Saturday, December 31, 2022

Happy New Year 🌷🌷🌷🎂🎂🎂❤️❤️

 Hi friends, 

Wishing all a happy and prosperous New Year,

May God bless us all with happiness, health, wealth, wisdom, prosperity, good mind, a safe and honest world, success, love of the family and friends and peace 🌷💕😍

Lots of love and cheers,

Viki Xavier

Our Christmas tree, nativity scene, Christmas village 2022

 Hi friends, 

Merry Christmas. Here is the video of the Christmas decorations we made this year. 

Hope you all like my videos and will extend your support by subscribing to our channel.


Viki Xavier

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Christmas fruitcake in Indian Bakery style

Hi friends,

Every year I prepare some fruitcake / plum cake during Christmas. This year I have created a video for my fruitcake / plum cake recipe. Hope you all find it useful. 

Blog links: This is the fruit cake I prepare every year during Christmas. The link to my old post is for 2 kg fruit cake is  here . The link for a 1 kg plum cake is here. I am reposting my recipe for fruitcake here.

I.For caramelizing

sugar-1/2 cup
water - 2tbsp + 1 cup
Add sugar and 2 tbsp water keep in stove at low to medium heat. When the s
ugar starts to turn brown , stir slowly .The sugar will start to change color from light brown to dark. In between , keep in microwave the water for 2 min and warm it. When the sugar starts to turn brown , pour slowly the warm water. Be cautious, as it may splutter (wear a hand gloves always for this step).

dry ingredients:
All purpose flour (maida)- 2 1/2 cup
baking powder - 2 tsp
baking soda - 3/4 tsp
Nuts and fruits:
dried fruits-(dates, raisins, tooti frooti)- 2 cup
dried nuts-(almonds, cashews and walnuts) - 1 cup
grape juice - 1/4 cup + orange juice- 1 cup + apple juice - 1/4 cup
(or) orange juice - 1 1/2 cup
wet ingredients: (others)
sugar -  1 1/2 cup
butter- 2 sticks (16 tbsp butter = 1 cup oil)
(use butter for perfect flavor)
egg - 6
salt -  1 tsp
vanilla extract -2 tsp
To powder:
lemon and orange peels - 2 tbsp
(I use peels of a large naval orange)
All spice powder (see below for recipe)- 2 tsp

Take half of the amount of dry fruits. (reserve the rest  for direct baking later). Except raisin chop others.

Soak 1 cup of dry fruits in grape + apple + orange juice for a few hours.
( I puree apple , grapes at home and use store bought orange juice).
Without any other juices,  orange juice will also do the same job.
I soaked it in orange juice for 3 days inside fridge.
Bring the butter, egg and everything to room temperature by keeping them out of fridge for few hours -  overnight.
Dry roast the almond, cashew and other nuts. Then chop them into small pieces.

Before baking:
Preheat the oven at 350 F.
Grease a 9 x 13 x 2 inch cake pan ( 1/4 sheet cake pan) generously with butter.
Sprinkle 2 tbsp all purpose flour and spread  it all over by shaking.

Wet ingredients: 
 In a blender (Indian mixie) add orange peel and crush it. To it add butter, eggs, sugar, vanilla essence, salt and beat again till fluffy.
Pour this to a large mixing bowl along with caramelized sugar.
Dry ingredients:
Sift together all purpose flour, baking soda , baking powder. I sift this over a large newspaper and will sift twice to ensure a fluffy cake. Sifting is  a MUST.
Add this dry ingredients to wet ingredients in the mixing bowl. Mix well with a large spoon. (or electric mixer).
Add the soaked fruits along with juice. it was soaking.
Take 2 tbsp of AP flour and mix it with the broken nuts and remaining unsoaked dry fruits.
Pour the cake batter to the cake pan .
Now spread the flour coated nuts and nuts over the cake batter . Shake gently and let the nuts sink a little. Don't stir them.
Bake in middle of the rack for 40 to 50 minutes in 350 deg F. If not cooked increase 10 min each time. The cake will be done in 45 minutes. The cake is ready when a toothpick inserted into it comes out clean.

