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Cilantro Pesto Pasta, S’mores Brownies and a new home

The last few weeks have been a rollercoaster, but we finally settled into our new (to us) place last week. There have been some nice surprises (beautiful sunsets, tons of girls in the neighborhood who are so wonderful at including our girls) and also some challenges (cooking on a camping stove until we get a proper one and fixing a little bit of almost everything). Overall, the transition has been a smooth one and we are settling in nicely.

The last day of cooking on the camping stove, I was feeling tired and uninspired. I opened up the fridge and found a bunch of cilantro and from there came this meal. It turned out to be pretty delicious and we will be making it again.

Cilantro Pesto Pasta with Roasted Zucchini

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Ingredients:

1 pound of rotini pasta (I usually use Barilla Plus – healthier than the average pasta and tastes great)

1 bunch of cilantro

Big handful of pumpkin seeds (toasted in a toaster oven or on the stove)

1 clove (or more to taste) or garlic

1 lemon

Olive oil

1/2 – 1 cup parmesan grated

Salt and pepper to taste

1 can chickpeas, drained

4-5 zucchini or any summer squash

Instructions:

  1. Prepare the pasta according to the directions.
  2. Slice the zucchini lengthwise or in coins to 1/4 inch thick. Coat a baking sheet liberally with olive oil and lay out the zucchini in a single layer. Bake at 375 degrees for about 10-15 min until cooked through, flip them over and cook until brown and crisp at the edges. Repeat until all of the zucchini are cooked.
  3. In a large food processor, combine cilantro, garlic, 2-3 glugs of olive oil, parmesan cheese, pumpkin seeds, salt, pepper, and lemon zest. Process and add some of the pasta water to thin it out as needed.

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3. Once the pasta is ready, combine with the pesto and drained chickpeas. Mix in some of the roasted zucchini. Sprinkle with crushed red pepper if you like a little kick. Enjoy!

S’mores Brownies

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When we moved in, I wanted to bake something to “break in” the new house. We chose these s’mores brownies from Joy the Baker, they were easy and didn’t require too many different types of prep. We ended up omitting the graham crackers because we didn’t have any and they still turned out amazing. We also didn’t have unsweetened chocolate so we used semisweet and decreased the sugar by half – they were a little less sweet than regular brownies but the marshmallows balanced it out and made them perfect.

Here is the link to the recipe: http://joythebaker.com/2009/04/smores-brownies/

Have a happy Wednesday everyone and to those who celebrate, Happy Diwali!

Love,

Pooja

The Little Things

Sometimes it’s the little things. We have so many big things going on right now: school, moving to temporary digs until our house is ready for us to move into (2 weeks!), saying goodbye to our beautiful old house. But, you know, I was ready for all of this. I prepared. I have my super-strong husband by my side and we are having an adventure doing all of this. The kids are rolling with it. Even the baby is not too worried about any of it – just perplexed that “everything” is gone from the house and is living in a truck somewhere.

I was even getting confident: all of this is going fine, we are all doing fine, it’s only a couple of weeks. Then, we got to karate last night and Diya’s glasses got lost. Now, we are usually somewhat prepared for these unforeseen disasters, but this time, we were woefully unprepared. She needs them to see. We don’t have a backup pair. Her contacts are packed (in the truck remember?). She and I panicked. Turns out somehow another boy ended up with them in his bag – the whole thing was pretty strange. She had a hunch he had them, but he would not look in his bag or let her look. As we were about to give up (20 minutes after searching everywhere in the studio), his father pulled up and the boy got out and gave me the glasses. Now, I can say that although I was relieved, I was also upset. We ended up exchanging some words, with his father thinking me ungrateful and me thinking them inconsiderate to have put us through that in the first place. I am not proud of that interaction. Today, I will reach out and apologize for my part in that.

But, the thing is, I didn’t have anything left. I couldn’t take ONE MORE THING. So, what did I learn? That I should let go of my guilt over this incident and just apologize. That being prepared also means taking care of myself (which clearly I was not doing). That we all make mistakes – and I need to forgive that dad and forgive myself.

