Saturday, December 29, 2012

Bundle of Chocolate Fudge Bundts with Hot Cafe' Mocha for Christmas Eve !

"Christmas weaves a magical wand over this world, and behold, everything is more softer and more beautiful"                                                                                 Norman Vincent Peale

It was the night before Christmas. Millions of lights were twinkling..... The Christmas trees were lighted and decorated with keepsakes as per family traditions from zillion years. Many of us were busy tracking Santa on NORAD and eagerly waiting for their surprise gifts.....

Still from the bottom of the heart I was feeling pain for the Li'l angels at the Sandy Hook Elementary School who lost their lives to something so terrible, that - Logic, Reasoning, Religion and Technology all fail to provide us answers to what happened. So many questions are being asked of the psyche of the alleged killer, "why he did what he did?". His 'Actions' brought everybody around the world back to 'square one situation'. Everybody is perplexed looking into this complex 'human behaviour'. Being a Psychologist, my retrospection of the case reminded of the experiment done by Albert Bandura on Bobo Dolls. The behaviour of any individual is determined by interplay of both nature (genetic) and nurture(environmental). The results of the experiment recapitulates the very fact that the kids DO what they SEE. So a very important lesson for all the parents and guardians is to be a good models in front of the children as they learn loads from experiential learning. Let's give a present of 'Unconditional Love, Bond, Faith and Glowing Happiness' to our kids on this Christmas eve, so they grow up to be healthiest and happiest people, and be merry in every season on this planet !!!! 

While I was feeling very low, my Son thought of an idea to perk me up. He asked me how about baking a bunch of bundts on the very merry Christmas eve for all the special reindeer's, elves and the Santa on their annual mission of delivering presents.  I said Okay ! As he was setting the table for the Santa, calling the reindeer's too, now Dancer, now Dasher, now Prancer and Vixen! On Comet, on Cupid, on Donner and Blitzen and Rudolph, the red rose reindeer.... I quickly took an inspiration from this Nigella Lawson recipe at Food Network website and started off with my mission to bake a 'cake' for each one !!!
I skipped the icing part and instead of using sugar, made the cake with a special sweetener. I made these mini bundts with 'Sweet and Low' and soon had a bundle of bundts !!!!!!!!

Couple of days back I received a cocktail shaker full of 'Sweet and Low' samples to make and bake any dessert this festive season courtesy Dailybuzz Food.

Hence, instead of using white or brown sugar in my bundts, I used 'Sweet and Low'. I also made a warm cafe mocha using sweet and low.
Here is the quickest recipe of Hot Cafe' Mocha:

Ingredients: (Makes 1 cup Hot Cafe' Mocha)
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup half-and-half
1 tablespoon Cocoa Powder
1/2 cup coffee, strongly brewed
1 Sachet of Sweet & Low

Combine milk+half'n'half in a large coffee mug and microwave for 1 minute.
Use milk frother to make froth (takes ~1 min using hand frother)
Brew coffee separately [ I used my Keurig ;) ]
Add sweet and low & cocoa powder to the hot coffee, give  it a quick stir.
Slowly add coffee to the milk.
Sprinkle a pinch of cocoa powder on top & we are ready.
Enjoy a real comforting cup of hot cafe' Mocha made with sweet & low in the chilly winters.
Hot cafe' mocha to beat the chill in the holidays :)))

Isn't it a perfect accompaniment to these mini bundts.... 

These bundts are for all the kids around the world and those beautiful Li'l angels who are shining the lights on us.......God Bless everyone.

Wishing you a Merry Christmas, 


Disclosure: This post is a part of DailyBuzz  feature publisher program.  I was reimbursed by Sweet'n'Low and DailyBuzz towards my expenses incurred towards preparing this post.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Garden Vegetable Soup With Pesto For Fa La La La La Days !

This is the season to be merry and sing Christmas carols, fa la la la la, la la la la. This is the season to sing jingle bells, fa la la la la, la la la la. This is the season to be naughty or nice, fa la la la la, la la la la. This is the season to go gifting, fa la la la la, la la la la. This is the season to bake cakes & cookies, fa la la la la, la la la la. This is the season to make frosty the snowman, fa la la la la, la la la la...

