Friday, December 4, 2009

A is for Alfredo, at least in our home :)

Dec 4th 2009

K loves cheese in any which form it will come, so it is no surprise that Italian is very high in his favorite cuisine list. The original recipe for the alfredo sauce is from here:,1855,140166-232207,00.html. It is a great recipe, and extremely easy. However I would definitely recommend using some milk instead of the recommended half and half fully because it made the sauce very heavy and thick.

Modifications I made to the alfredo sauce include sauteing some garlic and then some red onions in the butter. I also added some chopped walnuts before adding the cream cheese. Biting into the walnuts tasted good, yum!

This would taste very good with any thin pasta - spagetti, angel hair, linguine etc. However it would be too boring I thought, just pasta and Alfredo. So I used the butternut squash ravioli from Costco, cooked it per instructions and then poured this sauce over. That provided some extra taste and flavor. A quick meal and very yummy..but not so good for the tummy line :P

Next time, I think I will saute some peppers in with the onions and then use plain old spaghetti, for a change.

Stir Fry Noodles

Dec 4th 2009
These noodles were really good, if I may say so myself. Very easy to make, a good change and amounted to decent quantity too.

Store bought Japanese pan fry style noodles with seasoning mix
Sweet and sour chilly sauce
Wok with me schzewan sauce
Soy sauce
Vegetables of choice (garlic, onion, carrots, bell pepper)
Extra firm tofu

Method de Preparation
1. If you have a wok, you have been dying to use, now is the time to take it out J Take oil in a pan and fry the tofu as required. Slightly roasting till they brown would do or you could take it deeper. Keep aside.
2. Add some more oil, and then sauté the vegetables.
3. Add the 3 sauces (soy, chilly and schzewan) and sauté some more. Keep on med to high flame so veggies are crisp.
4. Follow instructions on noodle packet for the rest, I did add some water so that the noodles would be moist and not too dry.
5. Throw in the seasoning mix too. If you want any more of the other sauces, add some and then keep on stove for a bit.
6. Remove and Enjoy!

Banana Bread

Dec 4th 2009

This is one of the easiest things I have baked, and tastes wonderful. This is an especially good snack for afternoons when you want to munch on something and nothing is around. And the reason I so love this dish is because you get to use the really ripe bananas that you actually don't like to eat. The recipe is from " The Los Angeles time California cookbook".

Difficulty level: Easy (Novice Baker)

Preparation Time: 10 min ( preparation), baking time (50 min or 25 min)


  • 2 cups mashed banana (ripe ones work best)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
Method de Preparation:
  1. Combine banana, eggs, oil and vanilla and mix well.
  2. Sift together flour, sugar, soda and salt and add to the banana mixture. ( I usually just mix them well, have never sifted :) )
  3. If you like nuts, add finely chopped walnuts.
  4. Pour batter into greased and wax-paper-lined 9x5 inch loaf pan.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees 50 min or until done. Or fill greased muffin pans 3/4 full and bake at 350 degrees 25 minutes.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Pachai (Raw) Morkoyambu

Nov 27th 2009

This is an accompaniment to any podi or thogayal- esp. ellu (sesame) podi, vazhakka (banana) podi and puthina (mint)/ kothamalli (cilantro) thogayal. This is the same as morkutan ( like how I call it) but this particular recipe from my mil is extremely easy.

2-3 green chillies
little bit scraped coconut (preferably fresh) - 1 tsp
Mustard (2 tsp)
oil to season
turmeric powder
salt to taste

Method of preparation
  1. Grind green chillies, coconut and mustard (1 tsp) in the mixie and keep aside.
  2. Take required curd in a container and then mix it with a spoon to take out any lumps and make it of even consistency. Do not make too watery. Keep it reasonably thick.
  3. Add the ground mix to the curd and salt too.
  4. Season with some mustard allowed to splutter in oil. Add turmeric to the oil before adding to the curd.
  5. And you are done, enjoy!

