P.F Chang's Lettuce Wrap Makeover

Sep 27, 2012
I love P.F Chang's Lettuce Wrap.. but who does not right?

Everyone I know who has had their wraps are absolutely in love with it- I don't blame them!

It simple, flavorful, and makes a great starter...



No, this is not from P.F Chang..in case you are wondering..It's from my kitchen! I wanted to create something similar to P. F's wrap - used whatever ingredients I had at home...It turned out pretty delicious, actually little more delicious than it looks - not gonna lie :) 

There are several versions of P.F's recipe on the internet..I adjusted the ingredients and played around with flavors based on my preference. It's an easy appetizer, great for parties, and even picky eaters will enjoy them!



Flavorful chicken, either ground or chopped chicken breast is a MUST. I used a lot of Asian flavorings (recipe to follow). You can make it ahead, store it properly and heat it right before serving..



Special Sauce enhanced the flavor of wrap altogether. Go here for the recipe. I would make this in advance before cooking the chicken.

Adding Mandarin Orange was just my idea and I think it worked very well with spicy chicken and gave slight sweetness..

Lettuce Wrap
Makes ~ 2 adult portions

Ingredients
1/2 lb ground chicken, preferable lean
2-3 button mushrooms, chopped 
2 tablespoon chopped onion
1 chopped green onion
2 tablespoon garlic ginger paste
2 tablespoon soy sauce
1-2 teaspoon fish sauce
2 tablespoon chili garlic sauce (use less if you like mild flavor)
2-3 tablespoon mandarin orange juice (optional)
salt to taste
2 tablespoon oil

Directions
-Heat oil in a medium pan, sautee onions, garlic-ginger paste for 4-6 minutes
-Add ground chicken and mushroom, mixing everything together 
-Add soy  sauce, fish sauce and stir it and allow the chicken to cook for addition 8-10 minutes
- Stir in chili garlic sauce and mandarin orange juice and stir until chicken is cooked completely
-Taste it and adjust spices, salt as necessary 


You can either assemble them into wraps, given you are not clumsy or messy eater like me

OR,  tear the lettuce leaves, pick up the chicken, add a slice or two of oranges and drizzle sauce over it...



It does not matter how ever you eat it, you are going to love it :) :)

Proudly Enjoyed Double Chocolate Muffins

Sep 26, 2012

I had been trying to go easy on my chocolate cravings - like a month ago, I devoured these sinful chocolate roulade... and nothing much after that...


Chocolate is like medicine - but as with medicine, the key is the proper dose. Don't overdo it.  ~ Edward "Grandpa" Jones

About three weeks ago, I had pledged myself to get back on eating mindfully and working out on a regular basis - and I am so proud of my progress, I made these double chocolate muffins to celebrate 7-mile run at the Katy Trail this past weekend.


I adapted the recipe from Madhuram's Eggless Cooking. However, I used 1/2 whole wheat flour and 1/2 all purpose flour, whole milk instead of almond milk and distilled white vinegar. For the vegan version, head over to this recipe

I never get tired of using overripe bananas in baking- they add so much texture, flavor and sweetness to the baked goodies- do not throw them away! 




The muffin came out pretty moist, very chocolatey, and little too sweet- it was more of a dessert muffins rather than post-run muffins..I would probably go little easy on sugar next time...



Its hard not to overdo them, that is why 
Share with friends, families, and coworkers or freeze them for later use!!

  

Indian Spiced Chicken Burger with Spicy Avocado Spread

Sep 25, 2012
I had been craving for a meaty, spicy burger for a while and since I do not eat beef, my options are pretty limited..and good turkey burgers are hard to come by..or I have not yet come across one.

I used Shami kabab as my inspiration to these finger licking good Indian spiced Chicken Burgers with Home-made Spicy Avocado Spread.




I marinated the lean ground chicken with very minimal spices- garam masala, red chili powder, salt, chopped onions and cilantro, oil. Then formed them into patties, left them in the fridge for about an hour..I was little skeptical about the lean chicken, worried it may not hold its shape or turn out very dry..luckily it was a major success..Also, I did not use any binder such as egg, flour, potato, or bread crumbs still it was able to hold it shape and turned out very juicy.


you can make these patties ahead, freeze them and use it later




I broiled the patties for few minutes and allowed it to bake @ 375F for 30-35 minutes and flipped them once..

BUILDING A BETTER BURGER: 



choosing 100% whole wheat buns
Spread home-made spicy avocado dressing (Recipe to follow)
Top it with whatever veggies you have available




Spicy Avocado Spread

Great on bread, pita chips, sandwiches, or even with tortilla chips!!
 
