Walnut, Bacon & Mushroom Rice Pilaf

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I know what you’re thinking. Walnuts, Bacon, Mushrooms and Rice? Does this chick even eat bacon? Well, I do. Turkey Bacon that is. A friend of mine (hi Ian!) will get mad at me for even suggesting that the two are remotely similar and I really can’t make an honest distinction because I’ve never had real bacon. But if real bacon is half as good as turkey bacon then I totally get the obsession.

This recipe isn’t original. It’s adapted from the perpetually awesome Mediterrasian cookbook and website. I’ve made Ric and Trudy’s recipe before (you can find it here) and it is the absolute definition of rustic comfort food. I tasted the rusticness (? Rusticity?) the second I took the first bite while visions of log cabins and deer head wall mounts danced in my head. Trust me. TRY THIS RECIPE!

What led to the adaptation? Well, after Diwali, I had what is known as a crapload of basmati rice left over. Two whole trays. But it left me and Rabin (proud semi-abstainers of rice) with a lot of rice and not much to do with it. But then I remembered the flavour profile of this recipe and I don’t wanna say that I ran to the fridge to get the ingredients… But I also don’t wanna say that I didn’t run. Ok… I ran.

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The leftover rice in question…I really need to figure out portion sizes :s

The original recipe is made with arborio rice which is ideal for risottos. My adaptation isn’t creamy or smooth, it has more of a fried rice texture than the sticky creaminess of risotto. I also love that the recipe is one pan. You literally push the rice in the corner of the pan and cook and then cook. I love it because that way, the rice can absorb every single bit of flavour and seasoning and wine and turkey bacon fat. Oh man… just typing this has my stomach growling.

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Walnut, Bacon & Mushroom Pilaf

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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3 tbsp Olive Oil
1 medium Onion, sliced
2 cloves Garlic, finely chopped
3 slices Turkey Bacon, diced
2 cups cooked Basmati Rice
½ cup Walnuts, roughly chopped
2 cups Mushrooms (I used canned mushrooms, increase to 3-4 cups if using fresh)
1/3 cup White Wine
½ -1 tsp Black Pepper
½ -1 tsp Salt

1/3 – 1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese

Preheat oven to 350. Toast walnuts for 8-10 minutes.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Sautee onions until translucent. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add Mushrooms and cook until water is released. Mix rice & walnuts into onions, garlic & mushrooms and sautee for 1 minute.

Push mixture to side of pan and add turkey bacon to the clean side of pan. Cook until crispy and combine with the rice mixture. Add wine, salt & pepper and cook until all liquid has evaporated. Stir in cheese and serve immediately.

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So try both recipes simply because the combination of ingredients is just so good!

On another note, Rabin and I plan to put up our Christmas tree this Friday – play our favourite hipster Christmas tunes, light some evergreen or cinnamon candles, and drink hot cocoa. We felt so smug, thinking that we’re way ahead of the game because come on, it’s still November…but almost everyone I’ve talked to has their tree up already! Are all of your gifts wrapped already too? Huh? #sarcasm

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My Guest Post at Flour & Spice: White Pizza with Caramelized Onions, Roasted Garlic, Mushrooms & Spinach

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Last week you all met Sarah from Flour & Spice who hung out in my virtual kitchen and guest posted with her fabulous Chicken Fajita Pizza. This week, I hopped over to her page and shared my recipe for a White Pizza with Roasted Garlic, Caramelized Onions, Spinach & Mushrooms. It’s my twist on a filling, stick to your ribs (but not ‘stick-to-your-ribs-and-never-digest-and-cant-fit-into-your-clothes-cause-youre-so-fricking-bloated’) comfort food. I mean come on! How can you go wrong with roasted garlic, caramelized onions and mushrooms?

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Sarah is one of the coolest bloggers I know. I generally have a life saturation of eating Indian food (once a month or twice a month is more than enough) and I can’t seem to tap into my Indian cooking skills – my curry has gotten compliments about it’s Greek taste. Every time I see one of Sarah’s posts though, I feel hope again – everything always looks so delicious and very doable. The recipes are her twists on the food and I like that her modifications make sense and are simple enough to make. I can’t even tell you how many of her recipes I love like her Baked Samosas, Pakistani Style Okra and so many more.

