Wrap 101

Quick MealParty FoodLunch Box MealFamily MealNo Cooking

Wraps are adaptable for all meal types.  They make for a filling meal, a light snack and work well as take along foods for trips and hikes.  The only trick involved in making a wrap – is the ‘wrap’ part.  So, here is a post dedicated to all MTS who once like us wondered about wrapping a warp :).

wrap ingredients

Kind of food: Main course/ Appetizer/Snack
How long: 1o min
Makes: 1 wrap
Pots and Pans: None, just a surface to assemble

Ingredients
1. For the Wrap layer: Tortilla or Lavasah or any thin flat bread (sangak or  rotis)*
2. For the spread layer:
2 Tbsp of Hummus/Pesto/Chutney/flavored cream cheese/ Any spread
3.
For the protein layer: Sliced deli meats (2) /grilled tofu (1/4 cup) /cooked beans (1/4 cup) – a combination of these will work too
4. For the veggie layer: Bell peppers,  Cucumbers (sliced), avacado sliced, left over grilled veggies, blanched asparagus spears – a combination of any of the above veggies cut in thin strips measuring 1/4 cup.
5.  For the added nutrition – “Green layer” – 1/4 cup of any salad green.
Optional  layer
– cheese slices or shredded cheese.

How to make:
1. The bread layer has to be soft and pliable.  If bread is not fresh, then warm up the bread layer of your choice (like tortilla) in a microwave for a 5-7 seconds to make it pliable.  You could warm up in pan too.
2. Spread the hummus or any spread of your choice evenly on the tortilla.
3. Place the deli meat slices or the cheese slices in the center of the bread in a thin layer. Greens like whole romaine leaves could also be placed in the place of  or along with deli meat.
4. Place the veggies, beans and greens on top of the slice on top of the meat /cheese slice as shown in the picture below.

wrap 1

5. If using shredded cheese then sprinkle it now on top of the veggies.
6. Season with red pepper flakes or  ground pepper(optional). The spread and cheese will have adequate salt. Also, salt can make the wraps a  little soggy, so avoid it especially if the wrap will be consumed later.
7. Fold about 1 inch on two opposite sides of the tortilla 0r other breads and hold it as shown in the picture below.

Wrap 2

8. Now  roll the tortilla from the unfolded side (the side you held in step 7).

wrap 3

9.  Continue to roll the bread until it is completely wrapped  and use a toothpick to secure it.

wrap4

Make it Fast, Fun, and Facile! – Sri

Tips, tricks and alternatives
Look at what is available in the pantry and refergirator and decide on a theme when making wraps.  This way left overs get consumed.

Serving Ideas
Serve with any dipping sauce.  Look up the MTS post on easy dipping sauces for more ideas. To make a hearty meal out of wraps, serve it with chips, side salad, or fruits.

Look out for the Wrap 201 post coming soon with interesting filling suggestion and exotic spread ideas!

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June 7, 2009 at 10:55 pm Leave a comment

Preventing milk from burning while boiling/warming it

It is very easy to avoid milk from scorching at the bottom of a pot/pan while boiling/warming it.  Just rinse the pot in which you will boil milk with tap water (hygienic tap water) and then add milk to the pot immediately and bring it to boil on medium heat.  This family secret with the water layer works like a charm (non-stick) always!  Be generous with rinsing the pot and do NOT towel dry the pot after rinsing.

Make it Fast, Fun, and Facile! – Sri

June 6, 2009 at 12:19 am Leave a comment

Sweet, Spicy and Savory Strawberry Cups

Quick MealParty FoodParallel ProcessingFamily MealTravel FriendlyNo Cooking

With strawberries in season, here is an MTS post with an idea for an easy creative snack (horsdovers) using strawberries with a hint of cayenne, a shred of mint and a bit of tart olives and is paired with creamy asaigo cheese. The combination of various flavors are sure to excite your audience.  By the time you inform your family or friend about snack time this snack will ready for the platter. Who says fancy appetizers are for parties only.  Self-indulgence ain’t a sin :).

