Creamy Tomato Spinach Pasta

There are days when I feel like cooking up a storm but then sometimes all I need is a quick fix, a big bowl of my favorite food and of course my favorite show on Netflix! So today I decided to make this 20 minute creamy and delicious cream cheese tomato spinach pasta! 🙂

I kept it simple but you can add any veggies or protein of your choice and you can also make a vegan version of this by using vegan cream cheese!

 

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Ingredients:

  • Pasta (Linguine or Spaghetti) – 4 Oz (Approx)
  • Olive/ Vegetable Oil – 2 Tbs
  • Onion – 1 Small/ Half Medium (Finely chopped)
  • Garlic – 2 to 3 Medium Cloves (Finely chopped)
  • Tomato – 1 1/2 Medium (Roughly chopped)
  • Dried Basil – 1/2 Tsp
  • Black Pepper – 1/4 Tsp
  • Salt – To Taste
  • Red Chili Flakes – 1/2 Tsp
  • Cream Cheese – 2 to 3 Tbs (Room temperature)
  • Fresh Spinach – 1/2 Cup (Roughly chopped)
  • Water – To adjust the consistency of the sauce (About 1/4 Cup)

 

Method:

  1. Cook pasta according to the instructions on the package. Set aside
  2. Heat oil in a pan on medium heat, add onion and garlic. Fry until translucent
  3. Add chopped tomato, dried basil, red chili flakes, salt & pepper and cook till the tomato is mushy
  4. Now add the cream cheese and mix well. Cook for another minute
  5. Add the chopped spinach, cook for about a minute
  6. Check for salt, add more if needed
  7. Adjust the consistency of the sauce by adding water, 2 Tbs at a time. Bring the sauce to boil and the turn off the heat
  8. Toss the cooked pasta in this sauce

 

Serve hot with a glass or two of wine! 😉

 

Roasted Red Pepper Sriracha Hummus

After a week of celebration and eating deep fried delicious food it’s time to switch gears and give our tummies a little rest by cooking and eating healthy!

I am a huge of fan of hummus and am always on the look out for different flavor combinations when it comes to hummus mixed with different condiments. My favorites are spicy sriracha or roasted pepper hummus. I found a jar of roasted peppers sitting in my pantry, so today I decided to combine two of my favorite flavors, and the result… finger licking good! 🙂

 

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Ingredients:

  • Cooked Chickpeas – 2 Cups (Rinsed and drained)
  • Roasted Red Bell Pepper – 1
  • Green Chili – 1 (Optional)
  • Pickled Jalapeno – 5 to 6 slices
  • Garlic – 3 cloves (Medium, roughly chopped)
  • Sesame Seeds – 2 Tbs
  • Paprika or Red Chili Powder – 1 Tsp
  • Juice of 1 medium sized Lemon/ Lime
  • Olive Oil – 3 to 4 Tbs
  • Salt – To Taste (I used 2 Tsp)
  • Sriracha – 1 1/2 Tbs
  • Juice/ water from the pickled jalapeno jar – 1/4 Cup

To Garnish:

  • Toasted Pine Nuts – 1 Tbs
  • Pumpkin Seeds – 1/2 Tbs
  • Olive Oil – 1/2 Tbs
  • Paprika/ Red Chili Flakes/ Red Chili Powder – 1/2 Tsp

 

Method:

* I used store bought roasted pepper but if you want to roast it at home it’s super easy. See tips for the method.

  1. In a blender or food processor combine all the ingredients EXCEPT the juice/ water from the jalapeno jar and run the processor to form a coarse paste
  2. Now add the juice and blend again till it reaches the desired consistency (creamy paste)
  3. Check for salt and add more if needed. You can also adjust the consistency by adding an extra tablespoon of olive oil
  4. Transfer into a serving bowl. Drizzle some olive oil and garnish with pine nuts, pumpkin seeds and paprika/ red chili flakes or powder

 

Serve with warm pita bread, chips or any appetizer of your choice! 🙂

 

Tips:

* To roast a bell pepper preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Cut 1″ strips of the bell pepper. Get rid of the seeds. Place on a baking sheet. Drizzle generously with olive oil and bake for about 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let it cool completely before adding it to the food processor.

* You can also roast the pepper on a stove top using a cast iron pan.

 

 

Viva Mexico!

