Apr 252013
 

Kale chips are all the rage these days! And why shouldn’t they be? They’re healthy, super delicious and crispy, and don’t take very long to prepare. Anil and I love spicy foods, so instead of the traditional way of preparing these, we decided to add some kick. Kashmiri chili is the perfect addition to these spicy kale chips since it adds a lot of warmth, but not necessarily heat.  I’ve tried many different recipes out there, but had to experiment with the time and oven temperature. This is what I eventually came up with:

Ingredients

A large bunch of organic kale (baby kale works just as well)

Extra virgin olive oil – the best quality you have

Kosher or sea salt

Freshly cracked black pepper

Kashmiri chili (optional) – found at many Asian / Indian grocery stores

spicykalechips1

Directions

1. Thoroughly wash the kale and remove the leaves from the stems. Put on a large, dry, and clean kitchen towel for a few hours, or, if you have a salad spinner, spin away to remove all water.

2. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

3. In a large bowl, toss the kale with a few tablespoons of olive oil, salt, cracked black pepper, and Kashmiri chili, if you have it on hand.

4. Place on a large baking sheet in a single layer and bake for about 20-25 minutes. If you like the spicy kale chips to be more crispy / crunchy, go with 25 minutes and a slightly more brown color. If you prefer them less crispy, go with 20 minutes and the edges just starting to brown. Serve warm with just about anything, though we recommend a nice, cold beer!

spicykalechips2

 Posted by at 12:43 PM
Apr 252013
 

You’re probably used to topping sweet potatoes with either nothing or pecans, sugar, butter, maple syrup or tiny marshmallows. Although I love a good sweet potato casserole, I also like some contrast in my food. I love mashed sweet potatoes. The best part is that you don’t have to worry about how you cut up the sweet potatoes (and let’s admit it, it sucks to cut them up, unless you have a ninja style knife) :-). So to add something different to these health gems, I tossed in some blue cheese at the very end. That’s it. Just peel, cut, boil, and mash the potatoes and toss in about 1/4 cup (or more, if you want to be adventurous) of crumbled blue cheese for every two medium sized potatoes. The cheese will slightly melt and the blue cheese mashed sweet potatoes go great with meats or more veggies on the side. Great substitute for your regular dose of mashed potatoes. Let me know if you like them this way or if you plan to run right back to keeping things sweet!

blue cheese mashed potatoes

 Posted by at 11:54 AM
Apr 252013
 

Did you know that capers are really Mediterranean flower buds? They’ve got a super strong flavor and are usually pretty salty, so a little goes a long way with these guys. The great thing about this lemon caper butter sauce is that you can quickly whip it up and add it to chicken, fish, or even tofu. It goes well with steamed or sauteed veggies as well. Here’s how I made it:

Ingredients

1/2 stick of butter, unsalted

1.5 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice

2 teaspoons of capers, drained and rinsed

1 teaspoon of lemon zest (optional)

 

Directions

In a small saucepan, melt the butter on medium heat. Add the capers, lemon juice, and lemon zest and slowly simmer for a few minutes. This recipe should give you enough lemon caper butter sauce to drizzle over 3-4 chicken breasts or pieces of  fish or meat. Enjoy with a healthy side to make up for all that butter! 😉

 lemon-caper-butter-sauce

 Posted by at 10:42 AM
Mar 012013
 

Here’s a really easy side dish that I just recently created. Thanks to our local online produce service – check them out at byproduce.com – we were recently introduced to purple sweet potatoes. From the inside, they look similar to beets, but their flavor is subtle and sweet, like you would expect. Here’s what I did with them:

Ingredients (for two to three people)

Two large sweet potatoes
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 cup olive oil
Three to four fresh rosemary sprigs, stems removed and finely chopped
Sea salt to taste

Directions

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

2. Peel and cut the sweet potatoes in half inch slices and set aside. Mix the honey, lime juice, and olive oil. Toss with the sweet potatoes.

