Monday, February 16, 2015

Fruit & Chia Yogurt

Here's another snack or mini meal or even dessert that we love at home..  It packs a good protein punch from the greek yogurt and also has the goodness of Chia seeds & fiber from the fruit added. The topping is optional but it makes for a tasty, crunchy addition and takes the snack to the next level.

Another versatile recipe that you can change and play around with by using different flavored greek yogurt & various fruits such as blueberries, apples etc.


Greek Yogurt (I use the Fage brand) - 6 oz flavored or unflavored
Fruit of choice - Apples, Blueberries, Strawberries etc
Chia seeds - 1 tbsp, soaked in 3 tbsp of water for 10 minutes
Honey or Agave nectar - to sweeten (if desired)

Almonds - 3, chopped
Chocolate chips - 6 or so, chopped
Craisins (Dried cranberries) - 5, chopped

1) If using unflavored yogurt, sweeten with a drizzle of honey or Agave nectar.
2) Stir together the soaked chia seeds, yogurt, fruit and add in the toppings (which lends a crunchy texture).  Enjoy! 

TIP: As a substitute for Greek Yogurt, take plain yogurt and scoop into a strainer lined with a muslin cloth, set over a bowl and into the refrigerator for a few hours. You will be left with a thick creamy yogurt in the strainer that can be used in lieu of store-bought greek yogurt.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Potato Soup & Black Bean Quinoa Salad

Our dinner yesterday was a very satisfying meal and it pleased me no end that the kids couldn't get enough of the soup. Even though it was a tad spicy by their standards they still slurped it up once i topped their bowls with a bit of parmesan cheese and kept asking for more.

I just played off of my Broccoli Soup recipe with some tweaks and it worked  - the potatoes add a smoothness and creaminess that is unbeatabale :) 


Medium Russet Potatoes - 3, washed, peeled and diced into small cubes
Medium Yellow Onions - half, peeled and chopped 
Carrot - 1 medium, chopped into small cubes
Celery Stalks - 2, chopped into small cubes
Broccoli florets - half cup, chopped (I used frozen ones that have been defrosted)
Flour - 1 tbsp
Milk - half cup
Vegetable Broth - 4 cups (I used  4 cups water + 1 tsp better than bouillon)
Salt - 1/4 tsp, or to taste
Red Chilli Flakes - half tsp, or to taste 
Dried Rosemary - 1/4 tsp (optional) 
Cracked black pepper - to taste
Extra Virgin Olive - 1 tbsp

1) Heat oil in a deep pot and toss in onions, carrot, celery & broccoli stalks and saute for a few minutes. 
2) Add in the diced potatoes and continue to stir - add some salt, red chilli flakes and rosemary at this point. 
3) Pour in the broth and allow this to cook on medium for about 10-15 minutes... 
4) Mix the flour with the milk until there are no lumps and add to the soup pot and allow to cook for another 10 minutes or so. 
5) You could puree the whole thing using an immersion blender... but i scoooped out slightly more than half of the soup and blended it (I used a Blendtec - make sure you are careful when blending hot liquids, some blenders need slightly cooled ingredients, else they can splash out) . 
6) Return the blended ingredients back to the soup pot, adjust seasonings (salt and pepper) and stir for a few more minutes.

Tasty, creamy potato soup is ready to serve. For kids, you may want to top with some cheese (parmesan or cheddar would go great).

As for the salad, it's as simple as tossing together some cooked quinoa, black beans and some veggies with a lemon-olive oil dressing.  The sweet mini peppers add a wonder burst of colors... i think some fruit could also be added... avocado or oranges would go great.


Quinoa - 3/4 cup, washed
Water - 1.5 cups
Black beans - 1 can, drained and rinsed completely
Cucumber - half, chopped
Tomatoes - 2/3 cup, chopped (I used grape tomatoes), for normal tomatoes de-seed them.
Sweet Mini Peppers (or any bell peppers of choice) - 4, chopped
Salt - to taste
Olive oil - 1 tbsp
Lemon juice from half of a big lemon
Cracked black pepper - to taste

1) In a small pot add washed quinoa with double the quantity of water, add some salt and allow it to come to a boil. Cover and allow to simmer until water is absorbed and quinoa is cooked. 
2) Toss the hot quinoa with the black beans (helps cool it down)
3) Meanwhile combine the chopped veggies (and fruit, if using) in a large bowl. 
4) Whisk together Olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper to make dressing. 
5) To the veggies, add in the black beans and quinoa, pour dressing and toss together. Salad is ready to serve. 

Monday, February 2, 2015

Thavana Podi (Coconut-Tamarind Powder)

I hadn't heard of Thavana Podi until recently, when my MIL mentioned it... Intrigued, I asked her to describe it and she said that it uses a lot of the same ingredients as Theeyal and was a drier version with similar flavors and is usually paired with curd rice.  When my husband's aunt (G athai) visited us a few weeks later, I asked her to make it so I could observe and also note down the recipe... Apparently this is quite popular in Nagercoil and something that her mother in law would lovingly make for her often since G athai loved this podi.  She said she likes to make it tangy....

She set about roasting the coconut and gathering all the things needed for the podi while I took note of the measurements.... This tastes great with curd rice.. it has a tanginess and spiciness with the coconut flavor shining through. Instead of fresh coconut, we used dessicated coconut since that makes the process go by faster. With thanks to G athai, here's the recipe for Thavana podi...

