This fresh and flavorful Berry Arugula Salad with Strawberry Vinaigrette is a must-have for spring & summer. Sweet and ripe raspberries, blueberries and blackberries tossed with crisp cucumber, crunchy walnuts and salty feta cheese, and dressed with the best vinaigrette you’ll ever make– Fresh Strawberry Vinaigrette! This is one of my all-star ’15-minute meals’ — 10 minutes to make it, and 5 minutes to admire how gorgeous it is. Even my hubby, who doesn’t care much for berries, goes for seconds for this. Continue Reading…
Kadai paneer is a delicious & elegant Indian dish made with Paneer (Indian cottage cheese), peppers & onions. Cooked in a tomato gravy and seasoned with an aromatic Indian spice blend, called Kadai Masala, this is a real crowd pleaser in most Indian restaurants and homes. This is my take on a classic. Here I have recreated the magic using easily available ingredients and cooked it in 15 minutes, hence the name 15-Minute Kadai Paneer. This recipe is on repeat menu in my home. Our favorite way of eating this deliciousness it to roll this mix in a warmed whole-wheat tortilla and enjoy a quick and tasty Kadai Paneer Wrap.
One-Pot / One Pan Recipe
15-Minute Kadai Paneer is one of the simplest recipes I make. The 5 minutes of prep and under 10 minutes of cooking time makes it ideal for weeknights. This easy to follow recipe comes together in ONE-PAN. A wide Skillet or Fry Pan is all you need to make it. You can even make this in your Instant Pot, using the SAUTE feature.
Summertime!! Like many of you, summer is my family’s favorite season! It means more road-trips, hiking, picnics and a ton of fresh, delicious and colorful salads. My husband and I have a salad for lunch almost everyday. Since we both prefer chicken as our protein, we get creative with seasonings, mix-ins and salad dressings to avoid monotony. Cajun Chicken Salad is one of our most loved salad.
Cajun Chicken Salad:
I start with grilling Cajun spice rubbed chicken, to toast those earthy spices. I use a cabbage spring mix for this salad, which provides a nice cool contrast to the Cajun seasoning. But, you can use any lettuce mix you like. I add toasted almond chips, which provide a nice crunch, and strawberries, which compliment and balance this salad with their sweetness. The chicken is so moist and flavorful that I don’t even use a salad dressing most of the time. But when I do, I like to have an Apple Cider-Honey Mustard Vinaigrette with it. This salad is perfect for any weather really, and the best part is, it’s Low-carb.
Cajun Spice Blend:
Cajun Cuisine, which is best known for it’s spicy and earthy flavor tones, is a regional cuisine from the southern part of Louisiana. The first time I had Cajun chicken was in New Orleans, the real deal. I fell in love immediately. It was more than a decade ago, when my husband was attending a conference in New Orleans, and I tagged along. I visited the flea market at the famous French market, where I bought my first Cajun Spice blend. I was so eager to try it, that the first thing I did when we returned home was to grill some chicken and shrimp using this spice blend. It was UNBELIEVABLY good. Based on the ingredients on that spice pack, I started putting together my own blend.
The spice mix that I put together, tasted authentic and most of all, I was able to adjust the heat level in the mix. When I make a new batch, I store it in an air-tight container, and keep it in my spice drawer, away from heat and light.
When I make it from scratch, here’s what I use:
Tandoori Chicken recipe is probably one of the most flavorful and popular recipes from the Indian subcontinent. In this recipe, I marinate the chicken in yogurt, lemon juice, aromatics and bold Indian spices. Then, I grill it to a perfect crispy golden brown. The result is tender, juicy and a to-die-for flavor! If you’ve never tried it before, just trust me on this and go for it!
Tandoori Chicken Recipe:
Skinless chicken is the traditional choice in this recipe. Start by making a marinade including yogurt, fresh ground ginger, garlic, garam masala, red chili powder and fresh lemon juice. Marinate the chicken anywhere from 30 minutes to overnight. Thread it on to skewers and grill it. Most restaurants grill it in a high-heat clay-oven called Tandoor (tun-dur). Tandoor is typically heated with charcoals. That is what gives the chicken a slightly smoky flavor. But, since most of us don’t have a clay oven in our backyards, an oven broiler, or an outdoor grill can achieve a similar flavor!
