Fridge Pickled Bell Peppers

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I think I am on a pickling and preserving roll.

First up were the padron peppers, then we made basil walnut pesto and oven roasted tomatoes (which in a turkey provolone are heaven!) and now pickled bell peppers. Cool and crunchy, these colorful peppers are soaked in a vinegar bath for 2 – 3 days. Surprisingly tangy, they don’t turn into a mush.

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I made one batch with 2 bell peppers and it got over quickly. I didn’t want the vinegar brine to go to waste. I had couple more bell peppers on hand so I sliced and added them to the jar. I guess the novelty of the peppers wore off and this jar is going slowly. Mom and I loved it over our chickpeas salad sandwiches. As well as over spinach salad.

Oh well, its something you should try while the bell peppers are still cheap! Or try with colorful cauliflowers or carrots!

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Fridge Pickled Bell Peppers Recipe

  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • 1 – 2 teaspoons yellow mustard seeds
  • 7-8 black peppercorns
  • 2- 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • Salt
  • 2 red or orange bell peppers, sliced thin (washed, de-seeded and white membranes removed!)
  1. Add all the spices, vinegar and water in a clean glass jar. Add salt. Taste and adjust for tanginess and salt.

  2. Add the bell peppers to the vinegar bath. Close the jar tightly and place it in the back corner of the fridge. Leave it untouched for 3 days before opening.

Excellent over salads, sandwiches and even scrambled eggs.

Refrigerate after opening.

 

Zucchini & Zucchini blossom Soup

Zucchini Blossoms Soup

Summertime, fresh Californian produce, farmers market and fresh air. What do they all have in common?

Nothing much, per se, but they all provide a lot of inspiration of fresh and healthy meals.

Last week while we were at the Fort Mason Farmers Market, the vegetable stall was a riot of color. I saw orange-yellow squash blossoms stacked next to green and yellow zucchinis and red tomatoes. The  colors were inviting and I picked up a bunch of flowers. Vipul eyed me and the flowers suspiciously. I told him I am going to make some zucchini blossom fritters. He asked me if that was all for dinner or there was “real” food as well along with it.

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Healthy Veggie Loaded Artichoke Dip

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Need I say more?

Dips are something I cannot eat in moderation. Salsa’s and Hummus are ok. They can be had without restraint. Possibly some seven layer dips. But what about the warm cheesy dips? They are inviting and very scrumptious.

In restaurants, I manage to finish the dip as I eat it as is.

So much cheese can’t really be good for anyone in a single serving. But sometimes heart (or rather taste buds) don’t listen to your brain and then next think we know is that the dip bowl is empty! Now satisfaction kicks in. Later regret kicks in.

I needed something that was amazing to taste with no regrets.

That’s where a healthified artichoke Spinach dip came into picture.

Its full of veggies and using less cheese compared to traditional recipes. Thick Yogurt is what gives it extra creaminess and protein without the excess fat.

We topped it with finely diced bell pepper and ate them with veggies ( as well as multi grain toast fingers) for a filling afternoon snack.

It makes about 3 cups of dip and can be made ahead, frozen and then thawed before serving. We have a stash in our freeze for days when the baby arrives and we are hungry for “something fun/interesting”. It tastes yummy even as is out of the fridge.

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Healthy Veggie Loaded Artichoke Dip Recipe

Makes ~ 3 cups of dip

  • 1 can Artichoke hearts drained and coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup frozen chopped spinach, thawed and water removed
  • 1 cup milk , divided
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan
  • 1/2 Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 goat cheese
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/4 cup finely diced bell pepper and red onion ( for Garnish)

1.  In a skillet, add artichoke hearts, spinach, 1/2 cup milk, garlic, cumin seeds and paprika. Mix well and let cook for a few minutes on medium-low heat.

2. Stir in the parmesan cheese and let cook for another 2-3 minutes till the cheese melts and is incorporated in the mixture.  Lower the heat if necessary. Once cooked, let cool for a couple of minutes.

3. In the meantime, in a bowl, whip greek yogurt with goat cheese. Set aside.

4. Once the artichoke-spinach mixture is cooled, blend it till desired consistency. I like the dip to be smooth with some chunks of artichoke. Skip this step if you like the dip to be chunky.

5. Add the yogurt – goat cheese mixture to the artichoke mixture. Add salt. Mix well.

6. Top with bell pepper and red onions.

Serve immediately or freeze for later use.

Spiced Eggplant, Cauliflower and Chickpea Salad

Spiced and Roasted Eggplant, cauliflower and chickpea salad

Salads are basis of all diet programs. Eat more veggies!

And that’s where we falter. After a while the green salad becomes boring. We start craving carbs and bolder spicier flavors.