THAVANA PODI (Coconut Tamarind Powder)

Dessicated Coconut - half cup heaped
Garlic - 8 cloves
Dried Red Chillies - 5-7 (depending on spice level, increase for a spicier version)
Black whole urad dhal - 1 tbsp (you can also use white, split)
Coriander seeds - 1 tbsp
Curry leaves - 2 sprigs
Salt - 3/4 tsp
Tamarind - one 3 inch piece (flat), when rolled up it was the size of a small gooseberry
Coconut oil - half tsp

1) Heat coconut oil on medium in a pan and first roast coriander seeds, urad dhal and red chillies for about 4-5 minutes. 
2) Then add in half of the garlic cloves (4), curry leaves and the dried coconut and roast till coconut is dark brown (since we are using dried coconut it's easier to achieve this step quickly).  
3) Add the tamarind piece and stir for a minute more before switching off the stove. Finally add the remaining garlic cloves. 
4)Allow the mixture to cool completely and grind to a powder. Store in a clean, dry jar. 

p.s. Athai explained that the reason for adding some of the garlic cloves without frying is to lend a bit of moisture to the podi that helps the texture of the end product.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Cranberry Orange Bread

This is a quick bread which I made a few months ago for my husband's office Thanksgiving Potluck - it's very festive and has all the perfect flavors for something to bake during the holidays. I heard from him that his colleagues loved it and were asking for the recipe. I then baked a loaf for us to try at home and we were very pleased with the rich taste coupled with the brightness from the cranberries and orange. Easy to put together and tasty - so a winner of a recipe really.

What I love most about this recipe from Anne Burell is that it can be made in no time using a food processor and orange and cranberries go so well together...


All purpose flour - 2 cups
White Sugar - 3/4 cup (in one variation I reduced to 1/2 cup)
Brown Sugar - 1/2 cup
Butter - 1 stick, cold (cut into small pieces 1 stick = half cup)
Orange zest - from 1 large orange
Orange juice - 3/4 cup
Orange - chopped segments from 1 orange (I used canned mandarin oranges)
Egg - 1
Craisins (Dried Cranberries) - 1 cup
Baking Soda - 1/2 tsp
Salt - 1/2 tsp

1) Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour a loaf pan.
2) In a food processor, combine flour, white sugar, brown sugar, baking soda, salt and butter. Pulse until this resembles crumbs. 
3) Add orange juice, orange zest and egg, pulse until just combined.
4) Remove to a bowl, stir in dried cranberries and chopped orange. 
5) Transfer to prepared loaf pan and bake for 1 hour 15 mins or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Do remember to rotate the pan once mid-way (for even cooking). 
6) Allow to cool for 20 minutes in pan, before removing... Slice when completely cool. 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Fruit Tart (Easy and Eggless)

This is such an easy dessert to make and looks so elegant and makes you seem like such an accomplished baker, when in fact this is something that can be put together with just a little effort.  This dessert has been made several times in the past few months and has always been well received... and my kids have declared this to be their favorite. This is also a very versatile recipe and you can change it around to use different fruits that you prefer or are available at any point in time.

Onto the recipe now... this is based on Paula Deen's recipe which I have modified a bit...



For the Crust:
All Purpose Flour - 1 cup
Butter, unsalted - 6 tbsp (softened and cut into pieces)
Confectioner's (Powdered) Sugar - 1/3 cup

1) Preheat oven to 350F
2)  In a food processor, or using your hand, combine butter, sugar and flour together until it comes together like a ball.
3) Press this evenly into a 12 inch tart pan... I used 11 inch spring form pan and use a fork to form ridges along the edges and also used the tines of the fork to press holes on the base so it doesn't puff up too much. 
4) Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until light golden and set aside to cool.Remove from pan.

For the Glaze:
Lemon/ Orange Juice - quarter cup (I used storebought)
Lemon Juice (fresh) - 1 tbsp
Cornflour - half tbsp
Sugar - 1 tbsp

1) While the crust is baking, in a small pan, heat together the juice, lemon juice, cornflour and sugar on medium heat and cook with frequent stirring until slightly thick and clear.  Allow this to cool down a bit.

For the Filling:
Cream cheese / Mascarpone cheese - 1/2 pack (4 oz), softened, if using cream cheese, which is what I used.
Sugar - half cup
Vanilla extract - 1 tsp

(You could also replace a part of the cream cheese with whipping cream, if you wish to give it a lighter texture and taste, but the slight tartness of the cream cheese helps strikes a good balance with the fruits and helps it keep the tart not too sweet).

1) Beat together cream cheese, sugar and vanilla till smooth.
2) Spread  this on the cooled crust.

For the Fruit Topping:
Anything that suits you... I once used strawberries, pineapples, kiwi slices and blueberries and another time used cherries, blueberries, strawberries and pineapple.
Arrange the fruit slices on the cream cheese filling in a patter or even just randomly.

Thanks to Amar anna for his shot of the tart (or pie as he remembered it)
Brush the glaze on the fruits and refrigerate for at least 2- 3 hours before serving.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Date Choc-Nut bites

Since the New Year just went by, I'm sure quite a few of us have some resolutions and I think being healthy should definitely be top priority...

Here's a quick, healthy snack that can be whipped up in a few minutes and is sure to please adults and kids alike....


Dates - 12 (pitted)
Nuts - half cup (I used a mix of almonds and walnuts)
Bittersweet chocolate chips - 2 to 3 tbsp
Chocolate Protein Powder - 1/4 cup
Chia seeds - 3 tbsp (you can use flax seeds as a substitute)

1) Pulse together the dates and nuts (I used my Blendtec processor)
2) When coarse, add in the chocolate chips, chia seeds and protein powder, pulse till well combined.
3) It can stay in an airtight, dry container for a week or so with no issues at room temperature. Refrigerate for a longer shelf life and bring to room temperature before eating.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Dolphin Cake

Our daughter celebrated her birthday on October 10th and this year she wanted a dolphin cake... since I had tried the buttercream transfer method earlier, I was initially inclined to use the same method and got a dolphin picture to trace... but along the way I changed my mind and decided to give fondant a try to make little dolphin figurines and then extended it to other sea creatures as well.... It's pretty much like edible play dough  and a lot of fun to work with.  End result was that she was very happy with the cake and that made me a satisfied mom.

