Quick Padrón Peppers

Padrón peppers (also known as Spanish pimientos de Padrón), are my favorite kind of green peppers because they are crispy, mild-tasting, and occasionally give you a spicy surprise! These beautiful peppers come from the ‘capsicum’ family (better known as bell pepper in the US), and this preparation is my favorite way to eat them (and they are my husband’s favorite healthy snack!). Rumor has it that the peppers grown towards August/September tend to contain more capsaicin (spiciness) than the ones of June/July.

All I know is that when spring and summer comes around, I go hunting at local farmer’s markets for these gorgeous peppers. If any of you have kids, let it be known that I fed these to my 8-year-old nephew who was visiting from India, and he LOVED them. His mom claims that he usually doesn’t eat vegetables, so moms out there, maybe this is your answer to getting your kids to eat some greens.

Enjoy! 🙂

Love,
Priyanka

Padrón Peppers PK

Ingredients
2 cups of raw padron peppers, washed and dried
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive-oil
Kosher salt, to taste
freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
fresh lemon juice

Directions
Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add extra-virgin olive oil and add padrón peppers. Sprinkle with the salt, pepper, and lemon juice and cook for approximately 5 minutes, stirring every other minute. You want to let the peppers blister a little, so don’t worry if some sides are blackened (that’s when they are most delicious!).

Take them off the heat, sprinkle with more salt, if desired, and enjoy hot! Note: Don’t eat the stems, but use them to hold the hot peppers while you eat 🙂 Enjoy! 🙂

Smoked Salmon Crostinis

I make these crostinis a lot, but I made them recently and they flew off the table so quickly, that I realized that I just had to blog these for you. I get that warm and fuzzy feeling when a NO-COOK recipe is enjoyed so thoroughly (and I hardly had to do anything!). This recipe is simple, delicious, and easy to whip up as a beautiful appetizer for an impromptu meal or even a fancy shin-dig you had planned eons earlier. The salty bite of the capers is ever-so-important, so don’t forget those! And of course, one cannot over-stress the importance of fresh dill alongside gorgeous salmon slices. This is not season-specific so enjoy this recipe in summer, spring, or even winter!! PS…did I mention this is a NO-COOK RECIPE? 😉

Enjoy!

Love,
Priyanka

PS – I apologize in advance for being so general about the amount of the ingredients, however how much cream cheese and salmon you put on the baguette really depends on your personal preference (and the width and size of your baguette, which I simply cannot guess). Feel free to be as stingy or generous as you want with these ingredients 😉


smoked salmon crostini PK

Ingredients
1 fresh baguette (I prefer using garlic baguette to get that extra flavor, but you can use any baguette you enjoy)
2 teaspoons melted butter in a small cup
wild smoked salmon, amount to your taste (wild smoked salmon is amazing and much better than regular–splurge! the difference is noticeable)
cream cheese, amount to your taste
fresh dill, one sprig per baguette slice
capers, drained (you can buy these in a jar)

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Meanwhile, slice your baguette diagonally into approximately 1/4 inch thick disks. Place the slices on a cookie sheet or a flat baking pan. Brush them with the melted butter, sprinkle them with a dash of Kosher salt and into the oven they go for approximately 4-5 minutes. Flip the pieces of baguette at this point and check for doneness. [Note: You don’t want both sides to be super crispy! Lightly toasted is what we are going for here].

Remove the baguette slices off of the pan and let them cool for a few minutes. Spread cream cheese onto them, top with wild smoked salmon, and garnish with sprigs of fresh dill and capers. Serve immediately and enjoy! 🙂

Oven-Roasted Lamb Kefta (Meatballs)

I love this recipe because of it’s simplicity, ease of putting together, and bold flavor profile. The spiciness of the chili powder contrasting with the rich flavors of the cinnamon, cumin, and garlic literally create a party in your mouth. My signature on these meatballs is the addition of fresh pesto – in my opinion, adding the pesto adds a nuttiness and a little fattiness that keeps the meatballs incredibly moist and divine.