I fell in love with Mexico when we planned a weekend trip to Monterrey in April 2017. So when my husband suggested going to Mexico City for the long weekend I was thrilled!

We booked our tickets and started planning the journey. We did a thorough research, spoke to a couple of people and planned our itinerary accordingly.

After spending 4 days in this gorgeous country, we came back with a crazy sun burn and lots of beautiful memories!

I am still not over the vacation so I am trying to re-live the experience by writing this blog post haha! 😀

 

 

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Ola Mexico City! 🙂

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Connectivity (From Austin, TX): Aeromexico, direct 2 hour flight. $350 approx per person

Visa: If you hold a valid visa for the United States of America you just have to fill an immigration form on the flight and submit it at the airport immigration counter upon arrival

What to pack?: Travel light, layers (Jackets, light sweater and raincoats), sunscreen, after sun lotion, sunglasses, big hat/ cap, and comfortable shoes

Accommodation: Hostel Suites DF – Terán 38, Tabacalera, 06030 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico Phone: +52 55 5535 8117

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Day 1: We landed in CDMX at about 5 pm, cleared immigration, booked an Uber and headed straight to the hostel. All of this took quite a bit and it was already 7 by the time we reached the hostel. We met a couple of people at the hostel and they asked us if we would like to join  them for dinner at a ceviche place…The place was okay but was way overpriced for what it served. We crashed in early to be fresh for the long day of walking on day 2.

Day 2: Walking/Eating tour, Zocalo

The hostel has great breakfast, so our day of walking and eating started there. After the meal we walked along the Paseo Reforma – Hidalgo – 5 De Mayo streets and took in the great Sunday morning vibe around us as we headed towards the city center. The streets were crowded with all kinds of people, locals, tourists, vendors all of whom made this 2-3 hour walk a lot of fun. There are some magnificent buildings scattered all over this area and this walk is a must do for anyone who has never seen the city before. Along the way, we were constantly replenishing ourselves with some great street food that included tortas, mexican corn, tacos, churros and even some gelato to top it all off.

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Day 3: Aztec ruins, Artisan Center & Pyramids

We booked a tour available at the hostel for $550 (Mexican Pesos) per head. The tour was for around 8 hours of which we spent the majority at the pyramids. If you end up going on one of these, make sure you wear comfortable shoes and a lot of sunscreen!

Aztec Ruins

Aztec Ruins

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Artisan Center

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Artisan Center

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Loom that uses a mixture of Cactus and cotton fiber

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Loom that uses a mixture of cactus and cotton fiber

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Pyramid of the Moon

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Pyramid of the Moon

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View from the top

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Pyramid of the Sun

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View from the top

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Day 4: Castle, Museums, Markets

The last day was spent exploring the gorgeous museums and the markets.

  • Chapultepec Castle: Ticket – $ 62 (Mexican Pesos) per person. Located at the top of the Chapultepec Hill this is actually the only castle in North America. Here you can get a gorgeous view of the Reforma (avenue that runs diagonally across the heart of Mexico City).
  • The Frida Kahlo museum: Ticket$200 (Mexican Pesos) per person. A historic house (La Casa Azul) and art museum dedicated to the life and works of the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. This place is definitely worth a visit for all lovers of art. Walk around the area and definitely visit the local Mercado Coyoacan.  Buy tickets online or be prepared to stand in the line for a couple of hours!! Also, if you want to click photographs inside don’t forget to buy the special pass.
  • Museo de Antropologia (National Museum of Anthropology): Ticket – $70 (Mexican Pesos) per head. A great place to visit to learn more about Mexican culture and history. You’ll need at least a day to cover the entire museum. I would suggest going there before the pyramids as this place provides a lot of details about Teotihuacan history that a guide might not be able to.

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Food & Restaurants:

  1. Churrería El Moro – Crispy and delicious Churros with a variety of dips. Open 24×7!!
  2. La Casa de Tono – Delicious pozole, tostadas, quesadilla, sopes and Flan de la Abuela
  3. Street food – Mexican sweet corn slathered with mayo, seasoning, lime and chili, Tacos and Tortas

 

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Goodbye Mexico! Until next time 🙂

 

It’s a really nice city with great people all around. Just follow the basic safety precautions and you’ll have a blast! 🙂

Thanks for stopping by. If you have any questions feel free to send me an email. Hope you guys have a fabulous week ahead! 🙂 ❤

 

 

 

Come say hello on Instagram @turmerictshirt or on my Facebook page 🙂

 

Taco-licious!