For the actual cake she wanted a chocolate cake with a raspberry frosting... so I started with my trusted recipe for chocolate cake. For the filling, I combined lightly sweetened whipping cream (whipped to stiff peaks) and folded in thawed frozen raspberries... the end result was a mildly sweet, slightly tangy pink filling and it worked out great with the rich chocolate cake so she chose a great combination and we all enjoyed it.

Here's a picture of the cake the decorations

Dolphin Cake
Fondant Decorations ready to go on cake

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Flourless Chocolate Waffles & Green Lantern Cake

It's been ages since I wrote anything here... I've been taking pictures and noting down recipes to blog about but just haven't had the motivation to resume blogging - can't explain why.... 

We celebrated our son's birthday on August 5th and since he's into super heroes quite a bit, he wanted a Green Lantern Cake... (Green being his favorite color, this is the super hero he chose for his cake). I thought quite a bit about how to execute this and had a few ideas... one was to have cupcakes with the Green Lantern logo since that was fairly simple to draw... but the day before his birthday i decided to check out the 'Frozen Buttercream Transfer" method and looked at a few youtube videos before deciding on that approach... So i printed out a picture, whipped up some buttercream and gave it my best shot at tracing it. While there's a long way to perfection, this did the trick and my son was very happy with the result.  Here's a picture... 

Today,  I  wanted to post this super simple recipe for a flourless chocolate waffle... my husband said he enjoyed this at a restaurant near his office f so I wanted to give it a go at home and I must say that it was a hit...  It can be served plain or with some ice cream but it's quite decadent by itself. I replaced part of the eggs with flax seeds in an effort to make it healthier but perhaps replacing all of it may work too if you want an eggless version (though I haven't experimented with that myself)...


Unsalted Butter - 6 tbsp (if using salted, skip the added salt) 
Eggs - 2 (if not using flax seeds, use 4 eggs instead) 
Flax seeds - 2 tbsp, powdered
Water - 6 tbsp

Semisweet chocolate chips - 1 cup
Salt - a pinch
Vanilla - half tsp, optional

1) In a glass bowl combine butter and chocolate chips and microwave for a minute or two, stirring every 30 seconds after the first minute (for me it took about a minute and 30 seconds to melt the chocolate). 

2) Meanwhile combine the powdered flax seeds with 6 tbsp of water and allow to rest for about 5 mins. The texture will change to become sticky, similar to egg whites.

3) Beat the two eggs until combined and stir in the sticky flax seed mixture, with a pinch of salt and some vanilla. 

4) Combine this with the melted chocolate butter mixture.... waffle batter is now ready. 

5) Heat up the waffle iron and spray with some oil, pour about 1/3 of a cup of the batter, close and allow to cook... My waffle iron has an indicator to show when it's done... It may seem soggy initially, so be careful when getting it out... but it will firm up quite well when it cools down a tad. 

I know that this picture is not too tempting but trust me that that this is a winning recipe for chocolate lovers.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Pizza Margherita

This is the simplest of pizzas one can make but pretty much screams summer with the freshness of basil and the sweet/tart taste of ripe tomatoes, drizzled with some balsamic vinegar and topped with some ooey-gooey mozzarella cheese... my mouth waters as I write this...

I sometimes go with pita breads, or wraps or even naans for the base if I'm not making it from scratch (which is as easy as making chapathi dough, if using the yeast specially made for pizza crust).   The topping is also best made ahead so the flavors can marinate together before going on the pizza.

My best wishes to all the moms out there today.... Happy Mother's Day! :)



Pizza dough base - home made or store-bought (I sometimes use Pita breads/Naans)
Fresh Mozzarella Cheese - half cup, torn into small chunks
Shredded mozzarella - 1/4 cup

Firm Tomatoes - 2 or 3, seeded and cut into cubes
Garlic cloves - 2 or 3, minced
Basil Leaves - 1/3 cup, chopped
Balsamic Vinegar - half tbsp
Extra virgin olive oil - 1 tbsp 
Salt & Pepper - to taste


1) Ensure that tomatoes are firm, yet ripe. Remove seeds and pulp before chopping - this will ensure that the pizzas don't get soggy. 

2) Toss together in a bowl the tomatoes, garlic, basil leaves, balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper and allow this to marinate for atleast 30 mins. 

3) Preheat oven to 425F. 

4) To the pizza base add a light layer of shredded mozzarella,  top with the tomato-basil mixture (ensure that it's not watery, drain if necessary). Top with chunks of fresh mozzarella. and more chopped basil if preferred.

5) Bake in a hot oven for about 12-15 minutes or until base is cooked through and cheese is melted.  Best when eaten fresh :) Enjoy.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Chocolate Brownies

There are all kinds of brownies and while some people prefer the fudgy, chewy, dense ones there are others who prefer cake like brownies... I personally couldn't decide where I fit in but this Baker's recipe  has been quite a hit with me and pretty much everyone who has tried it....

It has a super crust and the resulting brownie is perfect in every way. What's more, it needs just 5 minutes to pull the batter together and all you need is one (fairly big) bowl and a simple whisk!  I don't think it can get easier/tastier than this.  It's great on its own and I'm kind of partial to the chewy, crispy edges. Infact,  I once poured about a quarter of the batter on a sheet as a very thin layer and made a brownie brittle of sorts... which was super tasty and would make for a great ice cream topping.