Take out and cool for at least 10 - 20  minutes before transferring to cooling racks.
Cool the cake completely over cooling rack for 4 - 5 hours and slice as per need.
Store in airtight containers.
The cake tastes more delicious after 1 day - 3 days.

Makes one large 9 x 13 cake. or four 6 inch round cakes.
The above recipe gives 2 kg  ( approx 4.5 lb ) of fruit cake ( little more than that , depending upon the nuts and fruits we add).
Always use a good quality aluminum baking pan (eg Wilton cake pans) for evenly baking.
If using glass bakeware (eg Pyrex) , bake at 325 F . Don't exceed the recommended temperature.
Using some kitchen appliances will make cake baking an easy job. Here are some of my tips for using various mixers for making fruit cake.

For kitchenaid mixer:
Using a whisk attachment beat the egg to fluffy (1 min - 2 min). (whites first then add yellow).
Melt the butter . Add butter and sugar together for 1 minute in speed 2.
Remove the whisk attachment and fix the flat beater.
Add all the wet ingredients and beat for 30 seconds at speed 2.
Then add dry ingredients and beat at speed 6 for 1 minute.
DO NOT over-beat the cake mixture.

For Indian mixie:
Beat the eggs together.
Then add all the wet ingredients.
Pour this to a mixing bowl.
Using a spatula or hand held electric mixer, blend together for 1 minute.

For Hand mixer (electric):
Cream sugar and butter together for 1 minute in low speed.
Then goes the wet ingredients for 1 minute in medium speed.
Add dry ingredients gradually and whisk at lowest speed till they get folded.
Then increase speed and mix for 1 minute.
This is the all spice powder I use in my fruit cakes, pumpkin cake, ginger bread cookies etc. I think this flavor is fresh and better than the much expensive store bought varieties.

All spice powder:
cinnamon - 2 long rolls
cardamom - 1 tbsp seeds only
cloves - 1 tbsp
nutmeg - 1/4 of one
mace - 1
cumin - 1 tbsp
black pepper - 1 tbsp
dry ginger powder - 1/2 cup

Dry roast everything except ginger powder. Finely powder them all together and mix with ginger powder. (While powdering , I add ginger powder). Keep in a zip lock pouch or air tight container and keep in freezer for an year.

Sunday, November 20, 2022

Thanksgiving sale !

 I am sure most of us in USA look forward to this wonderful season of the year, 'the Thanksgiving and shopping'. Even though Thanksgiving should be associated with cooking and dining mostly, most of the stores has made it into a shopping holiday by announcing great sales. We too love this time of the year very much, as this is the time of the year, the weather starts to cool down and air is crisp. We can wear pretty boots and flaunt some winter coats. With the start of the 'Thanksgiving week', everyone begins to feel the magic of Christmas time. Malls start to get filled with cheerful faces, kids thrilled to get gifts and see the Santa, everyone making a list for the upcoming Christmas. Here in my surroundings we all start to set up the Christmas village. 

If you are looking for the best deals in town, check this website. Here are some of the items we bought during this sale and eying on:)  Also , I will be updating the better deals which I find useful imo. 

First the scented candles sold in walmart is our best choice. We grabbed a lot of these this year, as we  love this for our house and for gifting too. These 22oz size (big) yankee candles are in sale for $10. Definitely a good choice. Click to get the link.  

Art sets in walmart:  I am sure the artist in your family will love this art set gift from walmart.

Family pajamas in kohls.: We can get kohls cash rewards $15 for every $50 spent during this week.

These comfy PJs come at great discount this week. Stock them up for your loving family for Christmas. 

We bought this triply cuisinart cookware set this year. They are very heavy and of nice quality. Instead of triply one can buy the regular cookware too from cuisinart. 

