Prickly Pear Fruit Dip/Sauce

Did you know cactus fruit are sweet and flavorful? Have you ever tried them? We lived in Arizona for a very long time. We had Prickly pear and Saguaro growing in the garden. Every year we watched the local animals and birds fight over the fruit. It was hard to get some for us before the birds got to them. After we moved to Texas all we see are the small 5 inch tall cactus growing in little pots. I remember the first time I saw the little cacti at the nursery and almost cried. Imagine my surprise when I saw prickly pear fruit in the local 99 ranch market. I had to get it and make this sauce/dip.

The process is really the same as with any other fruit sauce or dip. You heat the fruit with a little sugar and strain. The aroma takes getting used to but the flavor is awesome.

You will need
3 ripe prickly pear fruit (pinkish in color, not green)
1 tbsp. sugar (or as needed, increase or decrease as per taste)

Peel the rough skin off the fruit and dice into cubes. Boil 3/4 cup of water in pan. Add the fruit and the sugar. Lower the heat and let it simmer until the fruit is cooked and can be mashed. Turn off the heat and allow it to cool for a few minutes.

Using a fine wire strainer, strain the sauce to remove the seeds and hard pulp. Discard the seeds and pulp. The sauce/dip is ready. Serve with fresh cut fruit like apples.

Enjoy with some fresh fruit!

Zucchini No Noodle Lasagna in Tomato Sauce

I love the zucchini ribbon noodles that the Veggie bullet makes. But it makes a LOT! I made ribbons with two zucchini and realized I needed only one for my single serving lasagna. So I decided to make a second lasagna this time with a tomato-onion sauce. This was one of the tastiest pasta I have made.

Even though I added a sauce to this lasagna I made certain the sauce was dry enough to not soak the zucchini. This kept the zucchini from getting mushy. The shredded broccoli added more flavor. My husband loved it.

You will need
1 zucchini
1/2 cup broccoli, shredded
2 slices mozzarella
salt and pepper to taste

For the sauce
1/4 onion, diced
2 medium tomatoes, diced
1 tsp. dried or fresh basil (if using fresh, dice)
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp or to taste paprika
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp oil (I used olive oil)

In a pan heat the oil and add the diced onion. When cooked and tender (~ 3-4 minutes) add the tomatoes and the rest of the ingredients. Cook until all the juice is absorbed. Turn off heat and keep aside until needed.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Using a sharp knife or a veggie bullet cut the zucchini into ribbons. Add some salt and let the ribbons sit for 10-15 minutes. Using a towel soak the water. Spread the ribbons on a baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes flipping once.

Now you are ready to assemble. First place the zucchini in the bottom of the pan. I used a smal single springform pan. If you do not use a non stick pan add some oil/butter to the bottom to keep the zucchini from sticking.

Add half the tomato onion sauce.

Now add the shredded broccoli and a slice of cheese.

Repeat the layers ending with the second slice of cheese.

Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until the cheese has melted. Broil for a couple of minutes to brown the cheese.


This is my entry for week one, day three of BM #81 for the theme Lasagna. Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM#81.

Potato Cannelloni Beans No Noodle Lasagna

My plan was to try butternut squash noodles in my new kitchen toy the Veggie Bullet. My husband went to buy it while I prepped. But he could not find it in the grocery store. And so I had to improvise and use potato instead. The lasagna was very filling as it had broccoli and beans. As with the recipe posted yesterday, I made this lasagna in a single serving springform pan.

I built the recipe based on what I had on hand, the flavors we like and the need for some protein. You can make lasagna with pretty much anything you have on hand. In order to not get the vegetables mushy, I did not use a sauce. The cheese served as the binding agent along with the mashed beans. I let the potatoes bake with the lasagna but my husband said I should have baked them separately before layering them in the lasagna so the next time I use potatoes I will cook them partially in the oven.