Strawberry phyllo cups 1

Kind of food: Appetizer
How long: 5 min
Makes: 8 pieces
Pots and Pans: Platter, microwave or a small vessel to warm.

Ingredients
8 Phyllo cups (available in the frozen food section along with pie crusts, but varies from store to store)
4″ X 4″ piece of Asiago or your favorite cheese
1/4 cup fresh strawberries sliced to small pieces that can be accommodated in phyllo cups
2 Tbsp sliced olives
3 Tbsp 0f jelly (MTS suggestions – Gauva, Orange maramalade)
1/2 tsp Cayenne pepper
2 Tbsp Mint (finely chopped)

Strawberry phyllo cups 2

How to make
Remove phyllo cup from the casing and set it aside.  Cut the cheese  into 0.75″X0.75″ pieces that will fit in the phyllo cups. Microwave the jelly with cayenne pepper for 10 – 20 seconds until the jelly acquires a flowing consistency. Place the cut strawberries and sliced olives on top of the cheese or along the side.   Drizzle 1/2 tsp of the warm jelly on the strawberries and garnish with finely chopped mint just before serving.

Note: To make this recipe ahead place the cheese and strawberry on the phyllo cups and cover it with seran wrap.  Leave it at room temperature.  Drizzle the jelly and garnish with mint just before serving.

Make it Fast, Fun, and Facile! – Sri

Tips, tricks and alternatives
You could sprinkle a small pinch of curry powder instead of the cayenne pepper for an added kick.  If you have left over sauces hollandaise or bechamel sauce, you could use that too.

May 11, 2009 at 10:15 pm Leave a comment

Simple Sprouts And Pomegrenate Salad With Citrus (Orange) Vinaigrette

Quick MealParty FoodLunch Box MealKid FriendlyFamily Meal

Bean sprouts tossed with pomegranate, celery, bell peppers (capsicum) and dressed in a citrus  vinaigrette makes for both an interesting salad and a filling for wraps. Sprouts do not have a very attractive taste but are abundant in vital nutrients, so it becomes tricky incorporating them into a healthy diet.  The citrus dressing provides a sweet and tangy dressing with a hint of cayenne pepper in the back ground to kick it up a notch.  And for all those brave hearts out there, using chili powder in the place of cayenne pepper may just be the right combination of sweet and spice.  This post also features an edible presentation tip that would work for all seasons.

Makes: 4 Salad servings
How long: 7 mins
Pots and pans: Bowl to mix salad.

Ingredients:
4 cups of  ANY sprouts (rinsed, drained and completely devoid of moisture*)
1 cup of fresh pomegranate
1/2 cup of finely chopped celery
1/3 cup of finely chopped bell peppers (capsicum)
1 Orange
1/4 cup Orange juice
2 Tbsp Olive oil or any salad oil
1 tsp Cayenne pepper or chili powder
1 tsp Cumin powder
Salt as per taste

Sprout and pomogranate salad

How to make
Cut the orange into two halves.  Slice each half into thin slices.  Mix orange juice, chili powder (or cayenne pepper), cumin powder and a pinch of salt. Drizzle oil into this mixture while stirring vigorously with a beater (non- electric) or a fork. Gather the ingredients for the salad. Look up the MTS post on how to peel pomegranate if you are not familiar with the process.  Toss the sprouts with chopped celery, cilantro and bell peppers.  At the time of serving, toss the salad with just enough dressing to make the salad wet. Plate the orange slices near the rim of the serving platter and then place the salad in the center (as shown in the photo).

Note: The key to a well done salad is the balance in ingredients (texture) and taste.  Dressing being an integral part of a salad, add only a little bit at a time.  Toss the salad completely until it is wet and there is no dressing collected at the bottom of the bowl.  Serve additional dressing on the side.

