Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New year,

Let's welcome the New year with joy,
with lots of prayers and well wishes,
with hope, faith and love in family
with more dedication, belief and prosperity

God in our lives everyday,
Light in our paths and delight in our minds
World peace becoming everyone's wish
Freedom to innocents and needy

Love in hearts and happiness in world
Seeking God in everything we do,
May every day be filled
with happiness and peace,

May every face on earth live happily forever,
with all our needs satisfied,
May every life lives peacefully
with all our dreams come true,

Grace and kindness multiplying,
Health and wealth flourishing,
With every child getting love and care
Seeing God in happy faces,

May all our wishes come true
to make our Creator happy,
For all the wishes made in love,
May God shower His grace and love on all of us,

Happy New year!

New year cake with roses and lotus flowers icing.

Wishing all a
beautiful, Prosperous and Blessed
Happy New Year

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Carrot Pumpkin cake

I baked this carrot pumpkin cake for Thanksgiving day 2013. I enjoyed making these pink rose flower icing.  As the main theme of Thanksgiving day is to thank God, I made 12 roses to represent the 12 months of the year. I got the recipe from this website and thanking the author too for this successful recipe. Click  here for the original recipe
Pumpkin carrot cake I made for Thanksgiving  November 2013 , Thank you Jesus !

Some more pumpkin carrot cupcakes to share with hubby's friends

Before frosting.

Shredded Carrot and mashed pumpkin

All purpose flour - 2 1/2 cup
white sugar - 1 1/2 cup
dark brown sugar - 1/2 cup
butter - 1 cup (2 sticks)
egg - 4
pumpkin puree - 1 cup
shredded carrot - 1 cup
shredded coconut - 1/4 cup
walnut - 1/2 cup
raisin - 2 tbsp
baking soda - 2 tsp
baking powder - 2 tsp
cinnamon powder - 1 tsp
dry ginger powder - 1 tsp
all spice powder - 1 tbsp
salt - 1/2 tsp
Cream cheese frosting

Cook the pumpkin with very little water and mash it finely (or just use canned pumpkin puree).
Shred the carrots.
In a mixing bowl (or blender / mixie) add sugars , softened butter, egg, salt, all spice powder, cinnamon powder, ginger powder. Mix till fluffy.
Sift the flour , baking soda, baking powder together TWICE.
Put the dry ingredients to the mixing bowl along with wet ingredients, mashed pumpkin, shredded carrot, raisin, roasted chopped walnuts.
Mix well.
Pour batter into greased pans.
Bake at 350 deg F for 35 - 40 minutes.
Makes two 9 inch round cakes or one 6 inch cake and 18 cupcakes or nearly 2 dozen cupcakes.
I used butter cream frosting to make flowers and other colors.
Frost with cream cheese frosting or serve simply.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas,

Wishing all my friends , family and readers a  Blessed Happy Christmas,

Merry Christmas!

Updated :
Christmas wreath I made for front entrance door
Christmas wreath I made for  indoor decor.
Our Christmas tree

Christmas village and nativity scene for Christmas

Birthday cake  I made for Baby Jesus, our cute little Christmas cake.

Offering cake to Holy family as soon as I finished baking the first fruit cake (Dec 16)

Offering vadai and kesari for Holy family in nativity scene, on Christmas day early morning, a Christmas tradition in our family.

I got a lot of gifts from Santa. Finding my favorite gifts under the Christmas tree on Christmas mornings excites me very much:)

