Cook's Hideout: 2013

December 31, 2013

Best of 2013

I can't believe this year flew by this fast. But I have to because this time last year I had a 3 month old infant who had to be carried around and a year later I have a 15 month toddler who cannot stay still at one place. Time sure flies.
Year 2013 has been my best year as far as my personal life and blogging is concerned. I resigned my job in January to be a stay-at-home-mom (SAHM) to my kids. Spending time with kids has been a fulfilling experience as well. I am happy that I was able to spend quality time with my 6 year old son and my 15 month old daughter. Being a SAHM also meant little more time for blogging. Thanks to the BM group and especially to Valli for keeping me motivated to cook, click and blog.

Here are some of my best for 2013:
Highest # of posts in a year EVER: I cannot believe this myself, but I posted a little over 250 posts this year. Yay for me. The most I posted was 124 posts back in 2009.

A-Z Vegetarian dishes from Andhra Pradesh: Month long blogging marathon in September had to be the best thing that ever happened to 'Cook's Hideout'. Doing an A-Z dishes from Andhra Pradesh had been in my mind for a long time and I was finally able to do it. Thanks again to Valli and the ever enthusiastic BM group.
A-Z Andhra Dishes
A-Z Vegetarian Dishes from Andhra Pradesh

December 30, 2013

Caramelized Onion & Zucchini Quiche (with Spelt flour Crust)

To me making a pie crust has always been a daunting task. I've had couple of bad experiences both with homemade and store bought pie crusts in the past which made me avoid making a pie altogether. To be honest I'm not a big fan of pie. Given a chance I would rather enjoy the filling without the crust.
But quiche is a different story. I fell in love with quiche the first time I ate it about 10 years ago. One of my co-workers brought it over for potluck lunch and I probably ate almost the whole pie. I tried to recreate it at home a couple of time, but the pie crust failed me. I finally gave up on it. I never dared to make it even though it was always on the back of my mind.
Caramelized Onion & Zucchini Quiche (with Spelt flour Crust)
Finally this weekend I decided it was time for me to try my hand at making the pie crust and quiche. I already had a bookmarked recipe for quiche with spelt flour crust from Culinate. It is not the recipe that made me bookmark the article, it is the way the author gives you confidence in making the pie crust. She makes you feel that anyone can make a pie crust and the detailed instructions really help. 
This pie crust is made of Spelt flour (equal quantity of whole wheat flour can be substituted here) and uses a stick of butter and half a stick of cream cheese. The dough is soft and really easy to handle. I had trouble fluting the edges and at one corner I trimmed too much of the excess which resulted in shrunken crust after baking. But that didn't really affect the final taste of the quiche, the crust turned was flaky & buttery.
Caramelized Onion & Zucchini Quiche (with Spelt flour Crust)

December 29, 2013

Thotakoora Wadiyala Kura (Amaranth Leaves Curry with Sundried Lentil wafers)

This is a super simple curry that I made couple of months ago after I harvested a bunch of amaranth leaves from my container garden. I asked my mom what to cook with the greens and she gave me this recipe that she saw on one of the Telugu cooking shows.
Thotakoora Wadiyala Kura (Amaranth Leaves Curry with Sundried Lentil wafers)
Once all the ingredients are prepped and ready to go, this dish gets done in literally minutes. Amaranth/ thotakura doesn't take long to cook, about 4~5 minutes max. Other greens like spinach, swiss chard or even kale can be used, cooking times will have to be adjusted accordingly.

December 27, 2013

Baked Mathri (Savory Cookies with Indian Spices)

This holiday season I made 3 different types of cookies (recipes for these are coming up soon) and this fruit cake to give as edible gifts. I also made eggless no-bake mango cheesecake as dessert for Christmas. So along with all these sugar laden goodies, I wanted to make something savory to tame our tastebuds and also as a treat to my BIL who doesn't like sugary treats.
Baked Mathri (Savory Cookies with Indian Spices)As I was looking for recipes for baked savory cookies, I found this baked mathri recipe on Ambika's blog. These were very easy to put together. Only thing I should have done was to flatten them a little bit so they would have turned out more like Ambika's cookies. Also I used black pepper and cumin seeds to spice the cookies. They tasted great but they were a little soft rather than crispy and crunchy. So if you want crispy cookies, then make sure to flatten them before baking.

December 26, 2013

Vangi Bhath (Eggplant Rice)

Blogging Marathon# 35: Week 4/ Day 3
Theme: Bookmarked recipes
Dish: Vangi Bhath
Hope all of you had a good Christmas holiday. We had a blast with extended family visiting us. Kids had fun unwrapping their gifts, running around and playing. Adults had fun catching up with each other, cooking and eating. It was a day of eating and I think I ate food meant for at least 2 days :-)
Vangi Bhath (Eggplant Rice)
After all that cooking yesterday, I felt lazy to cook today, the day after Christmas and so wanted to make something quick and easy for lunch. I had some eggplants in the fridge and my mom recently made some bisi bele bhath masala powder in the pantry. I had this recipe jotted down in my diary and followed it to make our almost 1 pot lunch.

