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!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Roasted Asparagus with Tangerine Dressing

Simple, fresh and delicious. I served it as a side with miso glazed salmon and the combination was great. This would be a great dish for entertaining, especially since you can do it ahead of time. You can also grill the asparagus. Just be careful not to over cook the asparagus. Thinner asparagus cooks faster than thicker asparagus.

1 pound asparagus, trimmed
1 teaspoon olive oil (preferably extra-virgin)
2 large tangerines or small oranges
1/3 cup fresh tangerine juice or orange juice
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons oriental sesame oil
1 1/2 teaspoons grated tangerine peel or orange peel
1 garlic clove, pressed
3/4 teaspoon minced peeled fresh ginger
2 tablespoons finely chopped green onion tops
2 tablespoons finely chopped dry-roasted peanuts ( I used sliced almonds)


1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Place asparagus in medium bowl. Pour enough cold water over asparagus to cover; let stand 15 minutes. Drain. (Soaking them first keeps them from drying out)

2. Spread asparagus in 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan; drizzle with oil. Roast asparagus until crisp-tender, turning occasionally, about 10 minutes. Transfer asparagus to platter; cool.

3. Using sharp knife, cut peel and white pith from tangerines. Cut between membranes to release segments. Arrange tangerine segments atop asparagus.

4.  Whisk tangerine juice, vinegar, sesame oil, peel, garlic and ginger in small bowl to blend. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper. Drizzle over asparagus. Sprinkle with green onion tops and peanuts (or almonds) and serve.

Recipe is adapted from Epicurious,

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Miso Glazed Salmon with Roasted Asparagus

Try this recipe and you will be addicted, instead of heavy butter loaded complex sauces, this healthy and easy recipe is offering a flavor intensive meal.  For a healthier meal and the best flavor try to get wild caught salmon. It feeds largely on krill, which gives it the lovely pink color.  In contrast, farmed salmon are fed pigments to achieve their ruby glow. Farmed salmon are also fed antibiotics to keep them healthy while living in a confined space. Check out previously frozen coho salmon in the fish case at your neighborhood market. Wild caught Alaskan coho salmon is readily available.


1 tablespoon sesame seeds
2 tablespoons sweet white miso paste,
2 tablespoons mirin, (Japanese rice wine)
1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce, or tamari
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
A few drops hot pepper sauce (optional)
1 1/4 pounds center-cut salmon fillet, cut into 4 portions*
2 tablespoons thinly sliced scallions
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, or parsley

* I added 1 tbs sesame oil and 1 tbs honey to the above ingredients and used organic rice vinegar instead of mirin since the ones I could find our grocery store included corn syrup.


1.Position oven rack in upper third of oven; preheat broiler. Line a small baking pan with foil. Coat foil with cooking spray.

2.Toast sesame seeds in a small dry skillet over low heat, stirring constantly, until fragrant, 3 to 5 minutes. Set aside.

3.Whisk miso, mirin, soy sauce (or tamari), ginger and hot pepper sauce in a small bowl until smooth.

4.Place salmon fillets, skin-side down, in the prepared pan. Brush generously with the miso mixture. Broil salmon, 3 to 4 inches from the heat source, until opaque in the center, 6 to 8 minutes.

5.Transfer the salmon to warmed plates and garnish with the reserved sesame seeds, scallions and cilantro (or parsley).

Recipe is adapted from The Essential EatingWell Cookbook, 2004.

Whole Wheat Sweet Potato Biscuits

Tips for making light and fluffy biscuits:

- Do not overwork the dough and do not knead. Kneading creates gluten, which act like elastic bands, if you over work you will get a small, unrisen, chewy biscuit.

- Don't puree the sweet potato in a food processor, which can cause the potato to become gummy, use a fork or potato masher instead

- Add about 1/2 tsp vinegar to the sweet potato as you mash it. You won't taste the vinegar. It will just help the baking powder do it's job.

- Use fresh baking soda.