This is probably one of the easiest spread to make @ home with just three ingredients..1 avocado, 2-3 tablespoon of Miracle Whip and 1-2 tablespoon Sriracha or Chili Garlic Sauce. Blend them together with fork or use a food processor until smooth! 


Burgers are often time taunted for being unhealthy, which is often true...but with some tips and tricks, one of the most infamous food can be easily turned into something healthy!

- choose right kind of meat (extra lean or lean). I choose lean meat because it stays moist
- Use 100% whole wheat buns

- Watch the portion size of burger
- Go easy on creamy dressing,  instead try low- fat mayo or make your healthier spread 
- Load the burger with veggies rather than cheese and bacon





{ReDux Recipe} Nepali Sauerkraut/Kimchi

Sep 21, 2012
For the month of September, EA Stewart of The Spicy RD  inspired us to come up with fermented food to get our gut back in gear with natural fermentation. 

Fermentation has been on a spot light lately with several probiotic related health benefits. Fermented foods provide good bacteria that the gastrointestinal (GI) tract needs and makes it easier to digest because the fermentation process allows the nutrients in the foods to be more easily absorbed since they’re already predigested by beneficial bacteria, thus making nutrients in food become more bio-available. 

Many studies have suggested that probiotics can help treat everything from diarrhea and irritable bowel syndrome to more serious conditions such as heart attack and hypertension. But more research is needed but the current evidence shows us good reasons to consider getting a daily dose of probiotics from a fermented food source.


When I saw the word fermented, all I could think about was mouth-watering, spicy kimchi/sauerkraut my mom and aunt make on a regular basis..I don't know if I should call it kimchi or sauerkraut because sauerkraut means sour cabbage that has been fermented by various lactic acid bacteria while kimchi is a traditional fermented Korean dish made of vegetables with a variety of seasonings. The one I ate growing up is a combination of both sauerkraut and kimchi because the main ingredient was always cabbage along with tomatoes, garlic, scallions, ginger, green chillies, salt.


I tried some different vegetables - cauliflower, carrots, & tomatoes and garlic..


Soak chopped cauliflower, carrots in salt and water for 1-2 hours, drain the water and squeeze it dry.


Mix sliced garlic, soy sauce/fish sauce and chilli paste together in a small container and pour it over the veggie mix and add chopped tomatoes


Mix them together and transfer it in a mason jar or any glass container covering it tightly



Let it stand in sunlight for few days days

Check to see if its bubbling, sour and if it is, then its ready to be refrigerated...If not, allow it to sit outside for additional day or two and it should be ready to eat



I usually enjoy them as a side dish or condiment 

or pour it over Japanese egg fried rice






When Couscous Meets Bell Peppers {Meatless Monday}




but i think  his time, I may have found a perfect combination of flavor for couscous....




Ingredients
For about 3 bell peppers

1/2 cup whole wheat couscous, cooked (I use Rice Select's)
3 red, orange bell peppers, stems cut and seeds removed
1/4 red onions, chopped
6-7 cherry tomatoes, chopped
1.5 cups frozen or fresh spinach
2 scallions, chopped
2 tablespoon olive oil
cooking oil spray
1/4 cup reduced fat feta cheese
dried basil, parsley, paprika, salt and pepper to taste
bread crumbs, part skim mozzarella cheese- optional

Directions
-Preheat oven to 400F
-Place bell peppers on a baking sheet and spray some cooking oil and let it roast for 15-20 minutes.
-In the meantime, heat a medium pan, add 2 tablespoon olive oil.
-Sautee onions, cherry tomatoes, spinach and scallions for 5-8 minutes.
-Add the cooked couscous to the pan then add in spices and stir them together
- Gently mix feta cheese with the couscous

On a side note: the couscous by itself was very delicious, and even if you do not want stuffed bell peppers, just try couscous as a side!!


now lets stuff some peppers!

                      
Top it with bread crumbs and sprinkle mozzarella cheese- it is totally optional and I would probably skip the bread crumbs next time...


But keep the cheese..


For some extra fun, tried to blow torch the cheese- not a good idea!!


Then, broiled it for another 5-7 minutes until cheese melts and enjoy!!!



This makes a great side dish to go with soup or something quick for lunch or dinner :)

Farm Fresh Frittata and Asparagus Soup

Sep 18, 2012

I love going to Farmer's Market and Dallas Farmers Market is probably my favorite one so far! 



 its humongous and always has wide array of fresh fruits and vegetables






the vendors are very friendly & always offering you mouth-watering fruits to try which is why I came home with a huge water melon and different veggies-   okra, tomatoes, green onions, eggplants, potatoes, asparagus, bell peppers






I was little exhausted and hungry so fixed something to go along with Meatless Monday. I made frittata with farm fresh veggies and baby spinach (of course, i have to add spinach to EVERYTHING) and some creamy asparagus soup.. both of which I had never made before...






