Zucchini-Apple Fritters

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What a glorious weekend, but where’s autumn!?

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As the long summer days wound down, I was kind of excited about welcoming the glorious colors of fall! Bright hues of red, yellow, orange and brown with quickly fading greens bursting in the canopies! But, fall splendor seems to be quite elusive this year!

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Despite the lack of the autumn chill, I still had the timely craving for something comforting and delicious to enjoy! My appetite is so predictable! Anyway, my craving for some homemade hashbrown (potato kind), eggs and bacon didn’t really stick. For once, I convinced myself quite easily to try to make something a little lighter and healthier. As I made a mental run of things in the refrigerator, I paused at zucchinis and Granny Smith apples.

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I decided to make some sort of a fritter using zucchini and apple, but without any eggs. I made a version of these with eggs, and decided I am not a big fan of egg-y fritters. If you like crispy texture, you will probably not enjoy this the way I made it – unless you coat it with breadcrumbs and bake/fry. These fritters (“hashbrowns”) are sort of creamy, sort of soft, sort of pate-ish. Not sure how to explain them, but they are delicious. They are very light, so you can easily eat half the fritters…and it’s OK if you do because they are, in my opinion, quite healthy! Curry powder adds a certain depth to these fritters and I highly recommend you use them. But, if you don’t have it in your pantry, you can skip it.

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These fritters are quite versatile. They will go well with eggs for breakfast or with rice and curries for a main course or just a little snack! I also stored leftovers for couple of days in the refrigerator and they warmed up beautifully in the microwave. Hope you give this recipe a try!

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Zucchini-Apple Fritters

  • Servings: 4-6
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Ingredients
2 zucchinis, grated
1/2 Granny Smith apple, grated
2 scallions, green and white part minced finely
1 teaspoon finely minced ginger
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 cup cornmeal
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1/4-1/2 teaspoon of cayenne powder, if desired
Salt and pepper to taste
Few tablespoons of oil to pan fry the fritters

Preparation
1) Squeeze excess water out of the grated zucchini and apple and add to a medium bowl.
2) Add in the remaining ingredients and mix well by hand. This helps breakdown the ingredients a little so they are easy to form into little patties later on.
3) Let the mixture sit for 10 minutes to let the cornmeal and flour soak up any excess liquid.
4) Heat a frying pan over medium heat and a tablespoon of oil. Swirl around to coat.
5) Form the mixture into golf-ball sized round. Place a few in the pan with enough room around them so you can flatten the balls into small disks, about 3″ wide.
6) Cook on one side for 2 minutes or so till golden brown. Flip carefully onto the other side and cook for another 2 minutes. Remove to a serving platter and enjoy warm.

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Hearty Quinoa Vegetable Medley Soup

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No apologies this time because I never seem to learn. So, let me just jump to what I am about to share – a simple recipe for an incredibly satisfying soup that I really, REALLY hope you all will try to make at least once – especially as the leaves start to change colors and the air begins to get crisp!

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I was browsing through the web looking for inspirations to use quinoa and potato in a simple, yet satisfying recipe. Yes, it was a weeknight yesterday, but since I was able to get home a little earlier than usual, I had a little extra time to put into prepping dinner. This is not an original recipe of mine. It just altered this a bit, but this is largely a Taste of Home recipe.

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All you need is a combination of your favorite soup vegetables and quinoa (any kind will be fine, but the tri-color blend I used was phenomenal) and voila, you can whip up this soup without much fuzz. Trust me, if you make it once, you are going to want to make it again (how about topped with a bit of crumbled bacon bits next time!).

Here is an amusing aside (or something to make you go what a fool!)!

