Monday, July 2, 2012

Shrimp Fry with Green Tomatoes

I lost my Grandfather few days back and I pray that he rests in peace. When you lose one of your loved ones, it changes your whole perspective. It makes you sort the priorities. End of the day, nothing is in our hands, we just have to make the best of it and take life as it comes. 
I have such wonderful memories of my Grandfather. He loved cooking anything related to meat or seafood. He would cook our cherished family recipes like Fish pulusu(curry), Lamb curry and Prawns fry. Of course my Grandma was like a sous chef to him, doing all prep activities, getting all the ingredients ready next to the stove.
This Shrimp recipe is in loving memory of my Grandfather. I slightly changed our family's classic Shrimp fry recipe with addition of tangy green tomatoes. I am still enjoying the green tomatoes from our harvest last year in frozen form.

What you need:
1 cup fine chopped green tomatoes
1 cup fine chopped onions
1/4 cup fresh methi leaves
2 cups washed salad shrimp
1/4 tsp turmeric
1 tbsp ginger & garlic paste
2 tsp red chilli powder (change according to your spice threshold)
1/2 tsp coriander powder
2 tbsp oil
salt to taste
cilantro to garnish

Whole Spices:
1/2 inch cinnamon stick
1/4 tsp shahjeera
1/2 tsp jeera
1 bay leaf
2 cloves

Steps to follow:
  1. Heat oil in a saute pan
  2. Add whole spices one after another and fry for 30 sec
  3. Then add methi leaves and onions. Saute until onions turn translucent
  4. Now add ginger & garlic paste and keep stirring for a minute, the onions will start turning golden brown
  5. Add turmeric, salt & red chilli powder
  6. Add shrimp to the onion mixture and saute until shrimp is cooked (water released from shrimp should be all gone)
  7. Finally add coriander powder and turn off the heat.
  8. Garnish with fresh cilantro and serve with hot rice or roti

Monday, May 21, 2012

Working Lunch

Here is a simple but delicious Spinach & Mung bean sprouts salad made for me by dear friend Usha. Will blog about the recipe soon.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Green Peas

The Pea seedlings I planted in early spring are ready to harvest. They did not grow as big as I thought they would but started flowering few days back followed by these beautiful green pods. I didn't get a chance to cook the peas, we just ate them raw as soon as they were picked. This was the first time I ever tasted peas fresh from the vine. They were tender and sweet.
Green peas are going to be a regular in my garden from now on every year. They are so easy maintenance. Just water them alternate day. I think they tolerate some shade but I can see that the ones in full sun giving more yield. 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Monday, May 7, 2012

Pull Apart Bread Rolls

My hubby is a big fan of bread. Soft buttery rolls are his weakness J so I baked fresh pull apart rolls for him recently. I just followed the recipe from King Arthur flour website. They came out perfect and look adorable. These soft rolls are good just as they are, but would taste great with a pat of butter. Another great combination is Nutella, cut the roll into half, slather with Nutella and I guarantee you the taste will be delectable. Next time I will probably add more sugar and an egg to the dough to get that Hawaiian sweet roll flavor.
Don't really need bread machine or stand mixer, just use the muscle power to knead the dough. The buttery aroma fills the whole house while these are baking, getting your appetite ready. Just grab the soft pillow-y goodness warm out of the oven and enjoy while they last.  I used the same dough to make stuffed rolls with potato & peas filling but we finished them all before I could take a picture. Will blog about those some other time.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Mt. Diablo State Park

We went to Mount Diablo for a half day hike and picnic over the weekend to get a break from everyday routine. Mt. Diablo State park is located in San Francisco Bay area and provides spectacular views on a clear day. The weather was perfect and we worked up a sweat. While walking on the trail all you can hear is chirping of birds and sound of grass swaying to the breeze. This time of the year it's green everywhere on the hills around giving that European countryside look.
I packed light picnic food, chicken sandwich for hubby, apple cheese sandwich for me, garbanzo beans salad and fresh cut strawberries. We found a perfect picnic bench under a tree with beautiful view. It was a relaxing and refreshing trip. Since the summer is almost here, we promised ourselves that we will keep doing these day trips more often. You don't have to plan ahead, just grab something light for lunch put on your sneakers and get going to the nearest trail. As usual I forgot camera, so had to make do with my iphone :)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Wall Decal