December 25, 2013

Eggless Christmas Plum Cake (Vegan recipe)

Blogging Marathon# 35: Week 4/ Day 2
Theme: Bookmarked recipes
Dish: Eggless Christmas Plum Cake
Here's wishing everyone a very merry Christmas.
This holiday season has turned out to be the best so far with family and friends around. We have family visiting us for the holiday and everyone is just having a blast. It's now past 12:00AM on Christmas morning, gifts are placed under the tree and cookies and milk left out for Santa and carrots for the reindeers. Kids are sleeping, but I'm sure they are dreaming about the presents that Santa's going to leave them. 
Eggless Christmas Plum Cake (Vegan recipe)
I planned to make fruit cake for this Christmas a long time ago, but as with everything else I kept it till the very last minute to make it. The reason being I found Dassana's recipe that doesn't need cakes to be soaked in booze for days and I decided to make it just 2 days before Christmas. So I soaked the dry fruit and nuts in orange juice and rum on Sunday and baked the cakes on Monday.

December 24, 2013

Adai Aviyal

Blogging Marathon# 35: Week 4/ Day 1
Theme: Bookmarked recipes
Dish: Adai Aviyal
We are starting the final week of Blogging Marathon today and my theme for this week is 'Bookmarked recipes'. My bookmarks are multiplying by the minute. There are so many recipes that I really really want to try but I never seem to find the time or the occasion to make them. Thanks to Valli for creating the occasion by making bookmarked recipes as a theme during BM, which gives us a chance to try at least 3 dishes from the bookmarked folder.
So for the first day, I made Adai-Aviyal (Avial). I didn't know they were served together as a combo until BM# 30 where this was part of the combo dishes. Few of my fellow marathoners made this combo and I bookmarked Vaishali's & Priya's posts.
Adai Aviyal

December 22, 2013

Individual Pumpkin Pies in Baby Food Jars

I'm currently obsessed with desserts made in baby food jars. I have been collecting my daughter's baby food jars and using them to serve individual desserts at parties. Idea actually came after seeing these cute little mango pannacottas that Sia @ Monsoon Spice served for her son's birthday. I fell in love with her clicks and the idea of reusing baby food jars and started to store them instead of recycling them.
I made individual cheesecake parfaits for my daughter's first birthday. They were instant hit at the party. Unfortunately I couldn't take pictures of them. Will definitely plan to make them soon and post it here for my own future reference.
I made these individual pumpkin pies for Thanksgiving party. This is more like a parfait with the flavors of pumpkin pie -- crispy graham cracker layer, sweet pumpkin pudding layer, crunchy candy/ toffee layer, creamy cinnamon-whipped cream layer. 
Individual Pumpkin Pies in Baby Food Jars
After making this pumpkin tiramisu which had a homemade cake layer along with the pumpkin pudding layer, I wanted to make something that was quick and easy to make. I also wanted to add different textures to the parfait which is why I added some crunchy, sweet candy bits as a layer.

December 21, 2013

Kakarakaya Nuvvulannam (Bitter gourd-Sesame Rice)

One pot dishes are so convenient any time of the day. Being a South Indian most of my dishes revolve around rice, so a lot of one pot dishes I make are with rice. If I have leftover rice, it gets transformed into some kind of one-pot rice dish the next day. I'm sure all South Indians would probably say the same thing. Talking about rice lovers, I had an American co-worker who didn't like rice at all and I couldn't even imagine what it would be like without eating rice.
Kakarakaya Nuvvulannam (Bitter gourd-Sesame Rice)
Today's rice dish is a new combination for me. I've never made a rice dish with bittergourd before. I saw the recipe on a Telugu Cooking show and the combination of bittergourd, sesame seeds and rice sounded very interesting. I was pleasantly pleased how good the dish turned out to be and was even more happy when the husband really really liked it.

December 20, 2013

Vegan Gingerbread Cookies

For this holiday season, I bought 'Vegan Cookies Invade your Cookie jar' cookbook on Amazon. For the couple of days I was leafing through the book breaking my head to decide what to make first. My son came home from school yesterday and asked me if he could have a gingerbread cookie because he made a  paper gingerbread boy in school and was wondering how it would actually taste.
Vegan Gingerbread Cookies
I knew right away that Gingerbread cookies would be first cookie to be made from my new cookbook. Luckily I had all the ingredients on hand. My son helped me with reading the ingredients and the instructions. After I was done making the dough and set it in the fridge to chill for 1 hour, he pestered me a million times if it was time to bake. Oh these kids and their restlessness :-)

December 19, 2013

Chocolate Oatmeal

Blogging Marathon# 35: Week 3/ Day 3
Theme: Kid's Delight -- Cooking with Whole Grains 
Dish: Breakfast -- Chocolate Oatmeal
Today's recipe is a very simple breakfast dish that can be whipped up in just few minutes. My son loves oatmeal and he loves chocolate, so I thought why not put them both together. A quick google search landed me at this recipe by Chocolate covered Katie.
Chocolate Oatmeal
I make Swiss Oats by soaking oats overnight in the fridge. But in this recipe oats are almost cooked, then put in the refrigerator overnight. This overnight soak makes them creamy and gives the dish a pudding like consistency.This is a very healthy breakfast that tastes exactly like dessert.

