer masala filling. Lay the tomato slices on top.

Cover with the other grilled bread. Press down with a spatula.

6. Remove from the skillet and cut in half.

Serve warm with ketchup and hot tea!

Overnight Oats With Blood Orange and Almonds

Overnight Oats with Blood Orange and Almonds

Thanks everyone for reading the rather long post on Real Food Matters. I know it was long but I wanted to write it up so when we fall off the wagon or are tempted by unprocessed foods, I could go back to it and remember why we are doing this in the first place.

Appreciate all your likes and comments on Facebook!

One of the first things to get your day’s diet on track is to have a healthy filling breakfast. But for most of us to prepare breakfast in the morning rush is hard. Plus if you have to balance all food groups including vegetables then it gets trickier.  Also, some of us don’t have time to wait for porridges, omelets etc to cool down before we can sit down and eat.

It becomes easy to resort to coffee and a bagel routine. And while at that coffee shop, donuts and other pastries always tempt me. I see past the whole grain wraps and pick myself a sweet treat.

Overnight Oats with Blood Orange and Almonds

But a little effort previous evening pays off. Not just in saved $$ but in a healthier meal. And you let the refrigerator do all the work while you sleep. By the time you wake up and have your coffee, you have a creamy porridge ready.

Boiled eggs, overnight oats and low sodium V8 is a colorful, healthy start to the day.

It can be made in individual servings making things even easier or stored in a to go container to eat on the go. I read online about folks who make it for the entire week with different toppings (peaches, berries, stewed apples, nuts, granola etc) and you are set.

Give it a try next week for an easy – breezy healthy wholesome breakfast!

Overnight Oats with Blood Orange and Almonds

Note:

1. Don’t use the instant oats for this, they will turn into a mush which I am not a fan off. While nutritionally the same, instant oats have higher glycemic index as they break down and are digested faster compared to the thicker rolled or steel-cut oats.

2. Adjust the sweetener based on fruits that you are using. Go light if the fruit is sweet or stewed – like apples.

Overnight Oats Recipe

  • 1 cup whole rolled or steel-cut oats ( not the instant kind)
  • 1 1/2  cups water
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 banana mashed or 1 tablespoon dark Grade A maple syrup (optional sweetener)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped nuts ( walnuts, almonds , pecans based on what you have on hand)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fruit ( based on what you have on hand)
  • Nuts and Fruit – For Garnish

1. Wash the oats in water and then mix all the ingredients listed above other than garnish.

2. Put them in individual bowls. Keep it in the refrigerator overnight.

3. Top with nuts and fruits.

Serve as is.

Crunchy Raddichio, Beans and Broccoli Salad In Soy Sriracha Dressing

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I was getting tired of the green salad recipes. I suppose Vipul was too so to mix things up a little, I made him a crunchy salad.

I had celery, broccoli, green beans and raddichio on hand. The last was an impulse buy. This is a winter vegetable. In season here in US. A new one to add to our routine. Its purple and white ribbed leaves are so beautiful. Tempting. Inviting.

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I didn’t really know what to do with it and was torn between roasting it and eating it as is. I ate one raw, and it was so bitter. I know based on my Indian cooking experience that if a vegetable is bitter, blanching it in water removes the bitterness. I decided to go with that approach.

Raddichio was chopped and soaked in hot water.

Broccoli and green beans were blanched in hot water.

Kidney beans were marinated.

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Everything was tossed in a soy sriracha dressing and served with salmon.

It was crunchy, flavorful, a little spicy and a little tangy.

Vipul was tired of chewing all the crunchy vegetables so if your guy is like him then serve it as a side rather than a main salad. I topped mine with cold soba noodles in sesame oil and let me tell you it was 100% yumm!

Will make this again, in a heart beat.

Note: Sriracha sauce has sugar in it. So if you are on no sugar diet, replace sriracha sauce with another hot sauce of your choice.

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Crunchy Raddichio, Beans and Broccoli Salad In Soy Sriracha Dressing Recipe

  • 1/2 head of raddichio thinly sliced (about 2 cups of sliced leaves)
  • 3 cups hot water + 2 cups water to blanch vegetables
  • 1 tablespoon sriracha sauce (use less if you want it to be little less spicy)
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed thoroughly.
  • 1 1/2 cups brocoli chopped roughly
  • 1/2 cup green beans diced
  • 1/2 cup celery diced

1. Soak the raddichio leaves in hot water for about 20 – 30 minutes to remove the bitterness from the leaves. Set aside.

2. Whisk together siracha, soy and sesame oil. Toss some of the dressing over the kidney beans. Set aside in a large bowl.

3. In the meantime, boil water in a saucepan. Once you have a rolling boil, blanch broccoli and green beans in hot boiling water till they turn bright green.

4. Once the vegetables are blanched, scoop them out and add them to the kidney beans bowl.

5. Drain the water from raddichio leaves and add the leaves and celery to the kidney beans – vegetables bowl. Add some more of the soy -siracha dressing.

Toss well. Taste and add more dressing as appropriate.

Serve immediately with grilled salmon or tofu.