So enough of the fangirl-ing. Visit Flour & Spice, check out my recipe today as well as her recipe archives. I’m sure you’ll find your new favourite recipe(s)!

Guest Post: Chicken Fajita Pizza from Flour & Spice

Today I’m doing something very cool. My blogging friend Sarah over at Flour & Spice is guest posting for me. Sarah and I became friends a while back and I’m very excited that she’s taking over my page today to share her awesome looking Chicken Fajita Pizza. So let me shut it and let Sarah speak. Sarah, everyone. Everyone, Sarah. *bows and backs away*

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Hello “I’ll Cook You Wash” readers! My name is Sarah and I blog over at Flour & Spice – a place populated by my riffs on classic South Asian foods and buttery sugary goodness. This blog is where I come for Indiras chit chat and an array of recipes so yummy and different from my usual ones. Thanks Indira for adding more deliciousness to all our lives :) I think this is also where I thank you for having me here so consider yourself doubly thanked!

There are two kinds of Pizzas that I like – the classic Italian style thin crust, easy on the toppings, but not on flavour and the over the top thick crust with it’s generous toppings and delicious chew. Today I bring you the second kind. It is Fall you know – and what is more comforting than a warm thick crust Fajita inspired pizza? I love this pizza because it is so familiar yet different enough in it’s flavours that it stands out. It is different than the usual pizza because first of all, there is no pizza sauce. This pizza is where my jars of salsa find their final resting place. Add a smattering of savory firm black beans, sweet niblets of corn, crunchy red peppers, and flavourful chicken and it is an overwhelming win. Feeling a little more adventurous? Throw on some diced jalapenos and whatever else your heart desires. If you aren’t going to have some fun with pizza then what will you have fun with?

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The pizza crust recipe is hardly my own, it slightly adapted from food.com and of all the ones that I have tried it is the easiest and most forgiving. You can also make this pizza with store bought dough, but I doubt it will taste as good as this one.

With regards to the toppings now that I have made this pizza thrice here are the two things that make all the difference – the salsa and the seasoning on the chicken. With the salsa pick something you would like to eat, but if you happen to have one with an unpleasant twang then dilute it with pizza sauce. The chicken is pretty straightforward; just remember to season it well so it gives your pizza that extra zing.

Chicken Fajita Pizza

Pizza Dough Ingredients

Yield: 1 thick crust pizza

2 ¼ tsp yeast

1 cup warm water

2 ½ cups flour

2 tsp olive oil

1 tsp sugar

1 ½ tsp salt

½ tsp dried oregano

½ tsp garlic powder

Pizza Toppings:

2 – 2 ½ cups shredded cheese – any combination of Mozzarella, Monterey Jack, Cheddar.

1 ¼ cup salsa of choice – add more for a ‘saucier’ base, if your salsa has a high liqiuid content drain it for a few minutes

1/3 cup diced red pepper

1/3 cup corn niblets

1/3 cup cooked black beans

1 chicken tender or breast portion cut into bite sized pieces to yield ½ cup chicken

Seasoning for chicken: Salt, Red Chilli Powder, Cumin Powder

1 jalapeno (optional)

For the Crust:

Combine yeast and warm water, leave be for 2 minutes. Then add in the rest of your ingredients and knead to form a smooth dough. Mine is usually pretty sticky at this point. You can let it rest in a lightly oiled bowl covered with a kitchen towel or roll out immediately for your pizza pan. My preferred rolling technique is to generously flour the dough and then pat it into a disc shape. Then I hand stretch the dough – for a quick how to look here. Preheat your oven to 450 and bake for 10 minutes on a lightly oiled pizza pan (mine is 14 inches) or a baking sheet.

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For the Pizza:

Drizzle a little oil into a frying pan to heat up. Then sprinkle your cut chicken pieces with salt, red chilli powder, and cumin powder. Don’t be shy with the seasonings – you want a nice kapow of flavour. Stir fry the chicken until cooked through. Check for seasoning.

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Now is the fun part. Spread your salsa in an even layer almost all over the pizza dough – leave the edges salsa free. Then sprinkle on a quarter of the cheese. Scatter your chicken over top, followed by half the original cheese amount. Keeping the chicken beneath the cheese ensures it stays moist. Now add the remaining topping ingredients and then the remaining cheese. Bake at 450 till the top is bubbly and golden. Serve topped with red chilli flakes if you wish.

