Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Toddler Lunch 4

Today's Daycare Lunch Bag Yummies:

Snack #1: Cut up plums, grapes and raspberries( hiding!).

Snack # 2: Whole wheat bread with nutella spread. Y loves these bite size sandwiches!

Lunch : Cheese tortellini with tomato basil sauce ( Bertolli), peas, broccoli, carrots and shredded cheese

Monday, August 30, 2010

Toddler Lunch 3

Today's Daycare Lunch Bag Yummies:

Snack #1: Cut up strawberries, blueberries and cheese stick

Snack # 2: Sweet potato chips with sea salt ( Costco) and mini box of raisins

Lunch: Toasted sandwich with amul cheese, tomatoes, spinach, finely chopped carrots and a pinch of chat masala. Ranch dressing to dip the sandwich pieces. The taste is awesome!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Toddler Lunch 2

Todays Daycare Lunch Bag Yummies:

Snack#1 Cut up banana, fig, raspberries ( Need to finish a big tub of berries) and cheese stick.

Snack#2 Roasted Pistachios and shankarpali ( Y's grandmother mailed it from India ONLY for him. Seriously, there was a note on the bag ' ONLY FOR Y---'

Lunch: Sweet potato paratha with lots of dhania, pinch of garam masala, cumin corrainder powder and lemon salt. To dip the paratha, cool yogurt with chat masala.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Toddler Lunch

Its been about two years that I am sending homecooked meals with Y to his daycare. It is totally do-able ( is there such a word..hmm??) I will be posting snack and lunch pictures when possible. There are days when clicking picture is a task! So will skip those days.

The idea here is to share meals fit for toddlers that they can eat by themselves. It takes 20-30 minutes to make and pack these meals. If you do some prep the night before, it will be easier and save you a lot of snoooooze time.

The best part is, you can pack a bag of fruits or box of lunch for yourself while you are at it..!

Todays Lunch Bag:
Snack #1: Cut up Grapes & Raspberries.
Snack #2: Wheathins with almond crunch and a mini box of raisins
Lunch: Mac and cheese with broccoli, carrots and peas. I added velvetta cheese and a dash of pepper. Milk and bread provided at Y's daycare.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Office Chic Looks-Monochrome

There are days when I look in my closet gloomily and cannot find any inspiration to get a work outfit together. For all those of you who end up in my state every morning, I am starting a series of work related outfits. My 'Looking Smart At Work' Outfits.....

Monochrome look with pencil skirt

Love the cute crystal headband..!

Ann Taylor sale....definitely on my list!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Reminiscing with Basundi

Whenever we have Satyanarayan puja at my home, it brings back memories. Memories... of my mother in silk saree polishing silver, a big pot of Basundi simmering on the stove, delicious aroma wafting from freshly pounded cardamon, dainty puris puffing up in hot oil, my father arranging bright yellow marigold toran and me listening to my grandmother talk about gratitude and devotion. Never thinking once that in few years I'll be remembering these very moments in a land far far away from home....

This year as I stirred Panchamrut for the puja, it suddenly hit me - here I am making memories for my son. Another generation. He was watching me with bright eyes as I laid out fruits and flowers, he was observing the priest arrange the kaalash, he was curious about his father's orange colored sovaale ......it truly hit me then, that traditions bind old and new generations. These seemingly routine rituals, truly inculcate a deep sense of belonging. It is important for our children to know their roots. How fortunate they are to have ancient knowledge in their heart and progressive thoughts in their mind !!

From traditions to food, typically, basundi is made with milk reduced to half by simmering it for a very LONG time. Not for me. It will take you 15 mins to make Basundi, my way. In the past, when I was feeling super adventerous, I added paneer to make rabbdi thicker. Rabbdi-Basundi, all in the same family, so I added grated paneer to the boiling milk. No, the milk does not curdle. Promise. The paneer melts in the boiling milk and gives a super creamy texture. But don't go all crazy with the paneer, adding small amounts will give you better texture.


5 cans of evaporated unsweetned milk

1/2 cup of grated paneer

2 tbsp of milk powder

crushed roasted nuts, cardamon and saffron

sugar to taste

Method: Boil evaporated milk in thick bottomed pot. When the milk starts to boil, slowly add grated paneer and milk powder. Add sugar. Stir well. You can add more or less sugar per your taste. Let the mixture simmer for few minutes and it will start to thicken. Add crushed nuts like roasted pistachios, cashews and almonds. Or you can use the couple spoonfuls of Badam Feast mix. Refrigerate before serving with pooris.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Born to Eat Healthy

Why ohh why, will you give your little one those awwwwwful jar food..?? Have you tasted those atrocious goopy things sold as Baby Food. Yuck!