11 pc cookware set is at good discount this year

The 12pc triply cuisinart cookware set we bought.
Two years ago, we got this much useful kitchen appliance 'Ninja foodie 6  in 1 smart XL indoor grill' . 
I find this extremely useful in our lifestyle. Kohls sells this item at a steep discount and you can get $45 as rewards too. If you can add this with rakuten app, then we can get more discount. 

Macys has these great deals in handbags, shoes and sweaters. It's the best choice for buying the Christmas outfits for the entire family.

Calvinklein bags are at 50% off.

Holiday shiny sweaters are popular among women during this time. 

Anyways Thanksgiving is a day to celebrate, so cook a lot of your family favorites and pick up a bunch of flowers for yourselves or your wife 💕 Eat well, stay healthy and enjoy !

Happy Thanksgiving 🌹

image courtesy: link


Monday, July 18, 2022

India trip 2022

 For most of us India trip means enjoying a lot of our childhood favorite foods in restaurants. We went there after 4 years. We were there during mid May and June. I suggest my friends not to travel there during summer as that's the hottest time in India. It's definitely not suitable for travel , if this is your first visit. But we know that and still chose that time as it was suitable for my hubby's work schedule and for me it was the perfect time as it was school holidays in India. During school holidays only Indians celebrate some family functions, tours etc also we can meet the family easily. Other times it's always busy there in my view.

 That summer felt like cool simla for us, with that much pampering and love showered by our friends and family there.  This is the first time I met my brother's son Bala and I got excited to see him. It is hard to describe my joy , when he came to me as soon as we met in the airport. He hugged me and with me and my hubby during our whole stay there, as if he knows us forever. He is such a loving cute baby and I have never seen anyone clinging to me like this after Shakthi. My sister inlaw Gowri prepared a lot of delicious Nagercoil foods for us. Some of our most favorites are her Ada payasam, paruppu sambar, okra fry and her passion to cook along with her busy schedule.  Here is a glimpse of our culinary journey in India along with some favorite clicks.

I prepared Rava laddoo for our travel and bought some pretzels, along with almost 5 lbs of chocolate as gift ☺️ 

Guava and kodukkapuli fruits
Indian mangoes are lip smacking delicious during summer. We had mangoes on all days there.

Lunch in a hotel in Puliayampatti near St.Anthony's church 

We got lot of 'Country hen eggs' as gift from my friend Sandhya amma and my chithi

I prepared a lot of omelettes there for us all.

Nattu kozhi biriyani - On most occasions, Hubby and myself bought one biriyani and 2 parottas and shared with each other.

Chennai Ashoknagar Anjappar 's Nattukoli biriyani and Nethili fish fry for lunch one day.

Poori and ghee roast in Adayar Ananda Bhavan near Guduvanchery . Breakfast along the way to Velankanni

Yummy Vegetarian meal we enjoyed in Mayiladuthurai

The rooms were really good in the 'Golden Sand hotel' in Velankanni

Golden sand hotel

Dinner in Velankanni church's restaurant. Dosa, sambar, chutney and fish fry. 

Their parking and Kerala restaurant are really good and classy.
Velankanni Shrine

Chicken biriyani and Fish fry in Kerala restaurant of Golden sand hotel was soooo yummy !
We had a lot of fish during this trip ☺️
salted spicy Green mango for travel

Mangosteen aand lychee on the way to Tirunelveli from Velankanni via ECR road
We tasted coconut sprouts for the first time and it was amazing. We paid Rs 200 for a sprout.
Snacks we bought : Athirasam, murukku, kaisutral murukku, mixture, butter murukku.
Manthi biriyani from 'Italian cuisine restaurant' of Tirunelveli. 
Naval palam / Jamuns we had in Tirunelveli.

