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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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Raksha Bandan

I made these ice cream sandwiches from molasses spice cookies and mint chocolate chip, butter pecan and chocolate ice creams. Click the Recipe Index tab for the recipe.

I made these ice cream sandwiches from molasses spice cookies and mint chocolate chip, butter pecan and chocolate ice creams. Click the Recipe Index tab for the recipe.

The family gathered to celebrate Raksha Bandan in Huntington Beach. For those of you that don’t know: Raksha Bandan in an Indian holiday that celebrates the bond between sisters and brothers. The sisters all make some sort of dish for their brothers and tie a rakhi around their brothers’ (and their wives) wrists. For that they are rewarded with a gift, but more often cash. It is a great time.

This year Suki hosted the festivities in the sunny garden with a menu that included quiche, berry salad, pasta salad, tater tots, buttermilk biscuits, mango, strawberries, tea, water, lemonade and juices. Surabhi brought Desi turkey sliders (the hit of the meal!) and potato salad. Sujata contributed samosas with accompanying chutneys.

For dessert there were ice cream sandwiches, brownies, cupcakes, tollhouse cookies, ras malai, assorted pastries.

Everyone enjoyed the festivities and visiting with those who attending including: Dad, Mom, Vijay Chachi, Surabhi, Subodh, Sujata, Sunil, Bansi Dada, Karen, Sunjay, Dinesh, Serena, Murli Dada, Sangeeta, Maya, Suki, myself and special surprise guest my cousin, Vishnupriya Saksena from India who happened to be in California on business.

Fourth festivities

The highly anticipated Tres Leches cake brought to us by Shelley, Gabbi's daughter. A Tres leches cake, or Pastel de Tres leches (Spanish, "Three milk cake"), is a sponge cake,—in some recipes, a butter cake—soaked in three kinds of milk: evaporated milk, condensed milk, and heavy cream.

The highly anticipated Tres Leches cake brought to us by Shelley, Gabbi’s daughter. A Tres leches cake, or Pastel de Tres leches (Spanish, “Three milk cake”), is a sponge cake,—in some recipes, a butter cake—soaked in three kinds of milk: evaporated milk, condensed milk, and heavy cream.

The whole family gathered at the home of Vijay Chachi, Subodh and Surabhi to celebrate Independence Day with a BBQ.

We got there around 3 p.m. and were treated to chicken, kebobs, turkey burgers, hot dogs, grilled veggies and veggie burgers all made by Subodh. Surabhi was the other half of Team BBQ and made us salsa, guacamole, green salad, chips, potato salad, chutney and the burger trimmings. Karen brought her famous brownies, Bansi Dada brought cantaloupe, strawberries and watermelon. Suki brought some decadent lime-coconut cupcakes. And, of course, there was ice cream sundaes and the highly-anticipated Tres Leches cake by Shelley.

It was a decadent day where we got to bask in the beautiful California sunshine, eat lots of great food and watch a James Bond movie marathon.