Chilled Spiced Peach Mango Soup

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peach mango soup

Hot summer days like today beg for a chilled fruit soup recipe. Since mangoes and peaches are at their peek this season, I decided on a chilled spiced peach and mango soup. I’ve been through many chilled fruit soup recipes and nothing pleases the palate more than a bowl of chilled refreshing fruit soup. I am already approaching that stage where I limit my use of stoves and ovens. The idea of sweating in the process of preparing meals does not appeal to me in the least.  Yes we tend to be more stagnant when the temperature is hotter but I don’t make chilled fruit soups just for the mere convenience – I happen to love fruit soups (and I love taking shortcuts as well).

I also happen to love fresh peaches and mango – together or on their own. I routinely serve a hot bowl of soup but the weather changed my plans for me and not necessarily in a bad way.  This chilled spiced peach mango soup was very appropriate for this season. A hint of  chipotle seasoning lifts the flavors of this chilled fruit soup recipe. If you can’t find chipotle seasoning, you can use chili powder as well.

This gluten free chilled spiced peach mango soup recipe can double as healthy smoothie to be eaten as breakfast, lunch or a snack. It also makes for  a wonderfully refreshing appetizer. Leftovers can be reserved for making frozen yogurt or sorbet. It takes a peach and a mango to tango with this zesty, aromatic, and vibrant chilled soup. With the bright colors of the peaches and mango,  you’ll feel the zing of energy you need to keep yourself fueled throughout the day.  Have fun playing around with different fruits you love but don’t leave out the ginger. Ginger assembles all the flavors together, not to mention the health benefits it provides.

For this recipe, you will need:

  1. 4 ripe peaches peeled and pitted
  2. 2 ripe mangoes peeled and pitted
  3. 2 cups of coconut water or milk of your choice
  4. 2 teaspoons of fresh minced ginger
  5. 1 teaspoon of chipotle or chili powder
  6. 1/2 teaspoon of dried cardamon
  7. Low fat plain yogurt of your choice
  8. Fresh mint leaves for garnish (optional)

Instructions

Place first 6 ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend till smooth.  Dollop yogurt on each bowl of soup. Garnish with fresh mint leaves if you like. Serve chilled. Enjoy!

Yields 4 servings

 

 

 

 

Onion Garlic Parmesan Rolls

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Parmesean Rolls

A dinner is incomplete without warm fresh dinner rolls. I very seldom bake and serve dinner rolls but I was veering towards freshly baked onion garlic Parmesan rolls to go with a soup I had made. Plus I had a surplus of fresh Parmesan cheese. The inspiration behind this particular Parmesan dinner roll recipe came from a batch of buttery dinner rolls that a friend baked and served at a meal weeks ago.The rolls were incredibly soft and rich, I was yearning for some more. But rather than using an excess amount of butter, I used Parmesan cheese in these rolls flavored with a bit of onion and garlic.

As reiterated before, I don’t make bread or rolls that often primarily due to the lack of time. When I miraculously dedicate some time to make them once in a blue moon, it is a special treat and they don’t last around long enough to be immensely enjoyed to the fullest. Plus I have my waistline to  consider but I will splurge from time to time when I feel I have earned it. I absolutely love baking bread and related goods. I enjoy working with flour and yeast.  At first, I thought baking bread was tedious and too labor intensive. The longer I have been working with these ingredients, the more my attitude towards bread baking started to evolve.

I am very particular towards my homemade breads. I can’t get enough of their yeasty goodness. I find baking with flour and yeast to be very relaxing, therapeutic, and satisfying – all which are abruptly negated by the very dizzying, stressful, and tension-inducing moment when I realize the exuberant mess I created from baking rolls and all sorts of bread. Thankfully, these moments are not that frequent  as I try to keep the mess to the bare minimum. I’ve learned to be very neat and organized in my kitchen but not all mishaps are avoidable.

Every bite of these rich, delectable, flavorful onion garlic Parmesan dinner rolls were worth the aggravation and mess. And when I complained about nearly going insane from having a lot of Parmesan cheese earlier? I take that back. Now I have to run out and buy more Parmesan cheese from using all of them up on these dinner rolls. I will hold my tongue before I gripe about having too much cheese in the house (so long as they have not reached past their expiration date as spoiled cheese or anything dairy is a pet peeve of mine).

