Mustard Chicken with Butternut Squash and Green Peas Salad

I am back designX6 blog fans, and I have a delicious recipe to share with you. I like to add some flavor to the food I make. Sometimes it is different herbs, sometimes it is vegetables. There will be always some spices in it. This time I have used mustard to prepare this chicken. I use mustard seeds regularly in the cooking, but not the paste. In this recipe yellow mustard is used as a main ingredient in the marination. Mustard gives the chicken a sharp taste and a nice color after the roasting. Basically, you add everything in the marinade and roast the chicken with the marinade.

I like to serve this chicken with a warm butternut squash and peas salad. Enjoy!

Mustard Chicken

Ingredients:                                   Servings: 2

  • 1 lb chicken breasts, thinly sliced cutlets
  • 2 tablespoon yellow mustard
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon or as per your taste salt
  • 1 big white onion peeled and then cut in big chunks
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 lemon
  • 3 tablespoon olive oil

Steps:

  • Clean the chicken and pat it dry before putting it into the marinade.
  • Cut the onion in big chunks and cut the lemon in half.
  • In a gallon size ziplock bag add olive oil, mustard, cayenne pepper, and thyme.
  • Next goes in salt and freshly ground black pepper. Combine all the spices together.
  • Add onions and lemon juice to the marinade along with the leftover lemon pulp and rind. Lastly add the chicken cutlets into the marinade and mix everything together.
  • Keep the chicken in the refrigerator for half to one hour to marinate.
  • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Transfer the chicken in roasting pan with the marinade, onion, and garlic.
  • Finally, roast everything together for 12 to 15 minutes or until the chicken is cooked completely.

 

Butternut Squash and Green Peas Salad          Servings: 2

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups diced butternut squash
  • 1/2 cup frozen green peas
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • Chopped cilantro
  • Fresh thyme

Steps:

  • In a skillet, heat olive oil on a medium heat.
  • Add chopped garlic and diced squash. Sautè it for 2 minutes. Pour water over the squash and put the lid on to the skillet. Let the squash cook for 5 to 7 minutes.
  • After the squash is cooked add paprika, salt and black pepper to squash. Mix it well.
  • Next add green peas to the squash mixture and sautè it for a minute. Let it cook for another minute.
  • Garnish the salad with cilantro and thyme before Serving.

 

Mustard, paprika, olive oil and thyme for the marinade

 

Next goes in onion, garlic and lemon

 

Chicken in the marinade

 

Final product

 

A close-up

 

One more

 

 

 

 

 

Coconut Rice; A must have on Narali-Pournima

Today we are celebrating the festival of Narali-Pournima. During the monsoon season fishermen stop sailing and fishing in the sea. Pournima stands for the full moon day of the month. People offer coconuts (Coconut = Naral in Marathi) to the sea in the “Shravan” month on this full moon day. Hence, the name of the festival is Narali-Pournima. This festival also marks the beginning of the new fishing season. To celebrate this occasion, a sweet rice and coconut dessert is usually made in every home. Here is the delicious recipe for folks who are nuts about coconut.

This is the original recipe from designX6’s “Cook With Me” App. Enjoy!

 
Total Time Required : 25 to 30 min.                Servings : 2
Ingredients :
  • 1/2 cup white basmati rice
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoon brown sugar packed
  • 2 teaspoon unsalted butter (Or coconut oil)
  • 2 tablespoon chopped cashews
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 7-8 saffron strands (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cardamom powder
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
Steps :
  1. Rinse the rice at least 2 to 3 times and drain well.
  2. Take a small cooking pot with high sides and tight fitting lid. Put the pot on the stove.
  3. Turn on the stove to medium setting and put teaspoon of butter (or coconut oil) in the pot.
  4. As the butter (or oil) starts melting add chopped cashews, cardamom powder, cloves in the pot.
  5. Add drained rice and stir the rice to coat each grain with butter. Toast the rice for about 1 minute or until fragrant.
  6. After the rice is toasted add unsweetened coconut flakes, water and salt to the pot. Stir it together.
  7. Cover the pot and let the rice cook. Keep stirring the rice in the intervals. About 2 to 4 minutes.
  8. After all the water has been absorbed by rice add the sugar and brown sugar, and coconut milk to the rice.
  9. Add the the saffron now if using it.
  10. Stir the rice carefully (make sure not to break the rice kernel) to melt all sugar.
  11. After sugar has been melted put the lid back on the pot, turn off the heat and let it set for 5 minutes.
  12. After 5 minutes stir the rice again, discard the whole cloves in the rice and serve hot.

