Chai (Tea)

Chai….a staple of Indian homes. I didn’t really drink tea while growing up. Unlike Nilesh, who comes from a family that doesn’t get moving until they’ve had at least two cups of tea. So, I’ve learnt that the best way to get Nilesh moving is to have that cup of chai ready for when he wakes up, and woah, that honey-do-list gets moving in earnest! Kidding aside, we both swear that this ginger, cardamom combination not only is a great start to the day but the ginger keeps those sore throats away! On weekends, grab a cup of chai and the newspaper and it’s the perfect start to the weekend.

Servings: 2

Ingredients

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tsp tea leaves (typically, 1 per cup of tea)
  • Sugar to taste
  • For Ginger-Cardamom tea
    • 1/2 tsp finely minced /grated ginger
    • 3 green cardamom pods with seeds – crushed

Instructions:

  • In a pan on stovetop, mix water and milk
  • When mixture starts to bubble, add in the ginger and cardamom
  • Bring mixture to boil, and add tea leaves and switch off stove
  • Cover and let the tea steep for 3-4 minutes
  • Filter into a cup with a small sieve and serve

Mango Pineapple chia seed pudding

This easy make-ahead recipe is a clean, dairy-free, filling breakfast. Chia seeds are considered a superfood because they pack a nutritional punch with very few calories. So, go-ahead and make this for breakfast, or a mid-morning snack, or even a dessert for after dinner!

Ingredients

  • 14 oz coconut milk one can
  • ½ cup Oat milk (or almond milk)
  • 3 tsp maple syrup (or sweetener of your choice. If your fruit is sweet, the sweetener is optional)
  • 2 tbsp vanilla protein (optional)
  • ½ cup chia seeds
  • 1.5 cups cubed mango fresh or frozen
  • 1 cup pineapple chunks fresh or frozen

Method:

  • Using a mixer, blend all ingredients except the fresh fruit (Alternatively, whisk with fork or hand mixer gently to blend ingredients and avoid chia seeds from clumping)
  • Pour the mixture into two large serving bowls or 3-4 smaller bowls
  • Top with mango, pineapple dividing equally across the bowls
  • Keep in refrigerator to thicken for atleast 2-3 hours
  • Can be served straight out of the fridge

Apple-pie oatmeal

Oatmeal – one of the best choices for breakfast! It is supposed to help with weight loss, manage your cholesterol, reduce the risk of heart disease, and lower blood sugar levels. Combine that with apples and cinnamon, and you’ve got a trifecta for breakfast that is sooo healthy and good for you and helps you stay full for a couple of hours! While Nilesh and I’ve had oatmeal for breakfast for a while, I’m trying some combinations to entice the kids with a healthy breakfast as they rush out of the door at 6:45am!

The sweet aroma of apples with cinnamon baking wafts through the air as the kids wake up and get ready for school. If that doesn’t tempt them with breakfast, nothing else will.

SERVINGS: 2

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 sweet apples -cores and evenly sliced
  • 1 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 2 tsp honey (alternative is 2 tsp maple or agave syrup)
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats (GF for gluten-free eaters)
  • 2 cups water ( or 1 cup water and 1 cup regular milk or unsweetened almond milk)
  • 1/4 cup chopped almonds, or walnuts
  • 4 whole dates (finely chopped)
  • Optional: Flax seeds, chia seeds, brown sugar

METHOD:

  1. If using the oven:
    1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit
    2. Toss the apples with cinnamon powder, 1 tsp honey and lemon juice
    3. Line a baking pan with parchment paper and lay apples flat on the pan
    4. When oven is ready, put pan in the oven, bake the apples for 5 minutes
    5. When 5 minutes is up, remove pan from oven, roll over parchment paper to create a box so the apples are in a sort of “pocket” to trap in moisture. Place pan back in oven and cook for 15 minutes more until soft.
  2. If using the stove-top:
    1. Add the apples, honey, and sprinkle in the cinnamon and lemon juice. Cook for 2-3 minutes until the apples are softened
  3. Making the oatmeal:
    1. In a small saucepan over high heat, add oats, and water(or water/milk or milk only). When it comes to a boil, reduce to low-medium heat and cook until thick and creamy to a desirable consistency
    2. Once think, remove from stove top
  4. Serving:
    1. When oatmeal has cooled slightly, arrange 4-5 slices of baked apples in bottom of a serving bowl. Top with oats. Add 1/3 cup of the apple slices as topping to the oatmeal along with 1/2 the nuts and a drizzle of the honey
    2. Other toppings may include flaxseed, chia seed, brown sugar

