About Me

Hello. I started this blog to write about what I do in my chosen profession : a housewife. Some day I might cook or bake something interesting and enlist my 2 year old to help, on another day I make something from scratch instead of buying it from the store and sometimes I craft with my daughter. Once in a while, we travel or have a fun day outside. I am also doing what I can to recycle and reduce waste. I am still learning all of this and documenting my journey through this blog

Planning a Drinks, Appetizer and Dessert Party for the holidays

Last year, I had an appetizer and dessert party for the holidays. I had 5 different appetizers and desserts. I also added some homemade hot chocolate, pumpkin spice latte and rose lemonade for drinks. It took a lot of planning and almost a week of preparation to pull off comfortably. For the drinks, I kept a thermos of hot milk and the hot chocolate mix and pumpkin spice mix separately. The rose lemonade, ice and seltzer formed the cold drinks part. I only have the pictures of the dessert table which was set up beforehand. The appetizers were in the oven, to keep warm.

Dessert party table

There were around 12 people invited to the party and I grossly overestimated the amount of food that would be needed. I did not realise that one person cannot eat 5 different appetizers and 5 different desserts in a single night :) (specially since appetizers and desserts are generally so rich). I made 12-15 servings of each item. At the end of the night, I was packing food for the guests to eat as breakfast or lunch the next day. :)

So, heres what I made.

Appetizers
Cheesy corn dip with tortilla chips Using this recipe without the bacon and used a little less cheese
Salmon cakes with lemon butter sauce Slightly indianised this recipe for salmon cakes by removing the bacon and mayo. Added a little bit of chilli and coriander powders. Used this recipe for the sauce.
Hara bhara kabab Used my MIL's recipe
Cream cheese pinwheels Used this real easy but real tasty recipe
Indianised potato skins Adapted from this recipe Baked oil coated whole red potatoes at 400 F about an hour. Cool, cut, fill with chickpeas and bake 20 minutes at 350 F. Garnish with green and tamarind chutneys.
Desserts
Thumbprint cookies Using this recipe
No bake mango cheesecake in a glass Using this recipe
Ginger bread cake with cream cheese frosting topped with walnuts Using this recipe to make two loaf cakes instead of the bundt.
Peanut butter blondies with chocolate frosting Using this recipe
Chocolate swiss roll Used this recipe for chocolate sponge. Used this recipe for whipped cream filling


I had the party on Sunday. Heres how I planned the week leading up to the party.

  1. Tuesday
    • Decide on serving bowls for each dish. Collect all tableware (plates, spoons, glasses, napkins, cups, water jug) and keep aside.
    • Prepare hot chocolate mix.
  2. Wednesday
    • Make the gingerbread cake loaves. Cool. Wrap in plastic wrap. Freeze.
    • Make pumpkin spice latte concentrate. Refrigerate.
  3. Thursday
    • Make lemon butter sauce, green chutney, tamarind chutney and refrigerate.
  4. Friday
    • Make thumbprint cookies and store in airtight container.
    • Soak chole for the potato skins
  5. Saturday
    • Make the mango cheesecake and refrigerate.
    • Cook the vegetables for the corn dip and refrigerate.
    • Make the peanut butter blondies, frost and refrigerate.
    • Make the chocolate swiss roll and refrigerate.
    • Remove the gingerbread cake and cream cheese frosting (leftover from previous project) from freezer to refrigerator.
    • Make hara bhara kabab mix and refrigerate.
    • Boil chole and refrigerate once cool.
  6. Sunday (in order from morning to evening)
    • Make chole and bake potatoes for the potato skins. Once cool, fill and set aside on a baking sheet.
    • Make corn dip using refrigerated vegetables.
    • Make hara bhara kabab tikki shapes and refrigerate.
    • Make the salmon cakes shape and refrigerate.
    • Make cream cheese pinwheels.
    • Shallow fry the hara bhara kabab and salmon cakes.
    • Bake the pinwheels.
    • Bake the potato skins.
    • Bake the corn dip.
    • Frost the gingerbread cake and decorate with walnuts.
    • Get husband to set the dessert table (cut cakes and roll into slices; blondies into squares; arrange on platters).
    • Get husband to clean up the house.
    • Make the rose flavored lemonade.
    • Set up the drinks station.
    • Place appetizers in oven to keep warm.
    • Clean yourself up and get ready to welcome the guests and enjoy your party.

