Saturday, September 4, 2010

Zucchini & Yellow Squash Ribbons with Daikon, Oregano & Basil

One of my favorite food bloggers Janet from the taste space is hosting this week's Weekend Herb Blogging and this recipe is my very first submission for the event. Fresh oregano and basil together brings a new dimension to the light texture of the zucchini and summer squash. It is perfect if you are craving the bold flavors of these fresh herbs! 

3 small zucchini (about 1 lb.)
3 small yellow summer squash (about 1 lb.)
1 large daikon radish (about 1/2 lb.)
20 medium basil leaves, very thinly sliced
2 tsp. chopped fresh oregano
6 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Small basil leaves for garnish (optional)

1. Trim the ends of the zucchini and yellow summer squash. With a vegetable peeler, shave the zucchini lengthwise into long, wide strips about 1/16 inch thick. When you get to the center of the zucchini, where the seeds are, turn it over and slice from the other side until you get to the center again. Discard the center.
2. Put the zucchini ribbons in a large bowl.
3. Slice the yellow squash using the same technique and add them to the zucchini.
4.Peel off and discard the rough exterior peel of the daikon and then shave the daikon as you did the squash. 5. Add the strips to the bowl with the squash, along with the basil and oregano.
6. In a small bowl, whisk the olive oil, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
7. Toss the vegetables with enough of the vinaigrette to lightly coat them (you may not need all of the vinaigrette) and season to taste with salt and pepper.
8. Serve immediately, garnished with the small basil leaves.

From Fine Cooking 93, pp. 51, May 7, 2008

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Bulgur Stuffed Zucchini and Eggplant (Bulgurlu Kabak ve Patlican Dolma)

"If you want to start a food fight, just ask people what are the worlds great cuisines? Culinary lore identifies three. Two seem obvious. The third is a bit of a puzzle. WEEKEND EDITION's food commentator Bonny Wolf explains.
BONNY WOLF: Chinese and French, right? Right. Whats the third great cuisine? Its not Indian, Japanese or even Italian. Its Turkish Cuisine..."
This recipe is my second last minute submission for AWED (A Worldly Epicurean Delight ), brought by DK at Chef in You and hosted by Janet from the Taste Space, featuring Turkish Cuisine.

Turkish Cusines offers a vast array of specialities and Bulgur Stuffed Zucchini and Eggplant is a good example since there are so many variations of this dish. Dolma is a verbal noun of the Turkish verb dolmak 'to be stuffed(or filled)', and means simply 'stuffed thing'. Dolma has a special place in Turkish cuisine, the chief vegetables used for dolma are peppers, zucchini and eggplant. Others include tomatoes, leeks, celeriac, artichokes, beets, squash blossoms. My favorite variation is the one with dried peppers and aubergine. However, it is better suited for cold days of winter, until then take advantage of Summer's fresh bounty and enjoy!

3 medium zucchinis
2 medium eggplants
1/2 cup coarse bulgur
1 big onion, petite diced
1 tbs tomato paste
1/2 tbs red pepper paste (optional)
1 big or 2 medium tomatoes
1 (14 oz) can diced tomatoes
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 bunch parsley, finely chopped
Salt and Pepper to taste

1. Cut zucchinis and eggplants in half and cut off and level the ends so they can stand somewhat upright in the pot. Carefully scoop out the insides.

2. Add bulgur, canned tomatoes, olive oil, tomato paste, red pepper paste and parsley. Stir  combine.

3.Stuff the vegetables with bulgur mix and cover with fresh tomatoes. Place in a pot facing up.

4. Pour hot water half way through zucchinis and place a china or porcelain plate over the dolmas and cover with the lid. First bring to a boil and then cover and simmer on low until vegetables are cooked.

Roasted Eggplant Salad (Patlican Salatasi)

This recipe is my first submission for AWED (A Worldly Epicurean Delight ), brought by DK at Chef in You and hosted by Janet from the Taste Space. I can't express how excited I was when I spotted Janet's post featuring Turkish Cuisine! For a culinary quest, the Turkish Cuisine is a truly interesting and, distinctive one. Discovering Turkish cuisine is just like discovering a secret treasure.  With abundant use of vegetables and the legacy of an Imperial Kitchen, there's much more to Turkish cuisine than grills.

As Neset Eren stated  in The Art of Turkish Cooking: “Many of the well-known national cuisines rely on one basic element. For instance, French cuisine is based on the sauce. Pasta forms the essence of the Italian cuisine. There is however, no single dominant feature in the Turkish kitchen. Meats, fish, vegetables pastries, and fruit are cooked in an infinite variety of ways.”

The eggplant said to be the country's most beloved vegetable and there are at least forty ways to prepare eggplant alone. Rosted eggplant salad is great as a light summer time meal or a side dish.


4 eggplants (The  Turkish, Italian, Chinese and Japanese aubergine\eggplant varieties,  work best for this dish)
2-3 long hot peppers, or banana peppers ( I really like it with Poblano peppers)
1 (15 oz) jar roasted red peppers or you can roast 2-3 red peppers
2 tomatoes, finely chopped
1 medium red onion, petite dcied
2 cloves of garlic, minced
6-7 tbsp of vinegar
3-4 tbsp olive oil
1/2 bunch parsley, finely chopped
Freshly ground black pepper


1. Roast eggplants on a grill, or in oven at 450F. (if you like you can roast tomatoes along with eggplants for 4-5 minutes or add them raw)

2. Let them cool first. Then peel eggplants and remove the seeds. Then finely chopp them.

3.In a bowl mix crushed garlic, and eggplants. Add diced pepper,  red onion, tomatoes and parsley.

4. In a small bowl, mix vinegar, olive oil, and salt. Add this on vegetables.

5. Stir to combine.Salt and pepper to taste, and enjoy!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Sweet Potato Fritters with Peach Salsa

Peach Salsa
2 fresh peaches, peeled and diced (about 1 cup)
4 green onions, finely chopped
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and diced
2 Tbs. chopped cilantro
1 Tbs. fresh lime juice
1/2 tsp. lime zest

Lime Sauce (Optional)
1 cup low-fat sour cream
2 Tbs. lime juice
1 tsp. finely grated lime zest
1 tsp. chipotle hot sauce

2 medium sweet potatoes boiled and mashed, preferably but if you don't have the time you can use
1 40-oz. can sweet potatoes, drained
1 medium-size onion, diced (about 1 1/4 cups)
1/2 medium green bell pepper, chopped (about 3/4 cup), I used poblano peppers
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/4 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
4 Tbs. peanut oil
1. To make Peach Salsa: Combine all ingredients in bowl.
2. To make Lime Sauce: Combine all ingredients in bowl.
3. To make Fritters: Mash together sweet potatoes, onion, bell pepper, breadcrumbs, egg, thyme and pepper in bowl. Shape into 3-inch patties. The easiest way to shape them is to use
4. Heat 2 Tbs. oil in skillet over medium heat. Fry patties 4 minutes on each side, or until brown, using more oil as needed. Drain on paper towels. Serve with Peach Salsa and Lime Sauce.

