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Roasted Acorn Squash Stuffed with Vegetable Biryani (Indian Spiced Rice)

Cashew nut snack, roasted and salted

Image via Wikipedia

Christmas is around the corner (trust me it’ll creep up on you really fast, so you better have your gifts ready :-D ), and I like to add a little Indian flair to my Christmas Eve dinner. Ok, I’m obviously not Christian, but being born and brought up in Staten Island, I can say I know a thing or two about Christmas festivities and how important it is, religiously speaking. However, I tend to use Christmas as an excuse to indulge in food and gifts- yes, I’m still a child and there is NO shame in that! For some reason squash reminds me of the holidays- maybe because it’s all over the supermarket in ridiculous quantities and they’re pretty cheap! Just look how cheap you can get some Acorn Squashes at Freshdirect averaging around $1.24 for 1! While using this inexpensive vegetable, I decided to put my Indian twist on Stuffed Acorn Squash.
I roast the squash with some masalas, scoop it out and toss it with Spicy Biryani along with cashews and saffron. It has the perfect winter touch with warm flavors of clove, cardamom, cinnamon and spicy masalas- it’s sure to keep you cozy on a cold snowy day! Biryani by the way is a traditional spicy-roasted basmati rice, served in different varieties across India. It comes in Chicken & Lamb Biryani, but we’re not too concerned with that here :-P . Actually, Wikipediahas a pretty good definition of it! Did I mention this dish is Vegan– yes, I know amazing! So why don’t we get started on my Indian inspired Christmas dish?!
Roasted Acorn Squash Stuffed with Vegetable Biryani:
  • 4 acorn squashes cut in half, gutted
  • 1/2 cup basmati rice soaked in water
  • 1 cup water
  • 2-3 tbsp garam masala (click for a homemade recipe or store-bought is fine)
  • 1 medium red onion- diced
  • 3-4 small sweet peppers- diced
  • handful cashew nuts– chopped a bit
  • pinch of saffron
  • handful cilantro– finely chopped
  • 3-4 tbsp biryani paste- recipe BELOW (or store-bought)
  • 1 medium onion- cut into thick slices (garnishing)
  • salt to taste
  • coarse black pepper
  • PAM original flavor
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. On a baking sheet place the squash halves, spray with PAM and sprinkle with 1-2 tbsp garam masala. Place in the oven and BROIL till tender and charred- about 10-15 minutes.

2. While the squashes are roasting, in a large skillet, spray with PAM and add vegetable oil and set over medium heat. Add the cashews and saute until fragrant and slightly darkened. Add onions and peppers, sprinkle with black pepper and saute until soft, about 5-7 minutes.

Once the onions and peppers are soft, but now brown, add the soaked basmati rice (make sure not to get any water in it!). Saute for 5-7 minutes. You want to toast the the rice.

3. Remove the squash from the oven and cool for a few minutes before handling. Score the squash into small cubes, WITHOUT cutting through the skin. Scoop the cubes out into a bowl and set aside. Keep the shell aside, DON’T throw out!

4. Once the rice is toasted add 1 cup of water, pinch of saffron, cover and cook on medium-low heat, about 15 minutes. You want the rice to be cooked thru, not mushy so don’t mix it around too much! Once the rice is cooked, add the cubed squash, tossing gently (you don’t want the squash to break and mush around the rice). Add the Biryani paste and toss to coat. Mix in 3/4 of the chopped cilantro. Taste for salt and biryani flavor- it should be strong, spicy and aromatic.

5. In a small skillet, spray with PAM and set over medium-high heat. Add onion slices, and saute without breaking up the circles. Cook until brown-ish about 4-5 minutes. Set aside.

6. Fill each squash bowl with rice, just coming over the top. Top each one with an onion round and sprinkle with remaining chopped cilantro. Serve with yogurt or raita.

