Delicious World of Chefette Spicy

formerly Ladles and High Heels


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Cranberry- Walnut Orzo with Bulgur Wheat

Cranberry-walnut orzo2Inspired by a random Rachel Ray recipe and an overwhelming amount of Craisins lying around the house, I made this quick, one-pot meal last evening. It was intended for my dinner and lunch (I cook only in the evenings) since I made regular food for my husband and Aarabhi. I ended up eating it for dinner, late-night snack, breakfast and lunch. It made so much and I did not regret it even a bit since I fell in love with this dish.

I discovered bulgur very recently. I bought a bag knowing very well that the carbs value in bulgur was going to be the same as brown rice (and I was surprised to find that I was wrong) but I needed a change from the same old staple but later found out that bulgur has waaaaaay more fiber than white or even brown rice. This was good enough for me. So I swapped, added, tweaked and finally ended up with a fruity-nutty-full of flavor meal that I am sure to make again.
Cranberry-walnut orzoLike I always say, this recipe is very adaptable, you can swap Craisins for raisins, walnuts for roasted almond slivers or salted pistachios. You can replace the green onions with chives, basil, thyme or any other fresh herb. And you can entirely do away with bulgur or use any other grain in its place (I am thinking couscous or quinoa). Yes, that eclectic!

Cranberry Walnut Orzo with Bulgur Wheat

Ingredients:
Half cup whole-wheat orzo pasta

One and a half cup bulgur wheat

Two and two thirds cup vegetable stock (I had none at home so I gave in and used one bullion cube and water.)

A hand full craisins

Quarter cup walnuts broken into bits

Four scallions, whites and greens separated

Two garlic pods chopped

Salt and pepper

Two Tbsp butter

Method:
Melt the butter in a pan. Add the chopped garlic and the white parts of the green onions. Saute on med-low heat until the garlic is cooked. Add the orzo and toast until golden-brown. Add the bulgur and the stock. Mix in the Craisins and bring it to boil over high heat. Add salt and pepper and let it cook. Since I used bullion cubes, I avoided the salt. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover the pan and let it cook. When the water is absorbed and the bulgur becomes tender, off the heat and gently fluff the orzo/bulgur mixture.

Finish with the greens of the green onion and walnut pieces.

You could serve this as a warm salad or as the main dish.

Serving Size: One cup

Total Carbs: 45g

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My Experiments with Brussels

brussel salad3There comes a day in every food blogger’s life when they make the most perfect batch of roasted vegetables. Food angels will sing, you will shower in a million buckets of conceit and act like you just won the James Beard. Never happened to you? Is it just me? Well, alright then, let me go on. I made the most beautiful batch of Brussels yesterday and immediately let my smugness get ahead of me.

Initially, I had planned a curry with the veggie. When I realized that they were the most perfect shade of caramelized golden-brown with flavors popping every-which-way, I found the intended recipe too normal, very tame for this beauty. So I decided to let the Brussels revel in its newly acquired swag- I decided that a warm salad was the best route to take. What do I say, I was pressed for time and needed to set a few minutes aside for photographing this beauty.  Personally, I was tempted to eat it as it was, off the baking sheet but I kinda had to share it with the hub.
brussel saladI made the salad as I went- I roasted the Brussels Sprouts at 400ºF (205º C) for 30 minutes after coating them with two Tbsp of olive oil, salt and pepper. You could substitute salt with garlic salt if you want but honestly, I never missed the garlic (and I am the kind of person who thinks everything is wonderful with a little chopped garlic in it). I added Craisins and some walnuts. Since I wanted a creamy vinaigrette that would not steal the Brussels Sprouts’ thunder, I made a mild yogurt sauce with a little Chipotle in Adobo and a generous (quarter) cup of milk. I was impressed. Yes, it takes very little for me to feel happy with myself.
brussel salad2The only downside was that I missed Amma while I was greedily eating the salad off the plate after clicking a few hasty photos when I remembered: Amma was so taken by these mini-cabbages although she was not new to them. But then they are pretty expensive in India and not a perennial vegetable like they are in USA so we seldom bought them. She once made a wonderful pepper fry with Brussels when she lived with us last year. We also spoke extensively about making Brussels Fried Rice one day but we never really got down to it. Next time, Amma. We always have the next time.

