Pizza Pull-apart Bread


What’s up? Bread is what is up. Pull apart bread to be exact. Pizza pull apart bread to be exacter.


There’s not a lot to say about this recipe. (Edit: make sure ur yeast is alive lol) It’s tomato-y, cheesy, yummy bread. This is honestly one of the easiest recipes where it looks like you did a lot of work, but you just put pantry items in a Kitchen Aid and then watched netflix while the bread proofed.


Recipe: (Yield: 1 loaf)

2.25 tsp. yeast
1 cup water
1/3 cup sugar
2.75-3 cups APF
2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup marinara
1 cup mozzarella cheese (vegan cheese works!)
4 cloves roasted garlic
1/4 cup asiago or parmesan cheese (vegan cheese works!)
1 tbsp italian seasoning

  1. Mix together yeast in 1 cup of 120-130F water and 1/3 cup sugar
  2. In a kitchen-aid mixer, add in 2.75 cups of flour, salt, and the yeast mixture
  3. Mix until dough comes together into a round, but not smooth yet, ball
  4. Flour a clean surface, take the dough out and knead it for about 6 minutes, until the dough is smooth and in a ball
  5. Let it rise in a covered bowl, until it has doubled in size
  6. Once it has risen, roll it out in a 11 x 18 rectangle
  7. Spread on the marinara, roasted garlic, seasoning and cheese
  8. Cut into 24 mini rectangles and arrange in a greased loaf tin
  9. Cover loaf tin and let rise until doubled
  10. Preheat oven to 350 F and bake for 40-45 minutes

Srsly pull apart when done, yum yum xoxo enjoy. You can live a healthy lifestyle, but still indulge in recipes like this 🙂



Garlic and Cheese Pull Apart Bread


My mom asked me to make “those Pizza Hut garlic sticks” the other day. I refused.

Well, I mean I refused to make those butter-laden, factory produced bars of dough. Instead I made garlic and cheese pull apart bread. Is that an okay replacement? Hm, yeah. This bread is soft, chewy, cheesy, herby. So, like, basically awesome.


IMG_8463I stole an inch strip of dough and rolled it into an individual cinnamon roll. Don’t judge. Post-bread baking snack, chyeah.

Recipe: (Makes 1 loaf)

1 1/4 oz packet of yeast (2.25 tsp yeast)
1 cup warm water (120-130 degreesF)
1/3 cup sugar
2.5-3 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp kosher salt
2 tbsp olive oil

1 bulb of roasted garlic (Cut off the top so the cloves are showing, cover in aluminum foil, bake for 30 minutes at 350degreesF)
1 cup chopped  basil leaves
1/4 cup chopped chives
1/2 cup low-fat shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup parmesan cheese

Mix the water and sugar together and sprinkle the packet of yeast on top
In the meantime, add 2 cups of flour and salt into the bowl of a stand mixer and pulse to combine
When yeast mixture becomes frothy, add in olive oil and add to the stand mixer
Mix on medium speed until a soft, but not necessarily smooth, ball of dough forms, adding upto 1 cup of flour as necessary (Personally, I used about 2.5 cups total)
When a soft ball forms, take out of the stand mixer and knead on a lightly floured surface for about 5 minutes or until a smooth, elastic ball forms (if you push on this ball, it will bounce back, leaving barely an indent!)
Put in an oiled bowl and cover, leaving to rise until doubled (about 1 hour)
Once proofed, roll into a rectangle so the dough is 1/8 inch thick
Slather (love that word lol) with 1 tbsp of olive oil
Then spread with roasted garlic
On top of the roasted garlic push in  the cheese and herbs and a light sprinkle of salt
Cut into 12 rectangles

Line a loaf tin with parchment paper at the bottom, oil the sides, and stack the dough pieces
To stack dough pieces, rest the first one on the edge of the loaf tin and lean each piece after on the one before. If it isn’t centered (mine wasn’t hehe) drag the side with more parchment paper a little away from the other side until the bread centers, cut the parchment paper, and add to the other side to patch up the missing paper. Sounds insane, but works)
Cover the loaf tin and let rise for an hour or until pieces look doubled in width
After proofing, lightly salt the top and bake at 400degreesF for 45-55 minutes. To check for doneness, stick a thermometer into the thickest part and look for the magic number 190 degreesF!) If it’s browning too early, just tent with some aluminum foil (I had to!)

