Author Archives for Amita

About Amita

Hi there !! Welcome to my little corner of internet. I live in Chicago with my Husband Navendu and two little girls age 8 and almost 4.

Lettuce Wraps with Mango and Tofu

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I have been meaning to make Lettuce wraps at home for ages. Whenever we all go to CPK, my all time order is Lettuce Wraps. They sound healthy, not sure how many calories they are but I make sure never to ask.  

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The ones below are adapted from Cookie and Kate. I added Mint for the flavor and because I have abundance of it right now on my kitchen counter. I also added Cumin Powder and Chili Powder because that’s the way we like it. Add a bit of spice to life, right?

You can totally pack all the ingredients and take them to your next outing and have everyone assemble them for themselves. Less work for you.

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Ingredients:

  • Lettuce (Boston )4 leaves
  • Tofu 1 box extra firm
  • Soy Sauce 2 Tbsp (low sodium preferably)
  • Corn Starch 2 tsp
  • Mangoes  2 small Ripe cut in small pieces
  • Red Bell pepper 1 medium chopped fine
  • Mint Leaves 4 for each wrap – about 16
  • Red Onion chopped 3/4th cup for all four wraps
  • Salt as needed

Sauce

  • Soy Butter 2 Tbsp
  • Soy Sauce 2 Tbsp
  • Apple Cider Vinegar 1 Tbsp
  • Maple Syrup 2 Tbsp
  • Red Chili Powder ½ tsp (optional)
  • Cumin Powder ½ tsp
  • Mustard yellow ½ tsp
  • Hot Water 1 Tbsp

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 400 F.
  • Tear the leaves from the Lettuce head and keep aside. Make sure not to use the knife otherwise Lettuce will start turning brown.
  • Cut Tofu into small pieces and remove all the excess water. Squeeze the Tofu if you need to but make sure not to crumble it. Mix Corn starch and Soy Sauce well. Cover the Tofu pieces properly with this mixture. It may appear to be very little but it goes a long way. Place the Tofu pieces on Cookie Sheet covered with parchment paper. Bake for 25 minutes
  • Mix all the ingredients for the Sauce and whisk until incorporated. If you think it’s thicker than you would like, add a bit more hot water.
  • When Tofu is ready, divide all ingredients in 1/4th
  • place Tofu, Red Onion, Red Bell Pepper and Mangoes on each Lettuce leaf. Top with Sauce or serve the sauce on the side. Add some Mint leaves.

You could also top this with Tortilla strips.

Enjoy.

Fancy Marshmallows

Have you ever met someone from your past and suddenly felt like some missing pieces of puzzle fell into place? Or have you ever went to a new place, a place you have never ever been before and thought you belonged? Have you ever wondered why things happen in a certain way and why we meet certain people and not the others? Do you ever wonder about how many secrets the Universe is holding.

The only true wisdom is in knowing that you know nothing – Socrates

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This 5 minutes recipe is pretty much the best I have in my arsenal when I am faced with hungry kids and little time. I am sure almost every Mom knows this recipe but I was thinking if I could just bring a smile to one Mom’s face with this recipe, it’s going to be worth it.

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Ingredients:

  • Marshmallows 1 dozen
  • Candy Melt 1 package (I used Wilton)
  • Cookie Sticks about a dozen
  • Sprinkles 1 tbsp each stick
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Directions:

  • A handful of Candy Melt makes about 8 sticks.
  • In a microwave proof bowl, pour the Candy melts and microwave at 50% of power. First about 2 minutes and then add 45 second intervals. Between each interval, mix and check consistency. It should be pour-able consistency.
  • If the consistency is thicker than desired, you can add 1 tsp of Canola oil or Grape seed oil for each handful of Candy Melts.
  • In the meanwhile, push the Cookie stick through one Marshmallow each about half way through. Make sure it holds the S’more.
  • Once Candy melt is ready, hold each Marshmallow with the end of the stick over the Candy Melt bowl. With a Tablespoon, pour the Candy Melt over each S’more until all sides are coated properly.
  • Once coated, sprinkle the Sprinkles on top as desired. This is totally optional. If you are using pretty colored Candy melt, forgo this step or you can use colored sugar too.
  • Dry the marshmallows either on a rack or making it stand upright in a glass, stick end down.
  • You can also place it in the fridge for fast drying.