Nutrition Info:

Serving Size: One Cup

Total Carbs: 15g


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Props and Plans for 2014

blog stuffWhen I first started baking (which was around the same time I started blogging about it), my measuring cup was a single take-out container which had a one cup marking on it. I resisted the idea of buying tools due to a faint fear that I would grow out of this “novel” method of cooking. But the hub prodded me into buying a set of measuring cups at least! On a random visit to our local Dollar Tree outlet back in Maryland, I came across a set of measuring devices (in picture) for, yes, a dollar! Since then, a lot of buying has happened in various Dollar Tree outlets and somewhere along the line, I realized that hey, you don’t need to buy from fancy shmancy stores to cook effectively. blog stuff4Well, I stand corrected. you don’t need to buy everything from big stores to cook yummy food. Although I have wonderful appliances and baking tools from other stores, Dollar Tree always excites me. Apart from the measuring cups, I have quite a few other interesting props and tools I have collected over the years. So when I was wondering how I wanted to end the year, a picture heavy post about things that help make my food look and taste good was not only an awesome idea but also very fitting. Our Christmas lights and a gloomy day worked well together and I ended up with beautiful pictures- probably the best shoot I have done in long. So let’s continue, shall we? blog stuff5As the cliche goes, hands are a cook’s best tools. But a set of sturdy mixing spatula and basting brush are always a welcome relief especially when your batter gets stuck to the bottom of the KitchenAid while trying to make a birthday cake or when you are trying to brown the top of your garlic rolls with some melted butter. Both of them are by Betty Crocker and I love the brilliant red they come in. blog stuff3Ah, the birds and my beautiful silver tray! Although the former have never made it to the blog (yet), the latter was on the other cake post I wrote a few months ago. The birds are such dainty little things that I am still looking for a post to include them in. The silver tray was a random purchase that K threatened to throw out if I did not use. It was a dollar and he was tired of storing it. Thankfully, I found a use and am I glad I did! blog stuff2I don’t know which I love more- the black bowl or the red napkin (slash rag cloth). Although the bowl has been featured in gravy posts like Veg Balls in Garlic Sauce and Punjabi Kadhi, the rag cloth is a new buy so I am stowing it away for the new year. So yes, it is easy to blog on a budget if you open your eyes and look. There is really no shame is going the Dollar Store route as long as you know where to draw a line!

As for plans, the blog address is going to change, I am certain about it. We will go from Ladlesandhighheels.com to ChefetteSpicy.com.I am going to indulge more in low-carb cooking for 2014. It has been six months since Aarabhi and now is the time to get back in shape. So my low-carb diet is going to aid me in getting there. Also on my to-do list for the blog is slow cooker cooking. Although I see no point in making pies and brownies in my crock-pot, I am pretty sure that it can turn out some crazy delish Sambar and Dal. Since all I would have to do is mix the ingredients together and wait for the dish to be done, I am very excited!

The holidays are closing in on us and I am in Virginia at the moment with the whole bunch of East Coasters. I have so many pictures to share and plans to cook something together with M, one of my sisters-in-law. I am looking forward to that and I am looking forward to clicking pics. I used to be nonchalant or very pessimistic about new years but this time, I am very positive about it. I have various reasons for it but whatever it is, I know one thing: I will own 2014!

So I might do yet another post before we ring in the new year. But in case I go MIA until 2014, here is me wishing all of you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Stay safe, drink eggnog (if you are into it) and eat lots of wonderful food!


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So Cheesy!

I know, I know, that is a ridiculously cheesy (and by that I mean predictable) title, especially for a post about Mozzarella Sticks. But it is 10pm on a very tiring Sunday night and I have only ten minutes to write this post and go back to my Accounts book… out of which I spent five defending the title. So here we go!

