Monday, November 25, 2013

Quinoa, Wild Rice Salad With Pomegranate



Last week we got some sunlight and I was in the mood of making something summery.  A colorful salad with the beautiful fall fruit pomegranate and lots of protein from Quinoa and fiber from black wild rice with the tangy and sweet apple cider vinaigrette was perfect for the bright day, even though the temperature was pretty low.



Pomegranates are very low in Saturated Fat, Cholesterol and Sodium.  It is also a good source of  dietary Fiber, Folate, Vitamin C and Vitamin K.  Choose a pomegranate that is heavy for its size.   The heavier the pomegranate, the juicier it will be.


If you are one among them who likes to stay away from pomegranate due to the trouble in separating the seeds out, you are missing a lot.   Here are the step by step instructions on how to separate the seeds easily.
  • Use an apron or wear old cloth when handling pomegranate, as they tend to stain clothes.
  • With a sharp knife cut 1/2 inch from the crown off.
  • Cut into 4 sections through the membranes.
  • Take a medium size bowl with cold water and try to push out and separate the seeds into the water.
  • Seeds will settle down in the bottom and the membrane will float in the water. 
  • Skim the membrane from the top and use a strainer to collect the seeds.
As Pomegranates are available during this season, I make use of these beautiful fruit in salads or serve as a after school snacks for kids.  Kids love to munch on these Ruby Red 'Crystals', that's what they call it.  My daughter loves to separate the seeds of the pomegranate without any mess.  Of course she likes to play in the water while she opens a pomegranate.

Serves - 2

Ingredients

1/2 cups - Spring Mix (half and half that has baby spinach too)
2 tbsp - chopped spring mix
1/4 cup - Pomegranate seeds
1/4 cup - toasted pecans and almonds pieces
1 cup - cooked Quinoa (cooked in broth or salted water)
1/2 cup - cooked black wild rice (cooked in salted water)

Apple Cider Vinaigrette
2 tbsp - Extra Virgin olive oil
2 tbsp  - apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp - apple cider
1/2 tsp - lemon zest
1 tbsp - lemon juice
1 tsp - honey
pepper and salt to taste

Directions

  • Take a small glass bottle with lid and shake all ingredients for dressing until well-blended.
  • Toss the spring mix with little bit of salad dressing and arrange on the salad bowl.
  • Mix the quinoa, wild rice, chopped spring mix and pomegranate with the salad dressing and place on the spring mix layer.
  • Add  the toasted pecans and almonds before serving and enjoy.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Creamy Tomato Carrot Soup


How quick do you make a decision to do something? Have you ever taken a quick decision that yielded a surprising and wonderful outcome?  It depends, I guess right?  We had a convivial experience recently because of a plan we put together with our friends in a trice. 



Couple of weeks ago, we had a get together at our house with some of our friends.  The gathering was about to disperse and one of our friend mentioned that they were planning to visit a family who is a mutual friend of all of us.  Since none of us really visited the family at their place, we all jumped in and decided to join them to give a surprise visit to this family who lives in another state.  Our intention was to visit them at their church, so there was no plan to visit their house since it was a surprise visit.  We all had to leave early morning to get there before the Sunday service started.  Soon after the service was over we thought to have some food and drive back.  But the plans were all changed because the family insisted us to visit their home.  We were received with great hospitality and had a sumptuous lunch at their place.  We ended up spending almost half a day at their place and it was such a jovial time we all had.  Despite of their busy schedule and a small baby to take care, they opened their house with warm welcoming hearts and we enjoyed each moment we spent there.  On the way back, I was analyzing myself and told my hubby that I would have panicked and wouldn't even know how to entertain a group of people when they show up without any notification.  How do you handle a situation when there are unexpected guests? 




I believe that, it's not just the food that you make for guests matters, it's your welcoming attitude to open the house and the blissful heart to share what you have makes it a comfortable place for your guest to visit.  On that note, I would like to remember my hubby's Uncle who passed away 3 years ago around this time; I still Cherish the memories of his great hospitality.  No matter at what time you visit their house, they always have their home opened for you with a smile on their faces.  A small gesture of love, sharing, caring or a simple smile can touch the hearts of many.



Today I would like to share a comforting and hearty soup that my family loves.  I got the inspiration to make this soup from the creamy tomato soup that we get at Panera bread.  Please try this recipe and let me know how it turns out for you. 

This soup makes a great lunch to pack for kids (refer notes).



