Saturday, February 25, 2012

Dinner Impossible and Quick Fire Dinner

We had a  "dinner impossible " night at our house this past week.  It had been a workday so we were tired and I was completely unmotivated when it came to making dinner.  I hadn't been grocery shopping, neither one of us wanted to head back outside into the cold to dine out and the thought of take-out just depressed me.  So once again I found myself staring blankly into the nearly empty fridge, then the pantry, then back again to the fridge.  As has happened often times before in similar situations, I was forced to come up with a dinner idea using canned and dry pantry items and what ever else may have been left in the fridge....kind of like a Top Chef "quickfire".  That particular night I made a tossed salad and south Indian fish cutlets.  Mom always made fish cutlets with canned tuna and store bought breadcrumbs.  The canned tuna addition was after she settled in the US, I'm sure that when she was back in India she used fresh caught fish, not canned.  I usually use canned tuna as well but on"quickfire" night I had to improvise with canned salmon.  I had run out of bread crumbs so I used whole wheat flour seasoned with salt, pepper, dry herbs and grated parmesan cheese. I make my cutlets similar to this recipe here, except I used a combination of chili powder and turmeric powder rather than garam masala.  I enjoy them just like I did when I was a kid, dipped in ketchup.  A more authentic accompaniment would be 

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Grilled Beef Kabobs

One thing I like most about the warm summer months is the chance to take advantage of the grill.  Today we grilled beef kabobs marinated overnight in a scallion-parsley-jalapeno sauce.  Not only is it quite tasty, it's also very simple to make.  I used top round steak today but I recommend sirloin for a more tender kabob.  We enjoyed the kabobs with grilled scallions, grilled pineapple and a garden salad dressed with homemade garlic-balsamic vinaigrette.  We paired it with Paringa sparkling Shiraz, which has been making a regular appearance at our house lately.  The only wine shop I've been able to find it at locally is Vino 100 in Newburgh.

Please keep in mind that the recipe below includes estimates of amounts as I never measure out ingredients when I know how it is, a little bit of this, a little bit of that.

1 lb beef cubed (preferably sirloin)
3 scallions chopped
1 handful of parsley 
1 jalapeno chopped
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
juice of one lime
1 tablespoon canola or olive oil
red onion cut into one inch squares
red bell pepper cut into one inch squares
green bell pepper cut into one inch squares
4 or 5 wooden skewers soaked in water

Puree in a blender the scallions, parsley, jalapeno, lime juice, brown sugar, soy sauce and oil. Season beef with salt and pepper.   Marinate the beef in the puree for 1 hour or up to 24 hours.  Keep the marinated beef chilled in the refrigerator. Remove the beef from the refrigerator for about 15 minutes before grilling.  Thread the marinated beef cubes onto the soaked skewers alternating them with the onions and bell peppers.  Grill for about 10 minutes or to your preferred doneness.  Be sure to turn the kabobs during this time to ensure that all sides are browned.  Let rest for a few minutes before serving.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Weekend with my sister

My sister came over Sunday afternoon and stayed until Monday. All we did was go shopping while she was here. And when we weren't shopping we were cooking and eating!  In the picture above you'll see what we had for lunch on Sunday, grilled beef burgers with blue cheese and caramelized onions with a side of fries. The addition of blue cheese and caramelized onions to the burgers was her idea and what a great idea it was...yum it was so good. 

Here's some of what else we had:

White sangria

Grilled jerk chicken

Ice cream sundaes with hot caramel and fudge sauce.
Our mom's grilled buttery jalapeno & onion omelet breakfast sandwich prepared by me.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

spicy herb turkey burger

Do you ever purchase herbs for a recipe then end up discarding the unused portion because it wilts in the fridge? I can't stand when that happens, perfectly good produce going to waste. Some herbs I do chop up and freeze for later use like cilantro, parsley, scallions, and chives. I also freeze curry leaves when my mom brings them for me picked from her many plants she has at her home. There is one herb that I've never tried freezing because it seems too delicate for the freezer, that's basil.

One way I like to use up extra basil is in my spicy herb turkey burgers. I came up with it one day when I happened to have the following ingredients in my fridge which I wanted to use up, jalapeno, parsley, basil and red bell pepper. I just minced it all up added some minced onion, garlic, salt, pepper, smoked sweet paprika, crushed fennel seeds and tomato paste to the ground turkey meat, formed it into patties and grilled them off. Now I make turkey burger this way all the time. It is so delicious; I especially like the kick from the jalapeno and the slight smokiness from the paprika.