Spiced and Roasted Eggplant, cauliflower and chickpea salad

Before Vipul reaches that point, I made him a bold and spiced eggplant-cauliflower and chickpeas salad. Roasted eggplant and cauliflower make a “warm and nourishing” base for this salad. It has that “feel good” effect of a fulfilling meal on a cold winter night. The flavors are reminiscent of Indian curries – cumin, coriander and red chili powder. Paired with protein powerhouse of chickpeas and crunch of other veggies like celery and radishes, this was a complete meal.

Spiced and Roasted Eggplant, cauliflower and chickpea salad

I topped mine with diced cooked chicken sausage for an extra boost but any other protein would work just fine. Vipul had his as is and was blown away by the flavors of eggplant, roasted cauliflower and lemony-mustard flavors of the chickpeas.

Spiced and Roasted Eggplant, cauliflower and chickpea salad

Don’t be daunted by the long list of ingredients. The hands on prep is really easy and mostly it is the oven that does the work. It roasts and caramelizes the eggplant and cauliflower and brings out their natural flavors. This is probably the only way I will eat eggplant – ever!

Use a Chinese or Indian eggplant that has a thin skin rather than the globe one that I used. The skin was a bit tough on roasting. Or maybe I should have peeled it before roasting.

I am loving this diet phase of Vipul’s. I get to try new recipes, new vegetables ( fennel, butternut squash, and now eggplants!) and he gets a fresh home cooked meal every night! Bring it on weight loss 🙂

Spiced and Roasted Eggplant, cauliflower and chickpea salad

Spiced Eggplant, Cauliflower and Chickpeas Salad Recipe

  • 1 cup cauliflower florets sliced
  • 1/2 eggplant sliced into rounds ( any 1/4 inch thick)
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil, divided
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds, divided
  • 2 teaspoons coriander powder, divided
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder, divided
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 15 oz can chickpeas drained and rinsed thoroughly
  • 2 celery sticks diced
  • 4-5 small red radishes diced
  • 1/4 red onion diced
  • 1/4 cup pre-cooked edamame pods
  • 1 teaspoon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • Salt to taste

1. Pre-heat oven to 375 F.

While the oven pre-heats, lay cauliflower and eggplant on two baking sheets in a single layer. ( I used a bowl and foil as I don’t have baking sheets in temporary accommodation here; but baking sheets will give even results). Lightly sear the eggplant in a cross hatch/tic-tac-toe pattern  with knife on both sides.

2. Oil the eggplants and cauliflower. Then add the spices  (cumin, coriander,, chili) and salt. Toss the veggies to make sure that the spices cover it.

(Alternately prep these in a bowl and then layer them on baking sheets)

3. Bake the cauliflower and eggplant for about 30 – 40 minutes till they are golden brown. Depending on how thick the eggplant slices are they may need additional time. Keep them in till they looked cooked and their sides curl up.

4. In another bowl, mix mustard, lemon juice and salt. Marinate the celery, edamame, chickpeas, red onion and radishes in the mustard-lemon mix. Taste and adjust seasonings. Set aside.

5. Once the cauliflower and eggplant are done, take them out. Start with eggplant as a base, layer cauliflower over the eggplant circles and then top with the chickpeas-veggie mix.

Serve warm.

Berry Blue Blueberry 2 Ingredient IceCream

Blueberry icecream

Yea, just 2 ingredients. Vegan, dairy free, gluten free, no eggs, no refined sugar. No ice-cream maker needed. Intrigued? Read on.

You guessed one ingredient -its blueberry ( in this case). And the other one is…you would know if you spend time on pinterest and foodgawker. Its the hottest trend in homemade ice creams. Its frozen banana!

Yup,instead of throwing out those ripe,ugly, black speckled bananas, stick them in the freezer for a day till they are solid. Its better to peel them before freezing. Blend the frozen bananas and frozen berries ( or any other fruit of your choice) and you have ice-cream!

It doesn’t get icy,its creamy and its almost instantaneous without any churning or stirring.

The downside, you will want to make it again and again! I already have many ideas in mind – roasted almond, saffron and pistachio, mango, chickoo, tender coconut and not to mention lychee and custard apples when they are in season. Yum!

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Blueberry Icecream Recipe

  • 1 1/2 frozen bananas
  • 1/2 – 3/4  cup frozen blueberries  (use less if you want a less blueberry flavor)

1.  Coarsely chop the bananas.

2. Blend the blueberries and bananas till mixed through.

3. Freeze in an airtight container if a bit soft for half an hour

Serve with coarsely chopped pistachios or a red cherry or whipped cream.