Serves - 5

Ingredients

3 cups - cubed carrots
12 - medium size ripe tomatoes cubed
1 - medium size white onion cubed
3 - cloves garlic chopped
1/2 - 1 cup - water
1/2 cup - low fat milk
1 tsp - fresh basil leaves
1 tbsp - fresh cream
1 tsp - extra virgin olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

Directions:
  • Take a heavy bottom sauce pan and lightly brown the chopped garlic in 1 tsp of olive oil.
  • Add the onions with salt and cook till translucent.
  • Add the carrots, tomatoes and pepper powder and mix well.  Cover and cook till the carrots are tender for about 5 -10 minutes.  Let the mix cool.
  • Using a food processor or blender puree the carrot tomato mix adding 1/2 to 1 cup of water.
  • Return the puree to the sauce pan.  Add milk and water (if needed) and simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Top the soup with fresh basil and cream and enjoy with some garlic bread or pull apart bread.
Notes:
  • This soup is good for next day too.  So I make the puree and keep them in a separate air tight container in the refrigerator.  I just add milk to the puree in the morning and bring it to boil and pour in thermos for my kids for lunch with grilled cheese sandwich sticks.
  • This soup is supposed to be thick and creamy, but if you want it to be less thicker increase the amount of water to reach the desired consistency.
  • If you want your soup to be creamier, you can substitute the low fat milk with heavy cream.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Spicy Chicken Curry With Chilli Garlic Sauce




A good spicy chicken curry is always appreciated by my hubby and my elder son.  My younger ones still enjoy them with plain yogurt on the side.  Spices are known to fight against inflammation and cold.  So I usually spice up the curries during winter season. 



Experimenting with variations to ingredients in the regular chicken curry is habitual in my Kitchen.  One of those experiments eventuated in the creation of this spicy and flavorful Chicken Curry which is not only appealing to the eyes but also a toothsome dish.  It can be paired with Vegetable Fried Rice, Naan, Roti, Chapathis or Appam (South Indian laced rice crepes).   I would like you to judge the dish by trying it.



Without much ado, here goes the recipe for 'Spicy Chicken Curry With Chilli Garlic Sauce'.



Ingredients

To Marinate Chicken
3 lbs - Chicken pieces with bones (preferably Thigh pieces)
1/2 tsp - salt
1/2 tsp - turmeric
1/2 tsp - ground pepper powder

For Gravy/Masala
2 - medium size red onion thinly sliced
10  garlic cloves thinly sliced/chopped
1 inch - fresh ginger chopped
1/2 cup - chopped ripe tomatoes (2 medium size)

1/4 tsp - mustard seeds
1/4 tsp - turmeric powder
1/4 tsp - ground pepper powder
1/2 tsp - Kashmiri Chilli powder
1 tsp - Coriander powder
1/2 tsp - garam masala
3 tbsp - chilli garlic sauce (refer notes)
1/8th tsp - asafoetida (optional)
1 sprig - fresh curry leaves
1/2 cup - water
Oil enough to saute
salt to taste

To garnish
1 sprig - fresh curry leaves
2 tbsp - Chilli garlic sauce

Directions:

  • Marinate the cleaned chicken pieces with all the ingredients from the first list and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  • In a deep cast iron wok or non-stick pan, splutter mustard seeds in oil.  Saute chopped ginger and garlic for 2 minutes.  Add sliced onions and salt and saute till the onions are translucent.  Add tomatoes; cover and cook for 2 minutes or till he tomatoes are mushy. Now add all the powders like Kashmiri chilli powder, coriander powder, garam masala, turmeric powder, pepper powder and asafoetida and saute till the raw smell is completed gone.  It should become a thick paste.  Add the curry leaves to the mix.
  • Add the marinated chicken pieces into this masala with 3 tbsp of Chilli garlic sauce and mix well to coat the chicken and cover the wok with a lid and cook for 7 - 8 minutes. Mix in between so that it will not stick to the bottom of the pan.
  • Now remove the lid and add 1/2 cup of water.  Cover and cook on medium heat for 20-25 minutes or till the chicken is well cooked and the gravy becomes thick.
  • Garnish with fresh curry leaves and 2 tbsp Chilli Garlic sauce.
  • Enjoy with steamed rice, naan, rotis or chapathi.
Notes:
  • Chilli Garlic Sauce - I used the Maggi Chilli Garlic sauce, which you can get from Indian stores.
  •  Asafoetida  is a spice used to enhance flavors in Indian dishes.  It is the dried gum of a rhizome.  You can get the powder form or the solid form from Indian stores.
  • Kashmiri chilli powder used in this recipe gives the nice red color to the curry, so don't skip that ingredient.  Also available at Indian stores.
  • I usually make this curry in cast iron wok which helps me to saute the onions with less amount of oil and cooks faster too.  It tastes better too.
  • Make sure you cook the chicken with the gravy for at least 7-8 minutes without adding water so that the spices added to marinate the chicken and cooked and the raw turmeric smell will be gone.
  • Adjust the spices according to your taste.





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