Homemade Garlic Bread or Bites beat the store bought ones because you can use a healthier bread as your base and you can use fresh garlic in olive oil instead of frozen herbed garlic butter loaded with preservatives and salt!
These bites make great accompaniment to soups or they can be served as party appetizers. I have used a lot of garlic, an entire bulb to be precise, but if you are not a fan of this pungent but health miracle, reduce to your preference. The same goes for the scallions.
And if you are a garlic fan like me, then would you agree that there is nothing more heavenly than the beautiful aroma of fried garlic?
Here is the recipe for my last post (for the time being) in my series of Bites :
Ingredients ( for 6 Garlic Bites)
2 tbsp EVOO
10 garlic cloves, pounded or ground
6 slices of multigrain baguette
2 stalks of scallions, sliced thinly or 1 tsp dried chives
A pinch of sea salt
Heat a pot with EVOO and fry the pounded garlic till very light golden brown.
Add in the scallions and toss in the pinch of sea salt. Not too much because the baguette usually comes with sufficient sodium.
Switch off the fire after a minute and spread this garlic scallion mix over the baguette evenly.
Grill in the toaster for 5 minutes or till golden brown around the baguette slices and on the top. If you grilling large quantities, you can use the oven at 350 deg F or 180 deg C for 5-10 mins. Do keep an eye so that baguette slices don't burn.
Continuing with bites, I added mixed cocktail fruits to tomatoes to give the regular bruschetta a sweet tropical twist. I liked the sweet flavor but you be the judge when you make them on your own. Another super easy recipe but a sure winner!!
I simply love Avocado - that creamy buttery fruit mostly found in South American and Mexican cuisines. Did you know that Avocados are also known as alligator pears or buttery fruits??!! Well, I didn't.. The versatile avocado is the only fruit that provides a substantial amount of mono unsaturated fat. They are a nutrient dense food and contain nearly 20 vitamins and minerals.
These Avocado Bites are so easy to prepare and it requires minimal preparation time. They would be great as sides or as party appetizers. When I had prepared these today morning, the bites were rather cold by the time I could eat them after the photographing. Imagine, if they had been served warm straight from the toaster or the oven....Mmmmm.
1 multigrain baguette, sliced into 1/2 inch slices (You can use any other type of baguette but I personally like the taste of multigrain because of the added nutty taste and flavor)
1 ripe avocado
Sea salt and Black Pepper Grinders
Red Pepper flakes
Preheat your oven to 350 deg F.
Brush the baguette slices with olive oil and toast them lightly till golden brown (roughly 5 mins). Remove from oven and arrange them on a large serving plate.
Peel the avocado and cut them thinly into 1 inch slices to fit on the baguette.
Arrange the avocado slices on the baguette - roughly around 3-4 per baguette slice.
Sprinkle lemon juice all over the avocado slices to prevent oxidizing (believe me - it doesn't look pretty with those dark patches) and then grind sea salt and pepper over the bites. Toss red pepper flakes for added heat.
Sprinkle more olive oil over the bites and serve warm immediately.
On a personal note :
Most days, when I have ripe avocados at home, I would sprinkle lemon juice, season with salt and pepper and gobble it up with my egg white omelette for breakfast. Its another simpler way to enjoy this delicious fruit.
Green Mung Bean and Rice Crepes are also called Dosa or Thosai in Indian cuisine. This is one of the basic breakfast or dinner dishes to prepare and is hugely popular in many Indian households and restaurants. It is actually a mix of ground mung bean and rice into thick batter form and left to ferment overnight. Fermentation helps in the flavor and its nutritional content.
I decided to tweak the usual recipe for a healthier version using unskinned Mung Bean for fibre and it turned out pretty good as we can see in the picture above. It is very filling and healthy and can be served with Coconut Chutney, Tomato Chutney and Spiced Lentil Curry (Sambar) or Dosa/Idli Podi (which is actually a few types of lentils and dried chilli roasted and ground with salt).
Ingredients (for 20 small crepes)
1 cup Idli/Dosa Ponni Rice (found in many Indian Grocery Stores)
1/3 cup Jasmine White Rice
1/2 cup Split Unskinned Green Mung Bean
1 tsp fenugreek seeds
Soak all these individually at around 9 in the morning.
At around 9 at night, grind the rice separately and put the batter in a metal container.
Then, grind the soaked green Mung Bean with the fenugreek seeds and pour this into the bowl as well.