December 1, 2012. He woke up with a merry twinkle in the eyes, and sparkle on his face. My  pixie elf at home is hopping around in a jolly mood. Like most children through this age, he looks curiously to his Advent Calender for his very first surprise. Hey, it is book on A Christmas Tradition- The Elf on the shelf ! With wondering eyes, he simply loved to flip the book while munching gingerbread cookie with his sweet hot chocolate milk. The customary big stocking is hung carefully and is getting fatter day by day with goodies and candies. The dazzle of the holiday decorations makes it the most beautiful time of the year. The house is decorated with scented candles, pine wreaths, red bows and glowing lights. The Christmas trees around are simply looking gorgeous.  For my Lil Lego fan, we made a Lego and sesame themed tree, decorated with silver lights and frills. And we all happily wait for St Nicholas with a nose like a cherry to come on his miniature sleigh, full of toys and eight tiny reindeer to bless us all and make us glitter with joy and glee !!!!!!!

It seems like having the perfect wintry days. There is nothing like snuggling in a warm cozy blanket, day dreaming about sugarplum fairies and watch the very merry Christmas shows of the Disney. There is a knock on the door... Who could it be ??? An early bell by Santa :))

I walk towards the door to see my hubby dear with a bowl of soup and warm bread from Panera Bread. Yes, it is a wonderful bowl of my favorite soup, Sizzling Hot Garden Vegetable Soup with Pesto !!!!

The soup has to take a Pitt stop on the table for camera, lights and action.....!!!!!!

And here we go with  one of the best kinds of vegetable soups. Yummmm....!
It is so enticing, satisfying and fulfilling. The addition of fresh pesto made it all the more nutritious plus flavourful... !!!

Ah, Love the earthy color and flavor of freshly tossed veggies and pasta swirling and whirling around. Dunk the bread into the soup and I knew it is a moment to be merry.... !!!!

Cheers to the classic cooking technique adopted by the team of head chef Dan Nish in blending all the secret ingredients so well in a single serving bowl. And I wish for another one and another one... !

The soup was made with diced tomatoes, sliced zucchini, yellow beans, fresh Swiss chard, cauliflowers, bell peppers, and pearled barley in tomato broth. Perfect bowl of soup made in just the right way with right bunch of ingredients !!!!

There is an awesome collection of soups - classic french onion and broccoli cheddar by Panera bakery cafe' to keep you cozy and merry in the winters.  Check it out by clicking here and hear some amazing Soup Stories. My favorite is The Amazing Soup Scrambler. It is in fact amazing...!

Thanks for stopping by ! 
Wish my each and every reader a very merry fa la la la, la la la la days and happy holidays !!!!!!

Cheers, Sonia!

Disclosure: This post is a part of DailyBuzz program . I was reimbursed by DailyBuzz towards my expenses incurred in preparing this post.

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  2. Vegetarian 15 bean Soup
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Sunday, October 28, 2012

Empire Apple Bundt Cake -Thanks Johnny Appleseed, I'm Loving it :)

And the beautiful memories and time begins with the delightful apple tale...!

Thankyou so much John !  It's an amazing and inspirational tale for generations to come and we shall always be thankful to you for giving this wonderfruit. The tale begins with Jonathan  Chapman, the American legendary Johnny Appleseed for introducing and spreading apple seeds all over the nation and blooming the apple orchards with the fresh and juiciest apples.

This fall, we went to Johnson's farms with our cheese sticks to enjoy the hayride and pick pumpkins & apples for craft & decorations and came back with pounds & pounds of apples. We came home with eight pounds of apples and three pumpkins. can you guess what I made the following night with apples ???? Yeah, I made simplest and easiest ever recipe with apples. Fresh Apples - countrystyle' in the dinner  for next couple of days :) And the secret recipe is to wash the apples thoroughly, get the perfect slices with apple cutter and season with fresh lime juice, salt and pepper. That's it and enjoy bowl full of vitamins !!!! The excitement begins to cook more with apples. While watching and discussing the Presidential debate of Mr. Mitt Romney and Obama, the debate over apples began at my place. Everybody is contesting to make 'some special recipe' from their pick. The pounds of apples in the refrigerator actually stirred the neurotransmitters in my both left and right hemisphere of the brain over what should I make with apples ? Cider, cake, pie, soup, sauce, what else ???

Perhaps, I got to bake an apple cake to keep my lil monkey warm and energetic plus to keep up the festive spirit at home with spiced pumpkin candles, some spooky Halloween decor and warm Empire Apple Bundt Cake with Honey Roasted Peanuts ! The best ever cake with one of the best apples in the town... ! Check out the recipe !

