Thursday, January 28, 2016

Baked potato and mushroom-chicken

I had been just strolling through the isles of grocery market. Suddenly I spotted the sweet potatoes. I heard about sweet potato, I saw it, but I never bought it. When my son was very little I picked up one book from library, where the dinosaurs were eating different kind of sweet potato dishes. I forgot the name of that very book. That was one of his favorite books. Anyway, I grabbed one big sweet potato and bought it. However, after coming home I was muddled. I really had no idea how to cook it. I took the help of Internet. I was at loss, which recipe should I try first. Then I picked up baked sweet potato recipe, which was the easiest one. At last one fine Saturday I baked sweet potato along with mushroom-chicken. The meal turned out tasty indeed. 

Baked potato recipe:
One sweet potato
Salt and pepper to taste
Peel the sweet potato. Cut the potato into medium large chunks. Smear salt and pepper. Preheat the oven at 350 degree F.Take a baking tray. Cut aluminum foil according to the size of the tray. Cover the tray with aluminum foil.     
Drizzle little on the foil. Place the pieces on the foil. Drizzle a little oil over it. Bake until the sweet potato is tender.
Mushroom chicken
Two skinless boneless breast halves
Two medium onion
One medium tomato
Two cloves of garlic
One packet of mushroom (at least 10-12 pieces)
One tbsp. soy sauce
One tsp. cumin seed
Salt to taste
Cut the tomato and onion into big chunks. Peel the garlic cloves. Boil the chicken with onion, tomato, garlic, and salt in 3-4 cups of water until tender. Scoop out the chicken pieces. Keep the broth aside. You can use the broth in future cooking. 
Cut the mushrooms into thick slices. Cut the onion into this slices. Heat one tbsp. of oil in a heavy bottomed pan in medium. Fry mushroom and onion together for few minutes. Add salt, and continue cooking until the vegetables are tender, covering the pan. Add chicken pieces, and soy sauce into the curry. Give a good stir. Serve hot.
The lentil soups
This is the easiest dish I’ve ever cooked. This dish not only the easiest, but also very helpful. I used Tuvar dal(pigeon peas),Urad dal (Ivory white lentil), moong dal (yellow lentils). This simplest soup turned out utterly delicious on a rainy cold evening.
One fourth cup pigeon peas
One fourth cup white lentil
One fourth cup yellow lentil
Salt to taste
Extra virgin olive oil
Garlic powder
Pressure cook all the lentil together with enough water and salt. If the cooker is small, add water just right to the cooker. Let the cooker cool. Open the cooker check the thickness of the soup. If you need to make it thin, then add sufficient water of your desired consistency. Check the salt. If needed add salt again. Boil the soup. Pour equally into four soup bowl. Drizzle olive oil from the top. The sprinkle garlic powder from top. Serve hot. 

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Simple potato curry

Till date I couldn’t cook good dum aloo. Whenever I try to cook dum aloo, it always ends up into potato curry. I understand that, it is not my cup of tea. I should not even try to cook dum aloo. However, few days back I wanted to cook potato curry differently. I just started adding spices, whatever came into my mind. While cooking I could get the fine aroma, at that time I realized the curry was going to taste good. Moreover, it would taste delicious with simple roti.

One big potato (The potato I used was huge)
One-fourth tsp. of fenugreek seeds
One tsp. ginger paste
One tsp. cumin power
One tsp. coriander powder
One-fourth tsp. garam mashala powder
One cup yogurt
One-fourth tsp. or more chili powder
One tsp. of sugar
Three tbsp. of oil
One cup water
Salt to taste
Pinch of turmeric powder

