Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Refreshing Ginger-Ale

August 25th: The last few days have been really hot! And as much as I love the sunny summery days, I do not like the 'heat factor'. To make things worse, the air-conditioning conked off last night. I put in a maintenance service request first thing in the morning and the maintenance guy came in the afternoon, tinkered around and said that it was just a few blown wires in the air-conditioning unit and that he had fixed it. He advised me to keep the AC on and warned me that it will take time for the apartment to cool down (about one degree Fahrenheit per hour). So I waited. When the husband came back from work and complained that it is still hot, I brushed aside his allegations, quoting the maintenance guy. It was only around 9 pm that it hit me that the AC was not actually not working (duh!), the vents were blowing warm air so while the husband went out to buy a stand fan, I sat down and wrote a LONG service request (yes, it was almost as long as my blog-post!!). I was flustered. I was losing my cool. Because my almost 5 year old who is usually asleep by 8-8:15 pm on school-nights, couldn't sleep and he was getting bouts of cough. A dose of Benadryl helped with his coughing and the tired little being fell asleep even before his father returned with the fan.

I agree that the heat here is nothing compared to the sweltering heat of the summer months in Kolkata, but then again the apartments here are designed for air-conditioning and though we have a ceiling fan in each room, those hardly helped. All day I had been craving cool drinks. I craved Masala Thums-up. I craved Limca. I craved all the things cool but not available here, at least not easily. My only reasonable craving was for ginger-ale and I immediately remembered that my friend, PeeGee had posted a recipe few days back on her blog. So once it got a little cooler (around 10 pm), I set off to make the syrup for the ginger ale. I know I'll have to wait till morning to drink it, but tomorrow I'll be ready to take on the heat well-equipped with the stand-fan and a glasses of minty fresh and chilled ginger-ale.

Refreshing Ginger-Ale

August 26th: Zingy Ginger-ale made. Consumed. Refreshed. AC Unit still not working - apparently the compressor needs to be replaced which will take couple of days time. Maintenance came and installed a window unit in one of the rooms.


  • Grated Ginger - 1/4 Cup (I used about 3 inches of ginger)
  • Brown Sugar - 1/2 Cup
  • Lime juice - 1.5 or 2 tbsp
  • Water - 1 Cup (8 oz)
  • Salt - a fat pinch
  • Mint Springs - 2 or 3 (optional)
  • Club Soda or Seltzer Water - 1 Cup (8 oz)
  • Ice-cubes - a handful
Refreshing Ginger-Ale

In a saucepan bring to boil 1 cup water, along with the brown sugar, grated ginger and pinch of salt. Once it comes to boil, lower the heat, add the mint sprigs and let the concoction simmer for 10 minutes. Take it off the heat, add the lime juice and let it come to room temperature. Chill the ginger syrup in the fridge for few hours or overnight.
Before making the ginger-ale, strain the concoction and store the ginger syrup in a clean glass jar. You may discard the mint leaves and save the ginger pulp to snack on later. PeeGee was right, it does taste a bit like candied ginger.
To make the ale, pour 4 tbsp of ginger syrup, top it off with about 4 oz of seltzer water and throw in a handful of ice-cubes. Garnish with lime wedges,

I am thinking a splash of vodka (or more) will do wonders! 

Friday, August 22, 2014

Oven-baked Whole wheat Chicken-Zucchini Quesadilla lookalikes

Okay... let me just call this Quesadilla lookalikes right off the bat! Inspired by  Mexican quesadillas - these were less fancy, quick&easy to make and so yummy! For the filling I used ground chicken, shredded zucchini, a combo of shredded cheddar and monterey jack and some warm spices. You can use any filling you want to - bell peppers, corn, kidney beans - adding a handful of cilantro and few squeezes of lemon juice will brighten up the flavors immediately. I had run out of bell peppers and cilantro, so decided to use whatever I had on hand. These were pretty filling and 3 were enough for the three of us.

Oven-baked Whole wheat Chicken-Zucchini Quesadilla lookalikes

Ingredients: Servings 3 (there will be some leftover filling)

  • Whole-wheat tortillas - 3
  • Ground Chicken - 1 lb 
  • Onion - 1 medium, thinly sliced
  • Zucchini - 1 big, shredded
  • Garlic - 2 fat cloves, minced
  • Cumin Powder - 1/2 tsp
  • Coriander Powder - 1/2 tsp
  • Black Pepper - 1/2 tsp, freshly crushed
  • Salt to taste
  • Shredded Cheese 3 or 4 tbsp (use more if you wish)
  • Lemon Juice - a couple quick squeezes
  • Oil - 1 tsp
  • Butter or oil for greasing the baking sheet
Oven-baked Whole wheat Chicken-Zucchini Quesadilla lookalikes

Preheat oven to 400 F. Grease a baking sheet and keep aside.
In a non-stick pan heat one tsp oil and fry the minced garlic, sliced onions and shredded zucchini till fragrant and translucent. Since I did not add a lot of oil, I had to keep stirring it constantly. Add the ground chicken, fry till it browns while using your spatula to break down the clumps. Season with salt, pepper, cumin powder and coriander powder. You can use taco seasoning or fajita seasoning if you want to. I kept it simple. 
Arrange the tortillas on the grease baking sheet. Add 3 or 4 tbsp of the ground chicken-zucchini filling to each tortilla, add a squeeze of lemon juice if you want to and top it off with some shredded cheese. Fold the tortillas in half, add a weight to it (refer to pic) and bake at 400 F for 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Flip carefully. Serve hot with guacamole or salsa. 

Oven-baked Whole wheat Chicken-Zucchini Quesadilla lookalikes

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