Category Archives: This, that and the other

X-mas Gingerbread house cake

3Gingerbread house cake

This post is a part of  the mega Blogging Marathon and A-Z challenge. I have chosen ‘popular American dishes’ as my theme.

The cake was made long time back, around Christmas time. But it stayed in the drafts for a long time and it seems perfect to use it for the alphabet X as X-mas theme cake.

Gingerbread house is usually made with cookies, but I have always wanted to make it with cake. My half hearted trials have always been disappointments until this one here. I baked a hot milk cake for the base, its perfect for the job. Soft, yet sturdy enough for the sculpting. Pound cake is another good choice.

The sculpting was a lot more difficult than I imagined. So was frosting. I have not given any measurements here, because its hard to determine an exact quantity for many things. Decorating was the most fun part. I even tried making impressions of tiles on the roof! So just let your imagination run wild and let a colorful dream take shape :=)

4Gingerbread house cake

Bake a cake of your choice in a 9X13 inch pan. Using a long serrated knife or a cake leveler, cut the cake across into two layers. Now with a sharp knife, cut the cake into three equal portions. So you have 6 pieces of cake in all.

With some buttercream frosting as glue, stack the layers on top of each other. Refrigerate or flash freeze for easy handling.

Using a sharp knife, cut out the roof shape carefully. Frost with chocolate buttercream. This is not as easy as it looks, so I took a lot of time with this. Once frosting is done, dip a palatte knife in hot water and run it all over the frosting for a smooth finish.

Use red fondant for roof and door. White fondant for windows. Cookie frosting for snow and candies for decorating. Pretzels for side windows.

1Gingerbread house cake

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Veggie Burgers

4veggieburger

This post is a part of  the mega Blogging Marathon and A-Z challenge. I have chosen ‘popular American dishes’ as my theme.

I can’t believe we are at the last leg of our journey here. My catching up with others journey will happen only next month, but yeah, for most part, we are almost there at the end. Four more posts and its over! The first thing I am going to do is schedule posts for the next three days. At the moment, the plan is to put everything up in the blog and be as prepared as you can be. Be ready! That’s the motto. I can already feel the change!

And you can already guess my intro for tomorrow. Its going to be about the forces in nature that prevented me from being on time. Why I was not able to schedule the posts or even get around editing the pictures or worse…what prevented me from getting the cooking done! Ah well.. I have always been a “last minuter” (I am coining that term if there isn’t one already) and I don’t see things changing anytime soon. It hasn’t changed for almost four decades now and we don’t have to rush and assume its going to change from tomorrow :D.

While I am getting ready with excuses for tomorrow, you can check out a fabulous veggie burger recipe. Nailed that ‘V’, didn’t I? ;-)

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Heat 1 teaspoon of oil in a pan.Saute one chopped medium red onion and one chopped red bell pepper. You can add carrots or any other veggies if you prefer. Set aside once its cooked. Mash 1.5 cups cooked black beans(or beans of your choice) with a fork or in a food processor. You want most of it mashed, but not all.

Add the mashed beans to 3/4 cup cooked rice. Now add the cooked bell pepper mix, along with 1 teaspoon chilli powder, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, salt and pepper. Combine everything well with your hands or a wooden spoon. Depending upon the moisture of the bean mix, you can add 1/4- 1/2 cup breadcrumbs.

Add 1/4 cup oats if desired. It adds some texture to the patty. Divide the mixture into 4-­5 equal parts. Shape each one into a nice flat patty. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a pan and cook the patties on medium­-low heat. Cook both sides and drain on a kitchen napkin when done.