Enjoy.

Xoxo

Amita

Spring time Asparagus and Tomato Salad

Spring is in full bloom around here in my beautiful Chicago. Although we have had a few rain soaked week-ends, I am enjoying this new bloom of life. Getting the garden ready and more so the Sun-room ready where we will soon be having almost every meal of week-ends.

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A spring time salad to go with this fresh new life. Delicious, healthy and home-made. We are making a concerted effort at eating healthier. That does mean cooking at home almost exclusively. It never fails to amaze me to see not only food is so much healthier but it also tastes so much better. It doesn’t have to be complicated. A simple salad like this Asparagus Salad is so easy to come together and adds so much value to your meal.

3Ingredients

  • Asparagus 1 bunch ( for 2 persons)
  • Grape Tomatoes cut in half about 3/4th cup per person 
  • Parmesan shaved per taste about 2 Tbsp per person
  • Radish 2 small per person cut in thin stripes or pieces
  • Walnuts toasted 3 Tbsp person
  • Spinach 1 cup per person cut roughly
  • Dressing – Balsamic Vinaigrette (recipe here)

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Directions:

  • Prepare Asparagus – Hold each Asparagus stalk in both your hands at the ends. Bend the stalk. Let it break where it breaks. Keep the end towards the top for Salad. Use the other end for making stalk.
  • Boil water in a large sauce pan. Add the Asparagus tops to the water and let it boil for 3 to 4 minutes. Immediately, remove the water and dump the Asparagus in Ice water bath. This will retain color of the Asparagus and will prevent further cooking.
  • In a separate Salad bowl, mix Spinach, Tomatoes, Asparagus, Radishes. Top with Walnuts and Parmesan. Drizzle the dressing and enjoy.

xo

Amita

Brown Rice and Millet Pancakes

I don’t need to give much introduction for this healthy and versatile item.  There are end less possibilities with what vegetables you can add to this yummy pancake. Add grated carrot or beets or tomato. Simply anything you fancy.

This is one of our go to week-night meal when Mommy gets home late and everyone is ready to eat the kitchen.

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Ingredients:

  • Brown Rice flour 1/2 cup
  • Millet Flour 1/2 cup
  • Egg 1
  • Onion 1/2 chopped in small pieces
  • Green Pepper 1/4 chopped in small pieces
  • Green Chili (optional) per taste grated. I used about 1/2 tsp
  • Ginger grated 1/2 tsp
  • Mint about 5 leaves chopped very small
  • Salt per taste. I used 1/8th tsp

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Directions:

  • Whisk the egg in a separate bowl and keep aside
  • Mix Brown Rice Flour, Millet Flour, Onion, Green Pepper, Green Chili, Ginger, Salt and Mint in a large bowl. 
  • Add the Egg to the above mixture and mix thoroughly.
  • Adjust Salt and Green Chili
  • Thin out this mixture to a thinner than Pancake batter (or Uttapa batter) by adding water.
  • Spray non stick spray on a skillet.
  • Spread the batter on the skillet that should thinner than pancake consistency.
  • Let Cook and turn over. Both sides should be golden brown. Keep the heat to medium throughout cooking.

Enjoy

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White Chocolate Scones with Raspberry Sauce

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Anyone who knows me knows how hectic my daily schedule is just like a lot of you. Having two small kids with a full time and demanding job and a three hour daily commute takes its toll. Over the years I have learned how to deal with the hectic pace and each year it becomes easier because I learn new tricks and tips. One of the things I have learned that works for me is taking things at a slower pace on the week-ends. I try to take some time to spend just alone to recharge. The kids are usually playing somewhere around but I am alone with my thoughts. A lot of times the moments are happy and other times I realize the things I could have done better in the past. I take it for what it is, learn my lessons and move on. I find the solace in my thoughts and also the strength within me.

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Here is a recipe for White Chocolate Scones with Raspberry Sauce/Curd. I like to enjoy these on a week-end in my alone time, sipping a cup of tea and being alone in all the 3 year old’s constant chatter surrounding me.

