Monday, December 31, 2012

Aloha Pasta Salad!

Aloha! We had a wonderful week at Hawaii during thanksgiving. It was also my daughter's first birthday. There is so much pressure on parents now a days to make your kids birthday special - don't you think? There are all these theme based parties to host, games and entertainment to provide during the party, theme based tablewares, buy perfect gift to the birthday kid, favors to trade for her friends and cakes to order..... the list of chores is endless. And for a kid who goes to daycare, repeat all of that for a daycare party - phew, just thinking about it was taxing enough. But still, we wanted to make it special being her first - something she will look back years later through the pictures and fondly cherish, so after days of mulling over we decided that a quiet beach-side cake cutting in the beautiful islands of Hawaii with Mommy-Daddy was a perfect plan for the special day! Not to mention Mommy-Daddy also needed a celebration for surviving the first year of being parents ;)

We rented an oceanfront condo with a fully-equipped kitchenette. The pantry however was very light consisting only of olive oil, salt, pepper, sugar and a few cookies. We were expected to grocery shop in the nearby village market and farmer's market and cook in the kitchenette. It sounded a lot of fun! I packed carefully - allocating a large ziplock in our suitcase for the dry pantry items brought from home so we can get away with buying a few vegetables at Hawaii and have a wonderful week-worth of meals. I packed a serving of dried lentils for lentil soup, a serving of rice for my favorite vegetable spiced rice and two servings of dried bowtie pasta for pasta salads.

I kept pasta salad for last hoping to use various remaining ends and scrapes of the produce in the salad before we leave the island. A large bunch of cauliflower was sitting around so I thought I'll make roasted cauliflower pasta - but I guess the bountiful beaches and gardens of Hawaii had another plan in store for my pasta salad :)

Monday, December 24, 2012

Happy Holidays!

This has been a very special year for me. This year I cherished so many moments of my daughter's first year and all her subsequent firsts - her first smile, her first crawl, her first solid meal, her first word ("no" - can you believe it!) to her first wobbly step! When we welcomed 2012 last year, she was this tiny little newborn tightly swaddled in a blanket and look how grown up she is now, no more like a baby but almost like a little girl! The Mom in me is so proud and happy yet also silently saddened by how fast the time seems to be running. Just for a while I want to freeze the time and enjoy her baby days just for a little bit longer... I am so not ready to let go of her newborn smell or her gummy grins! hey, may be that should be my wish to Santa.. :)

2012 is always going to have a special place in my heart... but I know the next year will be equally happy and adventurous in it's very own ways and while I am not quite ready for her toddler days (read toddler tantrums!), I am happy for this holiday break in between - planning to just sit back, relax and slip in the happiness of the holidays spreading all around.

So many of you have kept in touch through emails, facebook and comments while I have been on an on-and-off blogging break - one thing I hope to do much better next year: blog more, write more!

I made this Edible Christmas Tree a few years back - ever since then it has had a permanent place in all the holiday parties we have been invited too! I am so happy so many of you liked the tree, made it, improvised on it and sent all those little encouraging words and feedback through countless comments, emails and links! Thank you also to all of you who have linked and credited the fruit tree on your pages and spaces and helped spread it's reach much farther - when I see each and every one of the new links, it never fails to make my day :) I know I will never be able to list out all of you but many thanks to Frugal Novice, Carlene Thomas, Cute for Kids, examiner, Welch's, Hawaii Island Garden School Network, El Pais newspaper, Canadian Family, Disney Baby, Amy's Kitchen and so many of you from Pinterest, Facebook and particularly all the bloggers for making my simple edible fruit tree a part of your special Christmas celebrations - a very happy holidays and a wonderful new year to all of you!
Instructions to make the tree are here

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Roasting chestnuts...

(If you have never roasted chestnuts before, I highly recommend giving it a try this holiday season! Sure, there is some work in roasting and particularly shelling part, but what better way to spend your holidays chatting with friends or family camped in front of fireplace shelling and snacking on these delicious chestnuts.. give it a try if you can - it sure won't disappoint you. This post one of my very early 2009 posts; I had forgotten I wrote this until recently I was reading through my earliest posts and came across "Roasting Chestnuts" and had to re-share it again - 'tis the season after-all!)

Come December all of my car's FM radio preset channels seem to be falling pray one by one to the ever pervasive Christmas music. Now I love the holiday tunes and enjoy them most of the time, but there just isn't something right when I am driving to work burdened with an impending end-of-year deadline and the lady on the radio is cheering happily "its the most wonderful time...!":-). Anyway, one such morning I was driving to work and heard the song "Chestnuts roasting on an open fire.." by Nat King Cole and I was suddenly inspired to roast some chestnuts at home in the spirit of Christmas!

I shared the idea with a friend at work who looked at me with a why-in-the-world-would-you-do-that kinda way. "It is just so much easier to buy pre-roasted pre-shelled chestnuts and they don't really taste that different from the ones from your oven, you know!". Well, I didn't have much of an answer to her other than "I have never roasted them before and I want to give it a shot". Sure thing, a little while and a lot of googling later I knew what she meant, it did look like a reasonable work, particularly the shelling part.

Undeterred on my way home I bought a pack of chestnuts at Trader Joe's. I put on my favorite CD, made myself a cup of Chai and got to work! Just as chestnuts were coming out of the oven my husband walked in commenting "something smells nice!". I was shelling the chestnuts and he decided to join me. This was a departure from our usual after-work routine of checking emails/blogs and watching TV. While shelling and eating the chestnuts we talked about how our day went by, gossiped a little and just had a good time in general... we shared some tricks to make the nuts easy to shell and we both shared with the other the ones that we thought were the best.. and while doing that I realized it is indeed worth the time and effort to roast & shell chestnuts yourself the old-fashioned way once-in-a-while just to give you that breaker from the always-connected always-busy world we live in and spend quality time with friends and family making new memories on the way :-) afterall, it is the season!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup

Winter has finally made it's appearance loud and clear. For last few days temperatures have been steadily dropping, evenings are chilly, mornings are frosty, my hot cup of chocolate is just that much more warming to body and soul - and that means one thing in our household, lots and lots of soups!

On many winter days our quick lunch is a pot of soup with some thick crusted sourdough bread brushed with olive oil and broiled at high temperature with just a rub of a fresh garlic clove. Throw in some salad (my favorites are couscous with butternut squash and dried cranberries salad or quinoa salad or a simple greens salad topped with some fruits and nuts dressed with an easy olive oil red wine vinegerate) and it's a perfect meal any time of day..

The recipe below is a slight adaptation of an old recipe I had posted earlier (but no new photos this time - what with a warm aroma of soup and garlic bread wafting your way sometimes all you can do is eat!). 

The early readers of Ginger & Garlic may remember I was in big favor of not adding creams to savorys as a rule (yes, I know I am the singleton who doesn't like alfredo sauces or cream based soups either!) However I have had some softening of my palette recently - I think motivated by my one year old's preferences ;) - so the cream lovers would be happy to know now that I am slowly edging towards their camps :) 

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This page and all of its contents is copyright of Prajakta Gudadhe. All rights reserved.

This is a web catalog of the recipes that I have tried and tasted in my kitchen. While these recipes and instructions have worked well for me, please use all the information and the recipes from Ginger and Garlic at your own risk.