Cook's Hideout: 2012

December 31, 2012

Best of 2012

It is that time of the year again, time to celebrate the arrival of new year and think about the good, bad and the ugly of the past year, make resolutions so that that the bad and ugly don't repeat again in the new year.

2012 has been quite eventful, many ups and downs, both in my professional and personal lives. It has been a year with mixed bag of emotions, some really low moments that I hope never repeat. On the brighter side, biggest high of this year is the addition of our tiny bundle of love, Disha who came into our lives in September.

So here is my list of Best of 2012:

Best Ingredient: Silk Very Vanilla Soymilk is my new favorite. Its great in coffee, on cereals, for baking, and everything that needs a slightly sweet milk. I always keep my fridge stocked with this yummy beverage.

Best Blog Posts for the Year: Blogging wise I have to thank Valli for Blogging marathon. Without BM I'm not sure if I would have been as active with blogging as I was this year. Big Thanks to you Valli -- Wishing BM many many years of successful marathons.

Also contributing to the increased number of posts is Vegan Month of Food (Vegan Mofo) event in October. I surprised myself with 24 posts in October.

Coming to the best blog posts with the highest number of hits this year: Eggless Lime Cookies & Vegan Mug Cakes.

Here are some of the pictures of dishes that I loved making and clicking over the past year.

Dorie's Split Level Pudding: 
Grilled Eggplant Sandwich:
Bengali Bora'r Jhol:
Kaju Badam Katli:
So here's Wishing all of you a very Happy & Prosperous New Year 2013.

Sending this over to Valli's "Best of 2012" event.

December 26, 2012

Bread Omelette

This will be my last and final post for Blogging Marathon for this year. Thanks to Valli for organizing these monthly marathon and also coming up with interesting and challenging themes every month.

December 25, 2012

Thokkudu Laddoo (Revisiting Old Recipe)

Merry Christmas to All of you. Hope all of you had a great time today. 
My mom has been cooking up some delicious treats for us. For this holiday, she made "Thokkudu Laddu" so I can update the old recipe with a new picture.

December 24, 2012

Kohlrabi Curry (Revisiting an Old Recipe)

My theme for the last week of blogging marathon for this year is "Revisiting Old Recipes". Very apt for this time of the year when all of us are reminiscing on what happened through the year and making new resolutions for the upcoming new year. 

December 19, 2012

Eggless Zucchini Chocolate Cupcakes

For the 3rd day of BM# 23 under "Eggless Chocolate Cupcakes & Muffins", I made Zucchini chocolate cupcakes with a fudge chocolate frosting. Even though these cupcakes are not technically considered "healthy", they sure pack a healthy amount of shredded zucchini. By substituting the white flour with whole wheat flour and reducing the sugar a little bit, these cupcakes can definitely make a healthy and delicious breakfast food. Since it is the holiday season, I didn't make any healthy substitutions.

December 18, 2012

Eggless Chocolate Vanilla Cupcakes with Mocha frosting

Today's "Eggless Chocolate-Vanilla Cupcakes" are a result of contradicting requests from the kids. When you ask kids what flavor cupcake they want, half of them scream "VANILLA" and the other half want "CHOCOLATE". But most of the time we only have time to make just one type of cupcakes and these two-in-one cupcakes seem to satisfy everyone.

December 17, 2012

Eggless Banana-Chocolate Chip Muffins

Today we begin the 3rd week of blogging marathon, BM# 23 and my theme for this week is "Egg less Chocolate Cupcakes & Muffins". With a chocoholic 5 year old at home, its almost impossible for me to not take up this theme, so now you know who is happy at home!!!

As I was thinking about this week's theme, I realized that I haven't posted many recipes that are eggless. Even the eggless bakes that I have posted usually use store bought egg replacer powder or some other ingredients that are not commonly available in an Indian household. So for the next three days, I'm going to post recipes that use ingredients that are very commonly available in any pantry, even those that don't bake much.

December 12, 2012

Lapsi (Broken Wheat Halwa)

For the 3rd day under "Traditional Dishes" theme for this week's Blogging Marathon, I made Lapsi. Lapsi is made with broken wheat, ghee (clarified butter), sugar and milk (or water). From what I gather lapsi is very common in Gujarat and Rajasthan.