Veggie Frittata
Makes one 8 inch pan

Ingredients
6 eggs
1/4 bell pepper ( any color), cut into strips
3-4 okra, cut into strips
2-3 chillies, cut into strips
4-5 tomatoes, cut into discs
handful of spinach, chopped
1 green onion, chopped
2-3 tablespoon cream (optional)
~ 1/2 cup part skim mozzarella cheese
salt, pepper, paprika, dried rosemary & oregano
1 tablespoon oil, for sauteing
Cooking spray

Directions

-Preheat the oven to 350F
-In a small pan over medium heat, sautee bell peppers and okra until soft.
-Mix eggs, cream, spices, and 1/4 cup cheese together then stir in all the remaining ingredients except tomatoes and left over cheese.
-Spray the pan with cooking oil and pour the egg veggie mixture, then arrange tomatoes and cheese on top.
-Let it bake for 30-35 minutes or until it is completely cooked.













Note: I arranged bell peppers and okra, tomatoes with some cheese first on the bottom of the pan hoping to get some pattern when cooked but it did not work as I wanted it to. Therefore, stirring all the veggies is probably the way to go...the end result was pretty fluffy and loved the flavor and texture from different vegetables.. 




Feel free to whatever vegetables- fresh or frozen and any cheese, preferably low fat you have on hand..


I was not much of a asparagus person while growing up because I always felt like it was sick person's soup/vegetable..but now I have started liking it more..I think it has to be done right..its great grilled, wrapped in bacon, and as a soup because its naturally so delicious and fresh..



Per 1 cup of asparagus, there is only 32 calories, 5 grams of protein and good source of vitamin K, folate, and C among many others.

I adapted Emeril Lagasse's recipe for the soup with minor adjustments. I used vegetable broth, less butter and cream, did not use Parmesan cheese and leek, although I think leek would have added more flavor to the soup.. Its another star soup recipe that I could probably see myself making it more often...it was pretty simple, less ingredients and potentially very healthy- if careful with the cream and butter..



Spinach Basil Pesto


Spinach, I like it raw, cooked, pureed you name it, my brother-not so much. But this is only one vegetable that I can hide in food without him knowing its there. Yes, every chance I get, I hide these green-goodness here and there..

And this time was pasta which we both devour in our own weird way. I am more of a marinara while hes a alfredo guy and our differences continue..Last time we were at this Italian Restaurant-Buca di Beppo, didn't realize the portion size was gigantic, could not finish half the bowl and did not even care for left overs. So after that pleasurable-miserable episode, I was done with it for a while..

As it's meatless Monday today, I was looking for recipes especially the main entree that I could do both ways-vegetarian & non-vegetarian..Fried rice is getting old and boring; so could not think of anything more homely & filling than pasta. Instead of store bought jar, I thought why not give home made pesto a try. I was not too sure how my brother was going to handle the green sauce; surprisingly, he loved it too! So, if you also happen to have a picky eater to please, this easy pesto recipe surely will do the trick..don't worry its not spinachy..Sorry, I was too hungry to measure the ingredients. I threw everything in a blender and my taste buds did the rest...


Ingredients:
Baby spinach, chopped
Basil, dried
Garlic cloves
Olive oil
Pine nut or may use walnut, almonds
Parmesan, grated, fresh
salt & pepper to taste


Directions:
In a food processor, blend nuts, garlic, cheese, spinach and basil and slowly add olive oil until it is a smooth paste. Then add salt and pepper. You may leave it with some crunch or add some water if you like creamy and little thin. 




There is no way I was going to make only one batch and be satisfied! Pesto is like peanut butter to me..I smear it on bread, crackers and even eat directly from a spoon.So, if you are a pesto lover like me, heres what you can do to store it so you can use it whenever you want.



Storing Pesto? 
  1. Store pesto in a jar or airtight container in the refrigerator for about a week.
  2.  Keep it looking fresh and green by covering the top with a thin layer of olive oil or  a sheet of plastic wrap directly on its surface to prevent from oxidizing and turning brown.
  3. It will last in the freezer for about 6 months if you freeze it in ice cube tray, and transfer the cubes to a heavy duty plastic freezer bag.   
Source: http://allrecipes.com/howto/homemade-pesto/


I am sending this recipe to an event hosted by my friend Nupur @ UK Rasoi to an event Cook N' Bake with Spinach. 


Click here for more spinach recipes from other bloggers.

Simple Things Like Eggs in a Basket

Sep 11, 2012

Even if you only have the the most cliched breakfast item- eggs & bread at your disposal, you could  turn it into something fun like - Eggs in a Basket..



