Steak tenderloin with mushroom sauce!

I love Food & Wine magazine and when I saw this steak recipe I had to try it.  However, I wasn’t sure about the mushroom sauce that is included in the recipe.  My kids are not great fans of mushroom and so I tried to hide them in a creamy sauce.  Dinner today is steak tenderloin with garlicky mashed potatoes, mushroom sauce and strawberry salad.

Steak recipe is here and mushroom sauce recipe is here.  The only change I made to sauce recipe is doubling the chicken stock.  The rest I followed exactly and it is a delicious sauce.  I used whole milk but 2% would work too.  I wanted a well done steak so I put it in the oven for 9 minutes.  7-8 minutes is perfect!


Garlicky mashed potatoes:


  • Russet potatoes – 3
  • Unsalted butter – 3 tbsp
  • Whole milk – 1/2 cup
  • Garlic cloves – 2 peeled and smashed with a flat knife
  • Salt
  • Pepper


  1. Peel and quarter potatoes
  2. Boil water and add a big pinch of salt; add the potatoes and cook for about 15-20 minutes
  3. Drain and return to pot
  4. Melt butter in a sauce pan over low heat and add garlic
  5. Mash the potatoes with garlic butter and milk
  6. Adjust salt and pepper

Chicken Pizzaiola!

On a grocery trip this weekend, I picked up Savory magazine – Stop & Shop’s food magazine that has recipes, meal ideas, tips and shopping lists.  This chicken recipe caught my attention since the total cooking time is under 20 mins and uses very few ingredients.  Perfect for a week night meal.  Apparently, pizzaiola refers to any meat dish prepared with tomatoes, garlic, olive oil and white wine.  This recipe does not use white wine although you could add a splash.  I made a couple changes: I added a pinch of paprika and a generous sprinkle of red chilli flakes.  I love mozzarella cheese so I used all of 8 oz and not half.  Basil would be a perfect addition to this dish.  The sauce was a bit too tomatoey for me…next time I probably would cut down on it and add a splash of white wine!

Recipe is here.



Salmon Pasta!

I was all set to bake salmon for dinner but when I saw asparagus and cherry tomatoes in the refrigerator I had this vision of a beautiful spring pasta with salmon torn and tossed in it.  A long long while back a friend had made penne pasta tossed with olive oil, salmon and spinach that is one of my fond food memories.  So I set to recreate that pasta with asparagus, cherry tomatoes and bell peppers.  I am not a big fan of tomato sauce.  In fact, my favorite is garlicky olive oil sauce.  I didn’t have penne so I substituted spaghetti but in the end I felt that spaghetti was a better choice of pasta for this dish.  Each strand was coated in the garlic sauce and it tasted very fresh … light yet satisfying.  Kids loved it and in my (or any, I guess) house that is the meter of success!



  • Spaghetti – 1 lb ( I used Barilla’s Protein Plus)
  • Asparagus – 1 bunch
  • Cherry tomatoes – 1/2 cup
  • Red bell pepper – 1 cut into strips
  • Salmon – 6 oz fillets (2) **
  • Garlic cloves – 6
  • Olive oil – 3 tbsp
  • Capers – 1 tsp
  • Red pepper flakes – 1 tsp


  1. Put water for pasta to boil; heat oven to 425 degrees
  2. Pat dry salmon fillets and rub oil, salt and pepper all over.  Place skin down in a baking dish coated with oil.  Add herbs and garlic (optional)
  3. Bake salmon for 12-15 minutes until the fish is just cooked through
  4. Meanwhile, break off the tough ends of the asparagus and cut them on a bias (diagonally).  You can cut them straight too but cutting on a bias is prettier 🙂
  5. When the water for pasta boils add a big pinch of salt and add asparagus to the water
  6. Blanch them for 3 minutes and take them out of the water with a slotted spoon
  7. Return the water to boil and add pasta; cook according to the directions
  8. Heat olive oil and add minced garlic, red pepper flakes and rosemary (optional or can be substituted with oregano)
  9. When the garlic gets fragrant add bell pepper and tomatoes; cook on medium-low heat until the tomatoes burst
  10. Add asparagus and adjust salt; turn off the heat and toss it with cooked pasta
  11. Allow the salmon to cool for a minute or two after it’s cooked and slide the fish off the skin.  Tear it into chunks and toss it with pasta
  12. If you have fresh basil leaves toss them into pasta
  13. Serve the pasta topped with shredded parmesan or gruyere cheese


** Ever since I switched to buying frozen salmon (cheaper and readily available when you are in the mood for it) incorporating salmon into my weekly menu has been easy.  But, of course, frozen salmon has to be thawed.  I usually let it thaw in the refrigerator for around 8 hours but salmon for dinner was quite an impromptu decision so I went with quick thaw.  The safest quick thaw method is to run salmon sealed in a ziplock bag under cold running water for at least 10 minutes.  The frozen salmon that I buy in WholeFoods comes individually wrapped so I skip the sealing the salmon in water tight pack part.  And being mindful of water conservation I submerge the salmon packets in a bowl of cold water for around 20-25 minutes changing the water 3 times.  I weigh the salmon down with another bowl to keep it submerged.  The salmon I use is not skinless – I just slip a knife under cooked salmon and slide the skin off.  Cooking salmon to perfection is always tricky.  I have some good days where it is cooked just right and moist and I have some bad days where it is a bit tough and dry 🙂

Panera Broccoli Cheddar Soup!

