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Saturday, 31 December 2011

Best of 2011

As the year comes to an end, I bid adieu without regrets (even though the list of 2011 Resolutions still remains outstanding!) All I can do now is reminisce about the unexpected, yet joyful year 2011 turned out to be. :-) To start a blog is one thing (I've done that before) but to be committed to it without getting bored is something really new for me! I think this is what inspired action is all about! And it may sound clichéd, but it is you, the reader, who has kept me going on. I sincerely hope that I learn more and more and work towards making the blog more helpful and true to its name:- entertaining. :-)

It is really difficult deciding your best works when you consider each and every dish to be your baby! :-) I ain't a novice when it comes to cooking, but I am also very proud of each and every thing I've ever cooked (which comes to about 160 dishes based on the number of blog posts!) Yet, with a lot of difficulty, I managed to shortlist 10 of the dishes which I consider to be my best works.

Chocolate Fudge Brownies

I finally found a way to use the half a tin of condensed milk that had been sitting in my refrigerator since this post. Since I wanted to start afresh in 2012, I went exploring the net for what I could make with the condensed milk. I found awesome recipes but were too much of a hassle. And some just had too much butter, cream, sugar besides the condensed milk! I drooled every time I saw the pictures & cringed seeing the list of ingredients! Which is exactly why you'll understand my delight when I came across this recipe. I have renamed the dish coz it felt more fudgy rather than brownie-y :-D And they are delightfully chocolaty.

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Self Saucing Coffee & Chocolate Pudding

Disclaimer - I hated it. But, that's because I hate coffee. The original, unbiased tester of all recipes of this blog, my brother, couldn't stop raving about it. In fact, he was silently praying that mom & dad would hate it too so that he could have it all! :-P So I guess if you are a coffee fan, this one is for you.
Even before starting this recipe, I was sure I wouldn't like it. But I felt that my blog needed a self-saucing pudding, no matter what the flavor maybe. And hence, I wrote the minimum amount of ingredients I could use and set about making it. (And even that yielded about 5 cups! - All of which went into bro's holy mouth :D) I referred to this recipe but made changes to the egg substitute Nags used coz I was still not too sure of using flax seed meal in place of eggs.
And in other news, cakes seem to bake really quickly in my new oven leaving me confused as to why something that should take 20 minutes gets done in 10 minutes. And I am still trying to figure it out. Meanwhile, I can't let the crust of my bakes burn so I'm thinking of covering the baking dish with an aluminum foil next time. (Is it a good idea?)

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Vegetable Croquette (Kebab)

Continuing my quest for quick and low-fat snacks, I present to you these vegetable croquettes. Croquette is just a fancy name for our Desi kebab. When I had to hop to Neetu's picturesque blog for this week's BHW, I decided to make these. And since Croquette sounds cool, I decided to call it just that. :-D I altered the recipe to accommodate the ingredients I had. You can do so too. 

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Cucumber Bread Cups

Days when I am at home studying(?!), I constantly look for something interesting to eat. And chips or fries are not options anymore since they make me drowsy and of course, the obvious reason - they are loaded with empty calories! A quest for tasty yet somewhat healthy snack has led me to discover/invent quite a few interesting and quick recipes. Some work while some flop. This is one of those that has worked.

Monday, 26 December 2011

Tomato Soup (Healing Foods)

I usually advocate for eating fruits & vegetables in whole. I hate to see beautiful tomatoes or strawberries ground beyond recognition. But, being teeny bit hypocritical, I (only) love tomato soup. I usually drink this when I'm sick and it is such a comfort during those days when you have a coughing marathon. Adding croutons to the soup makes it filling and tasty. And the best part of this soup is > Almost Zero Efforts. Boil the veggies, throw them in the blender & blend away.

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Eggless Golden Yellow Cake > *Christmas 2011*

Merry Christmas Y'all! :-D
10 years ago, my neighbor, who also happens to be my best friend Jennybum (oops, Jennifer) and I were deciding what to ask Santa Claus. We were in 3rd grade then. We made big plans, kept milk & biscuits for Santa & wrote down our long list of gifts, seeing which, if Santa had been real, would surely have had a heart attack! :-D It was Selvi Aunty, Jenny's mom who was our *secret Santa*. We settled for pencil boxes & crayons. :-) Selvi aunty's yellow cake, strawberry swirl cake, cookies and so many more goodies made all my childhood Christmases.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Paneer Chilli | Chinese style Cottage Cheese

