31 October 2010

75: Chocolate Chip Pancakes

Made some yummy and gooey chocolate chip pancakes for my Hubby dearest.. for the sweetheart that he is.. :)

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
1 1/4 cups milk
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 cup semisweet mini chocolate chips

Whisk together all ingredients except chips until just combined. Add the chips. Heat a pan over medium heat until hot and lightly brush with butter. Working in batches, pour 3 Tbsp. batter per pancake onto pan. Cook until golden-brown, about 1 minute. Flip the pancake and cook other side, about 1 minute more.

Have it warm...I could not resist eating them straight from the pan without syrup....the warm molten chocolate chips in the pancake just melt in you mouth...yumminess...

74: Happy Halloween!!

Happy Halloween peeps.. Hope all of you have recovered from the Saturday night partying and are having a great Sunday morning!

Put out my little designer pumpkin :). Actually it is really little as I was late in pumpkin shopping and all the stores had run out of the pretty pumpkins.. so ended up buying this little pumpkin. I loved the Alexander McQueen pumpkin tribute that Sweet Paul came up with and decided to do the same. Painted the pumpkin black with acrylic craft paint and used 30 golden studs to create this pumpkin...

Have a wonderful Sunday!!

26 October 2010

73: Inspiration comes from little things

"Every leaf speaks bliss to me
Fluttering from the autumn tree
" - Emily Bronte
Painting inspired by a photograph I took in the Smoky Mountains...

I really wanted to learn how to get the transparent water effect with water colors....but could not find any tutorial online...so ended up having bluish brown water in the painting...

72: Parmesan Cheese Twists

1 sheet frozen puff pastry
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp. finely chopped rosemary
1 tsp. parsley
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 large egg
All-purpose flour, for dusting

Thaw the pastry sheet at room temperature. Preheat oven to 400 F. In a small bowl, beat the egg and add the salt, pepper, rosemary and parsley. Dust some flour and spread the pastry into a rectangle with a rolling pin. Spread some of the egg mixture and half the cheese. Fold the pastry rectangle into a half. Slowly spread the pastry with the rolling pin to 1/2 inch thickness. Cut this rectangle with a knife into thin 1/3 inch strips and further cut the length into halves. One at a time, grab the ends of each strip and twist in opposite directions to form a spiral. Transfer to the greased baking tray. Bake until light golden brown, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let them cool before serving.

71: Baked Vegetable Mac and Cheese

Some good ole' home cooked mac & cheese with healthy veggies...

2  cups  milk
4  Tbsp.  butter
2  Tbsp.  all-purpose flour
1/2  tsp.  salt (salt to taste)
1/4  tsp.  freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. ground mustard
2-1/2 cups extra sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
1/4  tsp.  ground red pepper (optional)
1/2  (16-oz.) package elbow macaroni, cooked
1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
8 crimini mushrooms
1 cup broccoli, finely chopped
1 cup Panko breadcrumbs

Preheat oven to 400 F. Heat oil in a pan and saute the onions, mushrooms and broccoli until browned. Microwave milk for 1 1/2 minutes. Melt 2 Tbsp. butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat; whisk in flour until smooth. Cook, whisking constantly, 1 minute. Gradually whisk in warm milk, and cook, whisking constantly, 5 minutes or until thickened. Whisk in salt, black pepper, 1 cup shredded cheese, and, if desired, red pepper until smooth; stir in pasta and sauteed vegetables. Spoon pasta mixture into a lightly greased baking dish; top with remaining cheese. Melt the remaining butter and toss the bread crumbs in it.  Spread the breadcrumbs over the pasta. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden and bubbly.

70: Snapshots from The Smoky Mountains!

Finally...here are some of my favorite pictures from the vacation to the Smoky Mountains....

Autumn leaves lining winding paths
Welcoming you to this wonderland
Pretty streams rushing along the road
Racing you to the destination ahead
The glorious sun shining through tall trees
Playing peek-a-boo with you
Oh..what a wonderful world
Do I see unfold
As my eyes capture the beauty around
Creating memories that forever I can hold...

An impromptu poem...:)

20 October 2010

69: Scary Mummy Cupcakes

Presenting my army of scary Mummies!
Made some scary mummy cupcakes as a Halloween preview. Made a spice cupcake glazed them with chocolate icing and then applied the white basket weave icing....

For the spice cupcake,

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups milk

Preheat the oven to 350 F. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, spices, and salt. In a larger bowl, beat the butter until it’s pale and creamy. Pour in the sugar and continue to beat for 3-4 minutes, until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each. Stir the vanilla into the milk. Add about one-third of the flour mixture to the butter mixture and stir it in until it’s combined. Add about half the milk in the same manner, then another third of the flour, the rest of the milk, and the rest of the flour, mixing just until the batter is blended. Line the cupcake pan and fill in the batter. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Makes 18 cupcakes. Remove from oven and let the cupcakes cool.

For chocolate glaze icing,

2/3 cup heavy cream
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 Tbsp light corn syrup

Heat cream in a small saucepan over medium heat. Place chocolate and corn syrup in a small bowl. Pour hot cream over chocolate mixture, and stir until smooth. Use immediately. Hold the cupcake bottoms and dip  them gently into the glaze so that the top is completely coated with the glaze.