3. Sprinkle everything with salt and the chopped rosemary and put on a baking sheet.

4. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour at 350 and enjoy warm!

 Posted by at 8:17 PM
Sep 152012
 

Who doesn’t like a fresh salsa to eat alongside Mexican food or tortilla chips? Although I’m always up for a nice and spicy salsa, I rarely make my own. This summer, Anil’s 30th birthday party gave me the perfect opportunity to change that. I explored with avocados, pineapple, and peaches. Instead of giving you exact measurements, I think it’s better to just give you some guidelines, since the outcome of these salsas highly depend on how spicy or sweet you want these to be. You don’t need any recipes, all you need is some time for  a bit of trial and error, I promise! Here’s what I came up with:

Avocado Wasabi Salsa

Take a few of your favorite avocados, add some tomatoes, finely chopped cilantro and onion, jalapeños, and lime or lemon juice. Yep, you read that right, all the ingredients you would normally use to make a nice and robust guacamole. Now here’s the secret ingredient: wasabi! Be careful with the number of jalapeños you add here since you don’t want to make this too spicy to eat. Gradually add about a drop of wasabi paste (found in many Asian stores as well as regular grocery stores) to the mixture and keep taste testing until you find your desired level of spiciness. Lastly, don’t forget to add salt to taste!

 

Pineapple Jalapeno Salsa

For this salsa, you can either use very finely chopped fresh pineapple, or even the small, 1-cup fruit bowls of pineapple (with all-natural juice, no added real or fake sugars). Either one will work, but you’ll want to briefly run these through your food chopper for to make sure the pineapple is not too chunky. Before you do that, add some fresh jalapenos, again, the number you add here, will largely depend on your spice level tolerance and the spiciness level of your jalapenos. I used ½ jalapeno per cup of crushed pineapple. Seed and chop about half a Roma tomato and then briefly run all three ingredients through your food chopper. If your pineapple is too sour, simply add about a spoon of sugar to sweeten the salsa a bit. Season with some fresh salt and pepper and you’re good to go!

 

Ginger Peach Salsa

I love the flavors of sweet peaches, paired with  slightly spicy and warm ginger. For this recipe, peel a one-inch piece of ginger and briefly run it through a food chopper with 2 cups of fresh peaches (skin and pit removed), or 2 of the fruit bowls of peaches (with all-natural juice, no added real or fake sugars), and half a Roma tomato (seeded and chopped). Want more ginger flavor? Simply add some ginger powder, about 1/8 of a teaspoon at a time, as you don’t want the ginger to be too overpowering. You can also add a bit of sugar to sweeten this salsa. The exact flavor totally depends on how peachy or gingery you want this to be. Before you serve, just make sure that the ginger piece is fully chopped.

 

 Posted by at 2:05 PM
Sep 152012
 

I’m a big fan of sweet potatoes, not only because they taste good, but because they’re high in vitamin C, B6, A, fiber, iron, and magnesium as well. The next time you make sweet potato fries and want to do things slightly different, try sprinkling on some garam masala and salt on your fries. The warmth and slight spiciness of the masala goes together great with the sweetness of sweet potatoes. My favorite brand of store-bought oven sweet potato fries is Trader Joe’s, but many other brands are great in the oven as well. You can cut up your own fries too, though this is often a bit too time consuming to do during the week for me. Give it a try and let me know what you think! Excellent in summer or fall :-)

 Posted by at 2:00 PM
Sep 152012
 

I love this baked zucchini because it’s extremely easy to prepare and is delicious as a side dish. As a bonus, it looks great as well, so can easily transform from weekday dish into weekend entertaining side. Serve with your favorite meat or protein, or other main dish and some garlic bread.

