Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Potato Pakoras

Yum!  I'm totally addicted to these pakoras.  I love anything potato and these pakoras take potatoes to a whole new level.  The first time I had these pakoras was while visiting my in-laws in Portland.  I had never tasted something so crisp and delicious before.  The potatoes were cut extremely thin, like potato chips, dipped in a tasty batter made from chickpea flour, garlic and serrano peppers and deep fried to a golden brown perfection.  I ate so many plates of pakoras that day, that I literally had to get up and leave the room so that I wouldn't eat anymore! 

So fast forward to a few months ago.  My in-laws came to visit and my mother-in-law asked what I wanted to eat and of course I said potato pakoras.  We made a huge batch and served it with garlic chutney.  She showed me how to make them and now I'm totally hooked!  These pakoras are super easy to make, are no mess and take very little time to make.  Try these pakoras out as an appetizer for your next party.  They are sure to be a hit!

Potato Pakoras:
Makes approximately 4 servings

1/2 cup chickpea flour
2 tablespoons salt
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
3 serrano peppers, finely minced
3-4 large baking potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
Vegetable oil for frying
1 recipe garlic chutney (optional)


In a large bowl, mix together chickpea flour, 1 tablespoon salt, garlic and serrano peppers.  Slowly add water to the mixture until mixture become just wet (should not be too watery).  Add a handful of potatoes to the mixture and coat completely.  In a deep skillet, add vegetable oil and wait to fry until temperature reaches 350 degrees F.  Slowly add potatoes to the oil.  Fry potatoes for 5 minutes or until golden brown.  With a spider, remove pakoras from oil and place on large platter lined with paper towels.  Sprinkle remaining salt over pakoras and serve immediately with garlic chutney, if desired.

Source: Shef's Pantry original

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Spicy Chocolate Pumpkin Bars

I love fall.  Fall is probably my favorite season of the year.  It's not to cold, but cold enough to snuggle in a blanket and drink a warm cup of chai.  Fall is all about warmth for me.  Fall is time when I enjoy making and eating hearty foods, like chili, lasagna, pot pie and macaroni and cheese.  Ingredients like pumpkin, apple, caramel, and chocolate are nostalgic fall ingredients and are so much fun to work with during this time of the year.  Pumpkin is a flavor that I have grown to love over the years.  I really never enjoyed the taste of pumpkin growing up.  I don't know why but over the years, pumpkin has become a flavor that I find myself craving from time to time.  My mom is obsessed with pumpkin.  She really enjoys pumpkin flavored desserts and drinks so I tend to make a lot of pumpkin flavored goodies for her.  My mom is coming to visit this Friday and I am super excited.  In honor of her visit, I made her these spicy chocolate pumpkin bars.

These bars are a pumpkin chocolate lovers dream!  With each bite, you can taste the pumpkin and the warmth from the nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, allspice and ginger.  Each bite is packed with chocolate chips which adds a nice sweetness and balances out the spicy flavor.  These bars are sure to be hit at your next party.  Enjoy!

Spicy Chocolate Pumpkin Bars:
Makes approximately 24 bars

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 sticks butter, softened
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 egg, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Butter and flour a 9x13 inch baking pan and set aside.  In a medium bowl, mix together flour, cinnamon, ginger, baking soda, nutmeg, allspice, cloves and salt.  Beat the butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at high speed until pale and creamy.  Add the egg and vanilla, beating until just combined.  With the mixer on low speed, beat in the pumpkin, followed by the dry ingredients.  Fold in chocolate chips.  Spoon batter into baking pan and bake until edges begin to pull away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 35-40 minutes.  Allow pan to completely cool before cutting into bars.

Source: adapted from The Golden Book of Chocolate

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Our Italian Honeymoon

FINALLY... I'm organized and ready to share some pictures of our Italian honeymoon with you!  It's been a crazy couple weeks but I managed to get our honeymoon pictures ready for your viewing pleasure!  As you know, Mihir and I recently celebrated our 1 year wedding anniversary and took a trip to Italy.  Italy was really a belated honeymoon but it was the perfect time for us to go!  Italy was AMAZING!  Mihir and I had such a blast and I can't wait to go back and visit again!  Since this was our first time to Italy, we visited the cities of Rome, Florence/Toscany, and Venice.  All three of these cities were unique and definitely had their own culture.