Wash and peel the potato. Cut the potato into cubes. Marinate the potato cubes with salt and pinch of turmeric powder for ten minutes. Heat a heavy bottom wok on medium. Add two tbsp. of oil. Fry the potato cubes for few minutes. Let it cook. Keep the temperature from getting too hot. Fry the potato cubes until little brownish on every sides. Take the potato out from the pan, and keep then in a bowl. In the same pan add another tbsp. of oil. In oil add fenugreek seeds. As you get the fine aroma, add ginger paste into. Fry a little, and add all the dry powder. Ginger paste will stick in the bottom of the pan. So you have to scrape it. Add the fried potato cubes, and mix well with the spices. Meanwhile, in a bowl take one cup of yogurt , sugar, chili powder, and water. Mix well, and it to the pan. Mix well everything. Keep the temperature always in medium. Cover the pan, and cook until the potato cubes are tender. Serve hot with roti.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Baked chicken with vegetables

Two skinless boneless chicken halves

Two carrots (I used few baby carrots) 

Five-six button mushrooms

Five-six cloves of garlic

One tomato

One fourth tsp. of dried oregano 

Half tsp. of dried basil

Salt to taste

One tbsp. of olive oil

One-two cup salted hot water( if needed )

Shredded cheese

Cut the chicken breast into medium sized cubes. Thickly slice the carrots. If you are using baby carrots, then no need to do anything. Thickly slice the mushrooms. Peel the cloves. Cut the tomato into halves. Take an oven proof dish. Put everything in the dish. Mix well, and marinate for an hour. Preheat the oven at 350 degree F. Cover the dish with aluminum foil, and bake for half an hour. Take out the dish from oven, and check the tenderness of the chicken pieces. Don’t forget to use oven mittens. If the chicken pieces are not tender , then bake for another 10-15 minutes, and check again. Bake until the chicken pieces until tender, check every 10 minutes. 

Take the dish our from the oven. Take out the chicken pieces using tong. Divide the pieces into two plate. 
Pour everything else in a mixer, and make a paste. If the paste is thick, then and one-fourth cup of hot one at a time and mix well until the soup reaches a desired consistency. Divide the soup into two bowls. Sprinkle cheese on the top. Serve hot along with baked chicken.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Green pasta

My son wanted to eat spaghetti for dinner one night. When I opened my refrigerator, I found out that I didn't have any tomato, or any garlic in my storage. However, I had a bagful of spinach. So, I decided to use the spinach instead of tomato. It was just an experiment, but the dish turned out delicious.
Here is the recipe:
One bag spinach (Which will be approximate two cups of boiled spinach)
One tsp. garlic powder
One green capsicum
Dry Spaghetti for three
One-fourth tsp. dried oregano
One-fourth tsp. dried basil
One-fourth tsp. dried cilantro
Salt to taste
One tbsp. olive oil
Boil Spinach with little salt in a heavy bottomed wok covering. If you need, add a little water. Make a paste of the boiled spinach with garlic powder.Don’t add too much water, otherwise the paste will be runny. Cut the capsicum into small slices, discarding the seed part. Boiled the spaghetti, according to the instruction, written on the package. 

Heat oil in a frying pan on medium. Add basil, oregano, and cilantro in oil. When fine aroma starts coming, add the capsicum slices, and fry for few minutes. Add little bit salt into the capsicum. Cook capsicum for few minutes, until a little bit tender , but crunchy. Add the spinach paste, and mix well. When the spinach start spluttering, add the boiled spaghetti, and mix very well. Serve hot. 

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Cumin flavored chicken with sticky rice, and broccoli

Three skinless, boneless chicken breast halves

Two big carrot

Handful of mushrooms

One big onion

Two tsp garlic powder

One small tomato

One broccoli head

Two tsp cumin powder

One tbsp dark soy sauce

One tbsp oil

Salt to taste

One and half cup of water

One tsp lime zest (outer skin)

One cup brown rice

Three to four cups water to boil chicken

Peel and cut the carrot into big chunks. Cut the broccoli florets from the stalk. Cut the tomato into two halves. In a big pot add three to four cup water. Add chicken pieces, garlic powder, broccoli stalk, tomato, and salt. Cook ,until the chicken pieces are tender, covering the pot. Switch off the stove, scoop out the chicken pieces, and the broccoli stalk. Discard the broccoli stalk. You can discard the vegetables or you cane preserve the vegetables along with chicken stalk for any future cooking. 

