Friday, October 26, 2018

Pasta with Garlic and Olive Oil - Lemon n spice Kids Lunchbox Ideas

In her Planetbox today: Pasta with garlic and oil, grapes, Sharp Cheddar cheese, Aussie bites, veggie straws, and vitamin gummies

Pasta with Garlic and Olive oil

How to make Garlic and oil Pasta?
Cooking time : 15minutes, Serves : 1 kid


1/4Cup : Pasta
1tsp : Unsalted butter
1tsp : Olive oil
1 grated Garlic
1 fresh basil leaf or a dash of Italian seasoning
Salt and Pepper
2 tbsp: Parmesan cheese

Pasta with Garlic and Olive oil
Directions : 

1. Bring 4 to 5 cups water to boil in large pot. Add pasta and 1 tsp salt and cook, stirring often, until al dente. Drain pasta and keep aside.

2. In a saute pan, heat butter, olive oil, and garlic over medium heat until fragrant. Add in the pasta, basil, salt, pepper and toss to coat with the oil. Top with Parmesan cheese for serving.
Pasta with Garlic and Olive oil
Happy Cooking,

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Honey Baked chicken - Lemon n Spice Kids Lunchbox ideas

There is no way to be a perfect mother, but a million ways to become a good one !!!

I like to cook. Well, most days :) .  This is the 4th week  of Rithika's 3rd grade and I was able to send homemade lunch everyday morning with her at 8.00am. Last year I used to drop her hot lunch at the school lunch table around 11.45 and she will eat it during the lunch break from 12.00 pm to 12.30pm. Same sort of food, but lots of work for me like driving again, coming back, again pickup at 2.30 etc. This year we started bicycling to school and it feels absolutely wonderful. A little bit of exercise in the morning and we reach before the first bell with more planning.

Beetroot chips, apples, baked chicken, baby spinach and blueberries, Raisins

In her Planetbox today :
  • Beetroot chips
  • Apples
  • Baked Chicken 
  • Baby spinach and blueberries
  • Raisins
Baked chicken Recipe for kids lunchbox :

Clean and cut one chicken thigh into small pieces. In a bowl, mix 1/4 tsp turmeric powder, 1/2 tsp Pepper powder, 1/2 tsp of ginger garlic paste, 1/4 tsp salt, 1 tsp lemon juice and 1 tsp of honey. Add the chicken pieces to the marinade and combine well. Transfer to a sheet tray lined with foil and Bake in a 400F preheated oven for 25  minutes. Insert toothpicks on each piece to make it easy to eat. (I marinate the chicken pieces previous night and keep in the lower bottom of the refrigerator overnight to save time in the morning)

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Happy cooking,

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Foolproof Appam (easy version of traditional Appam) - Lemon n spice Kids Lunchbox series

My refrigerator has Appam and Dosa batter today. It's always easy if we have such a backup option in the morning to do an easy and fast lunchbox. I added 1 extra teaspoon of sugar to the appam batter to make it extra sweet as Rithika doesn't like to take curry to school. Then plated the lunchbox with cocktail cucumbers, Onam special sarkkavaratti (Kerala chips made with raw plantain), grapes and multivitamin gummies.

Appam - Lemon n spice Kids Lunchbox series

Foolproof Appam recipe / Paalappam recipe/ Vellayappam recipe/ How to make a small batch of soft Appam batter? Kerala soft appam batter recipe


2 Cups: Raw rice/ Pachari / Sona masoori rice / Basmati rice/ Kolam
1 Cup : Poha / Aval / Cooked rice
1 Cup : Grated coconut
3/4tsp Salt 
1tsp dry active yeast (i always use Fleischmann yeast as it never disappoints me)
2tbsp Sugar


1. Wash and soak rice for minimum 4 hours. 

2.  Dissolve dry yeast and sugar in 1/4 cup lukewarm water for 30min or till its frothy.  At the same time, soak Poha in 1 cup water and keep aside to become soft (15minutes).

3. To the blender add the sugar-yeast mixture, coconut, drained soaked rice, salt, and Poha. Grind it to a fine paste. (I use my Vitamix)

3. Now transfer the batter to a large vessel with a tight lid and let it ferment for 2 1/2  to 3 hours in a warm place.(I keep it in the oven with the oven lights on.) 

4. Heat Appachatti / Kadai and smear little coconut oil on it.Pour one spoon full of batter  and rotate the pan in circular manner to get the shape of appam. Put a tight lid on it and allow to cook the center and golden crisp on the border.