 

For this recipe, you will need:

  1. 2 teaspoons of active dry yeast
  2. 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar divided
  3. 1/2 cup of warm water or low fat milk
  4. 1 cup of whole wheat bread flour or spelt flour
  5. 1 1/3 cup of bread flour
  6. 1/4 cup of olive oil
  7. 6 tablespoons of Earth Balance butter
  8. 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  9. 1 head of garlic roasted and peels removed
  10. 1 onion chopped and caramelized
  11.   1/2 cup of shredded and grated Parmesan cheese (leave some aside to sprinkle on top of rolls)

Instructions

In a small mixing bowl, combine the yeast, 1 tablespoon sugar, and milk/water. Give a stir and set aside for 5-10 minutes allowing the yeast to bubble. In another bowl, combine flours with salt and the remaining tablespoon of sugar.  Mix yeast mixture in the flour.  Place onions, garlic, butter, and oil in a food processor and process till smooth. Fold the onion garlic mixture into the dough. Add the Parmesan cheese.  Mix and knead the dough on low speed with a dough hook, if using a mixer, for up to 3 minutes. Let the dough rest for 15 minutes, covered. This method allows the dough to gain more strength and elasticity.  Divide the dough into 12 rolls. Place rolls in a greased muffin tin. Brush top of each roll with olive oil. Sprinkle top with Parmesan cheese, a bit of garlic and onion powder if you like. Place rolls in a draft-free zone and allow them to rise for 35 minutes or until doubled in size.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Bake for 25-30 minutes.

Yields 12 rolls

 

 

Mediterranean Meat Pockets

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meat knishes

Hubby has had a craving for red meat. I very seldom share meat recipes because I don’t make meat dishes that often. Not because I am a vegetarian. Non-meat dishes are just more convenient for me to make but I am always willing to bend over backwards for people I love and care about. I honored Hubby’s request for a beef dish by making homemade meat pockets for him which he immensely enjoyed. Since I am about to go meatless for the next 9 days, I thought it would be appropriate to share my meat pockets pie recipe for this one last time (at least for a while).

It is a Jewish custom not to eat meat or drink wine among other things in the 9 days leading up to Tisha B’av – anniversary of the destruction of both temples as well as numerous tragedies that followed.  I may not be a vegetarian but I never complained about forgoing meat for a couple a days. In fact, I found it somewhat to be relieving. While I don’t eat meat as often as I used to, I do make special exceptions. Having overused ground beef for Shepherd’s Pie, Sloppy Joe’s, and burgers, I was in need of a different option and I settled on meat pocket pies.

Learning to cook meat pockets was not much different than making meat knishes or calzones. The concept and techniques are similar. They consist of a meat filling and a bread exterior. Only this time, I infused some  Mediterranean flavors in these homemade meat pocket pies.  As far as filling options are concerned, the sky is the limit. You can pull your own twist. I know many of you are not heavy meat eaters so a vegan option  is always available to you. Just simply swap the meat for the vegan version and you will still get a satisfying and flavorful meat pocket pie – a meatless dinner idea I would consider for the next 9 days.

For this recipe, you will need:

  1. Pizza dough recipe 
  2. 1 lbs of lean ground beef
  3. 1 onion chopped
  4. 2 cloves of garlic minced
  5. 1 eggplant thinly sliced and cubed
  6. 1 zucchini thinly sliced and cubed
  7. 2 bell peppers diced
  8. 1 teaspoon of cumin
  9. 1/2 teaspoon of chili powder
  10. 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
  11. 1/3 teaspoon of turmeric
  12. 1/4 teaspoon of ground coriander
  13. 25 oz. can of crushed tomatoes
  14. Salt and pepper for taste

Instructions

Follow instructions for pizza dough recipe. Divide dough into 6-8 pieces. Heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable or olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add chopped onions and saute till translucent. Add minced garlic and saute for another 2 minutes. Add the vegetables and cook till tender. Stir in the ground beef and cook till browned and crumbly. Drain excess fat from the pan and stir in spices, salt, pepper, and crushed tomatoes. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook until the liquid has evaporated.

Line baking sheets with parchment paper.  Roll out dough pieces into discs. Fill each disc evenly with beef mixture in the center. Seal dough with opposite ends.  Arrange on baking sheets. Allow them to rise for 20 minutes or until double the size. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Bake until golden brown and hot on the inside, about 25 minutes.

Yields 6-8 large meat pocket pies

 

 

 

Soy-Free Vegan Raw Cheesecake

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raw cheesecake

No-fuss elegant delectable desserts are my favorite to make – no-bake desserts specifically. It’s not just because I am lazy or pressed for time (even though I frequently finding myself in these circumstances; I blame the heat). I may have used this proverbial quote before but I will reiterate it again: If you can’t take the heat, stay out of the kitchen.  In my case, I can’t stand the heat but won’t let it chase me out of the kitchen. With this soy-free vegan raw cheesecake that I recently made, I remained in my kitchen without the heat.

