Easy Oven Roasted Zucchini Spears

Whenever the hubby is out of town, quick & easy is the name of the game when it comes to fixing dinners for myself. Since I had a huge bunch of zucchini sitting on the counter and no one but my little self to feed, that’s pretty much what I had three out of four nights last week. 

After perusing recipes for about ten minutes, my stomach’s growling definitely put in a vote for something without a lot of prep work. I couldn’t find anything that seemed to satisfy the bill so I ended up throwing this together out of desperation. 

Not really knowing the end from the beginning, I just sliced up the zucchinis and started sprinkling on whatever tickled my fancy from the cupboard. They ended up turning out really delicious and I ended up using what I thought would be a “side” for my main dish. The spears came out slightly crispy on the outside but still soft inside which was great since I wasn’t really going for a “french fry” effect. The seasoning is simple but complimented the squash well. Well enough that I decided it was a recipe worth adding to my cookbook and sharing with the hubby when he gets back in town. 

Simple. Quick. Delicious.   

Yep, that’s a recipe that belongs in my house. 

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Kesariya Thandai

Thandai is a drink often associated with Mahashivratri and Holi. It is made using dry fruits, spices and saffron. It is also called Sardai in some parts of the country and was traditionally made with a dose of Bhang in it. Even today, some people add the weed in it to make it intoxicating. This drink is very refreshing and a perfect summer cooler. My mom used to make Thandai every Holi and her recipe was appreciated every time. I am sharing her recipe of making thandai today. Here it is.

All you need is

Almonds badam – 10
Cashew nuts kaju – 10
Black peppercorns Kalimirch – 25-30
Raisins Kishmish – 10
Cardamom Choti ilaichi – 10
Poppy seeds Khuskhus – 1 tsp
Fennel seeds saunf – 1 tsp
Melon seeds Kharbooje ke beej – 1 tsp
Milk – 3 cups
Sugar – 14 cup
Saffron – a pinch soaked in a tbsp of warm milk
Rose water – 1 tsp
Rose petals and slivered dry fruits for garnishing

Method of preparation

Soak almonds, cashew nuts, peppercorns, raisins, cardamom, poppy seeds, fennel seeds and melon seeds in 12 cup water for 5-6 hours.
Grind in a blender to make a smooth paste.
Add little milk if required.
Add the remaining milk.
Pass the mixture through a soup strainer.
Add sugar, saffron soaked in milk and rose water and mix till sugar is dissolved.
Pour the thandai in serving glasses.
Garnish with rose petals and dry fruit slivers.
Serve chilled.

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Oatmeal Butter Pecan Cupcakes

In our little apartment we have two skylights. I absolutely love skylights. Someday I’d like them in my kitchen. But that’s definitely a dream for some day in the distant future. In the meantime though, I’ll be satisfied with the two little ones we have in our studio. And at the moment, I’m immensely enjoying the sound of a light, persistent rain hitting those windows. I love that sound.  But rather than go on about my love for rainy days, I have some exciting news to share…

We’re buying a house!! I am so excited I can hardly stand it! It’s our first home so of course we are pretty dang stoked about the whole thing. And you know what I’m really excited for? A bedroom door! I know sounds strange, but you must understand… we have been living in a studio apartment for the past year and a half and it has been the most amazing blessing to be able to save up money and bond together in this little matchbox 😉 but I’m going to be absolutely tickled to not see my kitchen sink from my bed.  And actually have a kitchen. With more than three cupboards and 21 inches of countertop space. And no carpet! Yes, our “kitchen” is carpeted. Do you know what it’s like operating a kitchen under the stress of trying not to let any little thing drip on the floor because you’ll be stuck with the ominous task of scrubbing it out for hours?? Let me tell you, a real kitchen is going to be Ah-mazing. 

Of course, it needs a little updating. But that’s part of what I’m so excited for. We get to personalize it and fix it up to our liking! I feel a bunch of home improvement projects coming on which doesn’t scare me in the least. I grew up with that sort of thing since my father is a general contractor (the best one you’ll ever find) and one of the many things he taught me was how to be handy with a screw driver. Yes, I know what a philips head is and I know what a pain it is when a bolt get’s “stripped”. I also know that primer is key and under no circumstances should you remove tile without heavy-duty gloves (a lesson I learned the hard way and have scars to prove it). 

We close and move in less than a month and I am counting down the hours til I have a bedroom door. And a garage. And a yard. And no carpet in my kitchen!!! 

And to celebrate that glorious announcement, I’d to share with you these absolutely scrumptious Oatmeal Butter Pecan Cupcakes I made this holiday weekend. They aren’t exactly “festive” in the sense that they aren’t red, white, or blue, and no little patriotic flags poking out of the frosting but, they’re insanely delicious and what’s more American than a mouthwatering cupcake? See? Totally festive. 

