Saturday, April 30, 2016

Semi-homemade Falafel Pita Pockets

These falafel pita pockets are the best for warm weather lunches or picnics! They are my go-to Saturday lunch after we have done our Saturday morning ritual of farmer's market and Trader Joe's and there is just not enough time to devote to lunch. 

It literally takes 15 minutes to put this together to put lunch on table and that's because it's semi-homemade :)

You know how Trader Joe's has this little sampler foods you can try; one day they gave out samples for these frozen falafels and I thought it was great quality particularly for frozen. The cooking instructions accordingly were super simple 3min in microwave or 10-15mins in oven. I usually go for microwave. Each pocket has 12 small sized falafels which is perfect portion for 3 of us.
  
I always have a packet of whole wheat pitas in the fridge, also from Trader Joe's.

We have a great hummus lady at the farmer's market - I regularly buy a packet of her baba ganoush and harissa (green chili paste) (pictured above). Both are great additions and provide a nice kick to the grown up version of these pockets. Hummas and hot sauce would be the store bought alternatives.

Now for the home-made portion: I whip up a quick tzatiki -- add few Tbsp yogurt + one grated cucumber, just squeeze after grating to remove as much water + splash of olive oil + 1tsp lemon juice + pinch of dried dill + S&P. Just mix and serve!

I prep a bunch of veggies to add to pockets - like thinly sliced red pepper, onions, sliced cucumbers, sliced avocados, even some chopped kale or spinach will go wonderfully!

Warm up the pitas in oven or on stovetop. Gather everything on table and call out for lunch! Or pack up everything and head out to a picnic to enjoy these gorgeous spring days!

Everyone can make their pockets how they like, more veggies or less veggies, super spicy or no spice - either way these are always a super hit.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Mini Blueberry Muffins for Kids Lunchboxes

My daughter, who is now 4+, and I love baking together! Often she is the baking initiator  between the two of us.

She mixes the dry ingredients, preps the baking tray, licks the spoon and of-course does the perfect job of anxiously waiting and jumping around to see when the baked goodies would be done :) 

Recently we bought a large box of blueberries from Trader Joe's which turned out not as sweet as usual so they ended up waiting to be used up. And when that coincided with my daughter's "let's bake something, Mommy", blueberry muffins it was!

I have got to say I love my new mini muffin tray. I always felt the size of a regular muffin too large for one portion and really who has the will power to split the muffin in two and only eat one half? Definitely not a 4 year old or mom of a 4 year old! So when I saw the mini-muffin tray at Target, I quickly put one in the cart along-with a mini-muffin liner set.

The recipe is a derivation of the Allrecipes version - my main variation was to reduce sugar and add more fruit and to skip the crumb topping altogether. 

The muffins turned out great! 

Recipe:
Source: Allrecipes
Makes 16 -18 mini-muffins
Ingredients:
1.5C AP flour
1/2C sugar
1/2tsp salt
2tsp baking powder
1/3C vegetable oil
1/3C milk
1 egg
dash of vanilla extract
1.5C blueberries - fresh, rinsed and dried

Recipe:
Preheat oven to 400F

Mix the dry ingredients and set aside.

Beat an egg, add oil and milk to it. Mix well. Add vanilla extract. Then add all the blueberries and coat well.

Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients. Mix well.

Line a mini-muffin tray with liners. Add muffin mix to each and bake for 20-25 mins until top is crucnhy and the muffin is cooked through (insert a toothpick to check)

Remove from oven. Cool on a rack for few minutes. Enjoy!


Sunday, April 10, 2016

Get Them Before They Go - Asparagus

(Get Them Before They Go: In this series we feature a seasonal produce or fruit our family is thoroughly enjoying these days. Infact we are enjoying it so much that we think it deserves you opening another tab of your browser right now and finding out your nearest farmer's market to visit (or a local CSA or a seasonal grocer)! 

We at G&G believe in simple & quick recipes with local and seasonal produce made with care for family dinner tables. Not only you will be enjoying fresh bounties of the nature without the preservatives and 1000s of food miles, you will also be helping the local farmer's ecosystem and sustainable growing. And seasonal vegetables picked hours before just taste so much better - you got to try it to believe! So.. get them before they go)

Spring is the season for Asparagus. Last weekend I saw first asparagus shop sprouted up in our farmer's market and bought my first bunch of asparagus for the season. While you can find asparagus year around in supermarkets, they are there only for about 5-6 weeks in farmer's markets starting about now in early spring.

When buying asparagus look for tender stocks; I feel the tender once are more packed in flavor and have fewer tough ends.
Roasted Asparagus seasoned with Olive Oil, Salt, Pepper, Chilli  flakes and Lemon juice
I learnt a trick to avoid cooking with tough ends - you hold an asparagus, one end in one hand each. Bend lightly until it snaps on it's own. The place where it snaps is the general place you should chop off rest of the asparagus of that bunch so you get the soft flesh and not the hard ends. Don't through away the hard ends however, they are great to make a stock or grate and use in frittattas.

