Eggplant Fries with Tzatziki Sauce

May 29, 2012
Except for my mom's baba ganoush, eggplants always been on my No-No list- I just don't like it- no reason..so if you are wondering why did I bother about it now, well, I did not. sometimes being a dietitian is a perk (or not) because  people just assume that you worship any vegetable (most of the time I do) but not when it comes to eggplant-but you just don't say NO to free-eggplant from one of the sweetest lady at work, right ?



Did you know eggplant is  actually a fruit & native to India
My automatic thought was to call up my mom and ask for her baba ganoush recipe but again I figured  I should just leave it up to her.. no matter how hard I try to replicate the recipe, it won't be the same. Another idea sparked on my head- eggplant fries because I have had great tasting, crunchy zucchini & sweet potato fries- both baked..and oh boy I was right-eggplant fries turned out delicious too.

yield ~ good for 2 servings

Ingredients
1/2 eggplants, cut into strips
~ 1 cup bread crumbs
Italian seasoning mix, salt, paprika, garlic powder (to taste)
1/4 cup plain, low-fat yogurt
1 egg, lightly beaten

Directions
-Preheat oven to 450F
-Mix salt, garlic powder, italian seasonings, and paprika in a bowl.
- In another bowl, mix yogurt & egg together.
-First place the eggplant strips into egg/yogurt mixture then coat them in flour mixture evenly.
-Place them in a parchment paper or greased baking pan and bake for 10-15 minutes rotating once and until slightly brown.

Tzatziki sauce is perfect for summer heat with chips,  sandwich, or by spoonful

For the tzatziki sauce: 
- In a food processor, put cucumber (seeded, peeled), yogurt, dill, lemon juice, garlic cloves, salt together until smooth.

Crispy on the outside and little soft on the inside- YUM

And soon before you know it...it was all gone

...even if you are not-much-of-a-eggplant-lover give this fries a shot and see if it will change your mind because it certainly changed mine :)











Fudge Friday

May 27, 2012
I have the sweetest tooth in my family, followed by my little cousin (thank god at least there is someone following my foot steps).

Expressing our chocolate affair while getting some Vitamin D

I was in NY  last weekend making cake pops with mi familia, I miss them very much and to fill that void, I made some chocolate fudge and also I could not stop drooling at these fudge @ Chocolate & Carrots. I always opt recipes with few ingredients, easy methods, and no fancy gadgets and this recipe just fits my style- there's no need for candy thermometer or heaps or butter & sugar..makes fudging so much easier.


Ingredients
1.5 cups dark chocolate chips
1.5 semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 can condensed milk
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped

Directions
In a small sauce pan, heat milk and chocolate chips over low heat until it melts completely. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract and walnuts. In a 8 by 8 pan (or something with a similar size) place a parchment paper and evenly spread the chocolate mixture. Let it chill for 2-3 hours in the refrigerator or until set and cut into squares and thank the person for introducing chocolate in our lives.

All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt. --Charles M. Schulz

The fudge was very rich and had good ratio of sweet: dark..The key to a decadent fudge is good quality chocolate chips because I have had not-so great experience with supermarket brands. Ghirardelli was my choice of chocolate this time and I loved it..If you are a dark chocolate lover like I am, you could go dark all the way instead of semi-sweet..

Don't worry, chocolates can certainly be part of our healthy lifestyle..yes- it is coming from a dietitian but  remember-everything in  moderation

Tagine-Less Tagine with Couscous

May 24, 2012
I have considered & reconsidered if I should buy tagine because I know I will probably use it once, okay twice but I want to own one just because it looks pretty cool, don't you think so?

Tagine is a North African dish (stew) which is prepared in a special cooking pot, also known as a tagine. Photo: Williams & Sonoma

But before occupying space in my already small, overcrowded cabinet, I thought I should at least make a recipe or few recipes to actually see if tagine is my thing. This girl here gets carried away easily.. I came across several Moroccan spices inspired recipes with chicken, lamb, beef but the vegetarian version caught my eye mainly because I have hard time finding good use for okras. EatingWell had a recipe with Okra & Chickpeas (I used kidney beans) which seemed do-able even without tagine....well, I don't know about tagine but beans are certainly my thing.