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Addition of jalapeno was a great idea to add a much appreciated kick to the soup. Of course, this particular jalapeno happened to be a super spicy one. I am the type of person who tinkers around in the garden with bare hands, minces up spicy peppers like they are just little fruits and pulls hot pans out of the oven with just a kitchen towel or paper towel! Yes, I never learn and I have scars to prove Last night was a repeat of the familiar story. Just as I rinsed my hands (yes, no scrubbing under nail) after mincing the jalapeno, I must have promptly rubbed my left eye lid. Initially, I just felt a weird sensation and I wasn’t quite sure what that was. Then, I felt it – the much familiar burn of hot pepper smear! Ouch. Then I remembered the coconut oil in the pantry. Ladies (and gentlemen), if you ever experience a similar thing, just dab a bit of coconut oil (REMEMBER TO WASH YOUR HANDS REALLY WELL BEFORE APPLYING) on the affected area. Grit your teeth and go about your work for 3 ymin or so. It’s like a miracle, how the simple oil just eases away the burn!

Now, jump on to the recipe and enjoy this delightful bowl of soup for your next meal! I am already dreaming about enjoying the leftover for lunch tomorrow!

Hearty Quinoa Vegetable Medley Soup

  • Servings: 6-8
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Ingredients
1 cup uncooked quinoa
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/3 – 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
2-3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 cup chopped carrot
1/2 cup diced red pepper
1 cup chopped potato (I used russet for creaminess)
1 jalapeno, finely chopped (de-seeded if you prefer the soup mild)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup corn kernels, fresh or frozen
1 32-oz vegetable broth
1 cup 1% milk
1/4 cup light cream
1 tablespoon crumbled dried thyme
Salt and Pepper to taste

Preparation
1) Heat a large stock pan over medium heat and dry roast quinoa for 3 – 4 minutes. Remove the quinoa to a bowl and return pan to heat.
2) Add the oil and saute the onion, garlic, carrot, red pepper, jalapeno and potato for 3 minutes.
3) Add the flour and stir in, breaking up any lumps. Continue cooking for 3 to 4 minutes.
4) Add the corn kernels and the vegetable broth, cover and cook on medium low heat for 25-30 minutes till vegetables are tender and quinoa is cooked through.
5) Stir in the milk, light cream and thyme. Adjust seasonings with a dash or salt and pepper, as needed.
6) Let simmer uncovered for another 5 minutes.

Serving Suggestion: This soup can be topped with a bit of grated cheddar or a dollop of sour cream. For an extra indulgence, you can also sprinkle a few crushed tortilla chips.

Spicy and Tangy Tofu Stir Fry

Hello friends!

I failed yet again at my promise to self to keep up with the blog. Too many roadblocks along the way, but I will at least try to post a new recipe whenever I can.

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So, couple of weeks ago, I tried this truly delicious bean curd stir fry with plenty of veggies coated in a delectable sweet-spicy-tangy sauce. That dish used fried bean curds that were kind of squishy and strangely airy. While I enjoyed every bite, I did feel a little overwhelmed with the amount of sliced onions in it. As I was silently chewing every bite, I tried to make a mental note, no, no, more like a package of memory filled with the taste, smell and texture of each bite. Why you ask? Well, I do that quite often, at least as often as I try a bite of a new dish somewhere that I would like to recreate with my own little twist.

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Today would have been the perfect day to succumb to the comfort of eating that dish for lunch. Alas, we were hit with the biggest snowstorm of the season and the family was home-bound. Even though I had already prepared meals ready to be warmed for lunch, something in me kept nudging me to open the refrigerator and take out the ingredients to whip up some spicy and tangy tofu stir fry.

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Little bit of this, little bit of that and before I knew it, a super satisfying, flavor-rich tofu dish was born!