December 18, 2013

Whole Wheat Banana & Walnut Bread

Blogging Marathon# 35: Week 3/ Day 2
Theme: Kid's Delight -- Cooking with Whole Grains 
Dish: Snack  -- Whole wheat Banana & Walnut Bread
For Day 2 of BM# 35, I made banana bread with 100% whole wheat. My son loves banana bread and I already have more than enough banana bread recipes in my blog, but I still keep looking for more banana bread recipes :-) I have always used half and half all purpose flour and whole wheat flour in the past, but this bread is made completely with whole wheat flour. 
Recipe is from 'King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking'. From my previous experience with baking with whole wheat flour, I thought the bread was going to be dense, but I was totally surprised how moist and fluffy the recipe turned out to be. Resting the batter for about 10 minutes before baking makes the whole wheat soft resulting in a softer bread.
Whole Wheat Banana & Walnut Bread
I used egg replacer instead of eggs. I have been baking more eggless recipes with egg replacer powder these days and I'm really happy with the results. If you are into eggless baking, then investing in a bag of egg replacer powder is completely worth the money. It stays fresh for a very long time in the fridge, so eggless bakes are at your finger tips at any time.

December 17, 2013

Whole Grain Pancake Mix

Blogging Marathon# 35: Week 3/ Day 1
Theme: Kid's Delight -- Cooking with Whole Grains 
Dish: Breakfast -- Whole Grain Pancake Mix
We are starting 3rd week of blogging marathon# 35 today and my theme for this week is 'Kid's Delight -- Cooking with Whole Grains'. This edition of Kid's Delight event is being hosted by Sandhya @ My Cooking Journey. She is looking for kid approved dishes that are made with 'Whole Grains'.
When I signed up for this theme I had a lot of ideas of what I want to make for this week. But then I started thinking if any of those dishes will be approved by my super picky 6 year old son. Then I decided to incorporate whole grains into dishes that he loves and I'm glad that he enjoyed the dishes I made for him. 
Whole Grain Pancake Mix
For the first day, I referred to the 'King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking' cookbook and found this whole grain pancake mix recipe. My son loves pancakes for breakfast on weekends and I make them almost every other weekend. This pancake mix is very convenient to have in the fridge/ freezer and pancakes can be made in no time now.

December 16, 2013

Almond-Pistachio Cloud Cookies (Gluten free & Dairy free recipe)

This is the first cookie I made for this holiday season. I had jars of almond paste and pistachio paste in the pantry and I found these cookies on King Arthur flour site. There is no flour, no dairy and no oil/ fat recipe -- gluten free and diary free recipe. Egg whites hold the cookies together. Cookies turned out chewy and delicious.
Almond-Pistachio Cloud Cookies (Gluten free & Dairy free recipe)
These cookies are very easy to put together. No refrigeration is required, so these can be made when with no prior planning and no time at all. Perfect when you need cookies or something sweet really really fast :-)

December 15, 2013

Cabbage-Pudina Pulao (Cabbage Mint Pilaf)

Can't believe there's only 10 days left for Christmas. But the weather here has been sending quite a few signals that it is almost winter and holiday season is just around the corner. We had 2 snow storms this week and the temperatures are below freezing. Can't wait for winter to end even before it started :-)
After that brief weather report, here's what's cooking in my house. I made this quick and easy (almost) 1 pot dish for one of our meals last week. Recipe is from a Telugu cooking show. I already have 2 cabbage rice recipes on the blog, but this one has whole garam masala spices and ground masala that gives a nice flavor to the dish.
Cabbage-Pudina Pulao (Cabbage Mint Pilaf)
In the original recipe, rice was cooked with the veggies in the pot making it a 1-pot dish, but I cooked the rice separately and added it to the veggies at the end. All in all it is a tasty variation to regular pulaos and can be prepared in short amount of time.

December 12, 2013

Unniyappam/ Unni appam (Kerala Style Banana Pancakes)

Blogging Marathon# 35: Week 2/ Day 3
Theme: Regional Dishes - Course Specific
Dish: Snack --- Unniyappam/ Unni Appam
For Day 3 of BM# 35, I wanted to try any authentic breakfast dish from Kerala. After looking through the google search results for Kerala Breakfast recipes, Appam looked very traditional and authentic. But after seeing a couple of you tube videos, I decided it's not time for me to make appam. We are currently experiencing bitter cold temperatures and I'm sure the appam batter is not going to ferment to make soft & fluffy appams. So I went back looking for other options to make.
Then I came across these Unniyappams/ Unni appams. Saw a youtube video and the recipe looked simple enough to make. I already have a few bananas riping away, so thought this is a good use for those too.
Unniyappam/ Unni appam (Kerala Style Banana Pancakes)
Unniyapam is a traditional Kerala sweet that is offered as prasad in temples and is also served as snack. These can be made by soaking and grinding raw rice, but lazy that I am I found a recipe that uses rice flour instead. I also used much less oil than showed in the you tube video. I skipped the traditionally used coconut bits because my son is not a fan of coconut.

