Verse of the week

"For whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God."- 1 Corinthians 10:31

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Friday, February 17, 2012

Thai Roasted Chicken

I make roasted chicken quite a bit.Why?It is cost effective.I usually get 2-3 different meals out of 1 whole chicken.So to keep it interesting,i play around with spices.You will see different take with spices in roasting the chicken.
            This time,i decided to add some Thai spices i have sitting in my refrigerator.I had bought Dijon mustard after long time,i prefer  grainy texture,so i get stone ground.I wanted to be able to use it in the recipe.I mixed it up with Red Thai Curry Paste and Sambal Olek.Sambal is a Thai chili paste.To mellow down the heat little,I added some Guava Jelly i had.Exotic ha !Now you know the reason behind the dish name.This is what i had roughly.I wasn't measuring anything,just eyeballing.
  • 2-2.5 Tbl stone ground Dijon mustard
  • 2 Tsp Sambal Olek
  • 1-1.5 Tsp Red Thai Curry Paste
  • 1/4 - 1/2 Tsp Guava Jelly
  • 1 Tbl oil
  • Salt to season.
Roasted  Chicken
Mix all the ingredients and lather chicken with it.Inside and out.Poke the chicken,so the spices goes inside.You can marinade the chicken longer like that too.Make sure to season with salt liberally.Bake at 425F for 30 mins.When it has started darkening ,turn the temperature down to 400F,bake for another 30 mins,covered with Aluminum foil.It was the big size chicken,usually i go  with 400F and lowering down to 375F.Let it rest after taking out from the oven,it helps juices to redistribute and settle down.

Gravy :       
Traditionally gravy is made with roux but being as lazy as i get while cooking,I poured down the juices from baked chicken in a pan.In a separate bowl,dissolved 1 Tbl of corn starch in cold water.Poured it in the liquid.Boil it until it thickens.Season to your liking.
             Carve the chicken and drizzle the gravy on top of it before serving.I served  it with the side of homemade honey rolls and green beans.

Red Velvet Cupcake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Red Velvet cake is my hubby's one of the favorite cake flavor.I have made it earlier using the store bought mix.On this valentine day  i thought i will give a try to make it from scratch,so i googled around and settled on this  Red Velvet Cupcakes Recipe
Red Velvet cupcake

 I found mine little bit drier then what i would have liked it to be,not sure if i overbaked it,i followed the instruction verbatim on this one.However cream cheese frosting totally made for that.I am not a fan of  shortening based icing,blob of trans fat and too sweet but this was airy,rich and smooth and i loved every bit of it !
Side Notes:
-I used gel food coloring,pink.I didn't had red.
-Make sure that cakes are completely cooled down before applying frosting.
-Put the leftover cupcakes in refrigerator.It tastes just as good.

Valentine Sugar Cookies

For Valentine class party parents were asked to bring different items for party,when i went to sign up for that,only thing left blank,said 'Homemade Cookies',where 'Homemade' was added later on the printed sheet !With my past experience in helping out at class parties,i have seen couple of  box(es) of store bought cookies.Not that there is anything wrong with that but it is probably too much  when 4 people bring the same thing.Anyway,i happily signed up for that.I was glad because thats what i wanted to bring too.
              I have one trusty recipe for  Sugar Cookies which i cut it out in heart shape,sprinkled with colored sugar and valentine nonpareil and baked .Easy !!!

Heart cookies


Side Notes:
-Icing/Frosting the cookies are most common and probably favorite way to decorate the cookies.I find icing too sweet,not to mention messy,so i prefer sprinkles and colored sugar.Also,cookies needs to be completely cooled down before it can be iced,it adds another time factor,i don't get excited about.

Valentine Treat Bags

We made treat bags for our kids classmates and teachers.It easily added up to around 35 little gifts.It is  very easy to go over board but i wanted to
  • Keep it simple but cute
  • Keep it frugal yet  not cheap looking
  • My kids MUST participate in making it happen
Of course,these days there is pinterest to help Mom like me and  thats where the ideas came from,i customized little bit to suit in my budget.
For teacher

Teacher's valentine gift

For classmates
  • I don't wanted to print the cute labels.My printer is a ink hog or spend money outside printing it,so i made my kids write it.Yes alphabet practice bonus !
  • I love paper crafting(or thats what i think),so i have some crafting supplies.I cut out hearts and my kids scribbled,drew on those white cards and glued heart cut outs,which they handed to their classmates.
Valentine cards for classmates
I probably spent less then 50 cents on each gift.Cheap can you say?Cute,i like to think so !You be the judge.