I absolutely love making Tacos and I love experimenting with them too! After indulging in carb heavy meals over the weekend I decided to make a low-carb version of tacos with a twist! Crispy Thai Black Pepper & Garlic  Paneer with veggies on Lettuce Tacos for the win! 😀

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Ingredients:

  • Lettuce Leaves – About 10 to 15
  • Ice Cubes – 10

To marinade the Paneer/ Tofu:

  • Paneer – 12 Oz/ 340 Grams (You can replace the paneer with Tofu)
  • Soy Sauce (Low sodium) – 2 Tbs
  • Garlic – 2 Large cloves (Minced)
  • Rice Vinegar – 1 1/2 Tsp
  • Black Pepper (Freshly Ground) – 2 Tsp
  • Red Chili Sauce – 1 Tbs

Vegetables:

  • Oil – 1 Tbs
  • Onion – 1 Small or Half Medium (Thinly sliced)
  • Garlic – 4 to 5 cloves (Finely chopped or crushed)
  • Carrots – 1 Cup (Diced)
  • Broccoli – 1/2 Cup (Diced)
  • Bell Pepper – 1 Medium (Diced)

Sauce:

  • Soy Sauce (Low Sodium) – 2 Tbs
  • Red Chili Sauce or Sriracha – 1 Tbs
  • Rice Vinegar – 1 Tsp
  • Black Pepper – 1 Tsp
  • Corn Starch – 1 Tbs
  • Vegetable Broth – 1/2 Cup
  • Water – If required (To adjust the consistency of the sauce)

 

To Garnish:

  • Fresh Coriander/ Cilantro – 2 Tbs
  • Green Onion – 1 (Finely Chopped)
  • Sriracha – 1 Tbs or more (As required)

 

 

Method:

  1. Gently tear the lettuce leaves and place them on a plate of ice cubes and set aside
  2. Place the slab of Paneer in a bowl & add boiling water to it and let it sit for about 2 minutes. Remove the slab and pat it with a paper towel to remove some moisture
  3. Cut the paneer into cubes and put the in a bowl or a zip-lock bag. Put all the ingredients from the marinade section and gently mix till all the paneer pieces are covered in the marinade. Marinate for about 15 minutes
  4. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place all the marinated pieces of paneer on the parchment paper in one layer
  5. Bake the paneer for 15 minutes, gently turn the pieces over and bake for another 10 minutes
  6. Remove from the oven and keep aside
  7. Now while the paneer is cooking in the oven you can make the vegetable sauce
  8. In a separate bowl mix all the ingredients listed under the sauce section and keep aside
  9. Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat. Add onion & garlic and fry until the onion turns translucent. Add all the chopped vegetables except bell pepper and fry for another 2-3 minutes
  10. Now add the prepared sauce and mix well. Cook until the sauce turns thick, now add the bell pepper and cook for another 2 minutes
  11. Add water by tablespoons if required to get the desired consistency. Let it cook for about 2 minutes and then turn off the heat

 

Assemble the Tacos:

  1. Gently place the lettuce leaves on a plate. I cut the leaves round to make them look like flour Tacos 😉
  2. Pour the vegetable sauce and place the crispy paneer pieces
  3. Sprinkle some coriander/ cilantro, green onion & sriracha over it
  4. Fold it like a Taco and enjoy! 🙂

 

Tips:

  1. You can use any vegetables of your choice like mushrooms, corn, peas etc.
  2. Make the meal #vegan by replacing the paneer with tofu

 

 

 

Saturday Style!

We decided to spend this Saturday in Fredericksburg, a small town around 70 miles west of Austin famous for its vineyards, old school German architecture and also for being the last bastion of German speaking Texans. Honorable mentions go out to Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz and the Pacific War Museum.

As our short drive concluded at the Fredericksburg visitor center, the first thing on our itinerary was to visit the Pacific War Museum which was not hard to find as it is easily the biggest building in the town. The museum was built to honor FADM. Nimitz and is a tribute to the various heroes of the Allied forces who sacrificed their lives in the World War. It is a magnificent museum with 3 main buildings containing war memorabilia, weapons and also some really well made uniforms used in the Pacific War. We were only able to visit one building that contained the details and chronology of the war starting with Japan’s rise as a military power and subsequent attack on Pearl Harbor to the various battles that took place eventually concluding with Little Boy and Fat Man.

