Thursday, June 27, 2013

Another successful Munch Bunch, Theme: Greek

This time for the Munch Bunch, the theme was Greek. Since I was responsible for one main, I started
hunting for intresting recipes, Surprisingly, it was very Vegetarian friendly. I generally order the
same two things in any greek restraunt. But I was amazed to find such a lovely variety of dishes with
simple steps and complicated flavors.
Here was the menu of the evening:
Greek Tiger
Zuccini Fritters with Tatziki,
Chips and Tirokafteri
Spanikopita Lasagne
Peppers with Feta
Yumm Yummm Yummm,,

I wanted to try my hand at dolmades. But the steps scared me away and I will stick to ordering that in
restraunts. I made: Peppers with Feta cheese and 'tirokafteri' a spicy cheese dip.
Here is my take of simplifying the already simple recipes

1. Peppers with Feta CheeseIngredients:Sweet Peppers: 30 medium size
Jalapeno peppers: 2 sliced length wise
Tomatoes : 4 large, (recipe called for grated but I used my foood processer for chunky peices)
Feta cheese:  250g  crumbled- Store baught package
Garlic: 5 cloves, finely chopped. We all love garlicy flavor in food
Basil leaves: 1 bunch, finely chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt to taste
Steps1. Wash the peppers, deseed them and cut them lenght wise.
2. Set them on trays for drying.
3. Heat olive ould and fry the peppers. Peppers will sizzle as soon as put them. Remove from oil when
they look slightly soft.
(Since the original recipe called for frying, I stuck to it. The next time, I am planning to broil them
for making it healthier)
4. Lay the fried pepper in an oven dish and sprinkle salt to taste (I used sea salt)
5. Layer with garlic, the crushed tomatos and the sliced jalapeno peppers.
6. Add salt to taste, but not too much as the feta cheese is rather salty.
7. Sprinkle the olive oil and basil on top.
8. Finally, sprinkle the crumbled feta cheese on top.
9. Bake in the over at 350 F for approx. 20 minutes, until the liquid has been absorbed and the feta
browns a bit.
10. Eat Hot!!!!
Notes: Since this dish calls for only salt, ensure the Feta is good quality so to render good taste.
I am happy to report, that the peppers dissappeared really quickly and my friend M worded it perfectly,
its smoky to tase and so easy on the tongue. I could not agree more.
As an Indian, I love spice in my food, but for once, with the simplicity of flavors in this dish, it
was perfect. No additional 'hot sauce'needed.
Adapted from here

2. Next dip I tried was 'Tirokafteri' a spicy cheese dip.
Though I didnt have to make anything for the appetisers, this recipe looked really simple and since I
had never eaten it, the foodie in me wanted to make and eat it.
Please note, the dip is heavy, cheesy and spicy! So yes, perfect.
IngredientsJalapeno: 1
Thai Chilli: 3-4 (depends on your spice level). Finely chopped
Feta cheese: 250 gm
Greek anthotiro cheese: 125g. I went to three stores and still didnt find it. I used the Ricotta Cheese
as replacement that the original recipe called for
2 teaspoonfuls lemon juice
100ml extra virgin olive oil
Steps:1. Wash the jalapeno and the chillis.
2. Put all the cheeses and peppers in a blender and mix.
Note: I added some milk for assisting the blending process
3. You might have to add salt to adjust seasoning.
4. Add lemon juice
The consistency should be of a thick yogurt.
Garnish with olive oil and enjoy!
This worked really well with the Zucini Fritters that M had prepared and the chips. In all due honesty,
I ate it with all the mains!! Hehe, Yes it did turn out creamy and yummy at the same time.

It was a wonderful Munch Bunch which got topped off by some Cut Throat Mafia at the end of the evening.
Next month: Theme:  Guys cooking. I am looking forward for our girls spa session as the boys dish out
stuff. They need to ONLY make 2 Appetisers, 2 Mains, Drink, Dessert

I cant wait!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Wild Wild West

The name 'Wild Wild West' was enough to pique my interest. No not the movie but the adventure park. When I got the email to go here in the middle of winter, trust me I jumped on it. Hell, I was interested. Of course the distance from the city was a bit much. But in the middle of dead winter, even an hour plus seems okau. The kids can take a nap. It is a short drive.

On fathers day weekend, I invited another family to join us for this trip. So 5.5 year, 3.5 years and 0.5 year old, four adults made it to the Donley's Wild Wild West and I must start by saying, it was awesome. For all the ages. Within the first twenty minutes we realised we have five kids instead of three's since the fathers became kids here.
While my preschooler enjoyed the canoe rides, my husband and his fried were busy trying their hand at shooting and archery. While the toddler screamed with fun in the roller coaster, the husbands were taking challenges at sling shots. My friend and I were having a blast just looking the kids and the husbands and of course the shooting! Need less to say, I lost all the time to Sumit.
There is a show in the park, which I think left a lot to be desired. It was okay but the little ones didnt find the  jokes entertainig or the story captivating. I am very happy that they started with a warning that playing with guns at all levels is wrong and telling the kids what they should do if they ever see one. Considering the current air in politics around gun control and the impressionable age of the kids, this was the right move.
I am a nursing mother and was a bit dissapointed to find a lack of mothers room or something to give me some privacy. However the front desk was very understanding and kind. They let me sit in there movie theater with an outlet for pumping. I must say, having the entire theatre playing old movies while you pump, was an amazing experience. I really applaud the presence of mind and the consideration I got.
Food wise, I didnt know that outside food was not allowed and we had packed a picnic with us. Which I am glad we did. Being vegetarian, we didnt have much choice there. But again I think the management was adjusting and let us enjoy the picnic.
It was a rainy day, so there were not a lot of people in the park. Which turned out to be advantageous. The kids did multiple pony rides, sling shots, played in the park without any lines and best, without any tantrums. They give you a punch card which lets you do a combination of the activites here. Trust me, we didnt get through all the punches even at the end of the day.

