Thursday, December 30, 2010

Toddler Lunch 23

Today's Daycare Lunch bag:

Snack #1: Blueberries and clementines.

Snack #2: Madeleines ( costco), raisins and freeze dried mango chunks from Whole Foods

Lunch: Savory ricotta pancakes with ketchup.
Mix rice flour, ricotta, egg and milk to form a pancake-like batter. Add whole cumin, salt, garam masala and fresh chopped cilantro. Pour a laddleful of batter on greased griddle to make thick pancakes. Sprinkle little chat masala on the pancakes. You can skip the egg, if you do so, increase the flour quantity in the batter.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Eggless Linzer Cookies

With a sick child and crazy work deadlines, it seemed ages before I could upload a new post. Not to worry, I am back and this time I have a sweet recipe to share. This Christmas I baked some Linzer cookies to share at my office.

The original cookie recipe that came along with the cookie cutter set included an egg in the mixture. Since we have few people at work with allergies, I made my cookies without any eggs and they turned out great.

A Linzer cookie cutter set looks like this. But you can  use couple small bowls/lids in different diameters to cut out the shapes.

Linzer Cookie:

2 1/2 cups unsifted all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unblanched almonds, finely ground
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 sticks of softened butter (unsalted)
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
1/2 tsp cardamon powder
pinch of salt
parchment/wax paper

To decorate the cookies:
1/2 cup of powdered sugar
1 cup seedless raspberry jam.

1) Cream butter and sugar for 5 minutes with an electric beater.
2) Add flour, almond flour, cinnamon, cardamon and salt to the butter mixture to form a dough ball.
3) Divide the dough into four equal parts. Sandwich the dough between two parchment/wax paper sheets. Roll it out to 1/8-inch thickness. You will end up with four rolled dough sheets.Refrigerate for an hour.
4) Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
5) Peel away top layer of the parchment paper. Using a  cookie cutter, cut out small rounds for the bottom part of the cookie. For the top part of the cookie, cut out round cookies with center shapes cut out i.e dainty hearts, stars or little teddy bears. Make sure you have even number of  bottom cookie and top cookie with a cut out to form a sandwich.
6) Bake for about 10-12 minutes. Cool

To assemble the cookies:
1) Dust the top part of the cookie with powdered sugar.
2) Put a dollop of jam on the bottom part of the cookie and now placed the sugar-dusted top part of the cookie to form a perfect sandwich.

Enjoy !

Monday, November 22, 2010

Toddler Lunch 22

Today's Daycare Lunch bag:

Snack#1: Cut up grapes and figs.
Snack # 2: Vanilla wafers ( not one of the healthiest option..but oh well!)  and dried cranberries
Lunch : Parsnip and potato tikki with ranch dressing. Boil and mash potatoes and parsnip together. Mix in rice flour, shredded cheese, cilantro, ginger paste, salt and garam masala to form a dough. Shape into flat tikkis. Shallow fry for couple minutes.
 Note: Parsnip is a root vegetable that is closely related to carrots. The nutritional content  and flavor of parsnip is much better than carrots.Some of the larger parsnips had bitter core, so I trimmed out the core before boiling.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Coconut Water-Nariyal paani

Being from Mumbai, where you get fresh coconut water at every corner, I miss this delicious drink in the land of sodas. Somehow sugary frizzy soda products just cannot satisfy thirst like sipping on cool coconut water on a warm sunny day. Not to mention the guilt of flooding your body with heaps of sugar and caffeine is unbearable.

There is a certain fascination to watch Nariyalwalah ( Coconut seller) expertly slash off  tough coconut skin with a rusty looking knife to make a tinsy hole at the top for a straw. As if the coconut water is not enough, the malai ( cream inside the coconut) is another wonder in itself. In Mumbai, coconut sellers  make a spoon from discarded coconut skin to scoop out the malai. Every bite is creamy, sweet and oh so delish!

Back to my hankering for coconut water, it is impossible to get fresh coconut water in Atlanta. So packaged coconut water is my next best bet. When you think of packaged products , preservatives are inevitable. Not true. At Costco, I tasted VitaCoco. 100% pure coconut water with no preservatives. Sounds too good to be true. So I researched their website to find out more.  The only ingredients in each pack is coconut water ( Not from concentrate) and Vitamin C.  Per the website, young green coconuts harvested in Brazil are used in VitaCoco. So whats the verdict on the taste, you ask? Very very close to a  fresh coconut sans the malai. No fat, no cholesterol, five essential electrolytes, more potassium than two bananas..and super hydration. No wonder coconut water is the new Hollywood fancy diet. Starlets like Demi Moore are seen sipping this natures wonder for fab bod. Packaging of this product is super convenient too. No aluminium cans. 12 individual paper cans with all the natural goodness inside. Perfect to grab on the go. At Costco, price for a pack of 12 cans is around $15.

