Sunday, May 30, 2010

Marinara Sauce

This is a versatile recipe and you would surely love to have it in your refrigerator all the time.  This keeps fresh in the fridge for almost 2 weeks and it freezes well also.

Marinara Sauce

2 T Olive Oil
2 garlic cloves, very finely minced
2 Large cans (28oz) of your favorite tomatoes (do not drain)
Salt & Pepper to taste

How to:

Simmer your garlic in olive oil in a medium-heat saucepan.
Add canned tomatoes.
Season with salt & pepper (I also add about a tablespoon of Italian Spice mix)
Bring up to a nice simmer, stirring as needed
Let it simmer for about 15 or 20 minutes (longer for a deeper, richer flavor if you're using dried Italian spice mix)

I like to freeze this in 'sandwich size' ziploc bags.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Stuffed Chicken Dinner

As you know by now, Saturday dinners are a bit different than usual suppers and more of a restaurant style! Yes, when I make Italian food, I get this comment all the time that I make better Italian food than the Italian restaurants here! No kidding!  Italian food to us is more of pasta and chicken and sausages. We are not adventurous enough to try Octopus and the kind!

This dinner was no different. My son Mark said that this was one of the best dinners! And why not, it was the whole nine yards.  I even made his favorite molten chocolate cake for dessert!   He was asking for more broccoli! I only wish I had made more stuffed chicken and thrown them in the freezer for future use! Lesson learned. Next time, I will do exactly that. Give this yummy dinner a try and be prepared for the accolades!

Stuffed chicken
4 small chicken breasts, about 1 lb
2 Portobello mushrooms, chopped
1 onion, chopped
3-4 cloves of garlic, chopped
Italian seasoning, salt and pepper to taste
1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

How to: Pound the chicken breasts between plastic wrap until they are 1/4" thin. Set aside. On medium high heat, sauté onion and garlic till onion is translucent. Add mushrooms and cook till water evaporates completely. Once dry, add seasonings and adjust per taste. Set aside to cool down.

Make 4 equal sized portions of the onion mixture and cheese. Place on each chicken breast, roll up and secure with toothpicks. Put the prepared chicken in a greased baking tray, cook in the hot oven till the chicken is cooked through and no longer pink inside.

While chicken was cooking, I prepared broccoli casserole. I chopped up broccoli, steamed it. Prepared roux by using equal portions of butter and all purpose flour, with salt and pepper to taste. Added broccoli in it, with lots of shredded old cheddar on top and baked with the chicken in the oven.

Veggies were frozen, just steamed them in a little bit of chicken stock, done.

For scalloped potatoes, I sautéed a big onion and garlic in lots of EVOO till onion is translucent and in the meantime, sliced about a lb. of russet potatoes thinly. Then arranged them in layers in a casserole with some shredded cheese thrown in between, topping the casserole off with more cheese and dotting that layer with some butter. And baked in hot oven till potatoes were done and the nice golden brown crust was formed, well say about an hour! I didn't use any heavy cream or anything like that. Just kept it simple.

Molten chocolate cake recipe, I will post it later.

Now tell me, why go to the pricey restaurants and spend our hard-earned money on dinners while we can make it at home?!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Celebrating World Day of Cultural Diversity At Work!

May 21st was the World Day of Cultural Diversity in Canada. And no one knows cultural diversity and heritage better than the employees in my company. I work for one of the biggest utility company in North America with employees from as many as 30 different countries of the world. In my department, different employees belong to different cultures from almost 25 countries. That day, we had had a chance to taste the foods from India, Serbia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Macedonia, Russia, Greece and Sri Lanka - to name a few! It was truly a Harmony Day for all of us and something to cherish for long.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Kala Jamun

Kala Jamun! Another one of my favorites! I prefer this one chilled while Gulab Jamun hot with vanilla ice cream! Yummo! I made this dessert for my hubby who has a sweet tooth and thanks to him, I have tried and perfected so many Mithai recipes.
Kala Jamun
Makes 12(good sized)


For Jamuns:

1 cup whole wheat flour(I used Pillsbury)
1/2 cup Carnation skim milk powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup milk for the dough
1 tbsp ghee
6 pitted dates
1 tbsp icing sugar
2 tbsp crushed nuts like almonds, pistachios, walnuts

Oil for frying

For syrup:

1 cup sugar
1 cup water

Garnish: desiccated coconut

How to:

For Jamuns: mix all the ingredients with a couple of tablespoons of milk, and knead into a soft dough. Add more milk if required. Mix dates, icing sugar and nuts and mash with a fork. Make 12 balls. Now make 12 balls of the dough. Take one ball, make a deep indentation in the middle and put the date ball in it. Cover the dough and roll it to make fingerlings.

Heat the oil to 350°. Slowly deep fry the Jamuns till dark in color. They should be darker than golden brown. Keep them aside.

Now boil the sugar and water together to make syrup. I don't bother to remove the impurities. You can flavor the water with cardamom powder or rose water. Boil on medium high heat for 3-5 minutes and take off the heat. Place the prepared jamuns in a wide-mouth bowl, add the hot syrup on them and cover with plastic wrap. Keep them soaked in the syrup for a few hours. Drain them on the wire rack for 30 minutes and then roll in the desiccated coconut. Refrigerate them as they last for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Making the most of the Long Weekend!

BBQ Kick Off!

Finally, the hot summer weather and the much awaited long weekend is here!
Saturday morning, it was a bit damp as it rained as expected. It got better in the evening and Sunday and Monday were the blessing! With the mercury soaring and streets full of people, this past Victoria Day weekend was an unofficial kick off of Summer and of course, the BBQ season!