I think the 5.5 and the 3.5 year olds did so many carousel rides that they wont be asking to sit in abother one for a very long time.

Over all it was a wonderful day, at $16.99 for a ticket, its perfectly priced to include lots of rides, experiences, and fun. I think the one hour drive away from the city was so worth it. And it helped that Huntley's outlet mall was on our way back. So nothing like shopping for a bit on your way back.
It was a very good fathers day gift for my husband. I asked my 5 year old what her favorite was and she said:

Searching for gold and carousel and pony and rides and plaing and... you get the idea!!!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Scheduled life

The one application/ tool that I usethe most is calendar. Yes, its antiquated, old, been around forever. But this is the one thing that I cant live without. Simple reason. All the technology we have also does not help in making mind and memory sharper.

So if its not noted on the calendar, its usually forgotten or over looked. Not Cool.

I maintain the family calendar which means, I track school stuff, important dates, play dates, birthday dates, school commitments, parties, school volunteering etc. Then I track extra curriculars, like classes, missed times, returns for books, gym classes, opeing dates for parks etc. Add in our social commitments for parties, picnics, gatherings, date nights, girls nights, movie nights. The top layer becomes travel shcedule for spouse, just so that I can plan my week around that, include my work commitments outside of regular hours.
The end product is a super busy calendar which is color coded so I know what type of commitment this is. It also has reminders set based on type. If its a birthday party, i will get a reminder a few days before to ensure i have the gift for it. If its a school volunteer, then I will get a reminder the night before to plan for Little Lady. You get the gist.
Yes, its crazy, but its organised. I know what we are doing when the time comes, so we are not double commited. At the same time, I plan so that we have some down time of lazy park walks, chiling at home and just being silly with the girls.
To the reader, it might seem like we are this super wanna be couple who are busy all the time. Well, I dont know about that. We have a good set of friends whom we like to meet regularly, do new activities with them and just relax. At the same time, we have an active toddler who enjoys her friends and company. There are so many Friday mornings that she asks us, who is coming tonight? Or where are we going? At the same time, Sumit and I love each others company so I have to equate for that.

When Sumit says, my weekends are out sourced to the wife. He is correct. He generally has no clue of what we are doing over weekends until I tell him> He however does know when we are doing nothing, he will nudge me to make a 'Plan'.

We like being busy. Its busy doing nothing. But we love this nothingness and hope we are blessed with it all our lives.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

A budding foodie

Recently at a lunch, one said to a friend, 'Glad you give your ten month old things off your plate' and it reminded me of my time with V and when she was little and how we introduced solids, had a 'few' food battles and now she is budding foodie.
She is five and a half now and I can safely say, she is good eater. Well, not picky and slow but a good eater.

1. Family Dinner time: One of the things we followed with her from the start was family dinner times. Even if S could not join due to work/ travels whatever, I would always have my dinner with V. This makes meal time a family affair and we catch up on our days and have dinner together.

2. Eat what the family eats: After V was old enough for bite size pieces, she ate what we ate. Earlier than that, it was puréed/ grated fruits etc. But still she ate what we ate. I did reduce the spice a bit, but did not cook separately for her. Ever. Phew, that has been a breather. It makes eating out, experimenting and travelling easier and fun.

3. No second options: If there was some thing on dinner table that V didn't like, I didn't make something else. May be she ate lesser that night, but she ate it none the less. It might sound really harsh, but V will try something always now. She does say, she didn't like because it looks weird, does not taste right, is eeky (Yup, that is a word for her). But she tries.

4. Choices: Now a days, I generally ask her do you want A or B for dinner. She will generally choose and let me know. There are times when she will say, can we have this please, and I happily oblige. She is helpful at meal times, if its putting a quesdilla together, she helps in putting the veggies/ beans and rice on it. She feels all grown up.

5. Educate: I try to talk to her about whats in a meal. If its a sabzi, how I made it, what vegetables went in, why its healthy. For example, she does not like spinach much, but I do make it often in different forms and tell her, there is spinach in this. She eats it and we discuss why she did or did not like it. It makes me get creative with food and I think it helps her realise one thing can be made in a variety of ways, so its fun to try.

6. Fun foods: Every once in a while, I make 'Mickey Mouse' shaped roti's, letter 'V' for pancakes, heart shaped sandwiches, it makes food fun for her. Now that she is older, she helps me with dry food arrangement, whether its laying vegetables for sandwich or taking some fruits out to make a custard. She loves to make shapes, make it colourful with different vegetables and then gobble it up.

7 Involve: This is from here. S goes grocery shopping for the family and he does take V if he can. But I dont think we read nutrition labels. It is good idea and we will try this soon.

With my little one in tow now, I do hope I can inculcate some similar habits in her. And more importantly learn from the mistakes before and then not repeat them. Make new ones.

Happy eating!