For the white buttercream icing,

6 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
2 cups confectioners' (icing) sugar, sifted
3-5 Tbsp milk (depending on consistency of icing)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Place the butter in a large mixing bowl. Whisk until light and fluffy. Add the confectioners' sugar, 3 tablespoons of the milk, and the vanilla extract. Blend until the sugar is incorporated. Continue to beat until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add up to 1 Tbsp more milk if the frosting seems too stiff.

Decorate cupcake as desired.

Ready to be devoured!

19 October 2010

68: Back from my vacation!

Hey peeps...back from the vacation to Smoky Mountains...got to spend time with my darling niece..and got to have a relaxing time at the Smoky Mountain log cabin we stayed at...wish i could back to the cabin and just do nothing but cook and paint for a whole week.... :)

Just wanted to say Hi!! and share a painting I made recently....will share pictures from the trip soon. have a fab day!

12 October 2010

67: Thai Green Curry with South Indian Coconut Rice

Hi peeps!! been away from blogging for the last few days (work overload and some fun stuff!) and missed it so much....And I am heading off on a vacation tomorrow....so tried to squeeze a post in today :) Nothing extraordinary....just decided to put two of my favorite dishes together :)

The Thai green curry with shrimp was something I have cooked several time before, so to make it interesting paired it with some good ole' coconut rice cooked the South Indian way... I have got really sweet memories of this dish....this was something my mommy dearest used to pack for lunch for me when I was little girl in pigtails in school....:)

Ok onto the recipes,

Thai Green Curry with Shrimp,
1 Tbsp. oil
1/2 cup chopped shallots
3- 4 Tbsp. Thai green curry paste (I know, I went the easy route..time crunch!)
1 can unsweetened coconut milk
1 cup water
3 tablespoons Thai fish sauce (nam pla)
2 tsp. sugar
1/2 cup water chestnuts
1 cup straw mushrooms
1 pounds uncooked large shrimp, peeled, deveined
salt (a pinch)
2-3 fresh basil leaves

Heat oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add sliced onion; stir-fry until soft and beginning to brown, about 4 minutes. Reduce heat to medium. Add the curry paste and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add 1/2 cup coconut milk and cook for 3-4 minutes. Then add the remaining coconut milk, water, fish sauce, and sugar; bring to boil. Add the water chestnuts and the mushrooms and cook for another 4 minutes. Add shrimp and cook just until its no longer pink in center, stirring often, about 3 to 5 minutes depending on size of shrimp. Add salt to taste and the basil leaves. 

South Indian Coconut Rice,

2 cups cooked rice
1-1/2 cups grated coconut
2 tbsp oil
1/4 tsp. black mustard seeds
1/2 tsp. split urad dal (optional)
5-6 curry leaves
2 green chillies, chopped
a pinch of asafoetida (hing) (optional)
salt to taste
Heat oil in a pan add mustard seeds, urad dal,curry leaves, green chillies, asafoetida and then finally the coconut. Fry for a couple of minutes(the colour of the coconut should not turn brown while frying) and then add to the cooked rice. Stir for 3-4 minutes and add salt to taste.

The combination was truly a delightful surprise...hope y'all enjoy it too...

I will be back next week.. hopefully I will get to blog while traveling (will be taking the laptop along) and share some great pictures...have a wonderful week y'all...xoxo

07 October 2010

66: DIY Personal Silhouette Frames

I previously did a post on Silhouette frames (here). And I wanted to share a really easy way to create your own personal silhouettes digitally...

1. Take a picture either against a light background or standing in light, with the camera facing the light source.

2. I used Picnik to edit the picture.  Crop and resize the photo as desired under the 'Edit' tab.

3. Convert the image using the black and white effect under the 'Create' tab.

4. Return to the 'Edit' tab and adjust the exposure. Turn down the exposure and up the contrast until you get a clearly defined silhouette and the background becomes white with indistinguishable edges.

As simple as that!! In 4 easy steps you have your every own silhouette to frame!

65: Chocolate and Marshmallow Puffs

Chocolate chips and marshmallows stuffed in a puff pastry...the taste of molten chocolate in the puff pastry was totally unexpected for my senses and totally loved it...must try...

06 October 2010

64: Spinach and Beet Tart

Tried this recipe after I had a roasted vegetable tart at Cafe Express. A yum lunch recipe.

Spread some puff pastry dough in a circle. Line a sheet pan with the dough. Place a layer of spinach leaves, then top with thinly sliced tomatoes (or plum tomatoes), topped with roasted beets and crumbled feta cheese/ goat cheese. Pre-heat oven to 400 F. Bake for 20 minutes. You can always change the toppings, use your favorite veggies or meat.

63: Shrimp and Pea Risotto

My need to try making this dish sprung from all those episodes of Hell's Kitchen and Master Chef, where making the perfect risotto seemed like such a tough task...finally here it is!! I must say, after  making it I feel that this is one of the easier dishes I have made, with the key point being that the rice needs to be cooked just right and the risotto should not be too soggy.