1 3/4 cups all-purpose or self-rising flour, plus more for kneading and shaping ( I used white whole wheat)
2 tablespoons light-brown sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder(if you are using self rising flour omit the baking powder)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
6 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter,cut into pieces, (I used only 3 tablespoon non-hydrogenated organic shortening )
plus 1/2 tablespoon melted butter and more for pan (optional)
3/4 cup Sweet-Potato Puree, chilled
1/3 cup low fat buttermilk
1/4 tsp cream of tarter (optional)


1.Make the dough: In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. With a pastry blender or two knives, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal, with some pea-sized lumps of butter remaining.

Cutting in the butter makes for flaky, delicate biscuits. Be sure to stop cutting in the butter while there are still pebble-sized pieces. If you work it longer, the biscuits will be tough.

In a small bowl, whisk together sweet potato puree and buttermilk; stir quickly into flour mixture until combined (do not over mix).

2.Shape the biscuits: Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface, and knead very gently until dough comes together but is still slightly lumpy, five or six times. (If dough is too sticky, work in up to 1/4 cup additional flour.) Shape into a disk, and pat to an even 1-inch thickness. With a floured 2-inch biscuit cutter, cut out biscuits as close together as possible. Gather together scraps, and repeat to cut out more biscuits (do not reuse scraps more than once).

3.Bake the biscuits: Preheat oven to 425 degrees. with rack on lower shelf. Butter an 8-inch cake pan. Arrange biscuits snugly in pan (to help them stay upright). Brush with melted butter (I skipped this step). Bake until golden, rotating once, 20 to 24 minutes.

Serving Suggestions:

You can flavor your sweet potatoes with cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla while they are boiling  or add herbs or raisins. I am planning to add fresh chives to the dough next time I make it because I like them savory. You can also serve them with honey/maple butter, or basil butter. I think it can be great as chicken pot pie topping too.
(Recipe is adapted from Everyday Food, November 2003)

Monday, May 17, 2010

Sheraton Maui Macadamia Nut Pineapple Banana Bread

This tantalizing bread was so delicious it was all gone before I could take a picture of it. I will post the picture as soon as I make another one. But you don't have to wait for the picture to believe how delicious it was, just try it, I promise you won't regret!

1/2 cup water (I used 1/3)
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar ( I used only 1 cup)
3 eggs
1 1/4 cups oil ( I used only 1/2 cup canola)
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (I used white whole wheat)
1 1/4 cups over-ripe banana, mashed
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup macadamia nuts, chopped (or hazelnuts but not walnuts)
1 1/4 cups crushed fresh pineapple, drained

1. Mix oil and sugar together thoroughly. Add bananas, eggs and water.
2. Sift dry ingredients and blend into mixture; DO NOT over-mix.
3. Dust macadamia nuts with flour.
4. Fold dusted macadamia nut and pineapples into mixture.
5. Lightly grease and paper line three mini loaf pans.
6. Pour batter into loaf pans.
7. Bake at 350 degrees F for 1 hour or until firm.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Muffins with No butter, No Oil, Zero Bad Fat? Yes! Pineapple Sweet Potato Muffins

What is the last thing that a person with a meniscus tear should be doing? Baking:-) and that is what I am exactly doing, despite the knee injury and mandatory rest, I just can't sit and do nothing. To me even reading my magazines or surfing on the web has to be earned! and you can only cook certain amount of meals for a family of three. I have been avoiding baking for a long time, not that I don't enjoy or like baked goods just because it is usually fattening. For this reason I have been resisting to own a bread machine at home, I know we will be consuming far more baked goods than we actually need.  To me wholesome baking is still a challenge, but it is definitely worth trying, especially when your five year old daughter has very strong preferences about food:-) 

The great thing about this recipe is that absolutely no butter, or oil included! Usually most muffin recipes are loaded up with butter and I personally think if you put that much butter anything will taste good:-). We all liked the muffins, they turned out more moist than regular coffee house ones but hey I don't mind since there is no fat and crazy amount of calories involved.