Coconut Rice

 

Coconut, cashews and cardamom makes it delicious

For years, me and my family have enjoyed this coconut rice. I hope you enjoy as well!

Summer excitement; Peach-Lemon sangria

Finally summer is here. However, we get hot and humid days here in Ohio. The best way to beat these hot days is to make cool drinks. I like to use different fruits to make drinks. Peaches are my new favorites after moving here. I use them all the time to make cobblers, cakes and other desserts when they are in season. Most of all I like to use them in sangria.Sangria is a spanish alcohol based beverage. It is wine based drink mixed with chopped fruits, fruit nectars and sometimes adding different alcohol mixtures. My recipe of sangria is a lighter version. Fresh peaches gives it beautiful orange color. Here is how I make sangria:

Ingredients:

  • 2 Cups white wine
  • 1 Cup peach green tea ( I use Tazo iced peach tea )
  • 1 Cup lemonade
  • 3 Peaches, sliced
  • 1 Lemon, sliced
  • Ice for serving

Steps:

  1. In a big pitcher mix the white wine, peach green tea and lemonade. Stir them together to mix.

  2. Slice Peaches and lemons. Add them to wine+tea mixture in the pitcher. Let the fruits steep into the mixture.

  3. Cover the pitcher with a plastic wrap and refrigerate it for 8 hours or overnight.

  4. Before serving, fill the glass halfway with ice and pour the drink over it. Garnish it with a lemon or peach slice and serve.

 

Zesty chili-lime chicken

When it comes to cooking chicken I am always looking for no-fuss recipes. This zesty chili-lime chicken recipe is one of them. It is a winner recipe for me. All you need is few spices and fresh limes to make this chicken. You can adjust the spice level as per your taste. It does not need whole lot of time to marinate. I think it tastes best when you grill it. Here is the recipe:

Ingredients : Serves 2-3

1 lb. chicken tenders
2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon lime zest
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cooking oil

Steps :

  1. Mix all the spices and salt together in a small mixing bowl.
  2. Add the lime zest and lime juice to the spice mixture and make a thick paste.
  3. Marinate chicken pieces well with the prepared spice mixture.
  4. Keep it in the refrigerator for half hour to marinate.
  5. Preheat the grill before you grill the chicken. You can use a cast iron pan as well.
  6. Brush the grill with the cooking oil. Put the chicken tenders on the grill. Grill them about 3 to 4 minutes per side or until the chicken is cooked through.
  7. Garnish it with lime slices and chopped cilantro before serving.

 

Chili-lime chicken

Our salad love; Roasted veggie salad

We at our home love eating salads for lunch. It is light, yet satisfying. We make salads using a variety of food like grains, mixed greens, lettuce, nuts, veggies and fruits. This one is one of our favorites. It is versatile and is easy to make. You can add as many or as little veggies as you like.

Roasted Veggie Salad:  (Serves: 2)

  • 4 Cups washed and dried mixed greens (I use shredded boston lettuce and baby mixed greens like chard, spinach and kale)
  • 1/4 Cup red onion, sliced
  • 1/2 Cup butternut squash, julienne
  • 1/4 Cup red bell pepper, julienne
  • 1/4 Cup yellow bell pepper, julienne
  • 1/4 Cup carrots, julienne
  • 2 Tablespoon sunflower seeds (Optional)

Vinaigrette:

  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1/2 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1/2 tablespoon agave syrup or honey
  • 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and freshly ground pepper as per your taste

Steps:

  1. Line a baking sheet with a aluminium foil and spread
    all the veggies on it. Sprinkle little olive oil, salt and
    pepper on it. Mix well so veggies are well coated with
    oil and seasonings.
  2. Preheat oven on 400 degree F and after it is
    preheated put the veggie tray in the oven. Roast the
    veggies for 15 to 20 minutes or until tender.
  3. After the veggies are done roasting keep them aside
    to cool down a little.
  4. Meanwhile take all the ingredients for the vinaigrette
    in a small mixing bowl. Whisk them together to
    emulsify the oil and vinegar.
  5. Mix all the greens and cooled veggies in a salad
    bowl. Pour the vinaigrette over and mix lightly into
    the salad.
  6. Serve, and enjoy the salad!