Can you believe that we did this wall art in an hour!!!
It's not an actually painting but something called wall decal just a higher version of wall sticker we can say. I have been thinking for a while to transform this empty wall in our formal sitting room. I am no artist to do free hand painting, so found this cool wall decal idea on google. Where would we be without dear old google J
If interested, google wall decal. There are many models available for less than fifty bucks. This particular one I chose is a Magnolia tree with flowers. It came in two sheets (pic shown below) along with the instructions. We just had to cut it and stick to the wall piece by piece. You may need help of a second person for trunk and stems. My husband volunteered (rather I forced him) for  the good cause J

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Boiled Edamame

We have been getting lot of rain these days. On a rainy day, don't you love cozying up at home listening to pitter-patter of rain and reading a book. Of course, that's when I crave for something hot to eat. These boiled edamame perfectly suit the occasion and I don't have to feel guilty eating them. They are super healthy, low in fat, high in protein and fiber. Edamame are nothing but young green soybeans.
I buy them from the frozen section of my local grocery store. I always have a bag stashed in my freezer. Actually, preparing these beans is not much of a recipe. Just boil water in a big pot and add salt. Now add the frozen beans an boil for 5 minutes. Drain the water and they are ready to eat. They are delicious, addictive and fun to eat too. Squeeze the pods to pop the beans out.
Modify salt quantity according to your taste and quantity of beans. Sometimes I add a stick of cinnamon and couple of bay leaves to the boiling water before adding beans. Spices infuse their flavor and aroma to the edamame.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

DIY: Center Pieces with Lentils

Glass vases need not always be for flower arrangements. This post is an example for that. I used  different kind of lentils and beans from my pantry to create these easy but beautiful centerpieces. It hardly takes 5 minutes to put everything together. It would be a fun project to do with kids. 
Try with any kind of lentils, beans or grains as long as the colors contrast well. Just layer them one after another in a clean glass vase. Top it with a candle and got a cool centerpiece ready to adorn any table.

Here is the list of what I used -
Green lentils 
Red lentils 
Black beans
Black eyed peas
Green peas
Split peas

Once you get bored with the look, take the top layer out, wash the remaining layers well and use it for soups or stews :)

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Spring Flowers from My Garden



Virichic Tulip


Ornamental Strawberry

Rose bud

Rolling hills next to us - couldn't help sharing this beautiful scenery

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Strawberry and Fennel Sorbet

I made this sorbet to use the Fennel fronds from my backyard. I gotta say the marriage between strawberry and fennel works really well. Fennel gives a fresh note and mild liquorice flavor to this sorbet. I believe that we eat with our eyes first. The bright red color from strawberries looks so beautiful. It would be a delicious treat when weather warms up. 
This is a simple freezer sorbet. I don't even have an ice cream machine at home. I am stopping myself from buying one because I think if I own it, I will end up making ice cream everyday :) Anyhow the point is, there is no need of ice cream machine to make this sorbet. 
For adult only version, add a dash of rum to get that daiquiri flavor.

What you need:

2 1/2 cups fresh or frozen strawberries
1/2 cup finely chopped fennel leaves
1/3 cup water
3 tbsp sugar ( I don't like mine too sweet, increase to 1/4th or 1/3rd cup based on your taste)

Steps to follow:
  1. Heat water and sugar together, just until sugar melts
  2. If using frozen strawberries, thaw them for a while. Blend strawberries, fennel leaves and sugar water together
  3. Pour this mixture in a bowl. Cover and freeze it
  4. Take the mixture out in couple hours, blend again and pop it back into the freezer. Repeat this twice to get a smoother sorbet. 
  5. Scoop it in a serving bowl and enjoy

Sunday, April 1, 2012


Every time I see Daffodils, I remember William Wordsworth's poem "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud" we studied growing up.