CHOCOLATE BROWNIES - makes one 9x13 inch pan

Baker's brand Unsweetened (baking) chocolate - 1 pkg, 4 oz
Butter, unsalted - 3/4 cup (1 and a half sticks)
Sugar - 2 cups
Eggs - 3
Vanilla - 1 tsp
Flour - 1 cup
Salt - a pinch
Chopped walnuts/pecans - half cup, chopped  (optional) - I didn't add this time


1) Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a 13x9 inch pan with foil with some extra on the sides as an overhang (which enable the brownies to be lifted out easily when done). Spray the foil with oil and set aside

2) Cut the chocolate into squares and add to the bowl, add in the butter. Microwave this for 2 minutes, to melt.

3) Remove from the microwave and stir the chocolate butter mixture to make sure it's melted uniformly.

4) Stir in 2 cups of sugar, next add the eggs and vanilla and mix well.

5) Finally add the salt, flour & nuts (if using)  and stir until well combined.

6) Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 30-35 minutes.

7) Allow to cool and cut with a serrated knife -  serve warm with ice cream, if preferred.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Broccoli Parmesan Rice

This is a quick and simple rice that can be made with leftover rice and makes for a great lunchbox dish for kids...  Since both my kids love broccoli, I've often made a garlicky stir-fry of broccoli florets topped with some parmesan cheese to go with pasta dishes like Mac'n cheese and it has always been quite well received... so I kind of extended that idea and mixed in some rice and spices and my daughter has now declared this to be her favorite lunch item (atleast it is the current reigning one, since her tastes & likes keep changing)... so I've been making this quite often for her lately.

The rasam powder I use is a store bought one and it adds a touch of mild spice without overpowering the dish...  you can change it to whatever spice fits the bill for you.



Cooked Rice - about 3/4 to 1 cup, cooled similar to what we would do for fried rice
Broccoli florets - 1 cup, small florets (fresh or frozen should work)
Garlic cloves - 2, minced
Rasam powder - 1/2  tsp (you could also use sambar powder)
Turmeric Powder - 1/4 tsp
Salt and Pepper - to taste
Parmesan cheese - 1 tbsp
Extra virgin olive oil - 2 to 3 tsp


1) Heat a pan on medium high heat and add the oil followed by minced garlic, allow to cook for abt 30 seconds or so, taking care not to burn it.
2) If you are in a rush, you could microwave the broccoli florets with a tsp of water for 2 minutes & have them ready. 
3) Pop in the broccoli florets soon after, followed by turmeric powder, salt and rasam powder. 
4) If not previously microwaved, add about a tbsp or so of water, reduce heat to medium, cover and allow to cook for 4 minutes so broccoli is tender crisp. 
5) Continue to saute for a few more minutes before adding in the cooled rice (grains should be separate). 
6) Stir in the rice for a few minutes and add salt and pepper to taste, as required. 
7) Finally, stir in the parmesan cheese and switch off the stove.  Delicious broccoli parmesan rice is ready! 

Seeing an empty lunch box when she gets back from school always makes me happy :)

Friday, April 4, 2014

Mango Chia Pudding

This is a very simple recipe that makes for a yummy, cool dessert or a refreshing breakfast, esp. for mango lovers...  It's quite simple and has chia seeds that help set the pudding and provide a lot of nutrients and satiating power.  You can make this ahead of time and allow to set in the refrigerator so it's ready to eat when you are...

MANGO CHIA PUDDING   (2 to 3 servings)


Chia seeds - 2 tbsp
Mangoes, ripe - 3 (I used ataulfo), peeled & de-seeded
Milk/Soy or Almond Milk - 1 to 1.5 cups
Honey/Sugar - to taste (optional)


1) Blend pulp of 2 mangoes with milk.. Add honey/sugar if needed, to taste.
3) Cube pulp of 3rd mango
4) Stir in chia seeds and cubed mango...
5) Set in refrigerator overnight or for atleast 4 hrs. Now it's ready to dig in.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Crustless Mini Quiches

Don't you find the mini muffin tins so cute? Something about the bite sized nature of the end result is very appealing to me.... and also can serve as a good portion control. But ever since i got these pans, I've been making quiches more often than mini muffins.... These mini-quiches are so easy to put together and would make a great addition to brunches or even work well as an appetizer. You could also make these on the weekend and freeze them so you have a tasty, portable breakfast to heat up in the microwave and eat over the week.

Unlike the other quiche recipe I've posted, I make these with no crust and i find them to be quite hassle free and it has fewer calories to boot. My kids love helping me make these and enjoy eating them as well. The recipe is quite versatile so change up the ingredients to make different variations each time.... I've tried spinach, mushroom and broccoli so far...  Changing up the cheese also adds a tasty twist.

p.s. I have no idea why I put a text saying mini muffin on the pictures... must've done that in a dazed state of mind.... :)

CRUSTLESS MINI QUICHES - makes 60 bite sized ones

Crustless Mini Quiche


Eggs - 4, large
Milk - 1 cup
Cheese, shredded- half to 3/4 cup (I use a combination of what's available, mostly pepper jack, parmesan, cheddar  and  mozzarella)
Salt and Pepper - to taste
Mixed Italian Herb Seasoning - 1 tsp

Olive oil - 1 tbsp

Veggie of choice - spinach or mushroom or broccoli - 1 cup, chopped
Red Onion - half of a big one, peeled and  chopped fine
Garlic - 2 to 3 cloves, chopped
Red chilli flakes - 1 tsp

Spinach & mushroom go well together and can be paired with a bit of feta cheese thrown in.
Broccoli will taste good with some cheddar cheese in the mix

1) Heat the oil in a pan on medium and toss in chopped garlic and red chilli flakes, once fragrant, add in the chopped onion and saute. 

2) Next add in the vegetable you are using with some salt and pepper to taste and saute until tender crisp. Set aside to cool a bit. 

