Quick Skillet Garlic Green Beans

Quick Skillet Green Beans

Sometimes there is perfection in the simplest of things. Like a bunch of french beans, quickly sauteed in light olive oil, with a little caramelized garlic and a sprinkling of chilli flakes for heat. Served over rice, with a soft boiled egg, this is my idea of a perfect meal.

Garlic Green Beans

We eat beans a lot. All kinds. This long beans stir fry is a favorite. And then of course there are dried beans ( lentils) of all kinds. Red Beans and Pumpkin EriserryYellow Dal and Green Mung, and another simple ever-favorite, the humble Horsegram (Muthira) What's not to love about legumes? They are inexpensive, easy and quick to cook, nutritious and delicious.

I am sharing this green beans saute with some other legume lovers over at My Legume Love Affair that was started by Susan  and is now being run by Lisa, and if you love legumes as much as we do, you should definitely join in the fun. 

Quick Skillet Green Beans

Do you think beans are boring ? Or do you think of magic, and of Jack and the beans stalk? Of something amazing that can come from something so ordinary? 

Whenever I see beans, I think of my little brother. He is not so little now, but when you have a brother who is nine years younger than you, he is your first baby and will always be. My sister and I and we were fiercely protective of him from the second he was born. While my sis and I went through our share of sibling rivalry and quarrels, with my brother things were different. We big sisters were happy to pamper him. He was just the cutest little kid. Light brown eyes framed by long lashes, and the sweetest, widest smile on his chubby face. Most little girls had dolls to play with. My sister and I were lucky enough to have our own live, little doll! Yes, the poor thing had to go through a lot of tea time, dress-up and worse! 

I could not believe it when I went off to college and during that time our happy chatterbox grew into a quiet teen who towered over us at 6 feet tall. Today I cannot believe he is twenty, almost done with his studies and ready to join the work force.

But once, he was five, and a sweet little boy who, like Jack, had a beanstalk. Well, my mother planted it, but it was the five year old, whose job it was to water it and he did so, enthusiastically. One of my most cherished photographs has a disheveled, chubby little toddler, who (in my mind at least) can never grow up, dutifully watering his beans plant. And that's the image that came into my mind, looking at that bag of beans at Costco.

  Quick Skillet Green Beans

I don't shop at Costco ( a popular warehouse store that has stores across the US and some other countries) too often, but every two months or so I make a trip there, armed with a long list. I bring back giant bottles of nuts, bags of rice, cereal, pasta and sugar and other staples and very occasionally some treats like those fantastic chocolate covered berries or giant bottles of nutella that really should be out lawed. I take shopping for groceries very seriously and like to take my time, moving slowly from one aisle to the next, scanning every ingredient list and tasting samples. Grocery shopping is just one of those things I really, really enjoy. I think I just like to be surrounded by food or the promise of the many meals I will get to cook :)

This time I was happy to see a huge bag of tender green beans, and I had only this one thing in mind to do with them- sautee them with garlic, and that's all I did with the entire bag. No complaints.

Quick Skillet Garlic Green Beans

  • French Green Beans or String Beans- 1 1/2 pounds
  • Garlic- 5 cloves sliced into wedges
  • Chilli flakes- 1-2 tsp ( optional) 
  • Extra light Olive Oil or Canola oil- 2 tbsp 
  • Salt to taste


Cut the end off the green beans and if you like cut them up into shorter pieces ( easier to eat this way)
Heat the oil in a skillet and saute the garlic until crisp and light brown.
Add the chilli flakes and salt and stir for a few seconds
Add the washed and cut beans and stir to cover evenly with the oil.
Cover the skillet with a lid and leave to cook, stirring occasionally.
The beans should still have a bite to them but no longer taste raw.
Serve with rice or as a side to meat or pasta. 

Cod and Couscous En Papillote

Fish and Couscous En Papillote

Since there was no school on Sundays, my sister and I decided that meant we could sleep in. Our mother did not agree, and we woke every Sunday to the sound of her insistent knocking on the door of our bedroom, as she hurried us to awake and get ready for church.

