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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Salad on a Whim

The best things about being on a regular diet are the cheats we are allowed to incorporate into our food. On a low-carb diet plan, or almost any other diet regimen, salads are considered to be “free-food”- aka eat how much ever you fancy. With a gestational diabetic and a regular type 2 diabetic at home for lunch, it was only a matter of time before one of us acknowledged the fact that yes, salads should find a way to our table everyday for lunch.
avocado-orange saladSadly, Indians are not hands-on salad eaters. We love vegetables, no denying. But the plethora of curries and Subzis that contribute to our cuisine could get so overpowering sometimes that eating raw vegetables takes a back seat. But if you are lucky, you would find some of us, especially people from the northern part of India, indulging in what they call “salAdh” at times as an accompaniment to their Rotis. The only vinaigrette they use is freshly squeezed lime juice with some salt and pepper, which in my opinion does wonders to any vegetable! I mean, who wouldn’t want to eat salad as a side when you can find tender radishes and sweet onions in the market, right? Well, not this Indian.

Thankfully, my mother is a lover of salad and enjoys them with her Rotis. So today, I decided to get off the couch in time to make a delicious salad for lunch. It was a very simple “dish” with all the usual suspects in attendance: lettuce, tomato, cucumber and avocado. But at the last minute, we decided to add an orange on a whim. I used a creamy vinaigrette which I suspected would not go all that well with the fruit in the salad but experimenting has a way of proving me wrong regularly and this was one of those times!
avocado-orange salad2Easy-Peasy Avocado-Orange Salad with Creamy Vinaigrette

Ingredients:
Half a lettuce

One avocado

One Roma tomato

Half a hothouse cucumber

One medium-size orange, separated into segments

A hand full of walnuts

Vinaigerette-
Half a cup mayonnaise (I used Kraft mayo with olive oil)

Quarter cup apple cider vinegar

Two Tbsp grated onion

One pod grated garlic

One tsp dry oregano flakes

One tsp dry basil flakes

Quarter cup milk

Dash of hot sauce (I used Mexican style hot sauce)

Salt and pepper to taste

Method:
Okay, I shall not insult your intelligence by narrating the method!

Although the vegetables are nothing exotic, the addition of orange and walnuts gives this salad a beautiful depth. I should confess that I omitted the latter but tonight, I shall include it.

The vinaigrette is an adaptation of the Creamy Italian Dressing from the book Vegetarian Creations with a few improvisations. 


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Quick Spring Salad

This is more of of a summer salad because it has been 80°F in the ‘Bama land for the past few weeks. I know you are probably going “Hmm, summer and roasted veggies? You must be crazy.” But I’ve always loved roasting anything I could get my hands on. The market was full of fresh asparagus and eggplants last week and I couldn’t help but buy some because they are what we call free food in a low-carb diet. Which means apart from the 30-45 gms of proteins I get to eat every big meal, I can eat these as much as I want to and I consider this a huge asset because now, I can go crazy with creativity and caramelize my veggies in the oven.

spring saladSo this salad, it has balsamic-roasted eggplants, asparagus, onion and garlic in it along with fresh lettuce and tomato. I seasoned it with dry basil flakes (wishing I had planted basil this year too. Oh well, it is never too late to!) and fresh mint for that extra herb-y kick. I finished it with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese. Although I would suggest serving this with a dinner roll (for the carb part of the plan), I ate it all by itself and fell deeply in love with the wonderful sweet-spicy flavor from the balsamic and Sriracha.

