This Creamy Tomato Tikka Masala Soup is the ultimate in flavor. With aromatic spices in a creamy, rich tomato broth it’s the perfect comfort food.
I refuse to subscribe to the notion that there is a “Soup Season”. Sure, winter and fall are much more conducive to warming, comforting bowls of the steamy stuff, but there is something so cozy about soup and it can often make for a nice, one pot, fuss free meal, no matter the season.
As a lover of all things Indian-spiced I am constantly experimenting with dishes that are inspired by those very distinct spice blends. Since my husband is the exact opposite and prefers to avoid many of those spices, like the plague (he had a bad Indian restaurant food poisoning incident that forever ruined him) I dont get to play nearly as often as I would like.
On a rare night at home alone, recently, I was experimenting with a creamy garam masala spiced dish, somewhere between chicken makhani (butter chicken) and tikka masala, I was making the sauce creamy with coconut milk instead of heavy cream and as I was adding the tomatoes and broth, I found I had gone a little too far with the liquids, my sauce turned more to a soup and I simultaneously fell in love with this accidental dish. Creamy Tomato Tikka Masala Soup. Read the rest of this entry »
The comforts of food and it’s universal ability to connect us, has constantly come up as of recent, reminding me that this is one of the core reasons that I have found such a true and passionate love for cooking, food and more importantly serving the people I love.
This winter in particular I have noticed my cravings and my desires for food have changed quite drastically from previous seasons. I know, in part, some of that comes from the distinct and more winter-like season we have actually been experiencing here in Southern California, complete with rain storms and lots of cool, grey days. But it also occurred to me very suddenly as I was writing this, that in a time when there is so much uncertainty and unrest, so much aggression and fear, we are finding the need and desire for comfort and love wherever we can find it.
I was watching Michael Pollan’s Netflix series, Cooked, the other night, and while I can’t recall which episode in particular, of the four, that I heard this in, he so brilliantly and matter-of-factly said at some point “It’s no longer a given that people will cook.” I had never really thought about that, given the way that I grew up and the lifestyle choices I have made for myself. But, for centuries cooking was a given, it was absolutely obligatory to our survival. We had to cook in order to eat and we need to eat in order to live! I realized as these words touched my ears that this unknowingly is probably the largest part of what I enjoy so much about cooking every day. About cooking for the people I love. It feels like a gift! As a woman that has no children, cooking for other people is my moment to feel as if I am giving the gift of life. Because food IS life. It IS love.
Having a for-real winter here in Southern California has been especially exciting for many reasons. For the first time since we moved out here from the East Coast 4 years ago, I have been able to really get down with cozy, comforting winter food. Soups, stews, roasts and all the best wintery, soul-warming foods.
Soups have been especially exciting to me this year. This one in particular, this Instant Pot Creamy Chicken Vegetable Soup, has become one of my personal favorites. Reminiscent of a pot-pie filling, with a bit more broth, it’s creamy and rich, without dairy or grains. Best part, it can be made in the Instant Pot Pressure Cooker and it’s ready in about 30 minutes, start to finish, but it tastes like it’s simmered away all day. If you want to use already cooked, shredded rotisserie chicken, this soup is ready even quicker. It pressure cooks for just 6 minutes!!
I literally cannot believe that after nearly 7 years of blogging and sharing recipes here with you, that I have never shared this one. It’s literally one of my MOST favorite foods ever. Gluten-free Pastitsio (pa-STEE-tsee-oh), a Greek-Style Baked Pasta / Lasagna, of sort, this is 100% my kind of comfort food. A Christmas dinner tradition, this is the food I grew up eating for the holidays. My Yia Yia always made an incredible tray of pastitsio and since her passing, we can always count on my mother to manage the task and do it as if she herself was the Greek one. Years ago, when I discovered my gluten intolerance, my mom so graciously tweaked the family recipe to be made gluten-free and I never had to be without. Overtime I have made it myself and continued to slightly adjust things and I am so honored to be sharing it with all of you, finally.
With layers of ground meat (beef or lamb) and pasta and a creamy, puffy, eggy, cheesy béchamel on top, there are hints of warming cinnamon throughout the entire dish and then it’s baked to perfection. This dish steps in where casseroles and lasagna leave off. Traditionally made with bucatini, a long tubular pasta laid out going in the same direction, I make mine gluten-free using instead an organic brown rice penne. In place of regular flour in the béchamel, I use a gluten-free all-purpose blend.
With the busyness of this time of year, I am finding myself far more called to creating nourishing, comforting food that doesn’t eat up half the day in prep work, but that also cooks quickly and leaves us time for all the other crazy tasks we have on ours lists right now. This time of year I just want the most comforting foods, soups and stews, roasts and other hearty, seasonal meals. This Instant Pot Beef Stew is basically the best ever version of all of this! Ready in under an hour, it’ll taste as if had been cooking ALL day long.
Last year I got myself the Instant Pot, after hearing from so many people how amazing it is. I am still, after a year, learning all the things it can do. I recently began playing with the sauté feature, which allows you to sear meat, before pressure cooking it. I find this seals in the flavor and the caramelized flavors from the browning really brings more depth and richness to the overall dish. Plus, it gives us little brown bits to deglaze, which is one of my most favorite things to do when cooking.
