Monthly Archives: December 2013

Wish You Joy and Laughter!

Wish You Joy and Laughter!

As the year winds to an end, Vipul, Varun and I would like to wish you Happy Holidays!

Thank you all for your encouragement, support and the likes.
…thanks to those who stumble here and linger on.

You are our virtual family and we wish you joy and laughter in the year ahead!
More recipes to share with your loved ones, more travels and some off beat memoirs of ours relocations.

We are taking the last week off to spend time with friends and setup things for our new apartment in the city.

Travel safe, stay warm and enjoy the holidays!!

See you in the New Year!

Butternut Squash and Black Beans Burgers

Butternut Squash and Black bean burger

Taking a break from the desserts that I have been posting here lately, I wanted to share with you a recipe for a really tasty, sweet and spicy veggie burger. After all a little bit of spice is nice.

No, no, I hope I didn’t lose you at “veggie” or the “spicy” part. These are damn good vegetarian burgers. Vipul who doesn’t care for veggie burgers enjoyed them . Thats saying a lot! And hence the atypical second post for today.

Butternut Squash and Black bean burger

Butternut squash is so good for us – fiber, beta carotene, loaded with Vitamin A and C and even folate – it is a super food in itself. Pair it with black beans – a protein powerhouse- you have a healthy and filling burger. A can of black beans saves some hassle and roasting the squash brings out its natural sweetness. Paired with some chili powder, cumin and ginger, the patty dough is tasty as is.

Mustard and ketchup are the simple accompaniments to keep the focus on the flavors of the patty.

The best part, it can be made ahead and kept frozen for a quick weeknight healthy meal.

Give it a try this weekend. I guarantee even pickiest of eaters will love it.

Butternut Squash and Black bean burger

Butternut Squash and Black Bean Burgers Recipe

  • 2 cups butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili powder
  • 1/2 + 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 can black beans, drained
  • 1/2 inch knob of ginger root, grated
  • 1/4 teaspoon green chili pepper finely diced
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons freshly chopped cilantro leaves
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil to fry the patties

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Toss the squash cubes with olive oil, cumin seeds, chili powder and salt. Bake for 30 mins till tender. It should be easy to mash them up with a spoon.

2. In the meantime, wash the black beans well and marinate them in lemon juice, ginger root, green chili pepper and salt. Set aside till the squash is done.

3. Remove the squash from the oven. Let it cool a bit. Mash it well with back of a spoon.

4. Mix the squash, black beans and bread crumbs. Taste and adjust seasonings. Shape into patties.

5. Heat oil in a frying pan and fry the patties about a minute or two on each side taking care not to char them.

Serve them on sandwich or burger or in enchiladas or simply as is with a bit of mustard and ketchup!

Snow Fights and Fun Galore @ Ski Dubai

Ski Dubai

One of the best places for kids in Dubai is Ski Dubai, especially if they have not seen snow before like Varun!

Located in Mall of Emirates, its the largest indoor ski and snow park of its kind. Varun was reluctant to go and wanted to instead go to the pool in the hotel. We somehow managed to convince him that throwing snow at mamma will be more fun. We reached there, bought our tickets ( again Explorer has a 2 for 1  deal on adult tickets) and changed in shoes and snow suits ( included in ticket price). We had carried our skiing gloves and hats but there is an option to buy them there.

Ski Dubai

Ski Dubai

Varun was so excited once we reached the place, he barely had the patience to change into snowsuit and wear hat and mittens.

Once inside he just wanted to scoop up the snow, form a ball and throw it at me and Vipul.

Ski Dubai

And the other thing he loved was tubing. He took so many turns going up the slope with the tandem tubing tires in tow and flying down the slope. He especially loved when it turned and twisted.

Ski Dubai

Ski Dubai

And then he had fun pulling Vipul on the sled!

Ski Dubai

Ski Dubai

Slightly older kids loved the toboggan slides. And their parents had a hard time taking them away from the slides. We didn’t try skiing or Zorbing but even those are available inside the park at an additional cost.

Ski Dubai
The only weird part was that as the ski dome has a glass wall shared with restaurants and the mall, it was funny watching people in shorts and dresses outside while you are in frigid temperature. It felt a bit like we were in a zoo with others watching us while we played in snow.

Even we had to drag Varun out of the park after a few hours. He was tired but didn’t want to stop playing.

Albeit expensive, it was the best part of Dubai trip for Varun. The smiles and giggles were totally worth it!! Don’t miss it especially of you are from tropical parts of the world.

Psst: Read more about our Dubai adventures here!

Purple Carrots and Ricotta Tart

Purple Carrots and Ricotta TArt

Today is a happy day.

We are almost on the verge of signing apartment lease and Varun is one step closer to staring a daycare next week. Both of these things are a nightmare in San Francisco especially if you have recently moved to the city, are used to larger apartments at a cheaper price and need something right now and can’t really fight with others for an apartment or be on a wait list for ever. There are wait lists here, not just daycare but for everything – pediatricians, school information sessions, gynecologists, dentists. Moving to this city after having kids and figuring things out is a nightmare.

But today, we are not as anxious and stressed out.

To celebrate, I made us a tart. A low sugar tart with sweetened ricotta and purple carrots. The colors of purple carrots are inviting. The center is pale creamy or orange. Just look at those colors. They taste great caramelized with sugar. Ricotta is always a hit. And crunchy phyllo is always welcome.

