A Picnic we will go…

“Zippity Do Da. Zippityay, My oh my, what a wonderful day…

Zippity Do Da. Zippityay, Plenty of sunshine heading my way!!”

I still can’t believe its time! The sun’s shining, birds chirping, flowers blooming and the trees are all green again. Need I say it, Summer is here… finally!

And it brings with it joyful times, of enjoying an early dinner in the balcony, of walks at the beach, camping trips, biking, road trips and yes ofcourse, picnics.

Spicy Grilled Chicken Legs

Picnics have always been a favourite summer thing for me. Something about packing a lunch, a blanket and a good book, and heading out to a lovely park brings a big smile on my face. Hubby and I spend most of our summer idling away at a park with friends and family over good food and conversation. Opening up a basket of goodies for everyone to share brings about love and a feeling of togetherness.

When we were kids, there have been one too many occasions where Mom would pack some of her most delicious goodies, and we were off to spend a nice warm day the beach. The time there would be spend frolicking around and playing silly games. But everyone would agree that a large chunk of the time was concentrated around the food.

Most often than not, when a large group of friends come together for a picnic, we often decide on a menu. Just so no two people would land up bringing the same dish – which hardly ever happens ofcourse! I remember the last time we went on a picnic with a group of close friends – we had decided on making a BBQ event of it. We spent a good couple of hours pondering on what would be on the menu. We didn’t want the regular burgers and hot dogs. That’s just not like us. We like to kick it up a notch! And that’s just when I decided to make a big batch of my delicious Spicy Grilled Chicken Legs. And what do you know! It was a success, just like what a Picnic should always be!

So here it is my lovelies, I bring to you a very simple version of deliciously spicy grilled chicken legs for our Picnic at the Park! Enjoy!

Spicy Grilled Chicken Legs

Ingredients:

  • 8-10 skinless chicken legs, slitted on the sides
  • 1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
  • 2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1 tbsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  •  
    • 1 tsp garam masala
    • 1 tsp cumin powder
    • salt, to taste
    • 1 tbsp light cooking oil
    • 1 tbsp youghurt
    • 2 tbsp lemon juice

    Method:

    1. Mix all the spices, including the lemon juice, youghurt and oil in a big bowl and rub on chicken well enough to coat through. Let it sit to marinate for an hour or so.
    2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and grill chicken for 20-25 minutes, turning once in between, till chicken is tender and cooked through.
    3. Garnish with lemon slices and serve warm right from the grill, or at room temperature.

    Spicy Notes: For best results, let the chicken marinade in the fridge overnight.

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    Cure for a Cold…

    With the rains making its unwelcomed guest appearances the past few weeks, every one seems to have caught the sniffles. This weekend was poor ‘ol hubby’s turn to bite the bullet.While he whimpered, sniffed and coughed his way through the morning, it was time for some stove-top therapy.

    I remember Mom bringing out her famous Chicken Soup whenever she heard the slighest sneeze or cough come from our poor little souls. Her recipe was simple – a lot of love and a handful of ingredients simmering in a big stock pot!

    Chicken-Vegetable Noodle Soup

    Now it was my turn. As I had no inkling of how Mom makes her soups, I decided to make my own version of it. My kitchen had the required necessaties, including a brand new stock pot, to make a big batch of a warm, soothing remedy to drive away hubby dear’s heebie-jeebies!

    There’s always something good about having a big bowl of hot soup when your insides just don’t function as well as they should. The warmness from the hot liquid brings about a comfort like no other. Add to that a handful of special aromatic ingredients, and not only would you feel your life spring up again, but the aroma will make you drift to a faraway land.

    You don’t have to be under the weather to enjoy this recipe. Just a need for some comfort will do! So bring out that pot and let the aromatic warmth fill up your home and you.

