Cook's Hideout: June 2012

June 19, 2012

South Western Couscous Salad

For Day 3 of BM# 17, I made this very quick and easy South Western Salad with couscous. I think any grain can be used instead of couscous and the salad would taste equally delicious. Using couscous cuts down the cooking time considerably. Recipe is from Whole Foods website.
This is a very colorful and healthy salad. Ingredients can be easily substituted with what you have on hand. A perfect dish for summer BBQs and the leftovers taste great chilled the next day for quick lunch.

June 18, 2012

Curried Quinoa Salad with Peaches & Snow Peas

For Day 2 of BM# 17, I made this Curried Quinoa salad with Nectarines & Snow peas. It's a coincidence that this month's Vegetarian Times magazine has a whole spread of summer's best main-dish salads at can be made in under 30 minutes. This recipe is one of the 5 others that they featured.

I had to buy a jar of mango chutney for this dish, but I think its well worth it. This chutney is sweet and tangy unlike its spicy Indian counterpart (especially the chutneys from South India). The salad itself turned out to be   tangy, spicy & sweet with the addition of the peaches and curry powder. Adding quinoa makes the salad a meal in itself -- hearty and filling.

June 17, 2012

Black Rice Salad with Mangoes & Tangerines

This is week 2 of BM# 17 for me and for this week, my theme for this week is "Summer Salads". We are not big salad eaters and I prefer my veggies cooked than raw. I know a lot of people who would order salad at a restaurant I'd rather eat something cooked and hearty than a salad. But for this week, I tried 3 different salads that can be put together in no time, but at the same time they are hearty and healthy. 

I wanted to incorporate some kind of a grain in all my salads making them a complete meal instead of just a "salad". Also with the summer temperatures slowly creeping up, these quick cooking meals get done without a sweat and a lighter on the stomach too.

June 12, 2012

Jazzed up Vanilla Cupcakes made from Cake Mix

After making a breakfast & an entree from ready to cook stuff, I decided to make a dessert using the same. I was debating between making an Indian dessert of Western cake. Since I had to make something for the kids for a party last weekend, I decided to make these vanilla cupcakes from store bought cake mix; this way I had a dish for the marathon and kids had something that they like.

It has been years since I bought store bought cake mix. After making the cakes at home from scratch, it somehow does not feel right buying store bought mix. I know they are very convenient, but all the additives in the mix, makes me not want to buy any.

Well for this challenge, I made an exception and since I was running out of time and options to make something for the kids, I decided to buy a cake mix anyway. I used only half the box since the full box (18.5oz) makes 24 cupcakes and I only wanted to make a dozen. I weighed the mix and halved it by weight.

June 11, 2012

Vegetable Biryani using Biryani Mix

For Day 2 of BM# 17, I made this easy to make Biryani using ready to cook biryani mix. All you need (as it says on the mix) is rice, vegetables and yogurt.I added just a little bit of extra salt and that was the only additional ingredient I added to the dish. 
Making a biryani from scratch is not my cup of tea. My MIL makes a mean biryani that is to die for and she makes it in a very traditional way; par-boiling rice, marinating vegetables, layering and steaming. I, on the other hand, prefer mixing all the ingredient in the pressure cooker and boom, there you have my biryani.

This mix is quite convenient on days when you have company at home and are running short of time. The taste is pretty close to the real thing (if you have ever tasted the real thing, that is.. I can't say I ate a real dum ka biryani anywhere else but the one made by my MIL) and gets done in less than half the time needed for the real thing.

June 10, 2012

Rava Idlis using Instant Rava Idli Mix

I'm back to blogging for 3 days in a row this time with Blogging Marathon # 17 (BM#17). Slight change in the format, but same idea of cooking with a theme for consecutive days instead of a week. I'm joining the marathon for 2 weeks this time and my first theme is "Cooking with Ready made Stuff". 

I don't usually buy ready to cook food, even though I know some of them really good and they are fast and convenient. I try to make everything from scratch because I keep stock of the basic ingredients needed for most of the dishes and it doesn't seem cost effective to buy ready to cook foods again. But recently my work got a lot busier and I find that I don't have much energy left to make anything even over the weekends. So when I saw Valli's themes and saw this theme, I wanted to try some of the "ready to cook food" and see how they taste. 

For the first dayof BM# 17, I made Rava Idlis using MTR brand "Instant Rawa idli mix". These are super simple to make, all you need is some yogurt and chopped cilantro. I used greek yogurt mixed with water. The mix has all the seasonings, cashews, tempering ingredients and the final product was excellent, given the minimum amount of work put into it.

June 06, 2012

Dish It Out-Eggplant & Tomato Round Up

First off a big thanks to Vardhini @ Cooks Joy for letting me host Dish It out. Ingredients I chose for this edition were eggplant and tomato. I received some delicious creations from fellow bloggers that I can't wait to try all the dishes.

Here are the entries I received:


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