Dec 29, 2013

Weekly Meal Plan - Dec 23 - 29 2013

One of my new year resolutions is to start meal planning. Instead of starting from January 1st, I've been planning the last two weeks. It does take a bit of time to plan everything ahead but it eliminates stress through the week. Last minute unhealthy choices are avoided and buying grocery is so much more efficient.

This was my meal plan for the last week.

Breakfast is always oats/smoothies/granola, so I only plan for lunch and dinner. Last week had some inspired choices and some boring repetitions. Hoping for a healthier week over the NYE.

December 23 - Monday - 

Lunch - Roti + potato and bean curry

Dinner - Mushroom Lasagna

December 24 - Tuesday - 

Lunch - Out - Chipotle

Dinner - Quinoa Pongal

December 25 - Wednesday

Lunch - Wild Rice and Greens Salad

Dinner - Dosa and Peanut Chutney

December 26 - Thursday - 

Lunch - Grilled cheese sandwiches

Dinner - Roasted vegetable tacos

December 27 - Friday 

Lunch - Onion oothappam

Dinner - Paneer Parathas

December 28 - Saturday - 

Brunch - Out - Chinese

Dinner - TJ's frozen tamales

December 29 - Sunday - 

Brunch - Out - Subway
Dinner - Idli + Chutney

A little bonus on Christmas Day - Chocolate Peppermint muffins.

Black Friday Haul

I'd been waiting to get a few things on sale and the black friday prices dropped enough for me to bite the bullet. They took a month to reach me, so I apologize for the late posts. Here are just a few things I bought, over the last month!

I've wanted a good trench for a long time. It's a fashion mainstay in SF and Seattle. I ordered a London Fog trench last year but was unhappy with the fit and returned it. (Yay, Nordstrom). On initial sight, I disliked the flare in the classic BR trench coat but I warmed up to that little twist and now think it livens up a good old trench.

I got it for a 50% plus an additional $25% off, so a little less than $100. I got a small and the fit and the quality is great.

Banana Republic Flared Trench - $225

A lovely lovely friend gave me her $20 off $50 coupon to Sephora and I went ahead and bought my first every eye palette - The Naked 3 . I LOVE the colors in this palette and they really complement my tan skin tone. I also used my own coupon to buy the Even Better dark spot corrector serum but that's not exciting enough to photograph and share, lol.

Naked 3 Palette - $52

I bought this pretty striped tunic from Old Navy during their 35% off sale. I think they sold out pretty fast but there were several similar styles online. They are made of a thick knit material, are very forgiving and work great with leggings and tights. What more do you want for your winter wardrobe? 

Old Navy fitted ponte knit dress - $20

Lastly a long awaited and coveted purchase - the Coach Penny purse. I have loved this purse and this color from the day I set my eyes on it. At a retail price of $198 for a tiny crossbody, this bag remained a dream. So imagine my UTTER excitement when I saw this on sale for $64 on the Coach Factory website!! I couldn't checkout fast enough and till the ppurse was delivered, I was super nervous that they would cancel the order. But coach delivered (literally) and I'm so happy. I'm a small bag person, so I love carrying my mobile, keys and a lip balm in the bag. It's compact and perfect.

The bag is sold out in the Factory store but if you really really love it, Coach has this bag in their Classics collection. You can get it here.

Coach Penny Purse

I bought a few smaller things like flannel PJs from Kohls and a cashmere sweater (for $8 with coupons and Kohl's cash!!!) and I will instagram them soon. Thank you for reading. What did you buy for black friday/ cyber monday?

Dec 23, 2013

Really quick home-made pizza

I buy my pizza dough from Trader Joes. I love it, it's so convenient - thaw, flatten, toppings on, bake. But last week I forgot to to replenish my stock. A quick google search sent me to this Allrecipes pizza crust recipe. No rising time? SWEET!
So I set out to make this dough and I promise you, it tastes a tad better than the frozen dough. You completely control the ingredients, so I added a little garlic and basil to my dough and it was so beautiful and so tasty.


