About Me

Hello. I started this blog to write about what I do in my chosen profession : a housewife. Some day I might cook or bake something interesting and enlist my 2 year old to help, on another day I make something from scratch instead of buying it from the store and sometimes I craft with my daughter. Once in a while, we travel or have a fun day outside. I am also doing what I can to recycle and reduce waste. I am still learning all of this and documenting my journey through this blog

Loaded baingan bharta - Oven roasted eggplant bharta with roasted red bell pepper, potato and spring onions

I call this the "loaded" baingan bharta because it is loaded with tasty ingredients in addition to the traditional eggplant. My husband will never touch anything that has eggplants in it but he eats this bharta without any complaints. Generally people who do not like eggplants hate the seeds so I remove the seed clusters after the eggplant is roasted. It is pretty easy to do it. The seeds are generally attached to the stem end in clusters. I just remove those first after breaking the eggplant open.

Baingan bharta with roti and yogurt
Loaded Baingan Bharta

This bharta is loaded with roasted red peppers and tomato with mashed potato adding bulk and spring onions add the fresh herby taste. I infuse the garlic flavor in the eggplant by stuffing sliced garlic cloves into the eggplant.

Ingredients:
2 medium eggplants
1 red bell pepper
1 tomato
4 small boiled potatoes
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 medium onion
5 spring onions
3 cloves garlic
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/4 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp salt
1 tsp lemon juice
  • Preheat the broiler on the oven and line a baking tray with foil. Cut the bell pepper into half and place cut side down on the baking tray. Make slits through out the surface of the eggplant and stuff sliced garlic into some of the slits. Place the eggplant on the baking tray. Spray some oil on the vegetables.
    Eggplants and red bell peppers for roasting
  • Broil for about an hour turning the eggplant once or twice. The eggplant should be completely soft all over specially the stem part and the skin will turn black. The bell pepper might be done sooner. Add a tomato to the baking tray in the last 15 minutes.
    Broiled eggplants and red bell peppers
  • Cover the tray and let the vegetables cool down.Peel the skin off and mash the flesh. Also mash the boiled potatoes.
  • Heat oil in a pan and add chopped onion and the white part of the spring onions. Cook till the onions get a little translucent.
  • Add the turmeric, chilli and coriander powders along with the tomato paste. Cook for a few minutes.
  • Add the mashed vegetables and cover and cook on low flame for about 10 minutes to let the flavours blend together.
  • Add the salt, garam masala and spring onion greens. Cook for a couple of minutes.
  • Add the lemon juice and mix well.
  • The bharta is ready to serve with some rotis and dahi.
Notes:

  • The eggplants are cooked on an open flame traditionally. But I have an electric coil on my stovetop and cooking on the stove top is very messy too. Cleaning up is very easy when broiling in the oven due to the foil-lined baking tray. It just takes longer but since it is hands-off time, I don't mind it.


Flavored cream cheese with bagels - Honey Walnut Cream cheese and Veggie cream cheese

Bagels and cream cheese is such a classic breakfast. It is a great on the go breakfast. Quick and easy like spreading butter on bread except its spreading cream cheese on bagel. Making flavored cream cheese takes the breakfast to the next level. You do not need to spend extra bucks on buying flavored cream cheeses because making them at home is easier than whipping cream and as with anything homemade, it can be customized to your taste. The flavored cream cheese can be made ahead of time and refrigerated for a week.

Honey Walnut Cream cheese

This is our favorite kind of cream cheese. It is sweet enough for breakfast without being dessert-like. Honey gives it a complex sweet flavor which cannot be achieved with sugar. Walnuts add a nice crunch. I also add a little bit of yogurt to my flavored cream cheese to lighten it and make it more spreadable right out of the fridge.



Ingredients:
3/4 cup cream cheese
1/4 cup yogurt *see notes
1/8 tsp salt
1 tbsp brown sugar
3 tsp honey
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1/3 cup finely chopped walnuts *see notes
  • Microwave the chopped walnuts for 1 minute to toast them up. Keep an eye on them as all microwaves are different and do not let them burn.
  • Put all the ingredients except walnuts in a bowl.
  • Whip up the cheese using the whisk attachment on a hand mixer. A regular whisk on muscle power works too.
  • Fold in the finely chopped toasted walnuts.
    lovely golden color from the honey
  • Put in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a week.
Notes:
  • If you think you will not like a thinner consistency on the cheese, do not add all the yogurt. Add just a tablespoon first and then add a little bit at a time if you would like a thinner consistency. Using greek/strained yogurt would not alter the consistency much.
  • The finer you can chop the walnuts, the easier it would be to spread the cheese. The walnuts should be small enough to blend in and yet large enough to have a bite.