Recipe tip: Do not shed a tear when your freshly baked bread cools down, (we know it’s the best right out of the oven sigh…) pull a slice off and toast it! It becomes crispy on the outside while being soft as a pillow on the inside. Speaking of bread, I’m going to toast myself a piece of this loaf right now! Happy baking, and more importantly, happy eating 🙂

Chicken Seekh Kebabs


The name “Navika Gangrade” is a little cryptic, I’ll admit. I went through 12 years of schooling with teachers interminably staring at their attendance lists when they got to my name. Not to mention surreptitiously scanning for the room for which kid looked like a “Navika.” And that brings me to my point, Navika is a unique name and I’m not sure that it points to one ethnicity. I’ve been told it sounds Russian or Mexican. But actually *drum roll* it’s Indian! So, yeah, I don’t look completely Indian, but that’s because my mom is Chinese. Well, that is, racially Chinese. She grew up in India so she’s ethnically Indian. If that makes sense….ANYWAYS, now let’s talk about food.

So, I’ve always been nervous about making Indian food. My parents are both really great cooks and in America, as opposed to European countries, Indian food isn’t so prevalent. That means the flavors and spices of Indian food I don’t really read about in magazines/cookbooks or see on TV. But I do have a kick awesome spice drawer at home. I decided to play around with the spices and made kebabs that are “parent-approved” ha ha ha. Also, I wanted to use ground chicken which is so very lean. Usually seekh kebabs are made with lamb or beef, but even when I ate (and loved) red meat, I still preferred the chicken ones. So, there’s that! Another note, the spices are key indian spices that can be found at the Indian store or perhaps even the normal grocery store. If you go out and get these spices, they’ll pretty much last you forever: a good food investment!

So, the same day I also made an eggplant subzi (indian vegetable dish), cilantro mint chutney, and homemade pita bread, which are pictured below. I made so many things so it got really late by the time they were all done. That’s why my pictures have subpar lighting wahhh D: But, nevertheless, I hope I can convey THE ABSOLUTE DELICIOUSNESS OF THE KEBABS.


Also, does anyone know how to spell kebabs or kabobs or kebobs or kababs…? See my problem.

Recipe: (Makes 9 8inch kebabs)

3 lb ground chicken
1 inch square ginger
8 cloves of garlic
2 medium sized yellow onions
1 tbsp groud cumin
1 tbsp ground coriander
1.5 tsp paprika
1 tbsp garam masala
1 tbsp salt
1 cup fresh mint leaves
1/2 cup cilantro

In a food processor, mix  the ginger and garlic into a paste and set aside
In the same processor, mix up the onions JUST until they become paste-like and mix into a bowl with the ginger and garlic
(Important note #1: the key to good kebabs that hold up is no big chunks) (Important note #2: when you open the food processor you WILL be inundated by deathly vapors of chopped onions. They WILL make you cry. Consider yourself warned)
Chop up the mint and cilantro leaves very finely
Mix the cumin, coriander, paprika, garam masala, and salt together
Add the spice mixture, garlic/ginger/onion mixture, and mint/cilantro to the ground meat
GET YO HANDS DIRTY and mix it all in!
DO NOT MUSH THOUGH. You don’t want a mealy kebab. Mix as little as possible.
Let the flavors mature in the fridge for at least an hour, but 3-4 hours is best.