My friends Emelda and Elizabeth brought us these yummy Christmas goodies.
My friends Emelda and Elizabeth together made these yummy Christmas snacks. They worked together long hours and days to make these delicious murukku, mixture, fruit cake, milk peda, bathusha, coconut mittai.....and packed them artistically.  I admire their enthusiasm and Christmas cheer very much. Thank you friends!
Christmas goodies from my friend Esther
My friend Esther has brought us Fruit cake, ladoo, nuts sweet, spicy murukku, murukku, chandrakala and rose cake (achimurukku) on Christmas. Even before clicking, we started finishing those yummy rose cakes and now I think I should have clicked that whole platter first :) Thanks Esther !
Gifts from my sweet cousin Madhu: A pretty handmade greetings and a cute ornament.
Last year we enjoyed our Christmas with Madhu , my cousin and I love the way she cherish arts, vintage collections, making handmade greetings , brightening up the whole situation with her kindness ....lot to learn from that hard working , intelligent ,cute little girl (she is always a little girl in my eyes) :)
My neighbor aunty presented me many pretty Christmas  ornament birds.
I got many pretty birds from my neighbor aunty on Christmas eve and we put them all on our tree and village. I hosted a small party for both of our families on Christmas eve. I made it as almost vegetarian as per her choice and it was easy too. As soon as we came back from Christmas mass in church I prepared Vegetable briyani, egg curry, raitha and semiya kheer. She brought us the papad chaat items and assembled them as starter. The party went on even after midnight:)
Christmas goodies I prepared : Christmas fruit cake, murukku, ginger bread cookies
This is the Christmas goodies I made for our us all: Christmas fruit cake, murukku and ginger bread cookies. I started baking by 16 th Dec and sent that cake for hubby's  office Christmas party. Then baked all other cakes by Dec 19, made murukku on 23 rd Dec as a surprise gift to hubby (his most favorite) and cookies on 23 rd night and 24 th morning. In between we enjoyed sight seeing, meeting friends, watched my favorite movies , enjoyed the new release an animation movie ...... Totally we all enjoyed this Christmas very much and want to do like this every year. Cheers !

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Cheesy vegetables with pasta

Recently I made this baked pasta with loads of green vegetables and we liked it very much. I didn't follow any basic recipe for this , as my only motto was to use all those vegetables when they were still fresh.  Just saute whatever green vegetables we have in hand like beans, kale leaf, brussel sprout, green bell pepper, Asparagus..... mix with cooked pasta , milk sauce and bake with cheese. I am sure this will make a yummy dinner or lunch pack.
Baked pasta with green vegetables

Brussel sprout - 1 lb
broccoli - 2 cups
kale leaf - 2 cups
green bell pepper - 1/2
Penne pasta - a handful for each serving
shredded cheese (any variety) - 1 cup
olive oil - 2 tbsp
butter - 2 tbsp
all purpose flour - 3 tbsp
salt, pepper - as per need
dried Italian seasoning - 1 tsp
milk - 2 cups

Rinse all the vegetables.
Chop the kale leaves coarsely, bell pepper into 1 inch squares, broccoli into small florets and halve the Brussels sprouts.
Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a saute pan. Saute all the vegetables till tender crisp (2 - 3 minutes) and keep aside. Add required salt, pepper.
Cook the pasta as per directions (cook with little salt and lot of water till firmly cooked and drain water). Mix the pasta with vegetables and put them all in a baking pan.
Easy Milk sauce : In a pan heat 2 tbsp butter and add 3 tbsp all purpose flour (maida) and fry till raw smell goes (but not red). Add 2 cups of milk, dried Italian seasoning and bring to a boil.
Pour this over the pasta and mix .
Put cheese over this and bake at 350 F for 5 minutes or till cheese turns bubbly. (If using pyrex glass bakeware, bake below 325 F till cheese turns bubbly).

Serving suggestion:
Serve as main course meal.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Indian Tomato soup

Tomato soup with knorr chicken bouillon cubes and homemade croutons.

Indian tomato soup with chicken stock.