Steamed methi balls in Kadhi

These days we are getting some good methi leaves in the local indian grocery store. I always pick up a couple or more bunches every time I visit. I stagger my methi preparation steps because I cannot get it all done in a day with a busy 3 year old to take care of. I pluck out the leaves one day, the next day I wash and chop them and the methi gets prepared on the third day. We do eat other vegetables that take less prep time on day 1 and 2 in case you are wondering :)

Steamed Methi balls in Kadhi

One day, while talking to my mom on the phone, she mentioned she saw a steamed methi ball in kadhi recipe on the TV that day. I had the methi all prepped and ready to go. This was as good a day as any to try the recipe based on the general idea. My daughter loved to help me make the little balls. She was inspired to eat them too :)

Fenugreek leaves steamed balls in kadhi
methi ball kadhi with a mix of white and brown rice

Ingredients:
For Methi Balls
1 bunch methi leaves, cleaned and chopped
1 medium onion
1/2 to 1 cup besan
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp chilli powder
For Kadhi
1 cup yogurt
2 cups water
2 tbsp besan
1 cinnamon stick
3 cloves
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp asafoetida
1 tsp grated ginger
1 each green and dry red chillies
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
    For Methi Balls
  • Add salt and chilli powder to finely chopped onion and methi leaves and keep aside for 10 minutes. This will cause them to release their water.
  • Add a little besan at a time till all the released water is absorbed by the besan and a loose dough is formed.
    Methi, onion and besan dough for steamed balls
  • Make small balls from the dough and steam them for about 10 minutes. (I use a sieve basket over a pot of boiling water)
  • Methi balls ready to steam
    Steamed methi and onion balls
    For Kadhi
  • Whisk together the yogurt, water, salt and sugar and besan. (Use some amchoor powder if the yogurt is not sour)
  • Heat a tsp of oil or ghee. Add cumin seeds, asafoetida, cinnamon, cloves and the chillies. Add the grated ginger and turmeric powder.
  • Immediately add the yogurt mix. Bring to a boil on medium heat.
  • Add the methi balls and bring to a gentle boil again.
  • Serve with some rice.
I am sending this to Cooking with herbs and flowers event on the Seduce your tastebuds blog.

Christmas crafts - Pinecone Christmas trees and DIY holiday snowman cards

This week me and my daughter did some Christmasy crafts to get into the holiday spirit. We did some pinecone christmas trees and cards for the daughter's preschool teachers.

I had some pinecones lying around the house and decided to put them to good use by crafting them into Christmas trees. I had picked up some foam glitter stars from Michael's the other day. Those were used as the star tree toppers.

I did two kinds of pinecone trees. The first was very simple. Just some glitter glue and some glitter stars.
Pinecone Christmas decoration

I arranged some pinecones in a plastic tub which used to be a takeout container (reuse!). Just added some red and white glitter glue and topped with silver glitter stars. I kept it simple so the arrangement can work for other seasons with some modifications.