Empire Apples: 3 grated/shred (I used farm fresh)
Honey Roasted Peanuts: a handful
Vanilla essence: few drops
Cinnamon powder: a generous pinch
All purpose flour: 3 cups
Baking Soda: 1 tsp
Salt: a generous pinch
Sugar: 11/2 cup
Vegetable oil: 1/2 cup
Butter: 1/2 cup, melted
Eggs: 3

Preheat the oven to 325 F. Spray the bundt pan with butter.
In a bowl sift the dry ingredients -flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon powder.
In another bowl, finely shred or grate the apples.
Beat eggs, sugar and oil in a bowl with electric beater for 5 minutes. Add the dry ingredients and mix well. Now add the apples and a handful of honey roasted peanuts.
Pour the batter in the greased pan and bake for approximately 1 hour 15 minutes, till the cake pops and gets a little crack on the top. Double check to get a clean skewer.

The harder part of the baking begins... just feast the cake with eyes and allow it to cool down.
Take out the cake and gently dust with some sugar.

Enjoy a warm, juicy, flavorful cake with a dollop of fresh cream and some berries.
The cake is full of flavors !!!!
Now comes my fave time... to curl up on my couch and gladly polish off the entire empire bundt :)

And now we had a hearty empire apple cake in the dinner. And I'm loving it..... !!!!!!!!!!
Enjoy it with Apple and Almond Soup as wellA big Thanks to Johnny Appleseed and the Johnson's farms to help us pick the juiciest apples in the town and letting our creative juices flowing. My lil blossom had a beautiful day sneaking in and out of the corn maze !!!!!

Thanks guys for checking  out the recipe and would love to know your apple specials'.

Have a beautiful time with family and friends ! 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A bunch of Cheese fingers for takeaway in the Farm Meadows !

And the Autumn begins... !!!! The time to go for hayrides and harvesting. The nature unlocks its beautiful foliage where every leaf changes color and adapts to the change. It is the time of the year for which I anxiously wait. It is the beautiful season to go for pumpkin picking and apple picking and making your own fresh desserts with the assorted collection of gourds. This weekend while going for my annual visit to pick the seasons bestest and freshest produce, I baked a small batch of cheese finger straws to takeaway with us to munch. The straws were a perfect snack, warm and flaky with appetizing Italian flavors. Bake and take a bunch of cheese straws before venturing out to capture the scenic and photogenic autumn in the lens and memories. Check out the recipe... !

Baked Cheese Fingers with Oregano !
Ingredients: -
Puff pastry sheets : 1-2
Cheddar cheese: 1/2 cup, grated
Salt: a generous pinch
Oregano: a generous spread
Poppy seeds: few
Butter to brush the pastry sheets

Method: -
Thaw the puff pastry sheets and line them on parchment paper in a cookie tray.
Preheat the oven at 375 degrees F.
Grate the cheese and keep the seasoning ready.
Generously brush the pastry sheets with butter and season with cheese, salt, oregano and poppy seeds.
Cut thin strips of the sheets with a pizza cutter.

Season with Cheese oregano !

Bake the sheets for 10-12 minutes till the cheese melts and strips turn light golden.
Take out the tray and cool for a while.
Perfect straws with freshly baked cheese and oregano smells just amazing and tastes awesome !

Melting Cheese is smelling awesome !

Enjoy it with a cup of freshly brewed hazelnut coffee... !
Pack it in a air tight container and can takeaway with you anytime.... !!!

Crispy Cheese fingers !!!!!!!

Thank You so much for stopping by to check out this recipe.

Warm Regards & Love, Sonia

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Red Velvet Cupcakes, a Balletic Cakewalk and Treat to Self

A warm hello to all my friends ! Hope all of you are doing great and absorbing the sun rays and enjoying the showers before fall schedule sets into motion. I had a wonderful summer holidays relaxing more and cooking less. The favorite passtime was curling up on my couch; daydreaming about food, redoing the decor of my home for fall, vacation whilst taking a power nap and flipping a book with my new lamp from Ikea and playing some soft numbers in the backdrop. Sometimes a break from your daily routine is what you need to get Re-Charged. I simply wish I could pause 'these moments' and live in these happily forever ...!!!!