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.

Fudgy Peanut Butter, Chocolate and Pistachio Truffles

Fudgy Pistachio Chocolate Peanut butter truffles

If you are anything like me, your Pinterest, Gojee and FoodGawker boards are full of fudges.

They go by tempting names like White Chocolate and Peppermint or Salted bourbon with Butterscotch Fudge or with Eggnog and mini marshmallows. And you know when the sweets are this tempting, I can never stop at one piece. I sneak in for a piece here and there for sustenance. Most of these have cream, butter, sugar or even corn syrup. I even saw 2 ingredient recipes that use frosting and bisquik! Now, just because it’s the holidays, doesn’t mean we need to unnecessarily pack on the pounds!

Sorry to be a party-poopper but I need to fit in my jeans on Jan 2nd and not size up (even though the sales all around make it easier on the pocket).

Between the holiday parties, drinks, cookies and other desserts at office, we don’t need to contribute to the sugar overload. I wanted to make a healthier version of fudge. Pistachio and Chocolate fudge truffles fit the bill.

Made with 4 ingredients and naturally sweetened these have to find a place in your dessert bar. They are no cook, no bake truffles and come together easily. They can be customized many different ways, with different coatings ( coconut flakes, sprinkles, chopped nuts or cocoa nibs) to make them sweeter and appeal to different age groups.

Pair them with other natural desserts – like date truffles and you are bound to have enough to snack on without guilt. In fact I encourage Varun to eat them as the ingredients are all healthy.

Cheers to healthy desserts! Especially the ones that are as easy as this!

Fudgy Peanut Butter, Chocolate and Pistachio Truffles Recipe

For 8 – 10 balls

  • 4 oz peanut butter, room temperature (creamy kind for a smoother truffle)
  • 4 oz apple sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sweetened dark chocolate powder
  • 1/4 cup unsalted pistachios coarsely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon canola oil or butter (to grease your palms while shaping the balls)

1. Beat the peanut butter and apple sauce till smooth (about a minute)

2. Add the dark chocolate and pistachios to the peanut butter and mix well.

3. Line a plate or pie pan with a wax paper. Spread the mix on the plate/pan till about 1/2 inch thick and then set it in the fridge covered with a foil.

Leave it overnight to firm up.

4. Grease your palms and shape them into balls.

As we are not using cream or butter or sugar, the ‘fudge’ is soft and it will be hard to cut them into bars. Keep them refrigerated in an air tight container. Though I doubt they will last long 🙂

Enjoy healthy holidays!

Cardamom Poached Pears in Red Wine Sauce

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With holiday season in full swing, we all want recipes that can be made ahead, look like ton of work but are actually quick and easy. Poached pears fall in that category. Easy to make ahead, elegant and inexpensive – as all ingredients are seasonal.

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Or perhaps you have some fruit and left over wine from the party last night and are looking for a new way to use it all up.

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This dessert wins on all categories: fruit based, nut and dairy free and is light. And the red hue is very appealing. Based on what you pair with it can be dressed up ( puff pastry, custard, candied fruits) or had simply in a rustic wine sauce or just fresh diced fruits (kiwi, pomegranate and oranges would complement the flavors fabulously). It can be individually plated ( or served in wine glasses with a bit of creme anglaise to stabilize the base) for smaller gatherings or served in a platter for a potluck party.

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Oh, and citrus and cardamom perfumes the entire house. As Candice Olson would say, Simply Divine!

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Note:

1. I didn’t core the pears but I have seen recipes that quarter or halve the pears and remove the seeds. Probably makes eating them easier but I find the whole pears look more fancy.If you do halve or quarter, the pears will poach sooner than what the recipe below calls for. Keep an eye out for tender but not mushy pears.

2. You can use All Spice or Nutmeg instead of cardamom. I used what I had on hand. I had a gift pack of pepper, mace and cardamom spices from our trip to Nilgiris, Ooty, India.

Cardamom Poached Pears in Red Wine Sauce Recipe

  • 2 Bosc or Bartlett pears
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 – 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1/2 small orange thinly sliced (like a cutie orange)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 7-8 cardamom pods peeled and seeds crushed.
  • 4 black peppercorns

1. Mix all the ingredients (except the pears) in a saucepan. Bring it to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.

2. In the meantime, peel and remove the bottom brown bit from the pear ( the brown bit is from its blossom flower). Slice it at the bottom to make it stand upright.

Optionally, halve or quarter the pear and scoop out the seeds.

3. Submerge the pears in the saucepan. Add water if necessary to cover the pears. Cover and let simmer on low to medium low heat for about 30 minutes or till tender. Test with a fork or a spoon.

Keep ladling the wine mix over the pears if they are not fully submerged. Rotate the pears carefully midway through for even poaching.

4. Scoop the pears out and set aside in the refrigerator to chill for at least 4 hours.

5. Reduce the wine and spices mix to half or even third of the volume on high heat. Chill this reduction as well.

To serve, arrange the pears on a platter. Spoon the reduction over the pears to get a shiny glaze.

Serve chilled with remaining reduced sauce.

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