Post a comment if you have tried this product.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Toddler Lunch 21

Today's Daycare Lunch bag:

Snack #1: Cut up figs and cantaloupe

Snack #2: Shankarpali ( Thanks to grandma) cheese stick and raisins

Lunch: Ragi and rice flour dosa with chopped onions, cilantro and garam masala.

 I raved about ragi or Nachani here.The dosa is not great to look  but tastes really good. My son looked at the dosa and said ' I don't like it'. So here we were, me & M, running after a toddler at 7:00 in the morning asking him to try a piece of the dosa before I packed his lunch. Finally, Y took a bite and said 'Yummy in the tummy' ........phew!!!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Toddler Lunch 20

Today's Daycare Lunch Bag:

Snack# 1: Cut up strawberries and pear

Snack#2: Whole wheat crackers with sea salt, dried cranberries and prunes.

Mini Uthapams with green peppers and tomatoes. Ketchup as dipping sauce ( my son loves anything with ketchup..!)
Batter is bought from an Indian store.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Toddler Lunch 19

Today's Daycare Lunch Bag:

Snack #1: Cut up strawberries and grapes.

Snack # 2: Multi grain crackers with rosemary and olive oil. Dried cranberries and cheese stick

Lunch:  Upama made with cubed carrots, peas, green beans, corn and tomatoes.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Restaurant Review-Rathbun's

I went out with my usual group of Foodies to Rathbun's. While navigating  through empty warehouses and dilapidated structures I was almost thinking of heading back home. Driving to this restaurant was SCARY !!. Until, I entered the restaurant and it was all good. We were told that the dining room is a one-hundred year old renovated wine cellar. The exposed wall and the tasteful decor is very chic. Word of caution: DO NOT sit in the center of the dining room. You'll have to shout across the table. Not fun.

Moving to the food, we got two sets of menus. One is the usual fare and the other is handwritten daily specials. How neat !
My litmus test for any good restaurant is the bread. If the bread is good, chances are that the food will make me happy. When the bread came out it was moist and very flavorful. Good start for the evening.
For the main course, I ordered three of the small plates just because I wanted to sample more than one dish.  It was a smart strategy. My first small plate was this super thin cracker like flat bread with prosciutto, cipollini onions and pink peppercorn honey. One bite and the angels were singing. Beautiful flavors yet very light and not too sweet. For my second plate, I was waiting for the smoked salmon toastada. Perfectly tasty. My third small plate was crab cake tart. The sauce was divine, the tart shell was super buttery and the crab cake filing was yum.

It was time for the desserts. Like always, we ordered almost the entire dessert menu. By far, rice pudding was the best one of the lot. Others were kinda forgettable.

Overall, food was fabulous but the desserts were strictly OK.

112 Krog Street, Ste R
Atlanta, Georgia 30307

Enjoy the pictures!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Celebrating A New Arrival

First of all, let me start by saying that I have amazing friends. My friends are talented, kind, helpful and sure know how to have fun. So when a bunch of us got together to throw a surprise baby shower for a trendy 'Mommy-To-Be' was fun! 

Party Details:
Mouth watering appetizers made by our very own super cooks and mocktails served by the father-to-be set the stage for a fun afternoon. Our nursery themed cake was inspired by this cake. We got a basic sheet cake from Publix. The little keepsake cradle and nursery accessories were from Hobby Lobby. Nursery walls were made out of cardboard and bright green curtains were ribbons.The amazing diaper cake was made by my talented friend D and here is the link to get some more pictures of this stunning creation. Check out the favors with a sleeping baby on top, how cute are those salt and pepper shakers!

  • Chicken malai kabab
  • Garlic mushroom
  • Hara Bhara kabab
  • Bread rolls
  • Samosas
  • Grilled asparagus
  • Chips with mango peach salsa

Drinks: Non alcoholic mixers from World Market with fruits juices
  • Simple Cosmo mixer with club soda
  • Margarita mixer with lemonade
  • Sparkling pear juice 
  • Sparkling Meyer lemon juice.
 Some more pictures:

Monday, October 11, 2010

Toddler Lunch 18

Today's Daycare Lunch Bag:

Snack #1: Cut up peach, plum and raspberries with cheese stick.

Snack # 2: Pistachio crisp, dried apricot and raisins.

Lunch: Crispy cutlets made with sweet potato, peas, sour cream, spices and breadcrumbs. Ketchup as dipping sauce.

