Category Archives: Vegetarian Side Dishes

Memories of Meals Past: Healthier Spring Rolls

Healthy spring rolls! A tad purple, but hey, I can live with that.

Healthy spring rolls! A tad purple, but hey, I can live with that.

Time for another Memories of Meals Past post!

This time it’s a lunch/light dinner food, spring rolls, that I made a few months ago. But made healthier by baking as opposed to deep-frying! I used this recipe as a starting point, and then naturally I made substitutions. I had half a head of purple cabbage in my fridge, so I grated that and added that into the filling, along with some dried mushrooms (albeit not the shiitake kind that the recipe called for).

Pro Tip: Do not use purple cabbage if you want a perfect presentation. Purple cabbage makes everything purple. Your filling, your wrappers, your fingertips. But it is healthy, so if you have it in your fridge, well…waste not, want not!

And these spring rolls were delicious! The DH and I happily crunched on them for dinner and lunches. I do love trying new recipes and…substituting ingredients!

Next Post: I go French with Tarte Tropezienne!

Budget-Friendly Parmesan & Paprika Potato Wedges

Crispy, seasoned goodness.

Crispy, seasoned goodness.

When I was a grad student, I was always trying to stretch my pennies, and that including trying to stretch my food budget. I even wrote an article about stretching one’s food budget for my university paper; I talked about using root vegetables and seasonal produce. I came across a cookbook in a local store around the same time, and it was all about potatoes. Perfect timing, and perfect for my budget! One of the recipes in it was a seasoned potato wedge dish.

I’ve made variations of this dish for the DH and I over the years, and they’re always delicious. Plus healthier for you than deep-fried potatoes! Want to make some yourself? Here’s how!

  • 1/4 c. flour
  • 1/4 c. grated parmesan cheese (the pre-grated stuff in a container is fine)
  • 1 tbsp. paprika
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. celery salt
  • 1/4 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp. nutritional yeast
  • 6 potatoes
  • oil to grease a cookie tray
Cut your potatoes into 6-8 wedges each. Mix up remaining ingredients in a large plastic baggie (a large freezer bag is a good size). Add in potato wedges and shake until coated, being careful not to overshake.* Empty bag onto oiled baking tray. Bake in 350 degree oven for 45 min or a bit longer depending on the size of the wedges.
*Or, have a dance party. Why? Well, why the heck not? One never needs a reason to shake, shake, shake!
Made with authentic Hungarian paprika!

Made with authentic Hungarian paprika!

Serve and enjoy your seasoned potato wedges! Inexpensive, and pretty darn tasty!

Next Post: That Dinner Roll Odyssey I’ve been talking about? Or perhaps a Memories of Meals Past? Albeit on a Friday/Saturday/Whenever?

Adventures in Indian Food, Part III: Channa Masala-Stuffed Samosas!

Yum, yum, in my tum!

Yum, yum, in my tum!

Hey all! It’s Sunday evening and I’m sitting on the couch with my laptop, planning meals for the week while some bread dough rises in the oven. It’s time to catch up!

I’ve written about how to make grind-your-own garam masala, as well as how to make channa masala, and now for the piece de resistance…channa masala-stuffed samosas!

Like most recipes I tackle, they always seem intimidating, and then once you actually get into it, you realize that it’s actually not very difficult at all. Which is why I write my favourite catchphrase “it’s so easy!” so often. While this isn’t the easiest recipe in the world (I think this one is), it’s not nearly as complicated as one might think. Just try it, yes?

I mixed up a couple of different flavours in this recipe, like garam masala and sesame oil…but it works!

Channa Masala-Stuffed Samosas

  • 1 batch channa masala
  • 1 dozen rice paper wrappers (I used frozen spring roll wrappers)
  • 2 tbsps. flour
  • 1 tbsp.  water
  • 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil

Set out your ingredients on the table/counter in front of you (this is called ‘mise en place’, but I’m sure you all know that already). You’ll want to place the rice paper wrappers on a plate with a damp cloth over them. Mix the flour and water into a thick, goopy paste, and set that in your mise en place as well. You’ll be using this edible glue to seal the edges of the rice paper wrappers together, so that the filling won’t fall out. Set your dish of channa masala beside your workspace.