Tandoori Chicken in Instant Pot (pressure cooker):
This creamy cauliflower potato garlic sauce is simply magical. It’s like mashed potatoes met cheese fondue! I steam the potatoes, cauliflower and garlic together, and add heated heavy cream, or half-and-half, with butter, tangy goat cheese, salt and pepper, and whisk it till I get a silky smooth sauce! The addition of goat cheese adds a tanginess which cuts through the richness, and balances this sauce perfectly. Parmesan cheese compliments the goat cheese and makes this sauce absolutely delicious.
Finally nailed it!
Years ago, at a middle eastern restaurant, I had a garlic sauce that was served with grilled chicken and lamb kebab. It was hands down, one of THE most delicious sauces I have ever had! Since then, I’ve been trying to imagine a mash-up between that garlic sauce and creamy garlic mashed potatoes. I also wanted to make this sauce lighter and healthier, so that I wouldn’t have to feel too guilty about loading up on carbs. So, I decided to do a half and half of potatoes and cauliflower. After a few ‘almost there’ attempts, I finally nailed it. Continue Reading…
Thai food is always on repeat menu in my home, especially on weeknights. It is quick and super easy to make, delicious and very easily customizable to our palette. Thai Massaman Curry or Thai Masaman Curry, is one of the milder curries in Thai cuisine, which is perfect when you’re making this for kids. I love the flavor combination in this curry. It’s a nice blend of sweet and spicy and the coconut milk adds a touch of creaminess to the curry. I finish this dish with a light squeeze of lime and it ties all the flavors together really well.
Easy and Perfect for Weeknights:
Thai Massaman Curry, or any other Thai curry, is one of the easy dinners that I make during weeknights. Like most of you, during weeknights, I don’t have enough time to make this curry paste from scratch, so I combine store-bought curry paste with coconut milk, add protein and a ton of veggies, cook it on the stove-top for 10-12 minutes, or a quick 5 minutes in my Instant Pot , and it’s done! I like using Maesri brand for curry pastes. I find the taste of this brand to be the most authentic. My local favorite Thai restaurant also uses Maesri pre-made curry pastes to make their curries:-)
I buy the curry paste from Amazon, or my local asian supermarket. My pantry is always stocked with one of these curry pastes, coconut milk and a can of baby corn. It makes life much easier for times when you don’t feel like doing take-out, but still want to eat something delicious. I combine the curry paste with coconut milk, add the baby corn, plus about a cup of any frozen veggies I have on hand, and dinner comes together with minimum effort! Continue Reading…
Hearty, healthy, rich and creamy, Thai Red Curry Soup is perhaps one of my favorites meals to make when I’m in the mood for something sweet and spicy. This delicious and nutritious soup is filled with protein, has tons of veggies and the creamy yum coconut milk gives it a smooth and velvety texture . A squeeze of lime towards the end, cuts through that richness and balances this soup really well. I make quite a few variations of this soup. I switch the proteins and make it with chicken or shrimp, and a vegetarian version with Extra Firm Tofu.
Thai Red Curry Soup is quick and easy to make, and it’s just perfect for weeknights:
Thai recipes come together in a flash, especially when I use a store-bought curry paste. I’m all about making things from scratch, but when I found out that my local favorite Thai restaurant uses these pre-made curry pastes, I just had to try them. There are many brands for Thai curry paste in the stores, and I’ve tried a fair share of them. I found Maesri brand to be the most authentic in terms of flavors and consistency. I always keep these curry pastes and a can of coconut milk in my pantry. That makes weeknight dinners a breeze. I put together some fresh or frozen chicken, fresh peppers and broccoli, mix the curry paste with coconut milk, add it all to the Instant Pot (or any pressure cooker), pressure cook it for 5 minutes, and dinner is on the table in under 30 minutes!
Make it vegetarian and customize it:
To make this soup vegetarian, simply add firm tofu or Paneer (Indian cottage cheese), instead of chicken! Since tofu/paneer is already cooked, add it after pressure cooking the soup, along with the assorted veggies. This way it doesn’t get overcooked and still absorbs the wonderful flavors of the soup.