You can also serve this delicious fritters with fat-free ricotta cheese and fresh chives, you won't be dissapointed!

Recipe is adapted from one of my favorite magazines: Vegetarian Times Issue: October 1, 2006 p.72

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Mexican Lasagna

If you have leftover taco fillings this recipe is a great way to enjoy them! I use ground turkey for my homemade tacos instead of ground beef to make them healthier, after adding the taco seasoning you can't tell the difference. The only difference will be the amount of saturated fat you will be consuming. My new favorite taco is the lentil tacos that I posted earlier, not just because they are low in fat and calories because they taste good. I intentionally prepared extra helpings because they made great lentil salad the next day.

I adapted Alton Brown's Enchilada Lasagna Recipe and substituted chicken with my leftover ground turkey. If you like both lasagna and spicy, you will like this combination! oh and it is so easy to make!

For sauce:
2 dried chipotle chiles, stems and seeds removed, diced
3 large garlic cloves, minced
2 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons toasted cumin seeds, freshly ground
2 cups chicken broth
3 cups tomato sauce
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
For filling:
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 pound ground turkey
1 1/2 cups diced onion
Pinch kosher salt
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
12 (6-inch) corn tortillas
3 cups shredded queso fresco or Monterey Jack (reduced fat)
Nonstick cooking spray


1. Combine the chiles, garlic, chili powder, cumin, chicken broth, tomato sauce, salt and pepper in a medium saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes or until the chiles are soft. Set aside until ready to use.

2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

3. Heat the vegetable oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Saute the ground turkey or until cooked through, approximately 7 to 9 minutes. Remove the meat from the pan and place in a medium bowl. Add the onions to the same pan along with a pinch of salt, decrease the heat to medium-low and sweat for 4 to 6 minutes. Add the garlic and oregano and cook until the onions are tender, 2 to 3 minutes more. Add the meat back to the pan and remove from the heat.

4. Spray a 13 by 9-inch glass baking dish with non-stick spray. Place 1/2 cup of the sauce into the bottom of the dish. Dip 4 tortillas into the remaining sauce and lay them into the bottom of the dish. Cut 1 of the tortillas in half to evenly cover the bottom of the dish. Top this with half of the meat mixture and 1 cup of the cheese. Starting with 4 more tortillas, repeat the layers, ending with the last 4 tortillas on top. Pour remaining sauce over the dish and top with remaining 1 cup of cheese.

5. Cover with aluminum foil and bake in the oven on the middle rack for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake an additional 10 minutes, or until cheese on top is bubbly.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


Did you know that avocados are actually a fruit, not a vegetable, and have more potassium than bananas? Ripeness of the avocados are the key to great tasting guacamole. The perfect ripeness is when the skin is nearly black and the fruit yields to soft pressure.

2 ripe avocados
1/2 red onion, minced (about 1/2 cup)
1-2 Jalepeno or serrano peppers, stems and seeds removed, minced
2 tablespoons cilantro (or parsley if you don't like cilantro), finely chopped
2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and petite diced
Juice of 1 lime,
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne (optional)
Salt and pepper


1. Cut avocados in half (Don't discard the shells if you want to use them as serving bowls). In a large bowl place the scooped avocado pulp and lime juice, toss to coat. Drain, and reserve the lime juice, after all of the avocados have been coated. Using a potato masher add the salt, cumin, and cayenne and mash.

2. Add the chopped onion, peppers, cilantro stir. Then, fold in the tomatoes. If you are making ahead of time don't add the tomatoes until ready to serve.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

A vegetarian taco that everyone can enjoy! Lentil Tacos

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup dried green or brown lentils, rinsed
1 package (2.25 ounce) taco seasoning (or more if you like spicy)
2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup fat-free sour cream
1 chipotle chile in adobo sauce, finely chopped (optional, use half for less heat)
2 teaspoons adobo sauce
8 taco shells
1 1/4 cups shredded lettuce
1 cup chopped tomato
1/2 cup shredded reduced-fat (2 percent) cheddar or Monterey jack cheese

1. Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook onion, garlic and salt until onion begins to soften, 3 to 4 minutes.
2. Add lentils and taco seasoning. Cook until spices are fragrant and lentils are dry, about 1 minute.
3. Add broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until lentils are tender, 25 to 30 minutes.
3. Mix sour cream, chile and adobo sauce (if using) in a bowl.
4. Uncover lentils and cook until mixture thickens, 6 to 8 minutes. Spoon 1/4 cup lentil mixture into each taco shell.
5. Top with 2 heaping teaspoons sour cream mixture, lettuce, tomato and cheese.

This recipe is my second submission for this month's My Legume Love Affair, one of my favorite events brought by Susan from the Well Seasoned Cook and hosted by Siri's Corner.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Mulberry Muffins


Mulberries, I don't even remember the last time I enjoyed them. It was probably twenty-two years ago when I was 10 years old. My grandfather had a giant mulberry tree in his backyard and each summer when we visit him we spent hours up on that tree eating fresh mulberries with the neighborhood kids. Those were the best times of my childhood. Every year we waited for that time of the year. My father would arrange for great beach vacations and private villas with pools and we would still want to go to grandfather's house and climb up that mulberry tree, play with the neighborhood kids all day long. I remember how much my parents would get upset each time we left them alone at the vacation house and went to grandfathers. Then my grandfather passed away, and someone cut that tree. We never visited that house again. We started to spend summers at the beach, and it was never the same...

Recently, my dear friend Tammy had her mulberry tree cut down. Knowing how much I like them she brought me so many of them! that we wouldn't be able to finish them just by eating, so she gave me the idea of making muffins with them. I used my blueberry muffin recipe and replaced the blueberries with mulberries, if you don't have mulberries you can use blackberries they will be just as good.

1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 egg
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2/3 cup low fat milk/or buttermilk
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup sugar (I used turbinado sugar)
2 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups mulberries


1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Grease a 12-cup muffin pan with non-stick spray.

2. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.

3. In a large bowl, stir together the milk, oil, egg, sugar, and vanilla extract until well-blended. Stir in the flour mixture until just combined. Do not over mix. Gently fold in the berries.

4. Divide the batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups, filling them about two-thirds full. Bake for 17 to 20 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Cool on a rack for 5 minutes. Remove to the rack to cool completely.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Banana Walnut Loaf - Healty Tastes Better!