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Spicy and Tangy Tofu Stir Fry

  • Servings: 4-6
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Ingredients
1 Pkg extra-firm tofu
3 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon Thai red curry paste
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
3 tablespoons finely chopped garlic, divided
3 green onions, green part finely sliced and divided
¼ cup oil
4 oz sliced white or baby bella mushrooms
3 cups broccoli florets
½ cup sliced red onion
Few dried red chillis
Sauce:
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Sriracha sauce
1 tablespoon cornstarch

Preparation:
1. Cut tofu into bite size pieces. Toss with cornstarch.
2. Mix the curry paste, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and garlic. Coat tofu cubes in the sauce and set aside for 10 minutes.
3. While tofu is marinating, prepare the vegetables.
4. Mix the ingredients for the sauce and set aside.
5. Heat a large wok or frying pan over medium high heat and add oil.
6. Fry the tofu cubes till golden brown and let drain on paper towel.
7. When all the tofu is fried, drain excess oil, leaving about a tablespoon in the pan.
8. Saute the reserved garlic, red chilli and onion.
9. Add the mushrooms and broccoli and flash cook for another 3 minutes or so.
10. Toss in the fried tofu pieces and top with the reserved sauce.
11. Stir and continue to cook till the sauce thickens and coats the vegetables and tofu.
Serve the stir fry with steamed rice or over cooked rice noodles.

South-East Asian Style Vegetable Fried Rice

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There are myriads of recipes for fried rice. I personally love fried rice of any type or ethnic origin. This particular recipe is a blend of Indian and Sri Lankan flavors and textures.

Sri Lankan recipes typically will call for pandan (rampe) leaf which is not easily found in grocery stores in the US (although you can find them quite easily in Ontario, Canada). They impart a very distinct flavor to the rice and meat dishes. In the absence of pandan, I used mint leaves in this recipe, making it more Indian. In addition, Sri Lankan version is sometimes topped with bread cubes sautéed in clarified butter (aka ghee). They add a nice chewy texture and a unique flavor to the rice! When I was a child, I remember hunting for these bread cubes in my rice!

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This is a wholesome vegetarian dish that could be served with Indian/Sri Lankan curries or a simple yogurt/cucumber relish or just plain yogurt. It is pretty straightforward to prepare – the most involved step is making the spice mixture. If you are crunched for time, you can easily use frozen vegetables in place of fresh (like I did in this recipe) without sacrificing the flavor.

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I hope you give this a try!

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South-East Asian Style Vegetable Fried Rice

  • Servings: 6-8
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Ingredients
2 cups Basmati rice, rinsed and soaked in cold water for 15 minutes
1 teaspoon oil
1/2 onion, sliced thick
2 Thai green chili pepper
3 cloves of garlic, cut up
1/2 inch piece of ginger, cut up
2 large tomatoes, cut up
1/2 cup loosely packed mint leaves
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon oil
1/2 onion, sliced thin
2″ long cinnamon stick
3 cloves
2-3 cardamom pods, lightly bruised (if available)
1/2 bag (8 oz) frozen mixed vegetables (carrot, green beans and peas or something similar)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 tablespoon Madras-style curry powder, optional
Salt to taste
1/4 cup mint leaves, chopped up
2 slices of bread, cut in cubes and pan toasted in butter

Preparation
1. Begin by cooking the rice according to directions.
2. While the rice is cooking, heat a teaspoon of oil in a shallow frying pan and saute thickly sliced onion, chili, garlic and ginger. When the onion begins to get golden, add the tomatoes and mint leaves. Saute for few more minutes and remove from heat.
3. Using a hand blender or food processor, grind the above till smooth. Set aside.
4. Heat a skillet over medium high heat and add butter and tablespoon of oil.
5. Add the thinly sliced onions and saute till golden. Add cinnamon, cardamom and clove.
6. After a few seconds, add the frozen vegetables and turmeric powder and saute till the vegetable are cooked through and the carrot looks slightly caramelized.
7. Stir in the curry powder, ground spice mixture and salt to taste.
8. Continue to cook for another 5 minutes or so till the mixture is cooked through and the oil starts to separate along the edges.
9. Mix in the cooked rice along with fresh mint.
10. Top with bread cubes and serve with a curry of your choice, boiled egg or yogurt (or a combination of all!).