Valentine Day Party

Valentine day party has come and gone and i know i am little late in posting.To me valentine day is modern day invention,i know the roots run  deep but its popularity is definitely something i wasn't aware of growing up in India,US is another story and i am told it has been certainly popular longer then what i knew of.So much so that there are class Valentine day parties at schools.
Of course my kids school are not any different.Every kid was suppose to bring something for all of their classmates and for teachers(Though it is unwritten communication).Also a food item for the party.
              At the home front,we of course wanted to do something to celebrate it little.So we went out for dinner(Yes,its a big deal to go out for dinner in the weekdays for us.Don't laugh and judge us !!!).So in short that's what we did for Valentine madness.



Thursday, February 16, 2012

Superbowl Party

This past Sunday on Feb 5th,we hosted the Super Bowl XLVI party at our home with some dear friends.I am so not a sports person,certainly not the football ,though i am married to one who likes a game of good football !
           Don't ask me the score for the game,i only came to know who is playing who and when, only couple of days because i had to send the email out for the party.The real reason i love  Superbowl is,you get to gobble TONS of wide array of food with friends,lots of laughter sitting across the dinner table  and watch some funny commercials,the only time during the game that  i turn my head towards the TV or may be half time entertainment !
            I just have to say it to those who are not familiar with American Football,Yes i had several instances where i had to explain this.Its quintessentially  'American' Football ,which might have been played in some place outside US too,i am not too familiar with that quiz question. It is to Americans,what Cricket is to Indians.It is played not only at professional level but also at  high school level and college level.Its popularity is SAME across all the levels.Whether its a small town of 900 residents or the big boys making big bucks,stadium is always crowded with fans.
           American football is NOT soccer.Soccer is soccer.Soccer is what is played in India, where you try to kick the ball towards the goal.FIFA world cup is prized possession,if you are into soccer.It  is called 'Football'  in India loosely.Its NOT Rugby,which is popular in England and some other countries.Notice the lack of pads in Rugby player uniform and take a look at Eli Manning  playing 'American' Football.Or take a look at Tom Brady and David Beckham while they are in field.You will know the difference right away !!
          Sorry i got distracted for little bit.Getting back to track now.Our menu had some classic Superbowl food fare.Some non traditional yummies too and something just for kids.Yes it was family affair,so we were mindful of all the sizes of demographics .

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Bacon Mac & Cheese

Mac & Cheese is short for (Marconi and cheese).It is  most likely on the the top of quintessential  American grub.For many its a classic comfort food.To many,i am guessing from what i hear,brings the childhood  memory.And to some it reminds them of their college days,only next to Ramen Noodles...i can not say any of these things for myself.It was as foreign to me as the  country itself.
                  I decided to pay attention to this American Classic only because my husband liked them growing up too and my kids,they love pasta and cheese,so what better way there is then Mac and Cheese..But it didn't come easy to me.Everytime i tried to make the white sauce,milk curdled and everything ended up in garbage.I almost came to the conclusion that i can not make decent mac and cheese from scratch and hardly ever made them...thats when i found this great recipe on pinterest.Easiest and full proof ..
 Since it is one of the kids favotire recipe,i decided to make it for Superbowl party with family.I added bacon to it.I don't eat bacon but i know many bacon fanatics.It adds that salty,toasty,crispy texture to the dish and as the saying goes,it makes all things good !So this  is the  Mac & Cheese Recipe i followed.

I did very little minor tweaks. 
-Of course added bacon to it,to make it little more party worthy !
-Used the combination of Cheddar,Mozzarella and Parmesan Cheese
-Added 2.5-3 Tbl of Butter.
-Traditionally it is made with elbow shaped Marconi pasta,so the name  but you can make it with different shaped pasta Ziti,Gemilli, Rotini,Rigatoni, Fusilli,the kind which looks more closely related then far distant cousins.You can name it based on pasta you used !

