If your dinner tastes bland these days, its time to make the most of your spice rack.
A new cookbook from a Harvard-trained molecular biologist provides 100 recipes for your familys table. Spice Spice Baby by Kanchan Koya shares about the science-backed health benefits of cooking with spices. Theres spice remedies, spice blends and information on using spices to cook snacks, desserts, main dishes, breakfast items and sides.
Theres also recipes for smoothies, baby purees and ideas for lunchboxes. The smoothie section of the cookbook includes recipes for strawberry shortcake smoothie, peaches and cream smoothie, cinnamon chocolate smoothie and pumpkin pie smoothie.
Among the recipes in the cookbook are breakfast foods such as banana tahini boats, main dishes including Old Bay chicken tenders and snacks like turmeric popcorn and date almond coconut bites.
The author lives in Brooklyn, New York and experiments with spices in her kitchen. Spice Spice Baby is a softcover cookbook available in stores, from online retailers and also Amazon.
Heres three recipes from the cookbook:
Old Bay Chicken Tenders
Koya says: This is the one time youll see me using a store-bought spice blend because its amazing and hard to replicate at home. Old Bay is a classic American mixture of celery salt, bay leaf, black pepper, allspice, cardamom, nutmeg, and more. Typically paired with crab or shrimp, my husband went out on a limb and used it to enliven chicken tenders. The results were fabulous! If you cant find or dont want to use Old Bay, use paprika, black pepper, nutmeg, and salt.
Yield 24-28 tenders
For the chicken tenders:
2-3 chicken breasts, about 1 pound
Salt and pepper
½ cup all-purpose flour
2 ½ teaspoons Old Bay seasoning
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon fresh thyme (or ½ teaspoon dry thyme)
1 large egg
Coconut oil for frying
For the dipping sauce:
¼ cup plain Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon olive oil
Salt and pepper
Pinch of Old Bay seasoning
¾ teaspoon honey
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
¼ lemon juiced
Koya says: Mix all the dipping sauce ingredients in a bowl. Set aside. Place the chicken breasts between two layers of plastic wrap or parchment paper. Using a meat tenderizer or a rolling pin, flatten the breasts into ¼-inch thick cutlets. Lightly salt and pepper the chicken on both sides. Slice into 4-inch by 1-inch strips.
Put the flour with 1½ teaspoons Old Bay seasoning in a plate. Mix well. Next, whisk the egg with a splash of water in a second shallow, wide bowl. In a third plate, mix the breadcrumbs, the remaining Old Bay, and the thyme. Set your bowls up like an assembly line: flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs.
Coat the chicken strips in flour, dusting off any excess. Transfer into the egg mixture, coating well. Finally coat thoroughly with the seasoned breadcrumbs. Heat oil, about ¼-inch deep in a large skillet on medium high heat. Shallow fry the tenders for 2-3 minutes on each side until golden brown. Work in batches and dont overcrowd the pan. Reduce the heat for later batches to prevent burning. Drain on a paper towel and serve immediately with the yogurt dipping sauce.
Garlicky Guacamole with Cumin
Koya says: When I first made this guacamole, friends loved it so much they asked me to bring it to their kids birthday parties. Surprisingly, the generous hit of garlic didnt prevent the kids from lapping it up, so I knew it deserved a page in this book. In my version, garlic adds a bite and cumin lends an earthiness and depth, leaving everyone wondering what the secret ingredient is always a pleasant result for a cook.
Yield 6-8 snack servings
4 large avocados
2 shallots, finely chopped
1 large garlic clove, minced
Juice of 2 large limes
2 tablespoons finely chopped, fresh cilantro
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon finely chopped jalapeno (optional)
Salt to taste
Mash the avocado flesh in a bowl (a kid-friendly task to get them involved in cooking). Add the other ingredients and mix well. Check for salt and lime, adding more if necessary. Enjoy with chips, raw veggies, rice crackers, or in sandwiches.
Butternut Squash Fries with Cayenne Chili
The secret to these scrumptious butternut fries is coconut oil. Its natural sweetness combines with the sugars in the squash to make healthy fries that taste like dessert. The sweetness of the dish offers a nice distraction from the heat of the cayenne pepper, making it the ideal canvas to introduce young taste buds to some heat. If little ones (or adults) are absolutely averse, use sweet paprika instead.
Yield 4 servings
1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cut into 3 inch by ½ inch fries
2 tablespoons coconut oil
¼ – ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper or 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
Preheat the oven to 425F / 220C. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Toss the fries with oil, salt, and cayenne or paprika and spread them out on the paper so they arent touching one another. This is key to getting them crispy. Roast for 30-40 minutes, tossing midway to ensure even cooking. Once the edges are a bit crisped and brown, they are ready. Season with more salt and spice to taste and serve hot.