When Y refused to eat organic mashed carrots from the jar, I knew it was going to be a challenging ride. When the going gets tough, the tough gets..cooking.That's what I did, went into the kitchen and made my own batch of mashed carrots. My dear son happily licked his bowl.

This is no sermon but give homemade baby food a try before you outright dismiss it. It is EASY. CHEAP. NUTRITIOUS. Do you need more convincing?

There are zillion ways to make yummy tasty treats for your baby, that will gently nudge him/her to like fruits and veggies early on. If you are pressed for time, you can always make baby food and freeze it. It all works. You are still saving money and giving good nutrition to your child. It also gives you an opportunity to introduce new foods, textures and tastes at a pace that works for your baby. Can you do that with canned foods? Not to mention, think of all the preservatives in those jars.

I remember when Y did not like Avocados. He refused to even look at mashed avocados. Period. A quick search on the web and found this amazing website http://www.wholesomebabyfood.com/ . I came across a super easy recipe on the website posted by a reader, Dani, that called for Avocados, Blueberries and ripe Peaches. I added a banana and a splash of orange juice to the mix. Mashed it. My baby gobbled it up happily. Avocado -Mission Accomplished.

This and many more websites have tons of baby food recipes, helpful meal menus, potential food allergy alerts and also nutritional information about different fruits and vegetables. Everything, you need to plan a balanced meal for your precious little bundle.

For kids going to daycare, having homecooked meal is better since you don't want him/her to try new foods at daycare in your absence. At home, you can try out different foods and watch out for any potential allergy reactions. Send those 'safe' meals to daycare with your child.

Here are some tips that can help you in sending homecooked meals to daycare:

1) Talk to your daycare/caregivers well in advance. Some daycares do not allow outside food in their facilities, as a precaution for kids with allergy. Eggs and peanuts are common culprits. In our case, we got a doctor's note saying that my son should have home cooked meals and no new foods should be introduced without parental consent. However, given that there could be potential allergy situation, make sure that you don't send meals with eggs, peanuts, citrus or shellfish. EVER.

2) Label the food containers with your child's name and date it. This should avoid any mix up. Also, use microwavable containers which will be easier for the caregivers. Use insulated carry bags.

3) Talk to your child's caregiver about feeding schedules and portion sizes. This will help you portion each meal in different containers, avoid wastage and give you a better idea of how much your baby ate that day.

4) If you have dietary preferences such as no beef or no meat, put it in writing to the daycare management.

If you choose to delay introducing meat for couple years, sources of 'good' protein become essential. Enter, yellow Moong daal. This is a staple in India when introducing solids to babies. India's population is over 1 billion, we know a thing or two about raising babies! Moong daal - easy to digest, good protein content, super easy to cook and very mild to taste. It can be used in soups, khichadi or can be easily mixed with veggies such as spinach to make meals more wholesome. Aromatic spices work well with moong daal, as well. Here again, taste and goodness go hand in hand. Roasted cumin powder is carminative and relieves gas aches in little tummies. Turmeric has fantastic anti-inflammatory properties. Fresh coriander leaves dhania, is power packed with iron.

This recipe is for a very basic but yummy Moong daal khichadi for your tot:

1 cup of rice

1/2 cup of yellow Moong daal

3 cups of Water

1/2 tsp of turmeric

1/2 tsp of Cumin Powder

salt to taste

Veggies such as spinach, shredded carrots, sweet potatoes cubes, peas are optional but taste very good.

Fresh coriander chopped

Splash of ghee/clarified butter optional.


Wash rice and daal. Put all the ingredients, except coriander and ghee, in a rice cooker. If you are cooking for babies, blend the cooked khichadi to a porridge like consistency. Add ghee and fresh chopped coriander.

If you have any ideas or comment about baby food please share them.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Paper Art-Allen and Patty Eckman

I want to share these jaw-dropping PAPER sculptures by artistic duo Allen & Patty Eckman. At the end of the blog there is a link for you to be creative as well. Enjoy!