Country Hash Browns

Hash Browns is very popular breakfast staple  that i became acquainted with after coming here.Since i am a potato lover,it became my fridge staple very quickly.It is usually served along with Pancakes and eggs or Biscuit.There are two versions of it. Thin and 2" inches long julienne version and then there are small cubes.I like them both but i find the cubed version much more versatile.Supermarket label them as 'Country Hash browns'.Don't know why?May be easy rustic charm as suppose to precisely julienne long thin strips,which is hard to do using just simple chef knife ! I have used them in my vegetable side dishes,like making peas with potatos and such.
So when  i made the pancakes other day,i decided to serve it along with it.I hardly buy frozen anymore.I cut them as i need them.Cubes that is.This is what went to it.
5 mins to cooking
  • 2-3 Russet potatoes (peeled  and cubed)
  • 1 yellow bell pepper(cubed,roughly same size as potatos)
  • 1 Onion chopped 
  • Chopped scallion (green onion) leaves
  • 1-2 chopped garlic
  • 1 tsp of paprika
  • Southwest Chipotle seasoning
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tbl oil
ready to serve
Saute onion in oil.Once its starts getting translucent and brown.Add garlic and chopped bell pepper to it.Add rest of the seasoning.Cook it medium high in the beginning 5 mins,stirring frequently.Once you see it browining,simmer it down and let it cook for another 10 mins or so.There you have it !

Side Notes:
-You can use frozen country hash browns.
-You can use red bell pepper.I try not to use green peppers as i don't find them with much taste.Colored version are sweeter.
 -Use whatever kind of seasoning blend you have or season with spices you like.

Dal Kicked up

Dal aka Lentil is part of everyday Indian meal,usually served along with rice.It is very rich source of Protein.Since most of the Indians tend to be vegetarians,it is very essential element of the meal.It usually makes it appearance as just 'Dal' in North Indian meals or as 'Sambhar' in South Indian and on festive occasions it takes the form of 'Dal Makhani'  or 'Tadka'.In many West Indian cusine it is also used in dessert,as well as seasoning in deep South Indians cuisines.

Mung Dal(deskinned)
Being a north Indian,i grew up eating it in the simplest of form  served along with rice and vegetable side dish everyday and i must tell you i did NOT like them at all.Now i love them.There are varieties of lentils popular in India unlike what i have seen here in US superstore,usually very limited.Texture,size and of course taste decides how they will be used in dishes.Not one fits all.
                  In our home,my husband doesn't care for it much by itself,so i sneak it in rice !My daughter and son loves them with rice.I sometime add 'ghee' on the top of it !
                  I decided to make this dish using 'Mung' lentil.They are small and not very hardy,so they cook faster and take about the same time as rice takes,may be little more.Usually when lentils are cooked,they are seasoned with oil after that,to the very basic using cumin/mustard seeds and chili flakes.However i wanted to kick it up a notch,so this is how i made this :

Dal spiced 
up close and personal
  • 1/2 cup Mung Lentil
  • 1-2 medium sized tomato
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 medium size onion
  • 1/4 Tsp Cumin seeds
  • Chili flakes to taste
  • pinch of Turmeric 
  • Handful of coriander leaves
  • 1/2 tsp of Tamrind paste(optional)
  • 1/2 Tbl oil
Cook the Lentil in 2 cups of water.Add chopped tomatoes and turmeric to it.In the last 10 mins of cooking,Add oil to pan.Add cumin and chili flakes,chopped garlic.Add onion.Saute it all until onion is brown and soft.Add coriander leaves and Tamarind paste to it.Add cooked lentil to it.Add some water to it.Salt it and cook it for 5 mins,till everything has a chance to mingle together and consistency is not too runny unless thats what you like it.Soup or Stew,your choice.
Side Notes:
-You can use other kind of lentils,the one most popular here is called 'Masoor' in Indian.They are sold here with the skin on,we hardly every used 'Masoor' with skin on.It was deskinned,orange color,that is staple in Indian kitchen.It is just called 'Lentil' here,i find it funny,as if there is only one single species of lentil exists in entire world but that is what is marketed here,so i guess it makes sense.Also they are named differently here and some are identified as 'beans' or 'peas' with different prefixes.
-I have found 'Mung' in Ethnic Aisle or health food aisle.Again they are with green skin on.I used the 'Yellow' deskinned version as it cookes faster.
-What they call here 'Pigeon Peas' is 'Arhar/Toor' lentil,first most common indian lentil and used in variety in dishes
-Tamarind is completely optional.It is not at all common in North Indain cooking but it is used regularly in south Indian cooking and i have developd acquired taste for it during my study and work days.It adds slight tartness to the dish,which i like.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Illusion of Biscuit

Biscuit hmm....when i heard it first time,my picture of it couldn't have been more different.In India,what we call Biscuit is cookies kinda stuff,not soft and chewy like you think of it here but hard and crispy sweet thing,which you eat as  snack with tea or coffee or just by itself.
            For the record,concept of cookies in India is non-existent.Traditional Indian homes do not have baking oven.So the baked goods are out of question.Though,i never felt the lack of  baked goodies,first i didn't know any better and second,there are multiple variety of Indian desserts which are plenty to keep me satisfied.