I’ve had my fair share of raw desserts before and even made some myself. Raw cheesecake was a novelty to me, especially a soy-free version. Many people I know are not particularly fans of soy oriented dishes and desserts so I wanted to share a dessert idea that both vegans and non-vegans can compromise on and mutually enjoy. Unless you have a nut allergy, you will appreciate this raw cheesecake recipe regardless of your dietary orientation. I,  for one,  love nuts. That is why I was devastated upon recently discovering my allergies for chestnuts and pine nuts. I pray hope that more onset nut allergies won’t follow. Thankfully, I can still eat cashews, almonds, and macadamia nuts – ingredients I used in this no-bake raw cheesecake recipe.

When I served this raw cheesecake to guests, they had a hard time believing that I used nuts instead of Tofutti cream cheese. I like using cashews and macadamia nuts in my desserts primarily because they are versatile, creamy, and lovely tasting. I very seldom use macadamia nuts because they are very expensive so I alternatively used almonds instead which gave this raw cheesecake a ricotta cheesecake texture. With this raw cheesecake, it’s almost like biting into a slice of a New York style cheesecake minus the high fat content from the cream cheese and sour cream. Even a small slice is extremely satisfying and will give you a comfortable feeling of fullness without weighing your stomach down. You can enjoy a dessert that is equally exquisite, rich and gourmet without tacking on the extra calories. If you enjoyed my nut cream recipe, you will rave over this raw cheesecake recipe.  Hassle-free and easy to make, this soy-free, no-bake vegan raw cheesecake is perfect for beginners consisting of only 6 ingredients excluding the pie crust! This recipe is practically fool-proof. In fact, I will be very impressed if you manage to screw this recipe up.

For this recipe, you will need:

  1. Prepared pie crust
  2. 2 1/2 – 3 cups of cashews, macadamia, or blanched almonds
  3. 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
  4. 1/2 cup of pure mayple syrup, agave nectar or honey
  5. 1/2 cup of coconut butter melted
  6. Juice and zest  from 1 lemon
  7. 1/8 teaspoon of salt
  8. 1/4 cup of water plus more for soaking nuts

Instructions

Cover nuts in a bowl and let it soak for 8-12 hours or overnight. Drain. Combine all the ingredients for the cheese filling a food processor or blender and process for 6 minutes or until completely smooth. Pour contents into prepared pie crust then cover and freeze till ready to use. Remove cheescake from freezer 5 minutes before serving. Store in freezer up till 2 weeks.

Yields 8 servings

 

Oven Baked Chicken Fire Poppers

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fire poppers

As the weather gets hotter, so does my appetite for spicy food. The craving for spicy chicken nuggets or any chicken with a spicy ingredient has been tormenting me for weeks until I finally capitualted when I decided that fighting my hankerings is a losing battle. Only this one time have I decided not to cry over this big defeat. Who can resist these bite sized yumminess? The tingling flavors from the hot sauce always have me in a headlock. I grew up on chicken nuggets. They were a favorite as well as one of the most popularly ordered appetizer on the menu. The piquant flavors from the hot sauce and honey is what makes these chicken nuggets popping – that is how they were dubbed chicken fire poppers.  Each bite is explosive but not overwhelming. You couldn’t expect a more perfect balance of flavors. I made sure to make and pack extras for our journey through Europe to America.

This chicken nugget recipe is inspired by a similar recipe using chicken wings. Since chicken breasts are a healthier option, I went with them instead. I also oven baked these nuggets rather than deep frying them. You can achieve the crispy exterior without using copious amounts of oil. A greasy mess is the last thing I need. The only danger factor that lies within these chicken fire poppers is that they are extremely addictive – once you start, it’s hard to finish. Delicious doesn’t even begin to describe these chicken fire poppers. Forget the main course. A basketfull of these spicy chicken nuggets is a meal unto itself but not complete without a salad.  I normally have my limits but I bear no shame for my addiction to chicken fire poppers. I suppose it’s a good thing that I show enough restraint not to make them very often. These chicken fire poppers are a new favorite appetizer in my household and that is why I save this chicken nugget recipe for special occasions.  I nearly forgot to mentionthat these tender chicken nuggets are easy to make.