Asparagus is a well-known vegetable in US so there are abundant recipes of asparagus on internet. I'll list here some of my favorite ways to cook asparagus.

1) Roasted Asparagus wih Salt, Pepper, Chili flakes and Lemon
This is my most favorite way of eating asparagus. Prepapre them by chopping tough ends (see abov). Drizzle with olive oil, coarse salt, chilli paper flakes and pepper. Roast in 400F oven for about 15-20mins so they crunchy but soft inside. Remove from oven and sprinkle with lemon juice, serve hot as a side.

Note: you can play with oven temps and cooking times or turning broiler on for last 2 minutes if you like them browned.

2) Grilled asparagus

3) Steamed and sauteed

4) Chopped asparagus in noodle dishes such as Lo Mein or Soba

5) Asparagus can be a nice substitute to cauliflowers in masale bhat (Indian spiced rice).

Whichever way you like them, make sure you don't loose them out this season!

Monday, April 4, 2016

Citrus Blossoms!

Have you ever smelled an orange blossom? If not, I urge you to visit any of the orange farms or the many home grown citrus trees which are blossoming with the heavely smelling white flowers all around California, and perhaps other parts of the country, at this time! 
Blood Orange Blossom
To me, it's the most refreshing, invigorating and pure smell that has even been invented! Better than any flowers, way better than any artificial fragrances!

My earliest memories of citrus blossom are returning home from a fun day at mountains in San Diego. The winding road takes you through many citrus farms.. just roll down the car windows and the enjoy the blossoms, so peaceful!
Lemon Blossom
Now I am fortunate to live in a house with various citrus trees in our backyard - a bloooming meyer lemon tree, a bustling kumquats (the tiny orange like fruits where the peel is sweeter than the flesh and supposed to be eaten whole) and many variety of oranges which are flowering all around showing their promise for the season.
Meyer Lemons!
Leaving you with a few photos of citrus blossoms and a link to my simple but tasty citrus salad recipe - dance of colors on the plate!

Enjoy the spring while it lasts!! :)
Kumquats!

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Lo Mein Noodles with Lots of Vegetables

We love our noodle fix at our house! Noodles make a weeknight dinner appearance atleast once every other week for us. 

I load them up with lots of vegetables for a heart healthy dinner and they cook so fast - what's not there to love about this weeknight dinner!

This is another one of my busy working mom's 20minutes or less dinners. The trick, as always, is a well stocked fridge and pantry. Can't emphasize this enough. Spend that hour on Saturday to make it a priority to visit farmer's markets (if in your area) or any fresh local grocer/CSA and your tummy will thank you for it for the whole week to come!

My two favorite noodles to cook with are Soba and Lo Mein. I love them both. Soba tends get slightly stickier if you overcook them even for a minute -- Lo Mein have the advantage of being more unforgiving when it comes to texture. I buy them at Whole Foods but they are available at any asian grocery stores.

I have this trick to keep vegetables in a noodle dish crunchy. You just stir fry them one at a time and remove from heat. Then add everything together at the end - easy!

I hope you will try this another 20minute weeknight dinner.. you can add meats or tofu if you want or vary the vegetables - variations are endless!

Recipe:
Serves 3
Ingredients:
1 packet Lo Mein noodles - usually has 3 bundles
few Tbsp vegetable oil (don't use olive oil for stir-frying)
quarter of a large onion - sliced length wise into thin slices
1 red pepper - sliced length wise into thin slices
2 carrots - chopped
1C broccoli florets
7-8 mushrooms - sliced thinly
1tsp grated ginger
handful of chopped green onions
handful of chopped cilantro
3-4Tbsp soy sauce, low sodium
2Tbsp rice wine vinegar
dash of hot sauce (per taste)
salt & pepper

Recipe:
Heat water in a large pot.  While water is heating, prepare all the veggies. Prep ahead is really beneficial for stir fry dishes which cook in a jiffy!

When water is hot, add Lo Mein and cook per package directions (usually 4-6 minutes), Then drain noodles and rinse with cold water thoroughly to stop cooking. Set aside.

Heat oil in a wok or a large surface area pan on medium high heat. When hot, stir fry onions, peppers, broccoli and carrots quickly one at a time - each taking a minute or two and then remove each vegetable with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Then add ginger and mushrooms to the pan. Cook stirring for 3-4 minutes until mushrooms are slightly softened. Add soy sauce, vinegar and mix well.

Turn the heat off. Add noodles, add all the veggies back, add salt & pepper to taste (go easy on salt as soy sauce often makes dish salty). 

Garnish with hot sauce, green onions and cilantro and mix well.

Serve hot with a hot cup of your favorite green tea to sip along! 
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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.