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Chocolate Cake

Hello everyone,

I have spent all morning trying to process everything that is going on around us right now and I am not being very successful. So, I am going to focus on some of the responses that spoke to me.

President Obama with his tweet: http://www.cnn.com/2017/08/15/politics/obamas-charlottesville-tweet/index.html

Esther Choo hitting on something that is very close to my heart as a doctor. She comes back to the most important thing, compassion: https://twitter.com/choo_ek/status/896850427408293888

Chelsea Clinton “There is no compromise with bigotry”: http://thehill.com/homenews/news/346730-chelsea-clinton-theres-no-compromise-with-bigotry

And to those of you needing ways to talk to your kids about this, some resources that I found helpful:

  1. LA Times How to talk to your kids about the violence in Charlotte: http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-charlottesville-talking-to-kids-20170812-htmlstory.html
  2. Buzzfeed: Raising Race Conscious Children: https://www.buzzfeed.com/erinwinkler/tips-for-talking-to-children-about-race-and-racism?bffbparentsvid&utm_term=.pnNYKQJW4#.hpdzxp4QN

Please share anything that you found helpful as well.

For me, focusing on the baking process is a type of meditation. And, in times like these, chocolate cake is the right thing. We made the cake that Adriana Made on A Cozy Kitchen and the link is here: http://www.acozykitchen.com/one-bowl-sheet-chocolate-cake/

The cake was perfect. It totally hit the spot and was fairly easy to make. The sprinkles definitely make it cheery! Try it if you need some chocolate sweetness in your day.

Onwards with love,

Pooja

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Peanut Butter and Jelly Cookies

Hello Friends! We are talking again so soon! I think that I inspired a new obsession in my daughter – she is baking again already! She decided to make these cookies – really driven by her craving for something sweet AND her love of PB&J.

Diya is officially a tween, and one of the things that I love about this age is the intensity of  things. She LOVES her music and listens to it loud. And when she craves something sweet, she will even make it herself so she can eat it! This is a complicated time in life and we try to use moments that we are together, here and there, to talk about life and ideas. The quote that I saw and loved today is one that Esha’s favorite teacher posted (thank you Jess!):

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This one is super valuable for all of us, I think.

The cookies are supposed to be for breakfast because they have lots of good-for-you ingredients: coconut oil, almond flour, oats. They are naturally gluten-free and dairy-free. We made some adjustments as the original recipe calls for a banana. She was not a big fan of having these be banana-y so we swapped out the banana for a splash of milk and a tablespoon of olive oil.  We also used homemade chia jam for the centers.

We are posting the original recipe below. Feel free to use our tips/tricks above for swaps.

PB&J Cookies

Ingredients:

2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

1 cup almond flour

1/4 cup  sugar

½ teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 large banana, mashed

¾ cup creamy peanut butter, melted

2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted

2/3 to 3/4 cup jam

Methods:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper (or a silpat baking mat).
  2. Put the peanut butter and coconut oil in a bowl and melt in the microwave for 30 seconds until it’s nice and melted. Let cool for a few minutes.
  3. In a large bowl, mix oats, almond flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.
  4. Add the coconut oil/peanut butter mixture to the dry ingredients. Mix well.
  5. We used our hands to form the dough into a round shape, press down a thumbhole into the middle to make a space for the jam. Spoon a half-teaspoon of jam into the center of the cookie.
  6. Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden brown.

 

They are delicious – she is planning to eat them for lunch with yogurt on the side. A complete meal for a tween!

 

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Quick Biscuits

Good morning everyone!

I made a caprese salad yesterday (love those summer tomatoes!) and Diya said, “I wish we had some bread to go with this!” So, of course, I told her that she should make some. She decided that she wanted to make something quick and easy, and settled on making biscuits.

These were easy, quick and super-delicious! They were especially good straight out of the oven with some melted butter. Yum! Diya adapted a recipe from Smitten Kitchen that originally included blue cheese and scallions (which she omitted because she decided she wanted plain and simple biscuits).

Quick Biscuits

Ingredients: 

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick or 3 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 cup well-shaken buttermilk

Some tips/tricks:

Buttermilk: make your own with 1 tablespoon white vinegar and 1 cup milk, let sit until curdled – about 10 min

Butter: I like to do this best by freezing the butter and then grating it into the dry ingredients – helps keep the flakiness and makes it easier to incorporate. When the butter is distributed throughout all of the flour – that gives the best flakiness

Do not overmix this dough – otherwise your biscuits will be tough and not light and fluffy

Methods: 

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees
  2. Mix the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, sugar, baking soda, salt)
  3. Add in the butter and use your hands or a pastry blender to incorporate well into the flour until it looks like sand that clumps together when squeezed.
  4. Add in the buttermilk and mix with a spoon until just combined.
  5. Place on a buttered baking sheet, leaving two inches between the biscuits. Ours were too big initially so had to be broken in half to cook through.
  6. Bake until golden – 16 to 20 minutes.
  7. Eat warm with butter!

