Chicken and Vegetable Casserole

I am a big fan of casserole dishes of any kind mainly due to their ease of preparation and also the flexibility they provide in terms of adding all ingredients of a balanced diet (carbohydrate, protein, fat and fibre). I love how you can dump a few things in the casserole, throw it in the oven and in less than an hour have a fancy wholesome meal.
So this is what i did:
Ingredients
2 skinless boneless chicken breasts cut into big chunks
1 cup Frozen stir fry veggies
Salt and pepper
Garlic powder 1tbsp
1 can Cream of mushroom soup
1 large egg
Milk 1/3 cup
Corn muffin mix 1/2 packet ( i used jiffy muffin
Mix)
1-2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp bread crumbs
1/3 c shredded cheddar cheese

Method
Preheat the oven to 350.
Slightly butter a baking tray, pan or casserole.
Coat the chicken pieces with salt, pepper and garlic powder and arrange at the bottom of the casserole. Spread the washed veggies on top of the chicken pieces.
In a separate bowl, mix the soup, egg, milk, salt, pepper and muffin mix. Add this mixture to the casserole.
Sprinkle the bread crumbs and dot the corners with butter and cover the top with the shredded cheese.
Bake for about 50 minutes and we’re done!

Next time I’ll make sure I get some pictures.

Mission peak – Take 2

I sure hope there are at least a couple more takes of this hike which goes to say we didn’t make it to the summit this time either. We took sometime to research jogging strollers and ended up getting one. So this weekend we tried to hike up the mission peak with the baby in the stroller. The weather was relatively cool and we were all revved up to do better than last time. I kept telling my husband that my only wish was to somehow get to the second marker bench which would at least be the midpoint from the start to the top. Going uphill made no difference to me either way coz I neither carried the baby backpack last time nor pushed the baby stroller this time. But boy oh boy I realized that resolution and will power will only take you so far, beyond that you need physical endurance which tragically I do not possess. By the time we reached the first bench, I thought we were going right back but to my surprise my husband kept pushing forward like a maniac. He really wanted to turn my stupid wish true. The path beyond the first bench was more winding, steeper and rougher but also alluring and even a tad bit shadier. My husband actually begged to stop in the shade once. That was when he declared that carrying the backpack had felt better than pushing the stroller. I tried pushing it to give my husband a few seconds of respite but soon gave up. When the second bench finally came in sight, I was glad we made it. The view was breathtaking! Blue waters from the bay, green velvety rolling hills and open blue skies, not to mention the wonderfully cool spring weather. I have every intention to make it to the third and eventually to the final bench as well. Now, I certainly believe persistence is key and that mental stamina charges you to push your physical strengths. With this new-found philosophy, I do hope to make it to the top soon!

View from the second bench as taken from our cell phone!

Chicken kebab wrap/chicken kati roll

So I made these spiced chicken wraps for dinner yesterday and they were an instant hit with the husband. I am starting to believe the magic’s in the marinade. So here’s the recipe.

Marinade:
ginger + garlic + Thai green chillies paste 2 tbsp
Chilli powder 1 tbsp
Cumin powder 1 tsp
Coriander powder 1 tsp
Salt
Lemon juice 2 tbsp
Garam masala 1 tsp

For the dough:
Wheat flour 1.5 cup (can use all purpose flour also)
1 egg
Salt
Oil 1 tsp
Some water
Alternately you can use readymade tortillas or rotis

1 large onion
1 tomato
cilantro
1 lemon

Method

Marinate the chicken for about an hour
Spread the chicken pieces on a baking tray and broil for about 12-15 min on one side turn the pieces and broil for another 12-15 min till the tops of some pieces start looking a little charred. Alternately you can skewer the marinated chicken pieces and grill them on a barbecue grill. The smoked flavor is what gives them more authenticity.