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The scones are very hard to master. They are sometimes too hard and sometimes with too little sugar. This recipe seems to have worked. The White Chocolate bits are little surprises hidden in each bite and the Raspberry sauce adds the tangy bite and flavor to the Scones.

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The best part of this recipe is you don’t have to own a stand mixer. You could use a regular bowl and mix with a wooden spoon.5

Ingredients:

  • All Purpose Flour 1 3/4cup
  • Sugar ¼ cup
  • Baking Powder 2 tsp
  • Salt ¼ tsp
  • Butter 1/3 cup
  • Vanilla baking chips or White Chocolate chips 2/3 cup
  • Egg 1
  • Almond Milk vanilla scented unsweetened 2/3 cup
  • Raspberry Curd (recipe here) ½ cup or more as needed

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Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 400 F
  • In a stand mixer, mix Flour, Sugar, Baking Powder and Salt on a very low speed. We are just mixing so low speed does the job in couple of minutes.
  • Add the Egg and mix again for couple of minutes.
  • Cut the butter in small pieces. Add Butter and Chocolate chips at the same time and mix. The mixture will form a dough as shown in the picture.
  • On a floured surface or on a parchment paper, knead the dough a few times to make it all come together.
  • Sprinkle some flour on the surface and using a rolling pin, make an 8 to 9 inch round. It would the size of a personal pizza.
  • Cut this round into 8 equal sizes just like you would cut a pizza.
  • The dough doesn’t spread much in baking so arrange the pieces on a baking sheet.
  • Bake for 15 minutes. Remove when you see the bottom turning brown.
  • The chocolate chips that are peeking out of the dough will melt and may even turn brown. They actually taste better that way, I think.
  • raspberry lemon curd fd

 

Ragda Pattice – White Peas with Potato Fritters – Indian Street Food

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I don’t recall exactly when was the first time I had Ragda Patties but I think it was during one of our yearly summer vacations to our Grandparents house. There is one park that was close to my Grandparents house where the street vendors sold this yummy and spicy street food. When you think of a park in U.S., you think of may be an ice Cream truck but if you think of a park in Indian city, you think of all chaat items plus Ice cream. All the vendors shouting over the traffic noise to convince you how their item is the best in the city. When I had never visited U.S., I never realized how much I would miss these scenes but now after spending 15 years here, I miss it so much that I play the scene often in my mind’s eye and decide which vendor I will be visiting first when I am back to my beloved city of Pune. 

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The recipe looks long and tedious but believe me when I say it’s easy. Just soak the Peas night before and it’s practically ready in no time. Hmm, not exactly, but all I am saying is it’s easy. Almost all of it is make ahead. You could make the Ragda the day before and refrigerate. When you want to serve, make the patties and serve as directed below. 

I was running short on time as you know our Saturday mornings are dedicated to the various classes my girls take. I started cooking around mid afternoon for guests coming for dinner. Since my pressure cooker is small, I used Instapot for making Ragda. My original plan was to make Ragda in the slow cooker setting so it will be ready by the time guests arrive for dinner but at the last minute, my nerves gave in and I used the pressure cooker setting to make sure it was really done. I used 20 minutes in Pressure cooker setting and then switched it off. An hour prior to the guests arrival, I added just a little water and kept it on Keep Warm setting. You could always make it on slow cooker setting.

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For Ragda

  • 2 cups white Peas – dry measurement
  • Potato 1 large boiled and cut into pieces
  • Bay leaf 1
  • Cloves 4
  • Chili powder 1 tsp (more per taste)
  • Garam Masala (I used Kitchen King since that’s my favorite and its slightly mild)
  • Jaggery 3 inch piece cut into smaller pieces
  • Tamarind concentrate 2 tsp (make sure you know the strength of the concentrate you are using. Increase or decrease based on your taste and the brand you are using)
  • Salt per taste

For Tempering of Ragda

  • Oil Canola or other neutral oil – 3 tsp
  • Mustard Seeds ½ tsp
  • Curry Leaves about 5
  • Asafetida 1/8 tsp

