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Pizza in a pinch

This slice of BBQ chicken pizza is delicious and so easy that my 9-year-old niece makes it when she visits. She says this is her favorite. And the way she and her twin brother eat it up when she makes it is the proof! Psst … don\’t tell her that it\’s a healthy and balanced meal.

‘This pizza is really good!’

Shailesh Swaroop, my brother said in surprise during a lunchtime visit

My brother, Shailesh, of Carlsbad, Calif., and his two daughters, Sangeeta, 15, and Maya, 13, decided to pop in for a last-minute visit right during lunchtime. They called from South Coast Plaza and said they’d be over in an hour. I don’t know about the teenagers you know but this pair can be finicky about what they’ll eat. My brother’ll eat anything … so I decided to bake this BBQ chicken pizza for lunch.

My brother, Shailesh, gets ready to chow down on the first BBQ chicken pizza out of the oven. He came down from the San Diego area for a brief visit to Orange County with his daughters, Sangeeta and Maya. It’s always fun to see them!

It’s an easy recipe. It includes a crust from the store (something like Boboli), bbq sauce, chicken breast, cilantro, cheese, tomatoes and onions. I cubed up the raw chicken breast, cooked it in bbq sauce and layered the rest of the ingredients on to the crust and baked until the cheese is bubbly. Delicious and easy! My favorite kind of recipe.

It came out of the oven just as they walked in the door. We had it along with some fruit: watermelon, honeydew or strawberries. We all tore through it and could focus on enjoying each other for their brief three-hour visit.

Would you like to make it yourself? Click here for the recipe.

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A cooking lesson

My aunt, Renu, visiting from India for the first time this summer taught me how to make chicken curry, above, while she was here.

I had two sets of aunts and uncles visiting the United States  from India – for the first time – over the summer. They landed in New York on Aug. 8, 2010 where they visited some cousins and my aunt who lives in a posh neighborhood in Glen Ridge, New Jersey. While they were there they toured Manhattan and trekked up to Niagara Falls while they were on the East Coast.

Then they arrived on the Best Coast, whoops I mean the West Coast, on on Aug. 14 and stayed until Sept. 17. While they were out here we took them out for their first view of the Pacific Ocean as seen from the golden shores of Huntington Beach, Little Saigon in nearby Westminster,  a jaunt to wild Las Vegas, then out to peaceful Ramkrishna Monastery in Trabuco Canyon, Huntington Beach Central Library which was a hit for my book-addicted uncle and aunt, Arun Saksena and Karuna Saxena, and of course shopping for clothes, perfume and tasty treats. Not to mention visiting several restaurants to taste ethnic and Western fare.

Ramkrishna Monastery which is open to the public from 9 to 11 a.m and 3 to 5 p.m. Mondays through Sundays. The monastery sits atop 40 acres of largely undeveloped rolling hills in Trabuco Canyon. The monks maintain the buildings and grounds of the monastery which include a shrine, a shrine trail honoring the world’s major religions, and a bookstore.

But I digress. while they were here my aunt, Renu Saksena, complained that I hadn’t eaten anything made by her. Seeing an opportunity, I asked her to make her famous chicken curry and to teach me how to make it while she was at it. She agreed.

My uncle and aunt, Arun and Renu Saksena, spent part of the summer visiting the West Coast. My aunt is the one who taught me how to make her delicious and simple chicken curry. It was a delight being able to show them around. They arrived back home in Lucknow, India on Sept. 19.

It tasted great. It was so tender and delicious that it tasted like it simmered over low heat for quite awhile. But it’s easy to make and we served it up 30 minutes after we heated up the pan. Definitely a crowd pleaser!

You want to make it yourself? Click here for the recipe.