Flip over, cook both sides and drain on a kitchen napkin when done. I made more smaller patties compared to 5 bigger patties. For sauce, mix 2 tablespoons of mayonnaise with 1 teaspoon each of ketchup and yellow mustard. At the time of serving, spread the sauce on the burger buns. Layer it with cucumber slices(you can make pickle out of it and use, I didn’t!), the patty, slices of tomatoes and onion and then top with the other half of the bun. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 tablespoons oil, divided
  • one medium red onion, chopped
  • one medium red bell pepper, chopped
  • one medium carrot, chopped fine
  • 1.5 cups black beans(or beans of your choice), cooked
  • 3/4 cup cooked rice
  • 1/4 cup oats
  • 1/4 -1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon chilli powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • salt and pepper

To serve:

  • a sauce made of mayo, ketchup and mustard
  • burger buns
  • sliced cucumber, tomato and onions

Method:

  1. Heat 1 teaspoon of oil in a pan.Saute one chopped medium red onion and one chopped red bell pepper. Set aside once its cooked.
  2. Mash 1 cup cooked black beans with a fork or in a food processor. You want most of it mashed, but not all.Add the mashed beans to 3/4 cup cooked rice. Now add the cooked bell pepper mix, along with 1 teaspoon chilli powder, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, salt and pepper.
  3. Combine everything well with your hands or a wooden spoon. Depending upon the moisture of the bean mix, you can add 1/4- 1/2 cup breadcrumbs. Add 1/4 cup oats if desired. It adds some texture to the patty.
  4. Divide the mixture into 4-­5 equal parts. Shape each one into a nice flat patty. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a pan and cook the patties on medium-low heat. Cook both sides and drain on a kitchen napkin when done.
  5. Flip over, cook both sides and drain on a kitchen napkin when done. I made more smaller patties compared to 5 bigger patties.
  6. For sauce, mix 2 tablespoons of mayonnaise with 1 teaspoon each of ketchup and yellow mustard. At the time of serving, spread the sauce on the burger buns. Layer it with cucumber slices(you can make pickle out of it and use, I didn’t!), the patty, slices of tomatoes and onion and then top with the other half of the bun. Enjoy!

Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM# 63

1veggieburger

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Red Velvet Cake

3collar

This post is a part of  the mega Blogging Marathon and A-Z challenge. I have chosen ‘popular American dishes’ as my theme.

Red velvet cake is a Southern classic. This cake was a big rage in the recent years, but its a recipe that date back to a long time before. It was apparently around WWII, because Wiki says that’s when people started adding beet juice to get the red color.

Around Valentine’s day, you get to see red velvet cake parade all over the internet. It adorns all kinds of desserts- cakes, cupcakes, trifles, pies, donuts, cheesecakes and what nots! Personally I have never been a big fan of red velvet cake, because color is the only factor in it that makes it different. But hey, that’s just me!

The recipe here adds a good amount of food coloring. But the presence of coffee negates some of the red color. My bright red batter turned back brownish-red the minute I added the coffee. The site insists on not skipping the coffee, so I would go with it if I am making it again. The cake tasted absolutely delicious – the texture was soft and spongy with a tinge of red color. There are many recipes with out the use of artificial colors if you want to stay clear off it. Beets are again the most common source for color then.

I used this cake for another post to show how the chocolate lace collar is made. You can check it out in case you are interested.

1red velvet cake

Recipe source: Divas Can Cook

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon each baking soda and baking powder
  • a pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-2 oz. red food coloring
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar
  • ½ cup hot coffee (1/2 cup water with 1/2 teaspoon instant coffee powder)
  • 2 cups heavy cream plus 1/4 cup powdered sugar, whipped for frosting
  • Chocolate, if making the lace around the cake

Method:

  1. Heat oven to 350F/ 180C. Grease and line two round 9″ cake pans with parchment paper.
  2. Whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cocoa powder and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a big bowl, add oil and sugar. Whisk well. Add eggs, buttermilk, vanilla and red food coloring. Mix until combined.Add the coffee and vinegar.
  4. Add the flour mix in 3-4 batches to the wet ingredients. Mix until no streaks of flour remains. Divide the batter evenly into the prepared pans.
  5. Bake for about 30-40 minutes or until a skewer inserted in center of the cake comes out clean. Once its out of oven and let the cake rest in the pan for at least ten minutes before taking out of the pan. Let it cool completely.
  6. Red velvet cake is traditionally decorated with cream cheese frosting, but I have used whipped cream here.

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Quesadilla

1quesadilla

This post is a part of  the mega Blogging Marathon and A-Z challenge. I have chosen ‘popular American dishes’ as my theme.

