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



Men Can Cook: Hubby Dear’s Famous Nachos

Recipe for Nachos taken from www.hookedonheat.com

Hubby Dear rarely cooks. In fact, the only time he ever enters the kitchen is to peek over my shoulder to see what’s cooking. There was this one time a couple of years ago where I threw Hubby Dear a surprise birthday party with some of our closest friends and family. There were over 12 adults plus kids, and I had, as usual, planned a huge menu that included a super large Eggplant Parmesan as one of the main dishes. In order to make the recipe large enough to feed a hungry crowd, I bought 8 giant eggplants and stored them in the fridge for about two days before the party. And the man had no idea! Not even once in that week did he open the fridge. Thank God for that, or else I would’ve been stumped on what to say if he asked about the sudden over stocking of eggplants and the numerous jars of mixed olives and marinated mushrooms. So yea, the kitchen is pretty much my domain.

Well, except for when a strong craving of Nachos suddenly hits! That’s when Hubby Dear takes over, and rightly so. You see, he has this gift when it comes to making THE best, cheesy, finger-licking Nachos. Anyone and everyone who’s ever had a bite of Hubby Dear’s Special Nachos swears by it! Friends and family request it anytime we get together and Baby Dear and I demand it for dinner 2-3 times a month. It is that good.

I’ve watched him make it a zillion times; shopped for the ingredients he needs, even helped in chopping them up. Trust me when I say this – it’s the most simple and easiest way to make a platter of nachos. All the ingredients used are readily available and almost all can usually be found in your kitchen any given day. There’s no “secret” ingredient. No “special” technique. Its just regular, everyday ingredients chopped up, layered and baked. So what makes it THAT good, you ask? I honestly don’t know. Maybe it’s the smile on his face when he proudly brings the platter to the table. Or maybe, just maybe, its the love that he puts in it – from the way he patiently tries to chop everything the same size, to carefully spreading it all out evenly so that each bite is a party in your mouth. I guess, now that I think of it, there may be a “secret” to it after all!
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Our Meal Plan: Week 4

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, just our regular days with preschool and weekly smim class for Baby Dear. What are you having for dinner this week? Please share your menus!

MONDAY:
– Spiced up Spaghetti (recipe coming soon!)
– Salad

TUESDAY:
– Tuna Sandwiches
– Fruit Salad

WEDNESDAY:
Basil Chicken (Hubby Dear requested this AGAIN. Thank God for the over-flowing Thai Basil in my kitchen garden!)
– Rice & Mango Salad

THURSDAY:
Dal Makhani
– Cumin Pulao and Salad

FRIDAY:
– Samosas
– Ice cream for dessert

SATURDAY:
– Eat Out

SUNDAY:
– Chicken Noodle Soup

Menu Plan Mondays hosted by Orgjunkie.com

 



Pantry Cooking: Tawa Pulao

Recipe for Tawa Pulao taken from www.hookedonheat.com

It’s been hot and I think I’m melting! I could’ve sworn I was an inch taller just two weeks ago!! Thank goodness for the rain Gods, it’s been much cooler the past two days. I feel that I can now actually enter my beloved kitchen, without getting cooked myself. Although I enjoy making elaborate meals and spending precious time creating culinary art, there are times when I just want to come home and not take more than a few minutes to whip up a delicious yet wholesome meal.

It is often at such times when I find retreat in my always over-stocked pantry. I love my pantry, and I sincerely believe that if I happen to have an unexpected emergency at hand, I’ll most probably be very well prepared to cook up a meal for 10 people using just the contents from it. I always make sure my shelves are well stocked with a variety of pasta, flour, canned beans, sauces and quick eats.

I’ve always loved grocery shopping, which only added to my pantry stock. I love losing myself in the aisles with the variety of oils, sauces and international fares. Learning to grocery shop the right way is an acquired art. It takes brain power and perfect precision to buy things in just the right amount to stock a pantry. There were times when I would find myself staring at 5 cans of tuna, each with an expiry date well past.

It took time, and a lot of practice, but I learnt. I now have the perfect pantry to help me build my meals each day. And at times like tonight, when all I want is a quick fix and hours in front of the TV, my pantry is what I can count on!
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Quick, Quick, Slow: Sukhe Alu (Sauteed Potatoes)

Recipe of Sukhe Alu (Sauteed Potatoes) taken from www.hookedonheat.com

If you ever happen to just drop by my home on short notice or unannounced, chances are high that you will be served a meal that would definitely star one of my go-to potato recipes. This humble vegetable is a boon to home cooks everywhere, and I consider it a part of the Indian kitchen trinity alongside onion and tomatoes. In fact, even on days when my fridge is almost bare and I need to make a desperate run to store, I can always count on falling back on these three. Combined with a pantry full of various lentils, beans and grains, and variety of spices on hand, the options for a simple healthy dinner are endless!

Hubby Dear is the die-hard potato fan in our home. So much so, that I often say all I have to do is throw him the tuber when he starts to whine in hunger and he’s a happy camper! I guess it makes us the perfect match since I’m known as the potato magician in the family. It’s been said that my potato recipes are finger-lickin’ and we have friends and family who always request them at every meal they eat at our table. But I digress.

Potatoes are definitely very versatile and take on any flavor added to them with ease. They’re simple to prep and even easier to handle while cooking, so what’s not to love! The recipe I’m sharing with you today is one I keep in my back pocket. If you have the few ingredients it asks for on hand, which I always do, this dish is perfect to throw together as that final side to bring the whole meal together. Leftovers work wonderfully slightly mashed up and sandwiched between toasted bread. Or serve it by self warm with toothpicks alongside some iced drinks! No matter which way you decide to bring it to the table, I can guarantee that your family will linger around till its all gone!
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Our Meal Plan: Week 3

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

Happy Father’s Day to all the amazing dads out there, especially mine and my baby’s!

Here’s our meal plan for the coming week. It’s going to be a regular week for us with usual routine. Baby Dear is at preschool on Monday, Wednesday and Friday – which means I have the day to myself to work and get things checked off my list. He has soccer practice on Tuesday evening – we’re home by 7:15, which means that dinner must ready eat. Swim class in on Thursday morning. As far as my planner shows me, neither me nor Hubby Dear have commitments any of the days in the evenings. So yea, pretty much a regular, busy week at the HOH casa! What are you having for dinner this week? Please share your menus!

MONDAY:
– Quick & Easy Chicken Biryani (recipe coming soon!)
– Raita

TUESDAY:
– Paneer Tak-a-Tak Sandwiches
– Fruit Salad

WEDNESDAY:
Ginger-Chilli Shrimp
– Peanut Noodles

THURSDAY:
– Vegetable Lasagna
– Salad

FRIDAY:
– Pizza
– Ice cream for dessert

SATURDAY:
– Eat Out

SUNDAY (Happy Father’s Day!!):
– Masala Mushrooms
– Peas Pulao

Menu Plan Mondays hosted by Orgjunkie.com