Note : 
You can leave the batter overnight, but yeast works the best in its first 4-5 hours. So i dont leave it overnight. If you want to leave it overnight reduce the quantity of yeast from 1 tsp to 1/2 tsp.

Similar Recipes,

Happy cooking,

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Super soft Iddli and Tomato Chutney -Lemon n spice Kids lunchbox ideas

In her Planet box today : 2 Iddli's (each cut into quarters), Tomato chutney, Plum, Banana chips, carrots and pumpkin seeds

Super soft Iddli and Tomato Chutney -Lemon n spice Kids lunchbox ideas

Recipe for 

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Thank you,

Friday, August 17, 2018

First day of third grade and Lunchbox series

 Summer vacation has come to an end!!! I cannot believe my baby girl is starting third grade already. I am so excited and happy for her to continue to learn and grow. 

Like last year I'm starting her lunchbox series throughout the school year. Rithika is so excited to take her same planetbox for the third year toschool. As I have mentioned last year, it's not a paid review of planetbox product, we just love love love them.

Kids lunchbox ideas / Planetbox lunch ideas / cooking with lena lunchbox ideas

In her Planet box today :
  • Mango blueberry sticks
  • Wheat flour n oats flour paratha
  • Baby spinach
  • Barbeque baked potato chips
  • Pumpkin seeds
Wheat flour and Oats flour Paratha recipe:

Dry roast oats and make a fine powder using the mixer (i used my Vitamix). In a bowl add 1/2 cup of wheat flour, 1/4 cup of oats flour, salt and 1/4 tsp Ajwain seeds and enough water to make the smooth dough. Apply oil on top of the dough and allow it to rest for 15minutes. Roll the dough into flat and round like chappathi shape. Now spread ghee on the top and make long layers(i usually make it like drapes or roll tightly). Now press into a disc again and make paratha. cut into desired shape and heat on tawa both sides.

Kids lunchbox ideas / Planetbox lunch ideas / cooking with Lena lunchbox ideas
Happy Cooking,

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Kovakka Mezhukkupuratti / Kovakka Stir Fry ( Tindora / Ivy gourd Stir fry )

Kovakka Mezhukkupuratti / Tindora stir fry
How to Make Kovakka Mezhukkupuratti / Kovakka Fry / Tindora fry / Ivy gourd fry?
Preparation time : 15 minutes, Cooking time : 15 minutes

Ingredients :

Kovakka / Tindora : 250g, (Approximately 2 cups or 30 in numbers)
Onion : 1/2 cup, finely chopped
Garlic : 3, finely chopped
Curry leaves : 1 Spring
Chilly powder : 3/4tsp
Turmeric powder : 1/4 tsp
Coconut oil : 1tbsp++
Mustard seeds : 1/4tsp

Kovakka Mezhukkupuratti / Kovakka Stir Fry ( Tindora / Ivy gourd Stir fry )

1. Clean and trim the sides of Kovakka / Tindora. Now slice the kovakka/Tindora lengthwise.

2, Heat oil in a pan and add mustard seeds. When it splutters, add chopped onion, garlic and curry leaves.Add chilly powder, turmeric powder and fry well.

3. Add in the Kovakka / Tindora and  salt. Cover the pan with a tight lid and Cook in a low flame for 5 minutes. Now uncover and stir fry well. (I like my Kovakka mezhukkupuratti in a crunchy way, so I don't cover the pan throughout the cooking and stir fry till its cooked)

4. Serve hot with Rice / Chappathi.

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Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Rithika Turns 8 - An Indoor Camping Birthday Party

Camp Rithika
Camping themed cake for Rithika's birthday party

I know, I took a long time to publish this post. This year Rithika wanted an indoor Camping birthday party. We have 2 car parking garage with access to living room, so it was perfect to use for the theme. We set up the Coleman tent and arranged folding chairs in the front of our tent. For the activity, kids made a fireplace with a paper bowl, LED light and tissue papers. To match the theme, I made this Camping themed cake in vanilla flavor. The bottom layer was decorated with mini marshmallows, graham crackers and topped with melted chocolate. The top layer was decorated with Chocolate barks, buttercream grass, and a cake topper Tent.