The best part of this recipe is the smell of bananas baking in the oven and it is also a perfect way to use your very ripe bananas (Another tip I learned from Alton Brown is to wrap them with plastic wrap and freeze for smoothies, they are really perfect for smoothies!). I would rather have my daughter eat the actual banana itself but if she is going to eat the banana bread, I want her tastebuds to get used to healtier options. Unlike the tradional recipes this recipe doesn't call for butter and it is made of whole wheat flour. And it is another proof that healty tastes better!

11/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup ground flaxseed
2 large eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups mashed ripe bananas (2 to 3 bananas)
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup fat-free milk
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup walnuts
1/4 cup rolled oats

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Coat a 9"x 5"x 3" loaf pan with cooking spray.
2. In a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir with a fork to mix.
3. In another bowl, combine the sugar, flaxseed, and eggs. Stir to mix. Add the bananas, oil, milk, walnuts and vanilla extract. Stir to mix. Add the flour mixture. Stir just until all the flour mixture is absorbed. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, sprinkle with rolled oats.
4. Bake for about 50 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean. Transfer to a rack to cool for 10 minutes. Remove from the pan and cool completely.

Dermason Beans (Kurufasulye)

1 cup dried Dermason Beans (or navy or cannellini beans if you can't find dermason)
1 large onion (diced)
1 banana pepper or pablono pepper (diced)
2 tbs of canola oil
1 tbs of tomato paste
1 tbs of red pepper paste (if you can't find pepper paste use 1 1/2 tbs of tomato paste)
1 can (14 oz) tomatoes, petite diced
2 cups of boiling water
1 tsp of black pepper


1. Soak the beans overnight (1 cup dried beans yields 2 1/2 cups cooked beans), if you are using dried beans change the water 2 times while soaking, next day boil them until soft. To save cooking time you can skip the soaking process and pressure cook the beans for 30-40 min.

2. In a large pot, heat the oil, add onion and pepper and saute until soft.

4. Add tomato paste and pepper paste and stir for 3 min. Add the tomatoes and cook for another 3-4 min.

5. Add the beans, salt and water, cook on medium low for 35 min. If you prefer spicy, you can add dried chili peppers.

This recipe is my first submission for this month's My Legume Love Affair, one of my favorite events brought by Susan from the Well Seasoned Cook and hosted by Siri's Corner.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Essential EatingWell Chocolate Bundt Cake

Researchers have discovered that eating moderate amounts of flavanol-rich dark chocolate has a blood-thinning effect, which can benefit cardiovascular health, and it may also boost the immune system by reducing inflammation. I am not really trying to find an excuse to showcase my favorite indulgence,  many studies have linked eating chocolate with a growing list of health benefits. But not all chocolate is created equal. Dark chocolate has far more antioxidants than milk or white chocolate. (Dark chocolate has 65 percent or higher cocoa content). So Indulge and enjoy!

1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts, or walnuts
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened “natural” cocoa powder
1/3 cup whole flaxseeds, ground
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup rice bran oil, or canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup hot water
1/2 cup prune puree, prune pie filling or Sunsweet Lighter Bake
1/2 cup chopped bittersweet chocolate, or chocolate chips
Confectioners' sugar for dusting (optional)


1.Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a 12-cup Bundt pan with cooking spray and dust with flour (or use cooking spray with flour).

2.Spread nuts in a small baking pan and bake until golden and fragrant, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a plate to cool.

3.Whisk flour, granulated sugar, cocoa, ground flaxseeds, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add buttermilk, brown sugar, eggs, oil and vanilla; beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Mix hot water and prune puree (or pie filling or Lighter Bake) in a measuring cup; add to the batter and whisk until incorporated. Fold in chocolate and the nuts with a rubber spatula. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, spreading evenly.

4.Bake the cake until the top springs back when touched lightly and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 45 to 55 minutes. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Turn out onto the rack to cool completely. Dust with confectioners' sugar.

Recipe is adapted from "The Essential EatingWell Cookbook (2004)"

Almost Guilt-Free Chocolate Cake!

I helped my daughter to bake this cake for our daddy day! I wish I set my timer before I served it because two of them finished the whole cake literally in minutes!  I adapted this recipe from "The Eating Well Diabetes Cookbook (2005)". We really enjoyed this recipe, it is very moist and needs no frosting. For me hot strong black coffee in a chocolate cake is a winning combination!!

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons whole-wheat pastry flour,
1/2 cup granulated sugar (I used turbinado sugar)
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup nonfat buttermilk,
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup hot strong black coffee
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting

1.Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a 9-inch round cake pan with cooking spray. Line the pan with a circle of wax paper.

2.Whisk flour, granulated sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Add buttermilk, brown sugar, egg, oil and vanilla. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add hot coffee and beat to blend. (The batter will be quite thin.) Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

3.Bake the cake until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes; remove from the pan, peel off the wax paper and let cool completely. Dust the top with confectioners’ sugar before slicing. 

Zucchini Borek (Kabakli Borek)

40 phyllo dough sheets (1 packet)
2 medium zucchinis, grated
1/2 cup crumbled feta (you can also use ricotta )
3 eggs
3 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup finely chopped dill
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh mint or 3 tbsp dry mint flakes
1 tbs red pepper flakes (or paprika) - optional
1 tbsp black pepper
nigella seeds and/or sesame seeds


1. Preheat oven to 375F. Thaw phyllos according to the instructions on the package. Generally speaking, you want to thaw the dough slowly, in its box and wrapping bag. Some companies include microwave thawing instructions. This is very risky. Thaw too quickly or at too high a power and you will end up with a gummy wet mess instead of separate sheets. Keep stacks covered with a dampened clean kitchen towel (Do not place the towel directly on top of the dough.)

2. Mix zucchini, dill, mint, pepper(if using) and feta in a bowl. Set aside for 10-15 minutes, then drain and discard the liquid.

3. In another bowl beat the eggs and add yogurt and olive oil. Mix well.

4. Grease a pan that's approximately the same size with phyllo sheets. Layer half of phyllo dough sheets in the pan by brushing every single layer generously with the liquid mixture.

5. On the 20th phyllo spread zucchini mix. Keep layering the rest of phyllos by brushing each layer with the mixture.

6. After putting down the last phyllo, pour the rest of the egg mixture on top. Sprinkle with nigella seeds and/or sesame seeds.

7. Bake in a preheated oven 30-35 minutes or until golden brown. When cooked sprinkle 1 tbs of cold water over the pie, right after removing from oven and cover with a kitchen towel. Wait for 5 to 10 min. and then cut and serve.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Shrimp Fried Rice

A day before the fried rice, I made Thai shrimp curry (recipe will follow soon) and served with rice. I didn't even have a chance to take a picture of the shrimp curry before it was finished but I did have leftover rice and some extra frozen shrimp in the freezer. Thanks to Jaden Hair of Steamy Kitchen, we all enjoyed the leftover basmati rice and the shrimp again the next day without any feeling of monotony. I didn't add or alter Jaden's recipe, but for the sake of my own records I am repeating the recipe here. For the original post go to Steamy Kitchen.

