Category Archives: Breakfast

Tempeh Potato Pepper Curry with Pickled Onions

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Hello! It’s been a long time since my last post. I have been very busy with garden things and kid & school things. I have been tweeting a bit, in case you want to follow me there just look for thisspicylife… I usually re-tweet interesting nutrition articles, garden info and other inspiring stuff.

Yesterday I hosted a huge garden work day at our school garden as part of an Eagle Scout Project. We worked pretty much all day rebuilding raised beds and moving soil into the new beds. We had a lot of help from a local Boy Scout Troop #127 and our school parents and community volunteers. It was such a great day with beautiful weather and nice people. See the end of this post for some pics of our garden remodel.

I really worked up an appetite because today I was ready for a rather substantial (for me) breakfast. It turned into brunch by the time I got it made and ready to eat, though this is a pretty quick dish to make. We had some leftover pickled onions from the weekend, so added these to the plate along with some yummy grits seasoned with nutritional yeast. The leftovers will be made into burritos. It was the perfect addition to this non-spicy curry. If you want the onions, you should plan ahead. Or just make a batch and find ways to use them! They are a pretty pink color and delicious (if you like onions). Here is the tempeh recipe:

Tempeh Potato Pepper Curry with Pickled Onions (Serves 4)

1/2 package of tempeh, cut in bite-sized pieces
1 large baking potato, cut in bite-sized pieces
1 orange bell pepper (or other color), cut in bite-sized pieces
1/2 cup finely chopped kale
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp turmeric
2 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp cayenne pepper (optional, to taste)
pinch of garam masala (optional)
salt to taste

Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add the oil and allow to heat a bit before adding the cumin seeds. Once the cumin seeds start to toast, add the potato pieces and a bit of salt, stirring the potatoes to coat with the oil. Cover with a lid and allow the potatoes to cook, stirring occasionally. When the potatoes are almost cooked through, sprinkle with the turmeric, coriander powder and cayenne pepper and stir well. Add the tempeh, pepper, kale and garlic. Continue cooking and stir frequently until the tempeh is heated and the pepper is cooked to your liking. This should take just 3 to 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and add the pinch of garam masala and additional salt to taste. Serve with pickled onions over grits, rice or with bread of your choice.

Pickled Onions

1 red onion
1/2 cup of vinegar (any kind you like)
1/2 cup of water
pinch of salt

Peel the onion and cut in rings. Loosen the rings and place the rings in a non-reactive bowl. Sprinkle a pinch of salt over the onion and add the vinegar (we used white vinegar) and water. Allow to sit for an hour or up to two days before using. These can be used in sandwiches, as part of an appetizer tray with other veggies, on pizza, or just on the side of any spicy curry. The longer they pickle, the better they taste. Just keep ’em in the fridge.

Here are some pics of our garden remodel:

Rebuilding the raised beds with cinder blocks…Boy Scouts in yellow shirts. The blocks will get painted later by the students.

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Some artichokes growing in the garden… can’t wait to harvest!

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One of our hard-working volunteers!

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Pink Heart-Shaped Puris for Valentine’s Day

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Happy Valentine’s Day! I’m reposting a recipe from several years ago. I think my photos have improved over the years but you can still see in this pic the heart-shaped bread tinged pink with beet juice. These are a yummy snack or meal for kids and adults served with potato curry or another vegetable curry. For the past year or so I have been using whole wheat pastry flour instead of the Indian atta flour. My mother-in-law and I compared and tested several types of common American flours and determined that this was a perfect substitute.

Valentine’s Puri-Bhaji

Valentine’s Puris (serves 4)

  • 3 cups of atta flour (or whole wheat pastry flour)
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup beet juice*
  • additional water to make a stiff dough
  • Oil for deep frying

Mix flour and salt together in a large bowl. Add 1/2 cup of beet juice and start kneading the mixture into a stiff dough. Keep adding water until all the flour is incorporated. Knead by hand for 5 minutes, cover and let rest for at least 1/2 hour. Please note that puri dough must be very stiff to puff up successfully when fried.

Heat the oil to 350F degrees. Take a small piece of dough about the size of a golf ball and roll it out on a floured surface to about 1/4″ thick. Use your heart-shaped (or other) cookie cutter to cut out the puris. One at a time, slide a puri into the heated oil. It will sink at first. With a slotted spoon press gently on the top of the puri until it comes up and starts to puff. Allow it to cook while you baste the top of the puri with oil from the sides for about 1 minute. Then flip it over and allow it to cook for another minute. Remove and drain on paper.

