The Best Gift I’ve Ever Received

by spiceaholic on December 30, 2015

Happy holidays to those of you who are still reading here!

I know I’ve pretty much dropped off the radar this past year, but taking care of a baby does tend to take up all of my time!  And let’s be honest, the past couple years I wasn’t posting much anyway due to work. I still keep up with my blog projects list, continuing to add to it and wondering when I’ll get to work on it — always that elusive “some day.”

But what has been keeping me posting every once in a while is the Stonyfield Organic Clean Plate Club – I love the quarterly topics and challenges they come up with and am proud to be part of such a great group of bloggers. One of the topics available to blog about this quarter was “the best gift you’ve ever received,” and it was different enough from the others that I wanted to choose that as my selection.

I know you’re probably thinking I’m going to be all cheesy and say that Baby N is the best gift I ever received. I mean yeah, I am completely obsessed with him and totally in love with him, but I’m trying really hard not to be one of those new moms that ONLY talk about their baby.  So yes, he is one of the best gifts I have received, but that’s not what I’m going to write about today.

I think I will also modify the topic so that it is ONE of the best gifts I have ever received just because I suck at picking the favorite “whatever” whether it’s my most favorite book, favorite food, etc.

What I almost immediately thought of when I saw this topic was something I received for my 30th birthday from one of my aunts, who I’m very close to.  She wrote me the sweetest letter reminiscing about memories from when I was growing up, about how proud of me she was, and how I’m her favorite niece.  (Okay, I made up the last one!)  I’m a huge softie in the first place, so you can imagine how hard I was bawling after reading her letter.  In fact, I’m getting teary-eyed remembering how teary-eyed I was that day.  It meant so much to me that my aunt had taken the time to not only share these memories with me, but to include some childhood pictures as well.

It drove home that it’s not always about physical gifts, it’s about experiences and memories — those are things you will keep forever and that nobody can take from you. This is something that I keep working on for myself and that I want to teach Baby N as he grows up.


Red Lentil and Potato Cakes with Harissa Yogurt Sauce

by spiceaholic on September 29, 2015

Savory Red Lentil and Potato Cakes with Harissa Yogurt Sauce

I’m a bit proud of myself for making these.  Sure, making potato cakes isn’t that hard to do, so why am I making a big deal about it?

Let’s just say my time has been otherwise occupied recently. Meet Baby N! He made his debut in August.

Baby N

I think he’s a pretty good reason! Somehow he managed to nap long enough for me to make these and take photos of them. I think that was a fluke though!

When my fellow Stonyfield Clean Plate Club members and I were offered the chance to come up with recipes combining either red lentils or orca beans from Bob’s Red Mill with Stonyfield Organic Greek yogurt, I was really craving comfort food. I based these off my Spiced Black Bean and Potato Cakes, which are a twist on Bengali aloo chops – spicy fried potato croquettes with a meat filling.

The red lentils are cooked in a small amount of water so that they cook down into a thick paste, which serves as the binding for these potato cakes. The cakes can be dipped into egg and coated in bread crumbs before pan-frying, but I think they are fine without doing so. I’ve approximated the measurements for the spices below, I was playing around with the spices and think these are best adjusted to one’s taste.

Savory Red Lentil and Potato Cakes with Harissa Yogurt Sauce

Red Lentil and Potato Cakes with Harissa Yogurt Sauce


  • 2 medium potatoes, boiled, skinned, and mashed – approximately 1 cup
  • 1/2 cup dry red lentils, rinsed
  • 1/2 tsp. ginger paste
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic paste
  • 10 oz. water
  • 1/4 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. canola or olive oil
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp. garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • salt to taste
  • oil for frying
  • 1/3 cup plain fat-free Greek yogurt
  • harissa to taste
  • salt to taste


Bring lentils, ginger and garlic pastes, and water to a boil in a saucepan.  Once water comes to a boil, keep an eye on the pan and stir frequently as lentils cook for about 10 minutes. Lentils will soften and mixture should begin to thicken. Lower heat as needed and continue to stir until lentil mixture begins to dry out and form a thick paste. You’ll get approximately 1 cup of this mixture. Combine with the mashed potatoes and set aside.

In a separate saucepan, heat up 1 tbsp. oil over medium-high heat and then add chopped onion, cooking and stirring for 5-10 minutes, until translucent.  Take the spices and add some water until it forms a thick paste.  Add spice paste to onions and stir to combine.  Now add the lentil-potato mixture and coat with onion and spice mixture. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.  Take pan off heat and let mixture cool completely. I placed the mixture into a bowl and refrigerated overnight, but you don’t have to do this.

Once spiced lentil-potato mixture has cooled, use your hands to create little cakes – I got about 6 cakes. If you want, dip in beaten egg and breadcrumbs, but I skipped this.

Pan-fry the cakes in oil until golden brown on both sides.

To prepare the harissa yogurt sauce, add harissa to Greek yogurt to your desired level of heat.  Add salt as needed to taste.

Serve red lentil and potato cakes with the harissa yogurt sauce dolloped on top or as a dipping sauce.



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Fideo con Pollo (Mexican-style Chicken and Noodles)

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This is one of those recipes that I like more and more every time I make it.  It’s not a coincidence that I first tried it in the fall when the weather began cooling down and warm comfort food was just what we wanted. Plus it’s all made in one pan, so there’s less to […]

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Turkish Apricots Stuffed with Sweet, Thick Yogurt

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After our little trip to Istanbul a few years ago, my already well-established love for Turkish food went into overdrive.  I collected cookbooks, sought out restaurants, and even found a Turkish grocery store near my old office. I’ve dabbled here and there with a few dishes, but I had never attempted to make a dessert. […]

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*CLOSED* “Skinnier” Lasagna + Red Gold Tomatoes Lasagna Kit Giveaway

February 1, 2015

A hearty but healthier lasagna with lean ground beef, mushrooms, spinach, low-fat cheese, flavorful tomato sauce and whole wheat noodles – doesn’t this sound like the perfect comfort food for all this cold weather we’ve been having recently? I hope everyone’s been keeping safe and warm, especially those of you in the Northeast affected by […]

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A New Normal

January 13, 2015

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Don’t Be a Jerk Spicy Baked Sweet Potato Chips + Cooling Yogurt Dip

December 31, 2014

I’ve been going through a potato chip phase lately.  Usually my chips cravings tend towards the nacho cheese tortilla chip spectrum (the store-brand generic ones have MUCH more flavor!), but for the past few months, potato chips have captured my tastebuds. Jalapeno kettle chips, dill pickle flavored chips, Limon (like a spicy tangy lime), cheddar […]

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A Slice of Paradise – Soufriere, St. Lucia Sights

December 12, 2014

We’ve been back from our much-needed trip to paradise for a few weeks and yet every time I look at pictures, I feel like we were just there. And now that it is getting chillier outside, I especially like to fondly remember the beautiful warm weather! Now I must confess that I never did do […]

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