Making croutons at home

Ingredients: (4 cups)
Tomato - 2
onion - 1/ cup
garlic - 5 cloves
black pepper - 5
cumin - 1 tsp
cilantro -  handful
salt - to taste
butter - 1 tbsp
chicken soup cube  - 1
water - 4 cups
pepper powder - as per need

Saute chopped garlic and shallot / red onion in 1 tbsp butter till onion gets tender.
Chop the tomato finely and saute along with the onion , garlic.
Cook it covered with 1/2 cup water (Always cook tomato completely to get complete health benefits).
After it gets cooked, add cilantro, black pepper, cumin and let it cool completely.
Keep the vessel, as we need it again.
Puree this mixture in a blender.
Return this mixture to the cooking vessel , add 3.5 cups of water and bring to a boil.
If needed add chicken soup cube (or) some broth.
Check for salt and add.
Garnish with freshly ground pepper.

Serving suggestions:
Serve hot with bread crumbs on top.
See below for home made simple bread crumb recipe.

Home made bread crumbs:
bread slice (thick variety) - 1
ghee / butter - 1 tsp

Cut the bread slice into small cubes.
Heat ghee in a pan, keep flame very low.
Fry the bread slices in low flame till it turns golden and crispy.
We can do this in oven too.

Crushed tomato in can also be substituted, but fresh tastes better as always.
Chicken cubes is optional. It is added as a flavorful thickener here. But roasted AP flour can also be added instead.
Chicken stock in liquid form can also be added instead of soup cubes.

Simple Pancake

Pancake with maple syrup.

self rising flour - 1  cup
egg - 1
sugar - 1 tsp
buttermilk - 3/4 cup
(1/4 c plain curd  + water)
butter - 1/2 tbsp

Mix flour, egg, buttermilk, sugar and let it sit for 10 minutes.
Heat a dosa tawa (griddle) and coat with little butter.
Pour 1/4 cup batter, wait to see bubbles, flip and cook both sides.
Take out.
Repeat with all the batter (4-5 pancakes).

Enjoy with maple syrup.

Self rising flour can be substituted with 1 cup All purpose flour + 1 tsp baking soda + 1 1/2 tsp baking powder + 1/4 tsp salt. Sift these together to get self rising flour.
Buttermilk can be made by mixing 1 cup milk with 1 tbsp lemon juice or 1 tsp vinegar.
But I add 1/2 cup water to 1/4 cup homemade Indian yogurt.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Ragi idiyappam

Idiyappam / string hopper is a breakfast item popular in Tamilnadu, kerala and Srilanka. Usually it is made with rice flour and pure white in color. (Click to see my idiyappam with rice flour recipe). Nowadays we can easily buy them in dried form like pasta from Chinese stores (rice noodles). Also in Tamilnadu one can see vendors in cycles selling idiyappam in the early morning. Households with little kids and elders are the regular customers for these cycle-walas. Idiyappam , a steam cooked meal is easy to digest and hence it is preferred as dinner also. Recently idiyappam with ragi flour has become popular among dieticians and they recommend it to many.  So we can see readymade dried ragi idiyappam also in stores. It is very convenient for a quick meal. Making fresh idiyappam is also very easy and here is my recipe for ragi idiyappam.

Ragi idiyappam with shredded coconut.

My new screw type idiyappam maker....easier than pressing and I love this very much.

preparing idiyappam dough

Ragi idiyappam for my neighbor aunty ...food exchange Fridays :)
Ragi - 1 1/2  cup
water - 2 cup (nearly)
salt - 1/2 tsp
ghee  - 1/2 tsp
cardamom powder - a pinch
for serving:
sugar - as per need
shredded coconut - as per need

Dry roast the ragi flour in a kadai (wok) , till it smells nice and a mild red. Add cardamom powder.
In a separate vessel, bring water to rolling boil with salt, ghee.
Pour little by little over the roasted flour and mix to get a soft chapati dough stage.
Divide into 3 equal portions.
From one part, take a handful and stuff inside the idiyappam press (idiyappam nazhi).
Grease an idiyappam plate or idly plate with a drop of ghee / oil.
Squeeze the strings in continuous fashion. Place inside idly cooker or idiyappam steamer.
(I use pressure cooker for both idly and idiyappam. Pour 2 cups water in the cooker.Leave the bottom-most plate empty and keep the idiyappam plate above it. This will ensure the idiyappams to get cooked without getting wet. I keep it for 10 minutes in high steam WITHOUT  the weight valve).
Take out once it is cooked and serve immediately or store in airtight containers.
Likewise steam all the idiyappams.