Okra & Kidney Beans with Couscous


Ingredients
1 cup frozen okra, stem ends trimmed, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup kidney beans,canned (rinse the beans)
5-6 sprigs fresh cilantro, plus more leaves for garnish
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 red bell pepper, finely diced
1/2 medium onion, finely diced
1 tablespoon garlic and ginger paste
1 cinnamon stick
2-3 bay leaves
2 tomatoes, diced
1 cup chicken broth (reduced-sodium)
2 teaspoon ground cumin
salt and hot sauce to taste

Direction
-Bring a saucepan of water to a boil. Add okra and cook for 2 minutes. Transfer the okra with a slotted spoon to the ice water. Drain.
-Heat oil in a  large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add bell pepper. Cook, stirring, until soft, 2 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl with a slotted spoon.
-Add onion, garlic, ginger and pepper to the pan. Cook, stirring, until the onion is soft, 3 to 6 minutes.
-Mix in tomatoes, broth, cumin, cinnamon sticks, bay leaves, okra, cilantro sprigs and half the bell pepper.
-Reduce heat to medium; partially cover. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the okra is soft, 10 to 15 minutes.
-Stir in kidney beans and salt; cook for 4 minutes. Remove from the heat; discard the cilantro sprigs.
-Stir in hot sauce.
-Serve sprinkled with the remaining bell pepper and cilantro leaves, if desired.


Couscous (dry)
I am a newbie to this small granules of semolina flour-couscous. Its pretty bland by itself so cooking it in stock or flavoring with herbs & spices will heighten its flavor.  I used the instant kind and it was cooked in less than 5 minutes- can't beat that :) For more couscous info

Couscous with mushroom & dried parsley
1 cup couscous (cooked) has about 175 calories and 6 grams of protein

Tagine or No Tagine?

The stew is one the flavorful stews I have ever made :) and couscous was a great pair to this stew because both of them are Moroccan-esque. If you are looking to include more veggies in your life, give this tagine-less tagine a try, you wont regret! You can choose any beans or vegetables of your choice! and now about buying a tagine- may be someday when I have more cabinet space for fancy dishes but as of now, I am pretty happy with my sauce pan..

Pre-Workout Granola Bars

May 22, 2012
Some days I am more excited about pre-workout snack than actual workouts-especially if that snack is sweet, chewy or crunchy granola bars.  I have been trying to include mostly natural, healthier ones but those get expensive :( which I don't like. You can find cheap ones but they aren't  necessarily the best out there; its filled with sugar, fats and 30+ ingredients which I  have no clue about. Every time when I am at the grocery store (and ready to pay), I have been telling myself that this is the last time I paying for these bars but that day never came until I noticed a price increase and that did it for me. Probably the only time I am not complaining about the increased price!  

Per bar: 175 calories, 5 grams protein, no added fats & sugar  and sodium-free 

My blogger friend @ love food eat always has best recipes for healthy, baked goods and she never gets tired of using bananas in her baking- I learned that from her and like always it did not turn me down :)

Makes ~ 10 bars
Ingredients: 
3 cups old fashioned oats
1 1/2 cups of mashed overripe bananas
1/2 cup walnuts
1/4 cup ground flax seed
1/2 cup water
1/2 tsp salt

Directions:
-Pre-heat the oven at 350 F.
-Combine mashed banana ground flax seeds, water and salt in a big bowl, stir well. 
Add the oats and mix everything. Fold it into a greased  shallow baking tray, spread and press well with your fingers.
-Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Let it cool for 10 minutes.
-Cut them into desired shape,  flip it upside down on a cookie sheet. Put it back into the oven and bake it for another 15 minutes. 
-Turn the pieces over and bake for another 5 minutes for both the sides to be nice and brown.
-Let it cool completely and store it in an air tight container for up to a week.


Going home with Savory Cumin Biscotti

May 21, 2012
Technically, my home is Nepal but how often do I go there, hmm maybe once every few years or so..but half my family lives in New York- the greatest city in this whole wide world :) therefore, I consider NY  my home and I got to spend this weekend in NY with mi familia for much needed quality time.

As always, I could not make up my mind on how many pairs of shoes/shorts/jeans/shirts/dress I may need for the weekend, and had one hot debate with myself  on what ifs-  what if it rains? what if I sprain my ankle? what if we go to a fancy restaurant? what if this what if that...never ending, finally I had to give up and do something  less futile than that. I attempted to make cumin biscotti to take home; perfect to dunk into our chai tea/coffee/milk during our endless conversation. Traditionally, biscottis are sweet with nuts or dried fruit but my aunt dislikes sweets (no, I am not kidding), I chose the savory route with cumin and cardamom.