Now, time for the baking!
Preheat oven to 400degrees F
Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil
Place a metal cooling rack on top of the foil
The kebabs will be placed on the rack to cook so that the bottom is exposed and not pressed against the baking sheet
Take 9 metal, oven-safe skewers
Grab a fistful (yes, you can see how mathematical this is) and shape around the skewer. Repeat 8 more times with great difficulty. (Yes, this part SUCKS, but persevere and don’t worry if you’re sucking!)
Place on the rack. (The rack will indent the meat a little)
Bake for about 13 minutes then take out the pan, turn the skewers with tongs or mitts, they’ll be HOT!
Place back into the oven for about 13 more minutes
Take out one last time and flip over to the “pretty side” you’ll see what I mean…
Broil for about 7 minutes

Enjoy with some chutney, pita, roti, yogurt, a fork 🙂

Essentials: Low-fat Creamy Sauce


Everyone needs a few essentials up their sleeves. Essentials in the wardrobe include a versatile pea coat, short but not-too-short cutoffs, a slimming v-neck, and comfy loafers. Essentials in your car include a tissue box, quarters, air freshener, audio cable to plug in the iPhone. Essentials in the kitchen include essential, basic recipes like a tomato sauce, a basic risotto, perfect chicken breast, and what I am going to write about today…a creamy sauce. I’m going to start a new category called “Essentials” that dictates some essential kitchen recipes! So excited and stay tuned!

Anyways, the picture for this post is just the ingredients, not because they look so stark and focused in this lighting (I think they do hehe), but because we scarfed down the recipe picture *cue sheepish grin* Yes, you will find yourself scarfing this creamy sauce down and not feeling guilty! So the secret to restaurant cream sauces is butter and heavy cream. Butter acts with flour to create a roux and the roux thickens the heavy cream and makes it oh-so-velvety. So, I’ve made this low fat by taking out the butter and leaving in the butter. We need something to thicken our fat-free milk and that something is a measly two tablespoons of butter. If this recipe was made with heavy cream, like many restaurant sauces are made of, we would be in for some trouble. 1 tbsp of heavy cream contains 50 calories and 17% of your daily recommended allowance of saturated fat. Ouch. This recipe makes 2-2.5 cups of sauce and feeds three comfortably in one serving, that means, there are about 10 tablespoons. If made with heavy cream, this equals 500 calories and 170 percent of your saturated fat. IN THE SAUCE! This is not including the pasta and the sides! So this recipe is perfect to lighten up a delicious favorite. Also, since it’s so very simple and basic, there are many add-ins that I’ve included below to jazz it up. Check it out!

Recipe: (Makes 2-2.5 cups)
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
2.5 cups of skim (fat-free) milk

Melt butter in a saucepan
As soon as it’s melted, (don’t let it brown!) add in the flour
Whisk the roux until it starts bubbling and becomes darker (about 1 minute)
Add in about 1/2 cup of milk and stir until thick
Keep adding 1/2 cup and stirring until you use up all 2.5 cups of milk
Add salt and pepper to taste
Easy and pie!

Now for my favorite part: ADD INS!
Add any one of these in to the butter once it’s melted and before you add in the flour: 
1.5 tbsp thyme
1.5 tbsp rosemary
1.5 tbsp sage
1.5 tbsp minced garlic
1/4 tsp chilli flakes
Add any one of these in to the finished, thickened sauce:
1 sauteed yellow onion
1 cup of chopped, sauteed vegetables (mushrooms, broccoli, asparagus)
1 cup of cooked meat (shrimp, chicken, steak)

If you’d like to add more, just mess with the proportions a little. The cream sauce is very forgiving 😉 ENJOY!

Green Potato Soup with Basil Cream


Yeah, I know, there is no such thing as a green potato. Well, I’m pretty sure anyways, you never know what kind of things genetic bioengineers are coming up with these days. For example, there’s the lemato (lemon-tomato), pluot (plum-kumquat), rabbage (radish and cabbage). Like what… (If you’re interested in learning more about these hybrids just type weird fruit hybrids in google ha ha ha). Anyways, back to the dish. So, this is called green potato soup because…well…it’s green, but it also has the consistency of a creamy, buttery, potato soup! There is potato in it, albeit a minimal amount, but you’ll be surprised at some of the other ingredients. Part of the vibrant green color comes from leeks! We had bought leeks a while ago, didn’t use them, and froze them! Tip: they freeze beautifully. You can just store them in the freezer and when you need them, take them out, and chop away! No need to defrost. The rest of the green color comes from zucchini, celery, and spinach! So, read on to see how these lovely ingredients create this lovely soup.

