Friday, December 10, 2010

Questions & Answers

Hiiiiii*waves out to Elizabeth* Thank you for tagging me,my dear friend and the creative owner of I always love reading your posts,they are so creative and original and always have that special Elizabeth touch,the person I am now getting to know,through these wonderful and fun activities that we have been participating in lately. Please everyone do visit her blog,if you are on the look out for some yummy recipes with exotic ingredients ,this is the place for you :)

1. Are you a vegetarian, or have you thought about being one?
 No,I am a big time carnivore,I did try  becoming a saint in '94 and stayed off non-veg for an year,and concluded that I am a complete slave to my taste buds:(

2. Who inspired you to cook or bake?

My mother and my aunts are excellent cooks and I was always fed very good food,so when I moved away from them I knew I had to cook the way they did. I never missed an opportunity to watch them cook & play with all the ingredients ,so I guess all that stayed with me,and I learnt my way around when it was time for me to cook.

 I would attribute the baking skills( if I have any) to my husbands stint at Haldia ,west Bengal. Haldia back then in the year 1991 used to be a major set-up of Indian Oil refineries and a couple other factories. We could just barely buy the basic stuff from one of the grocery stores, and cakes and fancy breads were  things of  a different world. So it was almost mandatory to bake in Haldia. There are many names that instantly come to mind who have helped me to learn the A B C's of baking: Ritu Uppal,Vibha Jhavar, Sadhna Mutreja,Vandana lal .
3. How do you celebrate Christmas?...or a favorite holiday of your choice?

I am a Hindu by birth and Diwali is to me what Christmas is to the Christians .The celebration is mostly centred around being with the family and enjoying the festivities which revolve around the food,gifts,new clothes,  decorations,and mainly fire works.The fire works is a a big part of Diwali celebrations back in India. I  must also mention here- That I attended a convent /catholic school through out, and Christmas was the second big festival and attraction for me. Our school left no stone unturned when it came to Christmas celebrations . So I grew up enjoying and cherishing both these big holidays.
4. Do you prefer to celebrate New Year's Eve with friends and/or family, or prefer to ring in the New Year quietly, and privately, at home?

Ours is a small family- me ,my husband and our daughter and we do not have family in this country,therefore celebrating New Year at home is not a bad idea provided there are plenty of friends ,music and dance to welcome the new year :)
5. If someone were to ask you to bring dessert to a party, what would you bring? Store bought, or homemade, and if you were to make homemade, what would you make?

I would prefer to make something at home,and it would mainly be decided around the rest of the menu and the guests. If the guests include plenty of kids then I would prefer to make a cake with some fun icing. I also don't mind buying something from the store- but it would have to be some special dessert which has a cult following .
6. How will you celebrate your next birthday?

My husband was very generous and took me to Alaska on my last birthday :) My next birthday  in 2011 is going to be just before our daughter leaves for college as a freshman and I would love for us to do something fun and memorable. I had not even thought of it actually until you asked me this question .  Honestly-We are such a last minute kinda  family.
7. Do you have a New Year's resolution-and will you be sticking to it?
YESSS my new year resolution is to continue writing the blog apart from loosing some weight, and staying fit by regularly exercising. I hope to stick to all of this as I have done in the past years :)

I am now tagging 12  and 2 more of my blogger friends to answer this same questionnaire. I enjoyed answering these questions and my dear friends, I hope you will have fun doing this:

banaras ka khana

Kitchen Corner-Try It

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  • Food Mazaa

  • Healthy Gourmet

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  • Tasty Appetite

  • Pappu's Kitchen

  • Priya's Easy N Tasty Recipes

  • Priya's Feast

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  • Taste as you Cook


  • Wednesday, December 8, 2010

    13 Bean Soup & day 2 Of Healthy Eating :)

    Day 2 of eating yummy & healthy food :) This 13 Bean Soup Mix is absolutely delicious and packed with all heart healthy and nutritious ingredients.

    Serving size 1/2 cup(104 g)
    Total Fat per serving is -1 g
    Dietary fibre- 15 g
    Protein-18 g

    I was thrilled to find my magic food, relish it and stay healthy and loose some weight ;) It is a myth that eating healthy is compromising on taste,I think if we choose the ingredients smartly we do not have to compromise on the taste. For instance this soup for lunch was so hearty  and had so much to offer in terms of flavors. The 13 assortment of beans after being pressure cooked had such a unique and creamy texture and the tomato's,onions & garlic seasoned with cayenne and basil made this soup a hands down winner for me.