Kulfi – A rich, Indian ice-cream

Nothing entices kids more than the sound of the ice-cream truck on a hot summer day. In India, that sound was the ringing of a bell, as the kulfi cart came rolling down the street. At that time, for 10 paisa, he’d pull out a stick with kulfi out of a metal cone. Kulfi, a traditional Indian ice-cream, is richer, denser and creamier than regular ice-cream. Flavored with saffron, cardamom and pistachios, not only is it a delicious summer treat but can be stored in the freezer for when guests stop by.

Serves: approximately 20 (small Dixie cups)

Ingredients:

  • 14 oz sweetened Condensed Milk
  • 12 oz Evaporated Milk
  • 16 oz Cool Whip whipped topping
  • 16 oz Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 3/4 tsp Saffron threads
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom powder
  • 1/2 cup Pistachios / Almonds coarsely chopped

Method:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the sweetened Condensed Milk, Evaporated Milk, Heavy Whipping Cream and Cool Whip
  2. At medium speed, using a hand mixer, mix all ingredients together for a minute
  3. Fold in the saffron threads, cardamom powder, half the nuts and beat for another minute
  4. Pour mixture into small Dixie-style plastic cups. Sprinkle remaining chopped pistachios/nuts on top
  5. Cover cups with foil and insert a wooden popsicle stick into the center. Alternatively, mold in ice cube trays or in a popsicle maker
  6. Freeze Kulfi for at least 4 – 6 hours, preferably overnight
  7. Serves approximately 20

Acai-Blueberry Bowl

Acai berry bowls continue to be the Instagram rage and I just had to check it out when I saw a Acai Puree packet at Trader Joe’s. The acai (ah-sigh-EE) berry is a grapelike fruit harvested from acai palm trees, which are native to the rainforests of South America. Like other berries, acai berries contain antioxidants and fiber. Widely touted as a super fruit, it’s a very healthy way to start your day or even have as a mid-day snack.

Ingredients:

  • 1 packet Trader Joe’s Unsweetened Organic Acai Puree – 3.52 oz packet
  • 3/4 cup Frozen Blueberries
  • 1 medium Banana (keep aside a couple of slices for topping)
  • 3/4 cup Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk
  • 1 scoop Vanilla Protein Powder (optional)
  • 1 tbsp Chia Seeds
  • 1/4 cup non-fat Greek Yogurt
  • 1 tbsp Honey or 2 Medjool dates (or more, depending on sweetness desired)

Method

  1. In a blender (I use a Vitamix), add the unsweetened almond milk, acai puree, blueberries, protein powder, chia seeds, honey/dates and Greek yogurt.
  2. Blend until smooth (adjust almond milk and honey/dates, if needed)
  3. Scrape mixture into bowl
  4. Top with remaining banana slides
  5. Grab a spoon and dig in

Apple Cinnamon pancakes

Pancakes are a kid breakfast favorite. But given how much the kids love it, adding in fruits and limiting the sugary syrup make for a healthy breakfast option. I couldn’t get my pancakes fluffy until I realized it was the fat-free milk. Buttermilk is the trick. The first time I used buttermilk, I was amazed with how fluffy the pancakes became and, the kids said I finally mastered restaurant-grade fluffy pancakes!

