16 January 2011

121: Home Decor: Wall Decor

Peeps....wanted a honest opinion on the golden branch I put up on my dining room wall...the last couple of weeks I have been working on a few projects around the house....the golden branch was one of them....I loved the idea when I started working on it...but after I got it on the wall, I am a little unsure...if it actually looks good...what do y'all think....yay or nay?? If nay..is there something I can do with this pretty little branch that I worked so hard on finding and shaping it into this form...look forward to suggestions.... :)

120: Recipe: Chocolate Espresso Cupcakes

Hey peeps, hope y’all are having a good Sunday….its been so gloomy here….raining all day….I somehow find this so depressing, while my sweetie absolutely enjoys this weather…but it helped me catch up on my reading…

I made these fabulous chocolate espresso cupcakes for a friend at work…he gave me the recipe and wanted me to bake these for him…I made some minor tweeks, changed the frosting and came up with these gorgeous espresso infused cupcakes…

Recipe for 12 chocolate espresso cupcakes,

1 1/3 all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup whole milk
½ cup strong brewed coffee
1½ teaspoons instant espresso powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup light brown sugar
1 egg, at room temperature

Mix the espresso powder into the brewed coffee until dissolved and set aside to cool to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a standard-size muffin tin with paper liners. Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Beat the butter and both the granulated and brown sugar together on until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add the egg and beat until completely combined. In a measuring cup, combine the milk, brewed coffee mixture and vanilla. Slowly add the flour mixture, alternating with the coffee mixture, ending with the flour mixture.

Divide the batter evenly between the 12 liners. Baking for 20 mins or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting cupcakes.

For the espresso buttercream frosting,

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2½ cups powdered sugar
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1½ teaspoons espresso powder

Mix the espresso powder into the vanilla until dissolved and set aside. Using a whisk whip the butter for 5 mins. Add the powdered sugar a little at a time, whisking until it is completely incorporated before adding more. Once all of the powdered sugar has been combined, whisk until fluffy. Add the espresso and vanilla mixture and continue to mix at medium-high until it is completely incorporated.

P.S.: Consuming an undisclosed quantity of these cupcakes has left me wide awake...when I really need to go to bed...I have to go to work t'row.....the price I pay for my espresso infused indulgence...

10 January 2011

119: Recipe: Tandoori Chicken

This is what we had for dinner tonight.....Tandoori chicken with some raisin and dill rice....absolutely flavorful and sure perks you up on a Monday Night!!

Here is the recipe,

4 skinless chicken thighs
4 chicken legs
¾ tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 tsp. paprika
½ tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. ground black pepper
1 cup whole milk plain yogurt
juice of one fresh lime
1 tbsp. ginger garlic paste

With a sharp knife, prick the chicken flesh deeply a couple of times. Put the pieces in a large ziplock freezer bag. Add all the remaining ingredients to the bag and express out most of the air, then seal the top. Massage the bag to mix the ingredients and coat the chicken pieces. Refrigerate the chicken overnight.

Pre-heat oven to 350 F. Remove the chicken pieces from the marinade and lightly fry the pieces with the thick marinade clinging to them, in a hot oiled grill pan until dark on one side. Flip and fry until darkened on the other side. Place the chicken pieces in the oven for about 10 – 12 mins.

09 January 2011

118: Home Decor: Inspiration

A little apartment in Stockholm built in 1891 and transformed by the talented owners....with Moroccan touches and flea market finds...its quirky, fun and warm....

Images: Skona Hem

Aren't the owners just adorable...you can see their personality imprinted on this cute apartment...

117: Recipe: Couscous Cakes with Poached Eggs and Hollandaise Sauce

Me and my sweetie are all about awesome brunches over the weekends....we love experimenting with eggs and trying to pair it with something different every weekend....This weekend we had some leftover couscous and the idea of the couscous cake..similar to a risotto cake was born....(I know... I know.. it is not out of this world or unique....but we will pretend it was..)
For the couscous cakes, you will need

1 cup cooked couscous
1 large egg
½ cup bread crumbs
1 tsp. cumin powder
Heat a heavy bottomed pan and add 2 tbsp. cooking oil.  Mix all the ingredients mentioned above and form small patties and place in the pan. Do not make the patties too thick. Brown each side for 2-3 minutes and voila!! the amazing couscous cakes are ready.

Layered some sauteed mushrooms and spinach, topped with the couscous cakes. We paired this with poached eggs (you can find the really easy poached egg recipe I previously posted here). This was topped off with some yum Hollandaise sauce.

Hollandaise Sauce recipe,

2 egg yolks
½ tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
¼ cup unsalted butter, melted (1/2 stick)
Pinch of cayenne
Pinch of salt

Vigorously whisk the egg yolks and lemon juice together in a stainless steel bowl and until the mixture is thickened and doubled in volume. Place the bowl OVER (not in the water) a saucepan containing barely simmering water (or use a double boiler). The hot water should not touch the bottom of the bowl. Continue to whisk rapidly. Be careful not to let the eggs get too hot or they will scramble. Slowly drizzle in the melted butter and continue to whisk until the sauce is thickened and doubled in volume. Remove from heat, whisk in cayenne and salt. If the sauce gets too thick, whisk in a few drops of warm water before serving.