Serves 4

Biryani Paste:

  • 1 medium white onion- diced
  • 1 beefsteak tomato- diced
  • 3-4 cloves garlic- crushed and minced (click HERE for amazing garlic tips!)
  • 2 tbsp ginger- freshly grated (need help Tackling Ginger?)
  • 1 tbsp chili powder (it should be spicy!)
  • handful chopped cilantro
  • 4-5 hefty tbsp Biryani paste (I use Patak’s Brand)
  • PAM original flavor
  • 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil

1. In a medium skillet, spray with pam, add oil and set over medium-high flame. Add onions and tomatoes, saute until golden-brown about 4-5 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, chili powder and cilantro. Saute until vegetables are soft and fragrant about 4-5 minutes. Add the biryani paste and mix well, making sure all the veggies are coated. Remove from the heat and let cool (10-15 minutes).

2. In a grinder/food processor, add the biryani mixture and grind until smooth (slightly chunky is ok). Store in an air tight container. Can be kept in the fridge for 1-2 weeks, or in the freezer- for a while!

Makes about 1/2-1 cup

Can’t Get Enough Healthy Vegan? Check these out:

Tandoori Tofu Masala “Salad”

Spicy Cumin Potatoes with Green Chili Tofu

Indian Sloppy Joe (Pav Bhaji)

Baked Sweet & Spicy Sweet Potato Fries

Idli & Vada (South Indian Delight)

Creamy Maharashtrian Chole

 

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Spicy NYC Diner-Style Home Fries

A plate of home fried potatoes

Image via Wikipedia

I like diner food. I think NYC has the best diner food- yes, I am biased. But, seriously take me to a a diner in another state that is better than a NYC diner. Yah, it probably doesn’t exist, hehe. In any case, we were in the mood for some diner-style food, and didn’t really want to drive to the local diner (which is 5 minutes away, I know laziness at its peak!). So I decided to make some homefries- crispy on one side, salty, and loaded with onions. Of course, I added a little spice, but it was pretty much pimped-out diner-style potatoes. Did I mention they’re healthy, vegetarian and vegan? Yup!

Diner-Style Homefries:

  • 1 idaho potatoes- washed
  • 1 medium white onion- thick diced
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tbsp onion powder
  • cayenne pepper- to taste
  • salt-to taste
  • coarse black pepper– few grinds
  • PAM original flavor
  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil (I use extra virgin)
  • 2-3 tbsp cilantro– finely chopped (optional)

Ghetto style boiled potatoes.

1. Wrap each potato in plastic wrap and microwave for about 4 minutes each until 4 tender. Set aside to cool. Dice into medium-sized cubes (same size as onions preferably).

2. Meanwhile in a large non-stick skillet spray with PAM and pour oil and set over medium flame. Add onions and saute for 2 minutes. Add spices and saute until fragrant and onions are soft- about 5-7 minutes. Add potatoes and combine with spices and onions. Saute for about 8 minutes, with 5 minutes covered. This is when the potatoes will get crispy on one side- increase/decrease flame accordingly. I had it on medium-high flame. Uncover, taste for salt and spices. Place in serving dish and top with chopped cilantro (if desired). Serve with favorite breakfast meal!

Serves 2-4 people

Want more yummy Breakfast Options?

Taco Omelette

Zesty Stuffed Bagel

Healthy Egg n’Cheese Sandwich

 
 

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Roasted Red Pepper Tapenade with Roasted Onions & Garlic

The Superbowl is around the corner! Get out the chips, dips and fried wings!! NOT. The Superbowl every year is about tailgating and partying. Now, for most that does mean calorific fried food items and generally non-vegetarian dishes. But, it’s time to change that! Indulging once a year is okay, but taking in about a YEARS worth of calories in one afternoon is NOT okay. So, I’ve come up with some healthy, hearty and absolutely yummy superbowl party food options that’ll keep you coming back for more!

First up is my Roasted Red Pepper Tapenade with Roasted Onions, Garlic and Chilies. Its scrumptious, it’s zesty, it’s bold and best of all it’s VEGAN! Yes, an amazing Superbowl dip that’ll have meat-lovers and vegans rejoice! You won’t feel bad going in for seconds, or thirds.. or fourths. Filled with robust flavors of fresh roasted peppers and roasted garlic, blended with a bit of Tahini and lemon juice- it’s simple and filled with ingredients that households generally have! Eat it with pita chips, crackers, vegetables or top your favorite sandwich or falafel with it!