Paneer Chilli, an Indo-Chinese dish is a fusion of the Indian ingredient Paneer (cottage cheese) with the Chinese style of cooking. Its very simple to make and is an amazing party starter. And not too oily either :-) Of course, if you aren't one of those who like fusion food, then you should stay away from this. :-D

Friday, 23 December 2011

Pizza Pinwheels

With every new dish you learn something new. And what did I learn this time? Always buy your YEAST fresh. Since I didn't have an oven for the past 4 months, I didn't use yeast at all. And today when I used it- well, it deceived me. The dough didn't rise at all! I knew there wasn't any problem with my yeast-proofing. (let me take a moment to boast here and say, I'm a pro when it comes to yeast :-D) But I didn't realize that the dry yeast that I bought in January this year wouldn't work its magic. But I went ahead and baked it anyway. Since the dough didn't rise, I could only make 4 pinwheels instead of the estimated 8. Next time, I'm gonna try it with fresh yeast.
Of course, I could have used assorted vegetables for the filling, but since my mood was deflated by yeast, I only used tomato ketchup, cheese, garlic & onions. The final dish looked and tasted really great. All my fears were put to a rest. :-)

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Double Decker Pizza

Here’s a dish I came up with sitting on the upper deck of a double-decker bus in Mumbai. Hence the name: Double-Decker Pizza. It’s funny how the mind comes up with ideas when you least expect it to. But that’s how it is, heh? :) Once again, with Pizza, you never have to follow the recipe to the *T*. Play with the spices & include the veggies you love!

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Rotini Pasta with Cheese Sauce (Microwave)

Um.... I have been staring at the computer screen for the past 10 minutes trying to come up with a good introduction for this post. But every time I look at the Cheesy Pasta, I fail to do justice to this sinful pleasure! :-D So, I decided to just upload the pictures & get on with the recipe :-)

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

How to cook Pasta in the Microwave

A short post on boiling Pasta in the Microwave. Nothing much to talk here.
You probably realized that my next post would be a Pasta-based one. :-D

Cheese Sauce

It is perhaps the most versatile sauce you will ever come across. Use it as a dip or as a spread, it yields yummilicious results! Serve it with boiled vegetables or with Pasta or in classics like Macaroni & Cheese or use it as a dip for Nachos... In short, this is the perfect condiment! :-D

Monday, 5 December 2011

Malai Kofta | Veg Balls dipped in rich gravy (Microwave version)

Koftas are basically deep fried mixed vegetable balls that are dipped in a rich gravy just before serving. There are different types of Kofta Curries one can make. Of all the koftas, Malai Kofta is what we hear often. And it is one of my most favorite side-dishes ever!

Friday, 2 December 2011

Healthy Lunch Challenge - Roundup PART III

It took me almost a week to compile so many entries (over a 100!) but it was worth the effort! I want you all to know that I'm really thankful! This is my very first (guest host) event & I'm really happy that it received such an awesome response!

We have some amazing entries! This is the final part of the Roundup. Do check out Part I & Part II of the roundup too... You'll never run out of ideas for lunch (or dinner) :D 
Soya Tamatari - Kavi                          Eggplant in peanut sauce - Paaka Shale

Healthy Lunch Challenge: Roundup - Part II

Before I move on, did you check Part I of the Healthy Lunch Roundup?
Here I am with another 50 great looking dishes for a healthy lunch... With so many options, I don't think lunch will ever be boring again! :-D

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Healthy Lunch Challenge - Roundup PART I

Hi friends!

It has been a great month! I had so much fun guest hosting my first event - HCC: Healthy Lunch! And its all thanks to Smita- who let me be the host! :-) I would like to thank each and every one of you who linked their posts to my event! I've got so many yummy lunch options now! I've got a whopping 150 entries for this event! Can you imagine?! Freaking 150! I expected at least 30 entries in 30 days! But I never expected this kind of magnitude! I am so overwhelmed and delighted! :-D

Now for the part 1 of the Healthy Lunch Challenge roundup ... *Trumpets Blowing*
Upma Kozhakattai - My mom                      Kavi - Chole

♫ Jingle All The Way ♫ - Event Announcement

To celebrate the most jolly season of the year, I'm announcing the event for December 2011 - Jingle All The Way.

THE THEME: Anything you make during the festivals of December. (Christmas, Hanukkah, Karthikai, Muharram etc.) It need not be a recipe. It can even be stories or pictures related to the festivals celebrated during this time. 