Makes ~ 25 small slices
Ingredients
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3  eggs
1 tablespoon cumin seed
3/4 tablespoon cardamom, ground
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Directions
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
- In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt.
-Pour the liquid ingredients-eggs, vanilla extract and stir in cardamom and cumin seed.
- Shape the dough into 2 logs of about 2 inches wide and 13 inches long.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes, then cool for 10-15 minutes.  Leave the oven on.
-Using a knife, cut the log to 1/2 inches
-Bake for additional 15-20 minutes, turning once.
-Allow it to cool completely and store in a air tight container.



On a side note, if I could I would move to New York right now! Where would you go?

Baked Samosas

May 16, 2012
It's  just convenient to buy samosas from Indian Cafe down the street from my apartment and it never occurred to me that I could bake it at home. But my fellow blogger here Nupur @ uk-rasoi decided to host a event "From Fried to Favorite" and samosas & onion rings were in this round. My automatic pick was samosa because its a delicious appetizer and I wanted give my best shot at baked and 100% guilt free samosas :)

Samosas are traditionally deep fried pastry with potato or meat fillings, various blend of spices and served with some kind of chutney. The recipe varies depending upon who is making it.



Makes: 8 samosas
Ingredients:

For the shell:
1 cup all purpose flour + 2-3 tablespoon for dusting
5-6 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon salt

For Fillings:
5-6 small potatoes, boiled & mashed
1 tsp salt
1 tsp coriander seed, toasted
2-3 green chillies, chopped
1 tsp ginger root, minced
2 tsp mint paste (may use fresh chopped mint)
handful peanuts & peas (frozen & fresh)

Directions:
-Preheat the oven to 375 F.
- In a medium bowl, mix flour with cumin seeds & water. Slowly pour water little by little kneading into a dough. Cover the dough with wet paper towel for 10-15 minutes.
-In another bowl, mix all the ingredients for fillings.
-Divide the dough into 8 medium size balls.
-On a clean surface, dust some flour and roll the ball into circular disc, slight cut off the top part.
-Put generous amount of filling into the disc. Dampen the edges of disc with water.
-Fold the disc into cone shape sealing the edges well.
-Place them on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 30-35 minutes, rotating them every 8-10 minutes.
-Serve them hot with chutney or ketchup.


I am very happy with the final result because they were crunchy and the filling was very flavorful, maybe little hot than store bought samosas. So, if you like less spicy samosas, go easy on chillies. I was nervous that it would not turn out right and had to constantly check the oven every 5 minutes or so! But have some patience, easier said than done, trust me they will slowly brown and become crunchy. Peanut added some crunch to the samosa which I enjoyed...When you really think about it, it is less hassle than frying, healthy, & taste great just like fried versions. So why not give this baked samosa a shot?




Bros pyramid & Pyogo Pajeon

May 15, 2012
I had a slight freakout moment today when I came home to fridge stocked more produce than normal. Since I am the only  veggie enthusiast in my household, I always buy them in limited quantities-yeap I am that weird girl at the check out stand with three tomatoes, a bunch of cilantro (some days I wish I could just pick 3-4 stems instead of the whole bunch)...I hate wasting food okay.

My choices were mushrooms, cauliflower, tomatoes, squash, green onions-  all these fresh produce normally don't make to my fridge at once, hence the aforementioned freakout.  While I am still keeping up with my meatless monday,  my ideal choice would have been cauliflower curry with plain rice, dal but according to my brothers food guide pyramid- things are slightly different.

 So Monday evenings are slightly challenging to this tired & hungry sister. oliviajasonkim's pancake-Pyogo Pajeon (Scallion Pancake w Shiitake Mushrooms) had been on my mind for quite sometime and thought this kind of fit both of our's pyramid. He likes pancakes and I like veggies :)

In Korean, Pyogo: shiitake      pajeon: scallion pancake (jeon-pancake)
Scallion Pancake w/ Shiitake Mushroom
Makes 3 medium size pancakes
Ingredients
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cup ice cold water
1 tsp salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3-4 scallions, strips
~ 1 cup shiitake mushrooms, sliced (dried or fresh)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2-3 green chillies, roughly chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
oil spray

Note: if using dried shiitake, soak them in water until soft.