    I had saved some home made chicken stock from previous cooking and I used that to pressure cook the beans. Manasi does not like the edges of the bread,so I  normally cut the sides  for her and save those for later use. I pulled those out from the fridge and took a wide mouthed bowl and added 1 tsp of olive oil to it along with Penzeys Greek seasoning and then gave the bread sides a good shake in the bowl & then put them in the oven on toast mode and tasted them for 10 minutes on 300 degrees f. They were super crunchy with just a hint of oil and the magical Penzey's Greek seasoning gave them the extra edge which went so well with the soup.

    Preparation Time: Overnight soaking of beans
    Cooking time: 20 minutes
    Serves: 4

    13 beans mix: 2 cups
    Chicken stock or vegetable stock or plain water to pressure cook
    salt: to taste
    Turmeric: 1/8 tsp
     Ginger Juice: 2 tbsp ( I pound the ginger and extract the fresh juice)
    Tomato's: 2 medium sized
    Onions: 1 medium thinly sliced
    Cayenne pepper: 1 tsp
    basil: dry a tiny bit
    Garlic: 3 cloves chopped
    Dash of lime
    Olive oil: 1 tbsp

    Take the overnight soaked beans and pressure cook them with salt and turmeric till the beans are soft and can be mashed between the forefinger and thumb.

    Take a pan and heat 1 tbsp oil in it. Now add the sliced onions and saute them for 3 -4 minutes add the chopped garlic. Add the sliced tomato's to this and cook till it looks like a well blended puree. Now add the cayenne and dry basil and the ginger juice.

    By now the pressure would have released from the cooker,take the lid off and check the beans,give them a good stir and see if it has enough water. If not add some water depending on how thick you want the soup consistency to be. I like my soup to be fairly thick. Now add the cooked tomato's and onion to the soup and let it cook for some time on low flame. Enjoy it with a dash of lime and some toasted bread,this is a good hearty soup at its finest and the different colors are so appetizing :)

    Note: The different beans in this packet are navy, black, red, pinto, baby Lima's, large Lima's, garbanzo, red lentils, great northern, kidney beans, black-eyed peas, yellow splits, green splits, and lentils .

    Cayenne Pepper Health Benefits: Cayenne today is used world wide to treat a variety of health conditions including poor circulation,weak digestion, sore throats,chronic pains,headaches & tooth aches. This is the most powerful herb and in Dr Richard Schulze the medical herbalist's words,"If you master only one herb in your life,master cayenne pepper.It is more powerful than any other".

    Tuesday, December 7, 2010

    Mushroom Chicken Sandwich

    Every once in a while I  start watching the carb & fat intake  in my diet seriously. Especially when I want to shed a few pounds without starving myself and depriving my taste buds. So this time I came up with this yummy sandwich recipe for both me & Mahir . To my surprise both of us were feeling full and satisfied after one sandwich each with a generous portion of chicken and sauteed mushrooms. I used some pesto and Greek yogurt mixed together as a spread with some red chilli flakes in it to give it that extra kick. It worked wonders and we simply loved it. So we will  hopefully continue to eat healthy & tasty and also loose some weight . I will keep coming up with more healthy,nutritious and TASTY ideas and will also continue with my regular cooking as well.So stay tuned and read on....

    Ingredients & method:
    1.Weight watchers bread or pepperidge farms light bread with 50 calories per slice and weight watchers bread does not use high fructose corn syrup.

    2.Sliced mushrooms sauteed in a non stick pan with 1 tsp of olive oil and very little salt some basil  & some chopped garlic and thinly sliced onions and chilli flakes with some crushed peppercorn.

    3.Chicken breast cut into thin strips,boiled and drained( save the chicken stock & use it later) and then sauteed with the mushrooms in the same pan after the mushrooms have been sauteed for 3-4 minutes and still have a crunch to them. make sure there is some moisture in the pan from cooking the mushrooms when you add the chicken strips. This way they will blend well and not stick to the pan and get hard & chewy.

    4. Some pesto, I take 1 tsp of pesto and 2 tsp of Greek non fat yogurt with some red chilli flakes and mix it to use it as a spread for the sandwich.

    5. Now take the 2 bread slices and put them in the toaster,just to warm them a little. When they pop out,spread some spread.