I didn’t know that it was possible- to make a guilt free, lighter version of mozzarella sticks. Until I made up my mind to give it a try. So I read up a couple of methods online, like the ones on Skinnytaste and Food Network and decided to go with my own recipe. I just adapted the temperature and time for baking from the websites, took a deep breath and did it. You should also note that this the first time I am making Moz Sticks of any kind so the success was especially awesome.  I don’t want to talk any more but let this picture do the job:

Featuring for the first time on the blog: the hubster pulling an ooey-gooey cheese stick apart !

Featuring for the first time on the blog: the hubster pulling an ooey-gooey cheese stick apart !

Wonderful, isn’t it? Here is the recipe-

Healthy-Gooey Moz Sticks

Ingredients
Eight sticks of low-moisture part-skim Mozzarella sticks (I recommend Sargento)

One egg, whisked

Quarter cup all-purpose flour

Three Slices of whole-wheat bread

Two tsp dried Italian seasoning

One tsp garlic powder

One Tbsp butter

Cookng spray

Marinara sauce for dipping

Method

Freeze the cheese overnight.

Pre-heat oven to 400° F. Gently blend the bread in a food processor. Heat the butter in a pan and add the bread crumbs when the butter melts. Toast it on medium-low until it is golden-brown. When done, mix the seasoning and garlic powder with it. Assemble the flour, whisked egg and bread crumbs in different dishes. Bring the cheese out. Dip the cheese sticks in the flour and shake of any excess. Dunk them in the egg wash completely and finally, roll them in the seasoned breadcrumbs. Arrange on a foil-lined, greased baking tray and freeze for fifteen minutes (this step can also be done the night before and baked the next day).

spary the tops of the Mozzarella Sticks with cooking spray and bake for five minutes. Turn once and bake again for five minutes. I placed my baking tray on the lowest rack and the sticks came out wonderfully. dunk in marinara and eat while it is hot.
mozarella sticksThat took me half hour to write. Who was I kidding when I said ten minutes?!

Serving Size: One stick

Total Carbs: 7g


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Do You Remember Cup Corn?

Summer sweet corn is here and no one can be happier than I am! I have such great plans for these wonderful kernels of sweetness for this summer and cannot wait to get my hands on them every week. So when I bought them last evening, I already had the perfect starter snack for my sweet corn: cup corn!

cilantro corn

Cup Corn is a very common street food in India and comes in so many versatile flavors, none of which I remember really! So my recipe pick for the day was a pretty much a free-hit since I went with my instincts and literally dropped all the seasoning I thought would jive well together. This is probably why I ended up with a huge bowl of succulent, sweet  corn that was devoured within half an hour of making it! Since I am at the risk of sounding like a glutton, I would like to mention that I had a couple of enthusiastic consumers (one probably more eager than the other. No prizes for guessing who is who, of course) helping me.

Since most of you already know how to steam/cook/roast corn on the cob, here is the recipe for the Cayenne-Garlic Butter Infused with Garlic and Cilantro:

Ingredients:
Half a stick of butter

One Tbsp Olive Oil

Two pods of garlic finely grated

A pinch cayenne pepper powder

Quarter cup cilantro

A dash of lime

One tsp salt

Method:
Melt butter and oil with garlic and cayenne pepper powder on low heat. If you like your garlic well cooked, let it go for five minutes. I love the taste of fresh garlic so I cook it for two minutes. Add the cilatro (save a Tbsp for later), salt and squeeze in the lime. Pour the butter in a shallow pan if you are leaving the corn on the cob. Turn them a few times to coat. I removed the kernels from the corn so I pored the butter over the bowl of corn and mixed it well. Garnish with the rest of the cilantro. Done!

This makes enough butter for four ears of corn.

Serving Size: One ear of corn

Total carbs: 17g

With dressing: 20g


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Testing for Food52

So I decided to test a recipe for one of Food52.com‘s community contests. I initially wanted to enter a recipe but the mandatory ingredient for the contest was coconut and I had run out of it only the day before I chanced upon the project. Such a weird thing in a household that consumes fresh coconut as much as any vegetable.
toffee

Anyway, I decided to test one of the entries, the Coconut Milk Caramel and boy was I glad I chose this one! It was the first time I tried my hands at making caramel, without a candy thermometer at that. It came out pretty well, although I suspect I should have let the toffee simmer for a couple more minutes because it was a tad gooey. I also skipped the coconut essence because with the coconut milk and toasted coconut layer, I figured an addition of something intensely concentrated like coconut essence would break the dish more than build it.