Panankilangu (palmyra sprouts / tender roots) my favorite.
Myfather inlaw bought these yummy snacks as per my wish from Palayamkottai market: nungu, pathaneer, athirasam, thattai, onion vadai, paniyaram, murukku. These are all my most favorite ancient snacks of Tamilnadu. My hubby got his favorites too...mysore pak, laddu too.
We got pathaneer, panankilanku, karupatti on almost all days there ☺️

There is one tea shop near Mupanthal kavalkinaru (address). Our driver suggested it as one of the best if you are traveling from Tirunelveli to Trivandrum. They had prepared all the snacks like vadai, susiyam, tea with so much care that everything tasted like homemade. Their service was also very good. Don't miss it. 
The mutton bone kulambu and koottu I prepared in my inlaw's house.
Tirunelveli style mutton koottu

Aa fish stall near my inlaws' house in Tirunelveli, that's where we used to buy fish on alternate days.
Mari anna's daughter birthday dinner

Biriyani prepared by Mari anna's brother in law.

We went to Tiruchendur for our friend's daughter earring ceremony

Chicken biriyani, kothu parotta (also mutton sukka not in pic), we all had in hotel Prabhu in Tirunelveli Junction. That's my appa's as well as mama's favorite restaurant. Appa used to buy us parotta from there long back. 
Veg biriyani, cauliflower fry I made for my friend's gathering in Chennai.
Our vegetable shopping in chennai. Hubby bought me Vazhai thandu (banana stem) , drumstick, okra, avarakai as soon as we stepped in Chennai, as they are some of my favorite vegetables.
Vellore mullu kathrikai from one of our friend's farm. I cooked this red snapper Fish curry and brinjal poriyal and had it along with our friends. I cooked some dishes like 'neyar viruppam' for my whole neighborhood friends and we too got so many yummy treats from them. 

'The best gifts are always handmade with love'. My friend Jaya's talented daughter Bala painted this as gift for me.
Lunch I prepared for Anand family: Sambar, egg, avarakai poriyal, rasam,dal etc

Another party for our friends in neighborhood. I prepared chicken curry. Just like old times I . walked with my friend Jothi akka to the nearby chicken shop and bought fresh chicken and we all ate together. This is one of my most happy memories there.

Very glad to meet our friendly neighborhood butcher.

cooking with and for friends is always happy for me

Our kitchen , happy memories with lots of friends and family
Homemade foods starts getting tasty after few days of continuous hotel food. So I started preparing everything aat home. Dosai for dinner 

chithi's crispy ulunthu vadai, our favorite

Peanuts from another friend Velu sir's farm

whenever possible my hubby stopped the upcoming vegetable vendors and got me every veggie I liked. 
We visited and attended mass in the famous St.Thomas Mount church near our house

Wearing flowers everyday is my number one agenda and ranks top most in my 'India trip to do' list. Hubby will sit in the front verandah in his favorite couch and watch out for flowers, veggie, fruits along with working in his computer ☺️
I was excited to prepare some garland for our neighborhood Vinayagar along with my friend's family

My thambi and Gowri took us to some nice sightseeing in Kerala. I wanted to see a palace there...some they took us to this most amazing palace 'Kuthiramalika'

Lulu mall

Peacock in thambi's backyard . We gave her some lemon rice :)

 On the way back home.....

We had lunch in hotel Chitra in Marthandam, which is also very good. 

Snacks gifted by my thambi for us to take home to USA.

We stayed in a nice hotel in Trivandrum before departure, as it was so closer to airport.

Veg meals I had in Hotel kingsway

Chicken biriyani for my hubby dear
'Vaango restaurant' in New Delhi airport.  Ghee roast we had in the middle of the night before boarding Air India flight to USA. Don't forget to eat before boarding. That's really an useful tip if you are new to travel.

Back to everyday life in USA. Lemon rice and carrot fry  - lunch box ☺️

Things we bought / gifts for us from India.
Along with these a lot of night wear, churidar, some sarees also I got.

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...