December 11, 2013

Whole Wheat Challah Bread (Eggless recipe)

For this month's Home Baker's Challenge, our host Priya Ranjit very aptly chose Holiday Bakes. She gave us recipes for holiday cookies, cakes and breads to choose from. As usual when I saw the list I wanted to bake 2 or 3 recipes and as usual I ran out of time. But I'm glad I found time to bake at least one from the list and I'll try to bake a few more before the end of the year.
Whole Wheat Challah Bread (Eggless recipe)
We had a snow storm yesterday (all that white in the background is snow in the next picture) and as luck has it my husband was out of town on business. It was quite a feat to drop off and pick up the kids from school. I was upset that the local school district didn't announce a snow day, but then I made best of the day by baking. With the kids away I had time to bake this yummy Challah bread.
Snow Day Baking

Kerala Parotta & Mixed Vegetable Curry

Blogging Marathon# 35: Day 2/ Week 2
Theme: Regional Dishes - Course Specific
Dish: Dinner --- Kerala Parotta & Mixed Vegetable Curry
For Day 2 of BM# 35, I decided to explore the dinner recipes of Kerala. I have seen Kerala Parotta on a number of blogs and wanted to give them a try. I never ate a properly made Kerala Parotta, I might have eaten a frozen version of it, even that I'm not very sure.
Kerala Parotta & Mixed Vegetable Curry
After looking through the recipe the techniquee of making it is similar to lachcha paratha. Only difference being Kerala Parotta is made with all-purpose flour or maida whereas lachcha paratha is made with atta or whole wheat flour. Also parotta has significant amount of oil used.

December 10, 2013

Kerala Cabbage Thoran & Sambar

Blogging Marathon# 35: Day 1/ Week 2
Theme: Regional Dishes - Course Specific
Dish: Kerala Cabbage Thoran & Sambar
We are starting our Week 2 of Blogging Marathon# 35 and my theme for this week is 'Any Regional with Course Specific dishes'. After seeing Rajani's Kerala Sadya recipes during the mega month long marathon, I have been planning to try my hand at Kerala dishes. Finally I made 3 dishes for this week's marathon.
The twist that Valli put to this seemingly simple theme is that we have to post a different course every day. So for the first day I'm posting 2 Kerala Lunch dishes, a simple Cabbage thoran and a hearty Sambar.
Kerala Lunch Dishes - Kerala Cabbage Thoran & Sambar

December 09, 2013

Confetti Candy (aka M&M) Cupcakes with Fudge Frosting (Eggless Recipe)

Baking cupcakes at home has spoiled us rotten, now none of the store bought ones match up and fall short of our quality and taste standards. Recently my sister ordered cupcakes from a local bakery for my niece's birthday to give in her school. My niece didn't even taste the cupcake :-) The cupcake was a little dry and the frosting was too greasy with no flavor.
Confetti Candy (aka M&M) Cupcakes with Fudge Frosting (Eggless Recipe)
So moral of the story is to either stop baking at home or stop buying from outside. Today I've homemade cupcakes that I made for my daughter's 15th month birthday. After experimenting with a lot of recipes, I found my go-to recipe for vanilla cupcakes. This basic vegan vanilla cupcakes form the basis for a lot of variations. I've already posted the hazelnut-spice variation and today's confetti candy cupcakes are also a yummy variation to those.

December 08, 2013

Atte Ka Halwa (Wheat flour Halwa)

The second dish I made for this month's International Food Challenge is Atte Ka Halwa. Big Thanks to our host Manjula for introducing us to these delicious Marwadi dishes. I really enjoyed making this quick and easy halwa. It has a chewy texture and melts in the mouth. 
Atte Ka Halwa (Wheat flour Halwa)
We are all sweet lovers in the family, so the quantity of jaggery added to the halwa was less and it was not quite sweet for our taste buds. Next time when I make this halwa I will probably add 2~3tbsp more jaggery. But all in all this is a yummy halwa that I have been snacking on straight out of the fridge.

Moong Dal Kachori

I'm really late posting for last month's International Food Challenge. Our host Manjula @ Desi Fiesta wanted us to explore the amazing Marwari cuisine. She gave us a wide variety of dishes from curries, rotis, halwas etc to try from. I wanted to try each and every one of her dishes, but as luck has it November got way too busy and I couldn't cook even one dish. 
Moong Dal Kachori
Finally this weekend I made 1 kachori and 1 halwa using Manjula's recipes and loved them a lot. I made onion kachori a while back and so I tried making Moong dal Kachori this time. They came out crispy and delicious. The moong dal filling is super simple to make and tasted amazing. We had them as our tea time snack and it was perfect munching on hot kachoris and sipping the tea while browsing through my smartphone.

December 07, 2013

Stuffed Baby Eggplants Curry with Peanuts

My love for eggplants is well known in my family and even among my blogging buddies (I'm sure at least 2 of them must be nodding their heads and thinking -- eggplant recipe, AGAIN.. come on Pavani :-) But I can't miss an opportunity to buy them and eat them.
Last weekend I found cute little baby eggplants at the Indian grocery, they were the perfect size to make stuffed eggplants. I bought a few, of course. 
Stuffed Baby Eggplants Curry with Peanuts
As I was leafing through Chandra Padmanabhan's 'Dakshin', I found this easy stuffed eggplant recipe called 'Sagalay'. This peanut stuffing was a variation to a more elaborate recipe that was actually featured in the book. I already have a stuffed eggplant recipe with peanut and spices. I was in no mood to saute and grind a ton of spices for the stuffing and this 4 ingredient stuffing caught my eye right away.