 

Veggies ready for roasting

 

Shredded boston lettuce, baby kale, baby chard, and baby spinach

 

Roasted vegetables

 

Greens and Vegetables mixed together with the vinaigrette

Guacamole; The first recipe I learned beside my home cuisine

I first tasted guacamole dip with tortilla chips years back and I am a big fan of it since then. Mild tasting avocados mixed with different vegetables makes it so flavourful. I like to add some hot chilies too. This gives it some kick. I have tried different recipes from others as well several attempts to make my own. Below is my best attempt which has received kudos from family and friends; Enjoy!

Guacamole, my way: (Serves 4 to 6)

  • 3 avocados
  • 1/4 Cup chopped red onion
  • 1/2 Cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/2 Cup corn kernels (You can use frozen or from freshly grilled corn cob)
  • 2 Hot chilies finely chopped (I use serrano or fingerhot chilies)
  • 1/2 Cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • Juice of 2 limes (Do not skip the lime juice as it prevents the avocados from turning brown)
  • Salt as per your taste (about 3/4 teaspoon)
  • 1/2 teaspoon roasted cumin seeds

Steps:

  1. In a large bowl place chopped onion, red bell pepper, corn kernals and cumin seeds
  2. Add chopped chilies and cilantro to the vegetables.
  3. Scoop avocados in the bowl. Squeeze the lime juice and salt over the scooped   avocados.
  4.  Use a potato masher or fork to mash the avocado pulp and mix it together.
  5.  Serve immediately with tortilla chips of your choice.

Prep work for great guacamole

Corn, green chili, red bell paper, and onion

Cilantro and lime

Star of the show avocado

Guacamole

Ready to eat guacamole and chips

Cooking Method That Survived Thousands Of Years

Yes, I’m talking about cooking rice. Though this is a grain we’ve been cooking for thousands of years, how we cook it hasn’t changed much.

There are two ways to do it. The first is to steam the rice, where you would keep the rice with water in a pot with the lid on. When the water evaporates your rice is ready. The boiling method is done simply by rinsing the rice and bringing it to a boil. The rice will be very soft when ready, and then strain and serve.

Mrunal will share how she cooks the rice for her recipes included in the Cook With Me iOS app.

“I use the absorption method. To do this rinse the rice with water to wash out excess starch. Next add water, which measures twice the amount of rice. Put the water and rice in a pot on the stove on medium or low heat. Make sure to put the lid on. Once the rice has absorbed all the water, it is cooked. Let the rice sit for five minutes. After that, you can use it for whatever recipe you want.”

Thank you Mrunal. And to our Cook With Me customers, happy cooking!

Recipes written in simple steps

Today is Sunday.  It is raining outside, well I should say more like torrential downpours like most monsoon days in Kota Rajasthan north of India.  I am visiting a friend, Sandeep from my college after almost six years.

A nice hot tea made with ginger tastes so good on such day, and that’s exactly what my friend offers when I reach his apartment.  We quickly go back in memory lane and talk about our college days over a hot cup of tea.  Few hours later, hunger strikes.  With such heavy rain outside, Sandeep suggests we should simply cook at home.  His plan is to make a mix vegetables with curry and chapati, Indian bread.  I am impressed that Sandeep has learned cooking.

I help with what I can, cut the vegetables.  Cauliflower, green bell paper, potato, onion, tomato, green beans, and green chilies.  Sandeep then asks to grate ginger and garlic.  So far so good, we are making progress.  Sandeep is on to kneading the dough for the bread.  In just few minutes he is done, I am impressed already.  Sandeep starts making chapati and on another stove I help with sautéing vegetables.  In less than hour and half we are ready to eat.