Quesadilla (pronounced keisadiya) is not an American dish. It has Mexican origins, but its part of American cuisine in a big way. Mexican food as such is very popular with enough changes to suit the American palate.

Recipes as simple as this can be modified anyway you want. What I have here is a very basic and very simple quesadillas.  I usually prefer veggie and beans filling for quesadilla, but my son loves it this way with only cheese as filling and nothing else.I have used ready made flour tortillas, but you can make your own at home. Even better, use a whole wheat chapati. Cheese filled chapatis do sound good to me!

Fun thing about this post is the textiles used here. Its from my blogging friend Pavani. Last week, we had a mini BM meet. Pavani, Usha and Mireille had come over and we had a wonderful time which included a photo session and small shopping trip to Christmas tree shop near by. Any meet that includes food prop shopping is fun and this was no exception. But Pavani sent me on a sugar high when she gave all of us some textiles from her collection. I was so happy that I don’t even remember whether I thanked her at that point of time! Given that my current prop obsession is kitchen napkins for taking pictures, it was a timely and well appreciated gift.

Thanks a ton girls, you make my life so much better with your company and now, with textile pieces as well :-)!

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Pictorial:

Place a pan on medium heat. Add one tortilla with 1/3 cup shredded cheese it. Cover it with another tortilla.

Cover with a lid (optional, but it helps melt the cheese better) and flip when the bottom side is lightly brown. Take off the heat when both sides are lightly brown. Cut into eight triangles and serve with salsa. Recipe below.

Ingredients:

  • 2 ready made tortillas
  • 1/3 cup shredded cheese

Method

Place a pan on medium heat. Add one tortilla with 1/3 cup shredded cheese it. Cover it with another tortilla. Cover with a lid (optional, but it helps melt the cheese better) and flip when the bottom side is lightly brown. Take off the heat when both sides are lightly brown. Cut into eight triangles and serve with salsa.

For fresh tomato salsa, mix finely chopped tomatoes(2 medium) and red onions(1/2 medium). Add salt and pepper to taste, a squirt of lemon juice if preferred and 2 handful of chopped coriander if you have them (I didn’t!). Top with a dollop of sour cream for a guilty pleasure :D.

2quesadilla

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Navajo fry bread

4Navajo fry bread

This post is a part of  the mega Blogging Marathon and A-Z challenge. I have chosen ‘popular American dishes’ as my theme.

We have crossed halfway through the journey of cuisines and its time to talk about the alphabet ‘N’. The plan was to make a New york style pizza or cheese cake, but then I got to know about this Indian fry bread developed by the Navajo tribe(pronounced Navaho). I read about the painful history behind the origin of the recipe here. The recipe was developed in Indian camps with the limited provisions available.

My recipe is from Mireille’s blog. I love reading her intros; she takes us to through many wonderful trips through cuisines and makes it more enjoyable by adding her own experiences. For this post she is talking about her college years in New Mexico.

I couldn’t roll the bread thin and they ended up a little puffed up. If you are making this, try making it thinner and stretch it out as much as you can. Its a little like our own naan bread actually.

Read on for the recipe.

2Navajo fry bread

Recipe source: The schizo chef

Makes: six small fry breads

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • warm water for making the dough
  • oil for deep frying
  • honey/ melted butter/sugar for serving

Method:

  1. Mix the flour, baking powder, salt in a bowl. Add water slowly and kneed until you get a soft dough. The dough shouldn’t be sticky.
  2. Pull out a small lime sized ball of dough, pat it flat on a lightly floured surface to help prevent sticking. Make it as thin as possible( I wasn’t very lucky there :D) and poke a hole in the middle.
  3. Deep fry in hot oil until golden. Drain on paper towels. Serve with honey or melted butter with powdered sugar on top.

3Navajo fry bread

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Lemon Pound Cake

1lemon pound cake

This post is a part of  the mega Blogging Marathon and A-Z challenge. I have chosen ‘popular American dishes’ as my theme.

Pound cake is a classic American cake. But that’s  not my choice for the alphabet ‘P’. Lemon also features big in America. Come summer and the web gets bombarded with so many versions of lemonade. I have read in many comics about kids selling it to make some extra money. I haven’t seen it in person yet, but this is only my second summer here.