Patties

  • Potatoes boiled 6 large ( I used yellow potatoes)
  • Mint leaves 6-7
  • Ginger grated 1 ½ tsp
  • Onion cut very small about 1 1/4 cup
  • Chaat Masala  1 tsp
  • Sugar 1 tsp (optional)
  • Salt per taste
  • Oil for shallow frying (I used nonstick cooking spray – 2 sprays per batch)

To serve

  • Onion ½ cut into small pieces
  • Tomatoes 2 cut into small pieces
  • Sev a handful for each dish – available in Indian stores
  • Cilantro a handful
  • Date tamarind Chutney 2 tsp per dish
  • Green Chutney 1 tsp per dish or more per taste
  • Garlic Chutney per taste

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Directions:

  • Soak Peas in a container with about 3 inches water above the peas level, the night before.

To make Patties

  • Boil potatoes in pressure cooker. I have a small cooker so sometimes I have to do it 2 batches. Boil them a little bit more than you would for a potato curry.
  • Cut the Onion and grate ginger.
  • Mix Potatoes (smashed), Ginger, onion, Salt, Sugar and chopped Mint and mix well. Form Patties about 2 inch in diameter.
  • Spray Nonstick Spray on your pan and shallow fry the patties until browned. Flip and brown on the other side. It should take about 3 minutes on each side. The potatoes are already cooked so it doesn’t really need the cooking but the process will bring all the flavors together and add some smokiness to it.

To make Ragda

  • If you are using the pressure cooker, add the soaked peas, Bay Leaf and Cloves. Add enough water and Pressure cook for 20 minutes with no venting. Pressure cook for 4 to 5 whistles.
  • If you are using Instapot, use closed vent and pressure cook for 20 minutes. I think you could use less if you do not like Peas that are too soft.
  • Once done, make tempering. Heat oil in a small kadai, add Mustard Seeds, Asafetida and Curry leaves. Wait for Mustard seeds to crackle before adding the rest. Pour this mixture over Ragda directly in the Instapot and leave it alone until an hour before the guests arrive. Keep it on “keep warm” that time.

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To serve

Place two or three patties on a plate. Pour 1 cup ragda (for 2 patties) over the Patties. Add  handful of Sev. Sprinkle Tomato, Onion and Cilantro. Top with Tamarind Chutney and Green Chutney.

Enjoy.

xoxox

Banana and Pineapple Cake

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Summer is not yet here and Spring seems to be hiding. Temps are so down that we had to get our winter coats out again. I wanted to get at least bit of tropic in our lives. Here is a Banana Pineapple Cake.

The cake is going to give almost equal Pineapple Banana flavors. If you like more Banana flavor than Pineapple, reduce Pineapple to 8 oz and increase Bananas to 5.

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Ingredients:

  • All-purpose flour 3 cups
  • Granulated Sugar 2 cups
  • Salt 1 tsp
  • Baking Soda 1 tsp
  • Eggs 3
  • Bananas ripe 3
  • Pineapple crushed 12 oz.
  • Canola Oil 1 cup
  • Vanilla extract 1 tsp
  • Garnishes – Walnuts, Coconut, Powdered Sugar
  • Optional ingredients – Coconut or Walnuts ½ cup. Do not use both together.

 

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Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 .
  • Spray a Bundt pan with cooking spray. I used a large one and also made six small ones. It does taste better when made just into a larger pan because it holds the moisture better. The smaller ones dried out a bit within a few hours.
  • In a stand mixer, mix Flour, Sugar, salt and Baking soda.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs first. Then add the Pineapple and mix.
  • Add Bananas and mix.
  • Finally, add walnuts or coconut flakes (optional – see note)
  • Add this mixture to the dry ingredients slowly while mixing with spatula. Run the stand mixer at its lowest speed just for a couple of minutes and if the mixture is not blended, mix with spatula.
  • Pour the batter into the Bundt pan and bake for 55 minutes. Check to see if tooth pick comes out clean. If not, bake for another 5 minutes. For me, 55 minutes were enough.
  • Wait for 10 minutes before turning out.
  • Let cool before adding garnishes.

Note: If you would like you could add only ½ cup of either Walnuts or Coconut flakes. And mix as noted above.

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