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

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

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

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!!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

A bowl of golden bliss

 I know I should call it Tabbouleh, But I will continue to call it a 'Bowl of Golden Bliss'
Because that's exactly what it was!!

Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Bulgur/Cracked Wheat/ Daliya: 2 cups washed (Readily available in grocery stores)
Very Finely chopped vegetables
1/4 onion
1/2 Bell Pepper
1 celery stick
1/2 cucumber
2-3 leaves of Kale
1/2 bunch Parley
1 tsp Lemon Juice (feel free to include more lemon juice if you like it tangy)
1/4 tomato

Spices: Per Taste

1. Boil the washed cracked wheat and drain excess water: Takes about 15 minutes,
2. Let it cool and meanwhile chop all the vegetables very finely
3. Add all vegetables, lemon and spices except parsley to the boiled Daliya/ cracked wheat
4. Keep in fridge until ready to eat.
5. Add the finely chopped parsley at time of eating for the freshest taste of the 'Bowl of Golden Bliss'

1. Supportive husband loved it, gobbled up my share, his share and the extra for later.
2. Miss Chatterbox aka my 7 year old Miss V ate 1 cup and tasted from all other cups that hubby ate
3. Little Lady aka my 2.5 year old Miss S tried a few spoons and seemed interested. She is a sweet tooth, so this was awesome!

4. Me, aah a Golden Bowl of Bliss

Friday, March 6, 2015

India's Daughter

Yes, yet another Media Mention of the infamous documentary  India's Daughter.

When I sit to write about it, there are so many topics that come to mind, Poverty, Lack of education, Gender inequality, political media censorship, patriarchal society, judicial system, women safety and yes, Rape.

So instead of talking about all, I choose none. I will talk about how it all relates to my experiences growing up in a middle class simple Marwari family.

My maternal grandfather was a historian and a freedom fighter. He got married really early and has a family of 6 kids. 4 boys and 2 girls. My mom grew up in a small UP town and he mandated, 'My daughters will study'.  My maternal grandmother, not educated herself supported this and wanted the independent young girls in her family. She supported her older son's wife entire education after marriage. My mom did double MA (Masters of Art's). Much against the society norms in the 1950's 60's.
My maternal grandparents are a typical Marwari couple, conservative and yet very progressive.

My father, is one of 11 siblings, comes from a very simple and modest family of farmers. Having lost his dad at a very young age, he tells me stories of how much resistance he had to fight against him studying. He got support from one of his siblings and completed his education. His is the story of studying under street lights, living in cramped quarters with roommates and being focused on one thing: Education. He saw most women in his small town Rajasthan being house wives, girls being married really early and no support structure for women. But my mother tells me tales of my paternal grandmother, widowed really early brought up the 11 kids independently. This and my father’s education broadened his horizons and his perspective. His one hope for his kids: Education.

My parents form a very progressive couple. Growing up, they had similar rules for my brother and I. We had the same opportunities for education, lifestyle and extravagance. My brother now is an entrepreneur and as for me. I am an Engineer with a Masters in Engineering from one of the top 10 school in US.

But this story is not about my brother or me. 
It's about the foresight of our grandparents and parents. They didn’t follow societal norms. They followed the path of 'What's right'. They had a vision of their own family being educated, being equal and being independent.

I am sure they dreamt of having their kids in the best possible jobs, businesses and with happy families. And that is the best part: They thought of 'Their Kids' Not just sons! Kids.