Step-by-step to Eggs in a Basket

Have bread (preferably 100% whole wheat) and eggs ready!!


Place a glass, cookie cutter, or something similar to create a hole in the middle of the bread. Press down the bread with little force and move the glass around (be careful not to break the glass)


Heat pan with some butter or cooking oil spray over medium heat and allow the bread to toast for 2-3 minutes on both sides

Carefully crack an egg on the center and let it cook for 1-2 minutes then carefully, flip the bread and let it heat for another 2-3 minutes or until the yolks are cooked
Season it with salt and pepper and enjoy


Nutrition Analysis: Per slice ~ 150 calories, 10 grams protein, 2 grams fiber
(Nature's Own 100% wholed wheat bread, 1 large egg, cooked in oil spray)


Check out other simple breakfast ideas:

Egg Muffins
Chilled Swiss Oatmeal  
Homemade Granola Bar
Baked Donuts 
Smoothies
 

Re-creating La Madeleine’s Mediterranean Pasta


I was head over heels with the Mediterranean pasta @ La Madeleine …it’s a perfect combination of bow-tie pasta, my all-time favorite - artichoke hearts, Kalamata olives, and Roma tomatoes tossed in pesto sauce..can't get better than that! I enjoyed the colorful bowl of goodness so much..the feeling of satisfaction after a good meal and subtle hint of basil lingering in my mouth is still very vivid.. I don't know what it was- the ambiance, my hunger or the person I was with - that dish has a very special place in my heart and I wanted to re-create the same pasta at the comfort of my own kitchen and rejoice the memories once again :) 



I tweaked the original recipe little bit.. Instead of regular bow-tie pasta & Parmesan cheese, I used whole-wheat linguine and reduced-fat feta cheese. For the pesto, I used my star spinach-basil pesto recipe. I eyeballed all the ingredients for two decent portions..so feel free to adjust ingredients based upon your preferences and ingredients available on hand..

Its not only super delicious but really easy to make and the best part- it makes your guest feel very special and that you have some serious cooking skills- WINNER! 


I paired the pasta with fresh french bread & butter...sipped some red wine....add some cool breeze and good conversation (both are much needed here)..there is no other word to describe an evening but P.E.R.F.E.CT. 


I am sending this recipe over to a fellow blogger @ Hyderabadi Cuisine. For more romantic candle light dinner ideas, please click here.

Our Love Affair with Mo:Mo- Healthier One!!

Sep 8, 2012
You know you are Nepali if...
you eat mo:mo any time of the day- without any hesitation- okay may be that is little over exaggerated..but you know every time we (meaning myself, most of my friends and families) see, hear, or talk about mo:mo there is an instant craving for it...as I am typing about mo:mo- I know that I already want some..Very thankful for Nepali restaurants that are open till late for impromptu mo:mo runs located less than a mile from my place..




Mo:Mo is ubiquitous in the streets of Kathmandu,  even though dal, bhat tarkari (rice, lentil, vegetables) is eaten on a daily basis- mo:mo has secured a distinguished place not only among Nepalis but people from other cultures are pretty impressed with juicy mo:mos paired with spicy tomato sauce..

Usually I make mo:mos with ground chicken, turkey or pork and rarely use vegetables.. recently a fellow blogger @ desigrub attempted to make vegetarian mo:mo using frozen spinach, some flour (chickpea or lentil), eggs for some texture along with chopped onions and tomatoes to the mo:mo filling. I was kind of inspired to use spinach in mo:mo because I am a spinach freak- in my head spinach goes perfectly with everything- mostly its a success story- other times not so much..

however, I was not able to go 100% veggie on mo:mo this time, I used very lean ground chicken along with chopped fresh spinach, mushroom, onions, garlic, shredded carrots, mixed in with mo:mo masala (can use garam masala) and some vegetable oil and salt. 


  


Check out my short  mo:mo wrapping tutorial 



in case of no steamer- its a little hassle but works fine. Fill up a heavy bottom sauce pan about half way with water and cover it with aluminum foil. Using a fork/tooth pick perforate them all over evenly allowing the steam to escape.   

2010 Peoria, IL mo:mo days without a steamer!!


after 10-15 minutes, check and if they look glossy and cooked- carefully remove from heat and enjoy to your hearts content with tomato sauce.. 




Surprisingly - me and my sous chef (another mo:mo lover) both loved the idea of adding different veggies to the filling instead of regular only meat filling...the inside was very juicy, pretty flavorful with only subtle hint of vegetables and what we both enjoyed the most was-mo:mo was very light compared to other mo:mos we have had before..

so to all the mo:mo lovers out there, I highly highly encourage you all to try adding different veggies to your meat and see how you all like it...feel free to share your experiences :)