Peel the second carrot, and diagonally slice it , keeping the pieces thin. Also, slice the onion thinly. Cut the mushrooms into 4 pieces. Heat one table spoon of oil in medium. Add the cumin powder. When fine aroma of the spice starts to come, add the sliced vegetables. Add salt to the vegetables. Sauté until the vegetable are tender, yet crunchy. Add the chicken slices. Add soy sauce. Give a good stir. Switch off the stove. 
While cooking the chicken, take big pot. Fill one-fourth of the pot with water, and bring into boil. Wash the rice and pour into the boiling water. Cook the rice until soft. If you need, add more water into rice. Stir the rice occasionally to avoid sticking on the bottom of the pot. Drain the water from the rice, Put the pot back on the stove, keeping heat in medium. Add the preserve chicken stalk, without the vegetables. Add lemon zest. Stir the rice continuously, until the rice becomes sticky. 

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Last week of Holidays, 2015

Last week of  Holidays were just flew by. Surprisingly, this was the first time I didn’t start missing the sweet lazy yearend Holidays. The very next morning, after come back from Los Angeles, for a moment I felt a little sadness as the holidays were soon to be over. 

Time always slips from hands, no matter how you are, how you are feeling, whether you are happy or sad. Time never has the “time” to think of that. It is always flowing like a river. It never feels to stop and look back for a wink. It never left you fully satisfied, rather always makes you think about the future time. It gives you hope. It heals your wound. It teaches you to think in new ways.Time did the same thing to me also. By the end of the Holidays, I was really done with it. I started eagerly waiting for the old everyday routine. When on the last day , my husband told me that, how sad he was as the holidays were going to be over. I told that my feelings was the just opposite.
Anyway, the very next day after our LA trip, almost all the day  we ran errands. Then we went hiking on 30th. Though, it was cold,foggy, and drizzly, but nothing could do hold us back. We were over enthusiast to go hiking. After hiking, all of were so hungry that we couldn’t think of going home, and having lunch. Actually, everyone was hungry for biryani. The smart phone helped us to find an Indian restaurant, where we could satisfy our tongue and stomach as well. It was all we did on 30th. 

Clouds cover the top of the mountain

Since 31st morning, I had been thinking going somewhere. However, I could not come up with any idea. Lastly, we stayed back home all the day. Although we didn’t do any different activity, but we had soulful meals through out the day. 

Bern and Nobles book store

January 1st, the first day of the new year, again we couldn’t find to do anything. Mr. Senior Man and Mr. Junior Man was sitting idle since morning, without doing anything. The extra thing Mr. Junior did was throwing tantrums from time to time, on any trivial issue. In the evening everyone wanted to go somewhere. However, that, “Somewhere” gave us a hard time. After lot of discussion, arguments, and tantrums we decided to for the first time to the nearest outlet mall. A couple of years back we went there. As soon as we reached the signal, we realized parking the car was going to be an adventure. At that time we didn’t want to plunge into such a thrilling activity. We knew that, this time also was going to happen the same. Though we knew that, this time Mr. Senior determined to go there. When We took exit from the freeway, Mr. Man suddenly slowed down the car. With the sudden jolt I looked up, and saw the gridlock in front of us. If I was on the driver-seat, I would turn around and went back home. The steering wheel was on Mr. Man’s hand, and he is an obstinate person. I knew my all insistence would go in vain. However, it was a challenge to me to keep myself compose. After beating the traffic snarl we entered the parking lot. Each and every lane was full of cars. Some cars had been waiting on the way, just to test their luck. We had been rolling through the lanes, until we spotted a couple coming out of the mall and going to their car very near to us. When we entered the very lane, we saw another car had been waiting there. However, it was our kismet, the car was waiting in such a position, that the driver couldn’t drive into the soon to be vacant space. So, with a wry smile, he drove out, and we filled the empty space. 