½ cup egg beaters (or 2 eggs)
2/3 cup sugar
2 cups white whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 Tbs flax seed
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup sweet potatoes, pureed
1 cup crushed pineapple (I used fresh but if you are using can use 8 ounces), drained
1 teaspoon orange zest
1/3 or 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt


1. Preheat oven to 375°F. In a medium bowl combine sweet potatoes, pineapple, orange zest, eggs and
sugar. Stir until well combined. Stir in walnuts.
2. In a large bowl combine flour, powder, soda and salt.
3. Pour wet ingredients over dry ingredients and fold until dry ingredients are just moistened. Do not over
4.  Spray muffin tins with nonstick cooking spray. Spoon about 1/4 cup batter into each cup. Bake for 16 to 20 minutes.
This recipe is the winner of Louisiana cooking 2005 sweet rewards recipe contest for the original recipe see:

Friday, May 14, 2010

Recipe for Health - Miso Soup with Shiitake Mushrooms

This version of the miso recipe includes shiitake mushrooms, which help improve immune function and lower cholesterol levels. Once you have all the ingredients at hand it is really easy to make and it is worth making it yourself not only for the health benefits but also it taste better than the restaurant version and much healthier than the powdered version. You can find all the ingredients at health food stores, or Asian markets.

Key to great tasting miso soup: When you add miso into dashi, put miso in a ladle and stir it with some dashi at first. If you skip this process, the miso won't dissolve well. Add miso little by little. Don't add any salt since miso and soy sauce is salty, especially if you want a low-sodium soup. Never boil the soup after putting miso into the dashi. It spoils the flavor of the miso.

2 Tbsp dried wakame*
3 c water
1 packet (0.75 oz) dashi stock base (such as Dashi Moto)*
2 Tbsp white miso*
1 12 oz package silken-firm tofu, drained and cut into cubes
1 c (about 3 oz) thinly sliced shiitake mushroom caps
1/4 c thinly sliced scallions, grated ginger, or thinly cut Japanese basil (optional)
1/2 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce

1. Soak wakame in warm water for 15 minutes or until fully rehydrated; drain.
2. In a large pot, bring water to a boil. Add dashi packet; reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes. Remove packet.
3. Ladle a half cup of dashi into a small bowl; whisk in miso and set aside.
4. Stir tofu and mushrooms into pot; simmer for 2 minutes. Stir in miso mixture, top with scallions and soy sauce, and serve immediately. Make sure to serve miso soup hot.

Wakame: A seaweed packed with the antioxidant compound fucoxanthin.

Dashi: It's pretty much the chicken bouillon of Japan. Made from dried fish flakes and seaweed, dashi is what gives miso soup its signature subtle fish flavor and light amber color. There are actually several types of dashi other than the fish based one, for example: Konbu Dashi - Konbu is dried kelp which is a vegetarian stock or Shiitake Dashi(made by soaking dried shiitake mushrooms in water)which is also vegetarianDashi comes in three forms, all of which can be used to whip up instant miso: powdered, liquid concentrate, and stuffed in a handy packet like the one used in the recipe above.

Miso: If the package is not opened, miso can be preserved at room temperature. Once you use miso, keep it in a refrigerator and seal the package with plastic wrap. Finish miso as soon as possible.

Usually miso and tofu are not the first things that come to mind when it comes to legume kinds, that is why I thought this recipe is a good candidate as a submission for My Legume Love Affair - which is back at home this month at, The Well-Seasoned Cook.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Soupe du Jour - Red Lentil Soup (Mercimek Corbasi)

This soup is a staple of %99 Turkish Restaurant menus and almost all Turkish home kitchens for good reason. It is not only very healthy but also very delicious. It is beautiful in its simplicity and mild flavor. There are several variations of this soup, the recipe for the different variations will follow this one as they are all tasty.