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Summer Vegetable Pasta

Hello everyone!

I hope that you are enjoying the sun as much as I am! There is a lot of unexpected change in the air for us – we are considering moving to a different house so are in the process of putting our beloved house on the market. We are not sure what the outcome will be so I won’t say too much more about it right now – but I know that whatever happens, things will work out for the best.

I can be really resistant to change when it comes to big things. I am lucky to have a life partner who is strong but is still flexible enough to keep moving us towards “better” all the time. That being said, when he finds a good thing, he sticks with it (like me!).

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I have not written a post in a long time – between the house and my time away last week I didn’t get the chance. I had the opportunity to go and work at a wellness spa last week. I took one of my best friends and we spent a lot of quality girl time together. It was so rejuvenating and most of all, fun! We took a hula hoop class and a boxing class and also did various arts classes. I made necklaces and bracelets for the girls and got to try some sculpting. Pics of some of the “art” below:

 

When I got back, I made this summer pasta with a bunch of stuff I had in my fridge. The beauty of this recipe is that it is infinitely adaptable – I make variations on this throughout the year and this one definitely focused on the summer bounty from my CSA.

Ingredients: 

1 pound of pasta in any smallish shape (I use Barilla plus because it has a lot of protein and seems like a complete meal in and of itself)

Assorted vegetables (approximately 3-4 cups): I used leeks, shiitake mushrooms, cherry tomatoes and zucchini

Thinly sliced garlic (1-2 cloves per your preference)

Heavy whipping cream (optional)

Parmesan cheese

2 Tablespoons of butter

Salt and Pepper to taste

Instructions: 

  1. Bring well-salted water to a boil for pasta – boil past according to the directions on the box.
  2. Melt the butter in a pan – when the foaming subsides, add the vegetables. I start with the leeks and mushrooms. Add salt and pepper to taste. When they are cooked through (about 3-4 minutes), add the cherry tomatoes. Add a bit more salt. Let this cook on low heat until they are nicely withered and some of the water has evaporated. Then add the zucchini, I slice it into fourths and then chop thin. At the very end, add the garlic and cook through. I like adding it at the end so it doesn’t burn. Also, hand the butter to the baby who is demanding it so she can eat it like a candy bar:

 

3. Drain the pasta and set aside some of the water in case you need it for the sauce.

4. Put the pasta back into the pot and add the cooked vegetables and toss. Drizzle in the cream and continue tossing until well coated (I used about 1/2 cup of cream for the whole dish).

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5. Add more pepper and salt if needed. Add a little pasta water if it is too dry. Grate some parmesan on top and toss well.

6. Enjoy!

Love,

Pooja

 

 

 

 

Plum Squares with Marzipan Crumble

Hello beautiful people, yesterday was my mom’s birthday and so our yummy recipe that we made was fruit-heavy and had strong almond flavor because that is what she likes.

My mom my came to visit to take care of the kids so that we could take a short trip to Boston for a work party. I am so blessed to have her in my life – not a day goes by without talking to her and then feel so thankful that she is there to listen to me (whine, talk about the baby and the kids, share in my happiness and wallow with me when I am sad).

She is always there for my and for my kids – she loves them unconditionally, plays with them, makes them things and is always thinking about them. But, there is much more to her. Maya Angelou said, “To describe my mother would be to write about a hurricane in its perfect power.” This is my mom.

She came to this country as an immigrant, did her residency and then we moved to California. She had three kids, worked worked a million hours a week (seriously most weeks she worked 60+ hours a week), cooked and cleaned, made crochet bedspreads from scratch, and dealt with our massive sibling fighting. But, that is only half of the story. She started working in addiction medicine when it was not mainstream to do so and helped countless addicts in that role. She rose in her Community Health Center where she cared for migrant farmworkers and eventually became CMO, expanding their services and improving care for so many people. She did this while raising us, planning our weddings, and flying out to help me when my kids were born. When Amy Chua said ““Do you know what a foreign accent is? It’s a sign of bravery”, I am pretty sure she was talking about my mom.

Well, for this amazing lady, the least we can do is make a delicious birthday treat! Diya (who doesn’t like to bake) made sure that I was clear that SHE MADE THIS and she insisted on being in the pictures so that I didn’t take the credit. We found this recipe on smitten kitchen and it was perfect for us (we have TONS of plums on our tree so we are always looking for ways to use them). It was a hit. We ate it with scoops of vanilla ice cream.

Happy birthday Mumma! We love you!

Recipe link: https://smittenkitchen.com/2016/09/plum-squares-with-marzipan-crumble/

Pictures below:

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The finished product! Look at that bubbly plum filling! Yum!

Love,

Pooja

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

We are ready and gearing up for the summer! I am hoping that the kids get a lot of time outside and at least some time being bored. We are trying to figure out a plan for the summer so they don’t lose some of their skills (the summer backslide I think it is called). I don’t want them to spend the time doing workbooks and so we are working together to come up with some things they can learn that will be inspiring and fun.