Roasted Spring Veggies Salad with Blasamic Vinegar

Ingredients:
Half a large eggplant

One huge purple onion (I used yellow because I didn’t have purple in my pantry)

Ten spears of asparagus

Four garlic pods

Two cups lettuce

Two Roma tomatoes, diced

One and a half tsp Sriracha or one tsp chili flakes

Three Tbsp balsamic + more for finishing

Few chiffonaded leaves of fresh basil (I used 1 1/2 tsp of dry flakes)

Few fresh mint leaves

Cilantro leaves for garnish (optional)

Parmesan cheese

Three Tbsp olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Method:
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Dice the asparagus and onion into bite-size pieces. In a large bowl, mix one Tbsp of olive oil with little salt, little pepper, one tsp Sriracha, One Tbsp balsamic vinegar and half the basil. Toss the cute vegetables along with the garlic and spread it on a aluminum foil-covered baking sheet. Roast it in the oven for twenty minutes. Meanwhile, cut the eggplant into bite-size pieces too. In the same bowl, mix together another Tbsp of olive oil with salt, pepper, rest of the Sriracha, one more Tbsp of balsamic vinegar and the rest of the basil. Toss the eggplant and roast it in a pan until caramelized and crunchy. You could also save time and roast it all together but I have let the fire alarm go off many-a-times while roasting eggplants. Hence, didn’t want to take a chance again.

In the bowl, make a vinaigrette out of the remaining oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Toss the lettuce and diced tomatoes. When the vegetables are done roasting, mix them together and sprinkle the cheese and mint leaves over the hot mixture.

To serve: make a bed of lettuce and tomatoes. Serve the roasted vegetables over it with another sprinkle of cheese, cilantro and finish it off with a splash of balsamic.

Carbs: 7.5 gms

Carbs with a dinner roll: 22.5 gms

(That is 7.5 gms less than the minimum allowed limit for a meal and the maximum allowed limit for a snack. Hah!)

spring salad2

 

 


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Healthy Semolina

There are only so many ways to make semolina, I always thought. But the only one I could come up with for a “snack” or what we South Indians proudly call “tiffin” was the boring old upma. First, about the tiffin. It is that mini meal we eat between an early lunch and a dinner, around 3pm. As a kid, I used to love weekend tiffin time because my mother or grandmother would make yummy snacks that were completely dedicated to evening-meals on weekends and they would always be of the fried kind, fritter-like, filled with an assortment of vegetables.

On weekdays, we would be given something boring like an Upma or if we were lucky, Maggi noodles. Upma is sort of like couscous. It is made of coarse semolina, or broken rice, or vermicelli and we add spices and condiments to make it, er, more interesting. But lately, I’ve felt like I’m done with Upma. It is so boring, gets repetitive and has no real nutritional value (yes, I am suddenly all big on that) unless I add on all the veggies I’ve got in my pantry.

So yesterday, I went on a quest: to revamp semolina. I wanted to add some depth of flavor to it, some extra texture and basically make it a teeny bit more exciting. And then I got this bright idea to treat it like you would couscous and make salad out of it. End of the day, I don’t know if we loved it or simply tolerated it. I am guessing the former because we went back for seconds and wiped out the huge portion I had made. So here is the recipe.

Ingredients:

One cup coarse semolina (Indian stores stock up on various sizes)

Two Tbsp olive oil

One and a quarter cups vegetable stock

One cup raisins or dried cranberries

Half cup roasted almond slivers (I cut up my pan roasted almonds)

One Tbsp dry oregano flakes

Few cilantro leaves, rough chopped

For the vinaigrette:

Quarter cup olive oil

Quarter cup apple cider vinegar

Two Tbsp honey

One tsp salt

Half tsp freshly ground black pepper

Method:

Heat the two Tbsp oil in a pan. Add the semolina to it and fry for a few minutes on medium heat until lightly golden-brown and fragrant. Add the vegetable stock to it, close the pan with a lid and let it cook for ten to twelve minutes until completely cooked. Take it off heat when done and let it cool.

While it cools, make the vinaigrette. In a bowl, pour the vinegar, honey, oregano, salt and pepper. Whisk them together as you add the olive oil.

When the semolina is cool enough to handle, fluff it up using a fork. It is an arduous process but make sure it is fluffy. If it forms a thin, brown coat in the bottom, take it off (the browned part tastes yummy, fyi). Add on the raisins, almonds and oregano to it. Make sure it is well mixed. Now pour the vinaigrette on top of the semolina and toss to coat. Garnish with parsley and ta da!