Wednesday, July 15, 2015

I can't bake... but I bake!

I guess the title: 'I can't bake... but I bake' says everything doesn't it!

Baking is just not my things, I still try! mainly to overcome this "i cant bake' mindset and limitation and also since I LOVE desserts!

Of course, my Chatter Box, 7 year old v loves to bake aka: eat the batter, do the icing etc. Sumit avoids eggs in dessert so if i bake at home, I can skip/ substitute and make eggless desserts for him. My Little Lady, the 2.5 year old loved anything sweet!

So all the more reason to 'Try Baking'

Here is my 'Baking Experiment and Success Story'

Strawberry Crumble

Time to Prep: 15 minutes (Varies depending on how long your seven year old takes to mix and chop the berries)
Time to Bake: 30 Minutes

Ingredients:
Berry Mix:
Strawberries: Of Course!: 1.5 pounds hulled and quartered
All purpose flour - 1 tsp
Sugar - 1 tsp
Lemon- 1 tsp

For crumble:
Oats: I used rolled oats: 1.5 cups
All Purpose Flour: 3 tsp
Sugar: 3 tsp
Cinnamon: 1 tsp
Grated Ginger (Optional): 1.2 tsp
Butter: cold unsalted:3 tsp

Process
1. Pre-heat the oven at 375 F
2. Butter your baking dish, mix the Berry Mix ingredients and leave for 5-10 minutes
3. In a mixing bowl, mix all the ingredients of the crumble except the butter
4. cut butter in small pieces and rub it in with the crumble: the topping should look 'crumbly'!
5. Now layer the crumble on top evenly and bake

Eating:
Enjoy warm with Whipping Cream/ Vanilla Ice Cream

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

A day of Summer Bliss


Living in the mid-west, we are sort of 'used to' the idea that within a 4 hours driving radius, we really don’t get to anything SUPER FUN.
And if there are SUPER FUN, we have been there already! So it gets boring!

I miss east coast for that. When we lived in DC, within 3 hours we could hit the mountains to the beach or SUPER FUN stuff! And when I lived in sunny California, i guess I should not complete that sentence; else there will be an overflow of tears!

Anyhow, back to my Midwest, with July 4th fast approaching, we wondered what we should do! A friend said Lake Geneva, and we all said, Yes, why not (I have been there a few times already (5, but who is counting), it’s the ONE really nice place to head out from the city, and close enough to do a day trip too)

So it was 5 families, 19 people from the wonderful City of Chicago who headed with beach bags, picnic baskets and summer gear to Lake Geneva.

Only one major disappointment, who charges 7$ per person forbeach access, well Lake Geneva does! But I got over that, the minute my feet touch the soft warm sand! We found some place for all of us to sprawl, changed headed in the lovely water! It was wonderfully warm, the kids played on the sand, kept going in and out of the water. So did we, and so did our parents who are visiting from India.

The picnic baskets kept opening, more food, more fruits, more juices, more sugary and the grand finale: Samosa's and Kachori's on the beach after an amazing afternoon. It could not get any better!

This turned out to be one of those days, where every single person enjoyed themselves, the youngest being 2 and the oldest about 70!

Funny. Chicago has lots of beaches to choose from (free access), Chicago has lots of sprawling space, lots of ice-cream shops and definitely lots of fireworks. But, just the process of driving, going to some place simple with friends and family and no rush, missed nap times, sugar high, eating Indian goodies on the beach are totally worth it!

Here is hoping for more summers and more such simple outings.

I wish there were more such simple joys in the mid-west! I just need to explore more I guess!



Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Chicago Summer Delights: Vegetarian Grilling


 If there is one time I see Sumit really content cooking is at the Grill. At the onset of summer, we finally bought our grill and it’s been a super duper hit. Making us ask ourselves: 'Why did we wait for so long?'

A few of our evenings are spent grilling and chilling on our deck. The kids can play with bubbles; we happily chat after a long day at work with the delicious smells of the grill food, relax and enjoy the city view!

Here was the super appropriate gift for him this 'Father's day':



As we explore this grilling journey, we are realizing there are not many recipes out there outside of vegetarian burgers, grilled vegetables with salt and peppers. As foodie's out here, that is great but definitely not enough.
So I introduce another tag today' Vegetarian Grilling'

Hence we are exploring and experimenting. Some success and some failures.

Here is one of the recipes: Spinach & Kale Stuffed Peppers:
 
Vegetarian Grilling Recipe
The best part of this, they follow my rule of 'Quick Food Fix'

Spinach & Kale Stuffed Peppers:
1. 3 to 4 peppers: Here are used the sweet peppers and split in half, feel free to use regular peppers and take the cap off.
2. Spinach- 1 bunch
3. 2 to 3 Kale Leaves destalked
4. 1/2 cup of frozen corn
5. Goat Cheese: About 1/2 cup
6. Spices: Dried Oregano leaves, Red pepper Flakes, Saunf/ Fennel Seeds, Salt- to taste

Recipe:
1. On a pan, on medium heat, add 2 tsp of olive oil, add the fennel seeds
2. Add finely chopped spinach and kale leaves. Saute for 2-3 minutes
3. Add spices and corn. Saute for 1-2 minutes
4. Add 1 tsp of goat cheese and switch off the gas.
5. Stuff the split peppers with the spinach Saute, top with goat cheese and take it to the grill
6. Grill for 5 minutes till smoky
7. ENJOY!


This definitely is what a cool dad looks like!!!



Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Quick Food Fix: Vegetarian Falafel Sandwich

One of these evenings en route back from school, I was telling my Chatterbox V, oh its Mexican night!
She just didn’t seem excited. Excited is too strong a word, she was disappointed. Her exact words to me were: 'No, Not really"
She then chimed in saying 'I want that thing with pita bread' . After some probing and prodding, I realized she was talking about Falafel sandwiches!

So the menu changed, and it became Falafel Sandwiches.
This was my FIRST attempt at it, here is my version of the recipe modified to make it filled with iron & additional protein!

Falafel Ingredients
Chickpeas- 1 can rinsed thoroughly (You could soak 1 cup of garbanzo overnight and boil as well)
Tofu: Firm 1/4 cup chopped in cubes (Use firm, else the falafel will be too soft)
Kale: 3 leaves, chopped
Onion: 1/4 chopped
Carrots: 1/2 cup chopped
Parsley(Optional): 1/4 finely chopped
Spices: Cinnamon 1/4 tsp; Salt, Chili - per taste

Sandwich Ingredients:
Pita bread, halved
Chopped:
Cucumber
Tomato
Onion
Arugula

Toppings:
Hummus (I had the roasted red pepper hummus from Costco)
Yogurt, blended: I was missing Dill, else I would have added that

Making Falafel:
(Steps 1-3 are optional)
1. In a pan, Sautee onion, carrots, kale with the spices
2. When tender (About 2-3 minutes), add in all other ingredients and spices
3. Sautee for additional 5 minutes

4. Take the mixture of all falafel ingredients and blend in the food processor, add 1 tsp of lemon juice
5. Pulse for 2-3 minutes, until a slightly chunky paste

6. Make into small patties and cook them turning slightly until browned- 4-5 minutes


Making Sandwich
1. Open the pita bread, spread hummus and yogurt,
2. Layer the vegetables,
3. Add the Warm falafel
4. Top with additional yogurt/ add any spicy sauce you like

5. Enjoy and Eat!


Dinners for us have to be quick, since the time from entering home, to dinner to bed time is very short and action packed. I loved this revised recipe- it took me about 30 minutes to prep, prepare and serve! And hence the Tag 'Quick Food Fix'.

Plus I think since it was the first time I made it, I was super proud of me, I am sure so was Miss Chatterbox!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Foodie Troubles, the Meal Plan Edition

So last week was my first ever Meal Plan. Aim was that I have less wastage around in the fridge and use more vegetables/ fruits!

Well, I would say that part was definitely a success. In addition Miss V, my 7 year old absolutely loved it, she was excited about, oh wow, I am getting this tomorrow! She and Little Lady would chat about 'dinner'. It was adorable.

For me, I didn’t spend time thinking what's for dinner tonight in my travel back from work. Since I knew what was 'On Menu' I actually prepped a bit in the morning.

In addition, creating this made ample variety through the week which was a breather and not the 'same old, same old'

Now for the cons, since it was the first time for a 'Weekly Meal Plan', I had 'over-engineered' it! Implying I had over-planned! (Yes there is something like over planning). Here is my 'After' look at the meal plan. I have highlighted the changes made!



I like this concept enough to try continuing this. In addition, we recently bought a Grill, so I think leaving a few summer evenings open for that is- as my 2 year old would put it 'An Excellent Choice'


Here is this week's plan:


Tuesday, June 2, 2015

She did what??


 Its 5 am, hubby is travelling on a business trip. I hear soft whispers of my 2 year old Little Lady across the hall. I ignore, switch sides and try falling back to sleep. The soft whispers are getting louder and I really don’t want her to wake her older sister up, so I rub my eyes and drag my feet to her room.

Once I enter, my eyes are wide open and I said: "You did what??"

I rub my eyes again and I hoped it was a dream, but alas.
Little Monster Lady managed to remove her pants in the night, opened the diaper and slept. And she is NOT potty trained yet! So at 5 in the morning, her room has a faint strong stink, she is smiling through it and saying: I am wet mummy, change my clothes: And I am still saying: 'You did what'

So the 5 am became, start the laundry, change sheets, clean up the Little Lady, hug and kiss, hoping she sleeps a bit more. Yeah Right!

May be I need to pull in the Potty Training Schedule or May be just put her to sleep in Onesies!




I call up Sumit later to tell him... and I didn't have the heart of saying: 'She did that!'

Monday, June 1, 2015

Less wastage = Less annoying, right?

Food is a very important part of our household. Not just because we all are foodies, but also since partially because I love cooking and partially I love seeing the content faces of the family.

But, sadly for whatever reason, though we cook a lot at home, there are vegetables which get bad in fridge since I didn't get to them. There are fruits which we have to toss out since they have just gone bad. It's annoying. It's a waste of money and definitely food.

We have tried buying lesser, rotating more menu's/recipes, there is slight improvement but we have also come to a place where the menu becomes repeated- since those are the only vegetables left and having 'Cauliflower-Carrots' three times a week is no fun, Sumit will attest. So yes, It’s annoying.


So this week a borrowed idea: Weekly Menu Plan: I am hoping this will help me use the groceries we bought this past weekend more effectively. And of course, putting this together made me re-think a little to ‘mix-it-up’ and offer a bit more variety to our palates. I pack lunch for my older daughter V and Sumit regularly so don’t judge on dinner leftovers as lunch next day!

Here is the weekly menu plan for our household. Needless to say, I will report next week of what really happened!!