December 06, 2013

Pumpkin Cake Muffins (Eggless Recipe)

I wanted to use up some of the pumpkin puree I had left after making a dessert for Thanksgiving (recipe for Individual no-bake pumpkin pie coming up soon).  I browsed through Pinterest board and found these delicious Pumpkin Cake doughnuts recipe from King Arthur Flour.
I don't have a standard size doughnut pan, so I made them into muffins instead. Also since I only had 1cup of pumpkin puree left, I adjusted the quantitiesof the ingredients accordingly. Original recipe had 3 eggs and with my downsizing the recipe I had to use 2 which I comfortably substituted with egg replacer powder
Pumpkin Cake Muffins (Eggless Recipe)
I found the muffins to be a little too sweet to my liking. I think the next time I make it I will reduce the sugar quantity by ¼cup. I should have smoothed the tops of the muffins before baking, they turned out a little rustic looking :-)

December 05, 2013

Corn & Rajma (Kidney beans) Pulao (Pilaf)

Blogging Marathon# 35: Week 1/ Day 3
Theme: Cooking with Corn
Dish: Corn & Kidney beans Pulao
After using sweet corn in this uggani and baby corn in this masala curry, I'm combining both of these corns in a rice dish today. Recipe idea is from a Telugu cooking show. Original recipe used baby corn and rajma (red kidney beans), but I put some sweet corn that I had in the fridge.
Corn & Rajma (Kidney beans) Pulao
If you have cooked rice and beans on hand, this dish takes literally minutes to complete. I made this for my lunch today. I had very little time to cook before I had to go pick my daughter from her play school. As I said this is a super quick dish to make if you have everything ready. I was able to cook, click and then go pick my daughter right on time.

December 04, 2013

Sourdough Multi grain Sandwich Bread

It's that time of the year when the ovens in most households are going to be working overtime. It's holiday season and to jump start my baking spree I joined the lovely group of ladies doing the bake-a-thon. Champa @ Versatile Vegetarian Kitchen is the brain behind  this bake-a-thon.
The group has been doing this baking marathon for the past couple of years and I'm joining in the fun for the first time this year. Group is planning to post 3 days a week, so look forward to some delicious sweet & savory bakes in the coming days.
I'm always looking for new recipes to use my sourdough starter. Even though I forget to feed it for weeks together, the starter is still doing well (knock on wood). But I try to bake something with it at least once every 2 weeks.
Sourdough Multi grain Sandwich Bread
This recipe is from King Arthur Flour's site. I like this bread because it has multigrains and whole wheat flour to make the bread more nutritious. I added Bob's Red Mill 5 grain rolled cereal, but any combination of seeds and grains can be used here.

Baby Corn-Peas Masala Curry

Blogging Marathon# 35: Week 1/ Day 2
Theme: Cooking with Corn
Dish: Baby Corn-Peas Masala Curry
I bookmarked this recipe from Valli's blog the minute I saw it. For some reason the combination of baby corn and peas sounded very appealing. We get canned baby corn here and I usually keep a can in the pantry, so it comes in handy when I'm running out of fresh veggies. Baby corn is also a great addition to Indo-Chinese dishes.
Baby Corn-Peas Masala Curry
I have had baby corn in rice dishes and fried as appetizer, but never cooked by itself in a curry. I remember eating Chili Baby corn in a restaurant in Hyderabad and it tasted awesome. There are a ton of recipes online and may be one when I'm ready to deep fry I'll make this.

December 03, 2013

Sweet Corn Uggani (Borugula/ Maramarala Upma)

Blogging Marathon# 35: Week 1/ Day 1
Theme: Cooking with Corn
Dish: Sweet Corn Uggani
It's time to start yet another edition of Blogging Marathon. My theme for the first week is 'Cooking with Corn'. Corn was rarely used in cooking while I was growing up. We used to enjoy grilled corn on the cob during rainy season, but my mom hardly ever used it to cook anything.  Though sweet corn soup was famous in those days, but we ate it only at restaurants once in a while.
Nowadays corn, especially sweet corn, is being used very widely in Indian dishes. I use corn quite a lot in my cooking and make corn pulao, corn gravy curry for rotis. I keep a bag of frozen corn in the freezer and also buy fresh when I see some good quality ones in the grocery store.
Sweet Corn Uggani (Borugula/ Maramarala Upma)
So for the first day I made a snack that is made with sweet corn and murmure or puffed rice. Uggani is a famous snack in Rayalaseema region in Andhra Pradesh. Typically it is lightly cooked, but today I have a no-cook version that is equally delicious. This is a quick and easy dish that is great to be served as an evening snack.