Vazhakka (Raw Banana) Podi

Nov 27th 2009

This is a recipe from my mother in law. This is more common with Thanjavur tamils and is a different use for the banana and a change from the usual paruppu and thengai podis. I as always like to have my podis on the side with thayir sadam, but these go well just mixed with rice and some oil. Sides for these include any kind of morkoyambu (recipe coming up next).


Two raw bananas
Urad dhal ( 1/4 cup approx.)
Red chillies (4-5 per taste)
Hing or Asafoetida ( a pinch)
Tamarind paste ( 1tsp)
oil ( 1 tsp)
salt (to taste)

Method of preparation
  1. Place bananas in the microwave and just heat, keep heating at intervals of 1 min and turning them from side to side. The skin will turn soft and you can feel it to make sure the bananas are cooked. Approximately 6-7 min (will vary depending on power and make of microwave) - my disclaimer here, if something goes wrong :)
  2. As for any thogayal, take a little bit of oil and add to it the urad dhal and red chillies and a little bit of hing. Roast till slightly brown in color and turn off gas. Tamarind paste can be added at this point or even when grinding.
  3. Wait till the bananas have cooled and then peel off skin.
  4. Grind the first mix in the mixie (small blender) and then add the bananas (cut in pieces) and blend on low once or twice.
  5. Add salt and mix well and enjoy!
P.S. If you are impatient like I was, then the bananas will not be separated and will not be powder like, so make sure you allow it to cool before grinding.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Home Made Milk Chocolate

Nov 23rd 2009

Received this recipe from my sister in law Latha ( Thank you!). Was extremely quick and easy to make. I reserve judgement on this yet. It does taste very good, no doubt about that, but tastes more like a chocolate cake than actual chocolate itself. I am not sure if it is because I took it out of the pan a bit early or because of the milk powder. Need to do some more exploration on this and see what other recipes are out there.

Variations to try would be to substitute dark chocolate powder instead of the cocoa powder to get the rich dark chocolate taste, and of course addition of some nuts and raisins might just get you dairy milk :)


Milk Powder - 3 cups

Cocoa powder - 1/2 cup

Sugar - 3/4 cup
Butter - 3/4 cup
Water - 1/2 cup

Method de Preparation
  1. Sieve milk powder & cocoa power thrice or more till it gets mixed well.
  2. Heat sugar & water & wait till u get one thread consistency
  3. Bring it down & add butter.
  4. When it melts add powder & mix.
  5. Transfer the chocolate to a greased plate & cut out required shapes.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Bites of Bliss

Nov 16th 2009

We were having a guest for dinner, and Italian was the menu. I was looking for something easy to make and light on the stomach for dessert when I came across this recipe for butter biscuits from Lori's blog.
Thank you :)

I did follow her recipe without any modifications to the ingredients. However here are some observations I made and some paraphernalia that would be good to have.

  1. I was not able to just spread the cookies with the fork as the chef mentions, I ended up using my fingers to spread out the rounds to make the cookies.
  2. Do not make the cookie too thin as they will brown very fast. And do not wait till the cookies brown to take them out, they will actually burn.
  3. 10 mins was all I needed in the oven for these, and you can take them out at the first hint of the sides browning.
  4. I skipped the sugar on the top in the last part and liked the taste of just the buttery goodness.
  5. If I had a roller and a cookie cutter, that is what would be good next time around, is to roll the dough and cut shapes in it for different shape butter cookies.
  6. This recipe does not use any egg or baking powder, so it will not fluff up, it will be same size as what you make it, so keep that in mind.
  7. Variations that I plan to try include adding chopped nuts : cashews, almonds, pistachios - each separately to make 'good day' kinda biscuits. Can mix cocoa powder to make chocolate butter biscuits, can add some scraped coconuts to make coconut biscuits too I think.
Bottomline: These are definitely bites of bliss, and it is hard to stop at just one!

Sad cookie face with the burnt cookies

Happy Face with the good batch

Monday, November 2, 2009

Food for a Rainy day

If there is one thing the weather in Portland is conducive for, it certainly will be bajjis and pakoras :) Every time when I look at the overcast sky and the dark clouds, and feel cold in the 50 degree weather K and I look at each other thinking the same thoughts. However if my wishes came true too often, our cholesterol levels would be not liking it too much.