These are some of the things we have come up with so far:

  1. This list of the 100 books everyone should read. We are going to pick some that are appropriate for their ages. Esha wants to read A Wrinkle in Time and Little Women. Diya is going to start with To Kill a Mockingbird: https://www.goodreads.com/shelf/show/100-books-everyone-should-read
  2. This list of Ted talks: https://www.ted.com/playlists/163/7_talks_to_make_you_love_scien
  3. Khan academy has videos on world history and religion, timely in light of what is going on in the world: https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/world-history
  4. Hindi classes – taught at home, by me, once a week. Hardest to stick to in terms of schedule – but worthwhile.
  5. Out-loud math: Esha is going to practice counting forward and backward by 4, 6, 7, 8 etc.

Let me know if you have other ideas!

This week I made cookies. They were pretty delicious. I heard about them from Lindsay of Pinch of Yum and they are from the LoveRealFood cookbook (link: https://www.amazon.com/Love-Real-Food-Feel-Good-Vegetarian/dp/1623367417/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&qid=1496280551&sr=8-1&keywords=love+real+food&linkCode=sl1&tag=recipepost-20&linkId=b94d95f58ca4a66d3ab1e36c2f07e4cf), They were super simple and definitely the best PB cookies I have had. Give them a try, you won’t be disappointed!

I did start craving chocolate and peanut butter while I was making them so I made a quick snack to get me through. Trader Joe’s dark chocolate with a swipe of PB:

 

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients: 

16 ounces peanut butter

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1 cup chocolate chips

1 cup brown sugar (I reduced this from the originally suggested 1.5 cups)

Instructions: 

  1. Preheat over to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix sugar and eggs until smooth in a medium bowl using a sturdy spoon. IMG_1663

2. Add in vanilla and salt. Stir.

3. Add in peanut butter and mix until well incorporated. IMG_1664

4. Add in chocolate chips and stir well. IMG_1668

5. Chill the dough for at least 15 minutes (I chilled for 30 minutes).

6. Use a cookie scoop (I am not that fancy, I used two spoons) to scoop out dough onto a silpat baking mat on a cookie sheet (can also use parchment paper on a cookie sheet). img_1669.jpg

7. Bake for 10-11 min until the edges are golden brown. Let sit on the baking sheet for two-three minutes at room temperature, then you can transfer them to a cooling rack.

8. Enjoy! Diya certainly did! Can you tell that she was celebrating ‘architectural hair day’ at school?IMG_1670

Vegetable Satay Noodles

Good evening! Hope that you all are having a wonderful start to your summer! We had a jam-packed day today that ended with the girls passing their Karate tests and becoming yellow belts while the baby cheered them on. It felt like a good and big first step in their martial arts journey.

I just turned 40 which feels surreal – I think mostly because it feels like my 20s didn’t really happen since I was in school and residency for most of them. Still as everyone tells me – 40 is the new 30! I am trying to figure out how to celebrate for myself and I think that the answer is going to be a haircut – something different maybe – but we will see. There has already been a lot of change in my life over the last year and I am not sure that I am ready for another big one – even if it is as simple as a haircut!

These satay noodles were a recent weeknight dinner – I had a lot of veggies and was trying to think of something to make that would be colorful and still fresh tasting. This really hit the spot – my kids said it was a do-over…

Ingredients: 

For the sauce:

1/2 tsp honey

2 tablespoons tahini

2 tablespoons peanut butter (smooth)

Splash of rice wine vinegar

1 tablespoon coconut oil or olive oil

1/4 tsp ginger powder

1 can coconut milk

salt/pepper to taste

The noodles:

3-4 cups assorted vegetables (I used broccoli, red pepper and carrots)

16 ounces noodles (can use soba, buckwheat, etc. I used edamame noodles)

olive oil

garlic (1 clove, chopped)

chopped cilantro, chopped peanuts, toasted coconut, toasted pumpkin seeds (optional)

Instructions: 

  1. First prepare the noodles. When cooked, rinse with cool water and set aside. Reserve some of the cooking water in case needed to thin the sauce.
  2. In a deep frying pan, cook the garlic on low heat in 1 tablespoon of the oil, taking care not to burn the garlic.
  3. Add the hardest vegetable first (carrot for me) and 1 tsp water. Cover and cook for 3-5 minutes until bright. Continue with the other vegetables, until all are cooked through. I did not cover and cook when I added the pepper and the broccoli. I just added the pepper first, cooked for 2 minutes, then added the broccoli and cooked for an additional 3-5 minutes.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the sauce ingredients, saving the coconut milk for last. The mixture should be smooth. If it is too thick, add some of the past water, a couple of tablespoons at a time, until it is thin enough to toss with the noddles.
  5. In a large bowl, mix together the noodles, sauce and vegetables. Top with the optional toppings – I used cilantro and toasted pumpkin seeds for ours.
  6. Enjoy!

 

Love,

Pooja