Monday, July 28, 2014

Quick Food Fix: Queso De Cabra; Munch Bunch edition

Another munch bunch, another great relaxed evening with friends, another complete spread, another successful food feast.

Munch Bunch is a gathering of four couples who are self-proclaimed foodies and love to attempt making new cuisines and then enjoying the delicious meal over laughter, food and awesome company. We have made Vietnamese, Ethiopian, Greek, Boys cooking evening amongst a few!

This month our theme was 'Spanish Tapas' and we were all excited at making tapas. A friend actually commented, there are so many options, I don’t know what not to make.

The picture speaks a thousand words, this was our spread:

I attempted to make two things, a cold Soup: Gazpacho. Somehow soup and cold does not go well for me, but it being summer and Munch Bunch is all about challenging ourselves, I said, let’s try Gazpacho. The other tapas for me was Queso De Cabra (Baked Goat Cheese). It's my favorite item to order at any Tapas place I go to!
Surprisingly, The Queso De Cabra was very quick to cook and easier to assemble. It qualifies for my 'Quick Food Fix' Needless to say, going forward, it will be a regular in our meals at home.  Quick Food Fix for me, is something that can be put together from start to finish in under 25 minutes and should be substantial, a complete meal. Simple
 Queso De Cabra:
Serves 6
Time to Prep: 5 Minutes, or how quickly can you chop?
Time to Cook: 15 Minutes
Time to bake: 5 Minutes

Tomato: 3 chopped finely/ pureed
Onion: 1: White/Pink finely Chopped
Garlic: 1 clove finely chopped
Butter: 1-2 Tsp
Goat Cheese: 5-6 spoons
Basil: 3-4 tsp dried basil or 2-3 tsp finely chopped fresh basil
Jalapeno: 1 finely chopped
Red Chilli Flakes: Per taste
Salt, Pepper: Per taste
Sour Dough bread: 3-4 slices cut in medium size cubes (any other type of bread will do as well)

1. In a heavy bottom pan, heat butter on medium heat
2. Add Onion and Garlic till translucent and fragrant
3. Add the herbs and sauté for 1-2 minutes
4. Now add the tomato puree and jalapeno
5. On low heat, cover the pan and let the sauce cook for 10-12 minutes
6. The sauce gets thicker, so remember to stir and you know it will be ready when butter floats on top.
7. Taste and adjust seasoning.
You are welcome to add 1-2 tsp. of heavy cream for a more creamy texture

1. In a ramekin/ shallow bake ready pan, put 2-4 cubes of bread
2. Pour the sauce till 3/4 to the top
3. Put 2-3 spoons of goat cheese and bake at 250 F for 4-5 minutes

Serve with bread as a dipping suace/ as a main

Here is the picture of My Queso De Cabra

 And yes, it was as delightful and delicious as it looks, if I can say so myself.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Same thing, Different Rules: Mommy Confession

She is 6, and I am well a little over my late twenties(Wink Wink!). But, I am realizing I have different rules for her and for me for the same thing. 
And since she does not know what a blog is, or this space, I will confess. Because I can.

1. Ice Cream: We were on Foster Beach this weekend with some amazing friends walking, laughing, giggling and enjoying the breeze. An ice cream truck comes by. 4 ice creams/ popsicles bought with no second thought. The same truck that my older one pleads to for us to get her an ice cream and we tell her no- Not good water/ milk. Then we take her to the gelato place near our house and get her the ice-cream.
It's not about the ice cream but where she is getting it from. But somehow I feel she would have enjoyed the one from the truck way more. Instant gratification. Same thing, different rules.

2. Bread Crust: I love bread in all forms, shapes and sizes. No discrimination here. My morning breakfast comprises of toast mostly all days. But I-Dont-Like-The-Crust. V, my 6 year old has seen me remove the crust every single day. She asks for the same thing, 'Please remove the crust'. And more often than not, I comply. I understand. But then there are times, when I am like, just eat the crust, its so soft, its so crunchy, its so.. More out of my laziness than anything else. You get the idea Same thing, different rules.

3. Laundry: Like most, when I come home, I need to change out of work war-wear to simple PJ's. And its been a long day, I 'sometimes' leave the clothes on the floor/ bed/ bathroom. And mostly by end of day, its in the basket. Mostly is the word I am stressing on. When my 6 year old comes home from school and changes into her favorite shorts and T-shirts, her school gear is on the floor. Every Day. I nag, I plead, I threaten and then with heavy feet she will 'sometimes' throw them in the laundry basket 2 steps away. But still, I ignore her 'long' day and well make her put the clothes in the laundry basket.
 And the one that is a conversation EVERY single day when she asks : "why do I need to sleep so early?'

