Coconut Chickpea Stew + Why I am mad..{Meatless Monday}

Nov 27, 2012
I am extremely furious & feel stupid right now because I accidentally deleted all the pictures from Picassa Album which is linked to my blog.

Arghh...Arghhhhhhhhhh and just found out that I cannot retrieve them. I feel helpless and wish I could quickly undo it and everything will be okay. But I know that its not happening and all I can do is- learn from it, always back up my pictures, and read instructions carefully! 

Few hours later & two cups of coffee, I feel much better.. Maybe it happened for a reason- an opportunity for me to redo the recipes and take better photographs or something. But for now I need to stop dwelling on it and hope that I will be able to upload them soon. But until then, please bear with it.
Lets talk something happy..where there is food, friends and lot of relaxation! I had three day long vacation in Fort Collins, Colorado. First- it was not enough, it never is. Everything about Fort Collins was so laid back - the city, people, and the whole environment. I was dreading the cold weather little bit but it stayed pretty nice, no snow or anything. It was a extremely relaxing trip , lots of delicious food, healthy thanksgiving meal, and endless conversation with my friends. And I also fell in love with roasted Brussels sprouts. 

but for now vacation is over.. 

and I came home to a almost empty fridge/pantry..I did not have motivation to go grocery shopping and used whatever ingredients I had at home to make this stew. Its actually a prime example of sheer laziness turned deliciousness.

Its similar to chana masala (very classic Indian Chickpea curry) that I made before minus the coconut milk & leek. Coconut milk added a lot of creaminess and slight sweetness. Leek gave a lot of texture while the garam masala and chili balanced the sweetness from coconut milk. Its another one pot dish like the chipotle turkey chili.

Coconut Chickpea Stew
3-4 servings

1-15 oz can chickpea, rinsed, drained
1 small red onions, chopped
1 leek, chopped (only pale, white parts)
4-5 garlic cloves, minced
1-2 cup coconut milk
2-3 green chili, chopped
2 cup tomato sauce (I used Pregos Roasted Garlic & Herbs)
2-3 tablespoon garam masala
2 tablespoon oil
Salt, to taste

-In a medium sauce pan over medium heat, sautee onions, leek, and garlic together for 5-6 minutes or until they are little soft
-In a small bowl, mix 1 cup of coconut milk and 1 cup tomato sauce then pour it to the sauce pan. Let it simmer for few minutes
-Add chickpeas, green chili, garam masala and stir everything until it comes to boil, lower the heat
-The mixture will start to thicken up and then add the additional tomato sauce and coconut milk
-Continue simmering it until the liquid reduces to a desired consistency
-Adjust spices & salt and enjoy it hot 

It's great as stew or pairs well with any grains (rice, couscous) or bread. 

More delicious chickpea recipes

Potato Salad {Recipe Redux}

Nov 21, 2012
This month's Recipe Redux theme"Vintage Side Dishes" involves sharing the story of favorite family side - or a tale about how you ReDuxed a recipe from an old cookbook or recipe card. 

I was clueless when I first saw it because I have no family recipes or an old recipe card. None whatsoever. I come from a family where there is no tradition of following a recipe. Everything is eyeballed, food is tasted, spices are adjusted while the big pot of curry is simmering and flavors are adjusted right before serving a salad. As a kid, I always asked my mom how she was able to make perfect cauliflower curry every time and she always replied .." I don't do anything special, put everything in a pressure cooker with few spices, that's all"..and I was amazed as a kid and until today how she was able to make exact tasting dish without following any recipe..maybe years of practice and lots of care!

I don't have a recipe for that one yet, and probably never will but there is another side dish that I absolutely in love with - Potato Salad. I have posted this recipe here before but I make this occasionally whenever I have friends/families over for a dinner and is always a crowd pleaser.  

I am not too big into turkey day with stuffing, cranberry sauce, and pies but love the whole idea of spending a quality time over a feast (with lots of dessert) with family and friends. This year I am headed so excited to go to Colorado to celebrate Thanksgiving with my friends.

Lastly, I am very thankful for everything in my life and happy thanksgiving everyone!

Jacques Pépin Quick Roasted Chicken

Nov 16, 2012
oh my god.

this the best roasted chicken. and I am not kidding.

While everyone is busy planning for Thanksgiving dinner with turkey and cranberry sauce next week- I couldn't resist the temptation and made the famous Jacques Pépin's  delicious, quick roasted chicken. Since I am going to Colorado to spend thanksgiving with my friends, I decided to celebrate pre-Thanksgiving  with chicken which was extremely tender, moist, and done within 45 minutes maximum. 