Purple Carrots and Ricotta TArt

Purple Carrots and Ricotta TArt

Purple Carrots and Ricotta TArt

Purple Carrots and Ricotta TArt

Simple flavors that come together in a colorful plate. They reminded me a bit of Indian carrot pudding – gajar ka halwa–  just a lot less sweet and cream. I topped it with more fresh fruits before serving to pump up the color and dessert factor. Though it was splendid as is. Vanilla ice-cream or fresh whipped cream would be another good side to this.

Purple Carrots and Ricotta TArt

Purple Carrots and Ricotta TArt

Purple Carrots and Ricotta Tart Recipe

  • 2 Purple carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon butter to grease the baking sheet
  • 2 + 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 4 tablespoons ricotta cheese
  • 1 tablespoon raisins (optional)
  • 5 phyllo dough sheets, thawed overnight per directions
  • 3 tablespoon oil ( or butter) to grease the phyllo sheets

1. Preheat the oven to 400 F. Grease a cookie sheet with 1 teaspoon butter.

2. Toss the carrots with 1 tablespoon of sugar and layer them in a single layer. Bake for 10 – 11 minutes till tender. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

Lower the oven temperature to 350 F

3. In the meantime, whip the  ricotta cheese with sugar and raisins (if using). Set this bowl of ricotta aside.

4. Prepare the phyllo sheets. Use oil or butter to grease the sheets and layer them on a shallow pie pan. Cut the sides leaving some hanging to fold over on the edge of the pan.

5. Spread ricotta cheese at the bottom of the phyllo sheets. Layer the carrots in a circular pattern.

Bake for 10 – 12 minutes till the tart edges are golden brown. Cool.

Serve with more fresh fruits, fresh cream or with vanilla ice-cream.

Stunning Dubai Fountains


Dubai is known for its superlatives – Dubai fountains being one of them.

They are the tallest fountains and dance to the music over a large man-made lake flanked by Burj Al Khalifa and Dubai Mall, similar to the ones in Bellagio, Las Vegas. The similarity is striking as the developers for both the projects are the same.

People flock here every evening from 6:00 pm onwards to see the show. Music varies by show. The views of Burj Al Khalifa and sunset over the skyscrapers behind the lake are particularly beautiful and make for great photo ops as you wait. We had an African song once and a Bollywood song one other time accompanying the fountains show. The place is packed as people try to occupy spot along the promenade, the bridge etc. So come early and stay for a couple of songs. Finding a cab after the show is hard as everyone tries to exit at the same time.

The best way, IMO, to experience the fountains is from one the boat ride on the lake. It is expensive but you get a view without jostling others. With a kid not having to worry about them getting lost in the crowd is always worth it.

It’s the best free attraction in Dubai.

Rest in photos.

PS: Looks like I need to learn to photograph dancing fountains better. Any tips appreciated!!






Fudgy Peanut Butter, Chocolate and Pistachio Truffles

Fudgy Pistachio Chocolate Peanut butter truffles

If you are anything like me, your Pinterest, Gojee and FoodGawker boards are full of fudges.

They go by tempting names like White Chocolate and Peppermint or Salted bourbon with Butterscotch Fudge or with Eggnog and mini marshmallows. And you know when the sweets are this tempting, I can never stop at one piece. I sneak in for a piece here and there for sustenance. Most of these have cream, butter, sugar or even corn syrup. I even saw 2 ingredient recipes that use frosting and bisquik! Now, just because it’s the holidays, doesn’t mean we need to unnecessarily pack on the pounds!

Sorry to be a party-poopper but I need to fit in my jeans on Jan 2nd and not size up (even though the sales all around make it easier on the pocket).

Between the holiday parties, drinks, cookies and other desserts at office, we don’t need to contribute to the sugar overload. I wanted to make a healthier version of fudge. Pistachio and Chocolate fudge truffles fit the bill.

Made with 4 ingredients and naturally sweetened these have to find a place in your dessert bar. They are no cook, no bake truffles and come together easily. They can be customized many different ways, with different coatings ( coconut flakes, sprinkles, chopped nuts or cocoa nibs) to make them sweeter and appeal to different age groups.

Pair them with other natural desserts – like date truffles and you are bound to have enough to snack on without guilt. In fact I encourage Varun to eat them as the ingredients are all healthy.

Cheers to healthy desserts! Especially the ones that are as easy as this!

Fudgy Peanut Butter, Chocolate and Pistachio Truffles Recipe

For 8 – 10 balls

  • 4 oz peanut butter, room temperature (creamy kind for a smoother truffle)
  • 4 oz apple sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sweetened dark chocolate powder
  • 1/4 cup unsalted pistachios coarsely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon canola oil or butter (to grease your palms while shaping the balls)

1. Beat the peanut butter and apple sauce till smooth (about a minute)

2. Add the dark chocolate and pistachios to the peanut butter and mix well.

3. Line a plate or pie pan with a wax paper. Spread the mix on the plate/pan till about 1/2 inch thick and then set it in the fridge covered with a foil.

Leave it overnight to firm up.

4. Grease your palms and shape them into balls.

As we are not using cream or butter or sugar, the ‘fudge’ is soft and it will be hard to cut them into bars. Keep them refrigerated in an air tight container. Though I doubt they will last long 🙂

Enjoy healthy holidays!

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