Rome was our first stop and I have to say that it was probably my favorite of all three cities.  There is so much to see in Rome - from the Colosseum to the Trevi Fountain- there is just SO much history in Rome.  While in Rome, Mihir and I took a cooking class and it was awesome!  We met with a local chef who showed us the farmer's market, meat markets and specialty shops and then taught us how to make fresh pasta, ravioli and lots of other Italian goodies.  Mihir and I had a blast and it was definitely one of the highlights of our trip. 
Fresh cavatalli pasta

Homemade zucchini and cheese ravioli



Florence and Toscany were our next stops.  The food scene was probably my favorite in Florence.  The food is prepared with freshest ingredients and has a very rustic taste and feel.  Our favorite was this Trattoria that served marinara pizza.  The pizza was simply prepared with marinara sauce, lots of Italian oregano and garlic.  The pizza was so simple yet so incredibly delicious.  Mihir and I also experienced a trip to the Toscan Hills where we took a wine tour and tasting.  The local wines in Italy were mostly full-bodied red wines and were delicious.

Winery in Toscany

Gondola rides in Venice
Finally, we finished our trip in Venice.  Venice is absolutely beautiful.  The city is surrounded by water and it is just breathtaking.  Venice is very touristy and is iconic for its gondola rides which Mihir and I enjoyed very much.  Overall, our trip was amazing.  Mihir and I feel so lucky to have been able to experience Italy together and I highly recommend it to anyone looking to take a fabulous trip! 

Baci (hazelnut) gelato

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Green Goddess Shrimp and Rice

Simple, quick and full of flavor is the way I would describe this dish.  I love this recipe and make it often. So I originally saw Claire Robinson from the food network make green goddess rice.  Her show, 5 ingredient fix, was new, at the time, on the food network and after watching her make this, I said, "this is my kind of recipe!"  I love to make sauces, especially ones that are easy to make and use ingredients that can be found in your fridge or pantry.  My confession is that once I made this dish, I could not stop eating it!  I was in my last year of law school the first time I made this dish and ate it for dinner everyday for 1 month!  Eating it for 1 month was probably a little overkill but this dish is seriously delicious!  The shrimp is nice addition to the rice.  It make the rice into a meal, it's easy to prepare and it pairs nicely with the creamy rice.  The dish is perfect for an easy weeknight dinner or serve it up as a side dish to any meal.  Enjoy!

Green Goddess Shrimp and Rice:
Makes approximately 4 servings

2 cups basmati rice, washed
1 avocado, peeled, pitted and roughly chopped
1 cup fresh basil leaves
1 lemon, juiced
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup water
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
1 teaspoon hot cayenne pepper
25 medium-sized cooked shrimp, tail off


Make Green Goddess Rice: Bring the rice, 3 cups of water, and a pinch of salt to a boil in a medium saucpan over medium heat.  Reduce the heat to low; simmer, stir, cover and cook until water is completely absorbed, about 15-18 minutes.  Remove rice from heat and let stand, covered for 10 minutes.  Meanwhile, put the avocado, basil, lemon juice, 3 tablespoons oil, and 1/4 cup water in a blender and puree.  Season  with 1 teaspoon each of salt and pepper.  Add more water, if needed, and puree until the mixture is completely blended and has a thick consistency.  Fluff the rice with a fork and gently fold the avocado mixture into the warm rice.  Taste and add more salt and pepper, if necessary.

Make ShrimpIn a medium bowl, marinate the shrimp with remaining 2 tablespoons oil and 1 teaspoon each of salt, black pepper and hot cayenne pepper.  Heat a large saute pan and add the shrimp.  Cook on medium heat for 5 minutes until shrimp are warmed through and start to crinkle around the edges.  Pour shrimp into rice mixture; stir to combine and serve immediately.

Source: barely adapted from Claire Robinson

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Soft and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

So chocolate chip cookies are my favorite cookies.  I have so many memories of eating chocolate chip cookies.  These cookies were a staple of my childhood and are definitely my weakness!  When I was young, my mom used to buy packages and packages of chocolate chip cookies.  I would always ask her to buy them for me and on several occasions ask her to bake them for me.  The best chocolate chip cookies I have ever eaten are from a restaurant called Tobies.  Tobies is actually super famous for its caramel rolls (which are excellent) but the chocolate chip cookies are my favorite.  Tobies is located half-way between Duluth and the Twin Cities so whenever we would drive to the cities, we would always stop at Tobies.  My mom always picked up a warm caramel roll for herself, an oatmeal raisin cookie for my dad and of course a chocolate chip cookie for me. 

These soft and chewy chocolate chip cookies remind me of those at Tobies.  The cookies are crisp around the edges and extremely soft in the middle.  The key to making these cookies taste so good is using really good chocolate.  I used Ghiradelli milk chocolate chips which made the cookies taste outstanding. The cookies just melted in my mouth.  I know there are so so many chocolate chip cookie recipes floating around the foodie blog world and I'm sure many of them are good recipes, but this particular recipe is one of my favorites.  Although I could have eaten all of these cookies, I ended up sending them to my brother-in-law who also really loves chocolate chip cookies.  He really enjoyed them and I know you will too!  What's your favorite cookie memory?