Its more about the technique he uses to cut the chicken rather than the marinade. You need to split and flatten the chicken by cutting between the joints of the leg and the shoulder. This method reduces the cooking time by half and which is probably why the chicken stays so juicy and flavorful. Check this link for video on how to cut the chicken and his recipe.

About 4 lbs of fresh chicken, from Central Market

You can use marinade of your choice or follow Jacques recipe. I slightly adapted his recipe.

Recipe for the marinade
In a bowl combine:
4 garlic cloves, minced 
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon each assortment of dried herbs- parsley, basil, rosemary 
2 tablespoon mustard
2 tablespoon olive oil or vegetable oil
2 tablespoon vinegar 
2 tablespoon dry white wine
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon Valentina hot sauce

Turn the chicken breast down and spread it with half of the marinate. Set the chicken in a large skillet skin side up; spread with the remaining mixture.

Set the skillet over high heat and cook the chicken until it starts to brown, 5 minutes. Transfer the skillet to the oven and roast the chicken for 35-40 minutes, until the skin is browned and the chicken is cooked through.

you can throw in tomatoes, onions, potatoes too! 

The original recipe calls for 30 minutes but it took mine little longer than that. 

Allow it to rest for few minutes then cut them into pieces

For the gravy:
Combine: 1/4 cup water, 1 tablespoon butter, 2-3 tablespoon all-purpose flour, drippings from the chicken. 

I thoroughly enjoyed every bite of this chicken.. both tender and big on flavor.

Popcorn, Pizza, & Football

Nov 14, 2012

I have been (trying) watching College football games for past couple weeks and its starting to grow on me slowly but I can't decide if I am more excited about the games or the food.

We will talk about that later. 

Now, lets just focus on these air-popped popcorn prepared with salt & pepper. 

If done right aka not smothered in butter/oil, popcorn can be a very healthy snack option providing only about 30 calories per cup. But common who eats only a cup? On a bright side, its 100% whole grain, packed with antioxidants & fiber. 

and next I will tell you the best part about watching football- Dough Master's amazing homemade pizza, also by far the best pizza crust I have ever had. Seriously.

Its crunchy on the outside and very soft, chewy on the inside, everything I want in a crust. 

The crust uses same recipe as these spicy chicken buns.

..Dough Master did an amazing job at rolling & flattening the crust

good pizza calls for delicious sauce..

you can use home-made sauce of your choice but in case if you are little short on time: use Pregos Roasted Garlic & Herb as the starter for the base. Then, sauteed some chopped red onions & tomatoes in a sauce pan and added the Pregos Sauce, letting it simmer in medium heat for 8-10 minutes until it thickened a little bit. This makes a great-chunky pizza base. Adjust salt & pepper as necessary. 

now comes the main part- toppings. serious decision time. 

I like minimalist pizza. Too many toppings can complicate things for me.  I like to keep it as simple as possible- just some onions, tomatoes, olives and lots of part-skim mozzarella cheese!

But its totally up to you to keep it simple or complicated..

once the toppings are done, bake @ 475F for 15-18 minutes or until cheese melts completely

Are you more interested in football or food?

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Pancakes

Nov 13, 2012
...i think everyone should wake up early on the weekends and whip up a batch of this whole wheat chocolate chip pancakes. 

Since weekdays are all about granola bars & fruits for breakfast, sometimes I feel like I am forgetting what its like to sit down & enjoy hearty breakfast where there is plenty of time to talk & eat as many pancakes as I want..

and sinful amount of syrup

followed by more dark-chocolate chips!

Although I am more of a waffle girl, I am absolutely in love with these soft, low-fat, full of fiber, fluffy pancakes. My dough master, who is more of a pancake lover agreed to the above statement.

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Pancakes
Yields: 5-7 medium size pancakes

1 cup whole wheat flour   
2 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt 
1 tbsp sugar 
1 large eggs 
1.5  cups milk ( I used coconut milk)
2 tsp vanilla 
chocolate chips (to sprinkle on pancakes)
cooking spray

- In a bowl, mix all the dry ingredients besides chocolate chips
- Add wet ingredients to the mixing bowl 
- Mix them well with a spoon until there are no more lumps
- Over a medium heat in a skillet, spray oil and pour about 1/4 cup of batter
- Sprinkle chocolate chips on the batter and using a spatula, slowly push the chocolate chips into the batter
- Allow one side to set and when edges begin to set, flip the pancakes

This recipe is adapted from SkinnyTaste.