I've a special interest on cookbook

After the parking adventure we entered the mall. I heard that it was the mall where all the upscale designer store could be found. Almost all the time I kept my hand folded to myself. I was determined not to buy anything for myself, but to buy some actually needed accessories for senior and junior. After walking up and down few times we bought our things and came out of the mall. It was the end of our new year celebrations.
Second January was the first Saturday of the month. We usually take junior to Home Depot store, where kids’ workshop is conducted on the first Saturday of every month. After finishing the workshop, we went to have brunch at Mimi’s Cafe. Past one year we had been thinking to have breakfast there. Even, on previous night when, Mr. Man suggest going there, I flatly denied. Saturday morning, while cooking for rest of the weekend, I changed my mind, agreed with Mr. Man. So, after we finished the kid’s workshop we directly went to Mimi’s cafe. We usually go to the same place almost every weekend to run errands, but never ate out in the very cafe. Long back, one of my friend suggested having breakfast there. She told me to try the especially the breakfast. 

Mimi's cafe

After a little waiting, we got the table. Inside of the restaurants was very cozy and warm. We sank in the sofa after ordering our food. A little later the food came on our table. Mr. Man, cannot order anything but steaks , whenever he can find that in the menu. I just can’t eat steak. I went for egg. The food was delicious and very comforting. 

Junior's first love-pancake
I chose delicious crepe 

In the evening Mr. Man wanted to buy walking shoes. After I decked up in holiday attires, he decided not to go. I was totally in the mood of going out. We were undecided for long time, though we desperately wanted go some where.  Our minds became so out bound that we couldn’t even think of staying back home. Anyway, after wandering some times in the nearby mall we went to Bern and Nobles, one of my favorite store. I love to sit in the store and read books. This time I tried to read a travel book about France, but every second, Junior had been calling, “Mama, see this picture”. First time I saw, second time I saw, but it became a continuous process. Doing other thing  sitting beside him is next to impossible. I discerned that, and decided to go back home. 

Monday, January 4, 2016

Lima bean soup and Chicken sandwich

Three chicken leg pieces (or equivalent boneless chicken)

One big fat carrot

One small onionOne big tomato

Three-four cloves of garlic (or two taps garlic powder)

Pinch of garlic powder

Extra virgin olive oil

One fourth cup black eyed beans

One fourth cup Lima beans

Salt to taste

Half green bell pepper

One small onion

Six slices of sandwich breadGrated cheese(I used mozzarella cheese)

Butter to coat on bread slices

Freshly ground black pepper

  Soak the beans in water for three to four hours Peel the carrot, and cut into big chunks. Peel onion and cut into halves. Cut the tomato into halves. If you are using garlic clove, peel them. Wash the chicken legs very well. Take a heavy bottomed big pot. Add three cups of water into it. Add chicken, onion, carrot, tomato, garlic and salt into it. Boil under median heat until the chicken pieces are tender. You can also pressure cook everything. In that case you need less (approximately one and a half cup) water to boil. Let it cool.

Scoop out the chicken, carrot, onion, cloves, and tomato. Drain the water from the beans. In the same water boil the beans until soft. In this case I used pressure cooker. I took out every thing from the cooker in a big bowl. I added the beans in the cooker, Then I added some broth from the bowl, just to cover the beans. If you put much water in pressure, it will start splattering when the cooker becomes hot. With three-four whistles the beans were ready for the soup. 
When the beans are done, just let them cool in the pot. In the mean time thinly slice green bell pepper, and onion. Shred the chicken. Coat the bread slices with butter. Take three bread slices. Spread chicken, onion, and bell pepper on the them. Sprinkle freshly ground pepper, and salt. Spread cheese over the toppings. Put the other three bread slices on the top of each sandwiches. 
In a big pot pour the beans, and bring into boil. Make fine paste of the leftover boiled carrot, onion, garlic, and left over broth. (if you don’t have the broth, just paste them in a mixer). Add the paste into the pot. If the soup is very thick, add water to your desired consistency. Give a good stir. Pour equally on soup bowl. Sprinkle olive oil, and garlic powder  on the top.
In the mean time take panini grill or a sandwich maker. Heat the sandwiches in the grill. Serve hot along with the soup. 

