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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

 

 

 

 

Rhubarb Blueberry Buckle

It has been a long time since we last talked. I have been busy tending to my kiddos and their busy lives. I took on a new position at work but the transition has me doing two jobs (because i’m a team player!) at the same time. I have some things to share, not the least of which is this delicious buckle that we made last weekend.

I read a really good book lately, thanks to my book club. It is “A Man Called Ove” and although it took me a bit to get into it, I ended up loving it. I heard that the movie is lovely as well. Here is the link: https://www.amazon.com/Man-Called-Ove-Novel-ebook/dp/B00GEEB730/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1495049436&sr=8-1&keywords=a+man+called+ove

I threw my husband a surprise party and he was actually surprised! The best part though was these four hanging out together:

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Special shout out to Silvi of The Poetry Store for writing so many memorable poems for us and our guests.

And I wrote a short story about being a physician and a mother. It’s called the Middle of the Night. I am sharing it with you here:

The middle of the night is for when I am worrying about a patient, like Olevia, who’s oldest son was shot and killed at the age of 23. He left behind his baby mama and his two baby girls. Olevia didn’t have enough money for his funeral expenses – so she had to promise to pay in installments over the course of the next two years. A reminder of his death every month in the form of a bill. The middle of the night is also for when I am worrying about one of my own babies, the 7 year old who has croup even at this age. I go back and forth – should I go check on her? She’s probably ok. I don’t want to disturb her. But what if she’s not ok. What if there is something else going on? I remember when I saw  a little girl with croup who became hypoxic and her parents were in the same room with her so they noticed and brought her in. What if that happens? My husband knows that I won’t be able to sleep until I see for myself.  So, I get out of bed and tiptoe into her room and listen to her breathe for a few moments, watching her chest rise and fall. And I go back to bed, placated, but still thinking about Olevia and her grandbabies. Now I start my  4-7-8 breathing (just like I tell my patients!) and focus on my husband’s heavy arm on my chest, and eventually fall asleep.

Last but not least, I got some rhubarb in my CSA and I really didn’t know what to do with it. I started some googling and found this recipe from amazing food blogger Bojon Gourmet. We followed the recipe except we added some blueberries to the batter along with the rhubarb. I was nervous that it might be too tart but it was perfect. We took the buckle with us (double the recipe for two different friends) and almost all of it was finished. All we had left was what you see above. It was definitely more work than I thought it would be – but oh so worth it. I am linking the recipe below…let me know if you try it!

http://bojongourmet.com/2012/04/rhubarb-buckle/

I wish I had taken pictures but it slipped my mind. It was gorgeous with the bright red rhubarb and the deep indigo blueberries.

 

Love,

Pooja

 

 

Infinitely Adaptable Granola

Good morning!

It’s been a busy couple of weeks so I haven’t had the chance to write. I wanted to share this great blog that I found that talks about parenting and raising girls to be confident and leaders. It’s by this woman named Laura Clydesdale and she has some great articles with references and links. Let me know what you think! As we enter into the tween years with my oldest, I can use any good advice I can get about raising strong girls in the face of all that is going on in the world. The best of times in some ways and the worst of times in some ways for being a young lady.

Here is one that I thought was important: http://www.lauraclydesdale.com/blog-native/how-to-easily-build-your-self-confidence-self-esteem-face-stressful-situations/

Today I want to share our favorite granola recipe. I found this recipe from Alton Brown about 5 years ago and we love it so much that we have some in our pantry almost all of the time. I usually make it on a weekend evening when we are hanging out at home, so I can go and stir it as often as needed.

I use this recipe so much, I wrote it in my recipe book and you can see the stains from the honey!

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So there you have it! Including the recipe below in print so it’s easier to read!

Ingredients: 

3 cups oats

2 cups of nuts (chopped) and/or seeds – you can use whatever combination you like

3/4 cup shredded coconut (I use unsweetened most of the time)

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons brown sugar (can easily omit the extra 2 tablespoons if you want a lower sugar recipe)

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons honey (maple syrup also works)

1/4 cup oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup dried fruit (blueberries, cherries, apricots chopped, raisins, or a mix of any)

Optional: 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon or nutmeg

Instructions: 

  1. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.
  2. Combine all of the dry ingredients except the fruit in a large bowl.
  3. Pour the oil into the mixture and then use the same 1/4 cup to measure the honey. That way the honey will come out of the cup easily. The measurement for the honey is 1/4 cup plus another half of that (4 tablespoons = 1/4 cup).
  4. Mix well and spread on a baking sheet.
  5. Put in the middle rack in the oven. Stir every 15 minutes until it reaches the desired doneness. Mine usually takes 45 minutes.
  6. Enjoy! I eat mine with almond milk or yogurt. This version that I made has pumpkin seeds, pecan, hazelnuts, chia seeds, cinnamon and honey. I didn’t add in any fruit to this version.