For this recipe, you will need:

  1. 1 1/2 – 2 lbs of chicken breasts cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  2. 1/2 cup of hot sauce
  3. 1/4 cup of honey
  4. 2 tablespoons of soy sauce
  5. 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour or corn starch
  6. 1 cup of panko bread crumbs or cornflakes
  7. 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
  8. 1/2 teaspoon of onion powder
  9. 1/3 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
  10. 1/4 teaspoon of fresh ground pepper

Instructions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a bowl, whisk hot sauce, honey, and soy sauce. In another bowl, combine breadcrumbs/cornflakes with garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper. Dredge chicken pieces in cornstarch/flour. Then dunk them in hot sauce mixture. Coat them with breadcrumbs/cornflakes. Line nuggets evenly on a greased baking sheet. To get a crunchy topping, spray nuggets with cooking spray. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Yields 4-6 servings

 

 

 

Stone Fruit Slaw

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fruit salad

Tis the season to be overheated, sunburned, lounging at the beach, vacationing, and barbecuing. While my tolerance for intense humidity is very low, the summertime does offer many advantages.  Although the 4th of July may have passed through, it’s never too late for a barbecue.  And by that, I mean bbq salad ideas among other things. A lot of my neighbors tend to hold barbecues on a regular basis for no particular reason. Of all the barbeques I’ve attended in the past, I very seldom see fruit salad being served. When I was searching for bbq fruit salad ideas, a stone fruit slaw recipe lit up on my radar screen.

Stone fruit consists of peaches, nectarines, plums, and apricots. There can be more than one variety from each fruit on the one tree; each variety ripens at different times depending on the season. There are trees with varieties of fruit that are more suited for warm climates with other varieties for colder weather. Stone fruit tends to be at their peak during the summertime. That is what prompted me to make a stone fruit salad.  Not only was I in need of something to balance out my intake of meat but a stone fruit salad seemed like a very refreshing idea to me.  With a tangy orange ginger honey vinaigrette and chopped toasted almonds, this stone fruit slaw recipe offers some added elegance to the everyday fruit salad. While it nornally makes a nice light lunch or dinner appetizer on its own, you can top this slaw with sliced chicken breast to make it more substantial. You can even toss in some goat cheese if you like.

While this fruit salad may seem gourmet, it is not labor intensive in the slightest.  Although the thought of grilling fruit did cross my mind but my laziness interfered with the execution of the idea. No need to fire up a grill to gussy up some fruit salad – just orange ginger honey vinaigrette (which takes seconds to make) tossed in with julienned stone fruit and you are all set.  Plus it’s a great way to encourage kids to include more fruit in their diet. Add a few sprigs of fresh thyme or chopped fresh basil with a pinch of salt and chill for a bit before serving and you are ready to kick off your barbeque.

 

For this recipe, you will need:

  1. 1 1/2 lbs of assorted ston fruit julienned
  2. 2 scallions thinly sliced diagonally
  3. Juice from a small orange
  4. 1 tablespoon of grated peeled fresh ginger
  5. 2 tablespoons of honey
  6. 1 tablespoon of olive or vegetable oil
  7. 1/8 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
  8. 1/4 teaspoon of curry powder
  9. Toasted chopped almonds or peanuts (optional)
  10. Salt and pepper for taste

Instructions

Place fruit in a salad bowl and scallions. Whisk orange juice, ginger, honey, oil, and spices in a small bowl till well combined. Toss in with fruit and lightly coat. Season with salt and pepper. Mix in nuts before serving if you like.

Yields 4-6 servings

 

 

Cherry Mango Smoothie

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cherry mango smoothie

I would like to begin this post with an apology for my long absence. A lot has transpired over the past two weeks – thankfully for better reasons than worse. From a family wedding to a recent engagement of a friend, 4th of July and a family reunion plus more. I haven’t had much time for blogging.  Despite the political and regional tensions where I live, nothing can stop me from delighting yourselves with my recipes. I thank you for your support and patience. I hope this healthy smoothie recipe I am about to share with you was worth the wait. I promise that more recipes will follow shortly.

Fresh cherries and mango happen to be at their peak this season. I stocked up on a bunch of fresh cherries and mango. I normally prefer to munch on cherries as they are but occasionally explore other creative options that I can use with them. I had many ideas in terms of treats that I can make using these fruits but I was stalling for too long and they were beginning to rot. It’s hard for me to dispose of fresh fruit, so smoothies were a simple, quick yet delicious solution to my dilemna.

What other healthy and exotic way to cool an overheated palate other than learning how to make smoothies using cherries and fruit? I could never tire of smoothies; the combination of possibilities never end.  I never incorporated cherries into my smoothies before but didn’t think of it as a risk factor. Adding cherries introduces a sweet yet tangy flavor this red mango smoothie. The mango merely heightens the taste of this smoothie.

For this recipe, you will need:

  1. 1 fresh or frozen mango cubed
  2. 1 cup of fresh or frozen cherries seeded
  3. 1/3 cup of fresh or canned pineapple chunks
  4. 1/2 cup of low fat plain yogurt of your choice

Instructions

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend till smooth. Add more water or milk if the smoothie is too thick for your liking. Use leftovers for popsicles if you like.

Yields 2 servings