Sunday, October 28, 2012

Carrot Muffins

Carrot muffins have the look and flavor of a carrot cake only they are in muffin form. These 'Morning Glory Muffins' are cinnamon scented muffins,loaded with flavorful ingredients; things like toasted nuts, sweetened coconut, grated apple, and grated carrots. Although these muffins need no adornment, sometimes I can't resist smearing them with a little cream cheese icing. Not this time though.

The pitfall with all muffin batters is in over mixing the batter and ending up with a tough muffin. So make sure you only mix the batter until the ingredients are combined and moistened. A few flecks of flour are fine. To make the job easier, plus to give the baked muffins a nice domed shape, use an ice cream scoop to fill the muffin cups. Of course, if you do not have one, two spoons will do the job. As always, if you want standard sized muffins, only fill the muffin cups 2/3 full with batter. However, if you like your muffins with a crown, fill the cups almost to the top. Just make sure to grease the top of the muffin pan so that as the batter overflows it does not stick to the top of the pan. And don't forget to fill any unfilled muffin cups with a little water to ensure even baking as well as preventing the pan from warping.

My family enjoyed these nutrition packed, delicious treats on Sunday mornings. I hope yours does too!

Carrot Muffins


1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
2 cups grated raw carrot (about 2-3 peeled carrots)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups granulated white sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
3 large eggs
3/4 cup canola oil

How to:

Preheat oven to 350° F and place rack in center of oven.
Place paper liners in 18 muffin cups.
Toast the walnuts for about 8 minutes or until lightly browned and fragrant.
 Let cool and then chop coarsely.
Peel and finely grate the carrots.
Set aside.
In a large bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and ground powders.
Stir in the nuts.
Set aside.
In a separate bowl whisk together the eggs and oil.
Fold the wet ingredients, along with the grated carrot, into the flour mixture, stirring just until moistened. Evenly divide the batter between the prepared muffin cups and bake for 20 - 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack.
After about 10 minutes remove the muffins from the pans and cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Roasted Red Pepper Soup

Well, this was actually the first course of one of my fall dinners that I’ve been posting so far this month. I promise, no whining, only dining this time!

Fall is the season when the super markets and farmer’s markets show basketfuls of rainbow peppers. I just so want to grab one and bite into it just like I would an apple. They are seriously inviting to bite into them. I have jars full of roasted peppers to use for the whole year. I have roasted eggplants, sitting in sealed Ziploc baggies in my freezer to make caponata, eggplant dip or simply eggplant bhurta. So, back to roasted peppers. What is better than the hot n steamy soup on cold evenings? And if the soup is loaded with red peppers, which is so high in fiber and antioxidants, I am all for it. Here’s how I made it.

Roasted Red Pepper Soup

3-4 large red peppers
1 large red onion
3-4 garlic cloves
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp oil
1 litre broth or water( I used chicken broth)
Sour cream, basil for garnish, optional

How to:

Preheat the oven to 450° F.
Cut the peppers in two, place them on a baking tray and roast them. Alternately, you can grill them until they are charred.
Place the roasted peppers in a zip lock bag, seal the bag.
Once they cool down, skin them.
Heat up the oil on medium high heat.
Saute onion and garlic till translucent.
Add roasted peppers, salt and pepper and broth.
Bring to boil, cover and cook on medium heat for about 10 minutes.
Puree with the hand blender or in a mixie.
Enjoy hot soup with garlic bread, garnished with sour cream and basil.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Thai Red Curry Noodles

Now this is another fall/winter comfort food, based on the degree of heat! I had never made this noodles before. It was always on the back of my mind to make it and have it instead of with rice. I have a big can of red curry paste sitting in my fridge and I happened to have all the necessary ingredients as well, minus the chicken. So I thought why not make it a vegetarian dish. My family absolutely loved it. To them, the flavor and the crunch were amazing. I came, I cooked and I conquered!

So, here is how I made it.

Thai Red Curry Noodles


½ lb. whole wheat spaghetti
3-4 cups of sliced vegetables of choice, I used onion, cabbage, pepper, broccoli
2-3 tbsp Thai Red Curry paste
2 tbsp peanut butter
Salt to taste
2 tbsp oil
2 tbsp + a palmful of chopped cilantro for garnish
Chopped salted peanuts

How to:

Cook pasta per package directions. Keep them al dante.
In a food processor, mix curry paste, peanut butter, 2 tbsp cilantro and about 2 tbsp water to make thick sauce.
Heat oil in a wok on high heat.
Saute all vegetables until they are crisp tender.
Add noodles and sauce. Salt per taste.
Add more pasta water to your likeness and serve hot with cilantro and crushed peanuts.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Baked Kale Chips

Looks like there is a trend going on. Everyone seems to be making Kale Chips..I have never used Kale in my cooking until now. I’ve heard so many people bragging about the making and eating of Kale chips, I thought why not give it a try. Kale itself is kind of a daunting green for me! Those curly dark green leaves, thick thick stalks and the bitterness-have always put me off using it in my kitchen. But again I know that cooking or blanching will reduce the bitterness. So I thought to start with the chips. Wanted to see how it goes and then take a step further to cook with Kale on regular basis. Turned out, the chips themselves were great. nicely done and crispy. That bitterness was still there. but at the same time, the crunch from the sea salt made it tasty and bearable. It didn’t click with hubby and baby! They in fact didn’t even care to look at it! Phew, poor me! I think I have to stick with making these chips just for myself, 2-3 leaves at a time!

OK, this is totally up to you! Make it or leave it! Not kidding. This is not for everyone. It takes an acquired taste. The leaves are big, so try to make a couple of chips at a time and see if it is for you. Next time I think I will get rid of the stalk, make smaller pieces of the leaves so that it would be easy to handle the chips.

