Our Meal Plan: Week 9

Pic taken from www.hookedonheat.com, visit site for recipe details.

Its business again as usual this week. I was sick as ever over the weekend and spent all of my time in bed. We ate a lot of quick sandwiches and take-out. I’m feeling so much better today and am really craving some good ‘ol comfort food. What are you having for dinner this week? Please share your menus!

MONDAY:
– Tuna Cutlets (recipe to come soon)
Dal & Rice

TUESDAY:
– Roasted Tomato Soup
– Veggie Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

WEDNESDAY:
– Spaghetti
– Salad & Garlic Bread

THURSDAY:
– Shrimp & Greens Curry
– Rice & Salad

FRIDAY:
– Pizza & Movie night!
– Ice cream for Dessert

SATURDAY:
– Eat Out

SUNDAY:
Thai Basil Chicken (need to use up my overgrowing Thai Basil in the kitchen garden) over Rice Noodles
– Peanut & Mango Salad

Menu Plan Mondays hosted by Orgjunkie.com



Cooking for Kids: Indian-style Spaghetti

Recipe for Indian-style Spaghetti taken from www.hookedonheat.com

A few days ago, I logged into my emails and was met by this request from a long time reader:

Hi Meena,

My son is turning 6 in a couple of weeks and all he wants for his birthday this year is to have a sleepover with 3 of his best friends. While I’ve already planned a trip to his favourite fast food joint with his friends for lunch on his special day, I’m so confused on what to cook for them for dinner. My son is quite adventurous when it comes to food and will generally eat pretty much whatever I offer him. I’m not quite sure about the others though. I’ve spoken to their moms and was promised that neither of them are fussy eaters, but I’m still a bit nervous about cooking for growing boys. I know that I can never go wrong with pizzas or burgers, but honestly, I’d like to serve them something more wholesome and healthy. Also, Indian flavours will be of high priority since two of them are not too fond of continental food. Please HELP!

Thanks in advance,

Shilpa

Well Shilpa, what can I say… I hear ya!

Since the last few months, we’ve had quite a few playdates at home for Baby Dear. It works splendidly for us since we get to entertain our friends and the kids get to create havoc (or play, as they like to believe) in the comforts of our home. Cooking for these kind of get-togethers started out as being a challenge for me, but I’ve learned to get quite creative with my menus. To begin with, I never wanted to have separate menus for the adults and kids; unless of course, I had planned something extra spicy. Baby Dear has always eaten the same food we do, sometimes, if needed, adapted to suit his taste and liking. When cooking for young kids, here’s one thing I like to keep in mind always: Anything and everything, even nuggets and burgers, can be made healthy for kids to enjoy. I make these Tandoori Chicken Pops in the form of nuggets and they’re always enjoyed by adults and kids alike.

Pasta is usually a hands down winner with kids and can easily be customized to suit anyone’s palate. I love to add a variety of veggies and forms of protein to up the nutritional value of the meal. You can easily experiment with different flavours and cooking styles and come up with a recipe that your friends and family will enjoy. I recently served this Indian-style Spaghetti at a recent casual  dinner I hosted. It went superbly well alongside a large mixed salad, some crusty cheesy garlic bread and a whole lot of wine. For your son’s dinner though, I’d advice skipping the wine altogether!

Here’s what I suggest you serve your tiny guests and the special birthday boy for dinner:

Tandoori Chicken Pops (made in the form of bite-sized nuggets)
Cheesy Garlic Bread
Indian-style Spaghetti (recipe follows)
Quick and Easy Chocolate Cake (a birthday calls for cake every day of the week!)

I’m sure your son and his friends will enjoy this recipe. Its packed with protein and veggies, and if you use high fiber whole grain pasta, then its as healthy as can be. Here’s wishing your little man a very happy birthday!

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Our Meal Plan: Week 8

Pic taken from www.hookedonheat.com, visit site for recipe details.

Hubby Dear is off on a business trip again tomorrow and will be back Wednesday night. Baby Dear has his regular preschool days on Monday, Wednesday and Friday; and we have some renovations on the house going on this entire week. All this can only mean ONE thing – dinners will be quick and simple, and there’s going to be pizza! Here’s our meal plan for the coming week. What are you having for dinner this week? Please share your menus!

MONDAY:
– Goat Curry
Pulao & Salad

TUESDAY:
– Chana Dal Masala
– Rice & Salad

WEDNESDAY:
– Chicken Tikka Sandwiches
– Oven Fries

THURSDAY:
– Pesto Pasta with Roast Veggies
– Salad

FRIDAY:
– Pizza & Movie night!
– Ice cream for Dessert

SATURDAY:
– Eat Out

SUNDAY:
– Weekend BBQ!!