Roasted Red Pepper Tapenade:

  • 2 red peppers- diced into 1 inch chunks
  • 1 medium white onion- diced into chunks
  • 1 head of garlic– top trimmed off
  • 3-4 dried cayenne chilies
  • 1 tbsp Tahini
  • 2-3 tbsp lemon juice- preferably fresh
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil– more or less depending on consistency
  • warm water- couple tbsp
  • salt- to taste
  • coarse black pepper– few grinds
  • PAM Olive Oil Flavor
  • lemon rinds- for garnishing

1. On a baking sheet place a small piece of foil and place head of garlic. Spray with PAM and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Fold foil to create a packet. On the remaining portion of the sheet, add onions, peppers and chilies. Spray with PAM, sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss so each piece is coated. Place in oven on broil and cook for about 10-12 minutes, shaking the tray half way thru, so the vegetables cook evenly. Remove and cool before handling. Garlic should be soft and easily squeezable thru the skin.

2. Once the vegetables are cool, peel off an excessively charred parts and place into a food processor. Squeeze in all the garlic cloves, making sure not to get any of the skin in. Add roasted chilies, tahini, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Pulse until chunky-smooth. Blend on low and add a little warm water until its smoother. Blending a little faster, drizzle in olive oil until the dip comes together and is smoother, but not pureed. You want it to have texture. Taste for salt and lemon juice.

3. Place on a serving platter and top with lemon rinds and serve with pita chips, vegetables, crackers or with falafel!

Serves 6 (to make more, just double all the ingredients!)

Want More Tailgating Food Options?

Indian Stuffed Peppers with Paneer

Roasted Garlic & Chili Hummus

Baba Ghanoush

Baked Sweet n’Spicy Sweet Potato Fries

 

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Stuffed Mexican Pizza Towers with Avocado-Jalapeno Crema

St. Patrick’s Day is just around the corner and even if you’re not Irish, doesn’t mean you can’t partake in the festivities! Growing up in New York City, I’ve witnessed all kinds of St. patrick’s Day celebrations, and if you’re hosting a party of your own then this will be the perfect addition to your spread of delicious food! They’re my Mexican Pizza Towers with an Avocado-Jalepeno Crema.

So, it’s not really Irish, or from a region close to Ireland at all, but it IS green and awesome! Now, I’m not much of a historian, but according to some Irish legends, Saint Patrick used a green shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity to pre-Christian Irish people (yes, grade school does come in handy once in a while!). That being said, even though my appetizer pizzas are Mexican, they fit right into the St. Patrick’s day theme! A great size, these pizzas are perfect for big parties where most of the guest are just grabbing bits of food here and they’re a good size to hold and eat! Loaded with smokey refried beans, spicy vegetables and a crema thats smooth, creamy and spicy all at the same time! Your guests will keep asking for more! Meat eaters won’t miss the meat, and vegetarians AND vegans will be happy! Plus, they’re super healthy and nutritious!

Tower Ingredients:

  • 3-4 large flour tortillas
  • 1 large white onion- finely diced
  • 1-2 (depending on size) red/green bell peppers- finely diced
  • 2-3 cloves garlic– crushed and minced

  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp (or to taste) cayenne pepper
  • coarse black pepper- few grinds (be generous)
  • salt- to taste
  • 1/2 tbsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tbsp paprika
  • 2 roma tomatos- seeded and finely diced
  • 1 bunch cilantro– washed and finely chopped
  • 1/2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • PAM Olive Oil Flavor
  • 1 cup reduced-fat shredded Mexican cheese (I use Sargento Brand or vegan substitute)
  • Avocado-Jalepeno Crema (RECIPE BELOW)
  • Smokey Refried Beans (RECIPE BELOW)
  • curled lemon peels- garnishing (optional)

Tools: 2-3″ round cookie cutter, non-stick pan, toaster oven

1. In a medium-sized skillet spray with a little PAM and pour olive oil and set over medium-high flame. Add cumin seeds and toast for 30 seconds or so then add onions and garlic. Saute for about 2 minutes, then add the bell peppers. Add all the seasonings, including salt and pepper. Saute for about 5-6 minutes because the vegetables should be soft and flavored well. Taste for salt and seasonings.