PicMonkey CollageTaking one of the rice paper wrappers, fold it as shown in the photo (or check out this video I found). In the final step, make a little pouch and spoon a tbsp. of the channa masala into the little envelope you have just made. Put some of the ‘glue’ on the flap, and fold it over. You’ve made a samosa! Go over the samosa and if there are any bits of rice paper that aren’t sealed, use your ‘glue’ to seal them.   

As you make each samosa, place it on a cookie tray. Once you have made up all the samosas, brush with a mixture of the vegetable oil and the sesame oil. You can brush the bottom of the samosas too.

Bake in a 375 degree oven until golden and crisp on the outside. Serve with a chutney dipping sauce or simply by themselves!

Baking the samosas instead of deep-frying them means that they're healthier. So indulge guilt-free! Also, ignore my "well-seasoned" cookie tray. I can't be bothered to scrub it with steel wool, so "well-seasoned" it will stay!

Baking the samosas instead of deep-frying them means that they’re healthier. So indulge guilt-free! Also, ignore my “well-seasoned” cookie tray. I can’t be bothered to scrub it with steel wool, so “well-seasoned” it will stay!

I made a batch of these samosas one evening and stuck them in the fridge after eating one. The DH popped in the kitchen and grabbed one to munch on. He seemed to like them, which I was rather gratified about, as he usually doesn’t like anything with spice, no matter how mild. Well. To say that he seemed to like them is an understatement; the whole batch was gone in 24 hours! How long will it last in your household? Make them and let me know in the comments!

Next Post: Maybe some more of my bake-a-long posts, maybe the start of a new recipe odyssey. The bread rising in the oven does smell rather delicious!

Now linking up at Meal Plan Monday!

Indian Food Adventures, Part I: Grind-Your-Own Garam Masala (And Authenticity in Friendships)

Like a painter's palette, except in spice.

Like a painter’s palette, except in spice.

I’ve been promising you all the recipe for a grind-your-own garam masala for a while now, and today is the day in which I reveal all! Or at least reveal the recipe. Is surprisingly easy!

I think I’ve said before that I used to work in the non-profit sector, and over the years and through different jobs, I’ve made some solid friendships with some really amazing people. You know when you have friends who are smart and funny and thoughtful and passionate and just plain fun? And when you get together with them, no matter how much time has gone by, it feels like you’ve just picked up where you left off? And spending time with them leaves you energized? I’ve been lucky enough to meet a solid handful of friends like this though my work, and my friend Olethea (and her husband Martin!) are two of these people.

I had dinner with them a few months ago, and one of the dishes that they made for me was soooo good, that I asked for the recipe, and Miss O kindly obliged. I’m going to split the dish into two different posts, one for the garam masala spice, and one for the chana masala (a chickpea dish which uses the garam masala spice). And then I’m going to do a third post, which uses the chana masala as the stuffing in a samosa. (Miss O, you inspired me!)

Shall we make some garam masala? Let’s!

Grind-Your-Own Garam Masala

  • 1/8 c. cumin powder (or slightly less than 1/4 c. cumin seeds)
  • 1/4 c. coriander seeds (or 1/8 c. ground coriander)
  • 1/2 stick small cinnamon (or 1 tbsp. cinnamon)
  • 1 tbsp. ground cloves (or slightly more whole cloves)
  • 1 tbsp. ground cardamom (or a heaping tbsp. unground)
  • 5 bay leaves
  • 3/4 tbsp. black pepper
  • 1/2 tbsp. ground nutmeg

I’ve listed some of the ingredients in the amounts that they would be if they were ground as well as in the amounts to use if they weren’t ground. You can use what you’d like. If they’re not ground, they’ll give a better flavour, but hey, you do you! (I did whatever I had in my kitchen, which was ground everything. Except bay leaves.)  Mix all the ground ingredients together. Toast any un-ground ingredients, including the bay leaves, in a frying pan until fragrant. Then grind the toasted ingredients in a spice grinder and combine with the rest of the ingredients. And…done! You go, you kitchen whiz, you!

