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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Enchilada Lasagna

Pinterest inspiration strikes again!  I was looking for a recipe that would help me use up a lot of things I had sitting around in my pantry.  This recipe from mogwai soup did just that, allowing me to use 3 cans that otherwise may not have been used.

I followed the blogger's basic recipe and method, but made a lot of changes, (which hopefully made it a teeny bit healthier).  Some of the changes include: reducing the canned soup to 1 can (rather than 2), reducing the cheese by half, reducing the tortillas, adding onions and canned tomatoes. Because of the addition of the tomatoes, the color of my filling was not as white and creamy looking as the blogger.  The tempting, cheesy top, however will definitely draw in the masses, who are bound to come back for seconds!  To counteract this slight color change, and to add to flavor, I think next time I'll be adding in a half (or maybe full) container of enchilada sauce.

Here is the recipe, heavily inspired from here.

Enchilada Lasagna


1 tbsp of vegetable oil
1 clove of garlic, grated
1/4 cup chopped onions
1 lbs chicken breast, chopped to bite pieces (marinated overnight in 1 tsp grill seasoning and 3-4 TB Zesty Italian dressing)
1 tsp taco seasoning
2 1/2 cups of mexican blend cheese
1 can of healthy request cream of celery soup (or cream of any other soup)
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup canned and chopped green chillies (not drained) (reduce amount for milder flavor)
1 can diced tomatoes with basil, garlic and oregano (no salt added), drained
about 6 small corn tortillas
sliced, jarred jalapenos (optional)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Heat oil in a skillet.  Add onions and garlic and saute until the onions are translucent, 3-4 minutes.  Be careful not to let the garlic burn.  Add chicken pieces only (not the liquid marinade).  Sprinkle with taco seasoning, and cook over high heat until brown, about 5 minutes.  (You don't need to cook it through completely because it will continue to cook in the oven).  Set the chicken aside, and let cool.  I chopped the chicken into a small dice once it cooled .

In a bowl combine cream of celery soup, sour cream, chicken and green chillies. Put 1/2 cup of cream mix on the bottom of the baking dish (I used 13 x 9) and spread. Layer a row of tortillas (cut to fill in corners) followed with cream/chicken mix and cheese. You should be able to make 2 layers like this (cream, tortillas, cream, cheese, tortillas, cream, cheese).  Top with jalapenos, if using.

Bake, uncovered for 20 - 25 minutes.  Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.  Serve with a dollop of sour cream, guacamole, or sliced avocado or whatever else you like to serve with your enchiladas (sliced onions, tomatoes, salsa, etc).

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Chocolate Oreo Cake (aka heart attack on a plate)

I do believe I've posted too many healthy recipes so far.  I think it's time to present this wonderful (absolutely unhealthy) cake!  Although we have been trying to watch what we eat and instill good eating habits in our children, sometimes we fall off the boat and eat something so sinfully 'bad for you' that we end up naming it 'heart attack on a plate'!

For my older son's 6th birthday, he insisted that he wanted an Oreo cake.  I scoured the net and settled on this recipe from  I took some short cuts by using boxed cake mix and ready made frosting, but I used the steps on the blog to make the filling and assemble the cake.  It was soooooooooooooooooo good!  Do check out the ldylvbgr blog to see additional pics of how to assemble the cake. It was very helpful!

Chocolate Oreo Cake

For cake: (I used a boxed fudge cake)
2 c. sugar
1-3/4 c. all-purpose flour
3/4 c. Hershey's Cocoa
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1-1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 c. milk
1/2 c. vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 c. boiling water

10-15 oreos twisted to separate cookies and reveal cream center
15 oreos, chopped directly in half through cookie

For icing: (I used a store bought milk chocolate frosting)
1/2 c. (1 stick) butter, melted
2/3 c. Hershey's Cocoa
3 c. powdered sugar
1/3 c. milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

For filling:
1/3 c. whipping cream
2 tsp powdered sugar
small dash vanilla extract
1/8 c. oreo cookie crumbs, made from reserved oreo sides

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare two 9-inch round baking pans, lining with parchment. -On one layer of cake, place cookie halves that have been separated into the bottom of one pan, cream side up.
-Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl.
-Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes.
-Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin).
-Pour batter very carefully into prepared pans.
-Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.
-Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans and place onto wire racks.
-Remove parchment and cool completely.