I had beautiful plans for a buttercream frosting but fate wasn’t on my side and it was a bit of a flop so I rushed to the store and bought a can of Duncan Hines new whipped cream cheese frosting. I’m actually really glad my frosting didn’t pan out the way I thought it would because if it had I might never have found this new creation! The frosting was light and airy, not too sweet which is usually a huge problem for me with store bought frostings. This one went perfectly with my cupcakes and I will definitely be using it many more times in my baking adventures. 

These cupcakes turned out better than I had imagined in my head. The aroma alone was enough to make my mouth water. And just look at them. So moist and beautiful. Ah. Go make some. Please. You will be glad you did. Happy Memorial Day!

PS. I just love zebra print anything. I can’t get enough. 

If you wish, you may opt to garnish the tops of these beautiful cupcakes with chopped pecans!

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Lahsuni Palak Dal

Lentils are an essential part of Indian meals. I don’t remember a single day in my life when any type of lentil is not cooked in my house. Their are a variety of lentils to choose from and you can make changes in the recipes to give it a new flavor. For today’s lunch, I cooked the split yellow lentil with spinach added to it. It is a favorite combination in my family and the tadka of garlic gives it a delicious flavor. Here is the recipe.

All you need is

Split skinned yellow lentil Dhuli moong dal – 12 cup
Water – 3 cups
Spinach palak – 1 cup ( chopped )
Salt to taste
Turmeric powder – 12 tsp
Lemon juice – 1 tbsp
Ghee butter – 2 tbsp
Garlic lahsun – 6-8 cloves
Dry red chilies – 2-3
Green chili – 1 ( split into half )
Cumin seeds – 12 tsp
Heeng – 14 tsp
Red chili powder – 12 tsp
Fresh coriander – 1 tsp

Method of preparation

Wash the dal and put it in a pressure pan.
Add 3 cups of water, chopped spinach, salt and turmeric powder.
Pressure cook till done.
If you don’t have a pressure pan, cook it covered on medium heat till done.
Add lemon juice in cooked dal.
Transfer the dal in the serving bowl.
Heat ghee in a small pan.
When the ghee is hot, add garlic, dry red chilies and green chili.
Fry till garlic is slightly browned.
Add cumin seeds and heeng.
Switch off the heat.
Add red chili powder and immediately pour the ghee over the cooked dal.
Garnish with coriander leaves.
Serve hot with rice or phulka.

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Blackberry Banana Bliss Smoothie

I’m feeling very under the weather today. A pounding headache the size of Texas, a runny nose, sneezing constantly. . . pretty miserable really. 

Needless to say, real cooking is not in the cards for me today. Is it bad to have cereal for all three meals? Because that seems to be the extent of my menu. And this smoothie.

And I could actually taste it! My cereal tasted like nothing at all. Which was really disappointing since I dearly adore my cereal. But this smoothie was a perfect pick me up. And look at that color. Gorgeous.

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Chatpati Dahi Arbi

Indian food has so many possibilities. I never like to make the same recipe for my meals and try not to repeat it for as long as possible and I am able to do it with so many options to go along. Arbi or colocasia is a vegetable similar to potato but with more starch content. It can be made in various ways. Today, I am sharing a recipe of my mom, were she dips the arbi in a yogurt batter and shallow fry it till crispy and crunchy from outside. It’s a very easy recipe and has always been a family favorite. It goes very well with dal and phulke and even with dal and rice. Here is the recipe.

All you need

Arbi Colocasia Taro – 500 g
Yogurt – 12 cup
Salt to taste
Red chili powder – 12 tsp
Coriander powder – 2 tsp
Turmeric powder – 12 tsp
Garam masala powder – 12 tsp
Fennel powder – 12 tsp
Amchoor Dry mango powder – 12 tsp
Ajwain Carm seeds – 1 tsp
Oil – 5 tbsp
Lemon juice – 1 tbsp
Fresh coriander for garnishing

Method of preparation

Wash the arbi and cook it in a pressure pan till just done.
Do not over cook as it will become mushy.
Remove the peel and slightly press the arbi between your palms.
Mix yogurt, salt, red chili powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder, garam masala powder, fennel powder and amchoor in a bowl.
Heat oil in a not stick fry pan.
Add ajwain when the oil is hot.
Dip the flattened arbi in the yogurt mixture and arrange them in the pan in a single layer.
Simmer the heat to low.
Cover the pan and cook the arbi till brown and crisp from one side.
Flip the arbi and let them brown on the other side as well.
Remove the arbi on the serving platter.
Sprinkle lemon juice and coriander on top.
Serve hot with rice or phulke.