On a cold day it will taste extra delicious.

Serving size:3

Friday, January 1, 2016

Joaquin Miller Park hiking

Happy new year !!!

First job after waking up in the morning in the winter is to check the outside temperature. Every morning in this winter I see the snow clad rooftop of every house. Every morning I check whether three is frost or not. The pervious night Mr.Man told about going hiking next day late morning. When I saw the temperature at 8 o’clock  in morning which showed 32 degree Fahrenheit.

At 8 o'clock in the morning

 I was in a ridiculous muddle, whether we should go hiking or not. I was just thinking to snuggle under the cozy thick blanket for another hour, before taking decision, when to move myself out of the bed.However, Mr. Man was adamant to go. So, I had to say to my cozy warm bed and started the day. Around 9:30 in the morning we started from home for Oakland. The car was on the driveway. 

The team is walking

It drenched itself the whole night in frost. The car was ice-cold when start. At 9:30 Mr. Sun was still taking his latest forty winks. Putting the heater in the car on high, still I was trembling.The sky was overloaded with dark cloud. The weather was moist and foggy. Moreover, rain god decided to pour some big rain drops on us. After reaching the foot of the trail we waited in the car for the arrival of our co-hikers. When they reached the big drops eventually turned into light shower and gradually stopped.

The lush greenery


We came out from the car with wobbly legs, trying to curl ourselves inside  our jackets. At last, we  shed  our all inertia and started walking on the trail.To our great relief we could start our hike without hassles. The sky was little foggy, temperature didn’t want to help us, and wind was also asking us to back.  The moist weather was tempting us to back home and sip a cup of hot coffee. Anyway, we defied everything, and went on.

Some beautiful wild fruits.. I don't know the name

 Our plan was to go on a light hike. We started around 10:30. The rain drenched trail was clad with mud and pebbles. The tall redwood trees stood tall along the trail, making a line like the children at school. The big ferns on bottom of the redwood trees showed that the area remained moist most the time. The big curly fern fronds clumped on the ground made numerous pods covering the ground.The trail was little bit steep in the beginning, as if like a road on a sand dune. 

Then the trail became narrow, and started going upwards winding the outer side of the mountain. Every now and then we found that tree fell on the train. Some times we had to jump over the fallen tree, some times we had duck our head to under the tree. There was no improvement in the weather.

One of the fallen tree

 We still felt cold. Some time the forest was so dense that it looked like sun was going to rest for the day. It was a round trip. As long as we clamped up , at least I felt no problem. Them came the downward trail full go mud, big uneven scary looking stones, and puddle. It was difficult to find place to put foot on the ground. The mud was so loose, the foot could get stuck there. On the top of that the boulders facing downwards, difficult to step on, in fear of slip. It took a lot of time to sowing down. I was the last person in the team to come. My feet froze out of cold made difficult to keep balance.

The dangling roots of a colossal redwood tree

 On the other hand , my son was jumping from one stone to another without tripping for a single time. First we started on Sunset trail, then took the Sequoia trail, and came to splash meadow. When we reached the meadow, it starred raining heavily. Luckily in the middle of the meadow there was big umbrella shaped tree. We ran under the tree, which provided us the natural umbrella. After waiting three, we understood rain god was not going to favor us. So, we decided to walk in the rain to reach the parking lot.   
The meadow at the end of the trail. After several attempt I could capture one bicyclist.