Monday, November 28, 2016

Quick Food Fix: Minestrone Soup: Instant Pot

I caved and I bought a Kitchen Gadget!!

We cook quiet a bit in the house and I 'most of the times' really enjoy the process. We make fresh food 4-5 times a week and the rest is either parties or eating out, but food does not come in a can in my  house and I want my kids to love and appreciate that.

I am not much for cooking gadgets, two reasons: 1. I don't like a cluttered kitchen counter and 2. I am old-school.

The ones that I swear by is my 'Ninja' Its a blender its Dough maker is a blessing for me. Besides that, nothing much. Simple chopper etc, but nothing really fancy. I have never found a need for it.

Over the past few months, my friends have been raving about "Instant Pot' sending me things they make, how simple it is, stress free and above all Time Saver.

Honestly this was one gadget that I thought, well great, but I think I am fine, my start to finish off cooking daily takes about 45 minutes! So don't need this. But for some reason, Sumit was very convinced for this, way more than me. His Reason: Well it frees 20 minutes for you, great!

The feature that sold me, automatic timer: Put all ingredients in the morning, have this start at 4 pm so by the time you come home from work and picking up kids, one thing is ready and done!

Then came Black Friday with an awesome deal and I caved and I bought my Instant Pot. Considering I have my 'New Toy', I am starting a new Tag 'Instant Pot Vegetarian Recipe'

I started Simple: Veg Minestrone Soup

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 Minutes, but you have Zero Involvement!

Chopped in bigger pieces

1 Cup Carrots
1/2 Cup Orange Pepper
1/2 Cup Cauliflower
1/4 Cup Broccoli
1/2 Cup tomato
1/2 Cup peeled Edamame
1/4 Cup Onion: Sliced Thin
1 Garlic peeled and finely chopped
1/2 cup Cannelloni Beans: Not Soaked

Butter: 1/2 tsp

Fried Oregano: 2 tsp
Chili Flakes: 1 tsp
Salt: Per Taste
Black Pepper: 1 tsp

1. Turn Instant pot (IP) in Saute Mode
2. Add Butter, when it melts, add the garlic and Onion
3. Saute for 2 minutes, add spices
4. Saute for 1 more minute
5. Add all vegetables and beans
6. Add Water About 4 cups
7. Switch to 'soup' option
8. Relax!!!
In 20 minutes, the steaming & Delicious soup was ready!!!

Now.. this is my 'maiden' recipe for the simplest setting. So crack your Instant Pot Open and try this!
I am going to spend sometime learning the different modes...this one was being cooked in'High Pressure' mode, so we vented out the steam before opening it.

To be honest, when this was cooking, I was a little stressed, I am used to being an involved chef, checking my food, sauteing, stirring etc. But this I could get used to.... start, dump all ingredients and read a book, When its ready, it turns off automatically!

Advantage: I finally used my beans.... they have been sitting in my pantry, but I always forget to pre-soak them!

Next, though Instant-Pot is nothing but an Electric Pressure Cooker, my vegetables stayed intact! In its shape, no mushy liquid, The minestrone turned out like a wonderful clear soup with vegetables and herbs!


If not using Instant-Pot: Follow the same recipe as above but use the pressure cooker instead, vegetables will get a little mushed since I have done that before.

And No Pictures :-( I really didn't think the first recipe I used would be this good!

Stay Tuned, more recipes to follow for sure!!

Monday, November 21, 2016

Munch Bunch: Thanksgiving Edition: Zesty Cranberry Relish

It's Thanksgiving... already! This year seems to have flown past!

Thanksgiving means lots of food, lots of meeting and greeting family and friends and definitely being thankful for all we have and cherishing the time.  Of course as an Indian, this is an inherited festival for me. I learned about this festival, its significance and its importance in my adult years after moving here.

During my single days and even child free days, it was all about having an extended long weekend and a vacation. Over the years we have formed simple traditions for us as a family. And as it should, most of them involve food.