2 cups chopped leeks
1 medium russet potato
2 cups diced zucchini
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup spinach
2 cloves garlic
24 oz chicken broth
1/4 cup greek yogurt

Start by chopping up the leeks, potato, zucchini, and celery
Try to chop everything to the same size (about 1/2 inch by 1 inch) so that they all cook in the broth at the same time.
In a pot, add olive oil and saute garlic and leeks until fragrant
Add in potato, zucchini, and celery
Cook for about 3 minutes
Add in chicken broth
Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer
Simmer until all of the vegetables are soft
Once veggies are soft, add in the spinach
Cook until spinach wilts and cooks
Then bring out the handy dandy immersion blender!
Blend that thing, baby
Once smooth, take off the heat and add in that 1/4 cup of greek yogurt. This makes it ULTRA creamy and decadent

Now, for that basil cream:
1 cup greek yogurt
2 tsp dried basil
1 tsp black pepper

Mix it all together and place a heap on your soup!

Of course, the soup is great without the basil cream. So, enjoy whichever way you please!!!!!
Yay for multiple exclamation points!!!

Homemade Whole Wheat Bread

I did a lot of deliberation about this post. Now, I know what you’re thinking: deliberation on a food blog post…really? But let me tell you a wonderful story, about a month ago, I got an email from a representative from Mazola oil providing information about the benefits of its corn oil, which contains plant sterols, and a bottle of the oil to use in recipes. I’ve been using the oil (there’s literally 1/4 cup left), but I wanted to pick the BEST recipe to feature the oil. It turns out the oil provided the best feel, texture, and taste in a bread recipe! I want to write this post to tell about all the great benefits of corn oil and how the nutty, clean taste is awesome in whole wheat bread! This recipe is slightly adapted from Fleischmann’s Yeast’s bread recipe, which writes to use vegetable oil, but I switched it up with Mazola corn oil. So, I actually learned from my school nutrition course that sterols are a type of fat. A notable sterol is cholesterol, the demon which we’ve all heard stories about. However, there is something special about plant sterols They are a plant-based fat. Now, I know when we think of fat, we think of bad. However, unsaturated fats are excellent in lowering the risk of heart disease by controlling gene expression. And the thing about plant sterols is that their intake can lower the intake of cholesterol! Plant sterols “compete with cholesterol for absorption by the gut,” as noted on the fact sheet Mazola provided! Plant sterols are found naturally in foods, but far from the amounts our bodies need. So, thus, corn oil is an EXCELLENT cooking choice, containing more than 2-3 times more plant sterols than other foods. The corn oil in this recipe complements the honey for a nutty, sweet taste. Check out Mazola’s corn oil and try it out with this recipe! You won’t be disappointed!

Recipe: (Makes 1 loaf) from
4 cups whole wheat flour
1 envelope Fleischmann’s rapid rise yeast
1.25 tsp salt
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup milk
2 tbsp Mazola corn oil
3 tbsp honey

Whisk 1.75 cups of flour, yeast, and salt in kitchenaid mixer bowl
Heat water, milk, honey, and corn oil on a saucepan until it reaches 125 degreesF then immediately take off heat
Add warm liquid to mixing flour mixture gradually
Beat 2 minutes at medium speed
Add 1/2 cup flour gradually
Beat 2 minutes at high speed
Stir in rest of flour until a soft dough forms
Knead on a floured surface for 8 minutes until smooth and elastic, adding flour if it gets too sticky
Cover dough in a bowl with plastic wrap for 15 minutes
After 15 minutes, roll dough out to a 12 inch by 7 inch rectangle
Roll up tightly at the smaller end of the rectangle
Place in a load pan, cover, stick in oven (that is not on!) to rise for an hour
After it doubles in size, preheat oven to 375F and bake for 25 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 190degreesF

Enjoy, try out Mazola corn oil, and get your helping of plant sterols! Your heart will thank you 🙂