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(It’s Indi again) So there you have it folks. I hope you give this recipe a try. It’s perfect for me right now – I have almost a full jar of salsa in the fridge and have sworn off tortilla chips for a while – so you’ll see the pics of my attempts soon.

Thanks to Sarah for posting, and take a minute and check out her blog. I’ll be taking it over next Tuesday with a pizza recipe of mine!

Kala Chana Hummus

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I’m back. Where have I been? No, not in London and I didn’t visit the Queen. Unfortunately, we had a death in our family and before I knew it, two weeks had passed. I’ve now broken the surface for air and trying to get back into the swing of cooking.

So catch me up quickly on what I’ve missed. How was Halloween? Is Pumpkin spice still everywhere? Has anyone tasted the new Starbucks Chestnut Praline Holiday coffee? I am so frickin’ excited that there’s finally a new flavor. Has anyone seen Home Alone as yet? Or heard Christmas Carols?

Today I’m bringing you a new favourite recipe of mine. A while ago, I posted a recipe that included Kala Chana. Kala Chana is from the same family as the chana / chickpeas you know and love, but is cultivated mostly in India. When the supermarket started bringing it in, my mom started using it exclusively. It was delicious and wonderful…until she stopped one day without notice. I don’t know why she stopped cooking it but one day I opened the pot and plain old chana masala was staring back at me. Andddd now you know where my food abandonment issues come from. Thanks mom!

I was cooking some kala chana the other day and admiring how sleek and pretty it looked (YES, a legume can be pretty) when I was struck with a classic Indi flash of genius. “Why not use kala chana for hummus!” I know. It’s a gift.

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I’ve recently come to LOVE hummus and for a few solid months, I’d make some every single week and put it on everything – toast, crackers, wraps, and I’d dip all sorts of ‘vehicles’ into the hummus – veggies, pretzels, and more importantly, my finger. Multiple times. I have severely depleted my tahini stash but it’s totally worth it. Hummus is the most all-purpose and wholly filling snack / breakfast/ lunch/ dinner combo ever.

So although I used the standard hummus recipe etched into my brain at first, I found that this recipe needed some additional modification. Because the kala chana doesn’t swell up as much and soften the way regular chana does, it doesn’t become very creamy on it’s own when blended. Don’t worry, I fixed all those issues, and I cannot stress how important it is to use fresh lemon juice. It is infinitely better than the bottled one.

So here’s my very own Kala Channa Hummus Recipe. Enjoy!

Kala Chana Hummus

  • Servings: depends on how you use it
  • Time: 10 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
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Made with Repix (http://repix.it)

Ingredients

2 cups cooked Kala Chana
½ cup Tahini
¼ cup freshly squeezed Lemon Juice
2 cloves Garlic, roughly chopped
½ tsp Cumin
½ tsp Black Pepper
1 tsp Olive Oil
½ – 1 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
½ cup Water
1 ½ tsp Salt

Instructions
Put all items except liquids into a food processor. Blend and slowly pour water and lemon juice into mixture as it blends. Process until smooth. Garnish with fresh parsley if desired.

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Make this tonight if you have kala chana in your fridge. Or tomorrow. Just take 10 minutes and make it and you’ll eat all week. Unless you eat like me and then I can assure you you’ll have enough for 2 days.

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Breakfast for Dinner: Whole Wheat Chocolate Espresso Pancakes

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Making pancakes is seriously an art. How do people get them so neat and round and fluffy? How do they know how much batter to put in the pan? Do they manually spread out the batter or does it just bloom out into a perfect shape? I suppose it’s a craft you hone over time and I hope that one day, I’ll have that magical power of making perfect pancakes. The other night, I felt a super strong pull toward pancakes, and I didn’t care whether they turned out ugly or not.

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This is a…pancake top? It’s the muffin top’s bff

So I decided: Breakfast for dinner! It’s one of the most fantastic indulgences, and is a type of comfort food in it’s own right. The fact that I was too lazy to go thaw meat or make anything too complicated had virtually zero to do with my dinner decision, so you can lower that raised eyebrow, okay?

