Asparagus Week: Jyoti Bowl

JyotiIndian2Like Indian food? Every awesome person does. ‘Cakes’ doesn’t, so he’s not awesome. More than that, the only time I get it is when he’s out-of-town or if I”m at ‘Girls Night Out’. This last week ‘Cakes’ was out-of-town in Vegas for March Madness, and the local HyVee’s here now carry Jyoti. I’ve seen it here for last 6 months or so but haven’t really given it too much attention. BIG MISTAKE.  As you know, I try to stay away from pre-made, boxed, or frozen dinners. About the only thing we keep in our cabinets on the regular is Kraft Mac and Cheese (Cakes would probably get rid of me if I didn’t have them on reserve).

If you’re going to be purchasing goods or meals that are pre-made, at least read the label. Do yourself and your body the favor, all the preservative and sodium levels are usually thru the roof. Well, I picked up the can, I liked the picture (I judge books by their covers too), and I checked the label. Not only do they all have an actual list of REAL ingredients that didn’t stretch a mile long, but they are also low in sodium and calories (almost all of their varieties are gluten and wheat free as well if that applies to you). How else could this brand me amazing, well…it has a great spicy kick, it’s perfect, and everyone needs a little zing!!!

Pssht, OK you got me. I cooked the can and made it for dinner. The pre-made, heat-up meal. Guilty.

I purchased the Jaipur Karhi, or Potato Dumplings in a Buttermilk Sauce. It was actually one of very few that have dairy in them in case you are dairy sensitive. The serving size per can is 4, but i added about a 1/3 cup of water to spread it out a little because it definitely wouldn’t serve 4. I paired my Rice Bowl with some whole grain brown rice as well as,  you guessed it…asparagus.

If you haven’t tried any of the Jyoti flavors….do it, it’s worth the 3 bucks, and it’s delicious Indian food without dropping the $15-20 bucks you normally pay for the same serving size at any local establishment. I

Jyoti Bowl

1 can of Jyoti ( I bought the Potato Dumplings w/ Buttermilk Sauce)

1/3 cup of water

Leftover Shredded Chicken (feel free to omit this)

Asparagus

s/p

olive oil

ginger

cumin

whole grain brown rice

1. Cook your rice ahead of time, because the rest of your meal won’t take but 10 minutes to put together. Also Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Start on med-low heat and heat it slowly, you don’t want to go to fast because it will burn to the bottom of the pan. It still should only take about 10 minutes to heat it, you want to heat it up, not boil it.

3. While the Jyoti is warming, break the ends of your asparagus and toss with a drizzle of olive oil and place on parchment paper on a cooking pan. Sprinkle with salt/pepper, ginger, and cumin. By sprinkle…I mean a couple shakes, you don’t want to over season them.

4.When your rice is finished and the Jyoti is warmed thru, add 1/4 cup of rice to your bowl, top with 1/2 cup of Jyoti, chicken, and your roasted asparagus. The perfect at-home rice bowl, and under 15 minutes!

Asparagus Week: Omelette!

ricottaomelette

In honor of Asparagus Week, you should probably make an omelette….with asparagus, and your homemade ricotta cheese in it, because it’s really amazing. You know what else would be amazing…Salsa Verde *post tease!!! (coming soon)*

I would roast these cinnamon and sugar breakfast style, or even just simple with olive oil and s/p. Keep it simple and let the asparagus do the talking. I’m a two egg omelette kinda gal myself, but if you have a bigger appetite, make it three. Have fun with this and play with all your favorite ingredients, that’s the bonus of making these at home.. you can add whatever you want! Feeling like you need a little something extra? Add avocado, black forest ham, or breakfast sausage. Extra cheese never hurt either….

My ideal breakfast is blueberry compote with toast, and a vegetable omelette on the weekends. It makes me feel happy, and is the perfect boost before a morning run. What is your favorite weekend breakfast?!

breakfastasparagusAsparagus Omelette

Roast regular or breakfast asparagus (4-7, depending on how many you feel like) I personally don’t chop them up after they’re roasted, but if you want to feel free.

2 eggs

2 tbsp of milk

1 tbsp butter substitute (I use a oil based butter, lo-cal and fat)

2 tbsp of ricotta

1 tbsp of mozzarella

diced tomatoes

s/p

1/4 tsp chili powder

1/4 tsp paprika

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

1. Whisk your eggs and milk together, Heat your non-stick pan and add your butter. Once the butter melts pour in the egg mixture.

2. Sprinkle your spices over the top. Every so often, gently rotate the pan and make sure the liquid is covering all the  sides. You know you’re ready to move on when the eggs are set and don’t run anymore. But don’t wait too long either or you’ll over cook your eggs. Always make sure to prep whatever ingredients for your filling ahead of time so you can just toss them in when the eggs are set.