3) Preheat oven to 375F. Spray the mini muffin tin with cooking spray. 

4) In a large bowl, beat eggs lightly and whisk in the milk, salt, pepper and italian herbs. Add the cooked and slightly cooled vegetables at this point alongwith the shredded cheese. 

5) Pour into the mini muffin tins and bake for 18-20 minutes (or until a toothpick inserted comes clean).

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Updated Recipe Index

Hello everyone,

For ease of use, I have finally managed to update the Recipe Index page with all the recipes posted so far.... the drop down lists are pretty up to date and one can also search using labels.

Hope you find this useful,

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Mango & Greens Salad with Honey Chili Dressing

While I've often preferred adding fruits to salads (mostly apples/pears or oranges), this idea of adding mangoes to salads is something I picked up from my sister in law....  She made a really tasty arugula-mango salad when we visited her and I also got to know what kind of mango to pick. These are the red tinged mexican mangoes (which are much too fibrous when ripe) but in a semi-ripe state they have the right balance of tart and sweetness and make an excellent addition to salads.

For the dressing, you could go  with a store-bought one if you prefer and I favor the raspberry vinaigrette for this combination. But I also like to make my own which has a mix of sweet, spicy and tart flavors...  For the greens - arugula or mixed spring greens work great or even spinach.



Mango (red tinged mexican mangoes preferred) - 1 semi-ripe, firm to the touch
Mixed Spring greens - 2 to 3 cups 
Dried Cranberries (Craisins) - 1 tbsp, optional
Sliced Almonds - 1 tbsp, optional 

Honey Chili Dressing:

Olive oil - 1 tbsp
Honey - 2 to 3 tsp, to taste
Sriracha chili sauce - 1 tsp
Red pepper flakes - half tsp, optional
Lemon Juice - 2 tbsp
Salt, pepper to taste


1) Peel and cut mango into small cubes and put in a bowl with salad greens
2) In a small bowl whisk together all the ingredients for the dressing until emulsified - taste, and adjust the honey/chilli sauce/lemon juice. 
3) Pour the dressing over the mango and greens and toss to coat. 
4) Before serving top with the dried cranberries or almonds, if using. 

Friday, March 21, 2014

Cheese Crackers

My kids love to eat goldfish crackers and I found this super easy recipe here to give this a shot at home.... The good thing about making these crackers at home is that you can add seasonings of your choice to add some pizzazz and change up the flavors quite a bit - so I made mine a touch spicy.  These were particularly wonderful warm but do keep well for a few days in an airtight container.



Cheddar Cheese, shredded - 1 cup heaped, 8 oz (I reduced the quantity a bit and substituted some of it with some parmesan cheese)
Unsalted butter - 4 tbsp, cold and cut into pieces
Flour - 1 cup
Milk - 3 to 4 tbsp

Salt - 3/4 tsp

Seasonings of Choice:

Crushed red pepper flakes - half tsp (optional)
Italian Seasoning - half tsp (optional)
Garlic powder - half tsp (optional)
Ground Black pepper - to taste

1) Pulse flour, salt and seasonings in a food processor, add butter cubes and pulse together until it looks like coarse crumbs. 
2) Add cheese and finally milk a little at a time and continue to run the processor until it forms a smooth dough. 
3) Wrap with some cling-wrap and refrigerate for about two hours. 
4) Preheat oven to 350 degree F.
5) Split the dough into 2 pieces and dust some flour roll/flatten out to about 1/8 inch thickness
6) Cut the dough into one inch squares (I used a pizza cutter) and poke a hole in the middle of each with a skewer - the kids were glad to help me with this step.

7)  Place the crackers on baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 15-20 minutes or till golden. They will crisp up a bit as they cool. 

Friday, January 31, 2014

Praline Almonds

Incorporating nuts in your diet is healthy and it's quite easy to roast and flavor them at home - be it spicy, salty or sweet.  Today's recipe is one that I made over the holidays and packed as a gift for a few of my husband's colleagues.... This also turned out to be a tasty snack that we enjoyed as well.
It's a really simple recipe and doesn't need a lot of ingredients. The cream and sugar caramelize together and give a tasty crunch to the almonds.



Almonds - 2 cups, whole
Light brown sugar - half cup
Heavy Cream - 4 tbsp


1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spread a baking sheet with some parchment paper and coat with a light spray of oil. 

2) In a bowl, toss together the almonds, brown sugar and heavy cream. 

3) Spread this almond mixture over the prepared baking sheet  and bake in oven for about 20 mins or so (until the coating is dry).. stirring once or twice in between...  

4) Remove from oven and allow to cool (it will get crispier as it cools) and store in an airtight container and Enjoy :)

Thursday, January 16, 2014

English Toffee Pudding

It's been ages since I updated this blog and though I've been cooking and clicking pictures fairly often, I've been unable to write them down here...  Last year was pretty hectic at work and I hope that the year ahead is just as rewarding & challenging but not quite so crazy. 

We celebrated my daughter turning 8 last October and she wanted a beach cake and was quite specific about it being a vanilla cake with a strawberry & cream filling... It was quite easy to work on this and it turned out quite delicious. As always my kids helped decorate the cake and were excited to sprinkle the "sand" (crushed marie biscuits and graham cracker combination). For the "beach mats", I put different colored tootsie rolls side by side and microwaved them for 10 secs to soften and then rolled it when warm and malleable... I also used the same method to cut out stars and weeds. The rest of the beach was decorated with different candies and some lego toys as the kiddos wished.

Next came Deepavali and since this was our first deepavali celebration with my inlaws, we had quite an elaborate preparation with many sweets and snacks (we stayed up late most nights to make these... but well worth the efforts and had fun making them together). We made 7 cups burfi, coconut burfi, chocolate fudge balls, Mango bars, Asoka Halwa, Chaklis, Ribbon Pakoda and Mixture.