But got the stroke of reality last week when I got an email from my little one's school reminding me about 'back to school time'. It seems just yesterday to me when it was a carnival in the school. It was a fun filled afternoon with so many exciting games and rides. My Lil one took a box of chocolate cupcakes to play the fun game of 'Cake Walk'. The music was turned on and all the toddlers were busy doing a 'balletic walk' to win over their favorite cake from the cake stall.  The music stopped at once and the kids were freeze tagged. Aha..what a lovely moment. The kids were rolling their eyes on each other with curiosity to know about the winner. The teacher rolled the numbers and called for number 8. Hey its me, its me ! Shouted and screamed my monster with joy. He won a beautiful Red Beetle Cake and was seen buzzing around the park like a happy honey bee for quite a while. Its exciting to be part of kids activities.

We baked and enjoyed a variety of cakes in these summer holidays. Baking a cake is an art and every time I bake, I learn something new. Recently. I baked a "chocolate peach cake" but it didn't work out well and became more like a peach-submerged-brownie :(( . Last Sunday we brought home Blue Bunny Red Velvet Ice Cream, it was awesome (din't survive >  2days) this was another great treat for me, some who has started loving every food that Red Velvet. Finally I mustered enough courage Ito bake a 'Red velvet cake'. Initially thought of doing everything by scratch and bake a cake with red beets. But keeping in mind my last failure, thought of postponing my plan for a while. I swiftly surfed couple of options and zeroed in on Paula Deen's "Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting" Though her recipes generally call for loads of butter/fat, but the ingredient list of this one sounded good to me. So simply followed her instructions by heart to get a batch of perfect cupcakes. In less than an hour my kitchen had fragrant and sparkling tray of cupcakes.

As I stated above, these cupcakes are inspired by one of my favourite celebrity chefs Paula Deen's recipe Red Velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting.

mmmmm......I just loved the house filled with sweet aroma of freshly baked cake. It is so contagious and makes you feel so very good :))) The cupcakes added an instant sparkle in my kitchen...

We all savoured it and hope you too like this recipe and 'Treat Yourself Oneday' !!!!!!!!! 
Later enjoyed some cupcake with a scoop of chilled vanilla bean ice cream too !!!

Look, someone's having amazin-lickin fun :)

Thanks a ton to all folks for stopping by my space and Have a wonderful week ahead !

Much Love, Sonia xoxo

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Crunchy Taco Bowls and the Aura of Summer 2012 Olympics

''Winning in Olympics is like celebrating Excellence by conquering over the quest to Excel and be Yourself. Sports teach us to compete with oneself before competing with others; and develop a belief in the magnificent aura of  team spirit. A time to salute every parent and mentor in the making of a champion..."                                                                                  

It was early 2006 when we visited an Olympics venue in Beijing that was getting ready for the big day. It was great feeling thinking about how one day these super talented athletes from all over the world are going to perform here for their country. The Olympics games are here & it is the time to celebrate the spirit of sportsmanship in each of us. Playing sports is a great exercise of mind, body and soul, a perfect stroke to live a balanced life.

The 2012 Summer Olympics being held in London are a very precious occasion for everyone. It is a matter of great joy to see the representation of all the countries on this international platform. Personally, I had never been a very sporty person in my life and just used to play badminton with my sister once in a while. It was a one fine day this March and that inspirational play date with the world cup champion soccer star Brandi Chastain changed me for good...yes, it made 'me' inclined more towards sports! This summer, while wearing the souvenir tees of Olympics and a mascot in hand for aspiration, we took up plenty of sport activities like swimming, tennis, basketball and a miniature golfing with our little monster and hope to master Ice skating someday. The energetic duo of father and son are just glued to the television watching different games and I am busy cooking for them.  Just yesterday, Indian shooter Gagan Narang's Olympic Medal  in Shooting brought a big cheer to every Indian, it also filled me with sense of pride. Four years back it was in Beijing that  Abhinav Bindra shot to fame with first individual Olympics Gold, and it was special as he is from Chandigarh, my home town. Lets all celebrate the sheer moments of 'pride & honor' during the crowning ceremony with unfurling of national flag and singing of national anthem and getting absorbed in the aura of Olympics :)))))

To enjoy the game and not missing even a single event, I planned to cook a super easy, light and festive recipe. It is 'Crunchy Taco bowls with Beans and Greens' ! Check out the recipe here -

Tortilla wraps: 2 (I used Tomato flavor)
Rice: 1 bowl, boiled (can also use brown rice)
Black beans: 1/ 2cup, boiled
White beans: 1/2 cup, boiled
Sweet corn: 1/2 cup, soaked in warm water
Baby spinach: 1/2 cup
Spring mix salad: a handful
coriander:  handful
Sour cream: 1 dollop
Seasoning to taste with salt, pepper and cayenne powder
Lime: 1
Tortilla baking bowls: 2
Guacamole and salsa for serving

Gently spray some cooking oil in the baking bowls.
Place the tortillas and bake at 375 C for 15 minutes till it turns light golden brown and crispy.