Sunday, May 23, 2010


I was not in the mood to cook today but I had an eggplant on the counter which had been purchased two days ago just begging to be cooked. I find that eggplant is one of those foods that I have very limited uses for. Well there is eggplant parmesan and baba ganoush. In our house we also make a guyanese eggplant stew made with potatoes and shrimp, guyanese eggplant choka or what I made today indian curried eggplant. Do you have any good eggplant ideas to recommend? I need something new to add to my repertoire.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Almond milk

Looks like a glass of milk right? It is actually homemade almond milk.

I grew up drinking regular full fat cow’s milk. You know the kind that comes in the big plastic jug with the red cap? About six years ago as I started educating myself about eating organic and eating healthier, I switched to organic fat free milk. Then last year, I started drinking soy milk every morning with my cereal in order to cut down on the amount of dairy in my diet. Well, that came to an abrupt and paranoid end when I read an article about the possible connection between soy milk and breast cancer. I then switched back to organic fat free cow's milk in my cereal. That is until a few weeks ago when I read the following article by Dr. Mark Hyman in the Huffington Post:

Suffering from paranoia again I tried rice milk and hated it. I had heard about almond milk but couldn't find it in my local supermarket. So, I googled "almond milk recipe" and came up with several sources. They all had basically the same recipe, which is to soak one cup of raw almonds overnight then blend the soaked almonds with 4 cups of water until liquefied. Then strain to remove the almond meal. I just discard the almond meal, but apparently others use it in baking. I also add a splash of vanilla extract. I keep it chilled in the refrigerator and try to use it up in under a week.

It tastes great in cold cereal. It has a mild flavor so I like it even better than soy milk. I also tried it as cold chocolate milk which was another hit. To me it is not a good option for tea, coffee or hot chocolate, so I will not be giving up dairy all together. I just can't live without milk in my tea.

I've been making and having almond milk with my morning cereal for two weeks now and am pretty sure this is something I will continue to do...until of course something terrible comes out about almond milk.

Sunday, May 02, 2010


Homemade tacos from scratch are so much more satisfying than the store bought variety. If you try to make the tortillas yourself you'll never buy premade again...believe me. I just follow the directions on the back of the masa harina package. It's not difficult at all. I made my beef filling in the Crockpot and topped the tacos with salsa, sliced avocado and grated sharp cheddar cheese. This taco is light and fresh, perfect for spring.

Soft corn tortillas (follow direction on masa harina package)
Beef filling
1.25lbs. beef chuck cubed
Ground black pepper
Dry thyme
2 ancho chilies soaked, stems and seeds removed and pureed into a paste with 1/4 cup of the soaking liquid
Canola oil
1 onion diced
2 garlic cloves diced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1 tsp tomato paste
1 tsp brown sugar
1/4 tsp instant coffee powder
1/4 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and diced small
1 onion diced fine
1 small bunch cilantro diced fine
1 large tomato, seeds removed and diced fine
Juice of 1 1/2 lime

Additional toppings
Shredded sharp cheddar cheese or any cheese you like
Sliced ripe avocado


Beef filling:
Season the beef cubes with salt, pepper and thyme. Heat just enough oil to coat the bottom of a frying pan and sear the beef cubes until browned. Remove the beef pieces and transfer to the Crockpot. Using the same frying pan add a bit more oil (enough to coat the bottom of the pan) and sauté one diced onion and garlic until translucent. Add ancho chili puree and tomato paste and cook until the oil separates. Add cumin, paprika, brown sugar, cayenne, instant coffee powder, cocoa powder and salt. Cook this together for another minute. Pour this sauce over the beef which you placed in the Crockpot earlier. Stir it all together set your Crockpot on high for 4 hours or low for 6 hours. When the beef is fork tender just shred the beef pieces with the back of a fork and stir together with the sauce in the Crockpot.

Mix onion, jalapeno, cilantro, tomato, lime juice and salt. Keep chilled until ready to use.

Fill soft corn tortillas with beef, salsa, sliced avocado, and shredded cheese.