Vegan Barley Risotto

So, last weekend I did nothing. Sadly, my definition of nothing means that I did not do homework. Thus, doing something in my life equals doing homework. After 12 years of schooling, this is what my life has come to. Sigh. Anyways, for the normal folk, I did do something! I went crazypoop grocery shopping. Again for the normal folk who don’t know what crazypoop grocery shopping is, it is the event where you hit multiple (I mean multiple) grocery stores in one day…just because. So, last weekend two of these stores were Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods. First came Trader Joe’s where I picked up way too many things like chocolate almond milk (REALLY good…thick, sweet, almost like creamer!), Blueberry Cultured Coconut Milk (like liquidy yogurt…and too high in fat for my taste) and dried kimchi (Stay away…I warn you people. It’s rank). I picked up the aforemetioned along with some 10 minute barley. I feel like I always see barley mentioned places, but I didn;t know what to do with it….I still got it. Then I headed to Whole Foods where I thought I could find some inspiration. And I found inspiration in the form of nutritional yeast. Fat Free Vegan does a really good job explaining nutritional yeast here. With barley and nutritional yeast in tow (what was not in tow was the beautiful Vitamix they were demonstrating in-store. WAH), I headed home to test out a concoction. It morphed into a barley risotta and was seriuously delicious. Read on for the recipe!

Recipe: Makes 4 cups
2 cups 10 minute barley (regular barley would work, it would just take longer)
4 cups barley boiled water (explanation in the directions!)
3/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/4 cup Earth Balance or other vegan buttery spread
1/4 cup spelt flour
1/2 cup finely chopped leeks
6 cloves garlic
2 tsp dried basil
1 tsp granulated garlic power
2 tsp dijon mustard

Boil barley for about 15-20 minutes until it is soft and has a bite to it. Boil it in more than 4 cups of water, because you will need 4 cups of water for the risotto “stock”
Drain barley after cooking, saving those 4 cups of water it was boiled in
In a saucepan with 2 tbsp Earth Balance, saute leeks and garlic on medium heat until tender, about 4 minutes
Melt in remaining 2 tbsp of Earth Balance
Then add spelt flour to make a roux
Whisk thoroughly until the flour taste is gone, about 2 minutes
Slowly add in four cups of water, whisking as you add
Once the water as thickened, add in nutritional yeast, basil, dijon, dried basil, garlic powder, salt, and pepper
Stir until sauce combines and warms, about 3 minutes
Now, add in cooked barley
Cook on medium heat for about 5-7 minutes or until barley becomes soft and risotto-like
Turn off da heat, garnish with same basil, and enjoy!!!

Salmon Salad


What to do with 5-day-old cooked salmon? Throw it away, right? Wrong! Stored in the refrigerator, cooked salmon is generally fresh for eating for up to 1 week. Strange, huh? Well, I wasn’t about to let the salmon go to waste so I had an idea: salmon salad! I really dislike tuna salad. Canned tuna is sooo mealy, grisly, slimy, and fishy. Ew. Salmon is the perfect fish to substitute for the tuna. Cooked, it crumbles up in a similar way to the tuna. Except, it tastes fresh, not fishy, andreally flavorful! Plus, the absence of mayo and the secret ingredient in this recipe do just the trick! I made this with leftover honey mustard salmon, but you can use really any mellow, herb-y salmon (shameless plug for my slow-cooked salmon. For this particular salad mix, I would stay away from asian marinade salmons– the flavors would clash. I also served this on top of homemade whole wheat bread (recipe to come!!!) and a garlic and shallot pea puree. But really….you can have it with anything you would have tuna salad with: crackers, plain toast, by itself. Read on for the recipe and as always scroll to the next page for nutrition facts (pssst one serving is less than 100 calories!)

Recipe: (Serves 4)
8 oz cooked salmon
1/4 cup plain non-fat greek yogurt
2/3 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup chopped scallions
3 tbsp chopped yellow onion
1/2 tsp curry powder

Use cold salmon from the fridge and “flake” it by ripping it apart with a fork. Don’t rip it apart too much because stirring the rest of the ingredients will break it down and you don’t want it too mushy.
Add celery, scallions, onion, curry powder (secret weapon!), salt, and pepper
Mix again
Be generous with the salt! It really brings out the flavors and if you eat it with bread you NEED enough salt to make it taste like anything!