Menu Plan Mondays hosted by Orgjunkie.com



Over Rain & Coffee: Palak Pakodas

Recipe for Palak Pakodas taken from www.hookedonheat.com

A couple of days ago, I found myself in a rare moment. I was alone at home, it was pouring cats and dogs outside, and I had my favourite book in hand. The first thought that came to my mind? A cup of steaming hot coffee and some crispy pakodas would seal the deal right there! Monsoons, or the rainy season in India, is always greeted with open arms alongside copious amounts of chai and pakodas. For me though, tea has never been the caffeine of choice. I’m a java girl all through – so much so, that I’ve even converted the once tea-loving Hubby Dear who now swears that his morning can’t begin without a sip of coffee! But pakodas? I believe that rainy days and deep fried food can make any Indian swoon at the combination!

Pakodas come in all shapes and sizes and can be made with almost anything you can imagine – so let your mind run wild! Some of the classic ones include dunking bite-sized veggies like potatoes, cauliflower, chilli peppers, onions and eggplant into a thick batter of chickpea flour and spices. Another street vendor favourite is the stuffed bread pakoda that’s made by coating a spiced mashed potato sandwich in the batter before deep frying. I’ve even once, a long time ago, tried some chicken pokodas – the meat was deliciously tender and delicately seasoned.

Since the past few years, we have an unwritten but understood rule in the kitchen – no deep fried foods except for very, very special occasions. Like Puris on Diwali. Or Gobi Manchurian on Hubby Dear’s b’day week. And pakodas, when I just can’t stop thinking about them! We love pakodas of any kind, but are definitely much more partial to the ones with spinach and onions. These babies are best enjoyed piping hot dunked into some spicy chutney, or just good ol’ tomato ketchup.

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Our Meal Plan: Week 7

Pic taken from www.hookedonheat.com, visit site for recipe details.

Here’s our meal plan for the coming week. Nothing out of the ordinary planned this week, so it’ll be business running as usual – office for Hubby Dear, day care and swim class for Baby Dear, and blogging, cooking and lots of reading for moi. What are you having for dinner this week? Please share your menus!

MONDAY:
– Spaghetti with Meat Sauce
– Garlic Bread & Salad

TUESDAY:
– Roast Veggie Grilled Cheese
– Potato & Leek Soup

WEDNESDAY:
– Fish Masala
– Rice & Salad

THURSDAY:
– Homemade Veggie Burgers
– Sweet Potato Fries & Salad

FRIDAY:
– Mango Chicken served in Lettuce Wraps
– Ice cream for Dessert

SATURDAY:
– Eat Out

SUNDAY:
Lamb with Green Peppers
– Naan & Raita

Menu Plan Mondays hosted by Orgjunkie.com



Kids Lunchbox Idea: Minty Potato Samosas

Recipe for Minty Potato Samosas taken from www.hookedonheat.com

Come September, Baby Dear will be off to pre-school. I’ll finally be joining in the likes of moms who begin their day with packing a lunch for their wee ones. For the past few weeks, I’ve been filling my ‘recipe ideas‘ notebook with recipes that would fill his little tummy and keep Baby Dear alert and active for the remainder of the school day.

Since schools in India have just started to open up for the new term, I’ve been getting quite a few requests to share recipes that would work well for kids’ lunch boxes. While sandwiches often seem to be the go-to solution for a quick packed lunch, I’ve never been a fan of them. I used to pack myself simple sandwiches made with cheese and tomatoes, or cold cuts and lettuce, or sometimes even the good old PB&J, but come lunch-time, I always craved something else. But let’s be honest here – not many us have the time, energy or sometimes even the patience it takes to prep a fresh cooked, healthy meal early in the mornings. Our breakfasts itself are almost always rushed, so finding the time for cooking and packing a meal for later in the day seems almost ridiculous! Which is why I’m a big believer in leftovers.

I’ve been packing Hubby Dear’s lunches almost everyday since we got married, which is over 9 years ago! And almost always, it has been leftovers. And that’s exactly what I intend to do with Baby Dear’s lunches as well. While I do understand that packing meals for kids needs some amount of creativity and thought put into it, I don’t see why it can’t be done with minimum fuss and effort on the mom’s part. The recipe I have for you today, does exactly that. You can make these samosas in big batches on a weekend when you have the time and freeze them. Then, as and when required, fry them up and serve hot. They taste great at room temperature as well, so you can definitely fry them the previous evening and pack them up for lunch the next day.

Another idea to take this even a step further, is to make Bun Samosas, which are a popular street food outside many colleges and office buildings in most major cities in India. All you need to do is smush a samosa or two, depending on its size, between a bun or two slices of bread. You can also spread some chutney or plain ‘ol ketchup on the inside for that extra zing. Baby Dear absolutely loves it, and this is one sandwich I would never mind opening my lunchbox to!

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Warming Tones: Chilli Paneer

Recipe for Chilli Paneer taken from www.hookedonheat.com

What is it with the weather lately? One week it’s super hot, then it’s rainy and now it’s back to having me want to spend my day under the covers with umpteen cups of coffee and a good book. The recipe I have for you today, namely Chilli Paneer, is perfect for this slightly chilly, damp weather. It’s quick, tasty and fits the bill in giving you that warm, cozy feeling in your tummy on a day like this.

