Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Spicy Paneer and Spinach

So my Dakota girls N and A (well, only A is a true North Dakota girl) came for dinner last Saturday. Instead of going out to eat, which we have been doing a lot, I decided to cook for my belles. So I pulled out my package Rasoi Magic Paneer Butter Masala mix, but made a couple of changes.

Take the Paneer mix and mix with a cup of milk. In a hot pan, heat the 2tbsp oil on medium head and instead of tomato paste, I used 1/2bag of fresh spinach and cooked it down. I then followed the remaining directions according the package which were to add the spice mixture to the pan, add the paneer, and 1 cup water and allow to simmer. OMG, it tasted so good. There wasn't a drop left. We poured the curry over brown basmati rice and as a side, homemade hummous with crackers. YUMMY!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Magic Carpet Ride

Well, not exactly. While Kima was in Disney World taking her turn on Aladdin's Magic Carpet Ride, I was in Fargo, ND, on a mission: find my spices to I can cook, and find a decent Indian or Middle Eastern restaurant to eat at as there are none in Bismarck (ah yes, I am currently living in Bismarck). So, hitting the road at 10am with my girl N, my Passat flew us into Fargo, where we did minor damage at the mall and Kohls before we decided that we were hungry. Well, relying on the magic of Garmin, we discovered two restaurants: Cafe Aladdin, and Aladdin Cafe. Well, deciding we'd try the first, I programmed the GPS and drove to the Cafe, which, turned out to be closed on Sundays. Alas, I re-programmed the GPS to Aladdin Cafe, and in about 6 minutes, N and I found ourselves in front of a sign that said Aladdin Cafe, but more importantly, OPEN! Well, how happy was I when the first thing I saw when I came in was a menu with the words: falafel, kibbe, kabobs, fatoush... oh yummy, this girl is so happy right now. The owner, a Palestinian man who has been in America for 30 years or so, greeted us with a big smile and began describing to us the various pastries that were on display in the glass case. You see, before any meal, one must choose her dessert. Well, N and I decided we were kinda hungry so we decided to split this delicious cashew treat. A paste made of sugar and cashews stuffed and rolled up in layers of phyllo with a syrup poured over- really, is that not heaven?
Anyway, as depicted below, we finally ordered our meals. As I gave up beef and N doesn't like lamb, we picked a couple of vegetarian dishes. Grape leaves stuffed with rice accompanied by a side of saffron rice, and lentils and rice with a side of hummous and pita. Oh, and we did get a side salad topped with fresh olives. The food was good, not hte best, but definitely good and makes your tummy happy. Why not the best? Well, when you've been spoiled as I have with homemade Middle Eastern foods, and MANY restaurants in the DMV, its very hard to find anything that compares, however; the grape leaves definitely had a nice lemon twang to it, and the saffron rice was fragrant and delicious. The hummous was a little think, and being Indian, I'm more used to yellow lentils than green (because dal is usually yellow), but it was still a good and satisfying meal.
So in the end, if for some reason you find yourself in Fargo, definitely check out Aladdin Cafe (which, by the way, is owned by the same people that own Cafe Aladdin)

Aladdin Cafe
1609 32nd St S
Fargo, ND 58103

Monday, August 22, 2011

Vegetable Stir Fry and Coconut-Mango Sticky Rice

Round 3! Ding ding ding!

This third cooking lesson with Randi was Asian inspired. The vegetable stir fry was so easy and quick to make it was ready in about 15 minutes. If you have any left over vegetables in the fridge you can add them into the stir fry. I knew I wanted to teach Randi how to make mango sticky rice because she's only had it once before at a restaurant. Verdict says...Randi will be making this a lot at home!

Vegetable Stir Fry
Adapted from Shape Magazine
  • 2 tablespoons Asian (toasted) sesame oil
  • 1 1/2 cup (1/2 pound) mushrooms, stems removed and sliced. We used a variety pack of shiitake, button, and oyster mushrooms.
  • 1 of any color bell pepper, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/2 cup (1/2 pound) sugar snap peas, trimmed
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 cup brown or white rice, prepared according to package directions
  1. In a large skillet or wok, heat sesame oil over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms, bell pepper slices, ginger, garlic, and red pepper flakes, stirring constantly so the ingredients don't burn. (If they start to brown, pour a little vegetable broth into the skillet.) Continue to cook for about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the snap peas and scallions to the skillet. Stir-fry for about 2 minutes. In a small bowl, stir cornstarch into soy sauce, then add the mixture to the pan.
  3. Pour in the vegetable broth; cook for about 2 minutes, until the mixture comes to a boil and starts to thicken. Serve over brown or white rice.