Servings: 16 pancakes

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 large-sized red apple, grated
  • 4 tablespoons butter

Method:

  1. Whisk the flour, salt, cinnamon, and baking powder together
  2. Separately, beat eggs, then brown sugar until sugar dissolves
  3. Add buttermilk, vanilla to the egg mixture and whisk for a minute
  4. Whisk the flour mixture into the milk mixture until combined with a few lumps
  5. Add in the grated apple and stir in gently. Avoid over-mixing
  6. Take a tablespoon of butter. Melt into a skillet over medium heats. Drop 2 tablespoons of batter per pancake into the hot skillet. Cook until bubbles form on the surface of the pancake and edges are set, about 3 minutes. Flip the pancake and continue to cook for about a minute until puffed in the center. Transfer to a oven-proof plate and keep warm in the oven while cooking the rest of the pancakes.
  7. Serve plain or with a drizzle of honey


Pork Carnitas

Who doesn’t love Mexican food? Make a big batch of pork carnitas and I can freeze some for when we’re in a hurry. I’ll use the rest in a burrito bowl, or tacos or even in a sandwich. A hot corn tortilla with some pork, red onions, cilantro, a dash of salsa is so satisfying. Or try it in a burrito bowl with lettuce, salsa, guacamole, Greek yogurt (or sour cream), cilantro, black beans and red onions, to make for one delish, healthy meal!

Ingredients:

  • 4 lbs pork shoulder (pork butt)
  • 1 large onion, chopped fine
  • 6 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 jalapeno, chopped fine
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • ¾ cup orange juice
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Instructions:

  1. Rinse and dry the pork shoulder
  2. Combine the salt, pepper, cumin, oregano, chili powder, olive oil, and rub all over the pork
  3. Place the pork in a slow cooker (fat cap up). Add in the jalapeno, onion, bay leaves, garlic, and pour the orange juice over it
  4. Slow Cook on low for 10 hours or on high for 6 hours
  5. Pork should be completely tender and will shred easily with a fork
  6. Remove from slow cooker and shred using two forks
  7. To thicken the juices left in slow cooker, transfer into a pan and reduce it down to about 2 cups

To Crisp in oven:

  1. Place the shredded fork in a single layer on aluminum foil on a pan. Place the pan in a pre-heated oven, under the broiler on high heat. Let it crisp for 5-6 minutes. Remove from oven. Toss the pork using tongs, spoon 1/4 cup of the juices over the pork. Broil for another 5-6 minutes until the edges of the pork are crisp

To Crisp on stove:

  1. Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a large nonstick pan
  2. Add pork to pan without overcrowding. Pour 1/4 cup of juices. Wait until the underside of the port is crisp. . Add pork to the pan, avoiding crowding, and drizzle with ¼ cup of the juices. Wait until the juice has evaporated and the underside of the port is crisp. remove from pan. Repeat with the rest of the pork in batches.

Just before serving, drizzle over more juices and serve hot, in tacos or burritos.

Serve with diced onions, black/refried beans, salsa, Greek yogurt/sour cream, lime squeezed over it, chopped cilantro, corn, lettuce, grated cheese


MeatLoaf

Almost every summer growing up, we took the train to visit my grandparents in Goa. Often, that trip was made along with other family friends or relatives. The best part of the almost 3-day journey, was the food. Chutney sandwiches, patties, potato chops, cutlets, meatloaf sandwiches, a veritable feast. Now, we enjoy meatloaf sandwiches for picnics, school lunches, and road-trips. Quick and easy to make, it’s good to have on hand. You can refrigerate it or freeze it for a month and use when needed. See the serving options below the recipe for the different ways you can enjoy this!

Ingredients

  • 1 lb Ground Turkey (my mom used beef so that’s an option too)
  • 1/2 lb Pork Bacon (minced or diced finely)
  • 2 Eggs
  • 2 slices Bread (soak in water and squeeze dry)
  • 1 tsp Mustard powder (or use Dijon Mustard – 1 tbsp)
  • 1 tsp Black Pepper powder
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauces
  • 2 tbsp Ketchup or hot sauce
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 1 tbsp Salt
  • 1 tsp red food color (optional, I’ve avoided it)
  • 1/2 tsp or less Butter

Method:

  1. Use the butter to grease a small pan that can be used in a pressure cooker
  2. Beat the two eggs
  3. Mix the eggs into ground turkey, along with all the other ingredients, except the butter. Be careful not to over-mix the meat, which can result in a tougher loaf.
  4. Transfer the mix into the greased pan
  5. Place the pan in the pressure-cooker and pressure cook it for 15 minutes with a slow release thereafter

Serving options:

  1. Make a sandwich. Butter the bread, spread some ketchup and mustard on the bread and add a layer or two of the meatloaf
  2. Cut the meatloaf into small squares, dip in egg, coat with flour and fry lightly and serve as an appetizer
  3. Dice a small red onion finely, along with 2-3 sprigs of cilantro. Add to 1 cup of mashed meatloaf, along with 2 tsp hot sauce (or to taste). Serve on crackers or toasted bread

Make Ahead Instructions:

You can make meatloaf one day in advance and store it the fridge (uncooked) in a well sealed container. 