Directions
-In a medium bowl, mix flour, salt, eggs and water together and set aside (the batter should be slightly thinner than pancake batter).
-Heat a non-stick pan, add oil spray and stir fry scallions, mushroom, garlic  with soy sauce for 2-3 minutes.
-Add 3/4 cups of batter into the pan, add some mushroom, scallions on top and let it cook for 5-8 minutes or until the edges are brown.
-Using a spatula, flip the pancake and cook for additional 4-6 minutes.

shiitake mushroom is the third most commonly produced mushroom worldwide Excellent source of selenium and good source of iron & dietary fiber


 The woody, spongy shiitake mushroom complimented scallions very well.  Also, I was glad to see how the pancake was not very dense;  I was little wary because I used half whole wheat flour. I didn't mind it at all neither did the bro so I guess it should not be a problem to most of us out there. 

Sunday Egg Muffins

May 14, 2012
...so Saturday I experienced "shop till you drop"-literally. I zonked out for 10+ hours and woke up ravenously, super early am on Sunday. All I wanted was humongous stack of pancakes & hearty omelet at some breakfast diner. But instead,  I motivated dragged myself to make egg muffins at the comfort of my own kitchen :)



Makes 2 muffins

Ingredients
3 eggs
1 chicken sausage (cooked), roughly chopped
2-3 scallions, chopped
1-2 tsp dried basil
pepper (to taste)
grated parmesan cheese, to sprinkle
oil spray

Directions
-Preheat oven to 350F
-In a small bowl, eggs lightly and add basil & pepper
-Add half the sausage & scallions to fill little more than 1/4th greased ramekin dish/muffin tin
-Fill the remaining with egg mixture and slightly stir with a fork
-Sprinkle with grated parmesan and bake for 25-30 mins or until eggs are cooked


Note: If using ramekin dish, place them on a cookie sheet while baking in case it spills.


Any other meat, vegetables, herbs could be easily substituted! Great for brunch and no doubt will impress everyone.


 The sweet aroma of basil diffused throughout my kitchen and I could individually taste all the ingredients-which I enjoyed the most. The saltiness from sausage & oozing cheese in my mouth was the highlight of my morning! So after all that hearty muffins & two cups of coffee, I was ready for another power nap (aka few hours of sleep) to recuperate from the exhausting shopping trip.

On a side note:   Eggs at Breakfast May Delay Hunger

Chocolate Cranberry Bundt Cake

May 12, 2012
I did not realize my little pantry could accommodate that many random ingredients. I usually buy a thing or two for recipes and completely forget all about it. Yesterday while I was about to make dinner, I realized how cluttery the pantry looked and instead of cooking  I spent couple hours cleaning/organizing the little treasure box which had luckily amassed few unopened packets of dried cranberries, cocoa power, walnuts, and not just empty spice packets and few pieces of chocolate chips. Cleaning felt kind of worth it after I landed on a bundt cake pan which had gone missing...


Ingredients
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened 
  • 3/4 cups sugar (add more if you like)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • cups plain low-fat yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 oz. dried sweetened cranberries                                  
Directions
  • Preheat oven to 350F
  • Dust little flour and coca powder in the pan
  • Mix flour and cocoa together with the baking soda , set aside
  • In a large mixing bowl cream the butter and sugar together
  • Beat in the eggs, one at a time
  • Add the flour mixture alternately with the yogurt in three parts
  • Add oil and stir in the vanilla and cranberries
  • Pour the batter into the prepared pan for 45-50 minutes or until a tester inserted comes out clean
  • Cool for 10 minutes before inverting onto a rack to cool completely  



 If cleaning pantry meant I could eat yummy cakes for dinner, I would never say a word and happily clean, organize and even get down to scrubbing floors...

Mavericks Lost & 70 Calories Ice-Cream

May 6, 2012
If you all are following NBA, you know what just happened last night. I am not a huge sports fan but I guess when you are always around sports fanatics, you have to kind of roll with them and that is why I watched all four games to see last years defending champion being swept out by OKC.. followed by lots and lots of sadness, bitterness, frustration and add all other synonyms that has to do with sadness..and you think PMS is bad...a photo would have been nice but I tried to be nice last night :)

Anywhooo, I have this other friend who is not so much into anti-Mavericks and thought ice cream (only 70 calories) would be appropriate to cheer the crowd (good try but it will take more than just ice-cream) but the ice cream was sent through e-mail.. And why would anyone in their right mind think viewing ice cream and drooling over them on screen will make someone happy, seriously! That actually made me more upset than Mavs losing the game..

would you be cheerful or upset to see this-only electronically?
** 2. Transfer only half the chopped berries to a bowl.
I am sure & certain this will be soon made in my kitchen but until then I thought we could do some drooling together..But it seems like I may have to make it sooner than I think because as of now, Mavs fan are still in shock & I do not want this sadness to linger around here any longer..and this ice cream is my one and only hope right now! 