Let it cool for a while.

Put a handful of spring mix salad in the base, followed by rice, white and black beans, sweet corn, baby spinach.Season the taco bowl mix to taste with salt, pepper and cayenne powder and freshly chopped coriander.Add a dollop of sour cream on the top. Just squeeze some fresh lime before eating and can also add guacamole. Got avocados to make guacamole but found it to be little unripe, so might make it tomorrow.

The wait and garnishing is over and the taco bowls are ready to be savoured.

A wonderful combo of crunchy shells + savoury bean mix + Loads of greens. Ahhh...............!!!!

Thanks for being here ! 
Have a wonderful time watching summer Olympics & cheering for your fav. athletes !

Much Love, Sonia

Friday, July 6, 2012

Glow in the Dark Milk with Potlis of Butter & Cashew Cookies !!

Unfurl Yourself  and dance with joy as we all celebrate Independence Day... !!!!!
Because it is a perfect family holiday in summers. A warm day with bright sun up in the sky and plush white clouds. And a whole Good Day to catch up with friends on Twitter & Facebook !!! This is pure bliss !

Till last year, it used to be a year long wait for us in Hoboken for  Fourth of July Macy's Fireworks and for the terrific Macy's Thanksgiving parade. Though we are almost an hour away from Manhattan now, it is still a matter of neighbors envy and owners pride :) , because now we live just a block away from a grand Macy's Store. My evening walk steps take me automatically towards the store, this keeps me in motion and good mood as I check out the latest trends in fashion every now and then. I keep a check on on everything happening right from the launch of summer special Brasil collection to Glamorama coming up in August.  Ironically this year we missed the local live display of colors in the sky coz of the excessive heat warning. To keep up the pace with the times and to have a feel good factor while sitting at home, I opened my Picasa album from last year.

We were seeing the 'majestic fireworks' for three years in a row ! 
and that too from... from our balcony right across the silver lighted skyline of Manhattan...! 
Watching hundreds of boats lining up in the Hudson river;  bouquet of people flocking in little batches right from the morning to evening in the pier park; playing flying disk with the kids; fishing on the shore; and enjoying speciality cones from the ice cream truck !  And after a fully fun filled day looking at the array of 'colors and sparks in the sky'. The enthusiastic bunch singing the patriotic songs by side. It was AWESOME...... !!!!! And the best part is reflected in the blue waters of the Hudson...! It was the BEST fireworks of the year. The very wait and watch was worth it.... ! 
Away from Hoboken this year was different, obviously not so action packed.

Yesterday to celebrate the occasion I gave myself a project to bake a small batch of my favorite 'Britannia - Good Day Butter and cashew Cookies' ! In my quest to make those perfect countryside cookies loaded with goodness of butter and cashews, I tried the following recipe from the book I recently got from a book sale. Once the cookies came of the cooling rack, I bundled them in tiny bag to enjoy as midnight snack.

'I Made cute little potli's of cookies to share with friends 
I won't say the cookies were perfect, but good enuff for three of us! Baking these kept my evening busy and we later enjoyed'em over watching fireworks on TV. Cookies were nice and crunchy but in next attempt, I would do two tweaks - One, add brown sugar to get rich brown color and two, lessen the quantity of butter by 2- 3 tsp to make'em crisper. Here I go with the recipe !

Ingredients of Butter & Cashew Cookies:
(Makes 18)
Whole wheat flour: 1 cup
Semolina: 2 tsp
Rice flour: 2 tsp
Cornflour: 2 tsp
Baking powder: 1 tsp
Cardamom powder: a dash
Salt: 1/4 tsp
Sugar: 1/2 cup (brown sugar preferably)
Roasted Cashews : 1 cup (gently crushed and powdered)
Butter: 3/4 stick
Milk: 2 tsp