(Note: restaurant review with food pics coming soon !)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Asparagus and Fennel Soup

Cold weekends call for steaming bowl of creamy soup and a toasty sandwich to warm the insides. This asparagus and fennel soup will not let you down. It is super simple and delish!

Picture coming soon

Asparagus and Fennel Warm Soup

1 bunch of Asparagus
1 big bulb of Fennel
1 cup of  spinach leaves
10 whole peppercorn
2-3 cloves of garlic
3 bay leaves
1 tbsp olive oil
6 cups of vegetable/chicken stock.
1/2 pack ( 4 ounces) cream cheese regular or fat free.


  1. Trim the the woody stems of the asparagus and cut into 1 inch long pieces. Chop the fennel bulb ( it smells heavenly!). 
  2. In a small stock pot, heat olive oil, peppercorn, garlic, bay leaves. Add spinach, asparagus and fennel. Saute until the fennel is soft.
  3. Add stock and let it simmer for 15-20 minutes until the asparagus is soft. Discard bay leaves
  4. Shut the heat and using a hand blender, blend right into the pot to get a smooth puree. Be careful while blending hot liquids.
  5. Heat the puree on low and add small chunks of cream cheese. Cream cheese will melt to give a minty green colored smooth soup. Adjust seasoning. Add pepper powder if you like some heat. Enjoy with mozzarella, basil and tomato toasted sandwich.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Toddler Lunch 17

Today's Daycare Lunch bag:

Snack # 1 Cut up  juicy pear and yummy raspberries.

Snack #2: Couple madeleines and dried cranberries. Madelines are little french cookie & cake combo that is simply delish. Definitely not a healthy snack but its ok once in a while! I got these Madelines from Costco. Yummy

Lunch: Quesadilla ( Chapatti) stuffed with ricotta and a mixture of sauted spices, spring onions, spinach and red bell pepper. I drizzled some honey. This makes the quesadilla stick together and also makes it more tasty for a toddler.  For adults, skip the honey and add some fried onions instead...yum

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Toddler Lunch 16

Today's Daycare Lunch Bag:

Snack # 1: Cut up peaches and grapes with honey.

Snack #2: True North Pistachio crisp ( you gotto try these!) dried apricots with cheese stick.

Lunch: Cut up spinach na thepla with yogurt.

Note: Thepla is a  Gujarati dish that is easy, tasty and very versatile. You can add any greens or grated vegetables to the dough and it tastes delish! I make the dough the night before. In the morning, roll it out and heat on lightly oiled griddle.

Dough is made of  spinach leaves,whole wheat flour, turmeric, Hungarian pepper powder( or chili powder), cumin-coriander powder, salt, sugar, ginger, yogurt and oil. Ajwain tastes good but is optional.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Toddler Lunch 15

Today's Daycare Lunch bag:

Snack # 1: Juicy red watermelon chunks with bright green grapes

Snack # 2" Wheat thins, dried cranberries and apricot

Lunch: Super soft triangles stuffed with Ricotta and spinach.

 Note: I use  Pillsbury crescent rolls that you get in refrigerator section at Publix. Spread out the dough, pinch together the seams, cut into squares. Filling is made with chopped spinach, ricotta, dot of ranch dressing, Italian seasoning, cumin ( I know strange..but tastes good) and some salt. Bake at 375 degree for 10 minutes.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Thalipeeth-Multi grain savory pancake

I decided to take a short break from posting toddler lunch ideas. No worries. I'll resume posting more quick & delicious lunch ideas for toddlers very soon. In the mean time, I wanted to add a post about thalipeeth, since many of you asked for more information.

Thalipeeth is traditionally made by dry roasting different whole grains and then grinding them together to give a wholesome flour mixture, bhajjani,  that is used to make the savory pancakes. Given that it is next to impossible to freshly grind flour here in Atlanta, the other alternative is to use flours and dry roast them on low flame for few minutes until aromatic.  Dry roasting the flours helps in digestion. So try not to skip this step. I highly recommend that you roast the flours individually before mixing them together. Each flour heats up and burns at different temperatures. If you roast all the flours together, chances are that the bhajjani will have a mild burnt taste. You can make a BIG batch of bhajjani, store in it an airtight container and use it over 6-8 months.The proportions listed below are not set in stone. You can add more or less of any flour of your choice. Generally, urad, besan and bajra flours are difficult for little tummies to digest and so they are in lesser amounts. For those who are skeptical about Nachani/finger millet flour, it is a nutrition powerhouse. Nachani Satva / Porridge made of nacahani, milk, ghee and jaggery is given to babies over 6 months because of its exceptionally high iron and calcium content. It also helps in healthy and gradual weight gain. For those with allergies, Nachani chi bhakri/flat bread is another great way to consume this super grain.