    6. Arrange the chicken and mushrooms on one of the slices and cover it with the other slice and press it with your hand .

    Please note: This sandwich is high in proteins and  it would be a good idea to have it for breakfast or brunch as the protein intake will jump start the metabolism  and aid in burning calories faster also keeps you feeling full for long.

    Mushroom is a low calorie food and most appropriate for low calorie dieting. Again a good source of protein.

    Fage 's( pronounced fa-yeh!) is all natural non fat yogurt with 20 gms protein per serving (227 gms)

    So what are you waiting for,enjoy this yummy sandwich with fewer calories and more protein :)

    Monday, December 6, 2010

    Broccoli Chicken,Mushroom & Pasta casserole

    Manasi was going for the progressive supper,a yearly youth group event held by the Congregational Church  for the MSYG and YG and I had volunteered to make broccoli ,chicken,mushroom casserole entree for 20 kids. It is a three course dinner and parents volunteer to make appetizers,entrees and desserts along with giving rides to all  kids from the church to  the three house's where they go for the respective three course dinner. Everyone loved the casserole .

     I had to share it with all here ,even though I did not get to try it , I can take Manasi's final verdict  on this, as she  is - The food critique in the Bhagia house hold :) She could not stop raving about the buttery garlicky aroma  while  the casserole was cooking in the oven. The bread crumbs roasted with garlic and parsley were enough to arouse an intoxicating greed and the white sauce rich with  butter ,cheddar,egg yolk and black pepper, was ummm being savored by spoonfuls while it was still cooking in the pan. I had to finally shoo her away from the kitchen so that I had  enough to pour on the casserole. It is sad as I could not serve this on a plate and show you the layers of colors and the rich texture of the sauce as I had to send the casserole.But you have my  my word on  this one-As Manasi puts it , " Simply -The best caserole".!!!

    Preparation Time: 30 minutes
    Cooking time: 20
    Serves: 6

    Broccoli:  Roughly1 pound florets
    Chicken breast: roughly 1 pound, cut into thin strips and boiled till it becomes white.
    Cooked elbow pasta: 2 cups
    sliced mushrooms boiled in the microwave for 3 minutes: 2 cups
    Garlic: 4 cloves crushed
    Crushed peppercorn or paprika: To your taste
    Bread crumbs: 1 cup
    Italian style bread crumbs: 1 cup
    Parsley: 2 tbsp
    Olive Oil: 1 tbsp
    Unsalted Butter: 1 tbsp

    For the sauce:
    Butter Unsalted : 3 tbsp
    all purpose flour: 3 tbsp
    Sharp Cheddar cheese: 1 cup
    Milk: 1 1/2 cup
    Salt: To your taste
    Egg yolk: 1

    Method for the sauce:

    Take a pan and add 3 tbsp butter and add the 3 tbsp flour to it and cook for 4-5 minutes. Now add the milk gradually stirring constantly to avoid lumps.  The consistency has to be  thick and make sure there are no lumps .the sauce should be smooth and thick like the pancake batter. Now take some liquid from this and mix the egg yolk to this and beat well.Then add this to the rest of the sauce. Now add the cheddar cheese and continue to cook on low flame till it has acquired the desired consistency of a thick pancake batter. Turn off the flame and let this sit while you prepare the casserole.

    The sauce should be thick and easy pouring consistency
    Now take a baking dish and add 1 tbsp of olive oil along with 1 tbsp of unsalted butter and stick it in the oven along with 4 crushed garlic for roughly 2 minutes or till the garlic starts to make the sizzling sound in the butter. Remove it from the oven and add 1 cup bread crumbs along with 2 tbsp parsley and stick it in the oven for 1 more minute. Now scoop this mixture out and spread it on a wax paper to be used later.

    Take the baking dish and spread the cooked chicken strips.

    Now take the broccoli florets and boil them in hot water till tender and quickly rinse them in cold water,to retain the green color. Now spread a layer of these on the chicken pieces.

    Now spread the 2 cups cooked pasta on the  broccoli.
    Top this with boiled mushrooms,then pour the sauce and complete this  topping with Parmesan cheese and the roasted breadcrumbs with garlic and parsley.

    Bake this at 350 degree F on the third shelf for 15 to 20 minutes or till the top starts to turn a golden brown color.

    Notes: you can add paprika or crushed peppercorn on the sauce before adding the bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese. It gives a nice kick to the casserole :)
    After boiling the chicken ,you can save the stock for later use.