1 cup red lentils
2 tbs butter (I prefer canola oil to make it healthier)
1 medium size onion, diced
1 medium carrot, diced
1 medium potato, diced
1 tbsp tomato paste
6 cups of water
1 tsp salt


1. Wash well and drain the lentils, set aside.
2. Heat the oil in a pan and saute the onion until translucent, add tomato paste and stir for 2-3 min. 
3.  Add the rest of the ingredients, lentils, carrot, potato and salt cook on medium heat for 30-35 min. or until the lentils are soft. if you are using pressure cooker, cook for 15 min. Remove any froth that may rise to top. Stir frequently to prevent the mixture from sticking to the bottom of the pan
4. You can transfer the soup to a blender or use a hand blender and puree.
5. Serve with crusty whole wheat baguette, or croutons with a squeeze of lemon juice on top

Optional Sauce:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter or olive oil, about 1/3 teaspoon paprika and 1/3 dried mint. Heat the butter or oil in a sauce pan. Add the paprika or crushed red pepper and dried mint flakes and stir for 1 min. Remove from the heat and  drizzle over soup and serve.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Strawberry Smoothie for Breakfast and Smoothie Cake for Tea Time

It doesn't have to be mother's day to remind our loved ones how much we appreciate them. This Sunday grab mom's favorite magazines and make her a healthy smoothie or a fruit platter for breakfast. And if you have leftover smoothies or fruits  incorporate them into the following cake recipe and serve it with tea for a great afternoon snack.

Strawberry Smoothie

1 cup frozen (or 6 fresh) strawberries
1 medium banana, cut into 1 inch pieces (preferably frozen)
1 cup vanilla rice milk, or soy milk or low fat milk
1/3 cup orange juice
1 1/2 teaspoons honey (optional)

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend at high speed until smooth.

Spontaneous Smoothie Cake

The following cake recipe is not a conventional one; it is the outcome of  my efforts to use leftover smoothies and fruit platters. Why not enjoy the fruits and leftover smoothies in a different form? Re-using is better for the environment than recycling, of course you can compost your leftover fruits but here is a better way to use them. I know when baking exact measurements are very important, but depending on the amount of fruit or smoothie you have, you can adjust the amount of flour. The batter should  not be too watery or too thick.  The goal for this cake is to re-use leftover nutrient rich fruits, the cake will be moist with a pleasing fruity flavor.

2 cups whole wheat flour
2 eggs
1/2 honey or 1 cup sugar
leftover fruits approx. 1 1/2 cup (I had sliced banana, orange, strawberry, and pineapple)
leftover smoothie1 or 1/2 cup (any type)
1 tsp vanilla extract (use only pure vanilla extract to avoid added corn syrup)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
1/4 cup canola oil
1/3 cup walnuts or sliced almonds
1/3 cup dried cranberries


1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease and flour one 9x13 inch pan. Mix together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon set aside. If you are using fruits or both fruits and smoothie put them into a blender with honey, sugar, vanilla and oil blend all the ingredients for 1 min.

2. Add the fruit mixture in a large bowl. Add eggs one at a time, beating thoroughly after each addition. Add flour mixture alternately with fruit mixture, beating just to combine. Finally, stir in walnuts and dried cranberries. Pour batter into the prepared pan.

3. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 40 to 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.

Strawberry Glaze

If you like you can add a touch of strawberry glaze made with fresh strawberries with no added butter and corn syrup just the flavor of fresh strawberries.  

2 cups ripe strawberries, washed and hulled
1/3 cup agave nectar (1/2 cup or sugar)
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch, dissolved in 1/4 cup cold water*
1 teaspoons lemon juice (optional)

Crush the strawberries and place in a saucepan with sugar, water, salt and cornstarch. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 2 minutes, stirring constantly as it thicken it will turn clearer. Cool slightly before serve.

If you don't have cornstarch at home you can just add 3 tablespoons vanilla pudding. You don't need to add agave nectar if you are using vanilla pudding.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Bulgur Pilaf with Lentils and Sun Dried Tomatoes (Mercimekli Bulgur Pilavi)

Two fiber all stars: Green Lentils and Bulgur, together they create a palate pleasing, healthy meal. This is a great recipe if you want to boost your fiber intake.