    Chicken-Vegetable Noodle Soup

    Ingredients:

  • 2 Chicken breasts, sliced into bite-size pieces
  • 1 tbsp ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 cup Chinese cabbage, finely sliced
  • 2-3 stalks of celery, thinly sliced
  • 2-3 stalks of green onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp pure sesame oil
  • 1 tsp light cooking oil
  •  
    • 1 tbsp light soya sauce
    • salt and pepper to taste
    • lemon juice, required as per taste
    • 1/2 pack vermicelli rice noodles
    • 4 cups chicken/vegetable stock
    • fresh parsley for garnish

    Method:

    1. In a large stock-pot, heat sesame and light oil and saute ginger and garlic till soft.
    2. Add in chicken pieces and fry with salt and pepper till tender.
    3. Mix in soya sauce and vegetables, and saute for 2-3 minutes.
    4. Stir in chicken/vegetable stock and let it come to a boil.
    5. Throw in rice noodles, and let it simmer covered for 10-15 minutes.
    6. Garnish with lemon juice and fresh parsley, and serve warm.

    Spicy Notes: This recipe can be altered to add any kind of veggies. It can even be made using various kinds of noodles ot pasta. For a purely hearty vegetarian version, use vegetable stock with a variety of fresh veggies and chick peas/lima beans substituted for the chicken.

    Best enjoyed while wrapped with a warm blanket watching reruns of ‘Friends‘!



    Freshest amongst fresh…

    Its been raining all through the past week. The weekend was predicted to be no better. So when we woke up bright and early on Saturday, we knew we had to make the most of the perfectly sunny day. The air was crisp and tulips bloomed all over. It was perfect – just perfect for a day outdoors!

    So we got dressed in our comfortable shoes, and armed with a camera and the excitement of a child, we set out on our little adventure! The destination – a very well-known, very large farmer’s market.

    Chocolate Dipped Strawberries

    Spending a warm day surrounded by the freshest of produce can perk up any foodie’s droopy mood. And that’s exactly what it did to me! Three fabulous shopping hours later, I had a fridge full of beautiful veggies waiting to become a piece of art. But while I still had to plan out and decide how I would go about celebrating my week’s menu, I already knew what desert was going to be.

    We had picked up a basket of the freshest, reddest and plumpiest strawberries I had ever laid my eyes own. The best thing to do would have been to just enjoy these drops of heaven in the purest form, but a little chocolate on the side never hurt anyone. And I was not to be left behind!

    Chocolate Dipped Strawberries

    Ingredients:

    • A bunch of fresh strawberries, washed and thoroughly wiped dry
    • 1 ½ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
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    • 1 cup cream
    • 1 tsp instant coffee powder
    • 1 tbsp sugar
    • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract

    Method:

    1. Heat cream till it is warm enough to melt the chocolate chips. Do not let it come to a boil.
    2. Add chocolate chips, sugar, coffee powder and vanilla extract, and stir continuously till the chocolate starts to melt.
    3. Remove the mixture from heat and keep stirring till chocolate melts nicely and forms a thick paste. Set aside to cool for 15-20 minutes.
    4. Once the chocolate has cooled completely, dip each strawberry half-way into the chocolate and aet on a sheet of parchment paper.
    5. Allow to cool till choclate firms up around the strawberries.


    Pot(luck) Party

    It’s mid-week. Which just means that energy levels of us regular 9-5 folk are slowly dying out. It’s also raining heavily out side, which means that a warm comfort meal ranks high on the wish-list! The simple solution – a one pot meal warming enough to drive away those heebee-jeebees…

    Mixed Bean Tomato Rice

    One pot meals are a great way on saving time when it’s called for. Sometimes all you want and need to do is put everything but the kitchen sink into one big pot and hope that it forms into something delectable. One pot meals are also a great way fo rme to clean up my fridge of leftovers. Many a times, I’ve added any vegetable within arms reach into a thick hearty stew.

    But not today. I wasn’t in the mood for soup or stew. True, it’s droopy and cold out, but that just makes me crave for a huge helping of warm flavoured rice. A can of mixed beans, some left-over rice and a bag of cherry tomatoes struck a cord in my head. And then… everything was good again!