We would sleepily nudge each other to get up and get bathed first so that the other would have a few more cozy minutes, buried under the covers. Usually this meant we were almost always late, arriving at church bleary eyed and grumpy as we went through the motions, waiting for the service to end so we could get to our Sunday feast and favorite TV shows.

How things have changed! Today, going to Sunday Mass with my little family is one of the highlights of my week and I am always, like my mom, the first one to be dressed and ready, urging T and the  toddler to hurry so we won't miss a bit of the service. Mostly because today as an adult, I understand the significance of the symbols, the meanings behind the motions. Over the years, life's many ups and downs, God has drawn me closer to Him and I hope, He draws me closer still. 

Marin Headlands
Marin Headlands
Golden Gate Bridge
The Golden Gate Bridge- from the beautiful Marin Headlands
In our busy, sometimes unrelentingly demanding week, the peaceful church is a serene, soothing retreat. Joyous hymns raise my spirits and strengthen me ( this one and this are two favorites) I smile when the toddler loudly joins in- the fact that he doesn't know too much of the words doesn't deter him in the least. He usually just makes up his own! The sermon fills my heart and inspires me to be a better person and rise above my flaws, feelings of in-adequacy and petty anxieties. I am reminded of God's enduring, unconditional love for me and my fellow human beings. I leave feeling rejuvenated with a song on my lips and a feeling of contentment in my heart. After mass, the world is more beautiful. 

Marin Headlands

Today is Ash Wednesday and the beginning of a solemn time when we count down to Easter and the death and Resurrection of Jesus. It is a time of prayer, reflection, and many fast and abstain from things they usually enjoy, during this forty day period before the celebration of Easter. 

Marin Headlands

Marin Headlands

Marin Headlands

Like last year, I plan to give up or at least reduce my consumption of my biggest weakness-sweets.
Unfortunately, since it also happens to be Valentine's day tomorrow, I am surrounded by decadent chocolate cakes and tempting sweets in pink and red hues. Seeing these and the many adorable heart shaped cookies and cakes on Facebook and all my favorite blogs, I almost broke down and baked today, using a V-day themed blog post as an excuse to give in. Then I reminded myself that this is an austere time, a time to grow spiritually, a time for self-discipline, so I resisted.

Instead I decided to post this fish en papillote that the hubs and I made together last Sunday  A simple, healthy and romantic meal and a special day spent together.

Fish and Couscous En Papillote

After last Sunday's mass, we were thinking about where to head for lunch when the hubs suggested that instead of going to a restaurant how about going to the nearest Whole Foods to pick up some fish and attempt en papillote ( in parchment) cooking. "I don't know how!" I exclaimed. It sounded complicated, and the only similar thing I had seen my mother make was Meen Pollichathu where fish is cooked with spicy masala inside a banana leaf."We'll learn together." said he.

So we did. With guidance from Alton Brown, I was sous chef to the hubs for the afternoon as we sipped wine and cooked together, packaging the fish with herbs, vegetables and couscous in  a sheet of parchment paper. It turned out to be very easy, didn't take much time at all, and was a lot of fun!  There was much drama, excitement and anticipation at the escaping steam when the hubs cut open the package in the end. 

One of the most delightful Sundays ever, and a fresh and delicious meal that although we devoured completely, we didn't feel stuffed, but rather left us feeling energized and light.

Fish and Couscous En Papillote
A tasty mess! 
The couscous and the carrots absorbed all the juices and flavors and the lemon and onions almost tasted like they were pickled and I found myself eating slice after slice.

I hope you have a wonderful day tomorrow, filled with love. The three of us are a little under the weather, and will most likely be staying in, but we plan to cook something special, maybe try something new, because this was so much fun!