Grinding up spice is so satisfying! (This spice grinder was last year's Christmas gift to me from the DH.)

Grinding up spice is so satisfying! (This spice grinder was last year’s Christmas gift to me from the DH. It’s great for grinding toasted flax seeds.)

This spice will stay good for years if kept in a sealed container in a cool dry place. If you don’t think you would use it all, why not share the Indian spice love and give little packets of it as gifts? I came across the most clever packaging idea the other day — I think it’d be perfect for this!

Oh, and speaking of friendships, I was talking with my mom on the phone just now, telling her that I had just made some garam masala, and she shared a reminiscence. Years ago, my mom had run out of garam masala at the last minute of dinner preparations, and as opposed to running out to the store, had asked a neighbour if she could borrow a bit. The neighbour said sure and then took a long time to actually come up with the ingredient. Why? Apparently she was making it from scratch! Now THAT’S authentic Indian food!

Next Post: Probably a mandarin-flavoured dessert! Because I love sweets. And then back to adventures in Indian food!

Making the Most of Leftovers: Easy Pickled Vegetables

Pickled veggies displayed prior to consumption.

Pickled veggies displayed prior to consumption.

Given that I’m not a morning person, I usually prepare the day’s lunches the night before. Tonight I was making Thai spring rolls, and had some sliced green peppers left over. And given that I have a waste not, want not philosophy when it comes to food, you know I had to use them up somehow. So I made some pickled vegetables!

Want to make some too? They’re the work of a few minutes only!

Easy Pickled Vegetables

  • 3 small carrots, sliced thinly
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 1/2 green pepper, cut in thin strips length-wise
  • pinch mustard powder
  • 1 c. water
  • 1/2 c. white vinegear
  • 1/2 c. apple cider vinegar
  • pinch black pepper
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 bay leaf
  • pinch of hot pepper flakes

Mix vinegars, water, and all spices (so everything but the veggies) in a bowl and heat in the microwave for 3 minutes. The pickling brine should be nice and hot when you pour it over the chopped vegetables in a large bowl. Make sure to press down the veggies so that they all get bathed in the brine; I stirred and pressed down gently with a potato masher, repeatedly for about 5 minutes. Then I scooped the veggies into sterilized jars, making sure to top up with brine to cover all the veggies in the jar. Let them sit for at least overnight. And then voila — condiment time!

Stirring the veggies with the pickling juice.

Stirring the veggies with the pickling juice.

I used these quantities and ended up with just the right amount to fill three half pint jars. Given that I fully expect to eat these pickled veggies within a few weeks, I only sterilized the jars in the microwave. I’ll keep the jars in the fridge until used, but had I done a quick water bath, they would be properly canned and could stay on my cupboard shelves for several months. But they’re too tasty to last that long!

Now, what shall I use these pickled recipes on? I shall probably use it as a topping for veggie burgers, sandwiches, and salads. I’ve used previous batches on pizza, which was surprisingly delicious with crumbled feta. Mmm…now I want to eat! Maybe I’ll just eat one of the Thai spring rolls that I had leftover from tomorrow’s lunch prep. Yes, that’s what I’ll do!

Next Post: Cherry Pie, a la Francais! Followed by homemade copycat oreos. Chocolate-dipped copycat oreos. So. Good!

Post-Pub Edit: Do link-ups work? Bloggers say that they increase blog traffic, and hey, I’m all for that! So this is now my contribution to Christy Jordan’s latest link-up.