All purpose flour - 2.5 cups
Instant/Active yeast - 0.25 ounce
Sugar - 1 teaspoon
Salt - 1 teaspoon
Olive oil - 2 tablespoon
Water - 1 cup
Dried basil/oregano flakes - 1 teaspoon
Garlic paste - 1 teaspoon

Pizza sauce

Method :

1. If using active yeast, dissolve in the warm water along with sugar and keep aside.

2. Sift flour and salt together. Add the oil and water and mix to form a smooth, soft dough.

3. I let the dough rest for 30 minutes though the original recipe only calls for 5 minutes.

4. Flatten on a pizza stone (I used my cast iron skillet)

5. Bake for 5 minutes alone, add toppings and bake for 10 minutes, add cheese and bake for another 5 to 10 minutes. Check on the pizza to avoid a burnt base.

There you have it. A pizza at home in under an hour.

This is not a thin crust artisan pizza. The crust is chewy and soft but my husband loves it that way, so good for me. This works perfectly for a quick, at-home, filling dinner.

I have been on a cooking kick lately, mostly because I started meal planning and it's so efficient and reduces my stress a lot. It was my new year's resolution but I started it a couple of weeks early just to get into a routine. I have been loving it and would highly recommend it if thinking up a meal is really stressful to you. I will try to put up a post with my weekly meal plan.

So how do you manage your time in the kitchen efficiently? Do you meal plan? Prep in advance? Freeze your meals? Any other tips? Do share!!

Dec 19, 2013

Vegetable Pad Thai

I doubt this is the real pad thai but this dish is crunchy and tangy and peanutty and just all-round awesome. So read on for a pad-thai, my style.

Ingredients :

Pad Thai noodles - 250 gms (I only had chinese egg noodles and used them instead)

Onion - 1(thin slices)
Carrots - 2 (cut into little sticks)
Broccoli - cut into little florets
You can also add baby corn, peas, peppers.

Peanut sauce - 2 tablespoons
Sugar - 2 table spoons
Tamarind paste - 1 tablespoon ( or to taste, depends on how tart your paste is)
Soy sauce - 2 tablespoons
Chilli sauce - a little bit
Ginger paste - 1 teaspoon
Oil - 1 tablespoon (sesame oil if you like the taste)

Crushed peanuts - 2 tablespoons.

Method :

1. Boil the noodles according to package instructions. Rinse in cold water and set aside.

2. Heat the oil in a pan/wok and on high heat, add the onion and saute.

3. Add the peanut sauce, sugar, tamarind paste, soy, chilli sauce, ginger paste and stir fry for a minute to two minutes.

4.  Add the carrots and broccoli and saute till cooked but firm. (3-4 minutes)

5.  Turn off the stove and add the sauce-veggie mixture to the noodles. Add salt, crushed peanuts and mix till well coated.

And there you have it. A super quick and easy dish with exceedingly satisfying results.

Dec 17, 2013

Holiday Gift Guide (for the makeup lover)

If you love beauty products or if you know someone who loves them, here are a few great gift ideas for them to enjoy.

The newest and the funnest palette in the market. This palette contains beautiful shades ranging from a soft pink to a red-black and would make a great gift for anyone who loves to play with eyeshadows. I bought this one for myself recently and I have been loving it!

Ok. Two palette suggestions? Sorry but can you blame me? This one is shaped like a chocolate bar and claims to smell like chocolate. The colors are very similar to the Naked 3, so the decision is based on if you want your face to smell like chocolate or not!

With a top coat, three special effect polishes, glitter and creme polishes, you could have fun with this set for a long long time.

This beautiful eye-liner set has six gorgeous travel-sized eyeliners in one handy set. The quality of UD eye liners is unbeatable, so this would make a perfect gift for the girl who loves to play up her eyes.