I will use brown rice next time to make it even healthier, but I still don't feel bad, since I used basmati rice and it has a "medium" glycemic index (between 56 and 69),  as compared to certain other grains and products made from white flour. When you make use of the glycemic index to prepare healthy meals, it helps to keep your blood glucose levels under control.

8 ounces small raw shrimp, shelled and deveined
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons cooking oil, divided
3 eggs, beaten
2 stalks green onion, minced
4 cups leftover rice, grains separated well
3/4 cup frozen peas and carrots, defrosted
1 tablespoon soy sauce (use gluten-free soy sauce if you are making a gluten-free version)
1 teaspoon sesame oil


1. In a bowl, toss the shrimp with the salt, pepper and cornstarch. Let marinate for 10 minutes at room temperature. Heat a wok or large sauté pan on high heat. When the pan is hot enough for a bead of water to instantly sizzle and evaporate, add just 1 tablespoon of the cooking oil and swirl to coat pan.

2.  Add the shrimp, quickly spreading out around the cooking surface area so that they are not overlapping. Let fry, untouched for 30 seconds. Flip over and let the other side fry for 30 seconds, or until about 80% cooked through. Remove the shrimp from the pan onto a plate, leaving as much oil in the pan as possible.

3. Turn the heat to medium, let the pan heat up again. Add the eggs, stirring in a quick motion to break up and scramble the eggs. When the eggs are almost cooked through (they should still be slightly runny in the middle), dish out of the pan into the same plate as the cooked shrimp.

4. Use paper towels to wipe the same wok or sauté pan clean and return to high heat with the remaining 1 tablespoon of cooking oil, swirling to coat. When the oil is very hot, add the green onions and fry until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Add in the rice and stir well to mix in the green onions throughout. Spread the rice all around the wok surface area and let the rice heat up, untouched until you hear the bottoms of the grains sizzle, about 1-2 minutes. Use the spatula to toss the rice, again spreading the rice out over the surface of wok.

5. Drizzle the soy sauce all around the rice and toss. Add the peas and carrots, the cooked eggs, shrimp and sesame oil, tossing to mix the rice evenly with all of the ingredients. Let everything heat back up again, until the rice grains are so hot they practically dance! Taste and add an additional 1 teaspoon of soy sauce if needed.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The beauty of a culinary pas de deux - Asparagus with Soft-Cooked Eggs

1/2 pound Asparagus, tough ends removed
2 tbs olive oil
2 eggs
salt, pepper
2 ounces creamy garlic and herb cheese (such as Boursin) or neufchâtel (light cream) cheese, cut into 1/2-inch pieces or 2 ounces grated parmesan cheese(optional)

1. Cook asparagus in medium skillet of boiling water until just tender, about 3 minutes. Drain.
2. Heat oil in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Return asparagus to skillet, stir over medium heat.
3. Add eggs; (and cheese) stir (cheese melts, if using) and gently cook them until just before they're set, remove from heat and let the heat in the pan finish cooking them about 2 minutes.
4.No further adornment required, serve with fresh chives and whole grain bread, and let the flavors dance together!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Easy Zucchini Tart

1 sheet frozen puff pastry, defrosted according to manufacturer's directions
6 ounces low fat ricotta cheese, drained of any excess liquid in a fine sieve
1 medium zucchini
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup fresh dill
Flour, for work surface
Salt and pepper


1.Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On a lightly floured work surface, roll the puff pastry into a 9-inch pie dish.

2. Using a large wooden spoon, combine the eggs, ricotta, black pepper and fresh dill. Spread the ricotta filling evenly over the pastry base, leaving a 1-inch border.

3. Press the Zucchini slices and arrange in a single layer over the cheese spread. Spray with olive oil. You can brush the edges of the puff pastry with egg yolk to have a nice golden color (optional)

4. Bake until zucchinis are tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Slice and serve warm!

Asparagus Tart

Yes Puff Pastry! But everybody has one (or more?) guilty pleasure food...and puff pastry is one of mine. We have this love and hate relationship. I love the comfort and the texture of the puff pastry but hate the fact that it is made of butter! Growing up my mom always had puff pastry in the freezer, for quick afternoon tea treats. I usually don't buy it, you know what they say " out of sight - out of mind!" and it is really true! I was doing my grocery shopping before my knee surgery and couldn't resist buying a pack of puff pastry since it is very easy and quick to prepare a meal with it ( or at least how I justified it, anyway).

As you can see it is hard to resist if your pleasure factor is waiting for you right in your freezer. I still tried to make this recipe lower calorie and substituted the Gruyere cheese with low fat ricotta cheese.  All I could say it was easy, fast and tasty!

1 sheet frozen puff pastry, defrosted according to manufacturer's directions
6 ounces low fat ricotta cheese, drained of any excess liquid in a fine sieve
 or 5 1/2 ounces (2 cups) Gruyere cheese, shredded
1 1/2 pounds medium or thick asparagus
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
Flour, for work surface
Salt and pepper


1.Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On a lightly floured work surface, roll the puff pastry into a 16-by-10-inch rectangle. 

2. Using a large wooden spoon, combine the eggs, ricotta, black pepper and the nutmeg. Spread the ricotta filling evenly over the pastry base, leaving a 1-inch border.

3. Trim the bottoms of the asparagus spears to fit crosswise inside the tart shell; arrange in a single layer over the cheese spread. Spray with olive oil. You can brush the edges of the puff pastry with egg yolk to have a nice golden color (optional)

4. Bake until spears are tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Slice and serve warm!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Bulgur Pilaf with Garden Fresh Tomatoes and Peppers

This recipe combines Bulgur's wonderful nutty flavor and light texture with fresh tomatoes and peppers. And gives you a soul-satisfying yet very healthy summer time meal.  

1 cup coarse bulgur
2 tablespoons olive or canola oil
1 medium onion, petite diced
2 tomatoes,petite diced
2 banana peppers, pablono or any fresh pepper, diced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 1/2 cup water
Salt, pepper to taste


1. Heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add onions and saute, stirring occasionally, until translucent then  add peppers and stir until soft.
2. Add tomato paste and stir for a minute and add tomatoes when tomatoes are cooked add bulgur, salt and water; stir to combine.
3. Cook covered until most of the liquid is absorbed.  Keep simmering on low heat until liquid has evaporated and bulgur is tender, for about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and place a paper towel between the pot and the cover and let it seat for 10 min. before serving.