I settled on whole wheat chocolate espresso pancakes because I’m a complicated gal. To me, it’s simple though: whole wheat because it’s a better alternative to white flour, chocolate which will help manage my chocolate cake cravings and reduce the amount of sugar I’d normally have to add, and espresso powder because I’m a coffee freak and I thought it would add more depth to the flavour.

I’ve also been trying to figure out a way to use espresso powder successfully in a recipe. I’ve had a few failures (maybe I should do a blooper reel post) but I’m happy to report it worked very well in this. I really just want espresso to like me. A while back, when a cafe in my town opened, I went there with some friends to check it out. I ordered an espresso, and was met with a condescending stare by the waitress who then said “You want an eXpresso? You know what that is?”. She eventually served me lukewarm espresso with another withering stare. Customer service has improved since then, but anytime I see anything espresso related, I pronounce it “expresso” in my mind (and you would not believe how many times I spelled it wrong in this post) and remember the day I was coffee-shamed (like slut-shaming but for caffeine addicts).

Whole Wheat Chocolate Espresso Pancakes

  • Servings: 2-3
  • Time: 10 mins
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

1 cup whole wheat flour

1/4 cup Cocoa Powder (unsweetened)

2 tbsp Brown Sugar

1/2 tsp Espresso Powder

1/2 tsp Baking Powder

1/2 tsp Salt

1 cup Almond Milk

1 Egg

2 tbsp melted Butter

Instructions:

In a medium sized bowl, mix together all dry ingredients until fully combined. In a smaller bowl, whisk wet ingredients together. Pour over dry ingredients and mix until just combined – do not over mix.

What is this, a mason jar convention?

What is this, a mason jar convention?

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Spray a bit of nonstick cooking spray in a pan and heat up. Pour about 1/4 cup of batter and cook until the surface starts to bubble slightly and the edges are cooked, about 1-2 minutes. Flip pancake and cook for another minute. Repeat with remaining batter.

Top with whipped cream, syrup, or fruit of your choice. Or top with nothing at all.

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The result of not waiting until the pancakes cool off a little before you top with whipped cream...

The result of not waiting until the pancakes cool off a little before you top with whipped cream…

These pancakes are pretty filling. I ended up scraping off all the whipped cream and truth be told, I didn’t need the syrup. It would have been perfectly delicious plain.

So happy almost Friday, have a great weekend and I’ll see you back here next week!

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Cookies & Cream Rice Krispie Treats

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I am so disappointed. Yesterday I went and bought a slice of Tiramisu and had my Friday afternoon all planned: Cake, a cup of coffee and a whole afternoon to make a serious dent in my Gilmore Girls re-watch marathon that I was forced to abandon because of a little thing called work. I love that show. Do I say that I love too many shows by the way? Because I feel like I do and as a friend so wisely pointed out to me, saying it too many times for too many things diminishes the value of the word. I can get on board with that. But I do love Gilmore girls and I do love tiramisu.

So I came home, put on the TV, got into my comfy pjs, got out the fancy fork (I do spoil myself) and threw myself into the most comfortable chair in the house. I felt utterly luxurious and took a bite of the cake….and sighed. Not the satisfied kind of sigh that only a perfect dessert can elicit, but the kind of sigh that is the result of extreme disappointment. The tiramisu was terrible! I would use more explicit language and those of you that know me well will know that I usually do, but this is a family site (although I cannot confirm to you how long that will stay on). So suffice it to say it was terrible. It sucked. It was spoiled or too salty or old or kept in the fridge too long or something, and whatever it was, it was inedible. What a letdown.

Naturally, when Rabin came home, I made him try it (I was NOT suffering alone!). He confirmed that it was in fact spoiled. So I have three bites of spoiled tiramisu in my stomach – the first for obvious reasons, the second because I wasn’t sure if the first was just a bad piece, and the third because I really just wanted to make sure. If I die of food poisoning, well, it’s been nice knowing you all.
Which got me thinking. Not to be a jerk or anything but I really do prefer the stuff I make. At least I know what goes into it and I know how fresh it is. I can reduce the sugar or add chocolate chips and the baking itself is pretty therapeutic. The only sucky thing about it is that cravings don’t necessarily coincide with my energy level to measure ingredients and mix and bake for 30 minutes. Plus, as this blog name suggests, washing up afterwards isn’t really my favourite thing.