You can serve these alone with some fresh yogurt to dip into (or get fancy and serve it with some tzatziki for an authentic Greek feel!). Make it a meal by stuffing whole-wheat pitas along with some lettuce and tomatoes and there you have your lunch and/or dinner ready! Or you can even throw these delicious meatballs into some tomato sauce and simmer them until ready, and you have a gorgeous lamb meatball in tomato-sauce dish that you can serve over cous cous or rice.

The options are endless, and I see this healthy, oven-roasted lamb kefta as a base recipe that can serve as a one-bite appetizer at a fancy party, or as the filling of a sandwich the next day for lunch (although it is highly unlikely there will be any leftovers of this recipe) 😉

Enjoy! And be sure to share this one with your family and friends, as all good food should be!

Love,
Priyanka

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Yields: Approximately 12 appetizer-sized meatballs

Ingredients

1 pound ground lamb (can substitute ground chicken, beef or turkey and still get a great result!)
1 1/2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons paprika
1 teaspoon chili powder (optional)
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon celery seeds
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
3 tablespoons of homemade pesto (or any store-bought pesto works great too!)
1 medium white or yellow onion, minced
1 egg
1 tablespoon fresh chopped mint (or you can use dried mint)
Garnish: fresh mint leaves

Directions

Place lamb, cumin, paprika, chili powder (optional) garlic powder, celery seed, seasoned salt, cinnamon pepper, pesto, onion, egg and mint together in a bowl.

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Mix evenly using clean hands [I prefer putting on clean, disposable gloves and then mixing. For some reason, mixing ground meat with your hands is the best way to incorporate all the ingredients! No kitchen tool can replicate what your hands can do :)]

Mix gently until evenly combined. Form mixture into 12 meat balls (I use a 1/4 cup measure for each meatball – or you can use an ice cream scoop or melon baller, size of your choice). Round off each meatball in your hands using a circular motion, and place each meatball on a parchment-paper lined baking sheet that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Chill kefta until ready to use (up to 2 hours in refrigerator).

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Note: There are two ways to cook the kefta – you can lightly fry them on the stovetop or bake them in the oven.

Method 1: Heat extra-virgin olive oil in sauteé pan. Once the oil is hot, add meatballs (be careful not to overcrowd the pan with too many meatballs (if needed, cook in batches). Turning the meatballs occasionally for even cooking, cook for about 6-8 minutes until desired exterior crispness and interior doneness.

Method 2: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake the 12 meatballs on the baking tray you prepared them onto and bake on the center rack of the oven for 15-20 minutes until browned as desired. Serve hot with yogurt, red onions, and cucumber slices! Pair with flatbread, pita bread, or fresh rice for a whole meal! 🙂

Avgolemono (Egg-Lemon-Chicken Soup) with Orzo

This is by far my favorite mediterranean soup recipe – if I ever see this on a menu, I order it without blinking. If I am ever craving something rich, creamy, tangy, and yet healthy, this is my go-to recipe in the kitchen. The creaminess of this soup comes from the eggs and flavorful chicken broth. It is a light soup, that is decadent at the same time. It can also be made in under 20 minutes, thanks to store-bought rotisserie chicken that is hard to replicate in your every day kitchen! Why waste 30-40 additional minutes cooking or boiling chicken for this recipe when you can buy gorgeous, roasted chicken meat at your local Costco or grocery market? 🙂

My favorite flavor in this soup is the citrus from the lemon juice – it is gorgeous against the meaty, starchy nature of the chicken and orzo. This is truly a one-pot meal that you can always accessorize with toasted bread and/or crackers to complete it. Perfect for that weeknight family meal, or as an appetizer for your worldly weekend dinner spread!

Enjoy! 🙂

Love,
Priyanka

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Yields: 6-8 portions
Ingredients
8 cups chicken stock (or to make vegetarian, use vegetable broth)
3/4 cup orzo pasta (optional)
2-3 cups of shredded rotisserie chicken (already cooked) – depending on how ‘meaty’ you like it (can omit to make vegetarian)
5 eggs
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
Kosher salt and white pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons fresh dill

Directions

In a large saucepan, bring stock to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and add orzo. Cook uncovered until tender, about 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Five minutes before pasta is done, add chicken.