However this was one such Saturday that we gave in. Here is the recipe I use. This allows for a crispy crust and one can use a variety of stuffing.


Maida 1 cup
Rice powder 2 cup
Bengal gram powder (kadala maavu) 1 cup
Cooking soda (sodium bicarbonate) 1/2 tbsp
Curd 1 tbsp
Salt, chilly power and asafetida
For the bajji: Capsicum, bread, paneer, banana (vazhakka), apple, brinjal, potato, onion, perkanga (ridge gourd), bajji molaga etc are some varieties of bajji can that be made.


Mix all above and make into a paste (not too watery) –about the consistency of dosai maavu. Dip the item you want in it and fry in oil that is heated. Enjoy with a side of ketchup or chutney of your choice.

Tastes best snuggled in a sofa on a rainy day watching a movie :)

Monday, October 12, 2009

Pesto Pesto Pasta

A couple of months ago when Macy's had their semi-annual sale, I bought some stuff that I wrote about in a previous blog. One of the things I bought was this Bella Cucina Rocket Blender. , I think I paid only $20 for this. Thanks to the Spicy Tasty bloggers for bringing this sale to my notice.

I bought it under the premise that I would use it for milk shakes and K could take it to work and V too when he eventually grew and rationed that it was being offered at a really good price. While I like the blender I absolutely love the small recipe book that came with it. Recipes for sauces and smoothies that you can use the blender for.

And most importantly I had to prove to K that this purchase was so worth it :P So I tried the pesto sauce recipe from the book and set about making some Pesto pasta. And we were not disappointed. I think it is a copyright violation to type out the recipe here, so I'll improvise a bit.

Pesto Sauce

1. basil fresh (a handful)
2. extra virgin or plain olive oil (1/3 to 1/4 cup)
3. garlic cloves (a couple)
4. pine nuts ( I slight toast mine) (2 tbsp)
5. parmesan cheese (1/3 cup or lesser)
6. salt (to taste)
7. pepper ( to taste)

Method de preparation
Mix all above in a blender and blend. I eyeball most of these ingredients, so you might want to start with a measurement and changed/add per preference.

Pesto Pasta

1. pasta of preference
2. veggies- chopped finely in thin strips [ I used bell pepper, onions and asparagus], you could add anything else
3. pesto sauce
4. olive oil

Method de preparation
1. Cook pasta per instructions and then drain out. I usually skip the salt when boiling the pasta, you don't really need it.
2. Take oil in a pan, add onion saute saute.
3. When done, add veggies, saute, saute. Use medium-high heat to keep the veggies crisp.
4. Add sauce and pasta and then saute for just a min and you're done.

Enjoy sitting or standing :)

Craving Thai

I think the combination of lack of time to experiment and cooking too many dishes at one go makes me revert to known and tried and tested recipes. This obviously is making our palette want different tastes. While there is no cuisine with as much variety as Indian, not all are easy to make.

Like I would not like a parotta chops for dinner one night, or bajji for tiffin one evening or some chat for snacks one night :P Yeah, hard to make every single time you crave them especially since you have to make them for yourself. So I have begun to experiment with other cuisines that we enjoy when we go out and try to build those into our meals. And wonder of wonders, K begun to like and crave thai after 5 long years of not caring a damn.

This was my first attempt so I used the panang curry paste that I bought at a farmer's market. Next time will try making my own so I can freeze for multiple uses too.


1. Thai paste - red, green or panang curry
2. Vegetables all finely chopped in thin strips - colored bell pepper, onions, carrot [can add anything you like, I just stuck with these three]
3. basil - fresh is better
4. garlic cloves - a few or lesser depending on your taste
5. oil
6. coconut milk

Method of Preparation:

1. Place saute pan on high to medium-high heat. Add oil.
2. Put garlic cloves in and saute.
3. When done, add onions and saute till translucent.
4. Add other vegetables and saute for a few mins, don't allow to get mushy, they need to stay crisp. Being generous on the oil and heat helps this part.
5. When all done, add 1 or 2 tbsp of the thai paste and then add 1 can of coconut milk . Allow to simmer for just a few.
6. Top with basil- fresh or powder based on what's available.