• 1/4 cup or 3 tbs olive oil
• 1 big or 2 medium onion, diced
• 5-6 pieces dried tomatoes, roughly chopped
• 4-5 dried pepper (any variety can be used)
•1 tablespoon tomato paste
•1 cup bulgur
•1 cup green lentils
•2 cups boiling water
•1.5 teaspoon salt


1. Wash the lentils and put them in a pot, add just enough water to cover the lentils and cook until they are halfway cooked. Set aside.
2. Heat the oil in a different pan, add the onion and saute until the onions are translucent.
3. Stir in tomatoes and peppers and saute for 3 min.
4. Add the tomato paste and stir.
5. Stir in the lentils and bulgur. Add 2 cups of boiling water and salt.
6. Cook until all the water is absorbed.

This recipe is my second submission for My Legume Love Affair - which is back at home this month at, The Well-Seasoned Cook.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Kare/Japanese Curry

Have you tried Kare a.k.a Japanese Curry? The main differences from other curries is that Japanese curry is thickened with a roux and is sweeter due to the addition of fruit such as apples. Japanese Curry Roux combines spices that create a myriad of complex, layered flavors that will satisfy your taste buds. Since it is mild and not very spicy even my 5 year old daughter finished her plate:-) Thanks to my sister again, I used instant curry roux that she brought from Japan so the preparation was easy and quick. Don't worry if you don't have a sister studying in Japan to bring you instant curry roux, you can easily find this roux in asian markets or take a good look at your supermarket's ethnic section. Amongst the most common brands sold in the United States are Vermont Curry, made by House Foods Corporation., and Golden Curry, made by S&B Foods Inc. You can also make your own curry roux from scratch, since the instant version has more sodium it is more time consuming but better to do it your own. I will try to make it from scratch and post it as soon as I achieve a good result.

2 tablespoon oil
1 pound chicken breast (cut into bite sized pieces)
1 big onion, diced
1 large potato, cut into cubes
2 carrots, cut into cubes
2 potatoes, cut into cubes
1 box Japanese curry roux
750 ml water

1. Heat the oil in a large pot or wok.
2. Add the chicken and saute until brown then set the chicken aside.
3. Add the onions and saute until translucent.
4. Add the chicken, carrots, and potatoes and stir for 3 min.
5. Add water and bring to a boil. Simmer for about 20 minutes
6. Add the curry roux and stir until the roux is fully dissolved.
7. Because both the curry mix and the potatoes are starchy, add more water to achieve the consistency you like.

Try this dish with Japanese plum liqueur (Umeshu). Umeshu is made by soaking unripe ume plums in sugar and shochu (Japanese clear distilled spirit) which has an alcohol content of about 35%. Ume plums contain potassium and calcium, so umeshu is said to be a healthy drink. If you are looking for an aperitif to go with Japanese-style meals, umeshu is a good choice.

Or if you can find try with Sakura Wine, mild wine of the spring season with a mild cherry-leaf flavor. It has real cherry flowers inside the bottle of wine.

(Pictures from Japan are courtesy of my Dear Sister)

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Creamy Corn Chowder with Silken Tofu

Thanks to pureed silken tofu there is no need for heavy butter or cream in this recipe. This soup provides a light and tasty alternative for traditional corn chowder without the added fat and calories.

1 1/2 tablespoons light olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 large celery stalk, diced
2 medium carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
2 medium-large potatoes, peeled and finely diced
1 small red bell pepper, petite diced  (optional0
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 vegetable bouillon cubes
3 cups cooked fresh or thawed frozen corn kernels  or canned corn (rinsed)*
12.3-ounce package silken tofu, well pureed in a food processor or blender
soy milk, or rice milk, as needed (you can also use low fat milk)
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Chives for garnish


1. Heat the oil in a soup pot. Add the onion and celery and sauté over medium heat until golden. Add the carrots, potatoes, bouillon cube, and cumin, plus just enough water to cover. Bring to a simmer, then cover and simmer gently until the vegetables are tender, about 25 to 30 minutes.

