Wednesday, May 28, 2008

eggplant parmagiana

my family makes this eggplant parmagiana often when we all get together. this way, all the kiddos are satisfied and none of them complain. well no one complains! even though it may seem long, it comes together really easily and the cool thing is that you can make it earlier and just slide it in the oven whenever you're ready to eat. i've adjusted this to suit my indian tastebuds (read spicy), but feel free to substitute or omit any of the veggies or herbs that go into this dish. try it out, you'll be a complete rockstar at dinner.

eggplant parmagiana
prep time: 4o min
bake time: 50 min
serves: about 6

first prep the veggies:
  • cut 2 small japanese eggplants, 1 zucchini and 1 yellow squash in thin rounds onto a baking sheet, add about 3 tablespoons of olive oil and salt and coat all the slices
  • bake in a preheated oven at 375 deg for about 20-30 minutes or until cooked through
  • meanwhile, dice one onion and 1/2 green and 1/2 red bell pepper and 4 cloves garlic - at this stage i also add finely diced green chillies for that indian heat ;)
putting it together:
  • you're going to make 2 layers, so use half of everything in the first layer

  • grease a large casserole dish with olive oil spray
  • cover the bottom of the pan with some pasta sauce (about 1-2 cups)
  • add half of the veggies you baked in the oven
  • then add 1/2 of the diced onions, bell peppers, garlic and chillies if using
  • sprinkle with italian seasoning, garlic salt, onion powder and fresh basil (optional)
  • cover with a good mozzarella cheese (i used soy cheese)
  • layer again starting with the pasta sauce and use up all the ingredients EXCEPT the cheese (add this in the final 5 minutes of baking)
  • at this point you can either bake it covered in a preheated oven for 45-50 minutes or keep it in the fridge to bake off later

Notes: keep the casserole covered when you bake this and you may also want to line the bottom of your oven with foil as sometimes it tends to bubble over a bit. i also add about 1/2 cup of water in between the 2 layers, so the veggies don't dry out, but then again, i like mine really saucy, so it's probably just me!

variations that i've made of this in the past included using mushrooms, spinach and parmagiana cheese. you really can't go wrong and what a sneaky way to get everyone to eat their veggies!

Listening to: The Chemical Brothers, 'Dig your own hole' from their album, Dig Your Own Hole (1997).

Thursday, May 22, 2008

gift of summer sunshine

this evening, i open the front door to check the mail and see a yellow package. i bring it in and it's all i can do to not rip it open when i see the sender's name. i wanted to make sure i get a snap real quick before i tear into the beautifully wrapped package.

guess what? it's from one of the sweetest people in blogdom, Penny of the gorgeous blog, Sew Take a Hike! i commented on one of her posts about some gorgeous yellow fabric she recently purchased and can you believe she sent it to me? she must have known i was secretly longing for it the whole time, LOL! isn't it just so whimsical and sunshiny? it's like summer all bundled up.

seriously, if you haven't paid her a visit, you really need to see what she's up to. if you think all she does is sew and hike, boy are you in for a treat - this lady cooks the most delicious looking food too! please do visit her blog and Etsy shop, you will not be disappointed.

Penny - thank you so much for your kind spirit and generosity and being so motivating in my newfound sewing interest! now i just have to figure out what i'm going to make with it! it's so pretty, i don't know if i will be able to make that first cut. any suggestions???

Monday, May 19, 2008

vegetable calzones

this is what's been cooking, i mean baking in my kitchen lately. the top two pics are of the veggie and goat cheese calzones made with my whole wheat dough recipe, and the bottom is the pizza i made the next night with the leftover dough.
i used my basic and extremely versatile recipe which includes: 3 cups whole wheat flour, salt, olive oil, sugar, yeast and yogurt or milk to knead with.
this dough is remarkably forgiving and tasty. when you're low on time as i always am, it's a life saver. make a double batch and then you can keep churning out different dishes all week.
i've stuffed mine with sauteed red & yellow bell peppers, chard, olives, sundried tomatoes, onions and a mixture of goat cheese and mozzarella with fresh basil.
here's my method: take small rounds of dough about tennis ball size and roll into a small circle, add pizza sauce or marinara sauce and your toppings, fold over and pinch to seal. prick with a fork and bake in a preheated oven at 400 deg for 20-30 min.
Notes: if you're vegan, substitute with soy cheese or even a tablespoon or two of tofuetti.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

easy & healthy palak paneer

you know through the years, i've met so many people who always ask me about indian food. they might not have known a whole lot about the diversity of foods indians prepare but they all seemed to know what palak paneer is. what is it about this creamed spinach that makes everyone turn to mush? i don't know anyone who doesn't love this. it's truly food for the soul.

I am also posting this for my brother who called me one day out of the blue to ask me how to make my palak paneer. i think the fact that i made it for him once under 20 minutes might have had something to do with it.

because i don't normally measure, it's really taking a toll on me to write up recipes constantly using measures, but since he's relatively new at making this, i'm gonna go ahead and give him the recipe rather than my 'dump this then this' version.

you'll find that my recipe is easy, healthy, fast and pretty damn tasty. you won't miss any of the butter, cream or ghee that is used in the restaurant version. oh and hey, the best thing is you have everything at home for this. i promise you. well, you might have to make a run for the paneer.