Black Bean Brownies {Have The Cake-November Challenge}

Nov 12, 2012
For the month of November, Have The Cake challenge was brownies and I immediately knew what I wanted to do- black bean brownies. 

Last time, I was very pleased with chocolate mint cake with red kidney beans.So why not brownies right? Even though I am trying to cut down on refined sugar to be acne-free someday,  its really hard to give up on sugar altogether. Blame that sweet tooth.

Incorporating beans into baked goods is a great way to cut down on fats, carbs, thus calories while adding lots of good nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, & fiber. 

My dough master was little hesitant about the "black bean" brownies in the beginning but you can probably guess what happened to the remaining brownies. Dough master & I devoured it over the movie- Meet Joe Black (a must watch). And I think he ate few more for breakfast too..

The end result was very moist, rich and adding almonds (or any nuts) gives some texture to the soft texture of this brownie. There is no after-bean taste at all whatsoever!!

Black Bean Brownies (recipe adapted from here)
yields: ~ 12 pieces

1-15.5 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
3 eggs
3 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon instant coffee granules
unsweetened coconut flakes, chocolate chips ( I used semi-sweet, dark, and white chocolate), and chopped almonds

-Preheat oven to 350 F. 
-Place all the ingredients in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. 
-Line 8 x 8 pan with parchment paper and pour the mixture.
-Top it with your choice of chocolate chips, nuts, and coconut flakes.
-Bake for 16-18 minutes or until the tooth pick inserted comes out clean.
-Allow it to cool then cut it into pieces then enjoy!  

Note: I used blender and the batter was runny. I would recommend using food processor and keeping the batter smooth rather than runny.  

I am also posting this recipe to Have The Cake Blog. Click here for more brownie recipes from fellow bloggers!

Salmon en Papillote

Nov 9, 2012
I am a minimalist, or at least I try to be one..Moving twice with only a car full of belongings has taught me a very important lesson to not accumulate things, including cookbooks.

I hardly ever buy them and even those I hardly never use it. But its just something about cookbooks with large pictures, beautiful step-by-step tutorials makes me want to flip pages, salivate, & gives inspiration to make something from it. 

Well, last night as I was going through an old binder with recipes, I saw this classic technique en papillote, in French for 'in parchment" where food (mainly fish, poultry) is sealed in parchment paper with herbs and baked using steam. In another book What to Cook and How to Cook it I had noticed fresh salmon filet, with bok choy and Asian flavorings, but instead of pan searing - I used en papillote technique to make Salmon en Papillote.

Although the name sounds fancy, its extremely easy, cooks fast,  and healthy because it calls for very little or no fats/oil. Its very important to use lots of fragrant herbs, spices so that salmon (or any other fish/poultry) inside the pouch cooks slowly with steam and infuse it with flavor. 

I used garlic, onions, few spinach leaves , fresh rosemary, red chili pepper, salt, & pepper.

En papillote part is fairly easy, all you do is seal the salmon in parchment paper: Just make sure you have parchment paper, scissors, & cooking spray.

-Cut individual heart or square shaped parchment paper, spray the cooking oil.

-Place the filet, top it with your choice of seasonings, and seal them by folding all ends. 

Preheat the oven to 450F and bake for 10-12 minutes (Cooking time may vary depending upon the type of fish or poultry). 

I plated the salmon on a bed of wanna-be sriracha mustard aioli and drizzled some on top too. was very moist, and had robust flavor from rosemary & onions. Using fennel, celery, carrots, basil is also suggested in this kind of recipe. 

I enjoyed it with a side of rice, and some sauteed vegetables. If stored properly, it stays good for next day too. Simply heat it up before eating or chop them and enjoy with salad next day.

I am Thankful for..

Nov 7, 2012
With Thanksgiving approaching, I noticed few of friends on my facebook are posting on  "what they are thankful for" each day and that's what inspired me to write this post today.

What am I most thankful for?
 ...I don't even know where to begin or end because I am so grateful for each an everything, each an everyone in my life because its those moments, experiences, both memorable and painful ones I have had that makes me who I am today.

First and foremost is my wonderful family. I am here because of their constant love, support, & faith in me during my best & worst times. Thank you. Thank you. It means everything.

My amazing friends from all over the world. Though I feel distant from some of my very close friends, I miss them alot and I am very thankful that they are/were part of my life. They have always been there for me & I hope they always will. Wherever you guys are, I ♥ you all & each one you have made an impact in my life. 