I make large quantity of the flour mixture, bhajjani,  once a year and then I use the mixture for making the  pancakes throughout the year. This saves me lot of time. 
1 cup rice flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup nachani or ragi (finger millet flour)
1/2 cup moong daal flour
1/4 cup besan ( chick pea flour)
1/4 urad flour
1/4 cup bajra flour ( millet flour)
1 tbsp rava ( cream of wheat)
2 tbsp of fresh roasted  cumin & coriander powder

1 cup Bhajjani
1/2 cup coarsely chopped onion
1/2 cup of chopped cilantro
Spinach leaves shredded -optional
1/2 tsp  turmeric
1/2 tsp Hungarian red pepper powder (or chilli powder for adults)
Pinch of garam masala
Salt to taste

1) Mix all the ingredients with water to make a soft dough.
2) Take 2-3  kitchen paper towels, bunch them together, soak them in water. Squeeze out excess water. Lay the wet towels out on a flat surface. Take a golf ball size dough, place it on the wet towels and usinng your fingers press the dough to form a circular flat shape ( like a thick roti). Make few holes in it.
3) Heat 1 tsp oil in a non stick pan.
4) Pick up the kitchen towel with the dough ( no it won't fall).Gently turn the wet towel upside down near the edge of the pan ( now you see why we soaked the paper towels first, they won't burn despite of touching the scorching hot sides of the pan). Cover and cook on both sides until crispy.

Thalipeeth is generally eaten hot with pat of butter ( yum!) or with yogurt. I like to have some koshimbir ( maharashtrian salsa) with it to make a balanced meal.

Easy Peasy Koshimbir:
1 cup coarsely chopped tomato
1/2 cup chopped onions ( Yes, we love onions)
1/2 chopped cilantro
green chillies-optional
pinch of sugar
1 tbsp of ground peanut.
squeeze of lemon juice.

Mix and enjoy!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Toddler Lunch 14

Today's Daycare Lunch bag:

Snack#1: Watermelon cubes and grapes

Snack # 2: Chakkali, dried sweet cranberries and roasted pistachios

Lunch:  Savory pancakes ( uthappam) made with moong flour and rice flour topped with sliced red bell pepper and spring oinions.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Hungarian Kiffle- Eggless Cookie

Hungarian Kiffle

I had Hungarian Kiffle for the first time in Ohio. During the Christmas potluck at work, one of my co-worker used to bring a platter of these quaint shaped cookies. Now, let me tell you...these are not your usual Nestle Cookie dough slapped on a baking sheet...bleh. No No...these little morsels are divine. The filling is exotic yet simple. Apricot, crushed walnut, almond paste and prune..yum. Basically, you could tell that it took a lot of time and lot of love to make these phenomenal creations. Needless to say, I chased my co-worker  to share her great grandmother's recipe. The scrap of paper on which I wrote down the recipe was filed away safely and forgotten, until yesterday. I decided to muster the courage and make these cookies for my dear friends as part of the 25th post Giveaway.

This pastry dough has LOTS of butter and cream cheese but very little sugar. Sweetness comes from the different filling and the powdered sugar that is dusted on these cookies right before they are served with a cup of dark coffee or mint tea.  My friend's great grandmother used to make her own filing using dry fruits which takes a loooooong time. The new generation uses canned filing for the cookies. Please use Solo brand pie filing. This is a European brand that makes delectable filings for cookies. DO NOT USE FRUIT JAMS. The filing bubbles and thickens in the oven, some fruit jams will burn and become bitter. Solo is available in local Publix. I used apricot and poppy seed. If you can find a can of prune filing, grab it. Prune kiffle, also called 'Lekvar' are the best!

This pastry is tricky to work with because of the high butter/fat content. You have to work quickly and refrigerate the dough often.