I love the crunch and flavor of assorted vegetables in Thai Red Curry Soup. I like to add sliced bell-peppers, onions, baby corn and zucchini, but you can add pretty much any kind of vegetables you like. In this recipe, I add the veggies after the pressure cooking process so they retain a nice crunch and stay fresh. Even frozen vegetables work great in this soup. Simply add them after the pressure cooking process and cook for a few minutes on sauté till they thaw and absorb the soup flavors. You can garnish it with cilantro, Thai basil or even mint. I like to have this soup as-is, but if you love to pair Thai recipes with rice, you can serve this with some white or Brown jasmine rice.
Healthier Carb Option:
Paneer Butter Masala or Paneer Makhani, literally means paneer cooked in a buttery rich sauce. Paneer is Indian cottage cheese. It’s a vegetarian variation of the popular north-Indian dish called Butter Chicken. I use fresh or store bought paneer (Indian cottage cheese), and simmer it in tomato puree, seasoned with toasted and ground garam masala. A touch of heavy cream brings this dish to life. The original dish was created in the 1950s by the chef of a super popular restaurant in New Delhi, called ‘Moti Mahal Delux’.
Traditional Recipe versus Quick & Easy Recipe
The traditional recipe for Paneer Butter Masala/Paneer Makhani involves one extra step. I marinate the paneer in yogurt and garam masala, grill it, and then simmer it in a tomato-cream sauce. But in this recipe I have skipped that step and made it a one-pot recipe using my Instant Pot, with the same incredible taste. The key is cutting paneer into small, bite-size cubes so that they absorb the flavors of the sauce, and, a little extra garam masala to compensate for the flavors lost in skipping marination. This is one of the tastiest, and most requested Indian vegetarian recipes by my kids.
Is Paneer Makhani the same as Paneer Tikka Masala?
Paneer Butter Masala/Paneer Makhani is the most popular vegetarian entree at any Indian restaurant. It’s very similar to Paneer Tikka Masala, which was a variation of this recipe, created in the UK. Everyone has their take on both these recipes, but to me, the big difference is the use of onion. To make the Tikka Masala curry I start by sautéing onions with tomatoes and aromatics. Whereas, I skip the onion when making the Butter Masala or the Makhani curry. I also add more garam masala in the Tikka Masala curry. That makes it a bit more spicier than the Makhani Curry.
Serving Suggestion for Paneer Butter Masala/Paneer Makhani
Paneer Butter Masala/Paneer Makhani goes great with naan, roti and any preparation of basmati rice. I like to pair this rich and creamy curry with Spinach Rice. The buttery soft spinach and aromatic basmati rice compliment this Paneer Butter Masala really well. It feels like a restaurant style Indian meal, in the comfort of my home. I also pair it with Cumin Rice sometimes and the combination is simply delicious!
Jamaican Jerk Chicken was probably one of the first recipes that I cooked with my husband when we were newly married! It was an adaptation of one of Bobby Flay’s recipe. I remember that I made the spice rub from scratch, marinated the meat overnight, and we grilled it on a charcoal grill. It was juicy, spicy, sweet and simply amazing!
Traditional Marinade: In the traditional recipe for Jamaican Jerk Chicken, a wet marinade is prepared with fresh thyme, scotch bonnet pepper, ginger, garlic, spring onions, oil, soy sauce, orange juice, red wine vinegar, brown sugar and a unique spice-rub that includes cinnamon, cloves, all-spice, nutmeg, black pepper and salt. Everything is blended together in a food processor and the chicken is marinated in it for 30 mins-12 hours.
Whenever I have time, I like to make this marinade from scratch, but on busy days, I love to take a shortcut and use a dry pre-mixed Caribbean Jerk Seasoning. I combine a few tablespoons of the pre-mix with orange juice, soy sauce, olive oil, red wine vinegar and brown sugar, and marinade is done.
Cooking methods: Oven/Skillet/Grill/Instant Pot: I have cooked Jerk Chicken in the oven, in a skillet, on an outdoor grill, and now, in my electric pressure cooker, Instant Pot. It takes about 15-20 minutes to grill it on the stove, outdoor grill or under the broiler (oven).
With an Instant Pot, it takes about 30 minutes, BUT, that’s hands-free time. You don’t have to monitor it, or flip it half way through. You just dump it in and walk away for the next 30 minutes. However, after cooking it in the pressure cooker, I do like to do an optional extra step. I heat a grill pan on medium-high heat, and then sear the cooked chicken for 30 secs-1 minute on one side, to get the nice grill marks on the chicken. By doing that, the sugars in the marinade caramelize and create a nice char on the chicken, that tastes heavenly and looks phenomenal.