This recipe is my first submission to Blogger Secret Ingredient event, featuring bulgur, hosted by Healthy Exposures.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Soba Noodles with Peanut Sauce

Soba noodles are native Japanese noodles made of buckwheat flour. They are so good especially in the summer.

A quick note about the health benefits: Soba contains all eight essential amino acids, including lysine, which is lacking in wheat. It also contains a type of polysaccharide that is easily digested. Soba noodles also contain antioxidants, including rutin and quercetin, and essential nutrients including choline, thiamine and riboflavin. (reference for health benefits: WikiPedia)


4 oz soba noodles
1/2 c creamy reduced-sodium natural peanut butter
3 Tbsp reduced-sodium soy sauce
2  Tbs white miso paste (optional)
3 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
1/2 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
2 tsp chile paste with garlic (optional),
1 tsp sesame seeds, toasted
4 oz light firm tofu, drained, patted dry, and cut in 1/2" cubes
2 c shredded or grated carrots (about 2 lg)
3 scallions, thinly sliced (optional)


1. Prepare noodles per package directions. Place peanut butter in small microwaveable bowl and microwave on high 15 seconds to soften.

2. Whisk together peanut butter,  miso paste (if using), soy sauce, vinegar, oil, chile paste (if using), and sesame seeds in large bowl while noodles cook. Set aside.

3. Heat medium skillet coated with cooking spray over medium heat. Add tofu and sauté until lightly browned, about 5 minutes.

4. Drain pasta and add to peanut sauce along with all but 1/2 cup of the carrots. Mix until well combined. Top with tofu and remaining carrots and sprinkle with scallions. Serve immediately or chill and serve cold.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Strawberry Muffins

1 1/4 cup White whole wheat flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt (optional)
1 egg
1/2 cup turbinado sugar + 2 tbs agave nectar
1/3 cup canola oil
1/2 cup 1 % milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup sliced strawberries
1/3 cup sliced almonds

1. Preheat oven to 400F and grease 12 cup muffin pan
3. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl.
4. Whisk sugar, agave nectar and eggs together until thick and homogeneous, about 45 seconds. Slowly whisk in oil and milk until combined. Add the vanilla extract.
5. Using rubber spatula, fold egg mixture and flour mixture until just moistened, do not overmix.Fold in sliced strawberries.
6. Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin pan and sprinkle almonds on top of muffins
8. Bake until muffin tops are golden and just firm, 15-20 minutes, rotating muffin tin from front to back halfway through baking time. Cool muffins in muffin tin for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack and cool 5 minutes before serving.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Asparagus Quiche with Brown Rice Crust

2 cups cooked brown rice (3/4 cup uncooked)
1/2 pound asparagus (cut into 1-inch long pieces and steamed)
1 small or 1/2 medium yellow summer squash, cut lenghtwise
1/4 cup tablespoons shredded cheddar or gruyere cheese
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 cup fat-free evaporated milk
2 eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp nutmeg
* Serves 6 

1. In a small saucepan, cook the rice using the package directions, omitting the salt and margarine.
2. When the rice is almost done, preheat the oven to 450°F. Lightly spray a medium skillet and a 9-inch quiche dish or pie pan with cooking spray.
3. Saute the squash, asparagus, and garlic in the skillet over medium-low heat for 3-4 minutes, or until crisp-tender, stirring occasionally. Set aside.
4.  In a medium bowl, stir together the cooked rice, eggs, salt, pepper paprika and nutmeg. Press the mixture over the bottom and up the side of the quiche dish. Bake for 5 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack. Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F.
5. In a medium bowl, stir together the milk, and the asparagus, squash. Pour into the hot rice crust. Sprinkle with the cheese. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Transfer to a cooling rack and let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Chilled Yogurt Wheat Berry Soup (Soguk Yogurt Corbasi)

Wheat berry, is not a berry at all, but it refers to the entire wheat kernel. They retain all their original goodness, including B vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber. I usually double the amount of the berries and freeze the half for the second time because I can never have enough of this soup.
Wheat berries are so versatile you can also use these berries for a delicious salad with a crunchy texture, or even for a fiber packed breakfast! Just add some cranberries, raisins and nuts (pecans, walnuts, or hazelnuts) with a drizzle of honey or maple syrup or maple-yogurt combination and voilà! you won't go back to your instant oatmeal again. It is chewy, nuty and so versatile...go ahead and give these humble berries a chance they won't dissappoint you whether with a sweet combination or savory!

1 cup soft wheat berries
1/2 cup dry chickpeas or 1 cup canned, drained and rinsed (optional)
1 (32 oz) plain non fat yogurt, (strained yogurt is the best for this recipe)
1 tsp dried-mint flakes or finely chopped fresh mint
1 tsp dried oregano (optional)
1 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
olive oil (garnish)


1. Soak berries (and chickpeas if you are using) overnight, keep in the refrigerator to avoid fermentation. You will need 3 cups of water for 1 cup of berries.
2. In a large pot over medium-high heat. Bring berries to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer, covered, until plump and chewy (and a few of the berries split open), about 30 min. (it takes about an hour or longer if you skipped the first step and didn't soak them overnight). The berries will  be chewy, taste a few to make sure they are cooked. Drain and set aside. (If you are using chickpeas, cook the chickpeas with the berries, if you are using canned version add them 10 min. after you add the berries)
3. Let the berries cool.
4. Add the yogurt and stir to combine.
5. Sprinkle dried mint flakes and serve with a drizzle of olive oil and savor every bit of it!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Chickpea Curry (Channa Masala or Chole)

I love this recipe because it is very easy to make, I always try to have my ingredients at hand so I can prep a healthy and nutritious meal in no time. A well stocked pantry is your biggest tool for saving yourself from saturated fat and sodium loaded restaurant meals which will in turn allow you to spend the money you save on healthy and wholesome ingredients. For chickpeas I always try to use dry chickpeas soak the entire package overnight and freeze them so I can have extra for the next time and I just thaw them overnight in the refrigerator. It takes more time but canned chickpeas have more sodium whereas there is virtually no added sodium with the dry version, but it is still ok to use them, I still have couple of them in my pantry just in case if I am in a hurry. Just make sure to drain and rinse well if you are using canned version. 

Just a quick note about the health benefits: If you're wondering how to replace red meat in your menus, become a fan of chickpeas also known as garbanzo beans. When combined with whole grains such as rice, garbanzos provide virtually fat-free high quality protein. In addition to providing slow burning complex carbohydrates, garbanzos can increase your energy by helping to replenish your iron stores.