I don’t know if I made the right decision but the end product was so darn delicious! The next time I make this (and I am pretty sure I will!), I will try it with the essence. Until then, I shall do my best at resisting these lovelies.

I have a feeling I am going to stumble a couple of times…

Oh and I finally got to enter my previous post, the creamy saffron-infused Kulfi for the website’s next contest called Your Best Frozen Dessert. This is not a shameless plug but if you have time, you should check this one out. They have a huge collection of delicious frozen treats on display!


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Wrapped in Paneer

After five months of waiting, mommy is finally here! She landed a day before Mother’s Day and although I don’t really believe in compartmentalizing my love for mothers into one single day, it felt good to have her here right on time. Anyway, after showing her around this part of the town for a few days and taking turns at the kitchen, it was my turn to cook her up something interesting for a change. It was Friday after all!

Paneer Kathi Rolls

Lately, I’ve been obsessed with making wraps for dinner. I know I haven’t shown any proof for that claim but these wrap situations always happen on Thursdays. Since K and I have been attending birthing classes on that day, I discovered that a wrap or a burrito is the most convenient snack to grab and go when you have exactly ten minutes to take a shower, get changed and get going. But it was a Friday, we were done with those classes and I wanted to make something different for mommy. I mean, how many ways are really there to make brown rice in, right?

I found these low-carb, whole grain tortillas in the store a few weeks ago and have been buying them regularly since my low-carb diet began. To cut the long, winding story short, I made Paneer Kathi Rolls for dinner. This dish is a great way to stretch a slab of precious Paneer and if you have ever been to Oxford Bookstore in Madras and dropped into their Cha Bar, the beautiful cafe dedicated to Chai and snacks, you would have probably tasted their Paneer Kathi rolls and fallen in love with it. If not, no big deal because as delicious as these rolls are in the cafe, it is pretty easy to make ’em at home.

Paneer Kathi Rolls

Ingredients:
Five Low-carb whole wheat tortilla rolls

One cup cubed Paneer

One big purple onion

Two Tomatoes

For the marinade:

Three Tbsps thick Greek yogurt

One Tbsp gram flour (or substitute with AP flour)

One tsp cayenne pepper powde

One tsp turmeric powder

One tsp Chat masala

One tsp Garam Masala

One tsp ginger-garlic paste

A generous pinch Kasoori Methi aka dried fenugreek leaves (optional but this is an amazing seasoning to have in your pantry if you are an Indian foodie. It freezes well too)

Salt

Two Tbsp vegetable (or canola) oil

Two cups of raw cabbage

One cup mint-cilantro-yogurt chutney (recipe follows)

Method:
Mix all the marinade ingredients. Add the Paneer cubes and let it rest for half hour. Meanwhile, thinly slice the onion, and wash, de-seed and dice the tomatoes. Heat the oil in a pan. When hot, add the onion and cook it on medium until translucent. Add the tomatoes and the marinated Paneer (and the remaining marinade) to the pan and let it cook until the mixture dries up and the tomatoes are mushy. To save the integrity of the Paneer, resist tossing it too much. When the stuffing is dry, switch off the heat. Finely slice the cabbage now. The beauty of this dish is the uncooked cabbage that acts as a bed of lettuce.

Heat the tortillas. spread them lightly with cabbage. Spread the Paneer mixture in the middle. Top it with the chutney and roll the tortilla as you would a burrito. Take a bite and tell me if it ain’t wonderful!

Mint-Cilantro-Yogurt Chutney:

Ingredients:
One cup mint leaves

One cup cilantro leaves

One cup thick yogurt

Half a lime

One shallot

One small piece ginger

One Thai chili pepper

Salt to taste

Method:
Whisk everything together in a blender. Add water if it is too thick. The Chutney should be of a thick consistency but not so thick that it refuses to let go of the spoon. You could call it an Indian Tzatziki if you wish to.

Serving Size: One roll for a snack, two rolls for a meal

Total Carbs: 20g each (with two Tbsp chutney in each roll)