4. Sleep time: Hers is 7:30 pm and mine should be 10:00 pm. Ideally. Realistically she is in bed at 7:30 and then sleeps by 8ish. For me, I am in bed by 11ish and sleep by 'have no clue' She says: I am trying, closing my eyes and trying really hard. And she does. Me however, Lie down, see something on i-whatever, read something, see something, read something, yawn, water, snooze and then after tossing and turning sleep. She makes and effort and I don’t 'really' make the effort.

And it's natural. I get that; I can justify both our behaviors.  I can lecture on 'good habits start early', 'practice restraint' but then it contradicts with 'be happy', 'go with the flow'.
You need to let them be kids. But maybe not too much 'kid'
 Urgh, bottom line. Same thing, different rules. We both, the 6 year old and me, a little over my late twenties should follow along the same rules. But we don’t.

Why? Since you see, I am a little over my late twenties and well, she is 6.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

A memorable vacation.. for us.

While the kids are enjoying themselves with Grandparents, Mama, Maami, I was left sulking and whining. On any given day you are bone tired by 8 pm, but at 9pm, when you peek in their bedrooms and see them snoozing, its rejuvenating. Kids do that! It's refreshing, makes you count your blessings and yes, get ready for next day at Casa De Chaos.
I digress, Sumit sensed me being home was too painful without the kids, so last minute, we headed to Toronto, Niagara On the Lake and Niagara Falls. 3.5 days of complete bliss, relaxation and well moments when you wish the kids were just with you to snuggle with. And you can't say no when a vacation starts with this!

We booked our hotels an hour before we took on the long drive from Chicago to Toronto. The 8 hours drive became 11.5 hours thanks for July 4th rush. But our drive was beautiful, we chatted, listened to 'our' music, caught up, reminisced and just unwound.
Next day after a scrumptious Indian meal in Brampton, Canada (Come on, you can’t go to Canada and not eat delicious spicy Indian food!).

We headed to Toronto to our fabulous hotel- Shangri-La. What a treat! Sumit had called prior, we entered an upgraded room with a box of chocolates and cake. Just perfect and yes sooo romantic.

This was my first time in Toronto, and I wanted to visit the city, but the room and the hotel was so luxurious, I didn’t want to head out.
After much cajoling, we headed to the Distillery District. It was like time stood still, we lazed out in art galleries admiring very interesting pieces. I participated in a small salsa lesson. Was so much fun, under the Toronto sun. (Poetic, eh?)
We held hands, walked and before the sight of any kids laughing would pinch my heart, Sumit would point to the next interesting art work. With the World Cup scores in background we cheered, shouted and well laughed. A Lot. It reminds me of the countless hours we have spent in the Italian Piazza's- Town Squares!
Tired, we then headed to the 'Dunda's Street' time square. We caught the end of an amazing victory of Brazil. Walked around a little more and with exhausted feet headed back to the hotel. The plan was rest, freshen up and head to the lively night life of the city. Come on, no kids, there is no reason to be indoors at 8pm!
But, a detour to the hotel Jacuzzi, pool and Sauna followed. I have no idea where the 3 hours went by. The cabanas were so inviting after the swim, I read that book I have on my night stand since 2 months. Smile. I think time stood still.
We returned and swore we will be out in 10 minutes. And then I said the famous last words, ‘Let me lie down for 5 minutes” The next I remember was waking up, stumbling across the room to see the time as: 11:15 am. Yes, next morning.
Aaaa! So much so for not calling it  a day at 8 pm! It was such a nice feeling to wake up that late, that refreshed and that hungry.
We then enjoyed the sights and scenes of the lively China Town. Eating lychee and drinking sugarcane juice in the heat was perfect. We then walked some more and headed to the harbor front and spend the next few hours looking at the water, the planes, the cyclers at the AmsterDam Brewery! The wood fire pizza was so delicious, the service impeccable and the ambience, pure bliss.

Time to head to the Falls. We made a quick detour to the Niagara-On-The-Lakes. Such a charming town, walking in the lazy town, having ice cream and enjoying Crepes. I think this was the town my kids would have gone crazy in! In a good way, there was an ice cream shop every 10 steps. I kid you not.
The Niagara Falls are breathtaking as always. Our room overlooked the falls, and with the view, you could gaze out for hours. Which I did while Sumit tried his luck at the casino!
We walked and talked on the Falls Ave Strip, enjoyed the liveliness in contrast to the relaxed walks in Distillery.
Next morning, we swore, we will wake up when we wake up. A 11:15 am call woke us up from the slumber. After a heavy meal, we headed to the 'Horn Blower' The Maid of the Mist. It’s my third time at the Falls and I think I will do this Every-Single-Time! It was enjoying the spray of the water, catching the rainbows and just taking it all in!

With heavy hearts and relaxed bones we drove back to Chicago. I think the getaway did us good. The best part, I know the next road trip to do when the kids get back from the Grand Parents.

Note: Picture's are property, please don't use without permission