You can line a large bowl with paper and stand the puris up on their sides to allow better oil-drainage. Once the puris start to cool off the puff will disappear. This is normal. However, it’s best to eat the puris while hot and fresh. Also, keep in mind that you probably won’t have a 100% success rate on the puffing up – I think 80% is pretty good but just keep trying! The puris that don’t puff up are still delicious to eat!

*I made beet juice by putting one cooked beet in my blender and adding a little more than a 1/2 cup of water. Blend on high and strain.

Coconut & Peanut Poha

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Have you ever been searching for something in your pantry or kitchen only to find a whole package of something else? And then realize that you really should use it soon before it expires/stales/etc.? That’s what happened today when I found a very large bag of thick poha. It was a pleasant surprise since my hubby and I both love poha. In case you don’ t know about this unusual ingredient, poha is also called “beaten rice” and “flattened rice”. It’s basically a dried flattened raw rice product that can be used raw or cooked. Poha is used in Indian snacks, breakfasts, lunches and light meals in both savory and sweet preparations. It can be added to some dosa batters to thicken the batter. It’s an ingredient that is easy to work with and keeps a long time. Pick up a package next time you are in an Asian or Indian market! A few years ago I posted a recipe for the thin variety of poha.

Here’s a simple recipe I made for lunch today that turned much better than I expected. I started looking in a few cookbooks for ideas, but didn’t really find anything that seemed new. My usual go-to recipe for thick poha uses onion and potato. That seemed too heavy for today. Therefore, I started out with a very basic recipe but tweaked it a bit by adding peanuts (for protein), cilantro for more flavor and lots of coconut. It turned out light, spicy and very tasty. I hope you try it too!

Coconut & Peanut Poha (Serves 4)

4 cups of thick poha
4 tbsp coconut oil
1/2 cup raw peanuts (or roasted peanuts)
2 tsp salt or to taste
1 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
2 tsp urad dal
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
2 dried red chili peppers, broken
1 green chili peppers, sliced
4 tbsp water
sprig of curry leaves
1/2 cup fresh or frozen (not sweet!) coconut flakes
cilantro – about 1/2 cup chopped
lemon slices

The poha is a little tricky. It’s easy to make it too soft so be careful. You don’t want it too soft and soggy nor do you want it “al dente”: Place the poha in a large colander or strainer and place in the sink. Quickly wash the poha with water running, using your hand to fluff it and get each grain wet. Let the water drain immediately. Let sit for a few minutes. It should have softened without any additional water. Taste a bite to see if it’s soft enough for you. When it’s ready, place it in a large bowl and set aside.

Heat a medium-sized pan of your choice over medium heat. Add the coconut oil and raw peanuts (if using roasted peanuts, skip this step). Allow the peanuts to fry a bit until they are browned. Once done, immediately remove from the oil to a plate (leaving the oil in the pan), sprinkle with a bit of salt and allow to cool.

Now add the mustard seeds to the oil. Once popping, add the urad dal, cumin seeds, red chili peppers, green chili peppers and curry leaves. Carefully add the water and allow it to cook off. This will make the urad dal soft. When the water is evaporated, pour this seasoning over the washed poha.

Now toss in the peanuts, coconut flakes and cilantro. Add salt to taste. Stir gently but well. If the poha is a bit too wet it may stick together. If that happens, just stir as gently as possible, breaking up pieces as you do so. Can you tell that I have experience at making the poha too soft? It’s okay if it happens, it will still taste good! Serve with some yummy garlic pickle and lemon slices to squeeze over.

Mouth-watering Mushroom, Kale & Tofu Scramble & Grits

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Hello! I’m back to the Indian-inspired cooking for a bit. It’s “cold” here in S. Cali this week requiring some spicy comfort food. Yes, it’s in the high 50’s to low 60’s, but what can I say? This morning I threw together a quick tofu scramble while the grits were gurgling on the stove. I love mushrooms and when I’m feeling a bit under the weather they always seem to bring me back around. For some extra nutrients, I threw in kale and tomatoes. The tomatoes were just cooked enough to be soft but still pop a little in your mouth. Hence, the “mouth-watering” description. I ate these served over yellow corn grits with a few dashes of super-spicy Marie Sharp’s Belizean Heat. I think grits have to be eaten with a bit of hot sauce. Just goes hand-in-hand.