2. Stir in the corn kernels and pureed tofu. Add just enough milk to give the soup a medium-thick  consistency. Season with salt and pepper and simmer for another 10 minutes over very low heat.

3. If time allows, let the soup stand off the heat for an hour or so before serving, then heat through as needed. Remove the bay leaves before serving.

* If you can get fresh ears of corn and slice the kernels off the cob, that will be even more flavorful. You’ll need about 6-7 ears to make 3-4 cups of kernels.

Recipe is adapted from  "In a vegetarian kitchen with Nava Atlas" for original recipe go to:

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Artichokes!! You either love them or you just haven’t had a great one yet! / Stuffed Artichoke Bottoms (Zeytinyagli Enginar)

It's peak artichoke season, if you love artichokes but hate cleaning them continue reading. The best thing about this recipe is that not only it tastes great, it is also very easy to make.

6 fresh artichoke bottoms, cleaned
If you don't want to spend time with cleaning fresh ones:
1 pack of frozen artichoke bottoms,
2 cans of artichoke bottoms
1/2 pound green peas
2 medium carrots, petite diced (I used 1 pound frozen mixed peas and carrots)
1 small potato petite diced
1 onion, chopped finely
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 cup water
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 bunch dill, chopped (you can also use dried dill if you don't have the fresh dill)*


1. Mix onions, peas, carrots, sugar, salt, and 1/4 bunch of dill in a bowl.
2. If you are using canned artichokes drain and rinse well. If using frozen thaw according to package directions then place the artichokes facing up in a broad pan.
3. Cover the artichokes with stuffing. Do not actually try to stuff them, just put the stuffing in the pot and cover the artichokes.
4. Mix olive oil, sugar and water and pour over the artichokes.
5. Cover and bring to a boil, then turn on low for another 25-30 minutes
6. Garnish with dill and serve when it is cold with lemon juice on top. I strongly suggest making this dish ahead since it tastes even better the next day!

* Dill is the must have ingredient in this recipe, it just doesn't taste complete without it, if you don't have fresh dill at home, either use dried ones or have another trip to grocery store, it is worth it.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Red Lentil Balls (Mercimek Koftesi)

This is a great vegeterian recipe that anyone can enjoy, it is great as an appetizer or a light summer time meal. Try this recipe and you will find out how red lentils and bulgur can create a very unique flavor in surprising harmony. Lentils, a small but nutritionally mighty member of the legume family, are a very good source of cholesterol-lowering fiber. Not only do lentils help lower cholesterol, they are of special benefit in managing blood-sugar disorders since their high fiber content prevents blood sugar levels from rising rapidly after a meal. But this is far from all lentils have to offer. Lentils also provide good to excellent amounts of six important minerals, two B-vitamins, and protein-all with virtually no fat.

1 1/2 cup red lentil
1 cup fine bulgur
2/3 cup olive oil
4 cups of water
1 big onion, petite diced
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tsp black pepper
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp red pepper paste
juice 1 lemon
1/3 bunch flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
1/2 bunch green onion, finely chopped
Romain Lettuce for serving

1. Wash the lentils and put them in a pan, bring to a boil and cook for 20 minutes, or until soft the water is almost absorbed.
2. Turn off the stove, and stir the bulgur into lentils. Add salt, cover and let the mixture rest for 15 minutes to allow the bulgur to soften and expand. Pay attention to the point that, when lentils are cooked, nearly all of the water should be absorbed or the mixture will be very watery and you won't be able to shape them.
3. In the mean time, heat the oil in a sauce pan and saute the petite diced onion, until translucent. Add tomato paste and red pepper paste cook for another 2 min. Add the cumin and black pepper and turn off the heat.
4. Add the onion mixture into the lentil and bulgur mixture stir and add the parsley and scallions. Stir until all the ingredients are mixed.
5. Take small pieces and shape them into balls. Serve on a lettuce bed, with pickled peppers and Shepherd salad.

This recipe is my first submission for My Legume Love Affair - which is back at home this month at, The Well-Seasoned  Cook.