These stunningly detailed sculptures may only be made from paper - but they are being snapped up by art fans for tens of thousands of pounds. The intricate creations depict Native American scenes and took up to 11 months to make using a specially formulated paper. This husband & wife team puts paper pulp into clay moulds and pressurise it to remove the water
The hard, lightweight pieces are then removed and the couple painstakingly add detailed finishings with a wide range of tools. They have been making the creations since 1987 at their home studio, in South Dakota , America, and have racked up a whopping £3 million selling the works of art. The pieces depict traditional scenes from Native American history of Cherokees hunting and dancing
The most expensive piece is called Prairie Edge Powwow which sold for £47,000

In an interview Allen explained their technique: "It should not be confused with papier mache. The two mediums are completely different. I call what we do 'cast paper sculpture'"

..."Some of them we create are lifesize and some we scale down to 1/6 lifesize"

"These sculptures are posed as standing nude figures and limited detailed animals with no ears, tails or hair"

"We transform them by sculpting on top of them - creating detail with soft and hard paper we make in various thicknesses and textures.

"We have really enjoyed the development of our fine art techniques over the years and have created a process that is worth sharing. There are many artists and sculptors who we believe will enjoy this medium as much as we have."

If this blog got your artistic juices flowing, how about making similar paper sclupture ???
Follow this link and there are kits you can buy to make flower, butterflies and dragonflies

Monday, August 2, 2010

Ras Malai- Queen of Desserts

Ras= fragrant sweet, thick milk Malai= creamy dumplings of cottage cheese (paneer)

As newly weds, when we were expecting M's family from Detroit for dinner, I had to pull out a show-stopper from my recipe collection. I made the queen of desserts, Ras Malai. Filled dainty silver bowls with soft paneer discs soaking in delicious golden yellow cool ras, garnished with saffron. It was a huge hit!

Granted it is a bit daunting, but trust me, make it once and you feel like 'Master chef'.
Show-Stopper ( I am lovin' this word)
Tastes divine
Is not your typical, super heavy dessert that is cloyingly sweet
Can be made a day before the party
Once you make Ras Malai, you can make rasgullas, cham cham and other paneer based yummies in jiffy.

Tedious to make ( worth the taste ....peeps!)
You need to use multiple pots and pans ( Not good for hubby who does all the clean up ...sad)

To make Ras Malai, you have to make fresh paneer. There is no simply no short cut. Also, the paneer needs to be soft and light which means you cannot overcook the paneer or it will become chewy. Big No.
About the Ras, traditionally, the recipe calls for simmering milk to make it rich and creamy. Instead, I use unsweetened evaporated milk. Unsweetened, so I can add sugar as per my taste and still get a yummy rich texture.

Ras Malai

For Malai/paneer dumplings

1/2 gallon whole milk

1/4 cup white vinegar

Cheese cloth

Bowl of ice cubes

2 tbsp powdered sugar

Syrup to cook the dumplings

6 cups of water

1 cup of sugar


3 cups of whole milk

1 can of unsweetened evaporated milk

2 tbsp sugar

crushed roasted nuts


Rose Water ( optional)


In pot # 1 , add 6 cups of water and 1 cup of sugar to boil.

In pot#2, warm milk, whisk in evaporated milk, saffron, sugar and crushed nuts. You can use badam feast or Everest milk masala, if you'd like. Be careful with the sugar amount, in that case. Let the Ras cool down, add a splash of rose water.

In another non stick pot# 3, bring the 1/2 gallon milk to boil. When the milk starts to boil, slowly add vinegar in small amounts, keep stirring. When the curd separates completely, shut the heat and pour all the ice cubes in the vessel. This will immediately stop the cooking process and the paneer will be super soft. Drain whey using cheese cloth. You can find cheese cloth in the cleaning section of Publix ( go figure!). Carefully make a small bundle of the cheese cloth with the paneer and hold it under cold tap water. This will again stop the cooking process and wash out the vinegar. Do not rush through this step. Take your time and give the paneer a thorough cold water rinse. Squeeze the bundle to remove excess water and you will see crumbly super soft creamy paneer. Sample some ( hehehe) to make sure that it does not have a tart taste.

Remove as much water as you can, add powdered sugar to the paneer crumbles in a plate, knead the two together to give a smooth dough like texture. This may take 10-15 minutes. Patience my dear Watson!

Break a piece of the paneer dough and roll it into a small disc. When you boil these dumplings in the sugar syrup, it will double in size, so portion it well. The sugar syrup should be boiling before you add the dumplings. Cover and let the dumplings cook in the sugar syrup for about 6-8 minutes. Carefully, remove and cool.

Squeeze out excess syrup from the paneer dumplings before you add to the Ras. Refrigerate overnight for super duper taste.

If you make any of my recipes, please post a comment and let me know how it turned out..!