My kids love Panera.  They always eat the same thing: a few years back it was a you-pick -two combination of tomato soup and tomato/mozzarella panini; these days it is you-pick -two combination of broccoli cheddar soup and mac-and-cheese.  So when I found a copy cat recipe I was eager to try.  I tried two recipes from two sources: this and this. Both are more or less the same except the first one has celery as an extra ingredient and uses 2 1/2 cups of cheese instead of 1 cup.  I liked the first one better – extra cheese makes the soup more flavorful.  I served the soup today with strawberry salad (another of Panera’s favorite is strawberry/poppyseed salad).  The salad is not an imitation of Panera’s although there is a copycat recipe here.  My sons love a sweet salad and they prefer lemony arugula to other greens so I just toss arugula, sliced strawberries, feta cheese, walnuts with a dressing made from evoo, balsamic vinegar and maple syrup.

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  • Arugula leaves – 1 cup
  • Strawberries – hulled and sliced about 2/3 cup
  • Walnuts – around 10
  • Sunflower seeds – 1/2 tbsp
  • Dried cranberries – 1/2 tbsp
  • Feta cheese – crumbled around 1 tbsp
  • Extra virgin olive oil – 1/2 tbsp*
  • Balsamic vinegar – 1 tsp*
  • Maple syrup – 1 tsp*
  • Dried prunes – 2 roughly chopped (optional)
  • Salt

* Please adjust this according to how much or little dressing you want


  1. Whisk together olive oil, balsamic vinegar and maple syrup
  2. Toss the dressing with the rest of the ingredients
  3. Season with salt and serve


Paneer Butter Masala – Instant Pot!

So, I got on the Instant Pot band wagon.  I was looking to buy a slow cooker and had zeroed in on a Cuisinart model but a friend gave a raving review of her Instant Pot and posted pictures of all the wonderful meals she was preparing with it on Facebook.  The more I read about it – 16,695 reviews on Amazon – the more I felt that this may be better than a slow cooker.  Pressure cooker is an indispensable gadget in any Indian kitchen and the fact that Instant Pot is both a slow cooker and a pressure cooker sealed the deal for me.  And the fact that it has a yogurt setting to make yogurt is icing on the cake.  The model I got is here.

Understandably, I am on Instant Pot cooking spree now and I made paneer butter masala for dinner today.  Paneer is fresh cheese commonly used in Indian cooking.  It is simmered in a tomato based gravy for this dish.  Butter masala is a very common gravy in north Indian cooking…paneer, kofta (spiced vegetable balls) and boneless chicken are most commonly prepared with this gravy.  The recipe I tried today is a keeper, Instant Pot or no Instant Pot.  It is extremely simple to make and the gravy was so creamy and flavorful.  The cashews lend a full body to the gravy and the whole spices notch the flavor up. The star of this dish though is kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves).  If you do not have it on hand please do take the time to go to the store to get some.  Kasoori methi not only lends the flavor but is also very aromatic.  I thought 1 stick of butter was too rich…would like to cut down on it next time I make this.  This dish would go well with naan (Indian bread) or rice.


The recipe I used is here.  The dish is rich enough so I skipped heavy cream!

Banana Kale Smoothies!

I love smoothies…nutrition in a glass and, if you want, you can make them work extra hard for you by adding protein powder or peanut/almond butter.  They are also a great way of getting bananas into my kids.  They both play basketball and hate eating bananas – a great post-workout recovery food.  Ina Garten’s Orange Banana Smoothie is a godsend since they lap it up.  I do take the pains of making fresh orange juice since it tastes infinitely better than store bought orange juice.  I am very smug about the tweaks I made to her recipe since the kids do not realize that they are getting chia seeds, kale and spinach in the smoothies.  Changes to her recipe:

  • I add a tbsp of chia seeds
  • Instead of using just fresh strawberries I use frozen mix of berries, kale and spinach that I get from Costco

I personally prefer diary based smoothies to juice based smoothies.  And lately I realized that I prefer the taste of almond milk/coconut milk based smoothies to diary based smoothies.  And a smoothie is a great way to incorporate kale into my diet.  I buy fresh kale, clean it and freeze it so it’s handy.  I can buy frozen kale but found that it is hard to use and a bit slimy.  The fresh kale that is frozen crumbles easily so it’s convenient.  This green smoothie, made more powerful with chia seeds and almond butter, is perfect for breakfast on the go or for post workout snack.



  • Banana* – 1
  • Kale – 1/2 cup
  • Almond butter – 1 tbsp
  • Coconut milk – 1 cup
  • Chia seeds – 1 tbsp


Blend everything till smooth and enjoy!

*Bananas should be just ripe.  Too ripe bananas have a strong smell and flavor.  One can’t run to the store 3 times a week to pick bananas that are perfect.  Peel and freeze bananas so they remain fresh.  Frozen bananas also make the smoothie creamier.

Pura Naturals!

What caught my attention about these sponges is “no need to microwave or put in dishwasher”…I routinely throw my kitchen sponges in the dishwasher and then microwave them for 30 seconds once they come out of the dishwasher to kill the bacteria and odors.  So when I saw these sponges at WholeFoods I grabbed them to give it a try.  I researched the company only after I bought it and was quite pleased to learn that these sponges have a negative carbon print.  The technology – BeBetterFoam – was initially developed to clean up the BP oil spill and the company has since launched home and beauty products using the same technology.

The sponges I bought are soap infused and have citrus fragrance.  Once the soap runs out I can add any dishwashing soap I have.  I have been using this sponge for over a week and I am quite happy with it…absolutely no smell and dries out pretty quickly.  The only thing I would have liked is a scrubber since the sponge is too soft to attack stuck on food.  The company does have other sponges with a scrubber or this sponge can be used in conjunction with a steel scrubber.

Not sure how this will hold up but after a week the sponge is still fresh and has soap left.  Clean dishes and greener planet!