Snacks in minutes!

I had to make something for this new playgroup of moms and toddlers I joined. Since me and my husband were on a ‘juice fast’ (more on it in another blog), I wanted to make sure I use the two loaves of whole grain wheat bread we had.

These are some of my wheat bread snack ideas (which surprisingly were successful):

Crispy sweet discs: Cut out small “discs” out of a few bread slices (the size would be that of a quarter). Or any shape if you want to be adventurous. Roast them on both sides until crisp brown on a non-stick pan with salted butter. Unsalted could be used, but I found a dash of salt adds a savory flavor to it. Sprinkle powdered sugar and serve.

Sweet Wheat discs
Crispy Sweet Wheat discs

Wheat bread bites: Remove the sides of a three bread slices.

1.Put some non-sweet cream cheese (I use the Philadelphia 1/3 Less Fat Chive and Onion flavor and love it!).

2.Cover it with another slice and spread some Tangy Barbeque sauce (I had it leftover from McNuggets bought the past week). This is flavor goes very well with kids.

Variation: Alternatively, you could use regular pesto or tomato pesto sauce, that will go well with the adult party crowd. Cover this with the third slice.

3.Cut this 3-layered bread sandwich into a matrix of 9 square pieces. Stick in a toothpick. Serve!

Savory Wheat Bread Bites
Savory Wheat Bread Bites

Variation – sweet: Substitute the non-sweet creme cheese with the sweeter version, and the sauce with a fruit jam or jelly. These could also be Peanut Butter and Jelly bites. Same old recipe with a new look!

If you like it hot, brush a little olive oil or spray PAM and broil in the oven for a few minutes until golden crisp. Stick toothpicks and serve.

Grilled cheese sandwich – Now this is my all time favorite indulgence ever since Mr. Husband made it one time. Its fast and easy to make and is yum!

You need two slices of bread, grated sharp cheddar (regular or 2% fat), Sriracha sauce (You can get it in Asian Food isle) .

Helps to apply a little PAM Spray on the non-stick girdle or the grill ( I love my good old girdle to the grill!). Put one bread slice, cover it with shredded cheddar cheese, a little bit (or a little  more- depending on your heat you can handle!) of Sriracha sauce, cover it with another bread slice and press it down. I used a steel plate and mounted a nice heavy marble mortar . Turn when one side is crisp brown and wait till the other one is too.

Put a bread slice on the girdle, cover it with sharp cheddar cheese, add some Sriracha sauce.

Put a bread slice on the girdle, cover it with sharp cheddar cheese, add some Sriracha sauce and cover it with the second bread slice.
Once you cover it with another bread slice, press it down until the lower slice is crisp brown, then flip the sandwich until the other slice becomes  crisp brown.
Press the sandwich down until the lower slice is crisp brown, then flip and press down until the other side becomes crisp brown.
Check out the golden goodness of this awesome grilled cheese sandwich!
Check out the golden goodness of this awesome grilled cheese sandwich!


Festivals and cooking from a ‘non-veteran’…

I began several posts but never got to the point of posting them on my blog. Didn’t think they were worthy. Not that I didn’t have my occasional moments of “ah-has” and reflections…  I did. The festivals that came by sans fun on the downside, and the newly discovered passion for authentic Maharashtrian cooking, on the upside.

Lets talk about the downside first. As for the festivals, you didn’t have to do much in India. Just go with the flow and fun was guaranteed. In a foreign country, if you do not have an enthusiastic community that you are involved with or if you do not have kids (who you’d want to expose to Indian culture irrespective of how religious you were in the past!), you have nearly no motivation to celebrate! That was the bitter truth I was struck with. Hope the next time I have at least one of the two factors to motivate me!

On the upside, it was a whole new world of cooking. I never grew up thinking I would or could “cook”. I’d conveniently think I am not the girly-girl type and got away with it in my mind.  Then, just a few days back during one of my cleaning sprees, I found the tiny “Annapoorna” brass idol my mother gave me during my wedding. My allowance from hubby to keep God idols is limited to a few. The rest are put away only to come out on Diwali or some occasion that calls for it. I struggled for few moments to decide if it should go back in the ‘God box’ or be out. Made a decision and put Her on my gas stove top. This was the same time period when I saw myself ponder a lot on my childhood and how I grew up, the cooking and the customs followed, the festivals and the traditions observed…everything. The more I thought, the more I felt distanced from it, and that was painful. Unfortunately, those days are limited to the memories safe in my heart and to the old pictures; my parents are back home in India and my dear grandma passed on a few years back. Besides, the city where I grew up, the people, and the new phase the India in general is in makes everything so different. Nothing is the same but for the postal address… Or it could be that I was stuck and everything around has moved on. Whatever it was, the best way for me to relive it all was -yes you are right on- “cooking”! Pretty counter intuitive, I know.

I started with one authentic Marathi ‘eggplant potato dish‘ that I found online on a cooking blog. In Marathi weddings, this type of curry would be a commonplace as I saw growing up. This blog was awesome I thought, as this blogger had all these amazing regional recipes from Maharashtra. I felt at home and delighted. And with this blog I discovered several related blogs which was a treasure to me, to say the least! “Grandma was not around, but her kinda recipes came to me from the universe” kinda feeling (I left the theater, but “drama” hasn’t left me; please don’t hate me for the over-dramatization!).  On a serious note, I felt closer to who I was. I felt grounded (used as an adjective here).

Home made Methi Paratha

Then came the Methi Parathas, the pumpkin parathas, the pumpkin sabji (typically made for puja’s), the sabudana khichadi, and so on. I made my own variations to the recipes from inputs from my mother. These blogs opened up several new avenues with one click just like Minesweeper (oh-I would love to play that game). If you liked it too, you’d know exactly what I am talking about! Strangely, I never came across these blogs before in my Google searches. To me all this was something like suddenly discovering you were a great painter when you knew you couldn’t paint for nuts!

Pumpkin sabji (yeah- could've done a better job at the picture had I known I was to post!)

Friends and relatives liked my “work” and hubby has still to reach the point of  “cant take it anymore”. Now, when I am around in the kitchen, as I secretly catch a glimpse of the little Annapoorna idol with her ladle, She seems to transform but for a moment into the apron-clad fairy godmother, swings her ladle and winks at me with a mischievous smile before she transforms back into the tiny idol amidst shimmery gold dust!