1 cup dry chickpeas or 2 (14 oz) canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 (16 oz) canned tomatoes, petite diced
1 tbs mild red pepper paste (optional)
2 tbsp canola oil
1 onion, petite diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp mustard seed
1 dried chili, or 1/2 tsp chili flakes
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp paprika
1 tbsp of ground coriander
2 tbsp curry powder
1 tbsp salt, or to taste
1 tbsp chopped cilantro for garnish (optional)


1. Heat oil in a large pot and add onions and garlic and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes.

2. If using red pepper paste add the paste and stir for 2-3 min. and then add the tomatoes and all of the spices and stir to combine. Add the chickpeas and cook, stirring occasionally for about 30-35 minutes. Serve with bread or basmati rice. Add cilantro for garnish if using.

This recipe is my third submission for this month's My Legume Love Affair, one of my favorite events brought by Susan from the Well Seasoned Cook and hosted by A Little Bit of Spain in Iowa

Sunday, June 20, 2010

South of the Border Cravings and My Cuban Inspired Black Bean Chili

Well, most people associate chili with cold winter nights, not me! I can have my chili any time of the year regardless of the weather, no matter how hot it is! It is not only a delicious meal but also very nutritious. I love to eat and cook chili so much I don't even look for recipes, this is my latest invention I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. It has a spicy kick to it,  adjust the seasonings and use less, if you like yours mild.  

1 cup dry black beans or 2 (14 oz) canned, drained and rinsed
1lb chicken breast, cubed
1 (16 oz) canned tomatoes, petite diced
2 ts Serrano peppers; chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 large onion, diced
1/2 cup grilled corn, removed from cob
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground jalapeno
1 teaspoon hot paprika
1 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
1 teaspoon cayenne chile powder
1 tbspoon cumin (you can use less if you like)
juice of 1/2 lime
pinch salt

1. If you are using dry beans soak them overnight. If you are using canned beans drain and rinse well.
2. Heat the oil in a pot and saute the onion until translucent. Add the garlic and stir for 2 min. until fragrant.then remove the onion and garlic from the pan and set aside
3. Add the chicken and saute until slightly brown. Add the peppers and saute until soft, add the onions back.Add the beans and cook for 3-4 min. stirring occasionally.  Add the tomatoes, corn, lime juice and spices and stir to combine. 
4. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 25-35 minutes. Uncover and simmer for an additional 20 minutes or until the liquid has reduced

This recipe my second submission for this month's My Legume Love Affair, one of my favorite events brought by Susan from the Well Seasoned Cook and hosted by A Little Bit of Spain in Iowa

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Soup for the Soul - Paula's Chicken Noodle Soup

There are people who come into our lives, and you just can't help but wonder, are they real or did God send one of His angels down to earth just to help me?  Paula is one these people, she is just naturally selfless. On May 18th, I had a knee surgery and was feeling very grumpy afterwards, I guess it was more because of not being able to move as much. My poor husband should be a saint for putting up with me. During that time what really lifted up my spirits most was Paula's soothing Chicken Noodle Soup! it had a more calming effect on me than all the strong pain killers I was on. Not just her delicious soup but she also send me her decadent mint frosted brownies and famous zucchini bread that my daughter loves so much. I really tried so hard no to finish all of the brownies before our little one comes from school!  

Did I tell you she was my daughter's preschool teacher? and she bakes for her students snack time, she acts like she is doing nothing extraordinary but others around her know what special person she is. We need teachers like Paula for our children, we need people who are there when you needed it most, we need to be more like Paula.

I will post the recipe as soon as I get my hands on it!

Artichokes with Fava Bean Purée (Favali Zeytinyagli Enginar)

The magic beans that grew overnight into a beanstalk that reached into the clouds could be fava beans. Fava Beans or Broad Beans (actually a member of the pea family) are among the world's oldest cultivated beans.You might consider making these under-appreciated beans a more frequent addition to your diet, especially if you are seeking more fiber in your diet.

Fava beans are especially high in fiber (85% of the RDV), and also high in iron (30% of a day's requirement), and very low in sodium. Additionally, they contain no cholesterol and are low in fat. While the nutrition and health benefits of fava beans are quite impressive, they are also countered by the fact that favas do contain 50 grams of total carbohydrates and almost 300 calories per 3/4 cup serving. Fava beans are also noted to contain L-dopa, which is used as a drug for the treatment of Parkinson's disease. Additionally, as with most whole grains, consumption of fava beans can help reduce risks associated with heart disease.

Not convinced yet? their buttery texture and nutty taste makes it worth time consuming prep time! It is actually fun too, I shelled them together with my five year old daughter! A real playdate for both of us!

1 lb peeled artichoke bottoms (7-8 pieces) or 1 lb frozen or 2 canned artichoke bottoms
1 lb fresh or frozen fava beans, shelled
1 onion, petite diced
2 tbsp dried mint flakes or 1/2 bunch fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
juice of 2 lemons
1/3 cup olive oil
1 bunch dill, chopped
1  1/2 tbsp sugar

1. Heat 2 tbs olive oil in a pan. Stir in onion, saute until translucent.
2. Add fava beans, mint, and half of dill. Stir for 3-4 minutes. Seal the pot with aluminum foil and place the lid. Cook on medium for 30 minutes or until beans are cooked. When they are cooked mash the beans and let them cool.
3.In a separate broad pot,  Add lemon juice, sugar, and hot water. Place artichokes in the pot: pointy sides facing up. Cook for 20 -25 min until artichokes are tender. Once you turn it off, sprinkle salt. Let artichokes cool in the pot.
4. When they're not hot anymore place artichokes on a serving plate and stuff them with fava bean puree.
5.Garnish with dill on top.

* Optional: You can also add one medium carrot to fava bean puree, if you like.
This recipe my first submission for this month's My Legume Love Affair, one of my favorite events brought by Susan from the Well Seasoned Cook and hosted by A Little Bit of Spain in Iowa

Friday, June 18, 2010

Malaysian Chicken Curry in Coconut Milk

1 lb chicken breast, cubed
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon canalo oil
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1 tbsp. chili powder
2 tbsp. curry powder
1 tbsp. paprika
1 tsp. cumin
1 (16 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 (14 ounce) can low fat coconut milk
1 teaspoon salt
1 lb. potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks

1. Heat the oil in a pot and saute the onion until translucent, add the garlic, saute for another 1 minute and set aside.
2. Add the chicken and continue cooking for 5 minutes and then add the onion and all the spices and stir.
3.Add the potatoes. Let cook until chicken and potatoes are tender. Add the remaining ingredients. Stir coconut milk well before adding.
4. Serve over Jasmine rice and enjoy!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Coconut-Almond Crusted Mahi Mahi

My initial intention was to prepare a macadamia nut crusted mahi mahi but my husband and macadamia nuts cannot co-exist in the same environment! Therefore, I had to find another way so I decided on almonds. Then I searched for the right recipe, and none of the recipes did sound appealing to me. So I came up with my own recipe and to my surprise the pickiest member of our family, my five year old daugher asked for more!