So, I used curry powder in my Curried Sweet Potato Salad and it was delicious! It didn’t remind me anything of curry, it just added a certain umami. I figured that’s exactly what this salad needed. I used greek yogurt instead of mayo and didn’t want to use mustard (mustard makes everything yellow and yellow reminds me of hard-boiled egg yolks and I hate hard-boiled egg yolks…don’t ask), so the salad was begging for some richness. The curry powder does just that! My whole family loved this salad and they never, ever, ever, ever, ever eat any type of tuna/egg salad. Really.


Corn and Black Bean Salad


Can we all cry for a minute right now? Why, you ask? Because I just wrote this wonderful post for this salad and DELETED IT. Yeah, that deserves a few shed tears! Anyways, this is the side dish I made for my parents welcome home meal! They came back from India so I assumed they’d crave something other than Indian food, so I made some good ol Southwest food! I did salsa burgers, turkey chili, chipotle potatoes, and (my favorite part of the dish) this salad. I had to take a picture before we all scarfed it down, so the picture is slightly off-focus (wah), but this dish is so easy I can totally whip it up again and take a better picture!

Okay, here we go!

1-14.5 oz black beans (rinsed and drained)
1-11 oz can corn niblets
1 lime
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp salt

Mix together beans, corn, juice of 1 lime, cumin, paprika, garlic powder, and salt
Let sit in fridge for about 15-20 minutes
Serve cold!

Toor Dal


Okay, so who’s heard of dal? You know, that thing at Indian restaurants that’s not…curry….Curry seems to be the trademark of Indian cuisine. However, just as prevalent is dal! It’s a huge Indian staple because it’s cheap, healthy, easy, delicious, and vegetarian! Dal is made from dried lentils. There are many types of dal depending on the lentils you use. This recipes uses toor, or tuvar, lentils. The lentils are reconstituted into a chunky stew and flavored with turmeric, garlic, vegetables, and ginger, as well as many other flavor combinations. It tastes very much like an Indian potato soup in a way. It’s hard to describe sooooo I guess you’ll just have to try it 😉
Note: the ingredients in this recipes are quite cuisine specific, but I promise one trip to the local Indian store will get you all these ingredients! (You may be able to find some ingredients in eclectic supermarkets like Whole Foods). This recipe also uses a pressure cooker! Pressure cookers are a lovely investment and very easy to use!

Recipe: (Makes 6-8 servings OR 10 cups)
2 cups toor/tuvar dal
6 cups water
1 tsp turmeric, divided
1 tsp whole cumin
2 heaping tsp chopped fresh ginger
2 heaping tsp minced garlic
4 plum tomatoes
1 cup chopped cilantro
2 tsp kosher salt
1 pinch asafetida (optional)
1 dried red chilli (optional- chilli flakes can be used)
Vegetable Oil

Place 2 cups toor dal, 6 cups water, and 1/2 tsp turmeric in a pressure cooker
Lock pressure cooker lid, add on cooker whistle, and place on high heat
(The cooking of the dal depends on the number of whistles. Once the whistle blows aka freaks out and steams lift it up to “reset” it)
After the first whistle, reset it, and turn the heat to medium-high
Leave heat as is after second whistle
After third whistle, lower heat to medium, cook for 1 more minute and set off heat and aside.
The lid will remain locked until the pressure subsides
In the meanwhile, prepare the chaunk (flavor)
Add vegetable oil to a non-stick skillet
Toast cumin for about 10 seconds
Brown garlic and ginger
Then add turmeric, tomatoes, asafetida, and chilli
Cook on medium until tomatoes become stew-like (about 4 minutes)
At this point, you can try to open the pressure cooker. If it does not open, run the top of the cooker under cold water. Be sure not to get water on the whistle or any other openings on the lid.
Once open, add chaunk right into it
Add chopped cilantro and salt (you may need to adjust salt to your preference)
Stir well, eat plain, or serve with rice!

(If you would like a more liquid version, increase water to 8 cups or add boiling water right after opening pressure cooker lid to dilute dal)

Now you can say you’ve made the quintessential Indian dish!