            So when my husband said ,Biscuit and gravy that he loves.I was totally astounded to associate Biscuit with something like 'gravy' as in what kind of gravy.How can you eat biscuit with gravy?I googled and then came to understand what he actually meant.It is a staple in Southern cooking and popular breakfast item.So my quest for Biscuit began.I am still not where i want to be  as in i rate my biscuit at the best average i guess but my family nonetheless like my biscuits(or forced to like).I have tried different recipes and i do  not know where i found it on internet but this is what goes in there :

  • 2 cups All purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 Tbl Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 6 Tbl Butter chilled
  • 3/4 cup Buttermilk * 
Cut the cold butter in chunks,I used pastry cutter, mix with flour until it resembles coarse like pea size granules.Add rest of the ingredients.Add buttermilk slowly.Once dough is ready,put it on floured surface and roll is in 1/2" thickness.Cut it using biscuit cutter.Arrange then on cookie sheet and bake it until they are little brown on top.Brush with melted butter when they come out,i left that part and mine out of laziness and the fact they don't need any more butter,so they were dry on the top. I served them with some grape jelly,scrambled eggs and country hash browns.Lets say there was no leftovers !!!

These are the Biscuit wisdom i have heard and tried to incorporate some but i am no where near making perfect Biscuit.
  • Use shortening instead of butter,as it takes longer to melt and give rise to the fluffiness.I refuse  to use shortening,so that's the first strike against good Biscuit and the BIG one.
  • Do not over mix,it makes the biscuit tougher.I try not to,best of my knowledge.
  • I didn't had buttermilk,so i added some water to the yogurt and used that.Buttermilk sold here is completely different then what Indian think of buttermilk but i used it in Indian way for what i had.
  • Butter has to be COLD COLD so it melts when it goes in oven and not before.Again not overmixing helps,as heat of your hand melts the butter somewhat too or it breaks into very little pieces.
  • Arrange the biscuit touching each other as they help each other with rising.Camaraderie !!
  • 450F which recipe called originally was too hot for my oven so i lowered it down to 400F.
  • Layer the Biscuit like making 'Paratha',those layer separates as it bakes and creates fluffiness.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Chicken Enchilada Mixed up

My  first acquaintance with Enchilada had to be when my roommate was invited to her American friend house and they had hands on Mexican cooking.It was decade ago,my beginning months in US.She brought a piece back for me to taste.I loved the taste and she explained to me how it was made and all the details but she didn't know the name,so i asked her to find out next day.And she did came with the name which we both had trouble saying for long time.We said it slowly,dissecting the word in couple of letters(En-chi-la-da).
               Forgotten the name.My next encounter didn't happen until i got married and found out my hubby loves Mexican food  and visited restaurant.Then  i stared piecing it together.It was Chicken Enchilada with green verde sauce,wrapped in corn tortilla.I remembered the tangy taste and look of it.To this day,this is my  most favorite kind of enchilada.First impression has lasting impression as the story goes..
              As you are going along with the story,lets me tell you what i did this in particular instance.I almost never make enchilada unless i have leftover chicken to figure out with what to do.Weird i know.I had lots of different kind of leftover on this particular evening.I had leftover roasted chicken.Some Red enchilada sauce,some sour cream and some picante sauce but nothing was enough in itself and thats where the word 'Mixed up' comes.I mixed my leftovers sauces to make enough sauce for enchilada.This is what goes into this.:
  • Corn Tortilla 
  • Mexican Blend cheese (or Shredded Cheddar cheese)
  • Mixed up red sauce,picante sauce,sour cream(eyeballed)
Filling
Filling Corn Tortilla

  • Leftover chicken 
  • 1 stalk of celery chopped
  • 1 Onion chopped
  • 1 Tomato chopped
  • 1 Tbl Southwest Chipotle seasoning(Use your Favorite)
  • Salt and Pepper to Taste

Brown onion and celery.Add leftover chicken and rest of the ingredient.Cook it and break the chicken into small pieces in cooking process.Add little water and simmer it until you think all is mingled well.Layer the glass baking dish with sauce.Microwave the corn tortilla,so they are pliable.Add the filling,top with some cheese before you close it.Put the seam side down on dish.Top it with rest of the sauce and Cheese.Cook it covered in Aluminum foil at 375F for 20-25 mins.Serve it just by itself or along with Spanish rice/beans.
Placed seam side down in sauced up baking dish

Ready to go in Oven
Ready to eat
Side Notes
-You can use flour tortilla if you like.
-You can use your choice of enchilada sauce and cheese.