My good health. There is nothing more important than being in a good health & free of any sort of illnesses. Sometimes even the heftiest bank balance cannot save one's life from some of the ugliest diseases out there.  

My awesome job. When the whole economy was and is going through rough times, I was fortunate to have a job which sponsored my work-visa in order for me to stay & continue working in US as a dietitian. A career that I have always wanted and absolutely love. I am thankful for my job, my boss, and my co-workers. 

... there are countless other things I am thankful for-my abilities to taste food,  see things around me, smell perfumes, my car, hair straighter, internet, MAC products, three hole punch..the list goes on & on.

I get wrapped up more with these unnecessary, materialistic (well, they are very necessary) things and fail to appreciate that life offers much more than that. Call me selfish, materialistic but that is what it is. 

And the sad,pathetic thing is it takes some catastrophic events such as the recent hurricane Sandy, untimely death or terminal disease, or something unfortunate for me to realize that I am one lucky girl with an amazing life that I have to be very thankful for..every day!

What are you thankful for?

Saturday Morning Waffles

Nov 5, 2012
Every bite of Saturday morning was so-worth it..

and you ask me why? 

...because I made waffles devoured myself with waffles, a kind that is crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, with syrup, lots of syrup, dusted with powdered sugar.  

...and I deserved it because the lady needed to do some carbs loading for the DRC half-marathon on Sunday, Nov 4th.

After completing DRC Half Marathon, Nov 4, 2012

also, I needed to do some justice to my very underutilized waffle maker.

I came across this recipe @ The Heavenly Hearth with very few ingredients, nothing fancy schmacy; loved the simplicity of this recipe.

It turned out pretty good..try this full proof recipe just perfect for weekends.

Few of my favorite waffle toppings include nutella, peanut butter, fresh fruits, & yogurt.

South Beach & Chipotle Turkey Chili (recipe)

Nov 1, 2012
You know you are not-over-vacation-mode yet when
 ..your bags are still unpacked 
 ..and cant stop saying Oh South Beach, ah South Beach

Yes, I am still stuck - thinking about gorgeous 80 degree weather, long walks by the beach, & how everything was so serene. 

..In spite of great weather, good food, and everything,  I kinda missed home-cooked meals and my cozy bed. I was pretty excited to be back in my kitchen and make something that I have been thinking about for a long time now- Chipotle Turkey Chili. 

I can go on and on about this chipotle turkey chili or why I can eat this straight for several meals because - it was so hearty, full of flavor, comforting yet healthy because there is lean ground turkey, beans and sweet potatoes!

I added chipotle peppers in adobo sauce for the extra oomph factor, a lot of it actually, smoky peppers in spicy sauce worked very well with chunky turkey, beans in concoction of onions & tomatoes.

Chipotle peppers are a smokey, firey chili pepper made by smoking jalapeno peppers. Photo Source

Its an easy, one pot dish with chock full of nutrients as well as taste. Great for weeknights, and lunch next day. Just remember to store them properly! It takes about 45 minutes to hour but while the chili is simmering you can catch up on your favorite shows and before you know it, its ready :) 
Chipotle Turkey Chilli
serves: about 4
1/2 lbs lean ground turkey 
1-15 oz can light kidney beans, drained, rinsed
1 large onion, chopped
4-5 garlic, minced
1 medium sweet potatoes, cubed
2-3 cans beer ( may substitute water or broth)
1-7.5 oz chipotle peppers in adobo sauce , chopped (use less if you dont like spicy)
vegetable oil (for sauteing onions and turkey)
2 teaspoon cumin
2 teaspoon oregano
salt & pepper 
low-fat yogurt/ sour cream/sprinkle cheese (optional) 

-In a medium sauce pan or pot, sautee onions until translucent and add garlic
-Place turkey in the pan and let it cook until it is evenly brown
-Stir in sweet potatoes for 5-7 minutes, mixing with other ingredients
-Add tomatoes, beans, spices and use only half chipotle peppers to the pot
-Pour 2 beers and bring it to boil, reduce the heat and let it simmer 
-Add additional 1 can of beer if needed
-Allow it to simmer for 35-40 minutes or until it reaches thick consistency
-Towards the end, add the remaining chipotle peppers for a prominent smoky flavor 
-Adjust the taste & remove from heat
-Serve it with a dollop of sour cream or yogurt or sprinkle cheese on top

I am sending this recipe to Jenn Cuisine where we all are sharing a comfort dish for people who in need, particularly to those who are affected by the hurricane Sandy. Please go to this link to see other food bloggers dish.