".....When all at once I saw a crowd
A host of dancing Daffodils;
Along the Lake, beneath the trees,
Ten thousand dancing in the breeze....."

Since daffodils are not native to India, I always wondered what they look like. I was so pleased when I first saw them physically here in US.  Daffodils represent the arrival of spring, flowers blooming everywhere, fresh green grass and weather slowly warming up. This is my favorite time of the year.
Daffodils will not be in season for long, so grab them while you can and enjoy these gorgeous flowers. They always put a smile on my face :)

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Getting Ready to Plant

This time I want to start everything from seeds rather than buying plants for my garden. To get a head start, I planted seeds indoors and here is what I have so far. Planning to plant some of these out this weekend. The ones seen in the picture are sunflower, corn, beans, zucchini, beets, tomatoes, radishes and cucumbers. I have been collecting my used tea paper cups at work and recycled them as containers for these seedlings. 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Fennel Fronds

These Fennel leaves are from our backyard. I sprinkled some fennel seeds from my pantry in the soil during winter. Plants came out in spring but they are not growing as tall as I thought they would. Might be a different seed variety. And there was no bulb to the root either.
Anyhow, I want to utilize these fennel fronds at least. They have such a nice aroma and sweet anise flavor. I am trying to figure out the ingredient to marry these delicate leaves with. Will keep you posted :)

Friday, March 23, 2012

Happy Ugadi

Clock-wise - Jalebi, Purnam laddu, Ugadi Pachadi

Ugadi is the beginning of our New Year. It's celebrated in southern states of India and of course by South Indians all over the world. We had Ugadi pachadi first thing today. I like the concept of Ugadi pachadi that should be eaten on this New year's day. It symbolizes that life is a mixture of all experiences and should be accepted as we go through it. All six ingredients in this mixture represent different emotions like happiness, sad, anger, disgust, fear and surprise.
With no specific proportions, I used below ingredients to make pachadi.
  • Tamarind extract 
  • Mango pieces
  • Dry Neem flowers
  • Chili powder
  • Salt
  • Jaggery

Wish you all a Happy and Prosperous Ugadi!!!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Simple Joys - Guava with Salt and Chili Powder

Every time I visit Indian store here, I look for Guavas. They are one of my favorite fruit. I like them when they are semi-ripe and crunchy, not the smelly ripe ones. Guava is good just as it is but with a touch of salt and red chili powder it's a perfect harmony of sweet, spice and saltiness. I had a blast when I visited my Husband's grandma's place in India. They have a huge Guava tree in front yard bursting with fruit. I literally stayed under the tree during the whole time I was there :). Here is a picture of the fresh fruit we picked then.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Happy St.Patrick's Day

We went to see the St.Patrick's Day parade in our town yesterday morning. Despite the chilling 48 degrees weather, it was so much fun. Sharing few pictures taken with my cell phone (clarity is not that great though)

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Dulce de leche Brownies

It feels like we just started the New year and it's already March. Days are flying by so fast. Here in California we have a mild winter this time, so it's almost like Summer back to back. I didn't have to unpack any of our winter jackets. One thing I am very happy about is the early start for gardening. Since I am a newbie gardener, I am excited to try different plants.