Make it Fast, Fun, and Facile! – Sri

Tips, tricks and alternatives
If you have left over of this salad, drain the salad and get rid of any excess moisture(dressing). Keep the drained salad in the fridge.  Wrap the salad in whole grain tortilla for a healthy snack or break fast next day.  Make sure the salad is devoid of any excess moisture.
Left over sprout salad can also be added to any stir-fry or a curry while cooking.
If you would like to use fresh squeezed orange juice  then place an orange in the microwave for 10 seconds.  This will help with softening the orange a little and help extracting all the juice.

Using this salad as a filling for wraps:
This salad can be mixed with roasted baby carrots or sauteed/roasted potatoes or cooked rice or rice noodles for a very filling wrap.

April 27, 2009 at 6:55 am Leave a comment

When you are lost in the pantry / kitchen

All of us, at some point or the other, have a blank moment and can not come up with a meal idea. MTS has some tips and ideas that might help you find  an answer when you go blank.

Planning  a meal, especially when running low on groceries can be a bit frustrating at times. But, if you stay focused on your top level goals,  cooking a meal should not be very complicated. When you can not find the most important items for a meal in your pantry or fridge, you do not always have to reach for the frozen pre-made meals or canned food. If you just take a few minutes, you can put together something with the most unexpected ingredients. This post offers ideas on how a meal can be put together with a pantry/refrigerator ruing low on stock.

MTS recommends that you try to keep it simple. All you need to make an healthy and wholesome meal are:

1. Carbohydrate item
2.  Protein item
3.  Vegetables/Fruits
4.  Flavor – Seasoning, condiments etc

Some samples provided below should help you think of quick, creative  and easy meals.

Sample 1:
1. Carbohydrate- Pasta
2. Protein- Meat / tofu / Cheeses / Canned Beans
3.  Vegetables – Canned  / frozen
4. Olive oil / Sauce / Herbs  / Garlic
A simple pasta can make a wholesome meal. Pick left over pastas that you may have. Look for a protein source – some meat or tofu or even a can of garbanzo bean that has been in the pantry for ever. Try and utilize bits of ingredients left in boxes and use them up. Left overs Tuesdays – Can be left over ingredients and not necessarily left over cooked food.

Sample 2:
1.  Carbohydrate – Rice / Potatoes
2. Protein-  Soy protein granules, canned Beans
3.  Vegetables – assorted
4. Chicken or vegetable broth, condiments, Fresh herbs

Use these ingredients and make a quick soup and add a side of bread or fresh fruit to complete the meal.

The idea here is try to focus on including the 4 parts of a meal. Its about developing the thought process. What do you feel like today – It can start with any of the 4 parts the meals. Or think of a flavor – e.g. Italian herbs – then try and look for other three parts that may compliment your selected flavor.  Cooking a meal does not have to start with a recipe – it can start with that what you see in the pantry. Work on coming up with a recipe with what  you already have. It is not a requisite to start with the recipe and gather the the items needed for it.

When reading a recipe – Always look for alternatives for each ingredient.  Think seasonal – and look for alternatives appropriate for the season. It will even save you a lot money. A lot times, simple substitutions can add a lot of variety for the same recipe. If a recipe calls for for Rice – see if you can replace it something else like Wild rice, or Arborio rice or even couscous.  If a recipe calls for garnet Yams – Sweet potatoes may be a great substitution or even regular potatoes. You may end with something more exotic and give a little kick to your taste buds. Creative cooking is mostly acquired and not always a inborn talent.

Being creative in cooking is not that hard! Just a keep your focus on some top level goals and you are on your way to becoming a fabulous cook!

Look for the “Pantry section” on the right side of this page and click on the ingredient names for quick recipe ideas.