2. While the vegetables are cooking, use the cookie cutter to cut out round tortilla disks. 3-4 large tortillas should make about 30-32 disks.

Place on a baking sheet in a toaster oven, and toast for about 5 minutes, just until they’re slightly golden color and crispy.

3. To assemble, place a layer of crispy tortilla disks on a serving dish and pile about 1-2 tbsp of bean mixture. Spread evenly, but not too much near the edge of the disk. Top with about 1 tbsp vegetable mixture and cheese (more or less depending on how much you like!).

Place another disk on top and press down slightly- you don’t want the mixture to be oozing out! Drizzle on avocado-jalapeno crema and garnish with chopped tomatoes, cilantro and lemon peel. To add a festive and more green touch, I sliced fresh jalapenos and layered them on the serving dish- just in case anyone wants an extra spicy kick!

Makes about 16 pizza towers

Smokey Refried Beans:

  • 1 can refried beans (I used Old El Paso– make sure they’re vegetarian!)
  • 1 medium onion- finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic– crushed and minced
  • 1/2 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp (or to taste) cayenne pepper
  • coarse black pepper- to taste
  • salt- to taste
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • PAM Olive Oil Flavor

Tools: non-stick pan

1. In a large non-stick skillet spray with PAM and set over medium flame. Add cumin seeds and toast for about 30 seconds. Add onions and garlic and saute for 2-3 minutes. Add cayenne pepper, black pepper and seasonings. Saute for another 3 minutes until soft and translucent. Add salt and combine, and then add the refried beans and reduce heat to medium-low. Make sure to combine everything well and taste for seasonings. If it seems too thick, add a little warm water. Cook for about 4-5 minutes until heated through and flavored well. Once finished, set aside.

Avocado-Jalepeno Crema:

  • 2 ripe avocados- pitted and diced
  • 2 jalapenos- finely diced (I keep the seeds, skin and all!)
  • 1/2 tbsp cumin powder
  • salt- to taste
  • coarse black pepper- few grinds
  • 1/4 cup (a little bit less) reduced-fat sour cream (I used Breakstones brand or vegan substitute)
  • half a handful cilantro- finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup (more or less) water

Tools: Blender

1. In a blender add avocados, jalapenos, cumin, salt, pepper, cilantro and sour cream. Blend on high until thick and smooth- it will be a little chunky. Blend on low and slowly drizzle in water until creamy and a bit thinner- not too thin, you want it to be the consistency of cream. Set aside.

Like Mexican? Check out these Zesty & Healthy Dishes:

Spicy Enchiladas with Smokey Corn & Roasted Pepper Sauce

10 Minute Pita Mexi-Pizza

Gourmet “Taco-Bell” Mexican Pizza

Garlic-Chili Guacamole

 

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Chicken Parmesan Recipe

Chicken

Image via Wikipedia

I wanted to serve a hearty meal for friends who were coming for dinner. I decided to make Chicken Parmesan and fresh steamed broccoli. My girlfriend brought a salad and fresh garlic bread to complete the meal. The chicken was perfectly cooked – moist and tender with a crunchy outside. The sauce was tangy and filled with mushrooms and the oozing cheese was delicious. If you don’t feel like making the sauce or if you don’t have a lot of time, use your favorite store bought spaghetti sauce – it works great too. The chicken was a huge hit with our friends and my family. A fantastic dinner!