If you love the BVLGARI Omnia as much as I do, this set is perfect for you. Three beautiful, jewel inspired, travel-sized bottles with the Crystalline, Coral and Amethyste perfumes.

Hope you enjoyed the gift guides. Happy Shopping!!

Dec 16, 2013

Cauliflower and Peas Quinoa Pulao

I have been trying to incorporate more protein in our diet and quinoa kept coming up as a suggestion for vegetarians. This is my first time cooking with quinoa, so I stuck with a familiar recipe. This is also the first time I took my "instant pot" for a spin. While the number of options and controls are a little overwhelming, I made the entire dinner in this pot and the cleanup was so easy.

Ingredients :

Onion - 1 medium sized, sliced
Tomato - 1 chopped
Cauliflower - 1 medium sized, cut into florets
Peas - 1/2 cup
Quinoa - 1 cup
Garam masala - Use according to taste and package instructions. I used about 1/2 table spoon
Garlic paste - 1 teaspoon
Coriander powder - 1 teaspoon
Cumin seeds - 1 teaspoon
Turmeric powder - a pinch
Salt to taste
Add cayenne pepper for more heat

Method :

1. Heat oil in a pan and when it's hot, add the cumin seeds and onion.

2. Once the onion is cooked, add the tomato, garlic paste and cauliflower florets and turmeric powder. Mix and fry for a couple of minutes

3. Add a cup of water and cook till the cauliflower is soft but not mushy. About 10 minutes.

4. Add the quinoa and peas. Add more water if necessary (according to package instructions) . Stir and allow to cook for 10 minutes till the quinoa becomes transparent and it's little tail is visible.

5. Add the garam masala and coriander powder. Add salt to taste and mix with a fork.

6. Serve with a raita or yogurt.

Super easy, quick and very healthy. We really enjoyed it and quinoa is definitely becoming a part of my everyday meal menu.

Do you have any quinoa recipes that you love? Do share!

Dec 8, 2013

OOTD: A holiday outfit!

A quickie post to show you an outfit I wore to a party last week. Do you remember last winter when I was obsessed with silver/grey and burgundy? Looks like the more things change, the more they stay the same.. LOL. I have been wearing sweatshirt + khakis almost everyday and it was nice to dress up for a change.

Most of these pieces are out of stores now, so I have tried to include links to similar items. Only the clutch is new. Its a beautiful rich plum with tiny heart studs and a quilted pattern. I really love it and think it's a steal at $3.49. I got this and a few other items during the BF sale. I'm waiting for all of them to reach me and then I will do a collective BF haul.

Shirt - Derek Lam for Designation (similar)
Skirt - Banana Republic (similar)
Tights - Express
Clutch - Forever 21 (sold out, similar color)
Watch - May 28th (similar)
Necklace - J.Crew via Ebay
Earrings - Pearl studs (similar)
Shoes - Target (similar)

Dec 4, 2013

Holiday Gift Guide: For the Style Maven

Some might say that I wrote this post as a big hint for my husband. Those people would be .. right.  Haha, just kidding. For the men like my husband who would love to give great gifts but don't know where to start, here is a definitive gift guide for the special someone in your life. If you are a woman looking for a gift for a friend, sister or mom or if you are just looking to gift yourself something special, here are a few of my suggestions!

1. Jewelry ($500 - $1000)

A little bling and sparkle never ever fails to light up a person. If you had a winter wedding like me, this is a great time to buy that beautiful diamond wedding band that you've been wanting to give your loved one.

Anjolee Diamonds - Perfect Diamond Band

You could also look at pretty gemstone or diamond earrings and rings if her birthday is around the corner. If no birthday/wedding day, it could be a "Happy Holidays" kinda gift :)  A classic pair of solitaire earrings last forever and never go out of style.