Before I made these brownies, I would never give brownies a second look. I felt that they are very monotonous. But I have to admit that I am totally wrong, regular brownies can be transformed to mouth watering treats with multiple layers of flavor. I was enlightened with this truth while watching The Pioneer Woman show on Food Network. So, I adapted the recipe from there and changed few things like using dulce de leche instead of regular caramel sauce. The procedure is little time consuming but totally worth it. I took these brownies to work for a potluck and they got the nick name as "Sinful Brownies" :)

What you need:

1 box (18.25 oz) of Milk Chocolate cake mix ( I used Betty Crocker)
3/4 cup fine chopped Almonds
1/3 cup + 3 tbsp Evaporated milk
1/2 cup melted butter (1 stick)
1/3 cup milk chocolate chips
1/2 can Dulce de leche  (1 can = 13.4 oz)
2 tbsp Powdered sugar for light coating

Steps to Follow:
(Pictures below will give an idea)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. In a bowl combine cake mix, 1/3 cup evaporated milk and melted butter until everything comes together. Dough will be thick.
  3. Divide the dough into two parts and keep half of it in fridge
  4. Press remaining half of it into a well-greased 9 x 9 inch square baking pan.
  5. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Remove pan from oven and set aside
  6. In a microwaveable bowl add dulce de leche with 3 tbsp evaporated milk and heat it in 20-30 sec and mix it very well. Sauce should be pourable. If it is too thick, microwave for another 20-30 sec
  7. Pour this sauce on baked layer and spread it to coat evenly. 
  8. On top of the sauce, sprinkle an even layer of chocolate chips and chopped almonds
  9. Now comes the tricky part, take the remaining dough on a parchment paper and using your fingers spread it into a square slightly smaller than the pan, it doesn't have to be perfect.
  10. Careful lift this layer and place it in the pan (on top of chocolate chips and chopped almonds)
  11. Bake it for 20-25 min. Remove from oven and let it cool.
  12. Refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours.
  13. When ready to serve sift powdered sugar on top and cut into desired size squares

Base layer
Dulce de leche, chocolate chips and chopped almonds layer
Spread the remaining dough into a square
Place it as top layer in the pan

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Pea Seedlings

My first activity of gardening this year was growing these pea seedlings. I started these indoors and just transplanted them out. This is my first time with peas and I am hoping to get a good harvest :-). I read that peas are cool season crop and would survive well in the early Spring /Spring of Northern California.
Starting these seedlings is fairly easy. For early start I soaked the seeds in a bowl overnight. After I drained water, covered with paper towel and kept at a warm place for sprouting. Then just placed the sprouts in small paper cups with soil for the leaves to come out before I can transplant. I really adore the beautiful tendrils.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Apple Oat Bread

Here in California, Cherry blossoms are blooming everywhere. It's such pretty sight. At my workplace, the walkways are lined up with these Cherry blossom trees. It's a treat to walk through them now :-) I love this time when the trees transform as if they are trying to express themselves with beautiful hues and put their best show.
Coming to today's recipe, it's a healthier version of the regular apple bread that I usually bake. Quick breads are a breeze to do. They are easy, delicious and as the name says very quick to make. Most of the times I have a bread either in my freezer or fridge since they make a good breakfast or snack.
I have to admit that I am not a big fan of oats. So, I try to sneak them in my food for their nutritional value. Trick is to grind oats into powder and add this in different mixtures. So, I substituted almost half of all purpose flour with oats in this recipe. I do the same for Idlis and Uthapams, that's a post for another day :-)

What you need:
(makes one 9X5 loaf)

3/4 cup All purpose flour
1/2 cup Oats flour (just add oats in a blender and grind them)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
Unsweetened Apple sauce - 4 oz (usually sold in 4 oz cups)2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

Steps to follow:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. In a bowl beat eggs, oil, sugar and vanilla extract together. Add apple sauce to this mixture and beat again until everything is well mixed.
  3. In a separate bowl mix the dry ingredients - all purpose flour, oats flour, baking soda and salt.
  4. In 2 or 3 batches add flour mixture to wet ingredients and beat until batter comes together.
  5. Grease a loaf pan and pour batter in it.
  6. Bake for 51-53 min. Stick a knife in center and it should come out clean.
  7. Take it out from oven, cool it in loaf pan for 15 min.
  8. Loosen the sides with a knife and place it on a rack to continue cooling for another 30 min or so.
  9. Slice it and serve or store in airtight container. Keeps well in fridge for a week or freeze it for a later use.