Kindly go through the rules and make sure you comply with ALL of them to be eligible for the roundup.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Eggless Fruit Custard with Cream

It's Blog Hop Wednesday. And this time, I find myself hopping to Santosh's Kitchen. The enormous database of recipes is intimidating! And I manage to wade through all those delicious recipes and land at something humble & to my capability - her Custard with Cream. A few tweaks here and there & you have my version of Eggless Fruit Custard -

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

2 in 1: Tofu Open Sandwich & Tofu Bread Rolls

When do you realize that an interest has become a passion?
The answer is when you start creating recipes in your head when you are in a lecture with the professor teaching something really important for the exam! :-D Okay, I'm not so proud of not paying attention in class, but I'm totally proud of what I've managed to create today. :P And rest assured, today will be the last time I day-dream about food. I've got an exam to clear!

Microwave Easy Cooking - Event Announcement

This month is going to be special and hectic. I am hosting two events. So the first one- I'm guest hosting Microwave Easy Cooking for Srivalli. When Srivalli agreed to let me guest host the event, I did a little fishing around & was surprised to trace back the history of this event to August 2007! Which means the event was started when I was in the 10th grade! :-D As shocking as it is to find that she has patiently been hosting it for the past 4 years, it makes one thing clear - there is NO SHORTAGE of dishes to be made in the Microwave. And the best thing about it is - it is quick, less messy & not many dishes to clean up afterwards! The perfect solution for lazy-bums like me! :-P

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Zumba - the Ultimate Dance Workout

Just in case you have been missing me, you will have to excuse my absence from the blogging world for another few days. :-) I've been so caught up with work & studies for the past one week that I didn't have time for cooking or blogging! Unlike many of you who have the responsibility of not just cooking for your blog, but also for your family and that too not just once, but 3-4 times a day; I enjoy the privilege of 'trying' dishes at my will. And if I don't cook for a day, a week, or a year, hell won't break lose! :D In fact, my mom begs me to stay out of the kitchen & into my books! :P And my dad says that I'm a just a kid & I shouldn't be straining myself in the kitchen! :D

Anyway, daddy's little princess couldn't cook anything for the past one week so she thought she could write about one of the workouts she has come to love.. ;) (okay, I'm not so gooey, generally! I swear! :D) This is not a review about any specific Zumba Workout DVD- just a general post on the dance form.

ZUMBA is the largest dance fitness program in the world. A simple search on YouTube yields 1000s of Zumba videos. My very first Zumba video was this - 

Install Java to play. You absolutely MUST play the video! :D

I was searching for dance fitness videos & found this. And Boy! What fun I had dancing to Shakira's tunes! :D The best thing about Zumba is that ANYBODY of ANY AGE can do it! You have the basic steps, of course. But you can do your own movements... The idea is to incorporate dance & aerobic movements into a workout to give you a fun experience.
You will find various styles of Zumba : Hip Hop, Salsa, Mambo, Reggaeton, Samba, Bollywood & Belly dancing... My personal favorites are Hip Hop & Reggaeton. You can try various styles & choose the one you love the most!
Zumba workouts include fast music to give you the cardio burst as well as slow music to give you a rest-period without actually having to stop. You also have some essential exercises like squats, lunges all set to the rhythm to give you the required muscle toning. Its the whole package: Fun & Fitness!

Will you lose weight? Probably. I don't carry soooooo much weight around that I could try every workout & tell you how much weight I lose per workout! :P But, the Zumba-Gurus claim that you will definitely lose weight... *IF* you combine it with a healthy diet program. (that is the case with every workout you try) But the difference being, you never realize its a workout! Its just half hour or one hour of pure fun. You wanna have fun? Then, Zumba is your answer! :D

I'll be posting about specific Zumba DVDs I've tried too.. Stay Tuned ;)

Monday, 21 November 2011

Eggless Chocolate Pudding - Type 1

This is basically the boiled & then chilled version; texturally a custard set with starch. This is commonly eaten in US, Canada, Asia etc. There is another steamed/baked type of pudding texturally similar to a cake that is popular in Australia, New Zealand, UK etc. I'll be making that when I own an oven! ;-)

Saturday, 19 November 2011

McVitie's Digestive Biscuits - Review

I don't usually eat biscuits. I enjoy Chocolate Chip Cookies once in a while. But more often than not, I skip them too. And the reason being - I find that they are equally fattening as our cakes, chips etc with all that butter & refined flour. But since we don't see the 'fat' in biscuits like we do while eating a cake, we tend to over-indulge. 