Now, if you don't want to do all the work then there is an easier albeit an expensive way for you to still savor kiffles. You can order kiffles from the Kiffle Kitchen Bakery located in PA here 

Hungarian Kiffle:
Makes 36 cookies
2 1/4 cup All Purpose flour
1 cup of unsalted Butter which is equal to 2 sticks of unsalted butter-at room temperature
8 oz cream cheese-at room temperature
1 tbsp of milk
1 Tbsp powdered sugar
Pinch of salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 cans of 12 ounce pie filling
Lots of Plastic wrap/wax paper

1) In a glass bowl, cream butter for 5 minutes using a hand mixer. Add cream cheese and continue the creaming process for another 5 minutes. This is an important step to get flaky pastry. Now add milk and sugar. Continue blending.
2) Sift flour, baking powder and salt.
3) Add flour mixture to the butter  mixture to form a loose dough. The dough will be nice and moist but not sticky.
4) Break the dough into 4 equal parts. Use two sheets of  flour dusted plastic wrap to sandwich the dough ball. Using your fingers press down the dough to form a 1/2 inch thick square sheet. Repeat for the remaining dough portions. You will end up with 4 dough sheets each sandwiched between plastic wraps.
5) Chill for 1 hour. The dough with the plastic wraps will look like the frozen parantha you get from the Indian store.
6)Preheat the oven to 375 degree.
7) Take only one sheet of the dough out of the refrigerator. If the sheet is frozen hard. let it sit on the counter for couple minutes. Using a rolling pin, roll over the plastic wrap to make 1/8 inch thick square ( as thick as a roti). The butter will melt in this process making it difficult to work, so pop the sheet back into the fridge for 3-4 minutes.
8) Take out the 1/8 inch thick sheet, using a pizza cutter trim the square to get even edges. Trims can be used again. Now cut out 2'-2' inch squares. Again, if need be, pop the sheet in the refrigerator to stiffen.
9) Put 1/2 tsp of filing in the center of the 2' inch square. Fold and pinch the opposite sides of the square, to form a swaddle around the filing.
10) Working very quickly transfer the cookies from the plastic sheet to the baking sheet. Lay them 1 inch apart on a greased baking sheet.
11) Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden. Cool. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Giveaway- Winner

The 25th post giveaway winners are  ( drum-roll please)........Aru & Sunita...wooohhhhoooooo

Jury was an unbiased toddler who cannot read ( but was super glued to the alphabet 'A'...hehehhe). Thank you everyone for reading and commenting on my posts. It makes my day to see your responses. Like I said, we will have many more milestones and many more giveaways.

Talking of giveaway, the winners get to taste these......( see the picture) Hungarian cookies called Kiffle - Buttery pastry filled with Apricot & Poppy seed.

Recipe will be posted in tomorrow's post.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Toddler Lunch 13

Today's Daycare Lunch Bag:

Snack #1: Cut up grapes, pineapple and pomegranate.

Snack #2: Shankarpalli, dried apricots and cranberries.

Lunch: Quesadilla made with whole wheat chapatti stuffed with black olive hummus, shredded mozzarella, roasted red pepper ( pat dry) and pinch of cumin- coriander powder.

Note: For picky eaters, drizzle some honey before you fold the quesadilla and toast it. Press down firmly as you toast, so the cheese will melt and hold the filling together as it cools down.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Toddler Lunch 12

Today's Daycare Lunch  bag:

Snack: Cut up banana, figs and pomegranate seeds (!)

Snack #2: Vegetable cracker with roasted salted almonds, walnuts and pistachios

Lunch: Mini sandwiches made with butter bean spread and amul cheese slice. Tomato ketchup to dip and enjoy.

Note: Y tasted pomegranate for the first time yesterday. I was eager for him to like this super nutritious fruit and he did...yeppiee!. So guess what, I had to add few pomegranate seeds to his snack cup today. After reading up on health benefits of these sweet succulent ruby red seeds, I am going to make sure that all three of us periodically eat this wonder fruit.

The butter bean spread is super simple. Blend well cooked butter beans, palmful of spinach, dhania ( cilantro leaves), couple curry leaves, cumin seeds and chat masala. For grown ups, add few green chillies and splash of lemon juice. This spread stores well.

Nutrition Facts-Amul Cheese Slice

Serving Size: 1 Slice, 20g

Amount per Serving

• Calories 70 Calories from Fat 45

% Daily Value *

• Total Fat 5.0g 8%

• Saturated Fat 3.0 15%

• Cholesterol 15mg 5%

• Sodium 250mg 10%

• Total Carbohydrate <1g 0%

• Dietary Fiber 0g 0%

• Sugars 1g

• Protein 4g 8%

• Vitamin A 2%

• Calcium 15%

Nutrition Facts=Kraft Cheese Singles ( Kraft website)

Serving Size: 1 Slice, 19g

Amount per Serving

• Calories 60 Calories from Fat 40

% Daily Value *

• Total Fat 4.5g 7%

• Saturated Fat 2.5g 12%

• Cholesterol 15mg 5%

• Sodium 250mg 10%

• Total Carbohydrate 1g 0%

• Dietary Fiber 0g 0%

• Sugars 1g

• Protein 3g 6%

• Vitamin A4%

• Calcium20%