For the second arrangement, I went the whole wintery route.
First, I made faux snow. There are different ways to do faux snow. I opened up a clean diaper and removed the powdery stuff inside and placed it in a transparent container. I used an empty earbud container! I needed 2 pullups worth stuff. Add water to wet it to a desired fluffiness. I needed a few handfuls of water. I also mixed in some kosher salt for some sparkle. I chose this method because it makes a wet snow which will be a good anchor for the pinecone trees. And it looks very much like the real snow.
homemade fake snow for decoration
I glued on craft gem stones on the pine cones to look like christmas ornaments. I had to use goop glue for this. This task is not for little hands due to the use of heavy duty glue instead of craft glue. Topped with the glitter star, they started to look like little christmas trees. To play up the bed of snow on which they were sitting, I thought a dusting of snow on the trees would look quite nice. So we applied some craft glue with a paint brush on the pinecones and then sprinkled on lots of kosher salt. Shake off the excess and we had beautiful snow dusted christmas trees on our hands.
Pinecone Christmas trees

I love how beautiful they look for so little effort!
Pinecone christmas tree crafts

For our christmas cards, we decided to do a snowman. The cards went through some trial and error. On the first iteration, I thought, since we had used kosher salt with success for snow, we could use it again on the cards. I mixed up kosher salt and regular sugar. We applied glue on the snowman drawing on the card and sprinkled the mix on. It gave us a light coating and the snow kept falling off the more we handled the card. I did another coat of glue and snow.To help the glue go on smooth, I mixed some water in the glue. It did give us a thicker coat of snow but we would have to do a glue-water coat on top to seal the snow. The big mistake I made here was using construction paper for the card. It is just not sturdy enough to handle that many layers. So we dropped this plan. Heres how it looked when we abandoned it. It might have worked on a heavier cardstock.
snowman card with kosher salt


For the second round, I bought a heavy cardstock and cut it into card size. Actually the husband helped with the cutting. I could not cut a straight line to save my life. I cut out a snowman shape from a foam pad and decided to use it as a stamp. I glued on the snowman silhouette on a small cardboard and made a stamp.
DIY snowman stamp
Somehow this did not work out either. The stamp was too light and not clean looking at all. I am not really sure what went wrong but we dropped this plan too. We didn't have much time to rethink the stamp idea.
I still had the foam pad left after cutting the snowman out. I decided to use it.
Snowman foam cutout
I placed it on top of the card, held it firmly in place and let the daughter paint inside it with white paint. When she was done, I lifted the template to reveal the snowman. That made her very happy. When the paint dried, I added the details on the snowman with markers. I liked how the cards looked finally. Simple, minimalistic and some very good looking snowmen :)
snowman holiday cards

Citrus Marmalade muffins with almonds

I like to bake muffins as I have said before. I bake a tray of muffins and freeze the batch. It lasts us about a month. I make them healthy enough to be eaten at breakfast since they make for a quick, portable breakfast.

Today's muffins are a tad bit more indulgent. They could pass for dessert if you really try. :)
I had an overflow of citrus fruits in my fruit drawer and they were not getting eaten at all. So I made a marmalade to rescue them. The marmalade will have a blog post of its own sometime later. I made marmalade muffins from some of that homemade marmalade.

Marmalade Muffins
adapted from Poppytalk

The citrus zest and vanilla make it one amazingly scented packet. I could love it for just the smell but it tastes delicious too. I think it is a better use of marmalade than even spreading on buttered toast.

marmalade muffins


Ingredients:
1/2 cup all purpose flour (maida)
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup melted butter
1 tbsp vanilla
1 egg
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup marmalade
1/4 cup almonds
1/4 cup peeled and chopped apple (optional)
  • Preheat oven to 375 F.
  • Whisk together AP flour, wheat flour, baking powder and salt.
  • In a separate bowl, mix together milk, butter, vanilla, honey and egg.
  • Add the wet ingredients to the flour mix and stir together until mixed. Do not overwork the batter.
  • Stir in the marmalade, apple and almonds. The marmalade can be left a little streaky.
  • whole wheat marmalade muffin batter
  • Fill into a muffin pan and bake for 20 minutes. Start checking at 17 minutes. A toothpick inserted into the center should come out clean. This recipe makes 12 muffins.
  • marmalade muffins
  • Remove from pan after 5 minutes and cool on wire rack.
Marmalade muffins with almonds
streaked with marmalade and studded with almonds
Notes:

  • I used 1 tbsp flaxseed powder mixed with 3 tbsp water, set aside for 5 minutes, as egg substitute. I had run out of eggs.
  • I used half of an apple I had lying around in the muffins but it is optional. I think it gave the muffin some additional sweetness which was nice.
  • I blanched, peeled and chopped the almonds. Then I toasted the pieces in the microwave for 45 seconds.
  • I hardly ever use butter in place of oil for muffins but I thought butter and marmalade is a perfect match. I wanted to play up that flavour.