Serving suggestions:
Serve ragi idiyappam as dinner or breakfast.
I keep the leftover as a sweet snack or dessert.
The popular side dishes are shredded coconut with sugar, coconut milk mixed with jaggery solution and cardamom or sugar.

Dry ragi idiyappam is commonly available in market as instant ragi semiya or idiyappam.
Dry roasting the flour and adding cardamom powder will make a flavorful idiyappam.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Oats Cranberry cookies

The goodness of oats and cranberry are the highlights of this cookies and can be enjoyed both as snack as well as breakfast. I used 'Oceanspray' brand dried cranberries and old fashion oats. I formulated this recipe and hope you all love it !

 I made these cute treat bags using ziplock covers and crochet yarn.

cool them completely.

space between cookies is important, as the oats cookies doubles in size.

Old fashioned oats - 3 cups
whole wheat flour - 1 1/2 cup
cranberry (dry , sliced) - 1 cup
Butter - 6 tbsp
sour cream - 1/2 cup
(butter sourcream ration can be substituted with butter 1 cup)
white sugar - 3/4 cup
brown sugar - 3/4 cup
egg - 2
vanilla extract - 1 tsp
salt - 1/2 tsp
baking soda - 1 tsp
cinnamon - 1 tsp
nutmeg powder - 1/4 tsp
cardamom - 1 tsp

Mix and cream the butter, sour cream and sugar. Add egg, vanilla and mix well.
I do this process in mixie.
In a large mixing bowl , add all the dry ingredients, cranberry and spices. Pour the wet ingredients and mix well. Using hands will make this stage easy:)
The oats cookie dough is ready.
Fold the dough using cling wrap (or keep in  air tight container) and keep refrigerated for nearly 1 hour or till we need to make cookies. Refrigeration makes the handling easy
Preheat the oven to 350 deg F.
Line the cookie baking sheets with aluminum foil or use simply.
Spray / coat with butter or oil.
Divide the dough into 4 equal size balls. Make long cylindrical shapes and cut them into12 equal size portions. Make balls and slightly  flatten them while placing on cookie sheets.
Thicker cookies tastes very good.
Bake for 8 - 12 minutes, depending upon the oven.
Take out, let them cool completely and store in airtight containers.
Oats cranberry cookie is ready!
Serving suggestion:
Serve as snack or breakfast.
We can refrigerate / freeze the dough and use to make fresh cookies too.
Makes 48 cookies.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Ragi Cookies

As Christmas is fast approaching, I thought it would be more appropriate if I could release all my baked goodies from my draft page:) I make cookies whenever hubby has more project hours, so that I can spend some more time with him, while he is working. Also the next day he will take a box of cookies to his friends too.  Isn't this a cute excuse to bake something yummy :)
Here is one delicious native cookies from Indian cuisine, the Ragi biscuits or ragi cookies. I made these biscuits just like  butter biscuit and it came out very well. To reduce the butter content I use yogurt or sour cream in all my cookies. Here goes the recipe.

Super soft ragi cookies. Enjoy this with a cup of milk for breakfast.
Ragi cookies for hubby's friends.
Ragi cookies.
Ragi cookies are cooling down .
Cookies before baking. Leave enough space, as they will double in size.

Dry roasted ragi is mixed with all other ingredients.