    Mixed Bean Tomato Rice

    Ingredients:

  • 2 cups cooked white Basmati rice
  • 1 can of mixed beans (kidney beans, chick peas, lima beans, and anything else you like)
  • 1 medium onion sliced thinly
  • 8-10 chery tomatoes, sliced in half or 1 whole tomato, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1-2 green chillies, finely chopped
  •  
    • salt, to taste
    • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
    • 1/4 tsp red chili powder
    • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
    • a couple of dried curry leaves
    • 2 tbsp freshly chopped coriander
    • 2 tbsp cooking oil

    Method:

    1. Heat oil in a large pot and add curry leaves and mustard seeds. Once they start to sizzle, add garlic, green chillies and sliced onions.Saute till lightly browned.
    2. Add tomatoes and cook for a few minutes till they begin to pulp. Add salt, turmeric and chili powder and allow spices to blend well.
    3. Add mixed beans and let cook for 5-6 minutes.
    4. Mix in cooked rice and stir-fry till each grain is well coated with all the spices. Add chopped coriander leaves and serve warm.

    Enjoy with a side of Mango Pickle and cool Cucumber Raita.



    Creating a Delicacy…

    Since I started working full-time last Monday, my days and not to mention evenings, have become more hectic. After the one and a half hour bus ride home there’s not much I want to do in the form of cooking. True, cooking relaxes me and brings about a certain burst of energy. But not when I’m famished and want something in my tummy pronto!

    So while we’ve been having “purposely made” left-overs and quick-fix meals over the last five days, I knew I wanted something more last night. And I also knew I was willing to anything to make it happen.

    Without any set plan in mind, I took a quick peak into my freezer. Aaahh… boneless chicken breasts! That’s always great to work with. So I set it in a big bowl of hot water to defrost and proceeded to watch my beloved Food Network! After all, Ina Garten was on, and despite the fact that I rarely use any of her recipes, I just love the way she presents it and the style she brings in.

    Chicken Curry with Potatoes

    So back to cooking! The chicken was all set and ready to be turned into a delicious lip-smacking meal. I came to a quick a quick conclusion of making some form of Chicken Curry (there are tons of ways to make this ever so versatile dish, just like here, and here!), served with delicious Basmati rice and bowl of cold Raita!

    A short peek into the fridge and pantry, and I was well on my way to create a delicacy. And boy did I hit the jack-pot! An hours later, the pot was licked clean with hardly enough for another meal. If only I knew how god it would turn out, I would’ve prepared enough to last me the whole week… Sigh!!!

    Chicken Curry with Potatoes

    Ingredients:

  • 2 boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2-3 mid-sized potatoes, cut into quarters
  • 2 large onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup plain youghurt
  • water, as needed
  • 1 tbsp ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp green chillies, finely chopped
  • 1/4 tsp red chili powder
  •  
    • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
    • 1 tsp coriander powder
    • 1/2 tsp garam masala
    • 1/4 tsp cumin powder
    • salt, to taste
    • 1 tbsp kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves)
    • 1 tsp cumin seeds
    • 2 bayleaves
    • 1 long stick of cinnamon
    • 6-7 curry leaves
    • 3 tbsp cooking oil

    Method:

    1. Heat oil and add cumin seeds and curry leaves.
    2. Once they start to splutter, add in ginger, garlic and green chillies, along with bay leaves and cinnamon stick. Saute for a few seconds and add in sliced onions.
    3. Fry onions till they begin to brown, and then add salt, chili powder, cumin powder, coriander powder, turmeric and garam masala.
    4. Fry till spices blend well begins to give out oil.
    5. Add in chicken pieces and mix well to evenly coat with spices.
    6. Add about 2 cups of water and let it come to a boil before adding in the youghurt.
    7. Bring it to a boil once again, and when youghurt is completely blended in, throw in the potatoes.
    8. Cover cook for 15-20 minutes on medium-low heat, till potatoes are tender, adding in more water if needed.
    9. Add kasoori methi and cook covered for another 5-7 minutes.

    Enjoy over plain boiled rice, with a side salad or Raita.