Brie appetizer!

I love cheese so much that I can never be a vegan or if I become a vegan I would definitely cheat on cheese.  Of course, not all types of cheese are for me, for example, I don’t like moldy cheeses and feta cheese is yet to grow on me.  I wasn’t much of goat cheese person but it grew on me and now I love the creamy texture of it…especially in salads.  Brie is one of my favorite cheeses – and brie paired with fig jam is a great party appetizer.  Easy to prep and serve and tastes awesome.  I have also paired it with pineapple habanero sauce from Costco – in fact, I like this better than fig jam since the habanero has that spicy kick and it’s a wonderful combination of flavors – salty, sweet and spicy!  I recently tried it with pepper jelly from Trader Joe’s and although it is more sweet than spicy…it does pair well with brie.  I personally prefer water crackers to serve brie with since the cracker does not have a strong flavor and lets the flavors brie and jelly take over while adding the crunch.  There is really no prep involved to make this appetizer – serve brie on a cheese board with a cheese knife, crackers and jelly.  Or you can make it ahead of time and serve but it is really best to have the brie sit on the cheese board and have your guests make their own appetizer.

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Royyala Vepudu!

Literally translates to shrimp fry!  A very traditional dish from coastal region of Andhra Pradesh.  Vepudu refers to any dish that is dry and without gravy … any vegetable or meat can be prepared in this manner and is quite an integral part of Andhra cuisine.  Shrimp can be prepared in many ways but shrimp fry is quite a favorite dish in our household so I make this more often.

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Ingredients:

  • Shrimp – 1 pound
  • Medium onions – 2 chopped fine
  • Green chillies – 2 slit vertically
  • A few curry leaves
  • Frozen peas – 1/3 cup (optional)
  • Dried shredded coconut – 1 tbsp
  • Ginger garlic paste – 1 1/2 tbsp
  • Coriander powder – 1/2 tbsp
  • Chilli powder – 1/2 tbsp (or less or more depending on your spice levels)
  • Turmeric powder – a couple pinches

Method:

  1. Thaw shrimp and wash it.  Put it in a sauce pan and add salt, a pinch of turmeric and a pinch of red chilli powder and cook them until they turn pink…about 5 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, heat oil and add onions, green chillies and curry leaves
  3. When the onions brown add ginger garlic paste and saute until the raw smell disappears … around a couple minutes
  4. Add turmeric powder, chilli powder, and coriander powder.  Saute for a minute more
  5. Add coconut and cook for a minute.  Add peas, mix it all up and cover with a lid.  Cook on reduced flame for a few minutes until the peas soften
  6. Add cooked shrimp, cover the lid and cook for 4-5 minutes.  Overcooking the shrimp makes it dry and hard so don’t cook it for long
  7. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve with rice or roti

Notes:

  • Although cooked shrimp can be used in this recipe I prefer uncooked shrimp.  Cooked shrimp is too dry for me.
  • This can be served as appetizer too

Chicken Shawarma!

I cannot sing enough praises for this recipe.  It is so simple that my 12 year old son was able to make this with little help.  We made this twice already – once with chicken breasts and last night again with chicken thighs.  I personally liked the chicken breasts better.  Baking time is less with chicken breasts since they cook faster. I omit the last step of making the chicken crispy – it is so soft and moist right out of the oven that we eat it right away.  Served with vegetables, olives, tzatziki sauce and some warm pita bread this is a complete meal and it is really easy and fast.  Marinate the chicken the morning of or the night before and dinner is ready in under 30 minutes.

A simple tzatziki sauce is quite easy to prepare – I used dried dill instead of fresh but if you have fresh dill it’s better.  I don’t buy fresh dill since I won’t know what to do with the rest – a friend of mine makes a daal with dill but I am yet to try that recipe.  Some times, I think services like Blue Apron and Plated are cool since they deliver all the required ingredients at exactly the quantities that a recipe needs…there is no wasting this way.

Changes I made to the recipes:

  • Use harissa instead of paprika
  • Skip parsley ( I am not a big fan of it)

Tzatziki sauce:

  • Added a pinch of ras el hanout
  • Used dried dill instead of fresh

Chicken Shwarma and tzatziki sauce!

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Rotisserie Chicken – two ways!

Chicken Noodle Soup:

I had a sick child at home and wanted to make chicken noodle soup fast and easy.  So I used rotisserie chicken and store bought broth.  I used two recipes – to make the store bought broth more flavorful I used this recipe and followed the rest from this recipe.

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Chicken Tacos:

I had some left over rotisserie chicken the next day and when I was wondering what to do with it tacos came to my mind.  I had all the taco fixings and I had made guacamole for afternoon snack so tacos for dinner made perfect sense.  I used a recipe from Good HouseKeeping that seemed to be tailored to the ingredients I had on hand.  I only had purple cabbage so used that for the slaw.  While browsing online for taco recipes I found a couple other interesting recipes – this and this – for chicken tacos…will try them next.