4 mahi mahi fillets
1/2 cup low fat coconut milk
1/2 cup chopped almonds
1/3 cup cornmeal
1 tbs fresh ginger
4 lemon wedges for serving
salt, pepper


1. Place mahi mahi fillets in a large container and cover with coconut milk, marinate for 30 min to 1 hour.
2. Preheat the oven to 425F.
3. In a food processor combine almonds, cornmeal, fresh ginger and salt and peppermix until combined
4. Lightly oil a wire rack large enough to hold fillets in a single layer. Place the rack on a baking sheet and set aside.
5. Divide the nut mixture among the tops of the fillets, patting the mixture to spread and adhere to the fillets.spray tops with olive oil
6. Set on the prepared rack; they should not touch. Bake until lightly browned on the outside and opaque in the center, about 15 min. Serve hot.

Celeriac and Sweet Potatoes in Olive Oil? Refreshing!

This is my diversified version of a classic Turkish olive oil dish, celery root in olive oil. Although it is best in the fall and can be found all winter, I can't resist buying celeriac even when it is out of season. Since all Turkish olive oil dishes are served cold, they are great for summer, and this dish is no exception. It is very light, and tasty. The classic version of this dish does not include sweet potatoes. I wasn't sure what to expect but the end result turned out much better than I hoped! Tanginess of fresh orange juice and peas with the sweetness of carrots and potatoes combined with nuttiness of the celeriac just one word refreshing! 

1 medium size celery root (Usually, a 1 pound celeriac will yield about two cups once peeled and sliced or grated)
1 pound frozen mixed peas and carrots ( or 1/2 pound green peas and 2 medium carrots, petite diced)
1 big onion, diced
1 large sweet potato, peeled
1 potato, peeled
1 cup orange juice (try to use fresh if you can)
Juice of a half lemon
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tbsp sugar
1 bunch dill, chopped
1 cup water
Serves 6

1. Brush the celeriac under cold water, since it may still have bits of soil stuck between the roots.
2. Peel and cut the celery root in half inch rounds and place immediately in a bowl of iced water with the lemon juice added since the peeled celery root darkens pretty fast.
3. Cut the potato and sweet potato in half inch rounds, set aside.
4. Heat  two tbs oil in a pan and saute the onion until translucent for about 3 min. Remove the onion.
5. In a broad pot heat the rest of the olive oil and place the celeriac and potato rounds.Put the onions on top.
6.Add peas and carrots, sugar, salt, orange juice, 1 cup water and cook on a low heat for 30-35 minutes.
7.Let cool in the pot with the lid on. Garnish with fresh dill and enjoy!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Blueberry Bliss

Just about everyone knows that blueberries are nutrional stars. The health benefits of blueberries seem almost endless so I am not going to try to list them here. These phytonutrient superstars are bursting with flavor. Take my advice have some Bluebery Bliss and start your day in a state of profound satisfaction, in terms of health and joy!

1 cup skim milk
1 cup frozen unsweetened blueberries
1 medium banana (frozen)
1 Tbsp cold-pressed organic flaxseed oil

Place milk and frozen banana and unsweetened blueberries in blender and blend for 1 minute. Transfer to glass, and stir in flaxseed oil.

This recipe is my submission for "Show me your smoothie!" hosted by Divya.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Barley Risotto with Mushrooms & Gremolata

I don't think I will ever use arborio rice for risotto again. I used mix of fresh and dried mushrooms, smokiness of the dried mushrooms and barley's robust and nutty flavor combined with fresh lemon zest, parsley and garlic leaves a rich and pleasant taste on your palate.


For the gremolata:

1/3 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons grated lemon zest
1 tablespoons finely chopped garlic

For the barley risotto:

1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms, rinsed
1 cup hot water
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound assorted fresh mushrooms (such as morels, shiitakes, oyster, or chanterelles), sliced 1/4-inch thick
2 teaspoons kosher salt; more to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
6 to 7 cups homemade or low-salt canned chicken or vegetable broth
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cups pearled barley


To make the gremolata: In a small bowl, mix together the parsley, lemon zest, and garlic.

To make the risotto:

1. Soak the porcini in the hot water for at least 30 minutes. Strain the liquid through a fine sieve and reserve. Chop the porcini into small pieces.
2. In a large saute pan with straight sides, heat the oil over high heat until shimmering but not smoking. Saute the sliced fresh mushrooms until they release some liquid and are browned, about 5 minutes.
3. Stir in the porcini and the reserved liquid, scraping up any browned bits. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer the mushrooms and liquid to a bowl.
4. In a saucepan, bring the broth to a boil, reduce the heat, partially cover, and hold at a simmer. In the pan used for the mushrooms, melt the butter over medium heat.
5. Add the onion and cook until tender and translucent, 8 to 10 minutes. Add 2 teaspoons coarse salt and the barley, and stir until the grains are coated with butter.
6.  Add 1 cup of the hot broth, reduce the heat to low, and stir frequently until the broth is absorbed. Stir in another cup of broth. Once it's absorbed, add 1 more cup, stirring until it's also absorbed. Add 2 more cups and simmer the barley, stirring frequently, until it softens but isn't completely tender and the liquid is almost absorbed, about 10 minutes. Stir in the cooked mushrooms and their liquid and 1 to 2 more cups of broth. Simmer until the barley is tender, about 10 minutes more, stirring frequently and adding hot water or broth if needed.
The total cooking time for the barley can range from 30 to 60 minutes. Stir in the gremolata and adjust the seasonings to taste. Serve hot.

Recipe is adapted from Fine Cooking Magazine, May 1, 2002. pp 62

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Strawberry-Rhubarb Crumble with Oatmeal Almond Topping

Serve with ice cream, frozen yogurt or soy ice cream for delightful family memories. Your kids will thank you!

Rhubarb Filling
2 lb. rhubarb, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, or 2 16-oz pkgs. frozen rhubarb
1/2 cup fresh strawberries
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbs. cornstarch
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Oatmeal Topping
1/3 cup rolled oats
1/3 cup cornmeal
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup Sliced Almonds
2 Tbs. canola oil
1/2 tsp. minced fresh ginger

1.Preheat oven to 400F. Coat 9x13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.

2.To make Rhubarb Filling: Toss together all ingredients in glass or other nonreactive bowl. Let stand 15 minutes to release juices.

3.To make Oatmeal Topping: Place all ingredients in bowl of food processor and pulse until mixture is chunky and begins to hold together.

4.Spoon rhubarb mixture into prepared baking dish with slotted spoon, leaving any liquid in bowl. Discard liquid. Top with oatmeal mixture. Bake 35 to 40 minutes, until top is lightly browned. Cool on rack 10 minutes before serving.