Lightly roast the cashews in a nonstick pan for 5-6 minutes till it gets a hue of brownish tinge. Can also spread on a lightly greased tray and roast in an oven for 7-8 minutes. Once it cools down, crush it with mortal and pestle, keeping some small chunks.
Let the butter soften at room temperature.
Whip it with a spatula and add sugar. I used white sugar, but to get a darker shade of the cookies, preferably use brown sugar.
Sift whole wheat flour, semolina, rice flour and cornflour together.
Add salt & baking powder and sift again.
Mix freshly crushed cardamom powder for aromatic flavor.
Add a cup of gently crushed roasted cashews  to the mix of flours.
Add butter and sugar mix in the flour mix.
While adding a little milk, knead to make a dough.
Put the dough in zip lock and let it rest for almost an hour in the refrigerator.
In the mean time, pre heat the oven to 375 F and line the cookie tray with parchment paper.
Take out the dough, give it a knead again.
Take a portion of the dough and roll to make small balls.
Spread the balls in the baking tray.
Gently press the balls and make impressions with a fork.
Bake it for 15-18 minutes till done.
Transfer the cookies with a spatula and let it cool completely on the wire rack.

Can't wait to take a sweet and crunchy !

These cookies are so rich and loved the little chunks of cashews  !!! 

... enjoyed with chilled milk from the glow in the dark mug with a little fireworks', at home :-)

Enjoy it with a chilled glass of milk :) :) :) :) :)

Thanks for being here and Have a wonderful weekend !

Much luv Sonia !

Check out my post on midnight snack- 'Little Hearts'.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Two Happy Feet & a Bowl of Couscous w/ Chickpeas, Blueberries

Ahh...a perfect warm Sunday after so many rainy days !
The beautiful red rays of the morning sun streaming through the window blinds and in the patio can't be missed. No ways ! I get perplexed looking into the maze of the solar artistry. Each day the path of sunlight into the home changes as the sun makes its seasonal trek north or south of equator. My Morning glory and Marigold pots are basking with the light. The  little windmills are swirling in circular motion. These days I wake up each day a little early just to see my plants. Its lovely to see them  bloom with first rays of sun. I stepped out on in my balcony with a tiny basket to fetch some toms and flowers. The plants are growing up and to my delight got one ripe red tomato for thought too. The strawberry plant is going away, may be to let blueberries usher. Its a joyful activity of picking  fresh bell peppers and herbs, just straight from the pots and making a dish. The smell of wet soil, freshly watered plants is just magical to set the day in motion.  I have something to share. This time I experimented with sowing cardamom seeds and kumquats. To my utter surprise the shoots are coming out. So happy, lets wait and watch if I do get few pods and tiny fruits to savor some day. Later I floated the fresh flowers with tea lights in my living room brimming with golden radiance of the sun.
The day started on a happy note but still I don't intend to cook much. The warm and lazy rays of the afternoon sun, beckons me to stretch out like a cat and take a nap. I just wanna curl up on a couch and  relax and unwind.... ! 
What to do now........... ??? 
No plans for the day and want to let it pass on a lighter note. After whiling away for some time, I switched on the television and started watching 'Happy Feet Two'Now,  I'm a big fan of this beautiful movie about 'team work and joy of being yourself'.

 I don't believe that if I shall be ever fascinated with the happiness spirit  of the penguin family. 
But I actually did and loved it ! This made me pull out the happy penguin picture, which I captured on my last visit to the Central Park Zoo. 

Penguins of Central Park Zoo

Some days its just good to roll back and explore the wonders of the world. I made myself a hearty bowl of 'Couscous seasoned with spicy chickpeas, sweet berries and roasted potatoes with lots of coriander' whilst I enjoyed the movie. I just discovered this couscous recipe couple of months ago on foodbuzz. I fell in love with couscous as its just made for people like me, simple no oil recipe made in almost no time. Its so much fun to play with the seasoning, add anything and it floats with it.  

Check out the Wonder No Oil Recipe here !

Couscous: 1 cup
Seasoned Chickpeas: 1 cup (canned or freshly boiled, seasoned to taste)
Blueberries: 1/4 cup
Coriander: a lot of finely chopped twigs
Tomato: 1, finely chopped (I used my garden fresh)
Roasted Potatoes: 1/4 cup (diced into small cubes and roasted with spices)
Salt, Pepper to taste

Soak a cup of couscous in 11/4 cup of warm water for 5 to 7 minutes as per the instructions on the box.
Take one cup of Boiled chickpeas and bring it to a room temperature, else open a can of chickpeas.
In a pan, lightly roast a potato and again season with a pinch of spices.
Season it with salt, a dash of pepper, spices and finely chopped coriander.
In another bowl keep one chopped tomato and washed blueberries handy.