 

Chicken Sausage Pasta!

This is a very easy dish to put together and it usually all comes together in around 30 minutes.  So, a great weeknight meal.  I use store-made hot italian sausages from Whole Foods.  You can make the pasta sauce in one of two ways – you can either crumble the sausages or you can make meatballs from the sausage.  Today, since I didn’t have store bought pasta sauce I did both – I used two links to make meat balls and the other two I crumbled and used…to make the pasta sauce a little meatier and thicker.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 pound chicken sausages
  • 1/2 lb pasta
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 medium carrots
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 3 large plum tomatoes*
  • 1 clove garlic crushed
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil

*If you are using pasta sauce then you don’t need tomatoes.  I usually use Muir Glen Chunky Tomato & Herb sauce to go with this but since I ran out of it I used tomatoes.

Method:

  1. Boil water for pasta and cook pasta according to the directions.  Toss pasta with spinach or kale or chard to get more veggies in
  2. Meanwhile put the tomatoes in a saucepan, cover them with water and bring it to boil.  Turn off the heat once the skin on the tomatoes starts peeling
  3. Heat the oil and add crushed garlic and chopped onion to it.  Saute for a minute
  4. Add peeled and diced carrots
  5. Remove the casing from the sausages and roll them into meat balls
  6. Add the meatballs to the onions and carrots and cook until the meatballs are brown on all sides
  7. Add a dash of white wine and simmer until the wine is completely evaporated (optional)
  8. Add chopped bell pepper and cook for sometime
  9. Peel the tomatoes and chop them into small pieces.  Add them to the meatball mixture and let it simmer.  Add salt, crushed black pepper and continue cooking for a few more minutes.  If you are using store-bought tomato sauce add it instead of tomatoes
  10. Add basil leaves just before turning the heat off
  11. Serve pasta in bowls, ladle the sauce over pasta and garnish with grated parmesan cheese and basil

Valentines Day Pancakes!

I liked New York Times on Facebook and so I get quite a lot of their posts, including NY Times Cooking, show up on my news feed.  This morning, a recipe for pancakes showed up – “A last-minute breakfast-in-bed idea, in case Valentine’s Day crêped up on you”.  I thought “creped up” was simultaneously cute and cheesy.  Anyway, I have been having great luck with NY Times Cooking recipes and so I decided to try this for today’s breakfast.  When we were in New Orleans a while ago we tried “Red Gravy” for breakfast since it had great reviews.  The kids tried “Boardwalk Waffles” – waffles served with ice-cream and, naturally, they loved it.  I tried praline pancakes and loved them too … they were a little too sweet though.  Since then for special occasions they have ice-cream at breakfast and so I served the pancakes with ice-cream and, needless to say, the kids were super thrilled.  I halved the recipe and made a couple additions:

  • Added 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Added chocolate chips for the kids’ pancakes
  • Added walnuts for ours
  • Wanted to add 1 tbsp of ground flaxseed but forgot.  Will try and add next time

I served the pancakes topped with banana and Nigella Lawson’s maple syrup with blue berries sauce.  I didn’t have blue berries so I substituted raspberries and blackberries.  I topped mine with hemp seeds as well.

Here are the recipes for pancakes and sauce.

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Cauliflower vepudu!

Vepudu is a very popular style of cooking in Andhra Pradesh – a southern state in India.  Vepu in Telugu (the local language) means to saute/fry and hence the name “vepudu” since the dish is prepared by sautéing vegetable in oil and spices.  There are a few ways to make cauliflower from where I come from – with tomatoes, with tomatoes and eggs, with ground spices as a korma and more – but vepudu is my favorite way of cooking cauliflower and I leave the florets slightly crunchy.

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Ingredients:

  • One cauliflower cut into florets
  • 2-3 tbsp of oil
  • 1/2 tsp ginger-garlic paste
  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder (or less or more depending on your taste)
  • 1/8 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/4 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/4 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/4 tsp cumin seeds
  • Salt

Method:

  1. Wash the florets and steam them in microwave for about 8 minutes.  Steaming is optional.  It, however, reduces cooking time.
  2. Heat oil in a shallow pan and add mustard seeds.  When the mustard seeds start splattering add cumin seeds.
  3. Reduce the heat and add ginger-garlic paste.  Saute it for a few seconds until the raw smell disappears.
  4. Add turmeric powder, chilli powder and coriander powder and saute for another few seconds.  (If the flame is not reduced then the spices will burn)
  5. Increase the heat and add the cauliflower florets, a few curry leaves and salt.  Saute them for 2-3 minutes while stirring continuously so they brown on all sides.
  6. Reduce the heat and cook the florets covered until they are soft but retain a bit of a crunch.  The florets will get a little soggy when covered.
  7. Increase the heat and saute them some more until it becomes a bit dry.
  8. Add chopped coriander and serve with rotis or rice.  I sometimes add this to my salads too.