December 01, 2013

Hazelnut Cupcakes with Hazelnut-Chocolate Frosting (Eggless Recipe)

I think the biggest advantage of buying cookbooks instead of fiction books is once I read a novel and know the story I'm done with it and it just sits there collecting dust. Whereas a good cookbook can be used again and again. This is purely my opinion, I'm sure you might be reading the same novel again and again, I'm not judging you :-)
So point of the matter is if you are in the market to buy a book for a food blogger, it is a great idea to buy a good cookbook. With so many books available, it is also a good idea to keep the interests of the said blogger in mind. For example, Amazon shipped us a 'Paleo Diet' cookbook by mistake and asked us to keep it if we wanted it. I would have jumped up in joy if it was vegetarian/ vegan/ baking related. Paleo diet is completely foreign to me, so we sent it back. Knowing the interests is key.
Hazelnut Cupcakes with Hazelnut-Chocolate Frosting (Eggless Recipe)
My sister definitely knew my interest in baking and she recently bought me 'Betty Crocker's - The Big book of Cupcakes' cookbook. I like to bake cupcakes more than regular size cakes. They are easy to decorate and so much more easier to eat. Portion control is also easy :-)
Hazelnut Cupcakes with Hazelnut-Chocolate Frosting (Eggless Recipe)
This past weekend was my sister's birthday and she wanted a nutty cupcake like this Pistachio-Rosewater cupcake. I found these hazelnut cupcakes in the book she gifted me. The recipe is basically spiced up vanilla cupcake with chopped hazelnuts and topped with hazelnut-chocolate frosting. Original recipe had egg in it, so I used my basic vegan vanilla cupcake recipe and added the spices to jazz them up. Here's how I made these cupcakes.
Hazelnut Cupcakes with Hazelnut-Chocolate Frosting (Eggless Recipe)
Ingredients: (Makes 12 cupcakes)
All purpose Flour - 1¼cups
Cornstarch - 2tbsp
Baking Powder - ¾tsp
Baking Soda - ½tsp
Salt - ½tsp
Soy Milk - 1cup
Apple cider Vinegar - 1tsp
Canola Oil - 1/3 cup
Sugar - ¾cup
Vanilla extract - 1tsp
Ground Cinnamon - 1tsp
Ground Nutmeg - ½tsp
Hazelnuts - ¾cup, toasted and skin removed
Toasted Hazelnuts

  • Preheat oven to 350°F and line muffin pan with cupcake liners.
  • Whisk soy milk and vinegar in a measuring cup and set aside for a few minutes to curdle.
  • Beat together the soy milk mixture, oil, sugar, vanilla in a large bowl. Sift in the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ground cinnamon and nutmeg and mix until no big lumps remain.
  • Stir in the chopped hazelnuts.
  • Fill cupcake liners 2/3rds of the way full and bake for 20-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Transfer to a cooling rack and let them cool completely before frosting.
Hazelnut Cupcakes with Hazelnut-Chocolate Frosting (Eggless Recipe)
Hazelnut-Chocolate Frosting: This is a super simple frosting with semi-sweet chocolate chips and Nutella (or other chocolate-hazelnut spread).
Semisweet Chocolate Chips - ¾cup
Butter - ¼cup
Nutella or other hazelnut spread with cocoa - 2tbsp
Whipping Cream (heavy cream) - 3½tbsp


  • In a small saucepan, combine all the ingredients and heat over low heat, about 10~15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until chips are melted and mixture is smooth.
  • Cool until the frosting thickens. To speed up the cooling process, refrigerate the mixture for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally until thickened. 
  • Once the cupcakes are cooled completely, frost the cupcakes. Sprinkle with chopped hazelnuts.

Sending these over to Valli's 'Cooking from Cookbook Challenge'.

Update December 2013: Sending these cupcakes over to Valli's Cake Mela.


November 26, 2013

Semya Pulao (Vermicelli Pilaf)

BM# 34: Week 4/ Day 3
Theme: Cooking from Sapana's blog
Dish: Semya Pulao (Vermicelli Pilaf)
It has been a busy day and I'm very late for the 3rd day post for BM# 34. I was busy prepping for the Thanksgiving party and also finishing up the necessary shopping. Weather was lousy today, gloomy, cold and rainy -- totally uninspiring and dull.
I was planning to make one of Sapana's Chole recipe. I had already soaked the chickpeas, but by the time we came back from shopping, we were starving and I didn't have time to cook the beans and make the curry. Instead I made this quick to make Seviyan Pulao
Semya Pulao (Vermicelli Pilaf)
I make semya pulao often, but the addition of tomato, garlic masala paste is new and added lot of flavor to the pulao. Also using carom seeds in tempering is a different element. It tasted great and we had a filling lunch.

November 25, 2013

Dates & Nuts Laddoo

BM# 34: Week 4/ Day 2
Theme: Cooking from Sapana's blog
Dish: Dates & Nuts Laddoo
It has been a very busy weekend. Saturday whizzed by really fast with 2 birthday parties -- my sister's where we had lunch and evening snack with cupcake cutting then a surprise 50th birthday party for a friend. Of course we were late for the surprise part since we were driving from one corner of New Jersey to another. But all in all it was a great day with loads of good food and fun with family and friends.
Dates & Nuts Laddoo
Sunday started out lazy but soon became busy with house cleaning and laundry. We are hosting our first ever Thanksgiving party this year and even though it's going to be a potluck, I'm getting nervous about the menu, quantity of food, decor and just about everything related to hosting a party. So rest of the Sunday quickly went by with menu planning, laundry folding and Kung Fu Panda watching (not sure how and when the last one got onto the list -- but it's definitely worth the time, kept my mind off the impending work).