-Meanwhile, make frosting:
-Stir melted butter into cocoa.
-Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency.
-Add small amount additional milk, if needed. -Stir in vanilla. (About 2 cups frosting.)

-Meanwhile, make filling:
In the bowl of an electric mixer, whip the cream, sugar and vanilla until stiff.
-Gently fold in the cookie crumbs.
-Scoop the mixture into a piping bag (or gallon sized ziploc bag).
-When cake is completely cooled, make icing dam around the top edge of the layer of cake that has oreos baked into it.
-Fill icing dam with a layer of cream filling.
-Place other cake layer on top, and frost with chocolate frosting.
-Place oreo halves around bottom edge and top of cake.
-Serve or store in refrigerator.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Malai Tikka Gravy (Creamy Indian Chicken)

Lazeez: This is a Urdu word, but there is no direct translation in English. It can be loosely translated to beyond delicious.  Lazeez refers to how tasty something is, but also that it is flavorful.  This dish is beyond lazeez.  :)  I got the recipe from my friend Fati Naz.  She has her on own page on FB called Delicious Bytes Love of Cooking.  Every single recipe of hers that I've tried has been super scrumptious.

With a little planning, this dish can be easily made on a weeknight.  Serve it with some plain rice and store bought puff parathas (or make them yourself if you feel so inclined).  This is a dish that rivals the best Indian/Pakistani restaurant and now you can make it at home!

Fati Naz's original recipe calls for bone-in chicken.  Did you know that I have an aversion to uncooked meat?  I love eating all meats, but there's just something about cleaning raw chicken and meat that makes me sick! So I always opt for boneless, skinless chicken breast.  I also always reduce the amount of oil/butter called for and I almost always substitute fat free half and half for cream.  I have listed Fati Naz's original recipe below, and noted the changes that I made in parenthesis.  Enjoy!

Look at the beautiful color!  It is derived from the tandoori masala (easily found in any Indian/Pakistani grocery store, larger grocery stores which carry Indian products, possibly World Market, or online here:  ishopindian), paprika, and red chili powder.  Generally I would clean my bowls off before photographing them, but as I mentioned, I have an aversion to raw meats, so I left it as is. I hope you can excuse the streaks of marination!

Because I used chicken breast instead of bone-in chicken pieces, I chose to skewer the cubes, put them on a wired cooling rack, atop a foil lined baking sheet.  (Note, while skewering, your hands will turn orangey-red.  Not to worry, a little soap or some fresh lemon juice will take away the color!) The chicken cubes had a bit of space between them so that the heat could get through and provide for even cooking.  Putting them on the cooling rack also creates the same effect (even cooking from top to bottom).

1 kg chicken, 12 pcs. Slit the pieces for perfect marination (I used 2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breast pieces cut a little bigger than one inch cubes)
3tb full thick yogurt
3tb fresh cream (I used 3 TB fat free half and half)
1 tbsp fresh ginger garlic paste (I used bottled ginger garlic paste)
2 tbsp Shan Tandoori Masala
1 tsp red chilli (I used 1/2 tsp)
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves), crushed in your palm
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp fine crushed cumin (I used ground and mixed coriander/cumin pwdr)
1 tsp fine crushed corainder
salt to taste
1/2 tsp meat tendrizer ( skip this if you r mariating whole night) i did for 2 hours only .. (Chicken breast cooks up quickly, so I skipped this)
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp melted butter or ghee (clarified butter)

For the sauce:
4 tbsp butter + 1/4 cup oil (I used 2 TB butter and 2 TB oil)
1 tsp ginger garlic
300 gms tomatoes, finely chopped (about 3 large roma tomatoes or 1 1/2 cups)
Salt to taste
2 green chilli, sliced
1/2 cup cream or more

Mix together all the ingredients including the chicken .Cover and keep it in fridge for 2 hours.