This is comforting, winter food at it’s finest. It actually reminds me of being a kid, this is the food we grew up on. My mom made a killer beef stew on the stove top. It tastes of love, coziness and comfort.
With the start of fall just mere days away, I am reveling at the thought of my favorite season of eating! Fall food is pure comfort, to me. Squash, potatoes, apples, pears, pumpkins, cranberries and all the other goodness. I just can’t get enough.
Thinking about this season soup comes to mind quite often. Soup is one of my favorite things and while I know gazpachos and chilled soups are a thing, they aren’t the same. I love a good, steamy, cozy bowl or mug of comforting soup and by the time summer is wrapping up, it’s about all I can think about.
Despite the fact that we are well into spring now, Southern California has had it a bit twisted. Since I arrived back home from my travels to NY last week, it’s been mostly grey, rainy and cool. While I would have loved this weather in December and January, I will take it now. It’s a really nice change of pace. A great reason to pull out some sweaters and it’s also a great excuse to enjoy some real comforting foods.
Of all things I was craving a casserole. I know. What is it 1985? There is just something so comforting and cozy about a meal you can dump into a pan, bake and enjoy. It’s childhood for those of us in our 30s. I was also dreaming of a good creamy spring risotto, one of my favorite foods. While rice isn’t off limits for me, I do try to be mindful of how many grains I consume. I just feel better when my belly isn’t bloated from the carbs. Hence why I am OBSESSED with cauliflower rice. It’s so crazy versatile, so super easy to make and it’s incredible how delicious it is. If you have a Trader Joe’s near you, the Organic Frozen Cauliflower Rice is an amazing quick option for when you don’t want to lug out the food processor. I have used it in this recipe before and it’s perfect!
Something strange has happened in Southern California over the last couple of days…we had weather!! Yes, more than just sunshine and blue skies. We had violent and incredible thunderstorms lighting up the skies, pouring rain with the biggest rain drops you ever did see and heavy winds, bending those strong and sturdy palms, to and fro. It was incredible, chilly and so cozy. I miss days like this. When the skies open up and bathe us in this sweet and necessary rain, I am beyond grateful not only for the obvious, but also for the reminder and the excuse to slow down. I also find myself reminded of the importance of soul-warming, comfort food.
I have been making this comforting mushroom soup on and off throughout this winter. It’s so hearty, rich and earthy without being too heavy or indulgent. I also find that like most of my recipes, it’s also quite versatile. You can make it vegan by utilizing just the flavor of a beautiful mushroom broth and the meatiness of the varying mushrooms as the base, or you can, as we opted to here, add in some beautiful chicken stock and a little shredded dark meat chicken, for additional flavor and a source of protein for a complete meal.
Looking at the foundations of optimal health and overall well-being, it is safe to say most of us, whether having endured chronic illness or not, understand that it’s more than just the food we eat and the exercise we choose. Our physical body and the structural state of our person, the environment we reside in, our emotions – they all play a role in the delicate balance within our body. Just as important and often underrated, the subtle body, or our energetics, also contribute to our health and vitality. In a perfect world, these factors all come together in harmony, to allow us to be the healthiest version of ourselves. Balanced, happy, well and at peace.
When our health is out of balance, we can’t expect to simply change our diet, take some supplements and hit a yoga class or the gym and BAM we’re back to 100%! Sadly, it is never that simple. We are complicated beings, with many layers and levels of complexity that come together to create a unique and very special bio-individual. Ultimately, we seek to maintain balance within our body, but if we are holding onto anything, energetically, it can create blockages which keep the free-flowing nature of our truest self, challenged.
As part of my current healing plan, I have been approaching my health from all avenues, honoring every modality presented to me and every opportunity to heal. Beyond my yoga and meditation practices, recently I have added reiki to the energetic side of my healing protocol and I am so very fortunate to have an incredible friend and reiki master, Brook Albrigo living very nearby. I have been spending time celebrating the moon cycles each month, at Brook’s sound healing ceremonies here in Long Beach and now seeing her for one-on-one reiki sessions.
What is Reiki?
Have you ever noticed that your first reaction to an injury or pain is to put your hands on that area? Or that when a loved one is suffering, you automatically hold their hand, touch their shoulder or embrace them? We all have this instinct to use our hands to comfort, heal and console.
Can someone please help me figure out how to slow down time? As I type up this post, I am sitting at my parent’s house in Buffalo, N.Y. We’re here visiting for a week, enjoying family and friends and this cool fall weather – a far cry from the extreme heat we’ve been experiencing in California. I seriously don’t think there is any thing in the world that makes me happier than being around my family, smelling the amazing scents of home cooked food, spending time with my niece and nephew, laughing my ass off with good friends, visiting my favorite yoga studio and all of that good stuff that being home brings!
This trip has been an absolute whirlwind already and it is flying by so quickly! It’s just not enough time. We went to our good friend Dana and JP’s wedding Saturday night and we had our own little party yesterday, in hopes of seeing as many of our favorite people as we could over the weekend. It was wonderful. My heart is so full right now! This place will forever feel like home to me and give me a feeling that no other place in the world can.