I am sending these muffins to Cake Mela at cooking4allseasons where cakes, muffins, cupcakes and all other types of cakes will join the mela.

A special Gujarati meal - Chana bataka nu shaak (black chickpeas and potato curry), Gujarati Kadhi

I have a special place in my heart for gujarati food. Having tasted authentic home-cooked gujarati food, I have very high standards when it comes to eating gujarati food. In my experience, it is very difficult to get the gujju taste outside of Gujarat.
Although here in the US, gujarati food in Atlanta does come close to meeting my standards. I haven't tasted the food since a couple of years so I hope this still holds true.

Today's lunch thali of chana bataka nu shaak (black chickpeas and potato curry) and kadhi with rotis and rice is a special combo where everything goes so well together. These recipes make me feel I am back in Gujarat eating a homely meal.
Gujarati meal - Kadhi, chana bataka nu shaak, roti and rice
Chana Bataka nu Shaak

Black Chickpeas and potatoes are cooked in a sweet spicy gravy thickened with besan. The besan is a key ingredient to get the signature gujarati texture and taste to the gravy.

black chickpea and potato curry


Ingredients:
3/4 cup dry kala chana
2-3 potatoes
1 tomato
2 cloves garlic
1 tbsp jaggery
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1 dry red chilli
1/8 tsp chilli powder
1/8 tsp asafoetida
1 tbsp dhaniya-jeera powder
1/2 tsp garam masala
1 tbsp besan
  • Soak the kala chana overnight and pressure cook.
  • Heat 1 tbsp oil. Add asafoetida, dry red chilli, turmeric powder, chilli powder. Add the chopped potatoes. Saute for a few minutes.
  • Add the dhaniya-jeera powder, tomatoes and 1/4 cup water. Cover and cook till potatoes soften. (7-8 minutes)
  • Add the besan and mix well to avoid lumps. Add the cooked kala chana, salt, jaggery, garam masala and garlic.
  • Adjust water and cover and cook for 5 minutes.
Notes:
A smooth, silky gravy is the hallmark of this sabzi. Make sure the besan is well blended. That is also why the usual tadka ingredients (mustard and cumin seeds) are avoided in this sabzi.



Gujarati kadhi

Gujarati kadhi is very popular almost all over India. I think it might be because it is the best type of kadhi there is. Cloves, fenugreek seeds and cinnamon are boiled in the yogurt base for a distinctive taste and a mouth-watering aroma.

Gujarati Kadhi


Ingredients:
2 cups slightly sour yogurt
4 cups water
4 tbsp besan
3 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2 inch ginger, grated
1 green chilli
1 dry red chilli
4 cloves
1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds
3 small cinnamon pieces
1/4 tsp mustard seeds
1/4 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp asafoetida
6 curry leaves (optional)
1 cardamom pod powdered
  • Whisk together the yogurt, besan and water and keep aside.
  • Heat 1 tsp oil and 1 tsp ghee. Add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds, cloves, cinnamon and asafoetida.
  • Add the green and red chillies, curry leaves, ginger and a pinch of turmeric powder.
  • Add the yogurt mixture.
  • Add salt and sugar.
  • Let the kadhi come to a boil. Add the cardamom powder.
  • Reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes to develop the flavor. Whisk every few minutes.
Notes:
The flavors in the kadhi develop the more it sits. So plan on making the kadhi at least an hour before serving and reheat.