Ragi - 2 cup
self rising flour - 1/2 cup
butter - 1/2 cup ( 8 tbsp)
Indian  plain yogurt - 1/2 cup (or lesser)
brown sugar - 1 cup
baking powder - 1 tsp
salt - little
cardamom - 1 tsp
Almond - 1/2 for 1 cookie

Dry roast ragi till it smells good (low heat for 8-10 minutes).
Melt butter and add it to ragi.
Add self rising flour, yogurt (little by little), brown sugar, baking powderm salt, cardamom.
Mix well.   Add enough yogurt , so that it can made into small balls.
Line the baking sheets with aluminum foil and coat with oil.
By applying some ghee / oil in our palms , make equal size 30 balls.
Place the balls on the sheet and slightly flatten them. Place 1/2 almond on each cookie.
Bake at 325 deg F for 10 - 14 minutes. (the bottom should be mild brown).
Check often after 8 minutes, as the baking time may vary in different ovens.
Take out and let it remain for 1 minute to let it harden more. Cool in cooling racks.
Store in air tight container.

Serving suggestion:
Serve as snack or dessert. Makes a easy breakfast too.
Makes 30 cookies.

*Brown sugar can be substituted with white powdered sugar for more flavor and taste.
* always roast the ragi before making cookies.
*I have used self rising flour in these cookies to make them puff up and it made them super soft and delicious. Here is the basic version to make homemade self rising flour. I make this flour in large quantities and use it in making biscuits, cookies and pastries. 
Homemade self rising flour :
1 cup Self rising flour = 1 cup All purpose flour + 1/4 tsp salt +  1 1/2 tsp baking powder

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Brinjal theeyal

Kathirikkai theeyal is a flavorful dish from Kerala.  It is prepared with browned coconut. One evening I grilled eggplants for making baingan, but changed my mind and made this theeyal using that. But traditional Kerala theeyal won't need grilling. I made it as a thick curry along with chapathi and curd rice. we can make a thinner version also.

Roasted coconut with red chillies.

Grilled eggplant
Eggplants - 2
onion - 1
tomato - 1
tamarind - lime size
curry leaves - few
salt - to taste
mustard seed - 1 tsp
coconut oil - 1 tbsp

For making theeyal powder:
shredded coconut - 1 cup
dry red chilly - 6
coriander seeds - 1 tbsp
black pepper - 1 tsp
curry leaves - few
turmeric - small piece

Optional : Apply a little oil over the eggplant and roast them in gas stove or oven. Peel off the skin and chop it gently.
(Traditionally the eggplants are used without grilling).

Slice the onion, tomato, brinjal separately and keep aside.
Extract juice from tamarind.
Dry roast the coconut till it turns brownish red and smells great. Do this in medium to low heat.
Take it out and dry roast all the other items given for theeyal podi.
Let them cool and powder together.
Heat oil in a deep pan, add mustard and let it splutter.
Then add chopped onion, curry leaves and let it get golden brown. Add chopped tomato and cook well. Add the roasted mashed eggplant or sliced eggplant. Saute and cook covered. Add tamarind extract and bring to a boil. Put the prepared masala powder and cook covered for few minutes.
Theeyal is ready.

Serving suggestion:
Serve as side dish with idly, dosa, hot rice, chapathi, curd rice etc.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving wishes and prayers

Wishing all my readers, friends and family a blessed , prosperous and happy Thanks giving!

Thanksgiving Pictures, Comments, Images, Graphics

Thanksgiving Pictures Comments - Photobucket

Thanksgiving Pictures, Comments, Images, Graphics

Thanksgiving Pictures Comments - Photobucket

Thank you, Heavenly Father, for having created us and given us to each other in the human family. Thank you for being with us in all our walks of life, for your comfort, your companionship, your guidance, your love, and your presence. Thank you for safeguarding us and protecting us. Thank you for yesterday, today, tomorrow and for the whole of our lives. Thank you for friends, family,  health and your grace. May we live this and every day thankful for all that has been given to us.
(Prayer inspired by American Catholic website).

Happy Thanks giving and thank you all!

Vazhaikkai Poriyal (Plantain stir fry)

This vazhaikai poriyal was a staple in our house as we had some (lot) of banana trees in our backyard. I have seen amma running there to pic...