Kids Lunchbox Idea: Chicken Croissants

Recipe for Chicken Croissants taken from www.hookedonheat.com.

A few weekends ago, I found myself alone at home with Baby Dear and a potluck invitation waiting for a response. Hubby Dear was away on a longer than usual business trip, and I was at my wits end trying to entertain an energizer-bunny of a toddler. I’ve always considered myself an introvert and going to a party without my better half to meet new people is not really my cup of tea. But I was desperate. And so was Baby Dear. We each needed to get out and about – and interacting with someone other than each other seemed like a welcome option. So I immediately texted a YES to the invite and started to prep my contribution to the party.

When given an option, I always like to volunteer bringing an appetizer. Its the perfect chance to get creative and think out of the box. Bite-sized finger foods are usually my preferred way to enjoy a meal and I love experimenting with different flavours and textures. I was short of time and needed to come up with something quick and easy. One long stare at the contents of my fridge and I knew just what I was ready to get to work on. I had half a rotisserie chicken from the previous night to work with. Armed with a can of store-bought croissant dough and some veggies and spices, this came together in a breeze. Its delicious fresh out of the oven or eaten at room temperature. I suggest taking this idea and running with it! Experiment with the filling. Change it up to what you and your family enjoy eating. It works great any which way.

As I was working on this recipe, it suddenly occurred to me that this would be perfect for a kids lunchbox. With September right around the corner and schools all set to open up their doors to eager parents and kids after a long summer, back to school sales and lunchbox recipes are hard to look past. My tiny tot is all excited to begin a new phase in life and can’t stop talking about going to a big boys school! Aside from picking out a new school bag, lunch box, clothes and shoes imprinted with his current favourite cartoon character, I’ve been keeping myself busy working on lunchbox recipes for him. Baby Dear has never been a fussy eater and cooking for him is always a pleasure. If the food is tasty, he’ll relish it. If it has chicken, he’ll dive right in. And if it has tons of garlic, then in his own esteemed words – its a party in his tummy!

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Our Meal Plan: Week 11

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

Business as usual at the HoH casa this coming week. I’ve taken up a new project which requires me to test out a few new recipes as well as update some of my older favourites, so a lot of our meals would be based on those. What are you having for dinner this week? Please share your menus!

MONDAY:
– Roast Veggie Lasanga
– Caesar Salad

TUESDAY:
– Kadhi
Alu Palak (Potatoes & Spinach)
– Rice & Salad

WEDNESDAY:
– Chilli Tofu
– Rice & Papaya Salad

THURSDAY:
Chicken & Bean Stew
– Garlic Bread

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

SATURDAY:
– Homemade Burgers & Spicy Oven Fries

SUNDAY:
– Indian Omelette Sandwiches (recipe to come soon)

Menu Plan Mondays hosted by Orgjunkie.com



Curry in a Hurry: Homestyle Chicken Curry

Recipe for Homestyle Chicken Curry taken from www.hookedonheat.com

Chicken Curry to me is one of those no-fail comfort foods that never cease to please. They can be made in a million ways, each tasting dramatically different from the other, yet instill that familiar warmth and coziness that only comes with eating food that’s been cooked with love. It doesn’t matter how many times I cook my chicken in the curry form – it rarely ever tastes the same. This itself, to me adds that extra oomph.

A few weekends ago, we met up with some close friends of ours after what seemed like ages. After a hearty meal at one of our favourite restaurants, we cajoled them over to our home for coffee and cake. Don’t you just love it when friends feel like family and you never know how time goes by with them around? Well, before we knew it, the coffee mugs were loaded into the dishwasher, the cake crumbs swept cleaned, and Hubby Dear cracked open a bottle of wine. I laid out a platter of assorted crackers and some cheese (call me insane, but I always seem to have atleast 4 different varieties of cheese in my fridge!) and began slicing and dicing for a quick dinner.

Dinner. On a whim. For guests. NO. BIG. DEAL.

Of all things I’m OCD about, I pride myself in always having a full fridge and pantry – full enough to whip up a meal for at least 10 people at the drop of a hat. Yes, I’m that person! We once invited a big group of friends over for a BBQ dinner after a day at the beach. We had enough meat, veggies and sides for a hearty meal that was enjoyed by all. All they needed to pick up on the way over was a tub of ice cream for dessert. I refrain from stocking up desserts since I seldom can control myself from eating it all!