Green and white cupcakes / Camping Themed cupcakes

Rithika's 8th birthday party - Camping themed birthday cake

Trail mix bar

Camping themed Trail Mix - Kids Indoor Camping Birthday Party

  • Fresh catch of the day - goldfish crackers
  • Bear poop - Whoppers
  • Fresh Bait - Gummy worms (Black forest brand) 
  • Twigs - Pretzel sticks
  • Sour Gummy worms
  • Chex mix
  • Popcorn
  • M&m's
  • graham crackers
  • Marshmallows
  • Oreos
  • dry fruits

DIY Burlap cloth birthday garland by Rashmin Raj and Rithika

DIY Camping birthday party signboards by Rashmin Raj and Rithika

Trail mix corner, cake, and Cupcakes
Kids Menu
Rithika's 8th birthday party Party Menu 1 - Kids

  • Mac n cheese
  • Gluten-free cornbread
  • Boiled sweet corn
  • Cream cheese cucumber sandwiches
  • Mango Salsa
  • Nachos
  • Hot Chocolate
  • Trail Mix bar
Indoor Camping Birthday Party

Party Menu for Adults
 Rithika's 8th Birthday Party Menu 2 - Parents

Kids Indoor Camping activity - "Making a fireplace"

Thank you,

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Easy St. Patrick's Day special Lunch box under 15 minutes - Lemon n spice Kids lunchbox ideas

St. Patrick's day is just around the corner. So I decided to do a "Go Green" lunchbox menu for Rithika. In her Planetbox:  green grapes, olives,  bagel sandwich with cream cheese & lettuce and cucumber sticks.


Happy Cooking,

Friday, March 9, 2018

Tropical themed Lunch under 15 minutes - Lemon n spice Kids lunch box ideas

One year with @planetbox !!! Rithika eats better because the food is more attractive in her planet box. I like to pack lunch for my daughter. But planet box has taken my love for home cooked lunch to a new level. In Rover,  you can pack really light or really heavy. I hope this treasure box will last forever.

In her planet box : she wanted tropical colors in her planet box today. So its celery with organic peanut butter, watermelon balls, grilled sweet potatoes and cubed mangoes.

Happy Cooking,

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Creamy Bow Tie Pasta with Broccoli and Bell Peppers - Lemon n spice Kids Lunchbox ideas

9th blog anniversary with my daughters favorite Pasta recipe  

In her Planet box  : Cubed mangoes, Babybel Mozzarella cheese with crunchy Pretzel and Creamy bow tie pasta with Broccoli and Bell peppers / Pasta in white sauce.

Creamy Bow Tie Pasta with Broccoli and Bell Peppers - Lemon n spice Kids Lunchbox ideas
How to make Bow tie Pasta for Kids lunch box / Bow tie pasta in white sauce / Creamy bow tie pasta with veggies ?
Serves :1 child, Cooking time : 10 - 12 minutes 

Ingredients :

Bow Tie Pasta : 1/2 Cup
Butter : 1 tbsp
Garlic :1 clove, finely chopped
Broccoli : 2 Florets, chopped
Bell pepper : 2 Slice, finely chopped 
Arrowroot powder / All purpose flour : 1 tbsp
Milk : 1/4 Cup to 1/2 cup (warm) 
Nutmeg powder / Italian seasoning / Parsley : a pinch
Pepper powder : a pinch
Salt : a pinch

Directions :

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to the package directions (Approximately 10minutes). Drain and set aside.

2. Meanwhile, heat the butter in a stainless steel pan over medium heat. Add the minced garlic and cook for 1 minute, then add broccoli and bell peppers. Next, sprinkle the flour and combine  with the veggies (1 minute). 

3. Gradually add the milk and whisk constantly. Bring the sauce to a boil and allow to thick (2 minutes). Now sprinkle the seasonings -  salt, pepper and nutmeg powder.  If the creamy sauce gets too thick, you may thin it with a little pasta water / broth.

4. When the sauce looks good, Add boiled pasta and combine with the sauce. You can add Parmesan or cheddar to the pasta. But my daughter loves just the way it is!!!

5. To pack for lunchbox, you can transfer this hot creamy bow tie pasta to a Thermos / any heat resisting lunchbox. If your child likes it cold, allow it to cool and then pack in their regular lunchbox.

Happy Cooking,

Monday, February 26, 2018

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star themed Baby Shower cake

A Twinkle Twinkle Little Star baby shower is a fabulous way to honor Mommy-To-Be. Yesterday I made this cake for my close friend Saranya's baby shower. Its a Vanilla cake With Buttercream frosting

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star themed Baby Shower cake By Lena

I made 5 vanilla cakes one day before the party, three - 9-inch cakes and two - 6-inch cakes, which I layered into four layers. Next day I made my classic vanilla Buttercream, increased the quantity to one and half times. For the decorations - I used 1M cake decorating tip to make rosettes and golden sugar dust sprinkles (from Michael's) to cover top layer. The cake toppers for my "Twinkle Twinkle Little star cake"are from Rashmin and Rithika :)

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Happy cooking,