Coconut-Mango Sticky Rice
Adapted from Food.com
  • 1 cup jasmine rice or 1 cup other sweet Asian
  • 1 (14 ounce) can coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 mango sliced
  1. Cook rice according to package directions, but substitute coconut milk for half of the water, and add 1/4 cup of sugar. What we did here was filled the pot with water to the top of the rice and put half the can of coconut milk in the pot.
  2. It should be fairly dry when you finish cooking it, without any liquid visible in the pot.
  3. In a medium saucepan, boil the rest of the coconut milk with the second half of the sugar.
  4. Keep this at a full boil until the rice is cooked, or until it reaches a thick, syrupy consistency.
  5. Arrange the cooked coconut rice in a bowl or plate with the mango slices in some kind of pretty formation and dribble a bit of the sauce over the whole thing.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Silly Rabbit, Carrot cake is for grown-ups!

So I was going through this, "I need carrot cake" phase the past weeks. Why? I have no idea. Thinking about the good ol' days and the family parties, where, for some reason, Indian people think American dessert is symbolic by carrot cake (I'd rather have apple pie... hmm, apple pie). So anyway, I started googling healthy carrot cake recipes and I found one that is was healthier, but I didn't have all the ingredients so I made some modifications with the recipe and came up with my own. It turned out pretty alright. I did not use whole wheat flour, because in all honesty, its nasty. Really, it is. I rather oat flour or soy over whole wheat. So I used enriched white as that is what my dad carries in his kitchen. The recipe wanted oat bran, which I also did not have, so I used flaxseed. They also asked for egg substitute, and I don't believe in fake foods so I used real eggs. I also used stevia because I'm sure Splenda is powdered cancer (or so says my friend Di).

So anyway, here's Lulu's Carrot Cake Recipe
1 3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup flax seed
1 cup stevia
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp of salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
4 eggs
1 package of shredded carrots
1/2 cup crushed pineapple 
1/4 oil

I just dumped everything in the kitchen aid and let it swirl away. Once mixed well, place in two round cake pans and bake at 350 degrees for about 32 mins (it just seemed right in my oven). Once the cakes have cooled and are removed from the pan, they are ready of assembly. To make the frosting I whipped up 4 oz of tofu (silken) with 8 oz of cream cheese and a dash of vanilla, a small carton of heavy whipping cream and a cup of stevia. The first thing is whipping the heavy cream and stevia. Then slowly add the remaining ingredients. I decorated it with raisins.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Cooking Lesson 2: Fried Tofu with Green Onion and Cilantro Sauce

Ever since Randi moved to the DC area from NC she started eating tofu. I knew the perfect dish for this cooking lesson but I needed the help of my mom who's been making this ever since I was little. This is a super easy recipe with very few ingredients.

A tub of firm tofu (I got ours at the local Asian market)
A bunch of chopped cilantro
5 stems of chopped green onions
2 cups of vegetable oil to fry
1/2 cup soy sauce
  1. Drain the tofu water and place tofu in a strainer for about 15 minutes.
  2. Chop up green onions and cilantro and place in a bowl. Add 1/4 cup of soy sauce and set aside. Put the rest of the soy sauce in another bowl.
  3. In a frying pan, heat up oil for about 5 minutes. Don't let the oil smoke. We set the temperature at 400 degrees.
  4. Add the tofu and cook for about 10 minutes on each side.
  5. Once tofu is brown take the tofu out of the oil and immediately dip in the second bowl of soy sauce. Then place in the bowl of green onion and cilantro. You only need to coat the tofu on each side lightly.
  6. Mix the cooked tofu and green onion and cilantro together.
  7. Serve and eat!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Festive Corn Salsa

Happy 4th of July! What a more festive way to celebrate is to make a colorful corn salsa. This recipe is taken from my wonderful mother and is made several times a year. My mom makes it with beans and you can opt in or out your own ingredients. I mix my corn salsa with pasta to make a pasta salad or you can eat them with tortilla chips. Bring this to a bbq, work party, or make it just because you're craving something good. This recipe always gets rave reviews and everyone will be asking you for the recipe.
Corn Salsa
1 bag frozen sweet corn (I use Trader Joes frozen sweet corn)
1 green pepper
1 red pepper
1 yellow pepper
1 orange pepper
1 bunch of cilantro
1/2 red onion
1/2 cup Robusto Italian dressing (If you can't find Robusto then regular Italian dressing is fine)

Chop all the peppers, cilantro and red onion the same size as the corn. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Green Milk Tea Bubble Drink

While at the Asian grocery store I decided to pick up a package of tapioca pearls and eventually think of a dessert to use with it. I was watching Sandra Lee's Semi Homemade and the theme was Asian food. At the end of her show she made a bubble drink but with...get this...vodka! No way jose I thought! haha So I remembered I had a package of tapioca I could use to make my own bubble drink...sans vodka. My favorite summer drink is a bubble milk tea from Maria's Hong Kong restaurant in Rockville, MD. Since the weather is getting warmer around here I thought I'd make it today.