Recipe is adapted from one of my favorite magazines, Vegetarian Times Issue: March 1, 2007 p.73

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Creamy, Rich, Decadent, Easy and Healthy! Miniature Tofu Chocolate Pudding

I believe a good chef is a person who does not use a lot of butter, corn syrup, or ton of salt to enhance the flavor of a dish. To me the real deal is when you use all natural unprocessed ingredients and cook the nature intended way. That is why I love Nava Atlas, not only her recipes taste great but they are also healthy. This  terrific chocolate pudding is an example of her nourishing recipes . It does not taste low fat or low cal at all. We all enjoyed so much.

16-ounce tub silken tofu
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (I shaved %85 Dark Chocolate into small pieces)
3 to 4tablespoons maple syrup, or to taste
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, optional

1. Puree the tofu in a food processor or blender until completely smooth.
2. Transfer to a small saucepan and add the chocolate chips.
3.  Cook over medium low heat, stirring often, until the chocolate chips have melted.
4. Stir in the maple syrup and optional vanilla.
5. Allow to cool completely, then serve at room temperature and feel good!

Recipe is adapted from In a Vegetarian Kitchen by Nava Atlas for the original recipe go to

Monday, May 24, 2010

Grilled miso chicken (tori misoyaki) with Sauteed Broccoli Rabe

Miso (pronounced MEE-so) may be one of the World's Healthiest Foods you haven't tried, but it's easy to boost your nutrition by incorporating this health-promoting flavor-enhancer into your meals. WholeFoods
Miso has a sweet, salty base and, it eliminates the need to add salt while adding a complex, rich flavor to this dish. 


2 tablespoons light low sodium soy sauce (usukuchi shoyu)
2 tablespoons sake (optional)
2 tablespoons mirin (you can also use rice vinegar)
2 tablespoons light miso
2 green onions, crushed and slivered
1 teaspoon minced ginger root
1 garlic clove, minced
2 boneless chicken breast, (skin intact optional)
1 tablespoon seven-spice powder (optional)
Key to Delicious Miso Chicken: Before you start cooking, check the saltiness of the miso you are using. If it is a very salty type, you will want to cut down on the amount of miso. Taste your miso - if it’s mild enough that you can probably eat it as-is, then use the amount specified. If it’s too salty, cut down on the amount.


1. Blend soy sauce, sake mirin, miso, green onions, ginger root and garlic in a rectangular baking dish. Coat chicken with mixture. Marinate 1 hour or refrigerate overnight, turning several times.

2. Preheat a hibichi, portable tabletop grill or charcoal grill. (You can also broil the chicken) Shake marinade off chicken; pat dry. Place skin-down on hot grill. Grill 4 to 5 minutes. Turn chicken; grill second side 4 to 5 minutes or until golden brown and done inside. When chicken is done, sprinkle with sesame seeds and spice mixture.

Recipe is adapted from Japanese Cooking for the American Table by Susan Fuller Slack

Sauteed Broccoli Rabe

2 pounds broccoli rabe, trimmed and rinsed
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves minced garlic
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper
1 lemon, zested
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan Cheese (optional)
Anchoives (optional)

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Drop broccoli rabe into boiling water for 1 to 3 minutes until tender and bright green. Drain well in a colander and set aside. Don't skip the blanching step or the rabe will be quite bitter.

In a large sauté pan heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes, sauté for 30 seconds. Do not allow the garlic to brown. (You can also sautee anchovies, and mash into paste). Add the broccoli rabe and heat through. Season with salt and pepper. Top with the lemon zest and Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Berrylicious Rhubarb Parfaits

I felt like a little kid with a new toy when I spotted the fresh rhubarb at our farmers market last week. Just like waiting for the release of a latest toy I have been waiting for the peak rhubarb season!  I exaggerated a little bit and bought a  lot more than we needed, my husband was happy, hoping for a delicious strawberry rhubarb pie. He even got me a new pie dish -Paula Deen's line, the queen of country style pies. Even though she has great tasting recipes, Paula Deen uses a lot of butter just like Julia Child.

With all due respect to these great chefs, I don't believe natural fresh ingredients need ton of butter to enhance the flavor. So I have been looking for low fat rhubarb dessert recipes, a recipe that doesn't include too much butter to overwhelm the tanginess of the fresh rhubarb and the sweetness of the strawberries. It took longer than I thought, for couple of days my rhubarb and I were staring at each other, I started to panic fearing that I won't be able to use them when they are still fresh but finally my quest is over and it was worth the wait! This parfait is simple, delicious and gives a pleasantly fresh flavor. If you don't have time to make the vanilla pudding at home you can also use 1 qt. vanilla soy ice cream (or low-fat plain yogurt). I still promise the classic pie to my husband but he has to wait until I achieve my goal of perfect low fat pie crust!


3/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 lb. rhubarb, about 6 medium stalks, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (4 cups) Field-grown rhubarb have a more predominant flavor than hothouse. Generally, the redder the stalk, the less sweetener is needed. If it is stringy, just remove the tough strings as you would with celery
1 medium orange, juiced and zest grated (1/3 cup juice; 2 Tbs. zest)
2 tsp. grated fresh ginger
1/3 cup mixed berries, fresh or frozen

For Low Fat Vanilla Pudding

2 cups 1% low-fat milk or soy milk
3 tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons maple syrup or honey
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or vanilla bean


1. Place 4 large parfait glasses or wine glasses in freezer to chill.

2. Combine all ingredients for the pudding except vanilla in a saucepan (if you are using vanilla bean, put the seeds and the bean in with the milk and strain it after the boil). Stir well to eliminate lumps. Heat to boiling over medium heat, about 7 minutes. Boil for 1 minute stirring constantly. Stir in vanilla extract. 

3. Spread rhubarb in single layer in large skillet, and heat over medium heat. When rhubarb sizzles, cover and cook 2 to 3 minutes without stirring. Remove lid, and cook 1 to 2 minutes more, or until liquid is evaporated and rhubarb is tender, but not mushy. Rhubarb can quickly cook down into a syrupy liquid, so keep an eye on it to retain some texture for this recipe. Add the berry mixture and transfer to bowl.

3. If you sweeten rhubarb after it is cooked, you will need less sweetener therefore combine maple syrup, orange juice, orange zest, and ginger in small saucepan, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 7 minutes, or until mixture is syrupy. Fold syrup into rhubarb. Cool.

4. Scoop 1/4 cup vanilla pudding or soy ice cream into bottom of each chilled wine glass. Top with 1/4 cup rhubarb mixture and another 1/4-cup scoop ice cream. Divide remaining rhubarb mixture among glasses. Enjoy!