Cod and Couscous En Papillote
Recipe adapted from: Alton Brown here


  • 1 cup couscous ( I would recommend that you don't skip this) 
  • 2-pounds cod fillets or whole red snapper, cleaned, head on
  • 2 teaspoons salt, plus a sprinkling for the couscous
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 small bunch fresh oregano ( we used 1 tsp dried) 
  • 1 small bunch fresh parsley
  • 1 whole lemon, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 cup halved grape tomatoes
  • 1 cup drained and quartered artichoke hearts ( we didn't use this) 
  • A few carrots sliced in half lenghtwise (optional but recommended)
  • 1/2 cup white wine 
  • 1 tablespoon butter
Special Equipment:
A Baking sheet 
Parchment Paper or aluminium foil ( do not use wax paper) 


  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  • Rinse and soak the couscous in cold water for about 10 mins, then strain and lay out on a plate, after sprinkling some salt.
  • Cut parchment paper into a 15 by 48-inch sheet, large enough in width to cover your baking sheet twice. 
  • Fold in half and lay on baking/cookie sheet so that it resembles a greeting card. 
  • Open the "card" and lay the fish on the inside layer of parchment so that you can cover it woth the outer flap of parchment.(As though placing the fish inside a greeting card.)
  • Generously sprinkle salt and pepper on the fish, on both sides of the fillets or if using a whole fish, inside and out. 
  • Place herbs in between the fillets or inside cavity of fish along with half of the sliced lemons, and half of the sliced red onion. 
  • Arrange couscous next to fish on all sides. 
  • Place minced garlic, and remaining lemon and red onion on fish and lay tomatoes, carrots and artichoke hearts around outside of couscous, creating what Alton describes as somewhat of a wall. 
  • Cut up the butter into small chunks and place them over the fish. 
  • Pour wine over fish and cover with the outer flap of parchment
  • Fold along the edges of parchment paper, to create a package and staples the edges if necessary, so that it won't leak. 
  • Bake in oven for 30 minutes. Carefully cut open, keeping away from the escaping steam.
Make sure to serve enough couscous which absorbs all the juices. Along with the carrots it was perhaps my favorite part about this dish.

3 Ingredient Nutella Avocado Banana Mousse

3 Ingredient Nutella Mousse

Today I have a special treat for you: luxuriously smooth and creamy chocolate decadence which is actually healthy, and what is more, is ready in under 5 minutes. I know, it sounds too good to be true. This 3 ingredient mousse tastes and looks absolutely sinful, but it's creamy lusciousness hides a surprising secret: 

Nutella Avocado Banana Mousse

Nutrient rich avocados and a banana that are completely enveloped by the deliciousness of nutella or if you are allergic to nuts, simply melted chocolate, or even  cocoa powder and a bit of sweetener of your choice. Yes, yes! Believe! It is even more delicious than it looks! and no, you cannot taste much of the avocado or the banana. You probably wouldn't even guess they were there if I hadn't told you. All you taste is deep chocolate decadence and all you feel is smooth creaminess that your spoon will not have enough of! 

3 Ingredient Nutella Mousse

Whenever I think of avocados I remember those early months with the toddler when he had just started on baby food. Mashed bananas and avocados, roasted pureed sweet potatoes- these were our picky eater's favorites. Avocados were blended with a little sugar or maple syrup a lot in this house. Past the finger food stage however, we had rarely bought them, mainly because I actually don't like them very much. 

Then one day a couple of friends got together for a potluck and my friend Vijitha brought over a chocolate mousse. When I heard that it was made with cocoa and avocados I was pretty sure I wouldn't like it, because I just don't like the taste of avocados. I think they taste kind of eggy. But her mousse looked so creamy and irresistible I had to taste it, and gosh was I proved wrong! I LOVED it!  
The awesome thing about avocados, apart from their dreamy creaminess, is that although it has a pretty strong flavor on it's own, when it is mixed with something else, it completely takes on the flavor of whatever it is that you mix in. And what could be better than nutella?

3 Ingredient Nutella Mousse

We love desserts, T and I, and our little three year old has a big sweet tooth too. The last couple of years we definitely have indulged a little too much, thanks mostly to my baking obsession. So this year, at-least while my new year resolutions are still quite fresh in my mind, I was on the lookout for healthier alternatives to satisfy our sugar cravings.  

When some one tells me that something is healthy, I used to automatically expect it to taste "healthy". You know what I mean. Healthy desserts are a bit of an oxymoron right? Chalky, tasteless is what I had come to expect of most desserts that had been robbed of butter, cream, sugar, eggs and other sinful ingredients that make it awesome yet overindulgent.
If you are an unbeliever too then one taste of this mousse will convince you that going healthy does not mean missing out on delicious.

