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Mints, Anyone?

I love the flavor and fragrance of mint. To me Mint spells “fresh”, “clean”, “summer”. I mostly use mint in its herb form as a garnish or as a spicy condiment but it is also a blessing for an upset tummy just as well. I also keep a mixture of peppermint, eucalyptus and lemongrass essential oils for the occasional aches and pains. This also works as a great pick-me-up to fight the blahs.

Coming back to the mint ‘herb’, the very first thing I do is to wash the herbs in cold water and drain off any excess water. Next I snip off any leaves that are spoiled. After this I select one good length for all the stems and remove any lower end leaves if needed (I always end up with a good number of them) and then cut the stems so that they are all almost of the same length.

So first with the leaves…

I keep some for the recipes I need right away. I spread the remaining leaves on a paper towel on the kitchen counter top for 1-2 days keeping them covered with another towel especially at night. After a day they dry up and shrivel in size but retain their fragrance. I usually give them another day to dry completely as any moisture left in them might cause spoilage. Next I store them in a clean bottle or jar and there you have it – your dry mint herb.

How do I use these?

I use them in pasta sauce or while cooking ethnic Indian food by crushing them and sprinkling over the dish mostly in the end to jazz up the overall flavor! Sometimes I also use a couple of leaves in my morning tea.

Now we are left with mint leaves on stem. What should I do with them?

I use them in one of two ways. I put some of them in a small glass jar filled with just enough water to submerge the ends of the stems and leave them as such in the fridge (a good way to get rid of the odor)! This way anytime I need fresh garnish it’s there. The other option is to make a green ‘Condiment’ or ‘chutney’.

The Recipes

Here are the 2 recipes of Mint Chutney that best accompany Indian snacks and meals. But don’t just stop there! Try them with potato fries and mozzarella sticks also! They can be stored in a clean jar for 1-2 days in the refrigerator. I have kept Mint Cilantro Chutney frozen for a few weeks. It becomes darker in color but retains its flavor (and that’s what matters, right?) If frozen, it needs to be thawed before use. I have not tried freezing Sesame Mint Chutney however. Maybe I’ll try it sometime.

RECIPE 1 – Quick Sesame Mint Chutney

Ingredients

Sesame seeds – 3 Tbsp roasted lightly

Mint leaves – 1/4 cup

Ginger – 1/2 Tbsp chopped

Green chillies – as per taste

Salt – as per taste

Lemon juice as per taste

Method

Blend all the ingredients together. You may have to add some water if the mixture is too thick. You can also add more or less leaves as per your desired taste. Add some lemon juice at the end!

RECIPE 2 Easy Mint Cilantro Chutney

Ingredients

Mint leaves – 1 cup

Cilantro leaves – 1 cup

Green chillies – as per taste

Ginger – 1/2 Tbsp chopped

Tomato – 1/2 cup chopped

Salt – as per taste

Lemon juice – as per taste

Method

Blend all the ingredients. Add a little water if the mixture is too thick but don’t let it become too runny. Add the lemon juice in the end.

So there you have – some interesting uses for mint leaves! If you have any other ideas or tips please share. I would love to hear from you.

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Easy quesadillas

Quesadilla pronounced kei-suh-dee-uh, is a popular and savory recipe from Mexico, easy to prepare at home. It is basically a flour tortilla packed with veggies and cheese, served with salsa and or guacamole. So it can prove to be pretty healthy if you load up on the veggies and cut out the cheese! And these days it is pretty popular at my home. So I thought why not share it with all of you!

Ingredients

  • Flour tortillas – 2 large
  • Canned black beans – 1
  • Romaine lettuce – 1/2 cup shredded
  • Spinach – 1/2 cup shredded
  • Bell peppers – 1 cup thinly sliced
  • Onion – 1/2 cup thinly sliced
  • Jalapenos – thinly sliced (according to taste)
  • Salt – 1/8 tsp (adjust according to taste)
  • Cheese – as much as you like
  • Cooking oil – 1 1/2 tsp
  • Guacamole – home made or store bought

Method

  • Heat 1 tsp oil on medium and saute the onions followed by bell peppers and jalapenos. Add the salt.
  • Empty the beans into a heat proof bowl and cook in the microwave for 3 min.
  • Next warm a tortilla on a pan and keep it aside, cooler side up.
  • If you do have guacamole with you, spread about 1 tbsp on one half side of the tortilla with a butter knife. Next place half of the spinach and half of the lettuce followed by 1-2 tbsp of beans on top of the guacamole layer. Sprinkle as much cheese over this. Fold the tortilla over this layered side.
  • Heat the pan on medium and add 1/4 tsp oil. Now place the tortilla in the pan and cook gently until both sides are golden brown.
  • Now this is a Quesadilla. I usually cut it in half or quarters and serve it hot along with salsa and guacamole!
  • Repeat this with the other tortilla.