Meanwhile, place eggs in mixing bowl. Whisk eggs while adding lemon juice. Stir in zest. Whisking constantly, slowly pour a ladle of the hot stock into the egg mixture to temper (this is to ensure that your eggs don’t curdle – you have to keep whisking constantly so that the room temperature egg mixture does not cook!).

Reduce heat to very low. Then, while whisking the soup in pan, slowly pour in the egg mixture (continue to whisk constantly!). Soup should thicken slightly. Add salt and pepper to taste, and garnish with parsley or fresh dill. Serve hot!

Japanese Broiled Fish

Have you ever been in a rush to put together a delicious meal? Well, I certainly have. And there have been many (perhaps too many) nights where I’m craving a delicious, yet healthy fish dish but I don’t have the energy to marinate overnight or be fancy about things. This is by far, my favorite and quickest Asian-style fish recipe that makes my taste buds tickle with happiness. The beautiful color of the fish and the charred bits from the grill are the most beautiful part of this dish. The simplicity of the flavor (and low calorie count) make this recipe a true winner!

Try it out – you won’t be disappointed! 🙂

Love,
Priyanka

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Ingredients

1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon mirin
1 tablespoon white sugar
1/2 tablespoon miso paste (yellow miso, not red miso)
1 fish filet of your choice (can use salmon sea bass, cod, or even mackerel)
Kosher or sea salt, to taste

Directions

Method: You can either broil the fish in your oven, use an indoor grill pan, or use an outdoor grill! I like putting my fish indirectly on the flame as pictured below, which I am told is the best way to cook the fish! [Note: if you cook it the way I did, remember to line your stove with aluminum foil as I did for a quicker clean-up!]

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Combine the first four ingredients in a bowl and marinate your fish filet while you heat up your grill (up to 20 minutes, but less is fine!). Once your grill (or oven) is hot, cook the filet for about 5-8 minutes, flipping and basting occasionally until the fish is flaky and cooked to your liking.

Sprinkle a little salt on top of the fish and serve on top of a fresh arugula salad and squeeze a lemon wedge over your fish and salad. Dinner is ready! 🙂

Chicken Salad Sandwich with Herb & Saffron Mayo

The thing I love about rotisserie chicken is that it cuts down my cooking time of most dishes to under 20 minutes. Being a working woman with mouths to feed, it’s almost like a dream come true that I can hopscotch over to the nearest Costco or Safeway and pay anywhere from $4.99 to $6.99 for a whole, fresh bird cooked to beautiful perfection. Not only do I get to do fun things with the meat like make a delicious chicken salad sandwich, but I also reserve the bones and skin to make a robust homemade chicken broth that completely elevates the taste of many of my dishes. I am true believer in not wasting food, and chicken bones are definitely never found in my trash bin unless I’ve simmered the heck out of them over a low flame while making a broth! 🙂

This chicken salad (sandwich) is an ode to the classic lunch box fare. However, the salad is perfect as an appetizer on top of a crostini or even as a picnic lunch with a fresh baguette in hand. Scoop up some of this chicken salad with a cracker if a baguette is nowhere to be found, and you’re sure to please your taste buds even then!

Enjoy! 🙂

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Ingredients
1 rotisserie chicken, bones and skin removed
2 stalks of celery, chopped (chop up the leaves too! why waste?)
1 can of pitted olives, drained, rinsed, and halved
1 bell pepper (color of your choice), seeded and chopped into small pieces
1/2 red or white onion, chopped
1/4-1/2 cup Priyanka’s herb & saffron mayo
Kosher salt, to taste
freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
Variation: Add bacon bits or crunchy potato chips to your chicken salad for an additional crunch!
Garnishes to assemble sandwich: avocado, tomato, cheese, fresh spinach

Directions

Remove the meat from the rotisserie chicken, reserving the skin, bones, and dark meat for making your own homemade chicken broth, if desired! Otherwise, discard and place only the boneless meat in a large bowl. Add in the celery, olives, bell pepper, onion, and anywhere from 1/4-1/2 cup of Priyanka’s herb & saffron mayo.