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Sopa de Ajo Castellana (Castilian Garlic Soup)

Sopa de Ajo is a Spanish soup typical of the Castilla-Leon Regional Cuisine, where winters are real cold & soups are had on a regular basis. I'm writing down my recipe here. Go to the source if you want to know the actual ingredients used. So lets begin ~~~

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Kathirikkai Gotsu | Eggplant in Tamarind-Tomato Gravy

The entire post belongs to my mother. This is her second entry for my HCC: Healthy Lunch Event started by Smita. Over to Mom ~~
Kathirikkai (Briinjal | Eggplant | Aubergine) Gotsu is a typical South Indian Tamarind based curry. This is not the authentic way of making Gotsu. But I've found the easiest way of preparing this dish in a pressure cooker. I also have had to keep in mind the taste of two fussy kids who wouldn't touch the authentic Gotsu because it 'looked dirty'. :-) Usually, we also use Onions in the curry. But being Amavasya, I skipped it.

Friday, 11 November 2011

How to eat with Chapathis / Indian Tortillas

I realized that for a person who can't even pronounce Chapati, eating with it can be a huge task in itself! So I decided to write a 'How To' post on eating Indian curries with Chapatis. A few weeks ago, I came across  A Curry of Life. It documents the Indian-Food & other experiences of a Gori (Foreigner) married to a Desi (Indian). :-D And that's when I thought, "a post on How to eat with Chapatis will be better if someone who's *learned* to eat with them writes about it". And that's when I contacted Colleen Mahal. She has been generous enough to let me use this post for my blog.
Over to Colleen ~~

Upma Kozhakattai | Indian Steamed Rice Balls

Upma Kozhakattai also known as Pudi Kozhakattai is a very healthy & delicious dish which can be eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner. It does take time to make this dish. But nothing too complicated. A very traditional South-Indian dish.

Ingredients - (makes 20)
Raw Rice - 4 cups
Oil - 2 tbsps
Dried Red Chili - 5-6
Mustard Seeds - 2 tsp
Urad Dal / Black Gram - 2 tsp
Curry Leaves - a handful
Salt - to taste - 1 tsp
A big wok & a steamer
Water - 6-7 cups
Method -
I wash the rice, dry it, grind & then roast it. But generally, you can directly grind raw rice to a coarse powder & roast it for a few minutes

Heat oil
Add dried red chili
Add mustard seeds & urad dal
Add curry leaves & fry fr 1/2 a minute
Add salt
Add water & let it come to a boil

Slowly, start adding the ground rice powder with one hand while continuously stirring with the other.
In the beginning stir without leaving so that there are no lumps
Then you can mix occasionally.
Bring it to the consistency you see in the 4th picture below

Let it cool.
Take some of the Upma and press in evenly to form egg-shaped Kozhakattais (balls)
Repeat the same with entire mixture.

Steam them for 5 minutes until they are soft. I used an Idli-pan to place these balls & steam. Any method of steaming would do.
Your healthy Upma Kozhattai is ready. Serve it with Gotsu, Sambar, Chutney etc.
 ---- THE END ---

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Sweet Lime (Mosambi / Sathukudi) Juice

Yello Bloggers & Blog-Readers!
I'm here with a short & sweet recipe (well, not exactly a recipe!).  I usually make it a point to cook 3-4 dishes during the weekend & then blog about it during the weekdays. That way, I'm secure knowing that I have a bank of recipes to post. But last week, I couldn't make anything at all. and the alarm bell in my head started ringing saying *your reserves are being depleted*. And hence, the juice is a product of such last-minute cooking (or.. should I say, squeezing? :-P)

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Low-Fat Aaloo Bonda | Batata Vada | Stuffed Potato Dumpling

Before I proceed, here's some background about what we're making today. Typically, Batata Vada | Aaloo Bonda (read like Rhonda ;-))  involves DEEP-FRYING a potato-filling (& other veggies) dipped in gram flour batter. Here's something you may (or may not) have seen before -
This is called a Kuzhi Paniyaram Achchu (don't even try pronouncing it! Only south Indians will get it right :-D) As you can see, it has holes (or kuzhi) in which we pour any batter and make small ball shaped snacks. SO this is what we're using today, to make these low-fat dumplings. If you don't have this, you can always deep fry & then burn off on the treadmill! :-P
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