Bonus recipes :

SALSA GUACAMOLE
Ingredients
Tomatoes – 2 cups chopped
Garlic – 1 clove
Serrano peppers – 1 tbsp chopped
Salt – to taste
Cumin powder – 1/4 tsp

Method
Put all the ingredients in a food
processor or mixer and puree them.
Your salsa is ready!
Ingredients
Avocado – 1 ripe chopped
Lemon juice – 1/2 tsp
Salt – to taste

Method
Puree the avocado in the food
processor. Add a little water if
you want to.
Adjust the amount of lemon and
salt.
Guacamole is ready!

Notes:

  • I add cumin to salsa to cut down on any bitterness that may exist in the tomatoes.
  • Avocados can also be chopped instead of being pureed.

ENJOY!

Potato Patties

I wrote this post sometime in early February and was meaning to post it but I guess I forgot all about it. Hope you will enjoy recreating this recipe!

Here is a easy-to-prepare snack that can also serve as a meal – lunch or dinner. I usually get a little over a dozen patties out of this recipe but it really depends upon the size of each patty. I store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator and use them within 3 days.

Ingredients
Russet Potatoes – 4-5 Large
Green peas 1/2 cup
Carrots 1/2 cup finely chopped
Green onions 1/4 cup finely chopped
Ginger 1 tbsp chopped
Serrano peppers or Jalapeno peppers 1/2 tbsp finely chopped
Cilantro 1/2 cup finely chopped
Salt as per taste
Bread slices 2
Cooking oil Canola or Olive

Method
1. Boil the potatoes.
2. Cook the peas and carrots in microwave for 3 min until soft.
3. Cool and peel the potatoes. Mash them but not completely. Leave some small pieces intact.
4. Add the bread slices in small pieces and gently knead them into the potato mixture.
5. Now add all the remaining ingredients and mix it well.
6. Make about 2 inch balls out of the potato mixture and flatten each ball / patty slightly.
7. Heat the cast iron skillet on med-low and pour 1-2 tsp of oil on it. Place each patty on the skillet
and cook them until golden brown at the bottom. Turn and cook them on the other side, adding
more oil if needed.

Serve 2 ways
1. Split a hamburger bun and heat it over a cast iron skillet using a teeny bit of oil. You may skip the
oil if you want. Place a patty in the bun and top it with shredded lettuce or any other greens, thinly
sliced onions and some sweet and sour sauce or a fresh mint chutney.



2. Reheat a patty and flatten and break it down. Next fill a hot dog bun with the patty, greens, onions
and any condiments you may like.

Enjoy!!!

A Soup for Chilly Days!

With the dip in the temperatures, it’s time for heart warming homemade soups that are both easy to prepare as well as healthy. Here is just the recipe you need on a chilly day – a tomato-carrot soup rich in fiber, anti oxidants and of course vitamin A!

Ingredients:

6 medium size Roma tomatoes washed and cut into halves

2 carrots diced

1 small onion diced

3 cloves garlic chopped finely

1/2 tsp crushed ginger

2 cups vegetable OR chicken broth

1/4 tsp red chili flakes 

salt to taste

1/2 tsp ground pepper

1/4 tsp dry crushed oregano

1/4 tsp dry crushed sage

1 1/2 tbsp olive oil

a tiny sprig of cilantro

Preheat the oven to 425 deg F. Put the tomatoes cut side down on a baking dish and drizzle 1/2 tbsp olive oil and some salt on them. Using your hands coat the tomatoes with the oil. Bake for 15 min. 

In the meanwhile heat 1 tbsp olive oil and add the onions. As soon as the onions turn a light golden, add the garlic and the carrots. Cook until the garlic starts turning golden. Add the ginger. If the tomatoes are finished baking, then add them slowly to the carrots and onion mix. Add 2 cups broth and the rest of the ingredients except oregano and sage. Let the mixture simmer for 5-6 min. 

Let this cool. Puree in a food processor. If you want a very clear soup you may sieve the mixture otherwise you can leave it as such. Add the herbs and heat this soup once again on low heat for about 10 min. 

Serve the soup topping it with a sprig of cilantro.

Note: I usually use any dry italian herbs that are available. But I wait till the end to add them to the soup to maintain their flavor. 

 

 

 

Tomato Carrot Soup

A chill busting, grounding soup to warm your souls!!


preview (9)  

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 (12 oz) frozen corn

1 medium size Russet potato

1 cup chopped zucchini

1 medium size onion chopped

4 cloves of garlic

1 Serrano pepper chopped

1 cup vegetable broth or water

½ cup coconut milk

Salt and Pepper to taste

1 tablespoon chopped cilantro

 

Method

Heat the oil. Add the garlic, onions and potatoes. Saute them until they turn light brown. Now add the corn, zucchini and serrano pepper. Saute for 4-5 minutes on medium high. Add the broth, salt and pepper and bring the mixture to a boil. Lower the heat and cook covered on medium low until potatoes are cooked. Stir in the coconut milk and cook for about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the soup cool (maybe an hour or so).

Once the soup has come to room temperature, puree it in a blender until smooth. You can also sieve the soup to get a smoother texture. Serve the soup warm garnished  with cilantro.