Ingredients (for 2 to 4 people)

2 medium zucchinis
a cup of grape tomatoes, washed and halved
½ cup grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese
breadcrumbs
salt, pepper, garlic powder, oregano and crushed red pepper to taste
olive oil to drizzle
a few fresh basil leaves, finely chopped (optional)

 

Directions

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees

2. Half each zucchini lengthwise and scoop out and discard the seeds

3. Place halved zucchinis on a baking sheet and season with salt, pepper, garlic powder, oregano, and crushed red pepper

4. Drizzle zucchinis with olive oil and place grape tomato halves in the middle of each zucchini. Then sprinkle with breadcrumbs, followed by the grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese

5. Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes

6. Take out of the oven and sprinkle basil leaves (if desired) over the dish. Serve warm and enjoy!

 Posted by at 1:45 PM
Feb 052012
 

This is one of my favorite dishes because it’s super quick & easy, fresh, pretty healthy (ok, fine, it’s got its share of butter!) and uses those amazing Meyer lemons I talked about in my previous post again. It also uses my absolute favorite butter: Kerrygold – a rich, creamy and all natural Irish butter that’s sold in many grocery stores. The Kerrygold website has some awesome recipes on it as well, so be sure to check that out, too: http://www.kerrygoldusa.com/recipes/.

Ingredients (for two people)

One bunch of broccolini
Grated zest of a lemon, plus a squeeze of lemon juice
4 tablespoons of Kerrygold Irish butter
Shaved Parmesan cheese (to garnish)
Salt and pepper to taste

 

Directions

1. Wash the broccolini and remove parts of the stem. Cut into smaller pieces if desired.

2. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a medium skillet and add the lemon zest and broccolini. Add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and saute for about 10 minutes.

3. Season with salt and pepper, the remaining butter, and the shaved Parmesan. Serve warm and enjoy with warm, crusty bread with more butter!

 Posted by at 2:28 PM
Dec 042011
 

You might be more familiar with eating fennel in soups, but it’s actually quite amazing when braised or roasted as well. I experimented with fennel this past weekend and decided to go the nice and simple route by simply tossing the fennel with balsamic vinegar and olive oil. The house smelled amazing and we devoured this fabulous side dish in less than 15 minutes!

Ingredients (for 2 – 3 people)

2 medium sized fennel bulbs
4 tablespoons of high quality balsamic vinegar
5 tablespoons of olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Wash and cut the fennel into small (less than an inch thick) slices / rings and add to a large bowl.

2. Toss the slices with the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper and bake on a large baking sheet for about 40 to 45 minutes on 400 degrees.

3. Serve warm and toss with grated Parmesan cheese, your favorite sauce, or enjoy the fennel just plain out of the oven, as a satisfying side dish.

 

 Posted by at 2:03 PM
Nov 222011
 

Let’s face it. Rice gets boring. Sometimes, you just need a few ingredients to spice things up. Here’s my go-to rice recipe that goes great with Indian food, but works with virtually any dish that could use more than just plain rice on the side. Saffron, the world’s most expensive spice, makes plain old rice instantly exotic.

Ingredients (for 2 – 4 people)

cooked Basmati or just plain white rice
a handful of golden raisins
1/4 teaspoon of saffron threads
2 teaspoons of cumin seeds, toasted
a handful of cilantro, finely chopped
a handful of chopped cashews, toasted
2 teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil
salt to taste

Directions

1. Soak the saffron in a little bit of water for at least two hours. When shopping for saffron, look for bright red threads, which generally indicate a higher quality. Do keep in mind that the threads should be lighter orange or yellow at the ends, otherwise they might have been dyed red to look more expensive.

2. Cook the rice according to instructions, adding half the saffron to the rice before it cooks. Soak the raisins in water so they get nice and plump, and toast the cumin seeds in a little bit of heated oil, while toasting the cashews in a small frying pan without any oil.

3. Wash and chop the cilantro and add all ingredients, including the remaining half of the saffron, to the rice. Pan fry for a few minutes and your fragrant and tasty rice is done!

 Posted by at 9:52 PM