April 23, 2009 at 12:30 am Leave a comment

One-pot Wholesome Rice and Beans

Quick MealToddler FoodParty FoodLunch Box MealKid FriendlyFamily Meal

This post is a recipe idea for a one-pot meal for the whole family.  It is a very simple and easy recipe that will come quiet handy on beat up days when there is not much energy left for  time consuming recipes.  Large peppers (abundant in anthocynanins) are used in this recipe.  This recipe has enough protein, carbohydrate and nutrition from beans, rice and vegetables (onion, tomato and peppers).  These peppers impart a very smoky flavor without imparting too much heat. Any large pepper that will not impart heat will do fine for this recipe.  So if you have left over roasted pepper, or canned whole chillies or jalapeno use those for this recipe.  MTS is all about efficient and creative methods in cooking, so this post about an idea for a recipe that leads our readers to whip up many such efficient and creative culinary creations.

Kind of food: Main course/ Side dish
How long: 30 min
Makes: 5 cups
Pots and Pans: One large pot with lid

Rice with bean and peppers

Ingredients
2 tbsp oil
1/2 cup chopped onions
2 Tbsp chooped garlic
1-2 green chillies (Anahiem or Banana peppers – basically the large ones)
2 cups rice
1 tbsp salt (or to taste)
4 cups water
1 cup canned beans (any beans)
1/2 cup chopped tomato
1/4 cup cilantro (corainder leaves) chopped for garnish

How to make
Place a heavy bottomed deep skillet / pot on medium heat.and warm up the oil on medium heat for a minute. While the oil is warming up chop the garlic, onion, and chillies and add it to the pan as when you are done chopping each of these.   Sprinkle a little salt to help onions cook faster. After the onions a slightly tender (about 2-3 minutes) add the rice and saute it till the rice turns opaque (takes about 4-5 mins).  Now add water and salt. Bring the mixture to a boil (about 5 min).  In the mean time drain and rinse the beans and chop the tomato and cilantro. Once the mixture comes to a boil, add the tomato and beans, cover and cook for exactly 7 min on medium heat. Turn of the heat and do not open for another 10 min. Open it after 10 minutes, fluff up the rice with a fork. Garnish with fresh cliantro and serve hot.
Make it Fast, Fun, and Facile! – Sri

Serving ideas
This wholesome  rice can be served as such with salsa or used as a side or main dish to accompany grilled chicken, fish or a curry or raita.
This basic method of cooking flavored rice is very handy and works really well in large quantities for parties.
This  rice also travels well in a lunch box.

Tips, tricks and alternatives
You could use 2 cups of frozen vegetable for added nutrition.

April 20, 2009 at 8:56 am 1 comment

Dessert coffee

Coffee after dinner is always a great way to end the night. A dessert coffee drink can be even better. Making a pot of fresh coffee? Well, make it a lot more interesting and make it even an alternate for a dessert drink. This recipe is a very simple, delicious and packs a whole lot of coffee flavor. Your guests are sure to be impressed with its look, taste and its simplicity.

Dessert coffee drink

Kind of food: Drink
Makes: 2 drinks
How long: 5 min – 10 min
Pots and Pans: Blender and coffee mugs

Ingredients
1 cup coffee ice cream
1 cup freshly brewed coffee (or instant coffee dissolved in warm water)
1/2 cup Kahlua (coffee liquor)   (optional)
Whipped Cream  ( a can of instant whipped cream)
Cocoa to dust

How to make
In a blender place the ice cream, brewed coffee and kahlua liquor. Blend till smoot and slightly frothy. Pour into a cappuccino or coffee mug. Top with whipped cream and dust with cocoa.  If the drink its a bit warm then chill or pour over some ice.  tip: You can cool the brewed coffee for a few mintues if you wanted the drink a lot cooler.

Serving ideas
Serve with Dark chocolate to compliment the flavors

Tips, tricks and alternatives
For non-alcoholic option – skip the Kahlua and add little extra coffee for more flavor.
For a Mocha feel to this drink, use chocolate ice cream instaed of coffee ice cream.
For kids or decaf versions – use vanilla ice cream with some decaf coffee and skip the Kahlua.

April 16, 2009 at 12:30 am Leave a comment

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