This is a must see and something which we plan to visit again on our next trip there 🙂

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Fudge Break

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Lunch: Ham, Bacon, Egg and Spinach Quiche. Salad and Fruits with Ranch Dressing

The next stop post lunch was Becker Vineyards and it’s 19th Annual Lavender Festival. Unfortunately due to early onset of Spring this year the Lavender bloomed early and we missed it by 3-4 weeks :(. So we drowned our sorrows in some Cab and Dolcetto.

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Becker Vineyard

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Becker Vineyard

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Wine Tasting

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Floral Jersey Dress (H&M), White Sneakers (Adidas), Beaded Necklace and Sunglasses (Walmart), Sling Bag (Calvin Klein), Watch (Timex)

 

Happy Summer everyone! 🙂

 

Chutney-licious!

When I was growing up chutneys and pickles were an important part of our meals. My Aai (Mom) made the most amazing pickles and chutneys at home and since then I have been a huge fan.

While I would pick tangy and spicy raw mango pickle over roasted peanut chutney any day, my husband cannot live without this chutney! I try to make a fresh batch every 2-3 weeks and my MIL sends us a special batch of her signature chutney occasionally.

After several attempts I finally hit the right note with this simple and delicious spicy “Shengdanyachi Chutney” or Roasted Peanut Chutney.

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Ingredients:

  • Raw Peanuts – 3 Cups
  • Whole Dry Red Chilies – 4 to 5 (or as per your heat threshold)
  • Garlic – 4 to 5 Pods
  • Cumin Seeds (Jeera) – 1 Tsp
  • Turmeric Powder – 1 Tsp
  • Red Chili Powder – 1 Tsp (Optional)
  • Salt – 1 Tsp (Or to Taste)

 

Method:

  1. Dry roast the peanuts on medium heat in a pan or skillet until the skin starts falling off and the peanuts get black spots on them. Stir occasionally (Approx 20-25 minutes)
  2. Take the peanuts off the heat and let them cool completely
  3. Once cold, rub the peanuts between your hands to loosen the skin, try to remove all of it
  4. Dust or blow the skin off
  5. Now put the peanuts in the jar of a grinder. Add rest of the ingredients
  6. Grind until it forms a grainy powder and everything is combined well
  7. Do not over grind else it will star releasing oil and turn into paste and you will get peanut butter
  8. Adjust salt to taste
  9. Store in an airtight container. Consume within 2-3 weeks

 

Enjoy with piping hot rotis and ghee! 🙂

 

 

 

 

Snack Attack!

If you know me then you know that Tea-time is my favorite time of the day and a yummy snack with Chaii is a must-have. Usually we have cookies, banana or tapioca chips with our tea. But today I decided to make something different, healthy and fresh, so Baked Falafel Bites came to the rescue! 😀

 

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Ingredients:

  • Cooked Chickpeas – 1 Can (15 Oz.) or 2 Cups (Rinsed and drained)
  • Fresh Chives – 2 Tbs (Roughly chopped) (Optional)
  • Green Chili – 1 (Optional)
  • Garlic – 3 Cloves (Medium, roughly chopped)
  • Cilantro/ Coriander – 1/2 Cup
  • Toasted Sesame – 2 Tbs
  • Olive Oil – 3 Tbs
  • Almond Flour/ Almond Meal – 1/2 Cup
  • Cumin Powder – 1 Tsp
  • Kosher Salt and Black Pepper – To Taste
  • Red Chili Flakes – To Garnish

 

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper
  2. In a blender or food processor combine all the ingredients except Red Chili Flakes and puree until smooth
  3. The mixture should be thick and slightly wet
  4. Now using a tablespoon (dip the spoon in some water) shape the mixture into small patties or bite size pieces and place them evenly apart on the prepared baking sheet
  5. Bake the falafel for about 25 to 30 minutes, flipping them halfway or/ until they turn golden brown
  6. Remove from the oven and let them cool for about 2 minutes. Top each falafel with a teaspoon of Yogurt sauce (See Tips) and red chili flakes. Serve immediately.

 

Enjoy with a cup of hot Chaii! 🙂

 

Tips:

For the Yogurt sauce simple whisk together 1 Cup plain yogurt or sour cream or Greek Yogurt, 1 Tsp cumin powder, 1 Tbs lemon juice, Salt and Pepper