Sauce:
Click on the link above for the roasted tomato and onion marinara recipe. While the tomatoes and onions are roasting, sauté the mushrooms. Add 1 tsp of olive oil to a skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add the mushrooms and sauté until golden brown. Season with a bit of salt and set aside. Once the tomatoes and onions are roasted, place in the Dutch oven and finish making the sauce. Make sure you blend the sauce with the immersion blender BEFORE you add the sauteed mushrooms. Simmer the mushroom marinara for a few hours.
  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 2 eggs – beaten
  • 1/2 cup Italian style bread crumbs
  • 3 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Dried basil, to taste
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (I use lower fat)
  • 3 tbsp Parmesan cheese, shredded
  • Fresh Basil, chopped for garnish
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Trim chicken breasts of all fat. Cut each breast into two pieces. Heat large pan on medium heat; coat the pan with cooking spray and olive oil. Add salt and pepper to the beaten egg and mix. Add the grated Parmesan and dried basil to the bread crumbs and mix thoroughly. Dip chicken into eggs and then into bread crumbs. Add to pan and cook 3-4 minutes on each side. Make sure to spray the pan with cooking spray when you turn the chicken over.
In large baking dish add some spaghetti sauce and spread evenly over the bottom of the dish. Add chicken and top each piece with more sauce. Sprinkle the mozzarella evenly over the chicken then top with Parmesan cheese.

Bake uncovered for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest a few minutes before serving. Enjoy.

 

 
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Posted by on March 24, 2011 in Cheese, Chicken

 

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Sindhi Kadhi Indian Recipe

Cooked Basmati Rice and peas (beans), with pin...

Image via Wikipedia

Sindhi Kadhi is a dish that is fully rounded and has so many levels of flavor. The hints of sweet and tangy combined with the spiciness and the beautifully colored vegetables is a feast to the eyes and to the hungry stomach. Change out the vegetables, eliminate some you don’t like or add on the ones you love – it’s a very forgiving dish. Enjoy this Sindhi Kadhi with some plain white Basmati Rice and you’ll need little else to satisfy the soul.

 

Prep Time: 15 min
Cook Time: 30 min
Serves: 4 – 6

Ingredients:

Water – 5.5 Cups + .5 Cups
Besan/Chick Pea Flour – 1/3 Cup
Drumsticks – 1 Cup, cut to 1″ length
Carrots – 2 med. peeled, washed and cut
Cauliflower – 2 big florets, cut to bite-size
Green Beans – 10, cut to 1/2″ pieces
Potato – 1 medium, cubed
Green Chillies – 4 or to taste, slit
Small Eggplants – 3, cubed
Oil – 1 tbsp
Methi / Fenugreek Seeds – 1/4 tsp
Turmeric Powder – 1/4 tsp
Red Chili Powder – 1/2 tsp or to taste
Salt – to taste
Jaggery – 2 tbsp or to taste
Tamarind – 2 tbsp or to taste
Cilantro – for garnish

Method:

1. In pressure cooker, combine the Chickpea Flour and the 5.5 cups of Water and remove all lumps.
2. Pressure cook for 1 whistle and allow the pressure to release by itself.
3. In a small saucepan, combine the 1/2 cup Water and the Drumsticks and allow them to come to a boil.
4. Once the Water and the Drumsticks have come to a boil, low heat to a simmer and cook till ready to use.
5. In a big open pan, heat Oil on medium heat and add in the Fenugreek Seeds and allow them to sizzle.
6. Add in Turmeric and Red Chilli Powder and immediately after that all the Vegetables (Potatoes, Green Chilies, Carrots, Cauliflower, Beans & Eggplant)
7. Turn the flame up to a high, mix and coat all the Vegetable with the Oil.
8. Cook for about 3 minutes or till the Vegetables get a slight golden brown and lower the heat to a medium.
9. Add in the Chickpea Flour and Water, add the Drumsticks and the water, cover and cook for 15 minutes.
10. Add in the Salt, Jaggery and Tamarind Paste and mix.
11. Increase heat and allow the Kadhi to reduce and thicken up to a thin custard consistency.
12. Garnish with Cilantro and serve with Rice.

 

 
 

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BBQ Bacon Double Cheeseburger Recipe

Hunt's barbecue sauce.

Image via Wikipedia

To celebrate National Bacon Week in Australia please enjoy this video on how to make a delicious, big, tasty double cheeseburger with bacon.

Ingredients:

260g beef mince
Bacon
Sesame seed roll
Cheese
Lettuce
Onion
Tomato
BBQ Rib Sauce
Pepper

I hope you enjoy! 🙂

 

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