You will need (single serving)
1 potato, very thinly sliced
4-5 florets broccoli
1 cup Cannelloni beans (I used canned beans)
2 slices Mozzarella cheese
1/4 onion
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp olive oil

Add a little salt to the potato slices and keep aside. Meanwhile Add the oil to a pan and heat it. Add the onion and let it cook and brown on low heat. Transfer the onion to a plate and place the pan back on the heat. Next add the beans to the pan. When heated through, mash with a masher. Shred the broccoli florets and add them to the beans. Add salt and pepper and mix together. Turn off heat and keep aside until needed.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Wipe the liquid on the potato slices with a towel. If you like the potato fully cooked with no crunch then place the potato slices in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake for about 5-10 minutes,

Place the potato slices as the bottom layer of the lasagna in the pan. Layer half the bean and broccoli mixture over the top.

Follow up by the onion.

The last layer is cheese. Repeat the layers ending with the second slice of cheese. Bake for 15-30 minutes in the oven until the cheese has melted. Switch the oven to broil and brown the cheese.


This is my entry for week one, day two of BM #81 for the theme Lasagna. Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM#81.

Zucchini and Tofu No Noodle Lasagna

Today I will present a lasagna made with zucchini ribbons in place of noodles. I made the noodles using my new kitchen toy - the Veggie Bullet. Among other things it can cut vegetables into ribbons. These ribbons can be used as lasagna noodles. Since I got the toy I am on the lookout for veggies that I can turn to noodles. Vegetables noodles cook quickly and taste best when they are cooked but crisp. So you do not need elaborate sauces to make this lasagna.

I made this lasagna after my daughter left for school. I can't wait for her to be back so I can make this for her. My husband enjoyed the lasagna. I made it in a very small springform pan as a single serving. You can double the recipe. Ingredients are approximate. You can mix and match in proportions that suit your taste. The trick is to not overcook the vegetables.

You will need (single serving)
1 small zucchini
1/2 cup extra firm tofu cut into cubes
2 slices fresh mozzarella cheese
1/4 small onion
salt and pepper to taste
a little oil to caramelize the onions

Using your Veggie Bullet cut the zucchini into ribbons. Alternately, you could use a sharp knife to cute the zucchini into thin long slices. Sprinkle some salt over the zucchini and allow to sit for 10-15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Dab the liquid from the zucchini with a towel and place the ribbons on a baking tray and bake for 5 minutes. Flip over and bake for another 5 minutes.

Meanwhile add the oil to a pan and saute the onions until tender and sweet. Keep aside. To the same pan add the cubes tofu with some salt and pepper. Let it heat completely. Keep aside.

To assemble, place half the zucchini ribbons on the bottom of the pan. Since my pan is nonstick I did not prepare it with oil/butter. You can rub some oil/butter on the bottom to prevent sticking.

Layer the onions over the top.

Add half the tofu and place a slice of cheese over it.

Repeat all the layers starting with the zucchini ribbons.

Bake in the preheated over at 350F for about 20 minutes or until the cheese melts and all the layers are heated through. Switch to broil and let the cheese brown on the top.


This is my entry for week one, day one of BM #81 for the theme Lasagna. Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM#81.

Dal Vada in Appe pan (Not Deep Fried)

I have made a lot of different vada in the appe pan, dahi vada, batata vada, sabudana vada, methi vada etc. This is my latest experiment. I used the dals I had on hand in the proportion that felt good at the time. Mung dal makes the vada lighter and easier to cook, channa dal and lentils add a lot of flavor.

I made these as a evening snack but you may want to add them as a side to a dinner menu. They would also make great appetizers at a party.

You will need for 15-20 vadas
1/2 cup toor dal
1/2 cup red lentils
1/2 cup urad dal (split black lentils)
1/4 cup channa dal (split chickpea)
1/4 cup mung dal
1 1/2 tsp roasted cumin coriander powder
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp fennel seeds
Salt and black pepper to taste

Add all the dals to a bowl. Add enough water to the bowl to cover the dals and aside for about 2-3 hours. Drain the water. Blend the dals to a paste using a little water such that it has the consistency in the bowl in the picture below.

Mix in all the remaining ingredients except the oil.

Heat the appe pan on the stove top over medium heat. Add a drop of oil in each of the wells. Next using a tablespoon add the heaping spoonful of the mixture to each of the well. Cover and let it cook for 2-3 minutes on medium-low heat.

Check if the under side is done using a knitting needle or a skewer. If brown flip the vada.

Flip the remaining vada, cover and let it cook until done.

Dal vada is ready. East on its own as a snack or part of a meal.