For New Year, I made this English toffee pudding... just the word toffee is enough to entice me but since i had never tasted or seen this pudding/cake before, it was with much trepidation that I tried it out but boy it was a smashing hit! I followed a recipe from the food network and made a few tweaks. The painful part of the recipe would be the chopping of dates into tiny pieces but I outsourced that job to my husband so it came together fairly easily and painlessly (atleast for me :) )  I know the picture is not great... but trust me when I say that it will not disappoint (even date haters loved this).


All purpose flour - 1 cup + 1 tbsp
Dates, pitted and chopped into tiny pieces - 3/4 to 1 cup
Butter - 1/4 cup, softened
Sugar - 3/4 cup

Boiling water - 1 1/4 cup
Instant Coffee powder - 1 tsp
Egg - 1
Baking powder - 1 tsp

Baking Soda - 1 tsp
Salt - 1/4 tsp

Vanilla - 1 tsp

Toffee Sauce:Butter - 1/4 cup
Heavy Cream - 1/2 cup
Brown Sugar - 1 cup, packed

1) Preheat oven to 350deg F. Butter a 9 to 10 inch baking dish and set aside. 2)  Dissolve the instant coffee in the boiling water, add baking soda and pour over the dates and set aside to soften, while you prepare the batter.
3) Sift/Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl. 
4) In a large bowl, beat together butter and sugar until fluffy. Then add the egg and vanilla and continue to beat. 
4) Gradually add in the flour mixture and continue to beat. 
5) Pour the date-coffee mixture at this point and fold until well blended. 
6) Pour the batter into the buttered baking dish and bake in oven for 35 mins or until pudding is set. Remove from oven when done and poke holes (I used a skewer) so it can absorb the toffee sauce.

7) Ten minutes before the cake is ready, make the toffee sauce:  combine butter, heavy cream and brown sugar in a small saucepan on medium. Once it begins to boil, reduce heat to med-low and allow to simmer until thickened slightly. 

8) Pour about half of this over the warm cake so it can absorb the sauce. The rest can be drizzled over the slices when serving. 

This can be served with whipped cream or vanilla icecream but everyone enjoyed it plain so I didn't add on the extra calories. Happy New Year everyone! :)

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Train Cake

Our little boy turned four on August 5th and has been looking forward to his birthday for a while now...  He wanted balloons and lots and lots of cars and has been asking me for a train cake. Infact last year too he mentioned a train cake but at the last minute (thanks to our trip to India) he got fascinated with airplanes and wanted an Airplane cake instead.

Ever since we watched the video of how to go about creating a train cake, he would ask me several times a day if the train cake was ready and was super excited when we *finally* made it over the last weekend. He and my daughter helped decorate the cake and piled on the candies. He had such a happy, proud face when we took the cake to his daycare to celebrate with his friends... the other kids at daycare too loved the cake so I can attest to this cake being a big hit with kids of various age groups.

The cake was quite easy to put together...and doesn't require major carving or anything too intricate. It also wasn't too time consuming - you would have to start a day or two earlier only because it helps ensure that the cakes are cooled and refrigerated and allows time between the crumb coat and the actual coat... but the actual frosting is pretty easy. My only complaint would be the fact that i had quite a bit of clean-up to do after but after seeing how much everybody liked the cake, it was definitely worth it.

I baked 2 loaf cakes the previous night (one becomes the engine and the other is cut into 4 equal parts and make the train cars -  I used only 3) and refrigerated them, wrapped in plastic wrap. The next day, I cut the engine and train cars, made my favorite whipped cream frosting using which I did a crumb coat and put them back in the refrigerator for a few hours... then pulled them out again in the afternoon and did the final coat of icing and arranged them on the tray before piping in a few other details and adding the candies/cookies


Engine - carrot cake (in a loaf pan) with chocolate cream cheese frosting (recipe below)
Train car - vanilla cake  with whipped cream frosting
Wheels - mini oreos with an m&m stuck on with some frosting
Coal on engine - oreo halves
Candies on cars - your choice (I used candy corn, m&ms and hershey's cookies and creme)
To connect the engine and train cars - kitkat bars

Instructions - this very helpful video



Cream cheese - 6 oz, softened
Semisweet chocolate chips / chocolate square - 3 oz
Confectioner's sugar - 1 to 2 cups (adjust to desired taste/sweetness)

Milk - 1 tbsp
Vanilla - 1 tsp
Salt - a pinch


1) Beat cream cheese in a bowl until fluffy. 
2) Melt the chocolate in a separate bowl (I microwaved them for about a min... in 30 second increments) and stir. 
3) Add melted chocolate to cream cheese and beat adding in the salt and vanilla extract. 
4) Add the confectioner's sugar and milk - beat until desired consistency is reached.

While we are on the topic of cakes for boys... I baked this (american) football cake for my friend's son since he loves the game... It uses a loaf cake again (banana cake this time) and covered it with a ganache frosting (melted chocolate and cream) and decorated with some microwaved and rolled out tootsie rolls and some nougat candy.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Paruppu Payasam

My husband is a big fan of jaggery based sweets and coconut in general, so this payasam is like combining two of his favorite ingredients and he is quite partial to this. I, on the other hand, like milk based kheers/payasams such as semia payasam, paal payasam etc. with the only exception being chakka pradhaman (jackfruit payasam). That statement combined with the fact that I do the cooking at home would explain why this payasam hasn't been posted till now (it's making an appearance after 6 yrs of blogging!). I've made this payasam just a handful of times and though my paati (grandma) makes this quite often, the recipe I have written down is my mother-in-law's version and it's super satisfying. The only change I've made is to add channa dhal in the mix because I like the texture and nuttiness of this dhal.