So since pound cake is not coming up for this culinary journey, I opted for a compromise.Lemon pound cake : a classic cake in a popular flavor! That is a winner for sure and the best compromise I have made :-)!

Its a pretty straight forward recipe. Read on.

2lemon pound cake

Recipe adapted slightly from:  Once upon a chef

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 cup butter (~225 gms/2 sticks), softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk*
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice (4 tablespoons)
  • zest from 2 lemons

*Substitute with milk

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 C. Grease and line two loaf pans.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, mix the buttermilk, lemon juice and lemon zest. Set aside.
  4. In a big bowl, beat the butter and sugar with a hand mixer until soft and fluffy, scrapping the bowl in between to incorporate all the sugar into the mix. Beat the eggs in, one at a time till it’s all incorporated well.
  5. Add 1/3rd flour, fold it in carefully. Follow this by ½ of buttermilk mixture and gently mix it in. Repeat once again (1/3rd flour & fold; ½ buttermilk & fold) and finally add the remaining 1/3rd flour. Fold it in until no streaks of flour remains. We are adding the flour in 3 batches and buttermilk in two batches. The last batch has to be the flour mix.
  6. Divide the batter into the loaf pans and bake for about 50-60 minutes. Check whether its done by poking with a wooden skewer before taking the pans out of the oven. If the skewer comes out free of crumbs, the cake is cooked. Let the cake rest in the pan for at least 5 minutes before removing from the pan. Let it cool completely.
  7. For a more intense lemon flavor, you can drizzle with a lemon glaze. You can prepare this by mixing 1/3rd cup lemon juice (about 6 tablespoons) with 1/4th cup powdered sugar. Sourness of the lemon varies widely, so adjust the lemon and sugar quantity based on your preference. Use a fork or a toothpick to make holes all over the top of the cake. Drizzle the lemon glaze and serve.

3lemon pound cake

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Hot Chocolate

3hot chocolate

This post is a part of  the mega Blogging Marathon and A-Z challenge. I have chosen ‘popular American dishes’ as my theme.

Ha! Its hard to believe that we are already reached the alphabet ‘H’. This was one of the alphabets with fewer choices, still I had about 3-4 dishes before I decided to take it easy and go with the best one :D. I was considering between hot milk cake, hush puppies, hot dog veggie version and hot chocolate.

I already have hot milk cake in the blog. Its one of my to-go recipes and I make it many times in an year. So that was ruled out and among the rest, hot chocolate won the competition hands down.

Hot chocolate is popular anytime of the year, but particular around Christmas/winter, you will see it all over the place. There are three ways in which you can make the basic hot chocolate.It all involves hot milk and sugar with one of the following chocolate agents.

  1. cocoa powder
  2. chocolate (grated, chopped or chips for easy melting)
  3. ready made hot chocolate mix, which is usually cocoa powder with sugar and may be powdered milk

Of course there are a hundred flavor options that you can try, but the about three will cover the basic hot chocolate. Peppermint is popular around Christmas and I still have a pack that a friend of mine gifted me. Here I have made the cocoa powder version, which I feel is the best of the three. Try it out and let me know what kinds you make at your place :-).

2hot chocolate

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup milk
  • whipped cream and grated chocolate, for decoration

Method:

  1. Recipe serves one.
  2. Add cocoa powder and sugar with a cup of milk in a pan. Whisk well until no lumps remain.
  3. Heat in low-medium flame until it starts to simmer. Turn off the heat.
  4. Pour into glasses and top with whipped cream and grated chocolate. Enjoy!

hot chocolate4

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1hot chocolate

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Soya bhurji

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I moved to Chennai in 2000 when I got a job there. The next 5 years there with my roommates was one of the best phases of my life. Those were the years when you were responsible only for yourself and I had the best of my friends to enjoy that time with.

There are so many nice memories about my stay with my roommates, but somehow cooking part also comes to my mind a lot. My roommates were amazing cooks and they taught me the basics of cooking. When I was with them, I was quite good. Its the experience that ruined my cooking later ;-).