3. Dollop your ricotta and mozzarella, finally add your roasted asparagus and diced tomatoes. Gently fold in the sides of your omelette. (This is where i make a mess of it, but practice makes perfect!) Although I’m no pro, I have found it helpful to roll in one side and as your sliding the omelette onto your plate fold in the other.

Asparagus Week! Breakfast For Asparagus

breakfastasparagusGuess what? Asparagus is back, and it’s not $5 a bundle anymore. BOOM.

To kick off this featured Asparagus week, I’m going to keep things simple, sort of. If you like Asparagus, I’m sure you’ve had it grilled or roasted, but…for breakfast? Sweet and Savory, for first meal, is that even allowed? Psssht, sure it is, it’s your kitchen you fool.

This asparagus is going somewhere, in an Omelette with ricotta, accompanied with amazing blueberry compote on toast. I needed some green in my eggs 🙂 But, this would also be great on its own with just toast to be honest. That traditional cinnamon and sugar aroma just makes you feel warm and ready to wake up for the day, even with a vegetable(it’s technically in the lily family, like onions), and it only takes 10 minutes in your oven.

Breakfast Asparagus

Asparagus

Cinnamon

Sugar

Cooking Spray

Preheat oven to 400. Prepare a sheet pan or cookie sheet and line it with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Spread out your asparagus evenly. Very lightly spray them with the cooking spray, this helps the cinnamon/sugar to stick without adding extra fat and oils. Use your cinnamon/sugar shaker and shake away until they’re lightly coated (or heavily, whatever you want!)

Don’t have a shaker already made up? (Shame on you) I use 1/2 cup sugar with 1 Tbsp of cinnamon.

Encrusted Tilapia

bakedtilapia1Don’t you hate it when fish tastes…fishy?? That’s weird…I know. But it’s true. Fishy fish doesn’t make you hungry for dinner, it makes you think of wet cat food. If your local market has it, buy the individually wrapped ones, they are so much better than the frozen bagged ones. I can get a good portion, thick fillet for less than $1.50, perfect and ready dinner for one and have dinner ready in less than 20 minutes… this is sounding better and better right?!

If you’ve ever been a person to scour recipes,  you’ll see a very wide variety of cook times and temps. It’s impossible to make one general recipe for fish because all fillets are not equal! I can’t promote an oven-safe thermometer more…it will make you everyone’s favorite chef! You might think you’re the cook that’s great at ‘eyeballing’ or the ‘touch-test’ but pulling any protein right out of the oven right when it hits that perfect temp, it’s just something that will change how you eat, and appreciate food.

The one I have is fantastic, you can actually set it to beep at certain temps, so I can be multi-tasking and it will go off when it hits whatever temp I set it too, it’s awesome. So what’s the secret to the best baked fish (or any protein for that matter) besides a digital oven thermometer? It’s a wire rack! You’ll never a poorly breaded mess that sticks or breaks away from  your meats again. Yep, that’s it, told you this was easy.

Baked Encrusted Tilapia

1 fillet

1/4 cup of cornflakes, crushed

**1/8 tsp pepper

1/8 tsp paprika

1/8 tsp garlic powder

1/8 tsp onion powder 

1 tsp of grainy mustard (you can substitute egg/yogurt/mayo/ranch for this if mustard isn’t your thing)

a handful of flour

 

1. Preheat oven to 425

2. Crush your cornflakes in a shallow dish, add in the pepper, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, give it a couple shakes until the cornflakes and spices mix.

3.Take your thawed fillet and rinse it with water and pat dry.

4. Lightly coat the fish with flour, then cover with your grainy mustard. Place your mustard coated fish into the shallow cornflake mix, toss it around until completely covered.

5.Take your wire rack and place it over the top of a cookie or baking sheet cover with parchment paper or tin foil (easy cleanup). Spritz the wire rack with cook spray to prevent sticking. Place the fish on the wire rack and bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until done (depending on the thickness of your fillet)

6. When you pull it out, it will be deliciously golden brown and full of delicate flavor. Tartar sauce or horseradish is always an acceptable fish pairing! 

bakedtilapia2

Ricotta Cheese, Be Fancy!

ricotta6Uh, I feel better. Now that I’ve got all those amazing deals and spring fruit sitting on my counter, we can talk ricotta. I used to make my own all the time…probably twice a month. I used to use buttermilk in my oldschool ricotta but it was very…particular, and you had to watch it like a hawk or it wouldn’t turn out, or if it did, it would sour easily. Pssht, plus, you don’t have to buy buttermilk with this one, you just use lemon. (which if you know anything about  buttermilk substitution, it’s just milk and lemon or distilled vinegar) Bottom line of that rant, this recipe is better and easier.

Making your own ricotta isn’t hard, and it will impress your friends… so you should probably try it at least once. Not to mention, it’s usually cheaper to make your own. But I will WARN you… if you ever make your own, you’ll never conveniently buy store bought again. You just wont, even the fancy brands. So I apologize ahead of time if you are spending more time in the kitchen making things from scratch (I’m not sorry).