If you're not familiar with what bubble tea it's a colorful blend of sweetened tea or juice with sweetened cooked tapioca pearls or coconut jelly and often a creamy addition or flavoring syrup or powder. The bubble teas you usually get at the store are big black pearls but I only had the small ones on hand. This would be great to prepare for a summertime bbq that's refreshing and your guests will love!

Prepare the green tea or any tea of your choice

4 cups water
Green tea, any brand
  1. Boil the water and steep 5 bags of green tea
  2. Let cool
How to cook bubble tea tapioca pearls

2 1/2 cups or approximately 6-10 servings
Use shorter cooking time if you plan to refrigerate the pearls several days

1 cup large black or white tapioca pearls
6-8 cups water
  1. Never use less than 6 cups of water for each one cup of dry tapioca pearls. 8 or 10 to one is better.
  2. Most people like the pearls a little soft on the outside but a bit chewy. If you like your pearls tender all the way through, measure them, then cover with water and soak them for a few hours before draining and cooking.
  3. Bring the cooking water to a vigorous boil in a large pot.
  4. Stir in the tapioca pearls slowly, so they do not stick together or sink into a clump. The tapioca pearls will soon rise to float in the water.
  5. As soon as they float, boil covered for about 20-30 minutes depending on the size of the tapioca pearls. Stir two or three times during cooking.
  6. Turn the heat off and let the tapioca sit in the cooking water for another 25 minutes. Stir two or three times during soaking.
  7. Rinse the cooked tapioca pearls in tap water until the water runs clear and drain.
  8. Cover with bubble tea sugar syrup or brown sugar syrup, stir to coat. Refrigerate covered if not used right away; they will keep three or four days before they get too mushy.
  9. When you want some bubble tea, boil a cup of water and warm some refrigerated tapioca pearls for about 3-5 minutes. Then stir into the drink. Enjoy!

How to make bubble tea sugar syrup

This syrup is used BOTH to cover the cooked tapioca pearls and to sweeten the freshly made drink. Use all white sugar to flavor pearls for delicate fruit flavors and green tea drinks.
Use 1-2 tablespoons syrup for each 16 ounce serving.

1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 cups water
  1. Mix sugar and water in a large pot.
  2. Cook at medium to high heat.
  3. As soon as the sugar dissolves and the mixture boils remove from heat.
  4. Let cool and refrigerate or serve.
Pearl Bubble Milk Tea

This is the classic bubble tea drink. The most popular flavors are black tea and green jasmine tea. The cream may be omitted.

3/4 cup strong tea base 

2 tablespoons creamy ingredient 
(milk, creamer, etc.)
1 tablespoon bubble tea sugar syrup

1 cup ice
3 to 4 tablespoons cooked Bubble Tea Tapioca Pearls
  1. Put tea, creamy ingredient and bubble tea sugar syrup in shaker and mix well.
  2. Add in ice, cover shaker and shake for a nice froth.
  3. Add tapioca pearls to the glass, and pour your drink over. Stir and enjoy!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Cooking Lesson Round 1 - Southwestern Stuffed Mushrooms

I somehow convinced my friend, Randi, to do a cooking lesson with me. She is a vegetarian and doesn't cook that often. We're going to be cooking a vegetarian dish once a month and will be featured on this blog. Here we go!

Randi loves portobello mushrooms but has never cooked with them before. I found this recipe on Mommie Cooks! website that features a southwestern stuffed mushroom. We opted out the chicken and cilantro but if you like those ingredients go ahead and add them in. This recipe looked very easy for Randi to follow and delicious as well.