Paruppu Payasam


Split mung dhal (yellow) - 3/4 cup
Channa dhal - 1/4 cup (optional, you could just use same quantity of mung dhal instead, I like the texture and nuttiness)
Jaggery - 1.5 cups, powdered

Cardamom (Elaichi) - 3, powdered with some salt
Coconut Milk - 1 cup
Ghee - 1 to 2 tsp
Raisins, Cashews - 2 tsp each (I omitted cashews since my daughter has an allergy)

Method:1) Wash and pressure cook the dhals together with sufficient water until soft (about 3 to 4 whistles). Mash well.

2) Combine powdered jaggery and 1/4 cup water in a heavy bottomed pot and allow to melt. Strain to remove impurities and return to pot.

3) Add the mashed dhal to it and stir on a low flame. Once it bubbles and thickens a bit add the coconut milk and about half cup to 1 cup water (to get desired consistency) and the cardamom powder... allow this too cook for a few more minutes. This will thicken a bit more upon cooling.

4) Remove from stove. Heat ghee in a small pan, fry the raisins and cashews and add to the payasam.  Serve warm or cold as desired.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Spinach Artichoke Dip

This is an easy, cheesey dip that can be put together in no time. It's easy to make large quantities of this and so would be great as an appetizer for parties when served with some baked pita wedges or with tortilla chips. It's quite mild and so should go over quite well with kids too and gets some veggies in them as well.

I don't cook with artichokes generally so I usually buy only the canned version.

Spinach Artichoke Dip

Frozen Spinach - 1 to 1.5 cups, thawed (you could use Fresh spinach too but increase to 2 to 4 cups)
Artichoke - 1 can, drained, rinsed and chopped into small pieces
Garlic - 4 cloves, minced
Parmesan cheese - 1/2 cup
Other melting cheese - about 3/4 cup (I used a mix of pepperjack, mozzarella, white cheddar)
Low Fat Greek yogurt / Light Sour Cream - 6 oz (I am substituting greek yogurt for sour cream these days since you get more of a protein punch)
Low fat Cream cheese - 6 oz (softened)
Chile Lime sauce - few splashes (I used Cholula brand, to add some spice)
Black pepper to taste

1) Preheat oven to 375F. Mix everything together in a large, oven proof bowl.

2)  Bake at 375F for 20 to 25 mins or until bubbly.

3) Serve with tortialla chips, crackers, baked strips of wraps (roll ups brand is good) or thin slices of toasted baguette.

We had ours with some Lettuce Apple Salad with Lemon Poppyseed dressing.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Smoothie Pops

I got these cute and convenient popsicle moulds at IKEA... and wanted to use the smoothie recipe as a base to make these pops.  I wanted to make 2 different layers with the strawberry and blueberry layer, you could change it up to make it more fun and vary the flavours as well. The banana and yogurt give this a lovely smooth texture and made for an enjoyable treat. If you don't have greek yogurt, no worries, just strain some regular yogurt in a strainer lined with a muslin cloth ... keep this over a bowl for a few hours in the refrigerator and it will thicken up beautifully. Also, sometimes I add flax seeds when making smoothies for some fiber or you could even stir in some soaked chia seeds for a different texture... but this is totally optional.

Smoothie Popsicles -makes about 8-10

Greek Yogurt  - one 4 oz container (any flavour - i used Chobani banana)
Strawberries - 1 cup, washed and hulled
Bluberries - 1 cup, (I used frozen)
Bananas - 2
Sugar/Honey - 2 tbsp (or to taste)
Chia seeds OR Flax seeds - 1 tbsp (optional)  [Soak chia seeds in 1/3 cup water for 10 mins]


1) Blend 1 banana, strawberries and half of the yogurt with half of the sugar/honey. Pour into the popsicle moulds halfway.

2) Next, blend the other banana, blueberries, flax seeds (if using)  and the other half of the yogurt with remaining sugar/honey.  If using chia seeds, stir in the soaked chia seeds into the bluberry yogurt mixture at this point. 

3) Pour into popsicle moulds to fill to the top. Insert the popsicle sticks and freeze for about 8 hours or overnight.

4) To release the popsicles from the moulds,  dip them in some hot water for a few seconds and it should come out pretty easily. 

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Rice Cooker Mac'n Cheese

Like most kids, mine love macaroni and cheese and I usually try to appease them by making a baked version of macaroni and cheese with some broccoli and a crunchy crust (with bread crumbs and parmesan cheese, which I also have to post some time). But, then I saw this video from a website (weelicious) of this cute mom and son duo who cook up this ridiculously easy version of mac'n cheese using a rice cooker that I absolutely had to try. I don't have a fancy rice cooker, infact mine is so very basic that it doesn't even have a 'keep warm' button - (seriously)...  yet, I was able to make a decent mac'n cheese with minimal effort after making just a few tweaks..  My kids gave it a double thumbs up (make that 4 since i have 2 kids) and I particularly liked the texture of the pasta - it is cooked to perfection. This has now become my favorite way of making this.... You could also add some  par-boiled broccoli /carrots or other veggies if you prefer to the pasta for variations.


Elbow Pasta (dried) - 2 cups
Water / Vegetable Stock - 1.5 cups (I have only tried with water so far but if you have veg stock go ahead and try).
Salt - 1 tsp (Reduce if using vegetable stock)
Milk (whole) - 1 cup
Cheese - 1.5 cups, shredded (I used a mix of cheddar and colby jack primarily and just a touch of mozzarella)
Butter/Ghee - little, melted

1) I found that it is helpful to butter the bottom of the dish you place in the rice cooker lightly to reduce sticking/burning.