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Churro Caramel Corn

There’s just something about a churro that screams CARNIVAL to me. When I was growing up, the carnival would come to our town once a year in the summer time and I still remember the first churro I had there. My mother bought a churro for me and two and my brothers to share for fifty cents. (I’m pretty sure the most recent churro I had set me back four dollars, talk about inflation huh??)

I also remember making my brothers ride the Tilt-a-Whirl with me three or four times in a row right after that churro. They didn’t have the solid stomach I have I guess because they both fought over the nearest open garbage can immediately afterwards. I don’t know if they have the same happy memories of our churro that I do. But for me it was wonderful, and that cinnamon-sugar combo became iconic for me. When my mother made me toast for breakfast with cinnamon and sugar sprinkled on top, it became Churro Toast.

When I made this popcorn I had that carnival churro in mind. The flavor combo was delicious and after a little tweaking with the ingredients, I achieved that perfect chewy-firm texture you get with a real churro. I’m hooked, this Churro Caramel Corn is sooo addicting. If you like churros, do yourself a favor and make a batch of this, pronto.

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Balsamic Vinaigrette Salad Dressing

Summers are approaching and I like to eat light and refreshing salads for my meals. Their are endless possibilities to make salads and by changing the dressing or the ingredients in the salad, you can have a new salad every time. While my stay in the US, salad dressings were very easily available and I used to always stock a few in my refrigerator. After coming back to India, I could not find any dressing in the stores and that’s when I decided to make mine at home. These dressings keep good in the refrigerator for almost a week and in just a matter of few minutes, you can whip up a lovely salad for your meal. So today, it’s a Balsamic Vinaigrette with garlic and herbs. I used the dressing for my arugula, watermelon and feta salad and the combination is wonderful. Here is the recipe for the Balsamic Vinaigrette.

All you need is

Balsamic vinegar – 14 cup
Extra virgin olive oil – 12 cup
garlic – 1 tbsp ( finely chopped )
Honey – 2 tbsp
Salt – 1 tsp
Freshly ground black pepper – 12 tsp
Dried thyme – 14 tsp
Dried basil – 14 tsp
Dried rosemary – 14 tsp

Method of preparation

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl with a whisk.
Store in an airtight glass bottle in refrigerator.
Mix well before use.
You can use the dressing for up to 1 week.

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Tex Mex Quinoa Bowl

Ah, I’m finally over the worst of that nasty head cold I caught last week. And I can officially taste my food again. Which is making this monday feel more like a tuesday, very much less daunting.  

A few things I’m thinking about today:

How sweet my mother is- she gave me the most heartfelt and thoughtful note this weekend for no real reason at all and it made my day.

Tylenol and the many bonding experiences we’ve had together. 

Darius Rucker’s song “Wagon Wheel”.  It’s stuck in my head and I’m 100% okay with that.

Cantaloupe and this Tex Mex Quinoa Bowl I’m having for lunch. So easy, so delicious. And a great way to use up leftover mexican ingredients in the fridge from the weekend. I’m loving having a bowl of quinoa already cooked and waiting in the fridge for the week so I can just grab some and add it to any dish in a hurry. And of course there’s that added bonus that it’s super super healthy and good for you. Lots of protein. Which is much needed after a brutal 40 minute sweat session at the gym this morning. 

Just look at those beautiful peppers. Mmmmm…. 

 Thanks to Katie at Healthy Diva Eats for hosting Marvelous In My Monday!

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Arugula, Watermelon and Feta salad

Arugula, watermelon and feta is a classic salad combination. The peppery arugula blends very well with the sweet watermelon and the salty feta. I had this salad in my mind for a long time but was not getting my hands on a bunch of Arugula. Recently a friend, who grows it in her house brought me some fresh leaves from her garden and I took no time in deciding where am I going to use it. The balsamic vinaigrette that I posted the other day was the perfect dressing for the salad. Here is how to assemble the salad.

All you need is

Arugula Rocket leaves – 3-4 cups
Watermelon – 1 kg watermelon ( peeled, de seeded and cut into small pieces )
Feta cheese – 100 g
Balsamic vinaigrette – 3-4 tbsp ( Recipe is here )

Method of preparation

Wash the arugula leaves and wrap them in a cotton cloth for 5 minutes to get rid of excess water on the leaves.
Add the leaves in the salad bowl.
Top with watermelon pieces.
Top the salad with crumbled feta cheese.
Drizzle the balsamic vinaigrette on top.
Serve immediately.

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