Pre-heat oven at 200C (400F) and bake the chicken (along with the left over marinade). Keep chicken pieces on oven grill & keep oven tray underneath. Bake chicken pieces on both sides, each side 8 - 10 min or until golden. (I put my chicken pieces on soaked skewers). Reserve its dripping ( as we have to use this with chicken in the gravy).

In a large pan,on medium heat, melt the butter with the oil. Add the ginger & garlic,1 green chili and fry a minute or so.
Add in the chopped tomato and cook till water dries out .
Add the chicken, the remaining marinade, salt, green chili . Keep on low heat, covered & cook for 10 mins. (Since I used chicken breast, I covered the tomatoes for 8 minutes and then added the chicken pieces, cooked for another 3-4 minutes and then followed to the next step).
Add the cream and cook for further 2-3 min.
Serve hot!
We enjoyed with Parathas

Monday, April 16, 2012

Fast and easy Darbari Dal (Indian Lentils)

The word darbar in Hindi refers to the king's court.  It is a word that was introduced by the Moghuls, the Persian rulers of India.  Darbari dal, then would mean dal/lentils either served in the king's court or dal that is fit for a king! With a name like that, it's gotta be good!  Things that are THAT good usually are very fussy and time consuming. Not this recipe.  The use of the pressure cooker makes this a fast and easy recipe, perfect for any busy weeknight meal.  I couldn't resist transferring the dal from the pressure cooker to the cute little pot featured in the pic above.  My husband picked it up from India last year and I just adore it! :)

This recipe is from the renowned Indian chef, Tarla Dalal.  All of the ingredients used are common in Indian cooking, however if your pantry is not yet stocked with these basics, you can find them at your local Indian grocery store, most of the bigger grocery stores that carry Indian products, World Market, or online here. Shipping is a flat rate of $9.99 throughout the US, but it's well worth it because of the quality products you will receive.  I know the owners personally and they are a super sweet and helpful couple.  :)  

Darbari Dal

Whistles: High 3, Low 1
Soaking Time: 1 Hour
Preparation Time: 15 mins
Cooking Time: 25 mins Makes 4 servings

1/3 cup masoor dal (split red lentil)
1/3 cup moong dal (split green gram)
2 tbsp toovar (arhar) dal
3 tbsp ghee
1 tsp cumin seeds (zeera)
1/3 cup finely chopped onions
1/2 tsp dried fenugreek leaves (kasuri methi)
1/2 tsp finely chopped green chillies
1/2 tbsp ginger-garlic (adrak-lehsun) paste
1/2 cup finely chopped tomatoes
1/4 tsp turmeric powder (haldi)
1 1/2 tsp chilli powder
1 1/2 tsp coriander-cumin seeds (dhania-zeera) powder
1/2 tsp garam masala
salt to taste
2 tbsp fresh curds (yogurt/dahi) , beaten
2 tbsp cream

For The Garnish
1 tbsp finely chopped coriander (dhania)

For Serving
steamed rice
salad of your choice

1. Clean, wash and soak the dals together in a bowl for an hour. Drain and keep aside.
2. Heat the ghee in a pressure cooker, add the cumin seeds, onions, dried fenugreek leaves, green chillies and ginger-garlic paste, mix well and sauté on a medium flame for 3 to 4 minutes or till the onions turn translucent.
3. Add the tomatoes, turmeric powder, chilli powder, coriander-cumin seeds powder and garam masala, mix well and cook on a medium flame for 5 minutes, while stirring continuously.
4. Add the dals, salt and 2½ cups of hot water, mix well and pressure cook on a high flame for 3 whistles.
5. Lower the flame and pressure cook for another whistle.
6. Allow the steam to escape using natural release method, ( refer handy tip) before opening the lid.
7. Add the curds and cream and mix well.
8. Garnish with coriander and serve immediately with rice and salad.