To freeze meatloaf:

Place uncooked meatloaf in a loaf pan or freezer safe container and cover well. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw the meatloaf in the fridge overnight, and then cook as directed. 


Pesto cavatappi (noodles & Company copycat)

We happened to stop at Noodles & Company for lunch with friends and Sophia ordered Pesto Cavatappi. She loved it so much, that we had to try and replicate it at home. We’ve made this recipe without meat, with chicken and even ground turkey. Each time, it was delicious. A quick, easy to make recipe, that’s been a hit with kids and adults.

Servings: 6 as main course

Ingredients:

Some ingredient considerations:

  1. Cavatappi – options include rotini, macaroni, or whatever pasta you have on hand
  2. Dry white wine – you can add more chicken or if you are going vegetarian, vegetable broth
  3. Greek yogurt – while the original recipe calls for heavy whipping cream, I use Greek yogurt as a healthier alternative
  • 1 pound cavatappi pasta or other small pasta (see note 1 above)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 ounces mushrooms diced
  • 1 large tomato diced
  • 1/2 chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine (see note 2)
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt (see note 3)
  • 1 cup basil pesto
  • 1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste

Method:

  • In a large pan, bring 4 quarts of water with salt to boil. Add pasta and cooks until al dente, about 8-10 minutes. Drain well.
  • Meanwhile, heat oil in a pan over medium heat. When hot, add mushrooms. Cook for about 5-6 minutes, until the liquid is released and almost dry
  • If adding meat, add it now and cook, stirring occasionally. For ground turkey, cook over medium heat, stirring to break up clumps, until no longer pink, 3 to 5 minutes
  • Add tomatoes and cook for about 3 minutes
  • Stir in the broth, wine, and bring to a boil; stir in the yogurt, reduce heat to medium and cook until the sauce has thickened slightly, about 4 minutes
  • Add pesto and stir until heated through, about 2 minutes
  • Add pasta and toss until uniformly coated in the sauce
  • Turn off the stove
  • Serve while hot and garnish with Parmesan cheese and fresh, ground pepper

Shakshuka

Growing up, our parents always made us start the day with egg – half-boiled, sunny-side up, omelets, or scrambled. If we got lucky, there was a “sidish” with it (meat curry left-overs from dinner, the previous night). Then I stumbled on Shakshuka, an Israeli dish – a one-skillet recipe of eggs baked with a tomato-red pepper sauce and a mix of spices. Served with a pile of pita or challah bread, it’s a delicious start to the day. Another great add to the list of egg recipes for breakfast. (And, I’ve also used it for a quick dinner meal, when I was just too tired to prepare something more elaborate).

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 1 large red bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 5 garlic cloves, finely chopped (we love garlic!)
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 2 tsp paprika powder
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder or to taste
  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole plum tomatoes with their juices, coarsely chopped
  • 3/4 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp pepper (or to taste)
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 small bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Hot sauce
  • Optional: Feta or other cheese
  1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium.
  2. Add onion and bell pepper. Saute until very soft, and onions are translucent
  3. Add garlic and cook until tender, 1 to 2 minutes
  4. Stir in cumin, chili, and paprika, and cook 1 minute
  5. Pour in tomatoes and season with salt and pepper
  6. Simmer until tomatoes have thickened, about 10 minutes. Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed
  7. Using a large service spoon, make wells in the tomato sauce
  8. Gently crack eggs into skillet in tomato wells
  9. Season eggs with salt and pepper
  10. Cover and cook until eggs are just set, 7 to 10 minutes or to your liking
  11. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve with hot sauce.
  12. Optional: Sprinkle feta cheese or other cheese
  13. Serve hot with pita or challah