Uncooked —> Toasty!

 

Love,

Pooja

Greek Yogurt Lemon Bread

Dear Readers,

I cooked up a storm the other day and will hopefully be sharing some of the recipes with you over the next couple of days. I made some of our family’s staples (broccoli cheese soup and granola) and then decided to try this recipe because, well, I had a lot of lemons in my fridge! And, I am always looking for good breakfasts for the kids.

I don’t usually bake quick breads that require a glaze and often skip it. In this case, however, the lemon glaze is super-important in both preventing the bread from being too dry and for imparting the right amount of lemon flavor. I imagine that you could swap out the lemon for any other winter citrus – just would have to adjust the amount of sugar in the glaze if you use a sweeter fruit. And with the greek yogurt and the wheat flour, it’s a treat you can feel good about eating.

Enjoy the rest of your Tuesday!

Love,

Pooja

P.S. the kids loved it -but the baby would not touch it – she looked at me like I was trying to poison her every time I offered her a bite!

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Ingredients: 

Dry Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons ground flaxseed, hemp seed, or chia seed (or combination of all)

Wet ingredients:

1 cup plain greek yogurt (full fat preferred)

1/2 cup sugar

2 large eggs

Zest of 2 lemons

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup olive oil, melted

Lemon Icing:

Zest of one lemon

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 to 1 and 1/2 cups of powdered sugar (to taste)

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Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Combine the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Combine the wet ingredients in a medium mixing bowl (or just dump them on top of the dry ingredients – it works out fine)
  4. Mix well – taking care not to overmix.
  5. Pour into a buttered loaf pan and bake for 50 minutes or so, until a knife inserted comes out clean.
  6. While the bread is baking, whisk together the ingredients for the glaze.
  7. Once the bread is done, let cool for a few minutes and then remove and put onto a plate.
  8. Pour the glaze over the loaf, taking care to get the top and side edges covered – it will soak into the bread.
  9. Slice and serve warm or cool!

Enjoy!

NYC!

Dear Readers,

I had the opportunity to go to New York City with Diya and Esha this past weekend. We had the BEST time. Here is our itinerary in case you want to plan a trip:

We started off at Alice’s Tea Cup, Chapter II, yummy, but pricey!

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We then went straight to the Metropolitan Museum which was incredible! And the exhibits made me feel better about pulling the girls out of school for the day: Diya got to see the Byzantine art that she has been studying and Esha got to learn about how the Ancient Egyptians lived and worked. Here are some of the pics:

We met with Zameer Kassam, jeweler extraordinaire, to pick up a ring my husband had given me. Zameer sat down to  talk through what my amazing husband had told him about “our story” and our lives together to allow him to design it especially for me. Zameer reviewed all of his drawings and notes with us. The things that Vivek had said about me made my heart melt. I am indeed the luckiest girl. And Zameer, a true romantic, is incredible! Check him out: http://www.zameerkassam.com

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We ended our day at this yummy place called Jams:

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We were super tired but had such a lovely first day.

Day 2, we started off at the Rockefeller Center:img_3708.jpg

We met my friend Moira there and had a delicious pastry-filled breakfast at Bouchon. o

We then went to have brunch with Vivek’s cousin, her husband and their beautiful little girl:

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The next stop was Dylan’s Candy Bar – which is a total paradise for candy-lovers. And even though it’s a little bit cheesy, it’s a super fun stop. We got a couple of souvenirs from here and the girls each got to pick out a small bag of candy for their afternoon fuel:

We then did a bit of window shopping around Fifth Ave. We saw some really cool window displays:

IMG_1052And we also got to see the Apple Cube. This was especially cool for us since a guest speaker at the girls’ school had designed it:

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At the end of these two superbusy days, we went back to our hotel to get some rest and save up energy for the MWP conference.

On Sunday, we went to the MWP conference all day and it was incredibly inspiring!

 

The keynote speaker was Rokhaya Diallo, a French-Senegalese journalist, writer, award-winning filmmaker and activist, for racial, gender and religious equality. She talked about confronting racism in a way that is inclusive and positive. Her TED talk is here in case you are interested:

 

We even got a picture!

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It was such an incredible trip – mostly because we got to spend some time together. I got to hold their hands, talk to them about life and we got the chance slow down and just “be” together. I was so grateful to have this special time with them.

Here they are on the way home (with a selfie of course!):

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We got home very late on sunday night and we were very happy to see these other two – we had missed them tons: pooja_2017-138.jpg

And the girls were very happy to be together again: image2-2

Thank you for coming along on our adventure!

Love,

Pooja