For the wrap:
Knead the dough and let it stand for about 20 min before you start rolling into 6-8 inch diameter circles
Cook them on a preheated flat pan, turn and cook on the other side.
Place this cooked wrap on a plate, arrange the chicken kebabs in the center, add some sliced onions, tomatoes, cilantro and some freshly squeezed lemon juice and roll the wrap tightly and serve it while still hot!
Its completely worth your effort! 🙂

Chicken Kebab Roll

Mango SoufflĂ© & Chocolate SoufflĂ©

I tasted this at a local indian restaurant and since then searched high and low for a simple and easy recipe to make mango soufflĂ©. The closest I came to was a passion fruit soufflĂ© so here’s my version and might I add this is super easy and superbly delicious!

Ingredients:
4 egg whites at room temp
3 egg yolks at room temp
1/2 cup or 8 oz mango purée ( its easy to buy but you can also make it by puréeing ripe mangoes with some sugar)
1/2 c sugar
1 tsp butter

Method
Preheat the oven to 350.
Slightly butter 4 ramekins, sprinkle with sugar and store in the freezer till you’re ready to use them.
To the egg whites, add 1/4 c sugar and beat till stiff peaks are formed.
Start mixing the mango purée while adding one yolk at a time and the remaining 1/4 c sugar.
Fold in the egg whites into the purée mixture, pour into the prepared ramekins ( allow some room for the souffle to rise) and bake for 20-25 minutes.
I like to chill this before serving. Just cover with a plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator till you’re ready to devour them.

For chocolate souffle
I follow the exact recipe using 8 oz chocolate chips instead of the mango purée. Just melt the chocolate in a double boiler before adding in the egg yolks and sugar.
Also I like my chocolate soufflé warm instead of chilled.

Mango Soufflé

Chocolate Soufflé

Mission peak – Take 1

After two beautiful lakeside picnics, we decided its time we challenged ourselves and decided to hike the mission peak this past weekend.

We got ourselves a baby backpack carrier and started our journey at about 10 in the morning. Daddy carried him uphill and mommy downhill. The hike was beeeeeautiful, well actually the locale was beautiful the hike not so much. The hike was exhausting to say the least. I realized I had the stamina of an 8 year old. The distance from the start to the summit is apparently marked by 4 equally spaced benches or so I heard from other hikers. I wouldn’t know coz we never did make it to the summit. By the time we reached the first bench huffing and panting, I was ready to go back. Baby was fast asleep. We stopped for a bit, took a gulp of water from our bottles, made a quick backpack transfer from the husband’s back to mine and headed back. Going downhill was at least 5 times easier than going uphill.
The trail in itself is beautiful. Its just acres and acres of grass covered terrain splattered with trees and a silent creek flowing nearby. Its a pretty steep hike so even from our first check point (the bench), we got a pretty good view of the city and the bay. The path is mostly unshaded so unless the weather’s really good only morning or midmorning hikes are recommended. Carry your own water and snacks and please wear shoes with good traction coz the trail does get slippery at times especially when you’re going downhill. I still have a long way to go before I can call myself fit but my goal is to be able to hike to the summit one of these days. As they say ‘baby steps’, our next week’s target is to try and hike upto the second bench.
Lesson learnt: maybe the baby backpack carrier is not such a great idea, especially since the baby is only going to get heavier. Would an all terrain stroller be a better investment? With the added benefit of using the stroller storage to carry water bottles and snack packs, an all terrain stroller is definitely worth thinking about!

My husband J with the little one in the backpack!

Lake Del Val

Encouraged by the success of our first picnic, we planned another one this weekend. I am surprised that after all my talk about us being outdoorsy, we weren’t even aware of this beautiful place. The drive to the state park is simply breathtaking. The only other drives that had captivated me so much were the ones to Stinson beach and to Mt. Tamalpais. Its just mounds and mounds of greenery all over and somewhere in the middle a big body of soothing blue water. Lake del val is truly a jewel of a place. It is so cut off from the city and traffic and highways that you get an unobstructed unpolluted view of nature in all its resplendence.
Once we got there we parked and chose to spread our blanket under a tree rather than sit on a bench. We chomped away on our kebabs, rotis and salad while baby had his puréed veggies and fruits. Fruit yogurt for dessert and some cookies and hot chai latte (brewed at home and carried in a thermos) for snack time completed our picnic hamper. Lazing under the dappled shade of trees, giggling and fooling around with our precious boy, long meaningful conversations with each other made our picnic that much more beautiful.

Since I couldn