Soft and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies:
Makes approximately 3 dozen cookies

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 egg
2 cups milk chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a small bowl, whisk together flour and baking soda; set aside.  In a large bowl, beat butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed.  Beat until mixture becomes light and fluffy.  Reduce speed to low and add salt, vanilla and egg.  Beat until well combined.  Add flour mixture to butter mixture and beat until just combined.  Stir in chocolate chips.

Drop heaping tablespoon-size balls of dough about 2 inches apart on lined baking sheets.  Bake cookies for 8-10 minutes or until cookies are golden brown, but still soft in the center.  Remove from oven and allow cookies to cool for 1-2 minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack and allow cookies to cool completely.  Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature up to 1 week.

Source: adapted from Martha Stewart

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Grilled Vegetable Chutney Pizza

Here is yet another twist to the everyday pizza!  I love love love this pizza!  If you've been following me, then you know that a few weeks ago, I posted a recipe for tandoori chicken chutney pizza.  There is no doubt that the tandoori chicken chutney pizza is delicious, but I think this pizza is even more delicious!  Indian pizza has definitely become my new favorite meal to make.  It's super easy and you can be so creative.  This particular pizza has grilled eggplant, zucchini, red onions, lots and lots of mozzarella cheese and of course garlic chutney!  This Indian pizza is super yummy and extremely addictive.  Although we made this pizza entirely on the grill, you can definitely make it in the oven.  Just preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and bake for 10 minutes.  If you don't like eggplant or zucchini, then try replacing them with vegetables you enjoy.  Have fun with this pizza!

Vegetable Chutney Pizza:
Makes approximately 2 pizzas

2 hand-fulls of store-bought bread dough
1/2 cup olive oil
4 tablespoons garlic chutney
1/2 stick (4 ounces) cream cheese
1 small eggplant, sliced thinly
1 zucchini, sliced thinly
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
1 (7 ounce) ball of fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced


Preheat grill to high heat and lightly oil grate

Make Crust: Using one hand-full of store-bought bread dough, at a time, roll bread dough into a ball and place on a floured work surface.  Stretch and roll ball of dough until desired size and shape is reached.  Place crust on a large baking sheet and brush with olive oil.  Slide crust onto grill and cook for 8 minutes or until dough begins to rise and grill marks start to appear.  Remove crust from grill and set aside.

Grill Vegetables: In a large bowl, add the eggplant slices and generously salt.  Place the eggplant aside for 5 minutes.  Add the zucchini and red onions to the bowl and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon salt and pepper and 2 tablespoons olive oil.  Grill vegetables for 3-5 minutes until tender.

Assemble Pizza: In a small bowl, mix together garlic chutney and cream cheese.  Spread mixture on grilled side of crust.  Top with grilled eggplant, zucchini, red onions and mozzarella cheese.  Place pizza back on grill for 5-7 minutes.  Allow pizza to cool for 1 minute before serving.

Source: Shef's Pantry original

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Mini Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes

I'm so excited to share this recipe with you!  Not only are these cupcakes incredibly tasty, but they are sooo cute!  I just love them!  I made these cupcakes for my friend Alana's bachlorette party.  As you probably guessed, her favorite flavor combination is peanut butter and chocolate.  She, like Mihir, also really loves reese's peanut butter cups so these cupcakes were the perfect dessert to kick off her bachlorette party.  The cupcakes are delicious, moist and have an intense chocolate flavor.  The frosting is definitely the best part of these cupcakes.  The frosting is just incredibly creamy, luscious and oh so delicious!  The cupcakes are easy to make and do not disappoint!  These mini cupcakes are perfect for entertaining, holiday parties, bridal showers, baby showers and of course bachlorette parties!  Alana really loved these mini cupcakes and I know you will too!  Enjoy!

Mini Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes:
Makes approximately 60 mini cupcakes

2 cups granulated sugar
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 eggs, room temperature
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water

Peanut Butter Frosting:
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup smooth peanut butter
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, room temperature
4 cups confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon milk
60 mini reese's peanut butter cups (optional)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Make Chocolate Cupcakes: In a large mixing bowl, stir together sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla to flour mixture.  Beat mixture with an electric mixer on medium speed for 2 minutes.  Stir in boiling water.  Line two mini cupcake pans.  Fill liners 2/3 full with batter.  Bake cupcakes for approximately 20-25 minutes.  Allow cupcakes to completely cool before frosting.

Make Peanut Butter Frosting: In a medium bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy.  Add cream cheese and continue to beat until fully combined with butter.  Add peanut butter and beat until well combined.  Slowly add confectioners' sugar, one cup at a time, until frosting becomes smooth and creamy.  Add milk and beat another 30 seconds until just combined.  Frost cupcakes and garnish with mini reese's peanut butter cups, if desired.

Source: barely adapted from Glorious Treats