To help ease you into this process I’m posting more pictures of the process, that way you can see the transformation of it start to finish.

ricotta1

Right after the pour into the cheese cloth.

ricotta3

After 10 minutes

ricotta4

Final, thick and cloud like!

Need some awesome ricotta meal idea? Fine, you pulled my leg….

Oatmeal, crepes, lasagna, cannelloni, stuffed chicken, danishes, baguettes, mix with granola (chilled), topped over the perfect simple pasta dish- like pomodoro, pancakes, cheesecake, ravioli’s, on pizza, baked eggplant. Need I go on?

If you’re adding it into a more breakfast themed endeavor, here’s a tip… add just a pinch of sugar or sweetener, it will go a long way. In fact, just a sprinkle of sugar you can just mouth the ricotta. Using the entire batch not just a spoonful? Add a 1/2 tsp of vanilla, it perks up the natural flavor but also leaves you with a subtle yet smooth vanilla undertone.

I hope I’ve convinced you once again….to make your own ricotta!

Ricotta 

8 cups of whole milk

1 cup heavy cream

1 tsp salt

3 tbsp of lemon

You will need a cheese cloth and a strainer (can’t find cheese cloth? Most HyVee’s have them as well as Bed Bath & Beyond, they are a very cheap, no fear.)

1. In a large pan, add your milk, cream and salt. Bring to a SOFT boil. You don’t want to scold your milk, so be patient and set your heat to medium and let it come to a boil slow stirring the pan occasionally. This will also prevent you from scrapping milk off your stovetop because it’s boiled over..

2. After it has come to a boil, turn it to low and add your lemon, this will cause it to curd. Give it 2-3 gentle stirs, and let is just curd for 2-3 minutes.

3. Now you can get your strainer out and line it with your cheese cloth.

4. Once your timer goes off, carefully, and gently pour the your mixture into the strainer. Don’t rush it. I actually have two strainers and split this up, then combine them later. You want to make sure your strainer stays lined, if you over fill it, it will start to cave in on itself.

5. You’re done, kind of! Now you have to just let it wait. It takes 1-2 hours to slowly strain depending on how you divide up your mixture. This is why I have two strainers going, because it goes quicker (about 30 minutes). Once it’s done straining you can dump the whey or use it for cooking bread if you have plans!

Serve it warm, or chill it in a tightly sealed container, it will last a week give or take. This makes an amazing oatmeal addition with fresh fruit, or in lasagna rolls….my favorite!

Banana Week! No Butter Banana Bread

bananabread2
mmm banana! I love it as much as last week, but I’ll spare you the repeat story of my banana love.

Bana-na-na. It’s just one of those things that just goes…with everything. Oatmeal, french toast, on your Cheerios, in milk with sugar, dipped in peanut butter, pie, ice cream, cookies,drizzled in chocolate, in breads, plain…. how are these not one of the most amazing things on this earth?! From what I can gather, I think most everyone enjoys the banana flavor, but certain people  just can’t get past the texture. Cakes is one of those. As long as it’s in something, he’s fine, but he’ll never just pick one up and go to town, so I love incorporating it into secret-healthy things 🙂

I love baking, I hate butter. It’s kind of my M.O. Have you seen those fat visualizations where they show you what a pound of fat looks like in your hands? That’s what I think of when I think of butter. I feel like I’m just putting stick of butter into my back pocket and it’s soaking into my skin. I’ll use (sunflower) oil. Thanks.

Here is yet another awesome banana, and bread recipe without butter. Tastes better, lasts longer, and guilt free! This single loaf is the perfect mixture of the perfect crisp golden brown outside, a mouth-watering moist banana filling inside, but also the perfect pairing of flakiness with every bite. Need more chocolate? Try my Chocolate Swirl version of Banana  Bread!

Make this, sincerely yours, Ms. Butter Anxiety

The PERFECT Banana Bread

1 cup sugar

3 mashed bananas (about 1 cup, a little over wont hurt)

1/2 cup oil

2 eggs

1/2 cup sour cream (looking for an alternative? Substitute applesauce or greek yogurt!)

1 1/2 tsp vanilla

1 1/2 cup flour

1 1/4 tsp baking soda

1/2 salt

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 350 and grease your pan with cooking spray, then flour it as well. This is one of the few times I don’t use parchment paper, I think the crust turns out better.

2. With either a wire whisk or a stand mixer, add your sugar and oil together (I used a 1/4 cup olive oil and 1/4 cup canola oil, but use what you have)

3.Add eggs, bananas, sour cream and vanilla until blended. If you don’t spend extra time making sure your bananas are mashed well I would recommend using your mixer to work it more.

4. Slowly add your flour, followed by the rest of your dry ingredients just until everything has combined, do not over-mix.

5. Pour batter into pan, and bake for about 50 minutes. I always check mine with a toothpick 5 minutes early  and wait for it to come out clean. If you’re going to take the time to make bread, you don’t want to over-bake it and dry it out.

bananabread1