Caratlane - Solitaire Studs

2. Watches ($150 - $500)

Watches make a stylish and functional statement and make great gifts.  
Check your partner's metal preference. Do they wear more gold or more silver? Do they like rose gold or yellow gold? Find the answer and select a watch based on their metal preference. Select a dial proportionate to the wrist size. I know boyfriend watches are super popular but personally I love smaller watches with dials ranging from 30mm to 35 mm. Try to pick a watch with clean simple styles. This makes the style versatile for both day and night wear.

Movado "Bold" bracelet watch

Marc by Marc Jacobs "Small Amy" bracelet watch

Michael Kors "Parker" chronograph

3. $150 and below - Pajamas, Scarves and purses

A pair of comfortable and beautiful pjs are a luxury that any woman would appreciate after a long hard day. Get this set from J.Crew and have it monogrammed for a personal touch.

J. Crew pajama set in gingham navy

You could also give pretty cashmere scarf in this season's hottest color combination - burgundy and deep pink.

A chic evening clutch makes a great gift too!

4. Special somethings for $50 and below

A beautiful hair clip like this one from Nordstrom or a pretty jeweled key fob from Ann Taylor also make great gifts.

Berry Alice Hair Clip from Nordstrom 

Marquis cluster key fob from Ann Taylor

Hope you enjoyed this post, check back next week for gifts for the beauty-lover in your life! 

FTC : A part of this post was sponsored by Anjolee Diamonds. 

Dec 1, 2013

The Happy Bread (without stand mixer)

Look at this bread. Isn't this the most cheerful and happy bread you've ever seen? Everything from the color to the shape to the taste and smell is just so perfect. I came across this recipe in Pinterest from a blog called FoodivaKitchen. As always I didn't have a stand mixer and this recipe was not a mix and throw in the oven kind, so I just stared at it from time to time without diving in. Yesterday I was in need of a pick-me-up and I decided this was the only thing that would cut it.

The process took about 5 hours in total with 2 x 40 minute rising breaks. The main recipe is listed in grams since I don't own a kitchen scale, I will include my adaptation in cups and tsp/tbspoon measurements.

The Happy Bread
Adapted from Foodivakitchen.

Ingredients -

Yeast - 1 packet instant yeast (7 gms)
Sugar - 3 tablespoons (changed from original)
Milk - half cup plus half cup
Flour - 4 cups (I replaced one cup with almond flour)
Eggs - 2 (lightly beaten)
Salt - 1.5 teaspoon
Butter - 2 tablespoons
Olive oil - 2 tablespoons

Method -

1. Dissolve the yeast and sugar in warm milk and set aside for ten minutes.

2. Sift the flour and salt together in a bowl.

3. Make a well in the center and add the beaten eggs, half cup of milk, oil and yeast mixture.

4. Mix them together till it forms a soft, reasonably non-sticky dough.

5. Transfer to a greased bowl, cover and let rise for 40 minutes. (an hour if you have the time)

6. Punch the dough, transfer to a floured surface and divide it into two parts. Cut the two halves into equal sized (almost) squares.

7. Roll out the squares like a rectangular roti. Butter the surface of one and place one over the other. Roll the two rotis together into a cylinder. Repeat with other pieces

8. Cut the two edges of the cylinder to form the flowers in the middle and cut the rest of the cylinder to triangles.

9. Preheat the oven to 350F. Arrange the pieces the way you like them in a greased skillet or baking pan and allow to rise for 30-40 minutes. Apply an egg wash on top if you want. (I didn't)

10. Bake for 35 minutes at 350F and 5 minutes in 380F.

The original blogger has a wonderful pictorial to make this easy peasy -

Source - Foodivakitchen

With some butter, hot out of the oven... mmmmmmmm....

Voila. You have bread that will make you smile every time you look at it. Granted, this is not one of the easy, anyone can do it kind of recipe but really, anyone CAN do it. The steps are pretty simple, you just need to patiently follow it step by step. Good luck and I hope you try this too.