Veggie cream cheese

A great way to eat your veggies for breakfast. It tastes light and refreshing like veggies always do. I like to use crunchy vegetables for this. You can use any veggies you like. You can even add some finely chopped green chilli or some hot sauce to make it spicy. We do not prefer spice specially for breakfast.

Somehow I forgot to click a picture of the veggie cream cheese. I still cannot imagine how I could have missed it because these days my camera lives in the kitchen and I click almost everything I make. Smiley Crazy, I know!

Ingredients:
3/4 cup cream cheese
1-2 tbsp yogurt
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tbsp finely chopped cilantro
3 tbsp finely chopped red onion
2 tbsp finely chopped cucumber
1 tbsp finely chopped red bell pepper
  • Combine cream cheese, yogurt, salt and pepper in a bowl.
  • Whip using a hand mixer or your hand
  • Fold in the finely chopped veggies.
Notes:
  • The veggies release some water so yogurt can be skipped. We do not mind the looser consistency.
  • As I mentioned, customize the veggies and seasoning to your preference. If you want a spicier spread, add a finely chopped green chili or a dash of hot sauce.


A day in the life

Calling myself a real housewife, I thought I should do a "Day in the life of a housewife" kind of post. This Monday I could get a lot done and cut down on screen time. Maybe it was the start of the week enthusiasm.

The most important thing I did was get an hour of exercise, first thing in the morning. I intend to do that everyday but the intentions do not always translate to action. The exercise gave me a refreshing jolt of energy and reminded me to stick with it, if only for the energy.

My day in a list form.
  • Exercised an hour.
  • Get the daughter to brush, change and all of that morning routine. This takes at least half an hour with all the running and "I dont want to brush".
  • Washed the garbage cans
  • Breakfast time.
  • Laundry time. A whites load, a colored load, drying, folding and putting it away. Takes atleast an hour. I let the daughter help with this. 
  • Made chapati dough with the daughter mixing her own in a smaller bowl.
  • Bath time and dealing with "I don't want to bath" and "I don't want to come out of the bath".
  • Lunch time. Made khichadi. Both of us love it but the husband wont eat it. So, perfect when the husband is at office and ready to eat the chinese takeout.
  • Wrote a blog post for a blog event.
  • Prepared mushroom aloo matar for dinner while the daughter is napping.
  • Made some veggie oat tikkis for evening snack and froze the rest. The daughter helped coat them in semolina.
  • Tea and snack time when the husband returns from office.
  • Take daughter out for a walk in the neighborhood. (taking advantage of late summer evening light)
  • Time to make chapatis for dinner and heat up the sabzi.
  • Dinner time
  • Sleep time.
There is TV time and internet time built in along the day. I can't not do internet every single day (or hour).
Some days there is crafting instead of making a snack. The daughter loves helping with any of those things.
When I am not doing laundry, I vacuum or clean the kitchen or some other cleaning type activity.
Summer vacation is going on, so there is no dropping and picking up from school activity.


Bean salad : Repost for MLLA blog event

When Nupur from one of my favourite blogs announced that she was hosting the My Legume Love Affair event on her blog, I could not help but participate. Especially since I had already posted a great recipe featuring the star ingredient of the event : "legumes" (My category of legumes is beans :))

MLLA is a long running blog event which is on the 60th edition this month. That shows how much everyone loves their legumes. This event was started by Susan of The Well-Seasoned Cook and is now run by Lisa of Lisa's Kitchen. Lisa has an MLLA information page which also contains all the previous event round-ups with lots of legume recipes.

REPOST starts.

Last week, there was a picnic at my daughter's preschool. Everyone brought a dish to school and all the parents and children sat outside on blankets and had lunch. My daughter loved playing in the playground and eating popsicles and ice cream. She was not ready to leave. We had to carry her outside.
I wanted to make a side dish for the picnic which could be made ahead of time as I had also volunteered to help set up the picnic lunch. And as I have said before, I am not a morning person, specially when it comes to cooking. I wanted the dish to have some indian flavor as well.
This bean salad idea just came to me. I jotted down the idea because I knew I would forget it when the time comes to cook it a week later. 