Saturday, February 11, 2012

Chicken and Shrimp Biryani

Whenever i think about Chicken Biryani,i think of comfort food.The term 'comfort food' i learnt again for me watching too much of food network shows.It has different meaning for everyone.It is something which doesn't only warm up your belly,it warms up yours thoughts,just simple feel good.The food which makes you warm and happy.
          I must admit,i did not grew up eating Chicken Biryani.I have list of comfort food which reminds me of my mom's cooking and which i LOVE.Though as i moved around in India for study and work,i had close encounter with Biryani and fell in love with it.
          However for a very long time,this remain to be a distant desire because traditionally Biryani is a long time intensive process,cooked in deep dutch oven,layered with rice and long marinated chicken,sprinkled with saffron water and sealed with dough,cooked over flame slowly.Oh i can smell the aroma and just writing the description makes me drool !!!Ever since,i have always been in search of making it easy and this is what i settled at.I know the list of ingredients are daunting but trust me it makes it all good.
  • 3 Chicken Leg Quarters(You can use other cuts)
  • 10-12 deveined Frozen shrimp(Optional)
  • 2 Tbl Yogurt
  • 1/4 Tsp Turmeric(For color)
  • 1/4 Tsp Paprika(Optional)
  • 2 cups of rice
  • Couple strands of Saffron(Optional)
Marinade the chicken in all the spices above.Make sure you cut the slit in Chicken.You can marinade in overnight if you want to.I did for 20 mins.Dissolve the Saffron in 1/2 cup of water.
Spices:
  • 3 cloves 
  • 3-4 Green Cardamom 
  • 2 Black Cardamom
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 1-2 small pieces Cinnamon Bark
  • Red chili flakes
Add all the above to 1-1.5 Tbl oil.It will season the oil and add that quintessential fragrance to the dish.
Saute ingredients
  • 3 Medium size onions
  • 3 big clove of garlic
  • 1 tsp of ginger
  • Handful of cilantro
  • 2-3 medium size Tomato
Saute the onion.When its translucent.Take half of it out and put in blender along with rest if saute ingredients.Add marinaded chicken in rest of the translucent onions and when its getting brown color.Add the blended ingredients.Cook it until  chicken is done and take it out.
           Add shrimp and cook it for 5 mins and take it out.Add the rice to it.It will have some water to it,from cooking chicken to it.Add Saffron water and some more water to it and cook it until its done around 20 mins.Meanwhile if you have boned-in chicken,debone it.Add it to the rice while its in last stage of cooking.
Stir it all well,when its done.There you have it the easy way to make this delicious dish.It is traditionally serve along with Raita.I didn't take a trouble of making it,since its good as it is and my husband is not a big fan of yogurt,though My kids love it with plain yogurt.



Side notes:
-If you don't have all the spices.Use 1.5 tsp of Garam Masala while cooking chicken.It will give you the similar taste and aroma.
-If you don't have Garam Masala,you can use whatever seasoning blend you have in hand.It won't be authentic smelling chicken Biryani but you will still like the result.I have done it with Adobo,Taco,Fajita,Fiesta Lime,Southwest Chipotle,any Latin/Mexican blend seasoning.
-I don't prefer chicken breast meat to it because it tends to dry .I would prefer chicken drumsticks or thighs,Leg quarters and debone it once cooked.If using boneless thighs,take it out as soon as its cooked and add later.It doesn't take long to cook.
-To know the amount of water you need to add in rice.Put a back of spatula,marked 1" from the bottom, touching the rice.Keep adding water until the water reaches to 1" .I use my finger at times.Mostly i eyeball it.
-I would use chopful of Mint,if i have it.It gives that minty aroma to it,which i like.