Baked Kale Chips

1 bunch of Kale, washed, thoroughly pat dried
2-3 tbsp olive oil
½ tbsp red pepper flake
1 tbsp sea salt

How to:

Heat oil on a small pot.
Stir in red pepper flakes, basically you are making chili oil.
Heat oven to 425° F.
Toss kale leaves with oil and salt and arrange them in a single layer on a cookie sheet.
Bake for about 7 minutes on one side.
Flip the sides and bake for another 6-7 minutes or until crisp.

Friday, October 12, 2012

3 Cheese Rigatoni with Peppers

Now this is what I call a comforting fall food. Leaves on the trees have almost fallen. The trees look so bare. Things have started to change around here. Gone are those long summer days. At 6 AM when we leave for work, it is too dark. The sign of the old man winter knocking on the door. We all still have that wishful thinking and hope that the hot summer days could extend up to end of December, at least till Christmas! Don’t laugh at me! I know it’s too much to ask. With naked trees, darker and shorter days, the snow will arrive any time. Cool mornings remind us to pull out those jackets buried deep in the suitcase somewhere in the basement. Turning on the oven seems very comforting. And now it’s time to stop my whining and go on with the posting!

Well, the past weekend was one of the typical fall weekends. Cool and dark. And it was raining too. I just got the propane tank refilled hoping to use it before our thanksgiving. Will see how it goes. Since I was cooking indoors, I thought about making a baked pasta dish. It’s been a long time since we had baked pasta. And Fall is the season when peppers are in abundance. So I decided to use them with pasta as well. I always have mozzarella, cheddar, Parmesan, Asiago and Feta cheeses on hand. So I made this.

3 Cheese Rigatoni With Roasted Peppers

1 lb. Rigatoni pasta, cooked as per package directions
2 jars of your favourite marinara sauce
1 cup loosely packed basil leaves
2-3 medium red onions, sliced
1 each large red, yellow and orange pepper, sliced
½ cup each shredded Mozza, Parmesan and Asiago cheeses
Oil as needed
Salt and pepper as needed

How to:

Pre heat the oven to 400° F.
Saute onions and peppers in oil on medium high heat till they are tender but crisp.
Toss pasta with Marinara sauce.
In an oven proof, oiled dish, spread some pasta, layered with veggie mix and topped with cheese.
Bake until the cheese melts.
Enjoy with a scoop of more hot sauce on side.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Potato Cakes

Another Thanksgiving Weekend for us Canadians. Another easy breezy recipe. As you all know by now, I am a big spud lover. I can eat potatoes anytime of the day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. I don’t think I can ever get tired of potatoes. I mean, they are so versatile. Great on their own, can be mixed with anything and everything as if they are like plain canvas. They don’t alter the taste of any food, they bump up the volume of the dish and above all, I just love them! Simple. These are the best , crispy potato cakes that I have ever had. Very easy again. You can add as much spices as you like. Or just use salt and pepper.The trick to make the crispy cakes is to wash off all the starch of the potatoes and add the corn starch to compensate.

Potato Cakes


4 medium russet potatoes
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp garlic powder
2 tbsp corn starch
Oil as required

How to:

Shred the potatoes. You can keep the skin on if you wish.
Place the potatoes in cold water for about 15 minutes.
Drain the potatoes good.
Add salt, pepper, garlic powder and corn starch.
Heat about a tbsp of oil in a skillet over medium high heat.
Take a scoop of potato shreds, make into cake and slide it into hot oil.
Cook till both sides are nicely golden brown.
Add more oil as required.
Repeat till all the potatoes are done.
Serve hot with your choice of sauce.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Chicken in Thai Red Curry

I love the fragrant Thai basil. And that's why I like to incorporate it with different dishes. I make soups and curries, with lots of basil in it. The aroma of the dish fills up the entire kitchen! And this basil freezes well too. So that's an added advantage. Can't believe there are so many potent herbs out there waiting for us to experiment with. And we Indians only use cilantro and mint!

I eat this curry a lot at the Pan Asian restaurant near my work. It's truly a wholesome dish that is so fragrant and aromatic. You can literally smell the basil and the coconut and the spices in the red curry. Red curry is also hotter than the yellow curry, milder than the green. I don't bother to make the pastes at home as it's always time consuming to make it from scratch and so many times, it's difficult to find the fresh ingredients like lime leaves and galangal in the regular grocery store.

I was making this curry for Sunday dinner and hubby came running in the kitchen. His nose is very powerful! He can smell all the different spices at the same time. He can tell which vegetable is being cooked just by the smell! I can't really differentiate between aromas. It has to be very strong for me to tell what's on the stove! So anyways, he asked me what I am making with coconut, red chili paste and basil?! Read on, as this is what I was preparing!

Thai chicken in red curry
1 can coconut milk(14 oz)
1/3 cup coarsely chopped Thai Basil(Vietnamese basil will do as well)
2 tbsp red curry paste
2 tbsp brown sugar
Juice of one lime
1 lb chicken breast, cubed
Carrot, broccoli florets, celery, red pepper all as needed
About 1/4 cup oil

veggies are being sauted!
 How to:

Simmer the coconut milk for about 15 minutes. Heat oil in the wok. Cook chicken until no longer pink. Take it out of the wok, keep it aside. Now add remaining oil, sauté carrot until crisp tender. Now add other veggies and cook till crisp tender. Add chicken, red curry paste, brown sugar, lime juice, salt and coconut milk. Cook on medium heat till chicken is cooked through. Adjust the seasonings and serve hot curry with scented jasmine rice.

ready in red hot sauce!