Mixed thoroughly, but gently, until all ingredients are well-incorporated. Taste the salad and adjust seasoning, per your taste. Refrigerate in an air tight container for up to 2 days.

Serve chicken on toasted bread or hamburger bun, accompanied by avocado slices, tomato slices, pepper jack cheese, and fresh spinach. Add some bacon, sriracha hot sauce, or spicy brown mustard for a fun twist! Serve alongside baby carrots, potato chips, or fresh fruit for a complete meal! 🙂

Roast Halibut with a Spiced Cream Topping

My parents have been vegetarians their entire lives (well, mostly) :). My dad apparently had his ‘meat’ days when he used to eat seafood, hamburgers, and even chicken before he met my strictly vegetarian mother. But, I suppose after over 35 years, it becomes a distant memory and almost hard to believe. Well, as it would so happen, I managed to convince both of them to start eating fish and eggs to help them increase their protein consumption. And this was the SECOND fish dish they had – and they loved it.

I have to admit, it’s not the healthiest preparation of fish, but I won’t lie, steamed fish can get old really quickly. Make things interesting once in a while and add creative vegetables and sauces and excite your family! 🙂

Since this huge change in my parents’ diet, I’ve been trying to make fish for them 2-3 times a week until they get a hang of how to handle and cook fish (I guess Dad really has forgotten!) :). But, I have to say, there is nothing more delightful than making food for your loved ones and have them enjoy it and eat up every little bit of it. There were no leftovers when I made this dish. 🙂

I think of this dish as Asian-inspired slash french 🙂 The asparagus and the cherry tomatoes really put this dish over the top when they blend with the tanginess of the Tabasco and chili sauce and the creaminess of the mayo! *I’m getting hungry just typing this!* 🙂

If your family loves fish, they will LOVE this recipe!! 🙂 Enjoy 🙂

Love,
Priyanka

PS – I beg all of you who have tried ANY of my recipes to send me pictures and any feedback and/or comments!!! 🙂 Would love to feature you on my reviews section.


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Ingredients

4 filets of halibut (or similar, firm white fish such as cod or sea bass!)
Kosher salt, to taste
freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

1/2 cup mayonnaise (to make it healthier, feel free to use 1/4 cup mayo, 1/4 cup greek yogurt)
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon of Tabasco sauce (red)
3/4 teaspoon Lee Kum Kee chili garlic sauce(can be found at asian stores) – you can substitute with sriracha or a pinch of chili powder or flakes and minced ginger
1/2 teaspoon white sugar
1/2 teaspoon soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
1 bunch of thin asparagus, approximately 1 inch of the stem trimmed
1/2 cup of cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup thinly sliced onions
1 lemon, cut in half (or a teaspoon of lemon juice)

Garnish: 1 tablespoon sesame seeds & 3/4 cup sliced green onions

Directions

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F, and set an oven rack on the center rung.

In a separate bowl, mix the mayonnaise, lemon juice, Tabasco, chili garlic sauce, sugar, soy sauce, sesame oil and onions.

Line a baking sheet (or flat, oven-safe pan) with aluminum foil and spray the aluminum with cooking spray. Now, arrange halibut pieces on the prepared baking sheet (it’s ok if they touch each other!) and season with Kosher salt and pepper to taste. Now, lay the thin asparagus spears and cherry tomatoes over the fish in whichever arrangement you like.

Top the asparagus and fish with the mayo mixture – use spatula if easier to spread.

Bake in the preheated oven until almost opaque, 15 to 20 minutes; remove the baking sheet from the oven.

Raise the oven rack with the baking sheet to the next-highest level and change the oven setting to ‘Broil’. Put the baking sheet back into the oven on the higher rung and cook the fish until the top is browned (oven strengths vary, but you should broil the fish for anywhere from 3-7 minutes). Just watch it! 🙂

Plate each filet, squeezing fresh lemon juice over each piece. Garnish with sesame seeds and green onions.