For the risotto,

½ pound medium shrimp, in the shell
4 cups chicken stock/water
Salt to taste
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
½ onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
1 large garlic cloves, green shoots removed, minced
½ cup dry white wine
½ tsp saffron (optional)
1 cup thawed frozen peas
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
½ cup shredded parmesan
Freshly ground pepper to taste

Shell and de-vein the shrimp. Salt them lightly, and set aside in a bowl, in the refrigerator. Rinse the shells, and combine them with 2 cups of water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, skim off foam, and reduce the heat to low and simmer partly covered for 30 minutes. Strain and add to the chicken stock or water. Taste, add enough salt to make a well seasoned broth and bring to a simmer in a saucepan.

In the meantime, heat the oil over medium heat in a wide nonstick pan. Add the onion. Stir until the onion softens and browns. Then add the rice and the garlic. Cook, stirring, until the grains of rice begins to crackle. Stir in the wine, and cook over medium heat, stirring. The wine should bubble, but not too quickly. You want some of the flavor to cook into the rice before it evaporates. When the wine has just about evaporated, stir in a ladleful or two of the simmering stock, enough to just cover the rice. The stock should bubble slowly. Cook, stirring often, until it is almost absorbed. Add another couple of ladles of the stock. Crush the saffron threads between your fingers and stir in. Continue to cook, stirring often for 20 minutes. The rice should taste chewy but not hard in the middle. Add the peas and the shrimp. Cook for another four to five minutes, until the shrimp are pink and cooked through but still moist. Stir in the parsley and parmesan and pepper, stir for a few seconds and serve. Enjoy the warm creamy risotto with some roasted vegetables.

62: Home Decor: Silhouette Frames

Pretty little silhouettes to adorn your walls...West Elm has a range of new silhouette products from frames to pillows to votives. West Elm has teamed with Mike Miller, a well-known photo collage artist.

Silhouettes frames were originally used in the late 1600s to give personalized mementos to people. Now they make for a great home decor idea. Some silhouette frames used as decor from Country Living,

Frames from artist Katie Sokoler,

Frames from http://never-without.blogspot.com,

Though these frames can be bought from stores, love the idea of making your very own personalized silhouettes of family and friends you love..Will follow up with a post of DIY silhouette frames soon. Happy browsing until then....xoxo

02 October 2010

61: Vanilla Glazed Apple Cinnamon Roll Cupcake!

Welcoming October and Fall with some warm apple cinnamon roll cupcakes. Fall is here y'all, chilly mornings, leaves falling off of trees...time for some warm, freshly baked, cozy goodness of caramelized apples and cinnamon...

Thought of making cinnamon rolls, but then decided to put them in cupcakes as they are easier to eat this way... the only thing I do not like about cinnamon rolls is getting the glaze all over your fingers. So a cupcake version of this seemed ideal.

For the cinnamon rolls,
6-1/2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
Pinch ground nutmeg
5-1/2 Tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 large egg
1 tsp lemon zest
3-1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp instant yeast or 2-1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1 cup buttermilk or milk, at room temperature

For the apple filling,
1-1/2 Tbsp unsalted butter
3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, finely chopped
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
Pinch ground nutmeg
Pinch salt
1 tsp vanilla extract

3-1/2 Tbsp sugar
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon

For the vanilla glaze,
1-1/4 cups sifted powdered sugar
1 tsp light-colored corn syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
 1-2 Tbsp milk

In a bowl cream together the sugar, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and butter until smooth.  Mix in the egg and lemon zest and beat until fluffy.  Mix in the flour, yeast (if using active dry yeast, dissolve in ¼ cup lukewarm water and let it stand for 10 minutes) and milk until a dough forms.  Knead the dough well; it should not be sticky but soft and elastic.  (You may need to add a little extra flour or liquid to achieve this texture.)  Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, turning once to coat.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature for about 2 hours, or until doubled in size.

In the meantime, make the apple filling.  For the filling, melt the butter in a pan over medium-high heat.  Add the chopped apple, sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.  Mix until the apples are evenly coated. Cook about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the apple is translucent. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla.  Set aside to cool.  

In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar and cinnamon.

Roll out dough into a long rectangle about 1/4” thick. Brush lightly with melted butter. Sprinkle the sugar and cinnamon powder and spread evenly. Then spread the caramelized apple over the dough evenly. Roll dough over itself from back to front along the long side of the rectangle to form a log. Slice the log into 12 even pieces. Line a muffin pan with cupcake liners and place each piece of the log in a cupcake liner.  The pieces should come to about the top of the liners.

Cover the muffin pan and set in a warm place to rise for another 40 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Bake for 20 minutes or until the tops are golden.

For the glaze, in a small bowl stir together the powdered sugar, light-colored corn syrup, and vanilla extract. Add enough milk to reach drizzling consistency.

Drizzle the glaze over the cupcakes.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone!!

01 October 2010

60: Apartment Therapy - Big Plants at Home

I am a really big sucker for plants in any shape and size. Seeing this post from apartment therapy sure had me yearning for more like this....

 You can find the full post from Apartment Therapy here. Enjoy!
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