Yeah, that's a big statement, but you see, there is a whole Indo-Chinese cuisine back in India that does Chinese food using Paneer (an indian cheese). So until I moved to the US eons ago, I had never had Tofu!
I love to snack and graze all day - which most healthy eating experts will tell you is just bad for weight management. So when I'm faced with a snack attack - I want to make something that's quick, healthy and most definitely tasty!
With an indian palate, I gravitate towards complex sweet/sour/spicy flavors and Indian Chaat always comes to mind. Chaat is yet another street food found in India - which comprises of various dishes that are a combination of some kind of beans (mung, chana, white chana) with onions, boiled potatoes topped with spicy (green and red chilli) chutneys and sweet (tamarind/dates) chutneys to create the complex flavors.
The healthy factor of these dishes are debateable - my friend always argues with her nutritionist that Chaat contains legumes and salads and is therefore healthy, all the while ignoring elements such as a fried base and sweet (read sugary) sauces. Yeah, my friend argues with her nutrionist!
Its no news that I love food, but when good food is easy to put together, I get excited and giddy!
That's because the distance between my mouth and good food is short! My most favorite part about food is eating it (D'oh!)! Hear me out. Unlike others who love to feed others, I'm only thinking about the gratification that comes with taking that first bite of something I've been thinking about all day!
Its only Tuesday. The week already feels like too much work.I've grown to appreciate routines but I don't enjoy them much. They do make life seem so mundane. I'd rather be true to the free spirit I am. Life however, doesn't lend itself to that. Especially when you make choices such as a career in Corporate America, a mortgage and a bad shopping habit that requires that job in Coporate America. So, for now I am slave to this 5 day work week/2 day weekend structure.
If you are anything like me, all those news articles with health claims grab your attention, and no matter what, you have to click that link. If I lost an ounce of weight for every article I read , I'd be waif thin.So I have to remind myself, reading these articles dont make you healthy, incorporating the habits do! I am a bit hard on myself about these things, I think I need to embrace my 80/20 rule of eating well/healthy 80% of the time and then allowing the slip ups about 20% of the time.
It was one of those weeknights, when everything went better than expected. Everyone was fed and happy, ktichen was back in order, toddler was cooperating and I was secretly praying not to jinx it. After the little being was asleep at a decent hour, I tiptoed downstairs, wondering what I was going to do with all this free time. I knew I was in the mood for..
This week I kept looking for food inspiration high and low. I just didn't find it. Not that I wasn't cooking this week, I just wasn't inspired. My fridge was loaded with produce, cheese and bread but I didn't know what direction to go in. I wondered why. It has been a busy week - work has been demanding, home always needs some attention, a two year old is a full time job in itself. Trying to keep everyone's routine and working on fixing a toddler's sleep cycle, has taken a toll on my already taxed mind.
I did however find the time (it was me time) to read all my favorite blogs and see what everyone has been upto. The more blogs I read, the more impressed I am by the vast talent pool. I have been reading blogs for years now, but I've discovered a whole new set of wonderful blogs more recently. Besides reading these blogs, having my own blog allows me to interact with all these virtual personalities!
A lot of folks have been trying new things in their kitchens and others have been trying their hand at current trends (popsicles anyone?) But each blogger brings delight through whatever creativity they are applying in their kitchens.
As I went from blog to blog, I felt my motivation coming back, slowly. As I read the blogs, some recipes started taking shape in my mind. I found myself tinkering in the kitchen again and getting my mojo back.
It really is rewarding being around talented people. I draw so much inspiration from the wonderful blogs here and I'm so glad I'm able to participate in my small way.
This mini lasagna here, is also a great source of inspiration for me. The layers are made from wonton wrappers rather than traditional lasagna sheets. Remember, wonton wrappers are only 20 calories each! The possibilities with these wonton wrappers to make lasagna are endless. What's wonderful also is that you can make single portions of this lasagna - which works great for me.
I love basil pesto so I wanted to make a cheese and pesto layered lasagna. But I didnt want to stop there, since these are so easy to make, I also wanted to try a more traditional version with a marinara sauce. And for some reason (too many zucchinis in the fridge?) I wanted to incorporate a vegetable (zucchini). So, I ended up making two instead of one.
You will see these are so easy to make that you really could customize them to any number of people for a family dinner or for a dinner party with friends. You could let each person assemble their own and they bake it 20-25 mins, so it's ready in good time to feed hungry folks!
PESTO CHEESE LASAGNA
I used both basil pesto and sundried tomato pesto to make layers, in addition to two types of cheeses - feta and mozzarella.
I used my bottled basil pesto but made the sundried tomato pesto - like so. Remember , these lasagnas need very small amounts of everything, so don't make a big batch, unless you are planning on using it elsewhere.
Grind together sun dried tomatoes in oil (drain the oil), clove of garlic , 1 tbsp olive oil, 2 basil leaves and a little grated parmesan cheese.
- 1 tbsp basil pesto, thinned with olive oil.
- 1 tbsp sundried tomato pesto
- 2 oz feta cheese
- 2 oz mozzarella cheese, shredded
- 10-12 wonton wrappers
- grated parmesan cheese
- Assembly of these lasagnas is pretty easy. In an oven safe bowl, start with a wonton wrapper and layer a small amount of basil pesto and top with another wonton wrapper.
- Layer sundried tomato pesto on top and cover it with another wonton wrapper.
- Layer on some feta cheese, then another wrapper and then mozzarella. Repeat the process with another round of all 4 layers.
- Top with more mozzarella cheese.
- Prehead oven to 350 degrees and cover the bowl with aluminium foil and bake for 20 mins.
- Remove from oven, take the foil off and bake for another 5 mins to let the cheese get bubbly on top.
- Before serving, grate some parmesan cheese on top.
PESTO MARINARA LASAGNA
This version is very similar to the one above, except I've layered with basil pesto, marinara sauce , mozzarella and zucchini.
- 2 tbsp marinara sauce (home made or bottled)
- 1 tbsp pesto thinned with olive oil
- 1/4 medium zucchini -sliced on a mandolin
- 2-3 oz Mozarella cheese
- Grated parmesan cheese
- Season the sliced zucchini with salt and pepper. I also added a little red chilli flakes. Optional.
- Layer the sauces, zucchini and cheese between each wonton wrapper, cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 20 mins.
- Remove foil and bake for another 5 mins to get cheese bubbly and top with parmesan cheese before serving.
Note - I found the one with marinara was more moist than the one with pestos and was a lot closer to a real lasagna. If I did these over, I would've added marinara to the ones with basil and sundried tomato pestos as well. The flavors however, were lovely in both!
I am the baby in my family and hence I've been treated as such my whole life. Even now, in my 30s, its still the case. I was always treated daintily, since I was the daughter and the baby of the household. As much as I enjoyed not having any responsibilities, big or small, I think it put me at a great disadvantage. I wasn't too prepared for real life. I also didn't realize how much work everything is!
I have been craving spanakopitas - I love spinach and I love the spinach feta combination you find in these pies. Spanakopita traditionally is a spinach feta filling in a phyllo dough shaped in triangles and baked.
The only problem I have is the ratio of spinach to feta in these pies. As much as I love spinach, when the pies are all spinach and not enough feta, it puts me off. If I'm going to sacrifice calories (phyllo is not exactly healthy) then I'd like to splurge on the cheese.