December 11, 2012

Potato (Alu) Muruku

For the second day under "Traditional Dishes" theme, my mom made these crunchy and delicious Potato Muruku. I already posted 2 muruku recipes, one with dalia and the other traditional recipe with rice and urad dal. Adding potato gives the muruku nice crunch and you can definitely taste the potato.

December 10, 2012


I'm excited about this week's Blogging Marathon because my theme for this week is "Traditional Dishes" and since I have my mom here with me, I was really able to make the dishes the traditional way. Valli wanted us to choose 3 dishes from the 10 she listed. I had only made 1 or 2 dishes out these 10 and so I was game to try the rest.

December 05, 2012

Carrot Kheer

As I was thinking of dishes to make with carrots, I realized that carrots are probably one of the very few vegetables that I eat in a dessert. I've seen a number of other vegetables being made into desserts like halwas with bottle gourd, green peas, etc, but I've never made them myself. May I should give them a try in the near future.

December 04, 2012

Carrot Patoli (Carrot Paruppu Usili)

Today's Carrot dish for BM# 23 is a healthy curry that incorporates veggie and lentils, one of my favorite combination. Being a vegetarian, protein intake is something that I'm watchful about and when a dish incorporates a healthy veggie and a protein, I'm super happy.

Paruppu usili or Patoli (in telugu) is a dry-ish curry that can be made with different vegetable like green beans, cabbage, cluster beans etc. When I saw PJ post her carrot paruppu usili, it looked awesome and I decided to try it today. My mom made this dish and here's how she made it:

December 03, 2012

Carrot-Coconut Rice

I can't believe it's December already and in few short days we will be in a brand new year. Today we begin 23rd edition of Blogging Marathon and my theme for this week is "Cooking with Carrots". 

I like carrots and I add them to rice dishes and mix them with other veggies to make curries, pasta sauces etc. But when I think about it, I don't usually make dishes only with carrots. So when I saw this theme, I thought of trying dishes that highlight and have carrots as the main ingredient.

December 01, 2012

Strawberry Ice Cream (Eggless)

Even though it's not technically winter yet in our neck of woods, temperatures have been hovering around freezing for the past few days. I have started to think about summer already and to remind me of the hot weather I'm posting my Strawberry ice cream recipe. This post has been in my drafts since summer but I haven't had a chance to post it, I thought it's better late than never. Also it's probably summer in some part of the world and I'm sure they have strawberries in season.

November 26, 2012

Microwave Doodh Peda (Indian Milk Fudge)

This is my 601st post, it took me more than 6 years to get here. Valli & Blogging marathon are the biggest reasons for my regular posts, so big thanks to Valli for conceptualizing BM and coming up with interesting themes every month that keep me motivated with my blogging.

November 25, 2012

Pressure Cooker Curried Butternut Squash Risotto

Hope everyone celebrating Thanksgiving had a good time this weekend. 4 day long weekend flew right by. We spent most of the weekend at my cousin's place and returned home in the afternoon today. We were hungry from the long drive and I wanted to make something real quick with minimum effort. So I made this one pot pressure cooker risotto with butternut squash from Nupur's blog.

November 24, 2012

Dimer Dalna (Bengali Egg & Potato Curry)

My theme for the fourth and final week of Blogging marathon# 22 is "Bookmarked Recipes" for this month's themes. Today's recipe is a Bengali dish that is a quick and easy egg curry for those days when there is little time to cook and the fridge is practically empty.

November 19, 2012

Bengali Malpua

When I think of Bengali cuisine, the first thing that comes to my mind is Bengali sweets, rasogullas, sandesh and all the other delectable concoctions using milk and sugar. So when cooking Bengali dishes for BM# 22, it only makes sense to end this week with a delicious Bengali dessert.

November 18, 2012

Bengali Lentil Fritters Curry (Bora'r Jhol)

I love dishes that include lentils and one of my favorite ways of enjoying them is in fritter form. So when I saw this recipe for lentil fritter curry or Bora'r Jhol on Sandeepa's blog, I wanted to make it for BM# 22.

November 17, 2012

Bengali Butternut Squash & Chickpea Curry (Kumror Chakka)

My theme for 3rd week of Blogging Marathon# 22 is "Bengali Dishes". I fell in love with Bengali cuisine after cooking for BM# 5. I love the use of various whole spices and the combination of flavors that make Bengali dishes, so unique and delicious.