I personally love to barbeque. First of all, no smell at all around the house! Marinated foods get cooked in no time and it is so much fun to enjoy the food and family and friends. No wonder we normally eat more during hours long barbeque!

For the Sunday dinner, I bbqed chicken, fish, shrimps, peppers, sliders and veggie kabobs with parsley and garlic mayo. It tasted absolutely fantastic with the icy Virgin Margaritas!

Margaritas(makes 4 servings)

2 tablespoons kosher (coarse) salt
1/2 lime, cut into 4 wedges
1 can (6 ounce size) frozen limeade concentrate, thawed
1/4 cup orange juice
4 cups ice cubes

How to:
Place the salt in a shallow dish.
Rub the rim of each of 4 margarita glasses with a lime wedge and dip the rims into the salt; set the lime wedges aside.
In a blender, blend the limeade, orange juice, and ice cubes on high speed for 1 to 2 minutes, or until well blended and the ice cubes are crushed.
Pour evenly into the glasses and garnish with the lime wedges.
Serve immediately.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Healthy Dahi Wada!

One of my favorite appetizers! I love sweetened yogurt. And the sweet and spicy flavor with a bit of tang to it. I have experimented this time and instead of frying the wadas, I steamed them! They came out so good and seriously, the taste was the same. I also replaced urad dal with the moong dal as I find urad dal kind of on heavy side in warm weather. Urad dal is strictly for winter as it imparts the much necessary warmth.

Dahi Wadas
Makes about 12


For wadas:
1 cup split moong dal, yellow, soaked in water for about 4 hours
Salt to taste
1 tsp Ginger, shredded
1 Serrano pepper, finely chopped
1 tsp baking soda

For sauce:
3 cups plain yogurt
Sugar to taste
Cayenne pepper, roasted cumin powder and chaat powder to taste
Date and Tamarind sauce

How to:
Grind moong dal with enough water till it resembles pancake better.
Add salt, ginger, baking soda and chopped Serrano, whisk.
Divide the batter into idli moulds and steam for 10 minutes.
In the meantime, add sugar to yogurt and whisk good till sugar dissolves.
Cool down the steamed wadas and place them in a container.
Pour the yogurt on them, followed by the date and tamarind sauce.
Sprinkle with cayenne, cumin and chaat powders.
Serve these wadas chilled.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Vegetable Biryani

To all the mothers out there, a Very Happy and Blessed Mother's Day!

I've read a very good poem about mothers. So true! Here it is:
"M" is the million things she gave me

"O" means she never grows old

"T" is my tears she wiped away

"H" is for her heart, purest gold!

"E" is her eyes, always filled with love

"R" means right, and right she always be!

put them all together

they spell "MOTHER"
A word that will always be
A word like no other

Mom's cooking! The BEST! For me, I have tweaked mom's recipes over the years to make them low fat(!) obviously but still, there are times when I crave mom's "free hand" cooking! This one fits the bill. It has the same biryani flavour and taste as that of the chicken or meat and it is very rich and full of nutrition. I remember when my cousins would come over to visit, they always asked mom to make this biryani for dinner. The only change I made was to add paneer to it.

Vegetable Biryani


1.5 cups of good quality Basmati Rice
250 gms. Cauliflower
2 medium sized Potatoes
2 medium sized Onions
50 gms. Green Peas
100 gms. paneer, cubed and fried
A few Cloves,Cinnamon stick, Black Pepper, big Black Cardamom, a Bayleaf or two (everything whole)
Oil for frying
Salt to taste
1 medium Tomato chopped
1/2 cup of Yogurt
Ginger Garlic paste
1.5 tsp Turmeric powder
2 tbsp Cumin-Coriander powder
2 tsp .(or to taste) Red Chili powder

How to:
Wash rice and put them into boiling salted water with the Bay leaf and cinnamon stick for 10 minutes and drain. Keep aside.
Chop the onion and fry with whole garam masala listed in the ingredients until brown.
Cut all the vegetables into big pieces and add to the onion mix.
Add paneer cubes, chopped tomatoes, yogurt, salt, Ginger-Garlic paste, turmeric powder, Red Chili powder and Cumin-Coriander powder.
Stir until all the vegetables are well-coated with spices.
Cook all the vegetables till they are done.
Spread the rice over the vegetables.
Cover with Aluminum foil and cook on very low flame for about 20 minutes.
Garnish with chopped coriander leaves, fried cashews (if desired) and serve with Raita.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Ras Malai

Believe it or not, I am not big on desserts. I still like to make and indulge in paneer based desserts as they are less sweet and somewhat nutritious. Ras malai is one of them. I haven't forgotten the taste of the rasmalai from Bhagwati in Ahmedabad! It has been years since then, still the taste is very fresh in my memory. So here it is, short cut rasmalai that looks and tastes as good as Bhagwati's!

Ras Malai

For balls:
1 lb. full fat ricotta cheese
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp cardamom powder

For syrup:
1 can Nestle condensed milk
500 ml regular milk
Almonds and pistachios for garnish
A few strands of saffron, soaked in a tbsp of milk

How to:
To make sweet balls, mix the ingredients till creamy. Pour in idli moulds and steam them without the lid for 10 minutes or until the tops are springy. Once cool down, take them out of the moulds and keep aside.

To make syrup, mix the ingredients and simmer gently till bubbles form. Let it cool down completely and pour over balls. Refrigerate overnight and serve chilled.