Ranch Pasta Salad

BM #106: Week 1, Day 3
Theme : Packed Lunchboxes

It’s almost funny that I am posting this recipe. This is a proper summer pasta salad and it’s a cold, cold day here in Jersey today. The weather was good yesterday and so I thought a salad with fall colors would be great. I wasn’t expecting the temperature to drop so much today.

Anyway, it doesn’t matter. Even though it’s cold outside, these salads still taste good. When you are having it for lunch, it’s at room temperature and not very cold. My son likes it that way. There is always fruit in his lunchbox, it’s almost always apples and grapes as it stays without getting crushed. Sometimes I add berries in too, but I don’t overcrowd it.

Read on for the recipe.

Serves: 2

Ingredients :

  • 2.5 cups cooked pasta
  • 2 cups diced vegetablesI used cherry tomatoes, orange pepper, zucchini, corn, sliced olives
  • 2 tablespoonsmayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons ranch dressing
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dried red chili flakes, optional
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

  1. In a small bowl, mix mayo and ranch dressing with salt, red chili flakes and pepper. I use a lot of pepper in pasta salads.
  2. In a mixing bowl, add all the chopped vegetables and the cold pasta.
  3. Mix the dressing, taste test and adjust seasonings if needed. Serve cold.

Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing this Week

Hershey’s “Perfectly Chocolate” chocolate chip cookies

BM #106 : Week 3, Day 2
Theme : Baked Dishes

I am a big fan of Hershey’s cookbooks. Those come with recipes that you can try without fear of failure. The Hershey’s best brownies and “Perfectly chocolate” chocolate cakes have been my go-to recipes for many years now. I am surprised that I missed their recipe for cookies until now. This is again from one of their baking books. My son wanted cookies with white chocolate chips and that’s what we made. 

I had made this to celebrate the birth of my nephew who was born just before Diwali. Shreyas helped me a bit with baking, but mostly he was interested in trying out the cookies. As is my ‘tradition’, the first batch had quite a few burnt cookies. The first batch is always a trial batch for me to figure out the time needed to bake. But with chocolate cookies, its hard to tell when they are cooked because of their dark color. So there were some cookie casualities :D. But the rest were saved and distributed to our friends. 

Read on for the recipe.

Recipe source: Hershey’s Recipe Collection Book

Makes about 4 dozen, depending on the size

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter ( 2 sticks / ~220 gms)
  • 3/4 cup white granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 1/4 cups plain flour
  • 1/3 cup cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups white chocolate chips

Method:

  1. Heat oven to 375 F. 
  2. Beat softened butter with both the sugars and vanilla until light and creamy in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add eggs, one at a time and beat it in.
  3. In a smaller mixing bowl, sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. This helps in breaking lumps in cocoa. Add this dry mix to the butter mix in batches and beat in low speed until well incorporated.
  4. Turn off the mixer,  add the chocolate chips and mix it in with a spatula. 
  5. Take a rounded teaspoon of cookie dough. Place this into a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Repeat with the rest of the dough, leaving enough space between it to allow the cookie to spread. 
  6. Bake 8-10 minutes or until set. Cool slightly in the sheet itself before moving to a wire rack. Cool completely and store in airtight containers. 

Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing this Week

Moong dal with Dill leaves

BM #106: Week 1, Day 1
Theme : Packed Lunchboxes

My husband’s lunchbox and my son’s lunchbox are completely different. My husband prefers rice and my son doesn’t like rice. I serve rice to my son when he is back from school and pack something light for his lunchbox. Pasta is the only thing they agree on.

Here is a sample of my husband’s lunch. I usually pack a salad or a cooked vegetable on the side, but I was out of time to do so. Dal with dill leaves is a recipe I learnt from my friend and I love it.

Read on for the recipe.

Recipe source: My friend Devi

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup moong dal
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2-3 green chilies, roughly chopped
  • 1″ piece ginger, grated or minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • Salt as needed
  • 1 cup chopped dill leaves
  • 1 teaspoon ghee
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala

Method:

  1. Wash the dal and pressure cook with the diced tomatoes, onions, chilies , ginger, garlic and turmeric powder. Add about 2.5 cups of water or until the dal is completely submerged and water floats about an inch on top. Pressure cook for 6 whistles (6 minutes in Manual setting in Instant Pot) or until the dal is cooked completely. I use pot in pot method. Let the pressure release naturally.
  2. Heat ghee in a pan and add cumin seeds. Once the seeds splutter, add the cooked dal. Add salt as needed and garam Masala. Roughly chop the dill leaves and add it to the dal. Let everything cook together for a couple of minutes. You can add more water if the dal is dry. Taste test, adjust seasonings. Take off the heat and serve with rice, pickle and chips.

Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing this Week

Olive oil Pasta Salad

BM #105: Week 4, Day 3
Theme : Pasta Salads

For Day 3, it’s a very simple pasta salad. All it has is olive oil and some dried herbs. It’s my friend’s recipe and she has made it for us a couple of times. Shreyas really loves it. So I thought of blogging it here, that way I won’t forget about it later!

My friend uses dried Italian seasoning, but I have used a mix of various dried herbs. I mostly have oregano and basil, so many times that’s what I use. I add a good dose of freshly ground pepper when making this. I also add more vegetables– chopped tomatoes, zucchini and thawed corn are the usuals. But here I have done it that way my friend does with just broccoli.

To cook broccoli, you can toss it to the pasta pot when pasta is cooking. I usually add it at the last five minutes. This avoids overcooking. The broccoli floats on top, so it’s easy to take it out. I cook the whole pack of pasta and refrigerate it once cool. That way it’s easy for me to pack pasta for my son’s lunch with different sauces.

Read on for the recipe.

Serves 1

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups cooked pasta
  • 1/2 cup cooked broccoli florets
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice or vinegar,optional
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

  1. In a mixing bowl, mix olive oil, lemon juice/vinegar if using and the seasonings.
  2. Toss in the pasta and broccoli florets. Mix everything and taste test to adjust seasonings.

Notes:

    You can add more vegetables of your choice to the salad.
    The flavor is Better if the salad rests for an hour or two.

Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing this Week