Coming back to that weekend I was telling you about, I decided to make this quick home-style rustic Chicken Curry alongside some Pulao and a huge salad. The meal came together quickly and perfectly. This recipe is perfect for times when you want a quick, no-fuss hearty dish. The ingredients are chopped, thrown in the pan one after the other, and the end result comes out lip-smacking good. What can I say, when in doubt – always make a curry!

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Our Meal Plan: Week 10

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

Hubby takes off again tomorrow and is back on Wednesday night. Other than that, Baby Dear and I will pretty much go by our regular weekday routine. I have an event to attend Thursday night, which means dinner needs to be something that both my guys can manage to pull off without me. And then we’re having some friends over for dinner and game night on Saturday. All in all, a busy and fun week ahead! What are you having for dinner this week? Please share your menus!

MONDAY:
– Roast Veggie Pesto Pasta
Chicken Pops

TUESDAY:
– Fish Masala
– Rice & Salad

WEDNESDAY:
– Nasi Goreng (Malay-style Fried Rice)
– Salad

THURSDAY:
– Chicken Noodle Soup

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

SATURDAY:
Chili
Nachos & Jalapeno Cornbread

SUNDAY:
Coconut Chicken Curry
– Rice & Salad

Menu Plan Mondays hosted by Orgjunkie.com



Indian Food: D is for… Dhabewali Dal Tadka

Recipe for Dhabewali Dal Tadka, taken from www.hookedonheat.com

Over six years ago when I first introduced the Intro to Indian Food series of this very blog, I had no idea I was about to start a cult following. What started as a simple desire to help a few of my friends and readers learn the basics of Indian cooking, enabling them to enjoy good food cooked in the comforts of home using fresh, readily available, and healthy ingredients, turned out to be one of THE best decisions I ever made in my writing/blogging career. The series was soon picked up by The Mississauga News as a monthly feature in their food section. Over the years, I’ve received a ton of emails and comments on those posts from folks eager to learn more, much more, about Indian food. And it has been a true pleasure for me responding to each and every one of those queries.

I’ve been reading through a lot of feedback from you guys on the kind of content you’d like me to showcase more of on HoH. Let me just say that I have a couple of fun features/ideas that should take off soon that I’m sure you’ll enjoy very much. One of them that makes me giddy with excitement is a spin off from my Indian 101 series. I know that a lot of you have asked me to bring that back, but I think I can offer you something a step further. Join me, as I cook my way from A to Z of Indian Food. Each post in this series will showcase a recipe of a dish that begins with a letter from the alphabet. I’ll try my best to pick a variety of vegetarian, non-vegetarian and vegan recipes – both restaurant favourites, and simple home cook secrets.

MORE POSTS ON INDIAN FOOD: A-Z

POSTS ON INTRO TO INDIAN COOKING

Road trips in India are whole different ball game altogether when compared to those in North America. Driving conditions are worlds apart, and not to mention, traffic rules are seldom followed by the book. But while families in the western part of the world make pit-stops at fast food chains and greasy diners for meals while driving, those in India look forward to long relaxed lunches (also quite greasy, to be fairly honest!) at one of the gazillion road side restaurants called dhabas along the highway. Dhabas are India’s version of the 24/7 diner – food is made fresh to order, the menu is extensive, and you’ll served huge portions of food anytime of day – almost always, with a generous pat of butter on top!

While I’ve not as yet taken as many road trips in India as I would’ve like to, I have had my fair share of dhaba experiences. You see, so popular and charming are these quaint little eateries, that a lot of times people just head out along the main highways to simple enjoy a meal. If you ever find yourself at a dhaba, with no clue on how to get started with your meal, always opt for either the stuffed parathas, dal, or any dry spicy chicken dish they have on offer. If you’re willing to treat yourself to a food celebration and wish to go an extra mile – order all three! Dhabas are well known for these dishes and I’ve never to one who screwed up on any of them.

Dal served at a dhaba is like no other and I believe is a must to experience when in India. Its always perfectly spiced, with just the right amount of heat and tang, and often comes to the table with a thick slick of oil on top. But nonetheless, its THE perfect accompaniment with naans or rotis, to be dunked and slurped. My recipe today is anything but. However, you still get the delicious array of flavours without the added hike to cholesterol levels. So enjoy it, guilt free until the next time you find yourself hungry on the road in India – then of course, you’ll know exactly what to do!

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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