This is an easier recipe than my scrambled tofu with spinach since I don’t use onion and garlic. It also takes less time since you don’t have to wait on the onion to cook. The only thing you have to mess with is chopping the mushrooms (and kale if using fresh). I have a bag of organic kale in the freezer. It’s handy for quick meals where I really need some greens. The kale cooks faster than fresh since the ice crystals have broken it down a bit.

If you don’t have all of the spices, run out to the store and get them! What are you waiting for? Just kidding… you can add whatever you like – just don’t use too much of any one thing so you keep a balanced flavor. Of course, you could go the Mexican or Italian route with the spices too. Tomorrow I will use the leftovers to make tacos with corn tortillas. Just throw on some spicy salsa, fresh shredded cabbage and another nice, healthy meal is ready! Here is today’s version of the tofu scramble…

Mouth-watering Mushroom, Kale & Tofu Scramble & Grits (serves 2 – 4)

1 pkg. firm tofu (press out the water for 10 – 15 minutes)
1 lb. of portabella or other mushrooms, cleaned and chopped
1 cup of kale, frozen or washed and chopped
2+ tbsp oil
2 tsp of black salt (or to taste)
1 tsp cumin seed
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cumin powder
2 tsp coriander
1 tsp cayenne pepper (or to taste)
2 tsp garam masala (optional)
1 cup cherry tomatoes
2 tbsp chopped cilantro
hot sauce to taste
3 cups cooked grits

Heat up your trusty cast-iron skillet (or other large skillet) to medium. When it’s really hot, add your mushrooms and let them cook for a minute or two. Stir and add a pinch of salt over them. As they start cooking down and releasing their water, you can add the oil and kale. After about two minutes, crumble the tofu with your hands into the skillet. There should be bite-sized pieces and some smaller pieces. Add a bit more oil if necessary to keep it from sticking. Stir and then add all of the spices and stir again to get the spices incorporated. Reduce the heat to low. Allow to cook, stirring only once in while so that the tofu starts to get slightly brown and crispy in spots. After approximately 5 – 8 minutes, make a little space in the middle of the pan by moving everything else to the sides. Toss the tomatoes in the center and let everything cook for about 3 minutes. Stir and turn off the heat. Keep in mind that cooking times will vary depending on the type of tofu you are using, how much water is in it, if you are using cast-iron or not… Spoon over hot grits. Serve with fresh cilantro and hot sauce.

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Sid’s Everyday Pancakes – Kid in the Kitch!

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Today my son woke up early and wanted to help make the pancakes. He absolutely loves cooking and helping in the kitchen. As an eight year old, there are certain things he can’t do or that I’m nervous about him doing safely. However, he listens well, he’s calm and follows directions. That makes it easier to teach him how to cook.

We make pancakes almost everyday. But we make fast and easy pancakes. I use a mix from Trader Joe’s – it’s one of the few convenience foods that I rely on (btw, it has buttermilk in the mix so it isn’t vegan). My kids love it and I think it’s healthier than most other mixes I’ve looked at. Of course, you can make your own mix (which I aspire to, but it’s low on my list at this point)!

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Since we don’t  do eggs in our house, I use sourdough starter for leavening the pancake batter. It works great and doesn’t give much of a sour flavor when it’s used right away. If you aren’t familiar with sourdough starter and you like to bake, you should check it out! It’s awesome but kind of like having a pet. It has to be fed and nurtured. You can’t stick it in the cupboard and forget about it for a month or it will die. There are places to get the starter mix (King Arthur Flour is a great source), but I think it’s best to get it from someone you know. If you don’t have sourdough starter, you can sub a flax egg (1 tbsp ground flax seeds mixed with 3 tbsp water).

Without further delay, here’s Sid’s blog debut…

Sid’s Everyday Pancakes (makes enough pancakes for 1 or 2 kids)

2 tbsp sourdough starter or flax egg
1 cup Trader Joe’s Multigrain Baking and Pancake Mix
approx. 1/2 cup almond milk or other milk

Place the sourdough starter or flax egg in a mixing bowl. (Then feed your sourdough – here is Sid feeding it with more flour and water.)

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Add the pancake mix and stir a bit.

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Slowly add the almond milk and continue to mix and add milk until the mix is pourable but not too liquid.

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Now pour the batter by the spoonful onto a heated cast iron griddle or other skillet (action shot):

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Flip the pancakes over when they start to get bubbles on the top (great job, Sid!):

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Anya’s Famous Fruit Salad – My 6 year old Guest Blogger

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Our guest blogger for this post is my 6 year-old daughter. She loves to make fruit salads and has become quite good at it! She says her salad is “Famous, but it’s not really famous”. My son worked as the photographer and did a wonderful job. Thanks to both of them for helping out!