Mix well and leave it to ferment overnight. If you are living in a colder climate, switch on your oven for 20mins at 200deg F and then leave the metal bowl in there overnight. That should do the trick.
The next morning, mix in the salt per your preference.
Take a round griddle, spread a little bit of sesame oil and wait for it warm up.
Scoop a ladle of batter onto it and quickly spread in a circular motion till you get a smooth round shape.
Sprinkle a little sesame oil over the top. Heat should always be at medium temperature.
Check the bottom and if it is golden brown, then turn over and cook the other side.
Serve warm with the chutneys and curries.
What can be more comforting than a plate of cheesy warm macaroni and cheese? I was not a fan of mac and cheese in restaurants because they were loaded with just too much sodium! My younger daughter Riya loves Mac & Cheese and I felt awful depriving her of such a comforting dish. I came across an online recipe with sharp cheddar cheese but I felt it would be a little too sharp for children. I used mild cheddar instead and substituted full fat butter with light butter (50% less fat).
This is a recipe for a basic Mac & Cheese. You can even bake it with breadcrumbs sprinkled on the top. There are so many other varieties online as well.
Ingredients (for 4)
3 cups medium size elbow macaroni/shell macaroni
2 tbsps. light butter (or the usual butter if you prefer regular mac and cheese)
2tbsps all purpose flour
2 cups skim milk
4 tbsps. grated Cheddar Cheese
Salt & Pepper for seasoning
Parsley Flakes for garnish
Boil macaroni in salted water till al dente. Drain and set aside.
Take a medium sized pot and melt the light butter.
Add flour and whisk until it becomes a thick paste.
Next, add milk and cheese alternatively till cheese melts and the whole mixture become sticky.
Then, add in the boiled macaroni and give it a stir.
Check for seasoning and add in salt and pepper if required.
Garnish with parley flakes and serve hot with roasted vegetables/baked potato wedges and a simple garden salad.
Spicy Lentil Patties are also called Masala Vadais and they are a great tea time snack. I remember during my younger days when I would have just returned from school famished after a long day and there would be piping hot lentil patties being fried in the kitchen. Then, I started to offer to bring these patties for school events too in my secondary school and it was always a hit.. When I got married and I learnt to make this on my own, it was a culinary dream come true for me.
These Double Baked Potatoes with Broccoli is a favorite with my family. I have baked these many times at home and even for family gatherings. They always turned out delicious and was very well received by many. Because they are mainly made up of potato and cheese it will be quite popular with young kids. As the broccoli is hidden within the mashed potatoes and under the cheese, fussy kids never need to know they are having their vegetables and lovin' em'!!
Ingredients ( 12 servings)
6 medium sized potatoes, scrubbed clean
1 and half cups small broccoli florets, washed
2/3 cup veg stock
2 cups cheddar cheese for mixing with the mashed potato
1 cup of cheddar cheese for topping
red chilli flakes
Salt and Pepper
Preheat oven to 400 deg F and oil a flat baking tray.
Rub olive oil, salt and pepper over all the 6 washed potatoes and bake for 45 mins or till the inside is cooked when you prick them.
In the meantime, steam the broccoli florets for 3-4 mins in microwave high.
Let them cool for 15 mins, then cut them horizontally (sideways) in half.
Spoon out the potato flesh into a mixing bowl being careful not to tear the soft skin.
In the mixing bowl, pour in the veg stock and add in the 2 cups cheese, steamed broccoli florets and mix well.
Season with salt and pepper.
Scoop the flesh back into the potato skin cups and place the cups in muffin oven tray so that there is support and they don't topple over.
Top the potato cups with more cheddar cheese, sprinkle with chili flakes and bake 30 mins till the top is golden brown.
Sere warm with any Pasta dishes or any other western style dishes. Great for parties!
A lovely colorful Chinese dish of noodles and vegetables stir fried in seasonings. I first had a taste of this on the return leg of our week long holiday in Florida last December at the airport. We were all hungry and were looking for something vegetarian to wolf down. Chanced upon this chow mein in one of the Asian Food stalls in the Food Court. That version had mainly oily noodles with minimal vegetables.