November 24, 2013

Fuzian Stir Fry

BM# 34: Week 4/ Day 1
Theme: Cooking from Sapana's blog
Dish: Fuzian Stir Fry
Week 4 of BM# 34 and the theme for this week is one of my favorite themes, 'Cooking from fellow BMer'. I love browsing through blogs, but these days I hardly get anytime to do that, so this week's theme is great to focus on just one blog, pick 3 dishes and post them.
Valli paired me with lovely Sapana who blogs at 'Cooking with Sapana'. Sapana has been blogging for about an year, but already has about 400 recipes on her blog. So you can imagine how tough it was to chose only 3 dishes for the week :-) I picked dishes based on the limited ingredients in my pantry, because this past week my husband was travelling and I didn't go grocery shopping.
Fuzian Stir Fry
Sapana has a variety of recipes to choose from, both Indian and International. So for the first day, I picked her 'Fuzian Fried Rice' recipe, but instead of making a fried rice I made just the veggie stir fry and served it with rice.

November 23, 2013

Pineapple Sweet Pulao

This post has been in my drafts for exactly 9 months. It's waiting to see the light of day (or the light of your monitor) for way too long. It didn't fit any of the BM themes till now. I saw the recipe being made on one of the Telugu cooking show.
Pineapple Sweet PulaoAs the name suggests this is a sweet pulao made with pineapple chunks and basmati rice. Addition of whole garam masala is the interesting part of the dish. All in all it is a simple dish packed with flavors. Give it a try if you are looking for a different dish. 

November 19, 2013

Sweet Pea Kheer

Blogging Marathon# 34: Week 3/ Day 3
Theme: Desserts with Vegetables
Dish: Sweet Pea Kheer
So for the final day of this week's BM# 34, I decided to make something different for 'Desserts with Vegetables'. I saw this sweet pea kheer on a Telugu cooking show and remember thinking to myself 'why would anyone use sweet peas to make kheer!!!!' But of course when Valli announced the themes, I knew I had to experiment with a vegetable that I have never used in desserts before, so here it is a kheer with sweet peas.
Sweet Pea Kheer
On the cooking show the kheer had a beautiful minty green color, but mine didn't turn out that color. I guess I didn't grind the sweet peas into a smooth enough paste to get that color.

November 18, 2013

Pumpkin Tiramisu (Eggless Recipe)

Blogging Marathon# 34: Week 3/ Day 2
Theme: Desserts with Vegetables
Dish: Pumpkin Tiramisu
If you are still thinking of what to make for Thanksgiving dessert, then here is a perfect recipe for you. I made this couple of weeks ago for our (very) early Thanksgiving party. After that party I realized that we don't really have to wait for Thanksgiving to give thanks to people we love and care about, it can be and should be done any time.
I was asked to bring a dessert and I thought something with pumpkin will be appropriate. I found a recipe for Pumpkin Tiramisu on Martha Stewart's site and I planned to make it. Recipe used uncooked pumpkin puree for layering with the lady fingers. I wasn't sure if it would be too pumpkiny, so I scratched that recipe. Then I found vegan chef Chloe Coscarelli's Vegan Pumpkin Tiramisu and after reading through the mostly positive reviews, I made it for the party.
Pumpkin Tiramisu (Eggless Recipe)
This dessert is a little time consuming to make, but it totally worth the effort. Pumpkin crème layer can be made at least 2 days ahead and kept in the refrigerator until ready to use. Once the cakes are baked and the trifle is made, it needs to be refrigerated for at least 3~4 hours or overnight to set. The original recipe uses whipped coconut cream to make it completely vegan, but I used regular whipping cream since I never whipped coconut milk and didn't want to take try my luck at this party.

November 17, 2013

Eggless Carrot Cake with Ricotta cheese & Indian flavors

Blogging Marathon# 34: Week 3/ Day 1
Theme: Desserts with Vegetables
Dish: Carrot Halwa flavored Cake with Ricotta cheese
It's week 3 of BM# 34 and my theme for this week is 'Desserts with Vegetables'. I rarely make desserts with vegetables except for carrots and occasionally pumpkins. I would never dare to make desserts with vegetables that in my mind are meant for savory preparations. When I signed up for the theme, I was planning to get adventurous and try some desserts that were totally out of the box like potato halwa or something with beets. But when I saw my tasting committee, I decided to stay close to what I always make and so for the next 3 days I'm going to post dessert recipes with vegetables that you already know, but slightly jazzed up versions.
Eggless Carrot Cake with Ricotta cheese
I'm continuing my baking spree with the third baked goody of the week (after this Chatti Pathiri and Kolacky Cookies). I have been planning to make carrot halwa flavored cake for a while now. Initially I wanted to make cupcakes, but after researching on various recipes I ended up making it as a bundt cake.

November 16, 2013

Kolacky Cookies

I'm in a baking spree for the past couple of days. I made Chatti Pathiri, the Indian version of Turkish Baklava, yesterday for Indian Cooking Challenge and today I made these melt in your mouth European Kolacky Cookies for this week's 'Cooking from Cookbook Challenge'.
I bought some cherry pie filling a while back when I was making this Black Forest Cake. I had some leftover in the fridge that needed to be used up. I saved the wrapper from the container (Solo brand) because it had 2 recipes using the pie filling. These Kolacky cookies caught my eye because it had very few ingredients and seemed easy enough to make.
Kolacky Cookies
The filling for these cookies can be just about anything. Any flavored pie filling or jam or fruit preserves would work. Even chocolate-hazelnut spread would be great. I made a batch with cherry pie filling and the other with Nutella. I was worried that the filling would melt and ooze out after baking, but they held up pretty good and there was no melting whatsoever.