Salads are a great way to get the kids in the kitchen and involved with cooking. They can learn to prep veggies and fruits (great for you later when they can serve as sous chef!), how to use a knife safely, wash foods properly and learn math (fractions, multiplication and division). My daughter is very artistic and enjoys making food look pretty by arranging things just so on the perfect dish. Both of my kids love to help out with any cooking. They like to try the foods that they are working with which broadens their food choices. While making this salad, we taste-tested pomegranate seeds, pomegranate vinegar and pomegranate molasses while I was teaching them how to open up a pomegranate. Of course, you can sub whatever fruits you like in this dish. But try to take advantage of the opportunity to introduce or reintroduce foods that your kids say they don’t like… you never know if they will change their minds! The more variety we eat, the more nutrients we get. But don’t tell them that, just say it tastes good!

Anya’s Famous Fruit Salad 

3 clementine or mandarin oranges
1 banana
1 apple
1/4 cup of pomegranate seeds
1 tbsp liquid sweetener of choice (agave, maple, optional)

Peel the oranges and divide the segments. Add to a plate or bowl.

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Cut the apple and banana into bite size pieces. Add to the plate or bowl.

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Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds and sweetener (agave or maple syrup, etc.). Eat.

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Curried Tofu Scramble with Spinach

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Curried Tofu Scramble with Spinach

Hello! Welcome to This Spicy Life… I can’t believe it’s been so long since my last post. Spring has brought so many chores and activities that have kept me away from blogging for the past few weeks. Hopefully I can get the momentum going again and start posting more frequently!

This morning I woke up early with the kids. It’s a sunny-cloudy day, so we aren’t sure if it’s about to pour down rain or if we should get outside while the weather holds. Either way, with a very active day ahead I wanted to make a high-protein breakfast this morning. I decided on tofu and a vegetarian sausage along with some fresh organic strawberries and a left-over chappati from last night.

A word about the sausage: I found this pack of Harmony Valley Vegetarian Sausage Mix at Henry’s Market.

I used a portion of it over the last few months adding a little of it to chili and jambalaya with great success. I finished up the pack today by adding water, letting it rest, forming it into patties and then shallow frying in a bit of oil. The texture is fantastic and the taste is great. I like this more than the Gimme Lean brand of sausage for making patties. If you can find it at your local grocery, I recommend you try it out.

Here’s my recipe for Curried Tofu Scramble with Spinach. If you don’t have the individual spices listed, you may substitute 2 tsp curry powder. I have seen lots of similar recipes in cookbooks and on blogs, so can’t attribute my adaptation to any one source.

Curried Tofu Scramble with Spinach

Serves 4

  • 1 package of firm or extra-firm tofu (not silken)
  • 2 – 4 tsp oil
  • 1/2 cup onions, chopped (I used spring onions with green tops)
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • 2 cups fresh spinach, chopped (or 1 cup frozen, thawed, water squeezed out)
  • 1/2 cup tomatoes, cut in bite sized pieces
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala powder (optional)
  • 1/2 avocado, diced (optional)

Method:

  1. Press the water out of the tofu: Remove the tofu from packaging and place on a towel-lined plate. Place another towel on top of the tofu and then a can of something as a weight or another plate inverted. This will press out a lot of the water. Let it sit like this until step 5.
  2. Heat a skillet or saute pan over medium heat and add the oil.
  3. When the oil is hot, add the onions and garlic. Stir around occasionally for 2 minutes.
  4. Add the cumin, coriander, turmeric, chili (if using) (or the curry powder  if using in place of these spices) and the salt. Stir to incorporate and let cook for 1 minute.
  5. Crumble the tofu with your hands and add it to the pan. Stir it around, but don’t mash it. I like it to remain pretty chunky. (Actually this is a personal choice – some people may like it more finely crumbled – so crumble it to the size you like!)
  6. Allow the tofu to start getting brown spots here and there. Let it cook for about 3 minutes, stirring about once every minute.
  7. Add the spinach and allow to cook for about 2 more minutes, stirring frequently. Make sure that any water that was added along with the spinach evaporates. You may have to increase the heat a bit.
  8. Turn off the heat and stir in the tomatoes and garam masala (if using). Allow to sit for a minute before serving.
  9. After plating, top with the avocado (if using). You can also top it with hot sauce or another condiment…Enjoy!