So, after all this craziness, I re-centered. I listened to Nisa singing “work work Angelica, work work Eliza” (I mean, what is cuter than a baby singing Hamilton?). I shared in Diya’s monumental relief that her glasses were found. I listened to Esha tell me about the math game that they played at school. I appreciated my husband saying, “I understand, I am sorry to you had to go through that.” Time to start anew.

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The last thing I baked in our house was a gluten-free, orange ginger dark chocolate bread. It was  delicious, and a good transition into early fall flavors – the ginger offset the orange and chocolate flavors beautifully.

The picture is from the Emma, the author of the recipe. The recipe is here: http://www.mydarlinglemonthyme.com/2017/08/flourless-dark-chocolate-orange-ginger-muffins.html

The original recipe made muffins – but to be simpler, I made it into a loaf. I do think that this required a longer baking time. Please let me know if you make it. I am sorry no pictures, but to be honest, it’s not very pretty! But is is delicious.

Love,

Pooja

Weekend Breakfast: Chilaquiles

Hello everyone!

Once in a while on the weekend, we feel like having a fancier breakfast. My kids don’t generally like eggs so I always end up making pancakes for them and eggs for us. This recipe is great because it’s not very egg-y tasting, so that even Diya (who has never ever eaten an omelette) will eat this.

It comes together relatively quickly for something that looks like much more work. This is my version of it that I came up with while experimenting one morning. We use the Casa Sanchez thick chips to give a bit more bite. You can use any toppings that you like, but our favorites are cilantro, avocado, and a sprinkling of cheese.

Chilaquiles

(this serves 2 people as a main or 4-5 people as a side)

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Ingredients:

one pint cherry tomatoes

1/2 bag (or more) of tortilla chips

salt/pepper to taste

olive oil

taco seasoning (or cumin and paprika)

4 eggs

toppings: queso fresco (I used feta), cilantro chopped, sour cream, avocado (chopped or sliced), anything else that sounds good!

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Methods:

  1. Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a cast iron skillet until shimmering. Add the cherry tomatoes (sliced in half lengthwise)
  2. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened. Add taco seasoning and salt/pepper to taste.
  3. Beat the eggs with 1/4-1/2 tsp salt. I used one egg and three egg whites (I am not a huge fan of the taste of the yolk).
  4. Place a large handful or two of the tortilla chips into the tomato mixture, digging them into the mixture a bit.
  5. Pour the eggs over the chip/tomato mixture and cook for a minute, then turn the chips over in sections and continue to cook. Continue this process until the eggs are set and coating most of the chips.
  6. Take off the stove and add desired toppings. Serve immediately. Enjoy!

 

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Love,

Pooja

 

 

 

 

 

Monday Inspirations

Happy Monday everyone!

I don’t have a recipe to share today, but I do have something better! Inspiration! I saw some cool stuff over the weekend and wanted to share.

  1. National Geographic’s Travel Photo of the Year Contest. SO incredible: http://mymodernmet.com/national-geographic-travel-photographer-of-the-year-2017/
  2. These Church Photographs by Mark Brunetti are stunning: http://www.bjp-online.com/2016/04/markus-brunettis-monumental-church-facades/
  3. An awesome and entertaining TED talk about unconscious bias, “What Does my Headscarf Mean to You? “: https://www.ted.com/talks/yassmin_abdel_magied_what_does_my_headscarf_mean_to_you
  4. This awesome list of a girl power reading list for middle schoolers: https://girlsleadership.org/blog/mediamondaytip-a-girl-power-reading-list-for-middle-schoolers/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_content=5%20min%20read&utm_campaign=0817-icymi-hq-tr
  5. Maybe I just really needed to hear this right now! : https://mmlafleur.com/mdash/tiffany-dufu-drop-the-ball

Have a wonderful week!

Love,

Pooja

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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