We devour on freshly made chapati and mix vegetables.  Sandeep prepared an excellent meal for us, very tasty.  Now you should know that I know nothing about cooking.  This food is an inspiration to start cooking.  I am thinking when I go home I should be able to cook something like this.  I ask for recipe and Sandeep suggests I should write recipe based what I have seen in the kitchen and he will help with any edits as necessary.  Sure I will send my notes shortly, I said.  Rain is slowing down now and with awakening of reality to go to work next day, we both decided to call it a day.

To write down recipe in small steps, turned out to be lot harder than I thought.  I did my best to write recipe that included ingredients, measure, steps, cooking time, and heat.  Sandeep has to correct a lot of what I wrote.  In the end, we created a winner recipe which I used lot many times in years to follow.

After almost twelve years, in 2012 when we decided to work on Cook With Me, we decided to write recipes in steps.  Remembering my experience with writing such recipe, I thought this is going to be more difficult than it appears.  In spite of work involved, I knew that such efforts are well worth the efforts.

Mrunal started writing recipes in steps and on countless occasions I argued with her about some difficult steps.  Striking a balance between too simple and too complex is difficult.  We understand that there is no one answer and what we created in our first release of the app is just a starting point.  Based on my own experience, I can surely say that simple format helps with cooking and encourages you to write recipes which your family and friend may actually put to use.  We look forward to adding ability to create and share your recipes in our simple format, soon.  Till then enjoy Mrunal’s recipes we offer in Cook With Me, hope you like the recipes and simplicity of the format.

Cook With Me : Fine tuning recipe pictures

Our experiments with taking recipe picture resulted in really good pictures, specially the food looked great on the plate.  Having said that we were still left with some pictures with bluish tint to it.  So after taking all those 2400 pictures and carefully selecting the best pictures truly representing the recipes in Cook With Me, at the time of app release our experiment to remove bluish tint started.

One other issue we needed to tackle was size of the picture.  All along the app development we knew that initial download of the app is taking long time (~minute and half) due to the large size (~3 MB per recipe picture) of recipe pictures embedded in the app.

My first thought was to use some tools like “Preview” on OS X or “Gimp” to select background using color and change the selected color to transparency which will remove the bluish tint.  I tried several times only to distort picture rather than improving the same.  What made selecting color complex was color of the plate and food.  Some of our recipe pictures were with white plate and others with brown plate.  Brown plates were bit easy to deal with while white plates posed more challenge.  Of course colorful food on the plate made selecting solely on the color more complex.  Selecting food using rectangle or oval selection did not work either due to how food was placed on the plate and angle at which picture was taken.

This is where in house talent came in handy, thanks to Georgia our designX6 team member.  Georgia has vast experience in working with pictures to make them look good on websites, brochures, and ad-campaigns she designs.  With Georgia’s magic touch, we got pictures justifying the amazing recipes included in Cook With Me.  Georgia used PainShop to work with pictures.  After Georgia done working with her magic, bluish tint was gone.  We made another key decision about background color of the recipe picture, rather than transparency we opted for same color as background color of the app.  Now we were free to use JPG format than PNG to help reduce file size in the process.  Using Preview app, I then reduced the file size further.  After all these edits we were left with ~300 KB per picture compared to ~3 MB original picture.  All these edits were done ensuring we do not distort plate and most importantly food on the plate.  Our editing efforts resulted in better looking app and fast download speed from ~ one and half minute to ~ 18 seconds improving overall app experience from install to everyday use.

Mexican rice salad: Original with bluish tint

Mexican rice salad: Edited to remove bluish tint

Mexican rice salad: Final with app background

Cook With Me – iPhone user experience

Keeping user interface simple and clutter free means making some tough decisions.  On iPhone we decided to use swipe gesture on recipe name for navigation to “Recipe Details” and “Steps” from the “Recipe Collection” screen.  There is bit of discovering to know this gesture, but once known then same is so obvious.  Our decision keeps UI clutter free specially on iPhone 5, 5S, and 4 where space is premium.  See below Youtube video where Manas explains how the user interface works on iPhone.  Enjoy!