Deviled Eggs

I made Chicken Biryani yesterday for dinner.Typically Biryani has boiled eggs in it many times.Since just plain boiled egg doesn't sound very interesting to my family,i turn them in to deviled eggs.Yes its one of the easy American appetizer i learnt shortly after i got married..This is what went to mine
  • 5 hard boiled eggs
  • 1-2 Tbl pickle juice 
  • 1 Tbl Yellow mustard paste
  • salt and pepper to taste 
Deviled eggs
Once eggs are cooked.Slice them in half and take the yellow yolks out in separate bowl.Add rest of the ingredients and mix them well.Add it back to to the hollowed eggs.There you have it.
Side Notes:
-To get the perfect boiled eggs.Boil the eggs until the water comes to bubbling boil.Turn the heat off.Cover the pan and let it sit for 20 mins.You will have perfect boiled egg every time.
-You can add roasted ground cumin or paprika to  it.
-You can add just plain white vinegar instead of pickle juice. 
-You can pipe the mixture to the hollowed eggs to make it look fancier,i just used my hands in hurry.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Brownies

I made Brownies today and it was not dry,overbaked or burnt ..yes thats a big achievement in itself..I love brownies better then cookies or cake but i never had luck making good brownies.I have even destroyed the store bought mix couple of times,can you believe it?



I was looking for brownie recipe which uses cocoa powder mix,since its sitting in my pantry and  i am trying to use it all.This is when i came across this simple Brownie Recipe .I followed the recipe verbatim and the result was amazing.

           

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Snowflake Sugar Cookies

When i was introduced to cookies,i was not too impressed with them.I don't have sweet tooth but i certainly have list of  dessert which i like and cookies didn't made to that list.Then  until of course i met these homemade fluffy and soft sugar cookies at a birthday party.It totally raised the bar for cookies for me and to this day this is my most favorite cookie in the list of 2 or 3 which i have liked so far.
                 This is also the BASIC Sugar Cookie,which i customize by cutting out in different shapes as per the occasion.So they become Christmas, thanksgiving, Valentine and Easter cookies on those occasions.
  • 1 c butter, softened (real butter, not margarine)
  • 1 c sugar
  • 1 lg egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 ¾ c flour
Cream butter and sugar using stand mixer or handheld mixer. Beat in egg and vanilla. Add baking powder and flour; stir well. Roll 1/8” thick on floured surface. Cut out and transfer to ungreased cookie sheet. Bake in 400 degree oven, 8-10 minutes or until lightly brown.
Jessica's tip:
I use ½ cake flour and ½ all purpose flour. (1 ¼ c cake flour, 1 ½ c all purpose) It makes the cookies much fluffier and softer. I think it helps the dough stay together and cut out easier if you refrigerate it for 20-30 min before rolling it out. I bake mine 8 minutes or JUST until they start turning brown (not completely brown). This helps them stay softer.
           If you don't know me,baking is not my forte.I never ever baked until long after i got married.So my learning curve was rather steep.I have fought hard battle against cookies and it took my friend Emily to show me with hands on demo,how to do it.How thick is too thick or too thin?
           Cookies are most certainly an American fare.It is a very very common dessert.As i am learning about these finicky piece of goodness,i have found that
-They tend to be very temperamental and unforgiving piece of delicacy.
-If you overbake them,they are hard and crunchy.If you underbake them,they are doughy and gooey.Unless thats what you like,it pretty much ends up in a trash in our house after sitting for couple days becoming stale.
-Thickness is a big part.If its rolled too thin,it will bake sooner and  will get crispy or burnt.
-Every oven is calibrated differently and some tend to get too hot for the temperature recipes calls for.So even if you are following the recipes exactly you may not get the expected result.I certainly didn't.So try lowering the temperature.After several failed trials,you will get to the temp,cookies like.
-You should rather take it out 1-2 mins sooner then later from the oven.1 min  extra in oven would make or break the cookie.


I am no where near expert and always say a cookie prayer before i make them.There are so many tips which goes along with it,i am unraveling them as i bake along.

BBQ Chicken Drummettes

If you have watched Superbowl,there is outrageous  amount of food involved.Also you may have noticed there are some food which are associated with watching football.Chicken wings are obiviousely one of them,if you haven't guessed it yet.And its not just one variety.
You will usually see assortment of chicken wings,flavored with different types of sauces,devoured during these parties.Some are fried and then soaked with sauces.Some are grilled and basted with sauces during grilling and there are some like me who bake the chicken only because its the easiest  and it does not require me standing by the stove.So thats what i was trying to do for our superbowl party..I had made Balsamic Chicken Drummettes and now i wanted to make a BBQ flavored one.Again,i wasn't making 'wings' technically,i was making meatier part of it ,sold as 'Drummettes'.
Food network once again came to help.I loosely based  my BBQ Chicken Drummettes on this  Recipe 
-I used the BBQ sauce i had in hand and used 1/2 cup instead of 1/4.
-I omitted orange zest because i wasn't sure about the fruity fragrance.
-I was out of hot sauce,So i substituted it with Sambal Olek,i had in my refrigerator .Its a Thai Chili paste.
-I was out of Dijon mustard,so i squirted the regular yellow mustard a tablespoon or so.