Bean salad

This salad has 4 types of beans, lots of veggies and some fruit and a nice sweet and tangy dressing. It tastes better once it sits for a while in the refrigerator. So it is the perfect make-ahead dish. It also goes nicely with a light Indian meal. I made a huge quantity. Halving it would make a good salad portion for 4-6 people depending on the rest of the meal. It also makes for a healthy snack. Make a batch and it will keep in the fridge for atleast 4 days.



Ingredients:
2 cups black eyed peas
2 cups kidney beans
1.5 cups chickpeas/garbanzo beans
1.5 cups black chickpeas
4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp asafoetida/hing (optional) *see notes
1 large red onion
1 long english cucumber
1 red bell pepper
1 yellow bell pepper
3 medium carrots
2 mangoes (ripe but not too soft)
1 bunch cilantro
4 tsp cumin powder
6 tsp chaat masala
Dressing:
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup olive oil
4 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp black pepper
  • Soak the beans overnight (6-8 hours). Drain and cook in a pressure cooker with 2 tsp salt and asafoetida if using. Do not add a lot of water to the beans. Just enough to cover. Drain the beans after cooking. The drained water can be used for other dishes. Pressure cook for 1 whistle (10-15 mins). We do not want mushy beans.
  • Cut the onion, cucumber and bell pepper into 1 inch strips. Peel the carrots into ribbons using a vegetable peeler. Cut the mango into cubes. Finely chop the cilantro.
  • Mix the drained beans and prepared vegetables and fruits in a large bowl. Add more salt as needed, cumin powder, chaat masala and zest of 2 lemons.
  • Prepare dressing in a separate bowl by whisking together apple cider vinegar, honey, olive oil, lemon juice and black pepper.
  • Toss the salad with the dressing and chill in the refrigerator for a couple of hours.
4 bean salad


Notes:

  • I used asafoetida while cooking the beans because it is a good digestive aid. Adding salt while cooking the beans will flavor the beans which will taste bland if salt is added only in the dressing.
  • Canned beans can be used instead of soaking and cooking dried beans.
  • Strawberries can also be used in this salad with or without the mango.


Bird feeders using recycled materials (milk carton and cardboard)

My daughter is a big animal (and bird) lover. I thought bird feeders are a good way to let birds into our balcony. The daughter gets to see them up close. The birds get good food. Win-win for both.
I started looking up ideas for bird feeders. I wanted to recycle regular household materials. Because recycling is always good! Smiley
I found a couple of ideas on the the internet and promptly (not really! I hardly do anything promptly Smiley) sat with my daughter to work on the bird feeders.

Bird feeder using milk carton

This was an easy choice since we go through a lot of milk cartons. It would work great hanging from a tree in your backyard. But we don't have a backyard, we only have a balcony. I wedged the carton between the balcony slats.

Milk Carton Bird feeder


Materials:
milk carton or juice carton
x-acto knife
acrylic colors
wooden skewer
duck tape
  • Cut out rectangles on all 4 sides of the carton. Leave about 2 inches at the bottom of the carton to fill with bird seed.
  • Let your baby go crazy with paint on the carton. Let the paint dry.
  • Foam stickers can be used to decorate the carton some more. More fun for the kids.
  • Tape the wooden skewer to the bottom of the carton to give the birds a place to sit on.
  • To hang the bird feeder, punch a hole at the top of the carton and thread a string through it.
  • Fill the carton with bird seed and watch the birds enjoying them.

Star Bird feeder

This is another bird feeder with materials already lying around the house. It looks good even as an outdoor decorative piece.

Decorative bird feeder with peanut butter and cardboard

Materials:
a piece of cardboard
x-acto knife
peanut butter
brush
bird seed
  • Patiently draw a star shape on the cardboard. Or if you are short on patience (like me), free hand a star-like shape on the cardboard. You could draw any shape you like here. Draw a circle in the center of the shape. Cut out the star and the circle shapes.
  • Coat the cardboard with peanut butter and sprinkle bird seed over it to stick it. Peanut butter is used as an edible glue here. Work in sections rather than coating the entire shape with peanut butter first.
  • Tie a string through the center circle and hang it outdoors.