This whole thing sure turned out to be one hearty brunch...

Hope y'all are having a glorious Sunday!!

116: Recipe: Cinnamon Pecan Muffins

Baked some cinnamon pecan muffins this morning.....I must say that, on a cold winter morning... the smell of toasted pecans and the muffins in the oven... this is heaven for me....these yummy li'l things are just so easy to make...you have to give this a try....just perfect for breakfast, when you have a large group of people over.

Here is the recipe,

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour, sifted
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup brown sugar, packed
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. ground cinnamon (I added 1 tsp. as I just love the cinnamon flavor)
1 large egg, slightly beaten
½ cup vegetable oil
½ cup milk
½ cup chopped pecans, lightly toasted

Preheat oven to 400 F. Sift the flour, sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon in a mixing bowl. Combine the beaten egg, oil and milk in a separate bowl. Blend well. Add all at once to flour mixture, stirring just enough to moisten. Stir in the chopped pecans. Spoon the batter into greased muffin-pan cups, filling each until they are 2/3 full. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Perfect with a hot cup of coffee....

04 January 2011

115: Recipe: Red Velvet Cake Balls

My first attempt at cake balls....and the verdict is they are super YUM!!...but...it is a lot of work....the recipe does look straightforward and easy... but sure takes time.....or probably it was because I was making nearly 50 cake balls (taking them for a celebration at work)....I got so tired by the end of it.......

So let me share the recipe quick....before I doze off...

For the red velvet cake,

2 ¾ cup cake flour, sifted
1 ½ cup sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. natural cocoa powder, not dutch-processed
1 ½  cup vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 tbsp. red food coloring
1 tsp. white distilled vinegar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

For the cake balls,

1 can chocolate fudge frosting
1 pkg. (24 oz) of dark chocolate coating bars

Preheat the oven to 350 F. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour (pre-measured and sifted), sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt. In a large bowl, gently whisk the oil, buttermilk, eggs, vinegar, vanilla and red food coloring until blended. Add in the dry ingredients slowly and whisk until smooth. Pour into a lined and greased 9x13 pan. Bake at 350 F for approximately 30 mins, turning once half way through. Cool in pan for no more than 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely for 30 mins. Crumble the cake into a large bowl using a hand mixer. Add the frosting from the can frosting and mix until well combined. Place the bowl in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours or overnight.  

Line a baking tray with wax paper. Form balls with the cake mixture. Place on wax paper. Once you have used all of the cake mixture, place the baking tray in the freezer for 1 hour. Melt the dark chocolate coating bars in a glass bowl of the microwave, stirring every 5-10 seconds until completely molten and smooth.

Remove the balls from the freezer. Using one toothpick, pick up the balls one at a time and dip in the chocolate. Use a second toothpick to slide the ball off the first toothpick onto the wax paper lined baking tray.

Hope y'all are having a great start to the new year! I have had a super hectic day today....and after 10 days of lazing around....reality sure struck me hard.... :) back to grind now!

03 January 2011

114: Travel: Gorgeous Destin, Florida

Hey all...I am back from my wonderful vacation in Destin, Florida. It was truly one of the most relaxing vacations I have had....all I did was eat yummy brunches, laze of the beach, read books, indulge in some retail therapy and spa treatments.....it was just so rejuvenating. But the best part of my vacation was watching the sunrise every morning at the beach. I have not experienced anything so divine....I took so many pictures of just sunrises and sunsets.

You can check out more pictures from the trip here

113: Happy New Year!!

Happy New Year all......loads of love, happiness and success coming your way....

On New Years day I spent my morning sitting on the beach, watching the sun rise and looking back at 2010. It was only when I thought back, I realized what a blessed year I have had....I am so thankful for everyone and everything that has been a part of my life this past year. I am so thankful for my sweetie - the most supportive hubby, my wonderful family, friends who have been so loving and encouraging, for all the good things that have happened professionally for me (which was beyond what I dreamt of), for all the travel I was able to do and so so thankful for my Blog!!! It has opened a whole new world for me...I am so glad to have this blog to express myself and grow so much personally. I never realized how a simple thing like baking can make such a big difference in my life...what started out as me just trying to make a change in my life,  has become an opportunity for me to feed some of the homeless every week and I am so thankful for this opportunity that came my way.

Its funny how you never remember any of the bad things....only the good memories stay.....so hence forth I shall not fret and worry about something I know is going to pass and be a fleeting memory and will  savor every single happy moment.....Also, dream and believe in your dreams, bcos if you dream with conviction, they do come true..

Have a wonderful year y'all.....I would so suggest looking back and making a list of all the things you are thankful for... its is such an uplifting experience...
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