Result was still fabulous despite of all the tweaks !!



Balsamic Chicken Drummettes

My vocabulary in meat greatly increased when i came to US.Growing up in India,chicken was not the everyday meal option for us.Rice,lentil and vegetable side dish is what we ate on regular basis.So eating chicken was sort of specialty,may be once in couple week,kind of occurrence.
                 After coming here i realized,that, here meal is not considered complete unless meat is served in the meal.Hmmmm....i thought...I never missed the meat,we had assortment of vegetables served with our meal,cooked differently and i am still the same way.
                  When you buy the chicken in India,you don't have an option to buy it by parts or at least decade ago, where i lived anyway.You get the whole chicken cut up in pieces.So  it was sorta weird in a way to see it being sold part wise here in US.I liked that you had the choice and so many options to cook it with.Thats  how  i got to know about  Drummettes.Because of the small size of it as well as being able to hold it with your hand and eat ,its considered perfect finger food during parties..particularly Superbowl party is not complete without Chicken Wings.I prefer Drummettes over wings because for one,they are less messy to eat.Two,they are meatier then wings.

This recipe is again a result of me being cooking show junkie. This  is where i got the Balsamic Chicken Drummettes recipe . I did minor tweaks to it.



-I reduced the amount of honey and brown sugar to 1/4 cup.I felt it would be too sweet otherwise for our taste.
-I did not add Rosemary.I find it  overpowering  the dish ,based on past experience.
-I didn't sprinkle with seasame seeds.
-I did not add parsely.


Despite of the tweaks it turned out to be tasty! 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

My friend Emily is famous for her baked goodies.We often request her to bring dessert during parties.She is my Cookies helpline too ! This is her take on our friend Jessica's original recipe, which is great in itself.It calls for ground cloves.She left out the cloves and added half or more may be, bag of leftover chocolate chips and Peanut Butter Chips to it.
  • ¾ c real butter, softened
  • 1 c brown sugar
  • ½ c sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¾ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 ¾ c flour
  • 2 c oats
  • 1/2 or so bag of Chocolate Peanut Butter Chips mix (i think its 12 oz bag)




Mix together and drop onto cookie sheet. Bake at 375 for 8 minutes. Do NOT overbake.ENJOY !

Sopapilla Cheesecake

First time i had  Sopapilla  many years ago at a place here in town called 'Ponchos',where my hubby took me for dinner.It was  sprinkled with powder sugar,served along side honey.It is a Latin American/Mexican dessert.It vaguely reminded me of sweet version of Indian crispy 'Katchori' and thats what  i call it at home.
            I  had never tasted the  Sopapilla  transformed to a Cheesecake before.When my friend Emily brought it to the party...ohhhhh it looked ....hmmm...can you say drool? Here is  how she made this divine dessert.
  • 2 pkgs crescent rolls
  • 1 stick butter
  • 2 pkgs cream cheese, room temp
  • 1 ½ c sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • cinnamon/sugar blend to sprinkle on top(Eyeball it)


Spray 9 x 13 pan. Place one layer of crescent rolls on bottom of pan; press seams together. In bowl, mix together 1 stick cream cheese and ½ c sugar until very fluffy (like egg whites). Add second cream cheese pkg and ½ c sugar. Mix again until fluffy. Add ½ c sugar and vanilla; mix until fluffy. Spread over crescent rolls. Add second can of rolls – don’t press together. Sprinkle with cinnamon/sugar blend. Melt butter and pour on top. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 – 20 minutes.Your taste buds will thank you after eating this.
This is how you say  "Sopapilla" :
"ll" is silent in this Spanish  dessert..so it sounds like (So-Pa-Pia).

Sausage Balls

Sausage balls are great party appetizer because of the ease of making it.I personally  can not tell how they taste but i have heard the rave reviews of it whenever my friend Emily brings it to the party.Here is how she makes them.

  • 1 lb sausage (I used mild)
  • 3 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 3 cups bisquick




Let sausage set out til room temp. Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl with your fingers. Mixture will be crumbly. Press together to form 1” balls. Bake 350F for  18-20 minutes. Rotate them half way through cooking to prevent them from sticking.




Side note:
Bisquick is a brand of baking mix for those not familiar with it,outside US.