3 Ingredient Nutella Mousse

Since today is World Nutella Day, I couldn't resist making something rich and purely decadent and this secretly healthier mousse totally hits the spot.

Even though I waited till today to post this, I have actually made this mousse many times, especially since it is dairy-free, eggless and allergy friendly and wholesome for the three year old and not even T could tell that this was a "healthier" version of mousse. It can be slathered on anything, and I am also  planning on using it to fill crepes like the ones I always make sure to get whenever we head to Fisherman's warf in San Francisco. They make the crepes on large cast iron griddles, slather a big gloop of nutella on them and serve it to you hot and crispy, with sliced strawberries on the side.

Pier 39
Pier 39
I love going over to Pier 39. It is such a colourful, bustling place. I like playing tourist and going over to gawk at the sea lions, watching the street performers and eating nutella crepes are almost always part of the experience. These pictures were taken on our last visit to Fisherman's wharf over the holidays. 
Pier 39
Pier 39

This mousse it would make a really rich tasting, thick and creamy chocolate frosting for a layer cake, or sandwiched between cookies... I am sure I will be playing with this healthy mousse in many ways!

Recipe for 3 ingredient Nutella Avocado Banana Mousse 

Yield: Serves 4-6

  • 2 Avocados ( Tastes best with ones that are just ripe, dent lightly when pressed with a finger, with green not brown flesh)
  • 1 Yellow, not over ripe banana (Over browned bananas may have a stronger banana flavor)
  • 1/3 Cup Nutella (Use less or more as per your preference)
  • 2 Tablespoons cocoa powder ( optional- I use and love Ghirardelli's unsweetened, Cadbury's or Valrhona)
  • Whizz all of the ingredients in a blender or use an immersion blender until creamy and combined and no lumps remain ( Do not add any liquid) 
Taste and add more nutella, a sweetener, or if you like, a shot of vanilla extract, or even balsamic vinegar or a little sea salt if you like some tang.
In place of the nutella you can also use chocolate chunks that have been melted in warmed milk or soymilk
You can also just mix the mashed avocados with or without the banana with just cocoa powder and a sweetener like sugar or maple syrup as per the original recipe that this version was inspired by.
Can store the mousse for about a day or two in the fridge and serve either at room temp or chilled.

If you are as nuts about nutella as I am, you may like to check out other recipes celebrating nutella here

Beer Braised Cilantro Chicken Dumpling (or anything) Stew

Beer braised cilantro chicken stew

Wait, what? it's Friday already? Gosh this week just flew past!
How are you all doing? Anyone down with the flu? I heard it's especially nasty this year. Stay warm  and well my friends!

We decided to skip getting flu shots this time, after having been sick immediately after getting the shot for the last two years. So I'm being extra careful. I caught my self edging away from people who sniffle! I have even become one of those people who carries around a clip-on bottle of hand sanitizer (!).

Beer braised cilantro chicken stew

In spite of all this, in case we do succumb to those dastardly bugs (very likely because we have a germ magnet of a three year old who loves to share) I have stocked up on my homeo supply and will be making steaming mugs of masala chai, pepper soups and this stew. Guaranteed to make bleak and depressing days better. Why? because it's chicken stew and it has beer in it.

Beer braised cilantro chicken stew

I'm not too much of a beer drinker, and would much rather sip a glass of wine. But every time the hubs brings home a case of beer, I squirrel away a couple of bottles to cook with. Beer tops wine in cooking, I think and adds a lovely hearty, malty flavor to everything. From pouring onto slow cooking meat, baking super easy beer bread and this chicken soup/stew, I love the many ways that beer can be used in the kitchen.

Beer braised cilantro chicken stew

With the Superbowl this week end I am sure many of you will end up with more beer bottles than you could possibly drink. Use them well.