If you don't have cream u can add sour cream. If u didn't have either (or you wanted to skip the cream) you could just add more yogurt (curd). I also like to serve it with a squeeze of lemon/lime juice and fresh, sliced onions on the side.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Low Carb, Non Fat Chocolate Mousse

I've been trying to lose some weight, but desserts are always my downfall.  I have heard from a lot of people (and my doctor also recommended) that cutting carbs will help with weight loss.  So I found a book called The Healthy Carb Diabetes Cookbook in my library system.  This was one of the recipes that really stood out.  I'm sure it wasn't as decadent and delicious as a 'real', fattening chocolate mousse, but it sure hit the spot and satisfied my sweet tooth. Also, if you're cooking for a diabetic, someone who needs to watch what they eat, or you are just looking for healthier options, this recipe is for you!  It was so good that even my children gobbled it down and asked for more the next day!

Here is the simple yet scrumptious recipe!

Low Carb (Non fat) Chocolate Mousse

Serves 4, Serving Size ½ cup

1 (1.4 oz) pkg sugar-free, fat free instant chocolate pudding mix
1 and ¼ cup non fat milk
4 oz fat-free whipped topping (Cool Whip), plus 4 TBS
Cocoa powder
4 strawberries, sliced (optional)

1. In a medium bowl, stir pudding mix into milk and whisk for 2 minutes.
2. Gently fold in 4oz whipped topping.
3. Pour ½ cup mousse into individual serving dishes.
4. Top each with 1 Tbsp whipped topping and dust with cocoa powder. Top with sliced strawberry.

1 ½ carbohydrate, Calories 120, Total Fat 0 g, Cholesterol 0 mg, Sodium 370 mg, Total Carb 24 g, (Fiber 1g, Sugar 8g) Protein 4g

From the book The Healthy Carb Diabetes Cookbook (pics by me)

This is not the best pic, but I wanted to show how luxuriously creamy, rich and thick this mousse is.  Is your mouth watering yet???  :)

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Rachael Ray's Gyros Loaf with the best tzatziki

This is one of my all - time favorite recipes.  It makes many appearances in my menu rotations.  I saw this recipe on one of Rachael Ray's shows (either the 30 Minute Meals or maybe her talk show) at least 3 or 4 years ago.  Since then, I must have made this recipe at least 20 - 25 times.  That says a lot because recipes that I regularly repeat are few and far between.    I love Middle Eastern/Arabic/Greek food.  We live in a location where if you ask for pita, they bring out some kind of meat and say, is this pita?  (Yes, this actually happened!).  So instead of driving 1 hour to get bleh Arabic food, I just make it at home.  This recipe will give you the flavors of a gyro, but remember, it is a loaf, not a whole piece of meat slow roasted on a spit.  :)

I started off making this with the frozen spinach, as the recipe indicates, but with ground chicken instead of the lamb. Almost a whole box of frozen spinach goes into this, which makes it so full of nutrition. Believe me, both of my picky children did not mind that there was spinach in there!  Once, I wanted to make this, but the box that I thought was frozen spinach turned out to be frozen butternut squash.  So I used chopped onions instead.  This dish is usally moist and delicious, but the flavor and added moistness from the onions made it even better!  I mostly make it with the onions now, but once in a while I go back to using frozen spinach.

Rachael Ray serves this with waffle fries and gravy and her version of tzatziki sauce.  I skip the waffle fries and have my own recipe for tzatziki (which is inspired by Ina Garten.  I know, I know. I'm all about the foodnetwork in this post!).

Pictured here with spinach.  The same loaf can be made with finely minced onions, if desired.