Serve with rice and I think would go well with phulkas too.


Three times a charm :)

At least for me it was. Here are pictures from my successful attempt at pizza making from scratch. This was a greek pizza and it tasted pretty good. It was not a papa johns but no dominos either. Now my cooking demons will be at peace.

P.S. I will come back later to post the recipe, toppings et al.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Vegetarian Lasagna

Another dish that is easy to make and bake :) Can be stored in the freezer for later use too.
1) lasagna (store bought) -whole wheat tastes good too
2) Prego lasagna sauce - I use the garlic parmesan flavor and have tried the tomato basil too. This can be made at home and have tried it, but the prego sauce is really good
3) vegetables of your choice ( I used green and red bell pepper, garlic, onions and spinach).
4) Olive oil
5) Basil
6) Italian shredded cheese (can either buy pre-shredded or shred at home a combination of mozzarella, parmesan)
7) Ricotta cheese

1) Chop all vegetables finely
2) Thaw spinach
3) Take oil (some olive oil too), then add garlic..saute....add onions, sautee and then add peppers. When all are cooked then add the spinach too. In the end add the ricotta cheese and the sauces and basil and cook for just a few min. stuffing is ready :)
4) cook the pasta as per instructions in boiling water, feel to make sure it is well cooked.
5) Layer in a pan, pasta, vegetable filling and cheese and keep repeating for about 2-3 times, so you have 3 layers of the same. Then cover with aluminum foil.
6) place in a pre-heated oven for 30 min closed and then remove the aluminum foil and keep for 15 more min. Lasagna ready..dig in and enjoy.
Use the temp on the pasta cover; I think it is 375 or 425 F :)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Cashew Cake

This was one more on the list, a recipe I got from my relative. It came out pretty well. But as mentioned in the recipe, it is very important that you turn the gas off pretty soon as soon as the cashew powder is added. Else the cake is harder than you would like it. Another tip is to knead the dough with a little bit of water before rolling it out so that it is soft. Ensoy!


  • Kaju (cashews) piece 250 g
  • Water, 50 ml
  • Sugar 125 g
  • Silver foil 3-4 sheets (optional)

  1. Grind kaju (cashews) to a fine paste (powder). Do not add any water while grinding. Keep aside.

  2. Take sugar in a pan and add water. Boil till a single thread syrup is formed, about 3-4 minutes after the syrup starts boiling.

  3. Mix kaju paste into the syrup, break balls (lump) with a spoon moving it in circular motion, stir well. Switch off the burner and let it cool so that it becomes thicker.

  4. Transfer it on a greased surface and roll it with a rolling pin to about 1/8" thickness.

  5. Let it cool and apply silver foil gently.

  6. After about 1-2 hour, cut the katlis into diamond shape.
Remember, as soon as u add the cashew powder to the sugar syrup, u stir for about 1/2 minute and take it off the gas, do not keep it longer or the consistency changes. Otherwise it is an easy recipe and good to eat of course.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Kai Murukku

I have always been driven to try things that are labeled hard or difficult to make as far as cooking goes.  I get a wonderful warm feeling when that does end up coming out successful :) I wish the same motivation applied when it came to work, ha..not a chance!

So this has been on my list of things for a long long time and finally I convinced my mother in law that we should try it and here is my attempt. She made the dough though from where the murukkus came. I have to admit it was not an easy task and requires repeated practice to get proficient I would think. I was happy though with results for a first time.

Me hard at work :)

One of my better ones

All done, we were generous with the seasame seeds

My version of Mexican

I like to cook but off late that has taken a backseat with Mr. V taking priority. Getting into blogging and checking out a few food blogs was enough motivation. Last month I tried out mexican one Friday and it has taken me only a month more to post some pics. I actually made this bean dip/Nachos, salsa, quesedillas and burritos. Arranged and took pictures only of these:)
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