Easy & healthy palak paneer
serves: 3-4
prep time: 20 min

  • 1 bag of baby spinach
  • paneer, about 16-20 pieces
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 2 tomatoes cut into large chunks
  • green jalapenos or chillies chopped, to taste, i used 3 jalapenos because we like spicy
  • 2 garlic cloves chopped
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 4 cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • red chilli powder, to taste
  • 1/2 tspn turmeric
  • 1 tspn garam masala
  • salt to taste
  • 2-3 tbspn oil
the play:
  • heat a pan and add water, spinach, tomatoes and jalapenos
  • once it comes to a boil, simmer for 10 min while you work on the next steps
  • in another pan, heat oil and add cloves, cinnamon stick, onions and garlic saute for 5 min
  • add the chilli powder, turmeric, salt and garam masala
  • puree the spinach mixture using a handblender and add it to the other pan with the onions
  • cover and let simmer for 5 minutes

Notes: if you want it slightly creamy and you're not vegan, go ahead and add a few tablespoons of lowfat yogurt. if you're not watching caloric intake then go for it and add 1/3 cup of cream in the last step.

Listening to: another suggestion from my friend A... 'Eggplant' by Michael Franks from the album, Art of Tea (1976). thanks A! loved this and why wouldn't i? the album title and song title are sooooo groovy!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

dear mommy

so it's mother's day and there is no way i can go without giving a big props to my mom. of course i'm gonna say that my mom is the absolute best mom in the whole entire world and i am truly truly blessed that of all the people on this planet, she happened to be my mom. i know how fortunate and lucky i am to have someone in my life like her. she's one of those special beings put here on earth to make a real difference. she's one of those people that will leave the earth in a better place than when they found it. she's one of those extremely rare people that can see the good in everyone no matter where circumstances have them.

i don't have the words to say what an amazing person my mom is. i can say without any doubt that when i grow up (hehehe) i hope i can be just like her. she's given me the most perfect role model. i know i wasn't an easy child, shit, i'm still not an easy person to deal with, but through this my mom has always looked beyond and found something that sometimes i don't have the foresight or sense to see. so now, my words fail me and all i can do is say 'thanks mom for everything, i love you.'
so on her special day, i'm going to share some more pictures of india on our last trip together.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

labneh lemon tart

i know, i know, i know my new profile pic is probably creepin you out. so i was messin' with my new phone's camera capabilities and ended up sorta liking this one. anonymous, but you get a glimpse. looking back through all my blog entries, i realize that i've probably already said too much, revealed even more. do you guys ever think you've exposed a little too much about yourselves? not that i mind, but it is nice to be somewhat mysterious at times.

so what has all that to do with my lemon tarts? oh, nothing. anyways, i had bought some labneh this past weekend when i was at the fabulous new Phoenicia. i planned to use it as cream cheese to spread on my whole grain bagels because i like the way it tastes and it's way better for you... oh, it's not? well, i never got around to getting the bagels, so the poor labneh just sat in the fridge. had i seen michael's post earlier i would've made this. but since my sewing machine got in the way of my blog hopping, i just saw it today.

so i had these beautiful meyer lemons and i decided to make an instant lemony cheesecake tart.
you can mess around with the recipe and try different flavor combinations. it's pretty much limitless. and it's sort of embarrassing to use these processed products which i normally don't have around but this was the easiest and fastest way i could make these yellow beauties. they only take 10 minutes to make and a few hours to chill. they're actually perfect for tea parties or special dinners. and no matter what anyone tells you, everyone loves their own dessert! why do you think cupcakes are so popular? everyone wants to have their own cake and eat it too, that's why!

labneh lemon tarts
serves 10-12
prep time: 10 min, plus 3-4 hours chilling time

  • 10-12 tart shells, baked and cooled completely
  • a packet of 3.2 oz any flavor instant pudding (i used vanilla; cheesecake would be good too)
  • 1 cup labneh
  • 1 tub fat free whipped topping
  • lemon zest & juice of one lemon

the play:

  • cream the labneh until smooth and creamy
  • stir in the pudding, lemon zest and lemon juice
  • fold in the whipped topping
  • chill mixture covered for a few hours up to a few days
  • fill the tarts right before serving
  • garnish with zest, lemon balm or mint

Listening to: a recommendation by my dear friend A - War's 'Four Cornered Room' from the album, The World is a Ghetto (1972)... love it A, thanks!!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Batata poha

i know i haven't been blogging like i should be, but in my defense, i've been busy with a new hobby - a brand new sewing machine. i've been sewing like crazy. mind you i've only made 1 wearable top so far. my first project was a non-wearable skirt and the other was a non-wearable blouse. i'm really enjoying it and sort of put the blog on the back burner for awhile.
so, like i was saying before, this blog is turning into a breakfast one. so, i present you batata poha minus the batata (potatoes). i know everyone has their own version, but mine is made without potatoes. i really don't care for them all that much so i just leave them out.

i'm not going to give you guys a measured recipe, there are so many blogs who have wonderful exact recipes, but i'll provide the basic method...
  • wash the thin poha in cold water and let sit for about 15 min
  • heat some oil, add mustard seeds and let pop
  • add cumin seeds, hing and curry leaves
  • add a chopped red onion and green chillies and cook until transparent
  • add the poha, some turmeric and salt - let cook, stirring occasionally for 5 min
  • sqeeze some lemon over the top and add chopped cilantro
  • serve hot

Here are some beautiful spring flowers from my container garden.