Dal and Rice in Instant Pot

How is Dal rice in the instant pot any different from the stove top version? There is not a lot of difference in taste. It is the method that is simplified. You start in the saute mode with phodni/tempering. Next you add chopped vegetables, spices etc. Finally the dal and water. You can put a pot in the pot (PIP) to cook the rice. Close the lid and let it cook for 15-8 minutes. You don't have to watch it. When it is done the pressure comes down and you can switch it off. This freedom makes the instant pot perfect for weekday morning.

When my daughter came home for summer she wanted Indian food. That was a surprise because when she was home she craved all types of food. She prefers rice to poli so I made dal rice more often than I normally would.

Dal rice combination is one of the most popular combinations in Indian cuisine. Together it is a complete protein and there is an endless variety of dal preparations.

You will need
1 cup toor dal
1 tsp oil (I use olive oil)
1 tsp mustard seeds
1/4 tsp asafoetida
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp rasam powder
1/2 onion optional
1 carrot diced
1 green bell pepper diced
1 tomato

For the rice
1 cup rice
1 1/4 cup water

Wash and soak the toor dal and keep aside for at least 15 minutes. In a utensil that will fir into your IP, wash and soak the rice. Keep aside.

Add oil to the IP inner pot and power it up on saute mode. Add the mustard seeds. When they sizzle add the asafoetida and turmeric powder. Next add the onion and saute for a minute or two. Add the rest of the vegetables and the rasam powder. Saute for a minute.

Drain the toor dal and add it to pot.

Add 2 1/2 cups of water. Insert the IP stand and place the rice container on it.

Switch off the IP and restart in manual mode. Put on the lid and ensure the pressure valve is closed. Set for 16 minutes. When done let the pressure come down naturally. Dal rice is done.


Dal Paratha

My daughter was home for summer and missed home cooked Indian food. I was happy to oblige. She loves lentils and I made it a point to cook them everyday. The day I had left over lentils I made dal paratha. This flatbread is made with wheat flour and lentils.

Dal Paratha is a great way of boosting the protein content of your poli. Instead of using plain wheat flour add cooked turdal to it. The rest of the preparation is similar to that of any stuffed flatbread.

You will need
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cup cooked turdal
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1 tsp. onion seeds (kalongi)
1 tsp. turmeric powder
salt to taste
1 tbsp. olive oil

Put all the ingredients in a mixing bowl.

Using water knead into a dough. Using a little olive oil on you palm knead again to soften the kneaded dough. Divide into lemon sized balls.

Roll each ball on a working surface using a rolling pin.

Sprinkle wheat flour to prevent it from sticking and roll it out to a 7 in poli.

Place the paratha on a hot griddle pan. Cook until brown spots appear on the surface. Flip it over and cook the other side.

Serve hot with any side dish like curry or bhaji. Enjoy!

Three Cheese Pizza

My daughter is home for the summer. I am back to trying new things in the kitchen as she is willing to try anything I make. Unfortunately, not much has made it to the blog. Clicking pictures and making time to post to the blog has been an issue for me for the past year. After making several attempts I am back with some simple recipes. My goal is to keep posting recipes on 3 days at least 2 weeks of the month with a group of blogger friends. Two weeks back I posted trail mix and this week it is pizza.

Cheese pizza is an old favorite. This time I tried it with a new combination of cheese. This three cheese pizza brings together our new favorite goat cheese with mozzarella and cheddar. It is a very simple recipe and cooks in about 7 minutes on very high heat.

You will need
Pizza dough with my classic pizza recipe
Pizza sauce
Mozzarella, goat and cheddar cheese to taste

Follow instructions on my classic pizza recipe for the pizza dough.  Prepare the pizza sauce using my pizza sauce recipe.

When you are ready to make the pizza preheat the oven to 525 F. Slice the mozzarella, crumble the goat cheese and shred the cheddar. Once you transfer the pizza to the heated pizza pan, add the pizza sauce as the base.

Add the cheese - all of it. Place the pizza in the preheated oven for 5 minutes followed by two minuted under the broiler. 


Edible bread basket

Edible Spring Bread Basket / Braided Bread Basket

After I had made an edible bread basket I had this vision of a shallower basket that could be used as a centerpiece decorated with flowers. ...