Not so shameful crab cakes

May 3, 2012
Crab cakes are one of those things I always dread to order at restaurants,  no I am not scared of crabs. I am talking about all the good grease that goes in it. I have only had it once, yes once at the cheesecake factory and now all I remember is eating something really really good at each bite. Pretty sure my arteries were cussing me but I was happy in crabby land :)

Slightly burned 'em- my priority was cutting lemons and even those didn't turn out perfect
Beauty of Multi-Tasking


I stumbled upon this blog dedicated only to crab cakes, oh how I love food blogs. Before that it never occurred to me that I could make it this easily at home. I had forgotten all about crabcakes (almost). I couldn't decide if I wanted  fresh vs. canned crab. Looking up several crab cake recipes and approval from other food bloggers, I chose to go the economic route of canned crabs. Food connoisseur will probably go ballistic over this but for a 2nd time crab caker, experimenting at home, I felt pretty good about it and did not really need to impress anyone in my kitchen.


Recipe adapted from: tasteofhome
Ingredients
3 cans ( 6 ounces each) crabmeat, drained
1 cup bread crumbs, divided ( I used plain but could use seasoned or panko)
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup green onions, finely chopped
1/4 cup light miracle whip
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tsp parsley, dried
1 tbsp lemon juice
 oil or butter for frying

Directions
-In a large bowl, combine the crab, 1/3 cup bread crumbs, eggs, onions, miracle whip, lemon juice, and garlic powder.
-Divide the mixture into 8-9 portions, shape into 2-in balls. Roll in remaining bread crumbs. Flatten to 1/2-in thickness. 
-In a nonstick skillet, cook crab cakes in oil for butter for 3-4 minutes on each side or until golden brown.

 I dont know how does classic crab cake taste like besides the cheesecake factory experience but this one from my kitchen was pretty flavorful. However, the texture was blah which was expected but still I was kind of upset. I enjoy different layers of texture and this one didn't have much to offer. Well yeah thats what you get from canned crab. Lesson learned. Overall, not too shabby for a second timer.


I already know I will be making them again but with real crabs :) but don't get me wrong here. Canned are fine too especially if you on budget or just want to give it a shot; you just miss out on texture.

Colorful Penne with Creamy Cucumber Dressing

May 1, 2012
Lately there has been not much cooking or baking being done here - I always struggle to cook single portion and I hate to see it being tossed in trash.  My brother is busy with 'studying'- so he's always gone and I have been eating whatever to call it a dinner.  Thats basically how the past week went but now I am running out whatever dinner ideas ( sandwich, smoothie, cold cereal, hummus, etc etc) But it had to come to an end- and it did today.  I told myself that I was going to learn how to make small/individual portion of actual dinner and not scarf anything from the fridge & pantry.


Pasta is always a life-saver, wouldn't you agree? I made this simplest cold pasta  with cucumber dressing! Just perfect for summer.

Ingredients
1 cup whole wheat penne pasta, dry
1 cup vegetables of your choice, steamed, chopped
1 cup cucumber, seeded, chopped (about 1/2 cucumber)
1/2 cup low-fat plain yogurt
1/4 cup light miracle whip
2 tablespoon red onion, chopped
1 tsp dill weed,  taste and add more if needed
1-2 tablespoon lemon juice
Salt & pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Cook pasta as directed.
  2. In a food processor, add all the ingredients except 1st two (pasta & vegetables) and blend until smooth.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine pasta, vegetables & dressing! 
  4. Cover and store in a refrigerator for 30-45 minutes.
  5. Serve chilled.
Note: 
It makes about a cup of dressing and only about 1/2 the dressing was used for the pasta. 




This dressing itself is creamy (miracle whip did the miracle), very cool & dill adds a great flavor! I am sure it goes well with meat dishes, sandwiches, pita bread.

and I did not make copious amount of food this time. I ate almost half of it and theres some for lunch tomorrow-perfect :) however, I ended up making more dressing because I had to use the remaining cucumber and decided to take some dressings for my coworkers to try.