November 12, 2012

Lime Cookies (Eggless)

Finally after 18 days of waiting we have our kitchen counter and sink fixed. Yay!!! It almost felt like the ordeal was never going to end, but thankfully the Granite guys were really professional and they scheduled the installation as soon as they were fully functional. It feels great to be in my (almost) new kitchen. 

Both the Katlis and the mixture were made when the kitchen was half functioning. I made these cookies after the kitchen got back to normal. 

November 11, 2012

Mixture/ Chivda with Kaarappusa (Sev)

For the second day of Blogging Marathon#22, my mom made this savory crunchy mixture that is perfect for snacking. This is also great as a little treat along with sweets for last minute guests that pop in during the festival season. 

November 10, 2012

Kaju Badam Katli (Cashew Almond Fudge)

For today's post I have a melt in your mouth Indian dessert that is so simple to make and can be made vegan too. 9 out of 10 times Indian desserts/ sweets have either copious amounts of ghee (clarified butter) or made of milk (a big NO-NO to my husband), so when I saw that Katlis can be made with little or no ghee, I jumped up in joy. 

November 05, 2012

Chickpeas & Vegetable Rice

For Day 3 of BM# 22, I made this simple, protein rich rich dish with chickpeas and mixed vegetables. Today is day 12 without a working kitchen and we have kind of gotten used to this current routine of going to the bathroom to wash hands and walking down to the basement to wash the dishes. I have a feeling we'll probably continue doing the same even after we have everything installed.

November 04, 2012

Cabbage-Chana dal Curry

For day 3 of BM# 22, Cooking with Chickpeas, I have a dish that uses Chana dal, Senagapappu (in telugu).  My mom made this curry with cabbage, but this can be made with green beans, cluster beans or even spinach. A very healthy and delicious side dish for rice or roti.

November 03, 2012

Kala Chana Sundal & Kala Chana-Green Beans Patoli

After missing blogging marathon for 2 months, I'm back with the group for BM# 22. My theme for the first week is "Cooking with Chana". For the first day I have 2 dishes made with Kala Chana.

As I mentioned in my previous post, we are in the middle of getting granite counter tops in our kitchen. As our luck has it, hurricane Sandy created havoc and what was supposed to be a 4-5 days project, now seems to take forever. The Granite guys do not have power yet and we have no counter top or sink in the kitchen. 

October 31, 2012

Vegan Mug Cakes

VeganMofo Day 31: Today's the last day of October and the last day for this year's Vegan month of food. I totally enjoyed making and blogging about Vegan food. I tried some new dishes and some new ingredients and totally loved going vegan for the whole month. I have to say I'm enjoying my morning coffee with soy milk and my breakfast cereal with almond milk. Even though I didn't like the taste, texture or the smell of soy yogurt, it works great in biryanis and rawa dosas. I'm totally in love with Almond "mozarella" cheese that melted beautifully. So all in all it's been a great month of eating and I'm already looking forward to next year's edition.

October 30, 2012

Broccoli Basil Pesto

VeganMofo Day 30: Super storm Sandy has created quite a havoc in the tri-state area. Thankfully we were not affected too badly; few of our sidings flew away due to the wind but my husband was able to bring them back this morning; a ton of broken branches in the backyard, but no damage to the property. 

Even though Sandy did not affect us directly, we have been impacted by it indirectly. We are in the middle of changing our kitchen counter top and the guys ripped out our old counter and sink last week. We were expecting the new counter installed today, but thanks to Sandy the counter guys are not even picking up their phone. So now here we are with a kitchen with just a working stove and everything else gutted out, keeping our fingers crossed on when we can get the fully functional kitchen back. 

October 28, 2012

Overnight Steel Cut Oats

VeganMofo Day 28: We are bracing ourselves for the super storm, Sandy. Hopefully we will have our electricity and internet connections intact. Last year we had the untimely snow storm around the same time and Halloween parades were cancelled as a result. My 5 year old has his costume picked out and he's been talking about Halloween since the beginning of October. So we are keeping our fingers crossed that the storm is not as bad as the weather department is predicting.