One of the best things about this recipe is that you can make extra and use the leftovers to make something new and equally satisfying.  I call it 'leftover makeover magic'.  If you go to my facebook page (ZK Food & Family), you'll find a whole album dedicated to leftovers and how they've been revamped.  Leftovers of this gyros loaf truly lend themselves to being transformed into yummy Mexican dishes.  Think quesadillas, tacos, and nachos.  I will show you how to do this in a future post.  For now, I'm sure my wonderfully creative readers will be able to use their imaginations and come up with their own versions.

I have left the recipe the way Rachael Ray created it.  I, however, being Indian and liking things spicier and more flavorful, like to reduce the meat by half (use 1 lb. ground chicken instead of 2 lb.) but reduce the spices only a little (rather than reducing the spices in the recipe by half).  So for example, the recipe calls for 2 TB of grill seasoning and 2 lbs of meat.  If you reduce the meat by half, you would generally reduce the grill seasoning by half as well.  I want my dish to be more flavorful, so I will put in 1 1/2 TB of grill seasoning rather than just 1.  I hope that make sense!

Here is the recipe, the way it was found on Rachael Ray's site (but minus the fries and gravy).  My version of the tzatziki sauce follows.  By the way, these pictures were taken before my brother let me borrow his fabulous camera, so the quality of pics is not as great as my other posts.  I'll be sure to update the pics when I make this again (and you can count on that being very soon).

1 (10-ounce) package frozen spinach (or 1 cup of finely minced onion)
2 pounds ground lamb
2 tablespoons grill seasoning, a couple of palm fulls
2 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin, divided
1 tablespoon chili powder, a palm full
1 tablespoon coriander, a palm full
1 teaspoon dried oregano, 1/3 palm full
2 to 3 pinches ground cinnamon
1 cup feta crumbles
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup Greek yogurt
1 small clove garlic, grated
1/4 cucumber, peeled and grated
1 lemon, juiced
2 vine ripe tomatoes, thinly sliced
1/2 cucumber, thinly sliced
Hot pepper rings, sliced banana peppers, for sandwich garnish
8 pita breads

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. (Edit:  For the ground chicken, I preheat to 400 degrees F).

Defrost spinach in microwave. Place lamb in a bowl. Add grill seasoning, 2 teaspoons cumin, chili powder, coriander, oregano, cinnamon and feta crumbles. Wring the spinach dry in a kitchen towel and add to lamb. Mix the lamb and form a long 3-inch roll on a baking sheet. Coat lamb with extra-virgin olive oil and bake 20 minutes. (For the ground chicken, I only cook it for 15 minutes, and make sure the chicken is at 165 degrees F).

Mix yogurt, a grated clove of garlic, cucumber, the juice of 1 lemon and 1/2 teaspoon cumin. Slice and reserve the tomatoes, cucumbers and drain hot peppers, chop and reserve.

Soften pita over open gas flame or under broiler.

Slice lamb loaf into 1/4-inch slices. Spread yogurt on pitas and top with a 2 slices of lamb, tomatoes, cucumbers and hot peppers. Serve 2 pitas per person. (I don't use hot peppers.  I do serve it with sliced onions as well and more feta cheese on the side).  Here I am serving it with store bought hummus, but making your own is not difficult at all.  I will provide my recipe soon!

My version of tzatziki (inspired by Ina Garten)

1 pound (1 pint) plain yogurt (whole milk or low fat) (I use Greek yogurt)
1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled and seeded
1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon vinegar
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (1 lemon)
1 tablespoon good olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic (I grate mine)
1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh dill (I often use dried dill, about 3/4 tsp)
Pinch freshly ground black pepper
3/4 tsp sugar (optional - I add this to mellow out the tartness of the sauce. Ina Garten does not add this).

Place the yogurt in a cheesecloth or paper towel-lined sieve and set it over a bowl. (I use greek yogurt, so I skip this step). Grate the cucumber and toss it with 1 tablespoon of kosher salt; place it in another sieve, and set it over another bowl. Place both bowls in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 hours so the yogurt and cucumber can drain.