This past weekend, we had our monthly Munch Bunch: Gathering of 4 like-minded couples along with families who meet monthly with a new theme or cuisine. This way we get to attempt new recipes and test and fail in a much smaller setting and learn about cuisines of the world.

This month's theme: Thanksgiving

   Mulled Wine
Main/ Appetizer Course: 
   Cranberry Relish
   Butternut Squash Risotto
   Angel Hair Pasta
   Green Bean Casserole
   Pull Out Garlic Bread
   Brussels Sprout Salad
   Habanero Sauce
   Pumpkin Pie
   Berry Pie

And we ate and ate and then ate some more in true Thanksgiving style!!

Here is the recipe for 'Best-est Cranberry Relish'

And I say that for two reasons, the taste: It was one of the most refreshing things to taste. With the Thanksgiving menu as elaborate as it was, it was the perfect add-on!
And then second reason-The effort- its the easiest recipe to assemble and follow. It took me 7 minutes from start to finish. Definitely follows my theme of 'Quick Food Fix'

And for a taste as solid as this- it was totally worth the 'effort'

A very dear friend of mine who hosts two traditional thanksgiving dinner during this season gave me this I definitely have her to thank for it.

2 Whole Oranges
6 Cups Fresh Cranberry
1.5 Cup Sugar (You can adjust this based on your intake)

1. Wash the oranges and place them in the blender with the skin
2. Yes, with the skin, trust me on this
3. Blend the orange in a nice 'smoothie' consistency
4. Add the washed cranberry and sugar
5. Run the blender until cranberry is well in 'relish consistency'
6. Add about 1/2 cup of water for a smoother finish
7. Tada! Done

Yes, done, I did say 7 minutes for a reason!

Now just place them in a box for serving. Recommendation: make this the night before you are having the thanksgiving dinner... it really helps the juices and the flavors to enhance.

Here is our set of kids being thankful for amazing companions, wonderful friends and a happy home. 

This year we have our cousin visiting us for Thanksgiving, we are planning to watch the Thanksgiving Parade, enjoy the ChristKindle Market followed by gathering of some friends for.... you guessed it: More Food

Happy Thanksgiving. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Just for some sweetness: Eggless Banana Nut Bread

A lovely lazy evening and 'mood for something sweet' made us try a new baking recipe: Banana Nut bread...

Of course, I must add: in the afternoon I saw Sumit throwing away some overripe banana and I was like- I am sure we could do something with that... so the last over ripe banana was put to good use! Sumit was laughing so hard, since I am known for tossing things even slightly wilted, however the over ripe banana made me ‘concious’

Now, baking from scratch is not my forte!! However< i must add that with my little helpers, Miss Chatterbox and Little Lady, this turned out FANTASTIC.

Apparently, humility is also not my forte!

So here is the recipe adapted from here. I made a few tweaks to keep it easier for my little kiddos to help out. 


Dry Ingredients:
1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Cinnamon

Wet Ingredients:
1 medium size extremely ripe banana
1/2 cup yogurt
4 tsp Oil (I used Vegetable Oil)
1 cup brown sugar (Am sure you could use white, I find white super sweet)
1/4 cup Hot water
1/4 tsp lemon juice

Add In:
3/4 cup walnut (Broken into bigger pieces)

1/4 cup Cranberry: For adding on top for crisping
2 tsp brown sugar: For adding on top for crisping

1. Heat the oven at 375 F
2. In a large bowl, mix all the dry ingredients really well.
3. In a bowl, mash up the banana really well. My little lady mashed it up with her fork really well... she loved the mess
4. Add all wet ingredients one after the other to the mashed banana and employ little helpers while you sip on hot coffee
5. Now, Mix until all wet ingredients to the flour
6. Add in the walnuts, save a few for topping on, mix.
7. Now in a bread pan line foil and pour in the batter
8. Shake the pan a little for even setting
9. Now add the toppings of cranberry, sprinkle sugar
10. Bake for about 50-60 minutes or until the toothpick can come out without sticking

Enjoy warm banana nut bread with vanilla ice cream