Southwestern Stuffed Portobelo Mushrooms


6 Portobello Mushrooms, Stems Removed
6 Tbsp Olive Oil (about 1 Tbsp for each mushroom)
1 Tbsp Butter
1 tsp Cumin
1/2 tsp Coriander
1/2 tsp Chili Powder
1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
1/2 tsp Oregano
1/2 tsp Salt
1 Bell Pepper, Chopped (whichever color you prefer)
3/4 Cup Corn
3 Oz Fresh Spinach, Roughly Chopped
1 Tomato, Chopped
1/2 Cup Sour Cream
1/2 Lime, Juiced
1 Small Bunch Cilantro, Chopped
2 Green Onions, Chopped
6 Ounces Cheddar Cheese, Shredded


  • Brush the portobello mushrooms with olive oil and let them bake in an oven heated to 350 degrees for 5 minutes.
  • Heat up the butter in a large saute pan over medium heat and add in the chopped pepper and corn. 
  • Add in the cumin, coriander, chili powder, garlic powder, oregano, and salt.
  • Cook another minute or two until the peppers are tender.
  • Add in the spinach and stir it a few times until it wilts.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and add in the tomato, sour cream, lime juice, cilantro, and green onions.
  • Add the mixture to each of the six mushrooms and top with cheese.
  • Bake the finished mushrooms in an oven preheated to 350 degrees for 10 minutes.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Lulu's Redo Chocolate Chip Cookie

So I decided to take a twist on the chocolate chip cookie and this is what I came up with. Its healthier than your average cookie. Its soft and chewy, and well, its yummy too.

1.25 cups white all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 bag of Ghiradelli white chocolate chips
2 bananas
1/4 cup brown sugar
6 oz plan Greek yoghurt
2 oz canola oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
So first preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Then mash the bananas and mix well with the sugar, yoghurt, oil, and vanilla. Once completely mixed, add all the dry ingredients except the chocolate chips. Once well mixed and the chips. This recipe makes 12 LAGRE cookies. Spoon the batter on a cookie sheet (not greased) and bake for 10 minutes. All the cookies to cool down and enjoy!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Pretzel Dogs!

Sports game nights in our household usually entails beer, snacks, and pretzel dogs. The Caps game was on tonight, so I thought the perfect dinner would be this. Unfortunately the Caps lost, but I won in making these. Don't get intimidated by the name and I know it seems easier to go buy these at the store but you guys won't be disappointed!

Makes 8 bun size pretzel dogs
Adapted from A Dash of Sass
Adapted from Alton Brown’s Homemade Soft Pretzels

1 1/2 cups warm water
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 package dry active yeast
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
3 cups water
2 tablespoons baking soda (this is what makes the pretzel crisp)
1 large egg yolk, beaten with 1 tablespoon water
Pretzel salt (or kosher salt), for topping

  • Combine the warm water, sugar and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top. Let the mixture sit for about 5 minutes, until the yeast is foamy and begins to smell of yeast.
  • Add the flour and butter to the yeast mixture. Attach the dough hook to the stand mixer and, on medium-low speed, combine the mixture until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl and appears shiny, roughly 4 to 5 minutes.
  • Spray a large bowl with non-stick spray (or lightly grease with vegetable oil) and place dough in greased bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap.
  • Place bowl in a warm area (near the oven, perhaps) and let dough rise for about 1 hour, or until doubled in size.
  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
  • In a large pot, bring the 3 cups of water and the baking soda to a roiling boil.
  • Place the dough on a greased surface, and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a long rope, roughly 12 inches long. Carefully wrap each piece around a half hot dog. Pinch the ends together to seal the dough. 
    • Alternatively, to make regular pretzels, shape the rope into a U shape, cross the ends over each other and fold the twisted ends back onto the bottom of the U. Again, pinch the dough together to form a seal. Place each shaped pretzel on the parchment lined baking sheet.
  • Boil the shaped pretzels and pretzel dogs, one at a time, in the baking soda water for 30 seconds each. Using a flat spatula, remove each pretzel dog from the water and place it on a drying rack to allow any extra baking soda mixture to drip off.
  • Place the boiled pretzel dogs back on the parchment lined baking sheets.
  • Brush with beaten egg yolk and sprinkle with pretzel or kosher salt.
  • Bake until golden brown, roughly 14 to 15 minutes. Transfer pretzel dogs to a cooling rack for a few minutes before serving. Serve with a variety of mustards.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Homemade Cinnamon Sugar Donut Muffins...not fried!

Sugar donuts are an all time classic. I've always wanted to make donuts but always afraid of frying food...Until I found this recipe. These donuts are baked and take a total of 30 minutes from prep to in your mouth. You can find all of these ingredients in your kitchen and even experiment with it different flavors. KStead says...light and air, cake like center, and gone in seconds.