I shared my recipe of Chilli Paneer on this blog many years ago, but decided to update you with another one today since I’ve now changed the way I make it for us at home. Chilli Paneer is a crowd favourite that pleases adults and kids alike. You’ll probably find it on any Indo-Chinese menu as the vegetarian companion to Chilli Chicken. Don’t you just love it when different cultures come together and produce a lip-smacking plate of food. Almost like a perfect marriage.

In India, Chinese food is nothing like what you get, well, in China. It’s loaded with chillies, garlic, ginger, onions, a ton of various spices and a generous splash of soy sauce to finish off! Hubby Dear fondly tells me of the first time he walked into an authentic Chinese restaurant in Canada craving his regular favourites – Chilli Paneer, Gobi Manchurian and Pepper Chicken. Not only was he disappointed to find out that they didn’t serve either of these, but that whatever he ordered, lacked the familiarity of so-called Chinese dishes that he was used to back in India. It was only much later that he learned that restaurants serving Indianized Chinese food did exist and here in the GTA, they are often referred to as Hakka joints. We do have our go-to Hakka places that we like to venture into a few times a month, but for the most part, I prefer making these dishes at home. That way, I can easily control the sodium and spice level that goes into it. Not to mention, my home-cooked recipes are very rarely deep fried, not laden with copious amounts of oil and equally, finger-lickin’ good.

I urge you to try this recipe if you’re new to Indo-Chinese food. And if, like me, you can’t get enough of this amazing cuisine, then what’s your excuse to not get cooking?
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Our Meal Plan: Week 6

Pic taken from www.hookedonheat.com, visit site for recipe details.

Here’s our meal plan for the coming week. Nothing out of the ordinary planned this week, so it’ll be business running as usual – office for Hubby Dear, day care and swim class for Baby Dear, and blogging, cooking and lots of reading for moi. What are you having for dinner this week? Please share your menus!

MONDAY:
– Chilli Paneer
Quick Fried Rice

TUESDAY:
– Grilled Cheese S/Ws with tomatoes & green peppers
– Tomato Soup

WEDNESDAY:
– Egg Sambal
– Rice & Salad

THURSDAY:
– Spaghetti & Meatballs
– Salad

FRIDAY:
– Burgers/Hot Dogs on the grill
– Ice cream for Dessert

SATURDAY:
– Eat Out

SUNDAY:
Lamb with Green Peppers
– Naan & Raita

Menu Plan Mondays hosted by Orgjunkie.com



Simple Indulgences: Quick Chocolate Cake

Recipe for Quick Chocolate Cake taken from www.hookedonheat.com

I’m not one for baking, never have been. Now don’t get me wrong – I LOVE CAKE. But I’d much rather buy them than spend my time beating eggs and sugar into a creamy, fluffy mush. That was of course, until Baby Dear developed a love for them too. As much as I love cooking and get compliments for my food, I suck big time when it comes to baking. I run miles away from any cake recipe that asks me to use ore than 3 eggs, or a cup of sugar or both. But I had to find a way out. I couldn’t get myself to buy the sugar laden stuff that’s so easily available at grocery stores nowadays. I wanted to bake my own cake out of love and healthy ingredients, and have Baby Dear enjoy them too!

As a kid, I fondly remember my Mom baking the most delicious cakes often. She had her specialties and would alternate between the chocolate, orange, banana and vanilla flavours. But every now and then she would also dust off her trusty cake bible and pick something new and fun for us to try. My Mom has always been the baker of the family, still is, and this was why I ran to her when I needed a recipe that wouldn’t have me crying at the outcome! And come to my rescue she did.

This recipe is one that you need to keep in your back pocket. It’s like that little black dress that you reach for when you don’t know what to wear, or want to wear something that would make you feel great. It’s perfect for any occasion, or no occasion at all. All you need is a large mixing bowl and a spatula – no fancy counter-top mixers required. I made it twice last week. Both times, with Baby Dear as my baking assistant. It is that good. And simple. And quick. Oh, and did I mention its decadently delicious too?
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Our Meal Plan: Week 5

Pic taken from www.hookedonheat.com, visit site for recipe details.

Here’s our meal plan for the coming week. Tuesday is a holiday for Canada Day, so its a perfect day for our family BBQ, then it’ll be back to our weekly routine. What are you having for dinner this week? Please share your menus!

MONDAY:
– Rajma
– Pulao and Salad

TUESDAY:
– Mediterranean Chicken Burgers
– Ice cream for dessert

WEDNESDAY:
– Coconut-Lime Chicken Curry
– Rice

THURSDAY:
– Gobi Manchurian
Quick Veggie Fried Rice

FRIDAY:
– Eggplant & Spinach Lasagna
– Salad

SATURDAY:
– Eat Out

SUNDAY:
Lamb & Potato Curry
Cumin Pulao

Menu Plan Mondays hosted by Orgjunkie.com