One of the standard dishes was moru curry, which is buttermilk prepared in a simple way. Egg bhurji or soya bhurji was a frequent side dish. The thing about soya is that you need to prepare it just before serving as it has a tendency to dry out with time. But we would always prepare it after coming back from work and just before dinnertime. So we were well covered there :-)

Read on for the simple basic recipe. Go on and make your own changes and additions like red chili powder and coriander powder to spice it up a little more!

3soya_bhurji

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup dry soya chunks
  • 1 teaspoon oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • salt and pepper

Method:

Soak soya chunks in water. If you are using cold water, soak for 30 minutes at least. 10 minutes if you are using warm water.

Squeeze out the water (there shouldn’t be any hardness in them when you squeeze them out). Pulse it in the mixer jar. Pulse so that they are shredded and not ground into a paste.

Heat oil in a pan. Add the mustard seeds. Once they splutter, add the shredded soya. Season with salt and pepper.

Mix well and stir for a couple of minutes until the soya changes color.Take off the heat and serve with rice and moru curry.

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This post goes to Blogging Marathon under ‘Bhurji recipes’ theme. Check out the Blogging Marathon page for more details and recipes from other participants.

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A birthday wish and lots of food!

1gutti vankaya kura

Everyday is special, but some days are more special. Like anniversaries. Or birthdays. And birthdays of your friends.

Today is one such special day. Our blogging buddy Valli- our Super woman, Blogging Marathon creator and veteran, is turning a year older today.

And we are here to wish her a birthday in the best way we can… A post with recipes from her blog. A foodie gift from foodie friends :-)! We are cooking from her blog – well, blogs! ( Did I mention that she has two blogs, 3 kids and a full-time job? And she manages all that!! Definition of a super woman fits aptly, I think. )

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Anyway, I digress…

Birthday is all about celebrating the first day of our life on Mother Earth. The day we were born.Its special indeed in so many ways. Its a day where we spend most of it smiling without reason and catching up with the wishes in person and online.

I thought it will be special for her to wish her with the first recipe on her blog. A post that started off her online journey. A post that was received with a lot of love by the blogging world and eventually led to her second blog and so many more achievements. Yes, the first time…its always special :-).

1gutti vankaya kura

I  made Guttu Venkaya Kura from Cooking 4 All Seasons and paired it with her Coconut rice. That was our lunch yesterday. This is the first time I am making stuffed brinjal and I totally loved it.

I have to show you the stepwise pictures where you can see the eggplants in the gravy floating just like hippos :D. But that’s for another time, OK ;-)?

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I decided to follow-up the delicious lunch with another recipe (her second recipe on her blog) for dinner. The Andhra special pesarattu and upma, served with tomato chutney and coconut chutney.

Again I digress. The focus shifted from Valli’s birthday wish to the food for a few, but understandable, minutes :D.

Valli, Have a great day and a wonderful year ahead! May it be filled with love, joy, family, butter and chocolate throughout the year!

Lots and lots of love, your BM friends :-)

1pesarattu_upma

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Ginger tea

2ginger tea

This week’s BM theme is anti inflammatory foods. Sore throat or pharyngitis is throat inflammation. Gastritis is a kind of stomach inflammation. There is arthritis related inflammation, but thankfully, I haven’t dealt with it yet.

Sore throat and an occasional gastritis symptom is not so uncommon for me. This ginger tea is good for both the cases, when your stomach isn’t agreeing with you completely and your throat is literally scratching you! A hot cup of this tea will sooth your throat and be easy on your tummy.

We Indians add  ginger to the traditional tea( boil milk + tea leaves + grated ginger; strain and sweeten with sugar) and call it ginger tea as well. But this version is a simple one. All you have to do is boil ginger and water and flavor it with lemon and/or honey if you wish.

1ginger tea

BM #61 Week 2;  Theme: Anti inflammatory foods

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup water per person
  • 1 inch ginger, peeled, per person
  • honey to taste
  • lemon to taste, optional

Method:

  1. Peel and slice the ginger pieces.
  2. Add this to the water and bring it to a boil. Let it boil for 7-8 minutes.
  3. Take off the heat and add honey and lemon per taste.
  4. Drain the ginger pieces off and drink your tea.

3ginger tea

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