November 15, 2013

Chatti Pathiri for Indian Cooking Challenge

It has been a very eventful day today. I thought it was going to be a quite sunny day and had plans of making 'Chatti Pathiri' for this month's Indian Cooking Challenge in the afternoon. But one phone call changed it all. It changed my mood from sunny to gloomy and I didn't feel like doing anything. I knew it was a problem that could be fixed but still was antsy until it was fixed.
I gave up on participating in this month's ICC, even though I had been anxiously waiting to make this delicious baked dessert from Kerala. Then came the second phone call saying that the issue is solved and there's nothing to worry about at least for the next couple of months. It brightened my mood, but it was almost late after with sunset around 4:30PM, I had less than an hour to make the dessert and then take pictures.
I'm so glad that I did because both my husband and I liked the dessert a lot. My husband said the best part was the nut filling and I have to agree I loved the crunchy poppy seeds & nutty sesame seeds in the filling.
Chatti Pathiri

November 13, 2013

Baingan Mussalam & Mixed Dal--A tribute to Tarla Dalal

The news of Tarla Dalal passing last week came as a total shock to me. I still remember watching her cooking show like it was yesterday, but it was some 14~15 years back. She was like the Julia Child of Indian cooking, both in terms of cook books she wrote and also cooking shows on TV. She was a natural in front of the camera and all her dishes seemed very doable.
I remember pestering my mom to exotic ingredients from the supermarket after watching Tarla Dala's cooking show. She was the one who introduced baby corn to me way back in late 90s. Also paneer was a foreign ingredient in my mom's kitchen in those days and it was Tarla Dalal's recipes that made us acquainted to it. 
She will be missed immensely in the culinary world, but her legacy is going to live forever through her dishes. Her recipe videos are available on youtube and is a great online resource for all Indian recipes. As a small tribute to the diva our Blogging Marathon group is going to post Tarla Dalal's recipes today.

November 12, 2013

Wheat Rava Dosa (Godhuma pindi-rava Dosa)

Blogging Marathon# 34: Week 2/ Day 3
Theme: Instant Idlis/ Dosas
Dish: Wheat Rava Dosa (Godhuma pindi-rava Dosa)
For Day 3 of BM# 34, as promised yesterday I have the healthier version of Rawa dosa . I saw this recipe on one of the Telugu cooking channels and really loved the idea of using whole-wheat flour (atta) and wheat rawa to make dosas. These dosas have been on our meal rotation for a while now and get made at least once every 2 weeks.
Keeping with the Instant idlis/ dosas theme, these dosas need a soaking time of 30 minutes. Soaking is important when working with whole grain flours and rawas because soaking gives them a chance to absorb the water and cook evenly. Grated carrots or finely chopped onions can also be added to make colorful and nutritious dosas. 
Wheat Rava Dosa (Godhuma pindi-rava Dosa)
Potato curry can be used as a filling similar to masala dosas. But to make it a little more interesting and colorful, I made a quick carrot and green beans curry for the filling. This is a super filling and delicious meal when served with chutney on the side.

November 11, 2013

Rava Dosa with Onion Chutney

Blogging Marathon# 34: Week 2/ Day 2
Theme: Instant Idlis/ Dosas
Dish: Instant Rava Dosa with Brown Rice flour
For Day 2 of BM# 34, I have instant Rava dosa. I love Rava dosa and order it once in a while when we are at an Indian restaurant. There is a fast food place here in New Jersey that serves amazing rava dosa. But  I don't usually make them at home because of all the refined flour/ rawa used. 
So today to make our beloved rava dosa (just a tiny little bit) healthier (and not feel too much guilty), I added brown rice flour in place of white flour. There is no discernible difference in either the taste or the texture of the dosas, so I'm happy to report that rava dosas will be made with brown rice flour here on out in my house.
Rava Dosa with Onion Chutney

November 10, 2013

Oats Rava Idli (Instant Oats Idli)

Blogging Marathon# 34: Week 2/ Day 1
Theme: Instant Idlis/ Dosas
Dish: Oats Rava Idli
Today we are starting 2ndvweek of BM# 34 and my theme for this week is 'Instant Idlis/ Dosas'. I'm one those lazy people who always forgets to soak dal and rice for idlis and dosas, but dreams of fluffy idlis and crispy dosas. I wake up one morning craving for a good homemade South Indian style breakfast, but alas somebody forgot make the batter(!!!!!) So most of the time I'm making these instant idlis and dosas to satisfy my cravings.
Oats Rava Idli (Instant Oats Idli)I mostly make adai (mixed lentil dosas) or pesarattu (moong dal dosas) which require minimum soaking time and no fermentation time. But for the next 3 days, I'm going to post recipes that require no soaking time to up to a maximum of 30minutes soaking time. They are great for mid-week or even mid-day idli/ dosa cravings.


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