2)Add pasta, water (or stock) with salt into the rice cooker bowl and switch it on. Allow to cook for 15 minutes.
3) Stir and add the milk at this point and allow to cook for another 10 -15 minutes (mine switches off when the cooking liquid evaporates).  Ensure the cooker is not too full to prevent the milk from boiling over in this step.
4) Open the lid and stir in the cheese. Cover and let sit for about 5 minutes (no need to switch it on again).
Yummy pasta is now ready to serve. If adding par-boiled veggies, add them while adding in the milk.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

I can't believe that it's been more than a month since I posted last... this year really seems to be running by at top speed. The work meeting that kept me away from the kids for a week (that I had referred to in my previous post), went on quite well and the family managed just fine by themselves. We have had a rather extended winter this year and even had some snow during the last week of March. It was the wet kind of snow and so, it clung beautifully to the bare branches and was such a pretty sight to look at.... Here is a picture that shows how lovely it was.

This post has been long overdue. I first made these very tasty oatmeal cookies to gift a few families during the Christmas holidays and since then have made several batches of these. They are easy to whip up and the whole family loved them. You can also freeze the dough and bake as and when  needed. I got this awesome recipe from the smitten kitchen blog.

OATMEAL RAISIN COOKIES (makes about 2 dozen)


Butter - 1 stick / 1/2 cup (115 gms), softened
Light brown sugar - 2/3 cup, packed
Egg - 1 large
Vanilla extract - 1/2 tsp
All purpose flour - 3/4 cup

Baking soda - 1/2 tsp
Cinnamon - 1/4 tsp
Salt - 1/4 tsp
Rolled Oats - 1.5 cups
Raisins - 3/4 cup
Walnuts - 1/2 cup, chopped (optional)

 1) In a large bowl, cream together the butter and brown sugar. Then add egg and vanilla and beat till smooth.
2) In a separate bowl, whisk together, the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.
3) Stir this flour mixture into the butter-sugar mixture. 
4) Stir in the rolled oats, raisins and chopped walnuts.
5) Chill the dough in the fridge for about 30 minutes or so. You can also freeze the dough at this stage, to thaw and bake later.
6) Preheat oven to 350F, when ready to bake.
7) Drop tablespoon of cookie dough on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or foil (no need to grease). Place cookies about 2 inches apart.
8) Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden at the edges. Remove and let them sit on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring them to cool. You get deliciously chewy cookies.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Baked Eggplant Parmesan

My apologies for not blog-hopping as much - work has been positively crazy lately with back to back meetings (around 7 in a day, believe it or not) and that means sitting glued to the computer for most part and that is definitely not a healthy thing and my back is complaining a lot these days as a result. To add on to my work woes there is an offsite meeting in a different city next month and the thought of being away from the kids for an entire week is rather unnerving...  This will be my first time but hopefully it will be a case of "absence makes the heart grow fonder" and help us all get stronger in a way. Will update you later on how that pans out.

Coming to the recipe of the day, I remember ordering Eggplant Parmesan quite often when I first visited Italian restaurants in the US... It came on a bed of spaghetti noodles and was a very filling dish what with it containing deep fried, bread crumb coated eggplants, layered with marinara sauce and mozzarella & parmesan cheese. It is definitely a great way to get eggplant hating people but like many restaurant dishes, it's fairly easy to adapt the recipe to a lower calorie version by making a few changes such as baking instead of deep frying. In an effort to retain the crispness of the eggplants,  the version I make at home does not involve layering the baked eggplant slices and instead I just apply a thin layer of the sauce and sprinkle some cheese. My daughter said that it was like cheese pizza and she's right... this must make for a great low carb alternative to cheese pizza. We enjoyed this with a salad for a tasty weekend dinner.

UPDATE:  Added 28/Feb/2013 - I forgot to mention about how to choose the large eggplants for this dish.. since some can have lots of seeds and be bitter - that could affect the taste of the dish. Choose smooth skinned eggplants that are firm and look fresh... and importantly they should seem light (for their size). The lighter they are, the less seeds they contain.



Eggplant (large) - 1 (I prefer peeled)
Bread slices - 4
Parmesan cheese, shredded - 1/4 cup
Mozzarella cheese shredded - 1/2 cup
Egg - 1
Egg whites - 2 or  Egg beaters - 1/2 cup or additional Egg - 1
Oregano/Italian Dried herbs - half tsp
Dried Red Chilli flakes - 1 tsp (reduce or omit if you don't like it spicy)
Salt and Pepper to taste
Storebought tomato sauce/marinara sauce (I used tomato basil) - 1/3 cup
Olive oil - to spray


1) Peel Eggplant and slice into 1/4 inch pieces (lengthwise). Salt lightly and allow to rest for 30 to 45 mins. You will see drops of water form...  Blot with a kitchen towel/paper napkin. What this process does is to draw out the moisture from the eggplant so it will get crisp when baked instead of becoming soggy.

2) In a mixie jar, add bread slices, dried red chilli flakes, dried herbs, parmesan cheese and blend until powdered.  Spread on a wide plate.

3) In a slightly wide bowl, beat together the eggs (or eggwhites or egg beaters) with a bit of salt and pepper.

4) Preheat oven to 375F and line 2 big baking sheets with foil or parchment. Coat lightly with oil.

5) Dredge/Dip the blotted eggplant first in the egg wash and then in the bread crumb mixture. Lay on the baking sheet(s). Repeat with remaining slices of eggplant without overlapping and bake for about 20 mins.. flipping once after 10 mins.

6) Once the eggplants get browned...  remove from stove, spread a tbsp or so of marinara sauce on each slice of eggplant and sprinkle some of the mozzarella cheese. Return to the oven and bake until the cheese has melted 5 to 10 mins.

7) Remove and serve with salad of choice or as is.