Monday, February 6, 2012

Fruit Salsa with Bunuelos

Fruit Salsa also happens to be another snack item which i had a chance to taste at Ladies Fellowship.My friend Emily had brought it.I tasted  it and i liked it but didn't had the chance to make it.To me Fruit salsa is also a good way to eat fruits which i do not like by itself.Apple,Pear,Grapes etc also happen to be  those category of  fruits.I know crazy.
            With Superbowl approaching, i thought this would be nice little sweet appetizer to go along.I googled and came across this Fruit Salsa Tips. I based my fruit salsa using the tips here.I selected the hardy fruits,which doesn't get mushy  as it sits for couple of hours.This is what i added in mine.
  • 1 Apple
  • 2 Pears
  • 1/2 of Medium size Pineapple 
  • 2 Plums
  • 8-10 Medium Size Strawberry
  • 1/2 Lime Juice
  • 1 Tbl-1.5 Tbl Honey
  • 1-2 Tbl Powder Sugar 
Wash and cut all the fruits in very tiny size pieces.I peeled the pears before i chopped it.Drizzle it  with honey and powder sugar.I just eyeballed it and tasted it to make sure its right.Chill in the refrigerator for 1-2 hrs.Serve it with Bunuelos.
Side Notes :
-Bunuelos (Boo-Noo-Ye-lows) are corn Tortilla Fried and sprinkled with Cinnamon and regular Sugar.Its Tex Mex dessert in itself.Its very crispy and crunchy.You are bound to have sugar all over you when you are eating them,just saying.

Chips and Queso

Queso(sounds  like K-So) is a Spanish word for 'Cheese'.It is very popular in Texas,particular South Texas,which is not far from the Border of Mexico.South Texas cuisine is  heavily influenced by their Mexican neighbor. So much so,there is a term coined just for that kind of cuisine 'Tex Mex'.It also happens to be my favorite  after Indian of course.
                    I do not remember when i had Queso for the first time but whenever i did,i became a  fan of it.Also, since its SO EASY to put it all together,it makes regular appearance at the parties around here.
You can make 'Queso' using couple different kind of cheeses.For my superbowl party,i went to the easiest of the routes.Yes the Velveeta Route.There isn't really a recipe for this dish.
  • 2 lb.(32Oz.) Block of Velveeta Cheese
  • 1 can of Rotel Tomato



Cut the block of Velveeta in manageable size of pieces,to fit your pot.Add the can of tomato and keep stirring the mixture at slow heat until its all melted and mixed.It takes may be 7-10 minutes.Serve it with Tortilla Chips.
Side Notes :
- You can add meat or couple different  kind of chopped veggies to it.Name of the dish gets updated based on your choice of  ingredient.
-You can use any diced tomato with green pepper.I used Rotel brand of canned tomatoes ,it has chopped onions and mild green peppers added to it.
-As it cools,cheese solidifies.So keep it in warmer to maintain the thin consistency.
-Believe it or not,it took me a while to make good queso.You must be thinking really?How can you mess this up?I did.Then i watched my sister in law making it at some occasion.Yes the key is "Keep Stirring" and not leave the site of stove while you are making it.

Amanda's Tomato Salsa with Tortilla Chips

It was couple of years ago,when i had the opportunity to participate in Ladies Fellowship over Crafts and Scrapbooking. Everyone was encouraged to bring a finger food to munch while crafting and chatting away.Thats when i had a chance to taste this salsa with some tortilla chips and i am a fan of this YUMMIEST salsa ever since.Thanks to my friend Amanda !I had to ask her to bring it to Superbowl party since i was craving for this salsa  goodness so much.She happily obliged us and shared her recipe !


  • 4 - 5 medium Roma tomatoes  
  • 2 - 3 cloves of Garlic
  • 1-1.5 Jalapeno 
  • 1/4 medium size onion
  • 1/2 lime juice 
  • 1 tsp Cumin
  • Handful of Cilantro(Coriander leaves)
  • Dash of Onion powder
  • Salt to taste
Amanda's Tomato Salsa
Tortilla Chips
Put all the the ingredients in Blender and liquefy it .You have the tastiest Tomato Salsa.Serve it with your favorite Tortilla Chips.It has very well balanced taste.You don't have ingredients fighting over for the top spot.It tastes great next day as well.


Amanda's side notes :
Jalapenos were deseeded and veins were taken out to reduce the heat.Of course if you like it spicy you can leave them or add more if you like.