Transfer the thickened yogurt to a large bowl. Squeeze as much liquid from the cucumber as you can and add the cucumber to the yogurt. Mix in the sour cream, vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, dill, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper. You can serve it immediately, but I prefer to allow the tzatziki to sit in the refrigerator for a few hours for the flavors to blend. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Triple Chocolate Chunk Muffins

How can something with the words triple chocolate chunk in the title be good for you?  It seems a little too good to be true, doesn't it?  Well, do not despair, because these muffins are extremely delicious and satisfying, yet filled with the wholesome goodness of oats and the protein power of Greek yogurt. Yes, there is the addition of sugar substitute and chocolate chips to this, but anything in moderation is good.

Once again, this is one of those recipes found on Pinterest.  A cute little 16 year old girl hosts a blog here.  The link is no longer available via Pinterest because some users reported it as spam.  I'm not sure what the deal with that is, because it seems like a legit site.  Who knows?  I'm just happy to come across this wonderful recipe, which my 7 year old devoured in 15 seconds flat!

You can see that my muffins didn't rise too much.  It is important to fill up the cups all the way, if you want tall, rounded muffins.

A few tips:

The recipe suggests to use foil cupcake/muffin liners.  My foil liners were lined with paper, so I just used paper liners.  All of my muffins stuck to the paper, and I wasn't able to remove them easily.  (No worries, as neither my son or I have any trouble gobbling up the tiny leftover bits directly from the liners!)  To avoid this, next time I think I will just spray my liners with a little cooking spray, or use silicone baking cups.

So every recipe for muffins/cupcakes that I have ever seen always recommends to fill the cups 3/4ths of the way up.  I did this, and had so much batter left over.  I was able to fill a little six inch silicone mold (which I sprayed, by the way and had no issues getting the mini cake out) and had a nice little cake along with my 12 muffins.  I would recommend filling the muffin cups all the way for nice, tall, rounded muffin tops.

Finally, if you are not on any sugar restricted diet, I would recommend using 1/2 sugar and 1/2 splenda (or even all sugar - which means these will not be healthier anymore).  Although still delicious, there is a slight after taste of the splenda, which I am not accustomed to yet.

Here's the recipe, with some of my changes and tips!

Triple Chocolate Chunk Muffin Knock-Offs of Whole Food’s 6 Dollar per 4 Chocolate Chunk VitaTop Muffins (via


1 3/4 c oats
3 egg whites
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt (or regular plain low fat yogurt)
1/2 tsp cream of tartar (or 1-1/2 Tbsp. vinegar) (I used the vinegar)
1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
1-1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup hot water
1 cup sugar substitute (like Splenda granular) OR 1/4 cup + 2 tbs stevia OR Regular sugar*
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (or use white chocolate or peanut butter chips!)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 (12-cup) mini muffin pans (or one large 12 cup muffin pan) with foil cupcake liners (spray liners with oil spray or use silicone cups also sprayed with oil spray), or spray muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.

In a blender, (or food processor), mix all of the ingredients together, except for the chocolate chips. Blend until oats are ground and mixture is smooth.

Place mixture in a bowl and gently stir in 1/2 of the chocolate chips (set the rest aside). Scoop mixture into prepared muffin pans, filling all the way to the top of liner.

Place muffins tins in the oven for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, remove muffins from the oven (but don’t shut oven off), and distribute the other half of the chocolate chips on top of each muffin.

Place the muffins back into the oven and bake for an additional 2-5 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. *Note, you could skip this step by putting all of the chips in the batter, and baking the muffins for 12-15 min straight, but this method gives the muffins the traditional ‘VitaTop Muffin’ look with the chocolate chips on top!

Cool muffins before removing from pan. ENJOY!!!

Servings: 12 Big Muffins or 24 Smaller Muffins
Calories: 116 Calories Per large Muffin or 58 Calories Per mini Muffin *The calorie count will change if you use regular sugar.