I have come up with a healthier spicier version. You can pretty much add in any type of vegetables - cauliflower florets, broccoli florets, julienned bell peppers, baby corns etc
Ingredients (For 4)
300 gm uncooked stir fry chow mien noodles (See Picture Below)
2 tbsp. canola oil
1 medium chopped onion
4 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tsp mushroom seasoning (See Basics Category on the right)
2 tbsp sambal oelek (See Basics)
2tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 medium carot, cut into matchsticks
20 snap peas, sliced thin
2 cups bean sprouts, washed
1 block of tofu, cubed and grilled
Chopped bird's eyes chili for garnish and serving as an accompaniment
Chopped scallions for serving as an accompaniment
Cook the Chow Mein noodles according to the package and keep aside.
Take a medium sized wok or a deep non stick cookware and then heat the oil.
Fry the chopped onions and then followed by the pounded garlic.
One golden brown, add in all the seasonings except the dark soy sauce.
After 2 mins, toss in the vegetables and the grilled tofu cubes.
Once all the vegetables are cooked, add in the cooked noodles and dark soy sauce.
Toss with two ladles like you would toss a salad.
Serve piping hot with chopped bird's eye chillies and scallions.
While sourcing for an alternative cauliflower side dish, I came across this recipe. Now, I can't remember which site I got it from! I like this recipe as it doesn't involve tedious onion and tomato chopping. A very simple recipe and the aroma and taste of ginger are quite out of the world!
Ingredients ( For 4)
2 tbsps. canola oil
1/2 tsp cumin seeds, pounded for extra flavor release
1 tbsp. ginger, pounded
1/2 green chilli, chopped ( more if you prefer spicier)
1 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp chilli powder ( more if you prefer spicier)
3/4 cup tomato sauce
Salt per preference
1 medium cauliflower cut into florets
1/2 cup green peas
2 sprigs coriander leaves, chopped and extra for garnishing
Heat a pot with the oil and fry the cumin seeds and then the pounded ginger.
Next, add in the green chilli and fry further.
After a few minutes, add in the spice powders, salt and then the tomato sauce.
Once all the spices has married well with the tomato sauce, add in the cauliflower florets, green peas and coriander leaves. Stir to combine.
Cover and cook for 10-15 minutes. Sprinkle some water now and then to ensure vegetables don't stick to the bottom or get burnt!
Check for seasonings and serve warm with any curry and Basmati Peas Rice.
I found this recipe online accidentally while sourcing for baked pasta dishes. As usual, I have tweaked the original recipe and this time I hv excluded the garlic, egg and nutmeg.
I have now a baked pasta dish favored by my family. Ricotta Cheese in baked savory food - what an incredible delicious idea! I wasn't aware that ricotta cheese even existed till I came to Penn.
Baked pasta with spinach and ricotta cheese is a complete fulfilling meal. It is sure to be a winner with your family.
Ingredients (Serves 4)
1/2 lb/ 6oz medium shell pasta, cooked al dente
3 cups marinara sauce ( See Note )
1 cup part skim Ricotta cheese
1 cup Parmesan Cheese
3 cups chopped fresh spinach
2 cups low fat Mozarella Cheese
4 Basil leaves, chopped
Salt, Pepper and Chilli Flakes to season per your preference.
Preheat oven to 375 deg F and get a 10inch by 7 inch baking dish ready.
In a mixing bowl, combine the ricotta cheese and parmesan cheese together.
Stir in the chopped spinach, salt, pepper and chilli flakes.
Spread 1 and 1/2 cup of the marinara sauce on the baking dish.
Put half of the cooked pasta over the marinara sauce.
Spoon half of the spinach ricotta mix over the pasta and spread it out evenly.
Top this layer with 1 cup of mozzarella cheese.
Repeat the process with the remaining marinara sauce, the cooked pasta and the remaining spinach ricotta mix.
Finish it off with remaining 1 cup mozzarella cheese and toss the chopped basil leaves.
Using your fingers, press the entire mix gently part by part so as to get a good layered finish when cut after being baked.
Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 25 mins. Then uncovered for another 10-15 mins till the sides are slightly browned and the cheese has all melted.
Serve warm with additional chilli flakes or hot sauce.
Marinara sauce can either be made at home or you can buy from any grocery store. I like my Marinara sauce to be light and not overwhelmingly loaded with Italian spices, sugar and salt. I tried a few brands before I came across Rinaldi's Marinara Sauce.
We loved the combination of so many types of cheese and hence the second time I baked this dish, I doubled all the cheese! It became heavy and we just couldn't go for seconds! I believe the above combination is the best. But, do try out different quantities - every family has its own preference.