And while we are talking about the Super Bowl, I felt compelled to share some Super Bowl friendly food ideas:

Grilled Chicken Wings Indian Style
Melted Brie and Bruschetta Dip
Better than popcorn-spicy rice crispies and nut mix
Skillet Pizza with no knead 5 minute dough 
Garam Masala Pulled Pork- feed a crowd!
Pork Vindaloo
Tasty Tuna Cutlets or Croquettes
Easy Kerala Style Chicken Fry - one of the first recipes here!
Whole Wheat Pistachio Cardamom cookies
4 Ingredient quick and easy Nutella Brownies

And now back to this stew/ soup. I do love the dimension of flavor that beer adds to it. But it doesn't have to have beer. It's just a basic, really good chicken stew or soup that I make all the time with what ever I have on hand. All kinds of vegetables can be tossed in, including one of those bags of assorted frozen veggies. This stew helps me use up all kinds of left overs like roast chicken, rice, pasta or even lentils. This time I simmered it with a bottle of beer that was hanging out in the fridge, though you can easily skip the beer and use chicken stock instead. Sometimes I make it with egg noodles, sometimes I plop in bits of dough that absorb the delicious broth and cook into hearty, plump little dumplings. We ate them all up so I didn't have any to photograph, maybe next time, in the next incarnation of this stew that I make too often. 

Beer braised cilantro chicken stew

It might interest you to know how different yet awesomely delicious too is the chicken stew that I grew up eating in Kerala- a gloriously spiced coconut milk, chicken, vegetable or meat stew that is one of my all time favorite dishes. My good friend Prerna Singh of Indian Simmer even features a slow cooker variation of it in her brand new cook book :)

Hurry over to her beautiful blog to win a copy of her first cook book and discover how to cook Indian Food easily and deliciously in the slow cooker.

Recipe for Beer Braised Cilantro Chicken Stew
Recipe by: Rose of Magpie's Recipes
Difficulty Level: Easy

  • Chicken breast tenders or thighs 6
  • Pearl onions or shallots 4 ( or you can use 1/4 of a regular onion)
  • Garlic 6 cloves sliced into wedges
  • Celery seed powder 1/4 tsp ( better to use fresh celery about a handful, chopped, I just didn't have any)
  • Cumin powder 1/2 tsp
  • Coriander powder 1/2 tsp
  • Pepper 1/2 tsp
  • Dried Thyme 1/2 tsp
  • Carrots 1 cup sliced into thin rounds
  • Scallions 2 chopped ( optional)
  • Ginger 1 inch piece smashed
  • Flour 1 tbsp
  • Beer 1 twelve oz bottle ( optional, can use some more chicken stock instead)
  • Chicken stock  2 cups ( can use bullion dissolved in 2 cups water)
  • Cilantro a handfuls, chopped to garnish
  • Oil (I use canola or light olive oil, sometimes one of those herb or garlic infused olive oils)
  • Heat some oil in a skillet
  • Sprinkle a little salt and pepper on the chicken breasts and brown the chicken on both sides, don't cook, just brown
  • Remove the chicken and keep aside
  • In the same skillet, adding a little more oil if required, brown the garlic then the onion, then add the spices and vegetables and stir until lightly browned.
  • Add back the browned chicken and stir in the flour. Keep stirring until the flour is slightly turned a light brown and is no longer raw.
  • Add the chicken stock and or beer and let simmer.
  • If you want to add noodles, pasta or cooked rice, this is the time.
  • Check and add salt if required and garnish with chopped cilantro.
  • Drizzle some olive oil, if you like ones infused with herbs or garlic, use that, and serve with bread, biscuits, or even over rice.
Note,  If I'm in a hurry this is what I do to save thawing the chicken in the microwave, I use my pressure cooker instead:
Pressure cook the frozen chicken tenders with 1/2 cup chicken stock or beer till thawed and cooked
Heat oil in a skillet and brown the chicken, cut it up with a fork and remove, proceed as above for the rest.

You can also make dumplings and simmer them in the stew until cooked:

1 cup AP flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp olive oil
salt to taste
Herbs (optional)
Water or milk

Mix the above ingredients with just enough water or milk to make a dough
Roll into small marble sized balls or scoop with a spoon and drop into the simmering stew.
Cover and let the dumplings cook until a skewer inserted into the dumpling comes out clean and the inside is not gummy ( 10 to 15 minutes, the smaller you roll them, the faster they will cook)