Serving suggestion: Jamaican Jerk Chicken goes really well with a simple mango salsa, or my favorite, Kale & Mango Slaw with Chickpeas. The crunchy slaw and the sweetness of the ripe and juicy mangoes compliments the spicy chicken really well. Click on the following link to get the recipe of this spring-time favorite, Kale & Mango Slaw.
Here’s how easy it is to put Jamaican Jerk Chicken together:
Chicken Wonton Soup is perhaps one of the most ordered soups at a Chinese restaurant. Wontons are soft bite-size dumplings that are stuffed with meat or vegetables, and aromatics like ginger, garlic and spring onions. They are then cooked in a clear, flavorful chicken or vegetable broth. I love this soup, and have figured out an easier way to make it at home, on a weeknight too. This hearty recipe for a real easy Instant Pot Chicken Wonton Soup makes a great dinner dish by itself. I also have a vegetarian recipe below.
Short-Cut for Wontons
I love simple and easy meals like this, that are so comforting at the end of a long day.When I have time, I love to make homemade wontons for this soup using ground chicken, spring onions, aromatics and seasoning. But, for weeknights and crazy times, this soup is real easy to put together using my favorite store-bought frozen wontons, Chicken Cilantro Mini Wontons from Trader Joe’s. This soup will work equally well with your favorite brand of dumplings too.
All you have to do is add all ingredients, except wontons and greens, in the Instant Pot, pressure cook for 2 minutes, release pressure, add wontons and greens, and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Done! And dinner is served in 20 minutes.
Make it Vegetarian:
It is extremely easy to make this soup vegetarian by switching just two ingredients. Switch the chicken broth with vegetable broth and buy your favorite flavor of vegetable dumplings. I personally like the Thai Vegetable Gyoza dumplings from Trader Joe’s. I combine that with their low-sodium vegetable broth.
Heat a large stockpot on medium-high heat. Add all ingredients EXCEPT wontons and greens. Bring everything to a boil, reduce heat to medium and simmer for about 6-8 mins. Open lid. Add wontons and cook till they float on top, takes about 2-4 minutes. Turn off the heat. Add greens and stir well. Let them soften in the soup for a few minutes. Serve warm!
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This Chicken Wonton Soup is nutritious & filled with healthy vegetables. Just cook broth, veges, & aromatics together in the instant pot & then add wontons. Easy to make vegetarian by using vegetable stock & vegetarian wontons.
- 1 32 oz pack Chicken stock : use vegetable stock for vegetarian recipe
- 1 pack frozen wontons : I get mini wontons from Trader Joe's
- 1/2 inch ginger peeled and fine chopped, OR, 1/2 teaspoon Ground Ginger
- 2 cloves garlic peeled and fine chopped, OR, 1/2 teaspoon Garlic Powder
- 1 tablespoon Rice Vinegar
- 2 tablespoons Less Sodium Soy Sauce adjust based on salt level of stock
- 1 tablespoon Sambal Oelek Ground Fresh Chili Garlic Paste, or any chili garlic sauce
- 1 teaspoon Agave Nectar or honey
- 1/2 teaspoon Roasted Sesame Oil
- 1 tablespoon Fish Sauce optional
- 3 medium carrots sliced
- 2-3 heads of Bok Choy stems and greens (leaves) chopped and separated
Prep the veggies: For bok choy, chop the leaves and keep aside, they will be added after cooking is done. Chop the carrots and boy choy stems. Finely chop ginger and garlic.
Turn on Instant Pot: Add chicken stock and everything EXCEPT wontons and boy choy 'greens (leaves)'. Close lid. Pressure cook for 2 minutes. Manually release the pressure by moving the pressure valve from Sealing to Venting mode. If you are multiplying this recipe, wait 5 minutes before releasing pressure to avoid the soup from shooting through the pressure valve. Open lid once the pin drops.
Finish: Turn on SAUTE and add the frozen wontons. Cook 2-4 minutes till they float on top. (Watch the video). Cancel SAUTE and add the boy choy greens that you had kept aside. Stir and let them soften in the soup for a few minutes.