Just toss all the ingredients together and gently mix with a fork.
A hearty bowl of couscous with spicy chickpeas and sweet blueberries is ready to roll out !!!

Its too good to eat, so fulfilling, loved this bowl full of healthy and nutritive ingredients. 

So follow the sun and relax yourself with this comforting bowl of couscous. 
No wonder it has been on my favourite breakfast menu from so long... !

Sunday, June 17, 2012

...For a Dad who Rocked My Cradle to My World !

I wish Happy Fathers Day to all the Happy Dads in the Happy World of Happy Kids !!! 
It's a short & sweet story of mine meeting with Four wonderful guys in my life. I know the first one, my pa and second, my grandpa from ages. I have always looked up to my father and Grand father as a person being par excellent with a vast reservoir of knowledge and grounded values & principles in life. They have beautifully portrayed being the best parents they could to another parents in the making...The timeline begins and I met another guy, third one who was fairly rough and tough, with a Tall and handsome built. Perhaps, today is a different day. The heart beat of this macho man was almost audible to me. The face was radiating and I could see the tiny sweat drops, looking more like dew drops on his forehead. The moment was intense and so were the interplay of emotions. I think he was getting too emotional, yet refrained from showing it off. I saw an all together different person standing across the table from the person I knew. After a while, the doctor broke the news about the arrival of the baby. After becoming 'a father' I saw and met a new guy in the hubby dear, a wonderful Dad, very unlike this time before...! 

Once the baby came, both of us mirrored the same gush of feeling 'thrilled and contended' on seeing a very quiet & serene face. And here I met the fourth guy in my life. We started resonating his feelings and emotional makeup - always being calm and happy in our own skin. He was the first one to cuddle a real tiny tot against his giant shoulders. That day we realized how grown up and self sufficient we are. Within few seconds the little baby lied down cozily and made him comfortable on the belly and slept off. When the baby came home, he made him rest in his cradle, full of balloons, and rocked it day and night whilst humming lullabies. One day to a fine surprise, the baby stood up and started shaking his hands...then after few months he learnt his first baby steps while standing on top of his toes. And today he is rocking my whole wide world... ! 

I'm gonna cherish the times, how he learnt his first baby steps; The crazy times when he fiddle with his food and the happy times we enjoyed in doodling at his first Doodle pad; the joy of the first hay ride; to field trips of picking berries in the strawberry fields. The fun in watching him in the Halloween costume; to the pride in marching on the graduation day. I Feel, it is the story of every house and we all owe our lives to Parents and bow down to them, to share our gratitude. The parents rock the cradle and set the stage by making them the best parents in every respect, correcting the misdeeds and always encouraging to reach the pinnacle of success in personal and professional lives. And all this experiential learning, one day becomes the platform to rock the world ! Today is a special day to appreciate all the special efforts taken by all the Dads in making their family so special ! 

My personal notion of God and parents is reflected in this poem, which has always been very dear to my heart. Its very simple...If we believe in God, we believe in Parents ! No matter, we sail through happy or tough times, parents always come, becoming Elves at times and Nick at others..!

Footprints in the Sand
        One night I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord.
             Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky.
                  In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand.
                       Sometimes there two sets of footprints,
                           other times there were one set of footprints.
                                  This bothered me because I noticed
                                that during the low periods of my life,
                             when I was suffering from
                         anguish, sorrow or defeat,
                     I could see only one set of footprints.
          So I said to the Lord,
      "You promised me Lord,
         that if I followed you,
             you would walk with me always.
                   But I have noticed that during
                          the most trying periods of my life
                                 there have only been one
                                       set of footprints in the sand.
                                           Why, when I needed you most,
                                          you have not been there for me?"
                                 The Lord replied,
                          "The times when you have
                  seen only one set of footprints,
          is when I carried you."
                                                   Mary Stevenson

Got another inspiring story for all parents and kids alike from GSpirt. The message of the story is that Money doesn't make us rich  but a simple Life with rich ideas and blessings of God, surely makes us humane human beings and lead richer lifestyle.
...One day, a rich dad took his son on a trip. He wanted to show him how poor someone can be. They spent time on the farm of a poor family. On the way home, dad asked, "Did you see how poor they are? What did you learn? 