October 27, 2012

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

VeganMofo Day 27: I had to make some snacks or treats for my son's Kindergarten class yesterday and I decided to try these Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies that I found at Erica's Sweet Tooth blog. I had all the ingredients on hand and the resultant cookies turned out delicious. Feedback from my son's class also came back positive (you know how brutally honest a bunch of 5 year olds can be).


October 26, 2012

Rasta Pasta

VeganMofo Day: This recipe has been on my "to-make" list for quite some time now. Recipe is from my latest Vegan cookbook "Big Vegan" by Robin Asbell. I've never been to Jamaica, but according to the author this Rasta Pasta is on all the menus at tourist-oriented restaurants. It's Island-speak for a vegetarian pasta dish made with native produce and spice. Rastafarians practice vegetarian cuisine as part of their religion, and make some amazingly delicious vegan food as a result.


October 25, 2012

Vegan Semya Payasam (Kheer) with Almond Milk

VeganMofo Day 25: Belated Dasara Wishes to Everyone. My husband was out of town yesterday, it was just my mom and I at home. Didn't feel like making anything big for the two of us, so I made this quick prasad for Vijayadasami.

October 23, 2012

Ullipaya Gaarelu (Onion Vada)

VeganMofo Day 23: I rarely deep fry at home, health is only part of the reason. I'm worried about on how to dispose or use up the leftover oil. But having my mom here, I don't have to think of ways to use up the oil, she has a ton of ideas up her sleeve. She does not heat up too much oil to begin with and she used the rest of the oil for daily cooking.

October 22, 2012

Vegetable Bhath & Vegan Sooji Halwa

VeganMofo Day 22: Happy Durgashtami for Everyone. We (my mom & I) made Vegetable bhath and Rava Kesari for the 8th day of Navarathri
Vegetable bhath is something my mom always made at home and I make it too when I have some time on hand and want to serve something other than fried rice or biryani. I posted vegetable bhath recipe way back in 2008 and coincidentally that was also during the month of October for Veganmofo. I'm updating the post with a better picture.

I made some Vegan Sooji Halwa as offering to Durga.

October 21, 2012

Alu Methi Curry with Sesame Seeds powder

VeganMofo Day 21: Organizers of VeganMofo have planned some very interesting contests for this month. Iron Chef Challenge is one of them, they announce the secret ingredient on Friday and the dishes using these secret ingredients are then compiled and posted on the site. 

October 19, 2012

Vegan Hot Chocolate with Soy Creamer

VeganMofo Day 19: It's been raining and chilly the whole day today. I'm not a big fan of rains because I don't like wiping water from my glasses and I definitely don't like getting my feet wet. So I prefer to stay home when it rains (whenever I can), which is what I did today.

October 18, 2012

Kadai Tofu (Tofu & Peppers in Creamy Tomato Sauce)

VeganMofo Day 18: I rarely used Tofu in Indian dishes, I'm not sure why I have never tried it before. Tofu to me is a very Asian ingredient and I tend to use in Chinese or Thai dishes. I know tofu is very versatile and I finally decided to use it in a way I've never used it before.

Veganmofo is going pretty good so far, I missed 4 days so far and hopefully I can keep up the momentum and finish the month with no further disruptions. The little one is keeping us busy, so most of my blogging is happening only around midnight. 

October 17, 2012

Vegan Chocolate Tres Leches Cake

 VeganMofo Day 17: Today is my husband's birthday and since he's a big chocoholic I wanted to make a vegan chocolate cake for him. Tres Leche cake is one of my favorite cakes and I decided to make a chocolate version. I adapted the Tres Leche Cake recipe from "Viva Vegan" cookbook by Terry Hope Romero to include chocolate.

October 16, 2012

Fruit Salad with Vegan Custard

VeganMofo Day 16: Rice Milk that I bought from Trader Joe's is still sitting in my fridge waiting to be used. The consistency of the milk is very thin, almost water like and I can't see myself using it in my morning coffee (I started to like my coffee with soy milk these days). So after using it in these cupcakes and smoothie, I wanted to try and see how it would work in a custard. 

October 15, 2012

Tempeh Rendang

VeganMofo Day 15: Today's recipe is from the cookbook "Way to Cook Vegetarian" by Cooking Light. Rendang is a spicy Indonesian dish usually made with meat, this recipe uses tempeh instead of meat. Tempeh
has stronger flavor than tofu and has a meaty texture that works great in this dish.


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