Then I thought about Rice Krispie Squares I made the other day. Quick to make, super simple, and very few ingredients. What did I do that was so different? I turned them into Cookies & Cream Rice Krispie Squares! Powerful stuff. I’ve already said before that I dislike Oreos but adore Oreo related products and this was no exception.

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Cookies & Cream Rice Krispie Treats

  • Time: 10 minutes
  • Difficulty: very easy
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Ingredients

25 -30 large Marshmallows
3 Cups Rice Krispies
2 Tbsp Butter
12 Oreos (makes 1 cup ground)

Instructions

Spray a 7×7 pan with nonstick spray. Pulse Oreos to coarse crumbs in a food processor. This should make approximately 1 cup. Combine Rice Krispies with Oreos.

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Melt butter in a saucepan on medium heat and add marshmallows. Stir to combine with butter and continue to stir until the marshmallows have melted (see pictures).

Add rice/cookie mixture to the pan and stir immediately until combined with marshmallows and the mixture appears sticky. Transfer to the prepared pan immediately and use a spatula to smooth the mixture evenly.

Allow to cool. Cut into squares and enjoy!

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An added bonus is that the smell of melted marshmallows is absolutely heavenly. So the scent kinda gets you excited before you even take your first bite. The difference between this and the store bought squares is obviously the Oreo element, but apart from that, the homemade one is a lot more compact and not as sweet (in my opinion).

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So there it is. The perfect replacement for a crappy dessert. Now to continue to indulge my fantasy of living in Stars Hollow. When Gilmore Girls was actually on TV, I was told on a number of occasions by different people that I spoke like the girls on that show, which I took as a compliment. Also being compared to Alyson Hannigan in American Pie (“One time, at band camp…”) ? Not so much.

Roasted Garlic & Broccoli Stuffed Potatoes

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Quick. You’re stuck on a desert island and discover a hatch that leads you to a kitchen and only one food item provided by the Dharma Initiative. What is it? (Happy 10th Anniversary of the premiere of Lost and my lust-iversary of Sawyer btw). My food choice would be potatoes. I LOVE potatoes in every form – fries, baked potatoes, mashed potatoes, scalloped potatoes, potato chips, latkes, hash browns, potato soup, tater tots…(and yes, I’m aware that I sound like Bubba from Forrest Gump… BBQ shrimp, baked shrimp, broiled shrimp…)

Anyway. So now that you’ve gotten your random pop culture fill for the day, I’m sharing a recipe I put together – Roasted Garlic & Broccoli Stuffed Potatoes.

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Roasted Garlic & Broccoli Stuffed Potatoes

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy-ish
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Ingredients

5 Small – Medium Potatoes
1 head Garlic
1/2 cup Broccoli

2 tbsp Butter
1/3 cup grated Cheese of your choice (I used a mix of mild and sharp Cheddar)
1/4 tsp Black Pepper
1/2 tsp Salt or more to taste
1/8 tsp Red Pepper Flakes

Instructions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Roast garlic in the oven or on the stove. I’ve previously described 2 ways to roast garlic so take a look and see which fits your time budget. If you’re roasting in the oven, put the garlic in first so that you can prep the other ingredients in the meantime. Quick summary of oven roasting: cut top off the head of garlic, drizzle with olive oil, put in foil packet, bake at 400 degrees for 30-40 minutes.

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Scrub the whole potatoes, poke a few holes around it with a fork and boil for about 20 minutes until soft but not mushy. Drain and let cool. Carefully cut potatoes in half and scoop out flesh, being careful not to pierce through the potato.

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Ok. I admit it. I poked through the potatoes a few times. I probably should have let it cool a bit more first before I started scooping…

Mince broccoli in a food processor. Transfer to a bowl and mash with garlic, potato flesh, salt & peppers. Refill potatoes with mixture. Top with grated cheese.

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Bake in preheated oven for 10- 15 minutes until cheese is melted and potato edges are slightly crispy.

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Yep, this is a pretty picture heavy post. Maybe I’m making up for Wednesday’s Vegetable Stock post, or maybe I was just happy with the way the pictures turned out. Whatever it is, there you have it. Don’t say I never gave you anything.

Have a great weekend!