The son said; "We have one dog - they have four, we have a pool - they have rivers, we have lanterns at night - they have stars, we buy food - they grow theirs, we have walls to protect us - they have friends, we have encyclopedias - they have a Bible." Then they headed, "Thanks dad for showing me how poor we really are."

A dad has a request - No cooking today and Put the dishes away;
Don't upload the recipes today, as it is his big 'Fathers Day' ! 
A Dad always bless and today I bless Dad. 
He may always Sparkle & Shine and we may always eat together our Christmas pie !!!!! 

I really hope we keep growing the repertoire of learning from our prudent Fathers and forefathers and keep the legacy flowing !!!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Life is Good with Coconuts, Ice creams or Shall I say Both !

Good Morning Folks, I have a question?
Do you all crave to "Eat Something - sometimes or most of the times" ?
I do and would rate myself quite high on scale of 1 to 10, very often. At the same time not sure exactly what I am are looking for ?... Then I close my eyes and  wish for a fairy with a magical wand to come and fill my table with the aromatic and refreshing dishes. The dish list is contingent upon the level of activity in my amygdala, sometimes feeling romantic and at times nostalgic, at times oozing out with energy and at times down with lethargy. I always wonder how these highs and lows of emotions nestle quietly in my mind. Then after a while get a straight call from the amygdala  craving for a 'typical food'. I think, its time for me to stop contemplating about my hunger waves to be in congruence or not to my mood waves and enjoy the last weave of spring. And at bottom of my heart I always want to keep the sprig of spring with me - be it summer or fall as I do get enchanted with the fresh flair of flowers, giving us ample reasons to lighten up the mood and relive our life !
Taking a break from life is good. It rejuvenates the mind and soul. Last week I took a break and went on a small vacation with family. We were thrilled to see the fresh coconut trees lined up across the streets and fresh fruits hanging like jewels on the top. the fresh coconut water served in the green shells makes it for the best summer drink. At that very moment I got the 'Aha' moment. Got the answer for a new thrilling recipe to share with 'All of You'.

Coconut Splendor...

This week I'm gonna share a recipe based on Coconut. Can you guess WHAT ?????? Initially got to make fresh coconut salsa to enjoy with idlis or Thai curry. But as the temperature touched to 80s, I was craving to have a soothing homemade dessert. After flipping through my old and new cookbooks, finally zeroed in to make a sizzling 'Coconut Ice cream'. The nutty icecream seems to be so light, fluffy, creamy, chewy yet appetizing.

Fresh Home made Coconut Ice Cream !

I got satiation only after eating the whole cup of ice cream :) , Not too bad - after all I deserve my cup after a little hard work that I did. So lets lets check out this recipe !

Coconut Milk: 2 cups
Fresh coconut : 1/2 cup (finely shredded)
Heavy cream: 1/2 cup
Splenda: 1/4 cup (for less calories, else use sugar)
Vanilla essence: few drops
A pinch of salt

Coco Goodness !

The only difficult thing in this recipe to do is peel the coconut, with a little skill and caution and take out the coconut pieces.
Wash and dry the shell to serve the ice cream or dry nuts, later.
Finely shred or chop the fresh coconut with the help of grinder.
In a bowl, open the cans of coconut milk and add splenda (or sugar to taste).
Whisk the coconut milk and sugar.
Add a pinch of salt and just few drops of vanilla essence.
Now, its time to add the freshly chopped coconut  to our mix & blend it in a blender for 3-4 mins on high speed.
Once done, pour all the ingredients in the ice cream maker and churn it for 20-25 minutes (or according to the manufacturers instructions).
On completion. transfer ice cream into an airtight container and chill it for about half an hour for it to firm up.
The wait is over and ice cream is ready to be licked and loved.......!!!!!!!!
Scoop it out and serve in coconut shell, topped with fresh mint leaves.

Mmmmm...  Fresh & Chewy !

I am so glad to see the bowl of my first successful attempt at making coconut ice cream this summer.

Closing in From the Top ...

And so determined to make it more often. Learning and cooking new recipes is an amazing way to turn an ordinary weekend to a memorable weekend with your 'loved ones'. After all, it was so simple and too delish to relish on the special weekends !!!!!!!!!

Stay tuned for my special Fathers Day Recipe, coming soon !

You may also like: -
1. Fresh Home made strawberry ice cream
2. Luscious Avocado ice cream
3. White chocolate Matka kulfi

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