(Yields approx 24 mini muffins)


  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking power
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup fat free milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease mini muffin tin with cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together sugar and egg until combined. Add in flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg. Mix until combined and smooth.
  3. Then mix in vegetable oil, milk and vanilla extract.
  4. Fill each mini muffin cup about 3/4 full.
  5. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Pop them out of the tin and roll in a cinnamon sugar mixture.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Jamie Oliver's Cheat Sponge Cake With Summer Berries And Cream

So as I was planning this week's menu, I grabbed my Jamie Oliver cookbook for some inspiration. Flipping through the dessert section first, as it is the most important meal of the day, I found this beautiful cake with almonds around it and raspberries and chocolate on top. So of course I had to have it. Well, making my grocery list, I jetted to the market only to find that the strawberries and raspberries were over priced, and there was no panettone in site. Well, so I modified. I bought some blueberries, used the banana I got from temple earlier that day, and baked an angel food cake in two cake pans to compensate for the missing ingredients. Well, I won't lie, I'm pretty delighted with my end product.
The original recipe can be found in Jamie's Food Revolution, but recipe is pretty simple.
Cheat's Sponge Cake- REMIXED!
One box of angel food cake mix
I cup of blueberries
1 banana
24 oz of heavy whipping cream
4 oz of dark chocolate
few tbsp of sweet white wine
1pk of sliced almonds.
So first I made the cake according to the box directions and baked in two separate round cake pans. Once the cake cooled, I cut the edges to make sure the two cakes would fit nicely on top of each other. Place the bottom layer on a plate and cover it with sliced bananas. Place the top layer and drizzle with white wine so that cake soaks it up, but not too much that wine is floating on top. In a mixer, whip the cream until its stiff and then frost the cake.  While the cake was baking I had toasted the almonds on the stove top on low heat (be careful not to burn them). Once done frosting, pat the almonds on the sides of the cake. Top with blueberries and chopped or shaved chocolate.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Beef, rice, and french fries! What more can you ask for?

Lomo Saltado

La Buutique, is my older sister who made the best lomo saltado I've ever had. She also made a bomb dot com cilantro sauce to go with it. This was a quick and easy meal that she whipped up last week when I went over to her house. Lomo saltado is a Peruvian dish with Asian influences. Can it get better than that?

  • 1 (16 ounce) package frozen French fries
  • vegetable oil as needed
  • 1 pound beef tri tip, sliced 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 large onion, sliced into strips
  • 2 large tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and sliced into strips
  • 1 yellow chili pepper (preferably Peruvian aji amarillo)
  • 1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 1 dash soy sauce to taste
  • Choice of rice
  • 1/2 cup of chopped cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 2 teaspoons mayonnaise
  1. Prepare the bag of French fries according to package directions.
  2. Cook your choice of rice as desired according to package. We used jasmine rice.
  3. While the French fries and rice are cooking, heat the oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Season the sliced meat with salt and pepper to taste. Fry the meat until just cooked, and the juices begin to release. Remove the meat from the frying pan.
  4. Then cook the onions, with additional oil if needed, until they are transparent. Stir in the tomato and aji amarillo; cook until the tomato softens.
  5. Pour in the vinegar and soy sauce, cover, and cook until the beef is done, about 3 minutes.
  6. For the sauce, add the cilantro, garlic, mayonnaise, and lime juice in a mini food processor. Mix until desired taste.
  7. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and sprinkle with chopped cilantro and French fries to serve.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Butternut Squash Pie

So I decided that this Christmas I wanted to make a different dessert. The pops and I were heading to Madison to visit family and see my cousin's new baby. Since they were making dinner (which included a very yummy goat curry), I decided, even though I was post-call and exhausted because the stupid pager was going off all night, that I would make dessert. So after Googling online for various pie recipes, I found one I liked @ a blog called Farmer's Daughter, and made a few changes to make my own and this is what I came up with:
Lulu's Butternut Squash Pie
Pie crust (frozen)
1/2 butternut squash
1.2 tsp salt
2 tbsp water
1 cup skim milk
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 banana
2 eggs
In the oven I baked the squash @ 325 degrees for an hour. I then let it cool and scooped out the squash from the skin and placed it into my Kitchen Aid mixer bowl. I added all the remaining ingredients (except the pie crust) and mixed well until everything was well combined. The oven was preheated to 425 degrees. I rolled out the pie crusts (I used two) and placed them inside a 12 x 8 baking dish (something like that) as I didn't have a round pie pan. I then filled the crust with the squash filling and placed the pie in the oven for 10 mins. After the first 10 mins were over I decreased the temp to 350 degrees and continued baking the pie for another 50 minutes. Once the pie was done baking I took it out to cool, et voila! The pie was a BIG hit at dinner. There was only two pieces left by the end of the night because I had to steal them before anyone else tried as I wanted some for breakfast the next day. I really hope you guys give this one a try.