Life..a miracle

Life..a miracle

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Couple of projects over a couple of days..

This weekend was a real busy one..can be called a great success with almost everything planned being accomplished. I had a bunch of projects planned this weekend.
When I left the east coast my friend presented me with a gift card from my favorite art supply store. Blick Art store is one of my favorite places to visit. Its like going to Disneyland and splurging! So finally on Friday my ordered materials arrived and I was super excited to get started.

The first one was to paint the for-now only terracotta pot in my home..surely more to come. After contemplating on the various designs I chose something very simple yet colorful.

The second is something that's actually going to be part of a bigger project which I will reveal in the coming days but for now I finished painting a ceramic platter in a painting studio called Ceramic Cafe in Del Mar,San Diego. Its a real cool thing to do, you basically go in, choose a piece and paint on it.They then fire and glaze the piece for you and you can pick it up in a few days, all ready to be used. I chose a big serving platter and created a simple floral design on it. I will know the final outcome on Friday, till then here are few pictures of the piece in process.

I have a lot of things lined up for the coming hoping to have a busy but fun week..with a happy end to it.. :)

N the finished product..

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Memories of singlehood

Not too long ago..but surely feels like a while back that I was single.. :)
It brings back some fun memories for me.. I remember back in Jersey I would hardly have a proper dinner on weekdays..mainly because I used to work pretty late and also since I lacked company. I remember having just hummus and crackers along with some fruit for dinner. I know that's a weird combination but I still enjoyed it.. or just having a big bowl of cereal followed by a small piece of chocolate..aah..I do miss that sometimes.
For the past few days I have been living up my past life again. My dinners have involved something really quick and simple to make which usually categorized as a snack or an appetizer. But nevertheless they are delicious!

The first one is a salad which I remember having it the first time at my friend's place literally a few days after I had first arrived in US. Her mom had prepared a lot of food and it was my first time ever for tasting asparagus..and to tell you the truth it was love at first sight! :P I don't know why and how but since that day asparagus has been one of my most favorites veggies!
So here goes, its a simple asparagus pasta salad. I usually make it real simple meaning doesn't involve 'real cooking' but this time I looked it up and made it similar to this recipe by Rachel Ray. I didn't include all the veggies she recommended since I didn't have them.

Asparagus Pasta Salad

10-12 asparagus stems
1/2 cup Green peas (Defrost if frozen or get them par-boiled before use)
1 cup pasta, cooked to al dente and cooled (can use farfalle i.e.bow-tie pasta or macaroni)
2 tbsps olive oil (EVOO) - you can adjust it to your liking
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1/2 onion chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Heat the onions and oil in microwave safe covered dish for 30 seconds or in a small pan on the stove top over medium low heat for 5 minutes. Allow oil to cool back to room temperature.
  • My asparagus wasn't very fresh and so I had to snap the lower ends of the stem. Par boil the asparagus tops in 1 inch simmering water covered for 3 to 5 minutes. Cool under cold running water and drain. Cut asparagus into 1-inch pieces on an angle and add to a bowl along with the peas and the pasta.
  • Whisk the vinegar and the olive oil and pour the dressing over the salad and toss. Season salad with salt and pepper, to your taste and toss again. Enjoy!

The next one is something that brings back childhood memories for me! It was one of my favorite snacks back home. The texture, the spicy-tangy flavor..just too yummy! Its a recipe well known in Maharashtrian households. Its called Dadpe Pohe. In Marathi "Dadpe' means to soak pohe (flattened rice flakes - thin) in very little water and then add some pressure to them to get them crushed,not too much to avoid clumping.

I am being lazy here and not writing the whole recipe out but rather giving you this link to a blog which has the recipe well written and with a picture.

P.S. Sorry for the poor quality of phone can only do so much.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Comfort food

There are different kinds of comfort food for me..its varies from spicy to sweet!
With my fiance off on a business trip, I was really missing him and feeling very lonely.

I was trying to keep myself busy with things and planned my day.. my initial plan was to make bread but just didn't get the drive.. My aim was to have it as my breakfast for the week..but I suddenly had the craving for something sweeter and I found myself reminiscing about something I loved back when I was living in Jersey.

NJ and NY have abundance of good bakeries and one of them was located on my way to work. My colleagues and me would ensure we took full advantage of this!! It was the Zaro's Bakery. Working in Newark and having a good bakery around was really an unusual thing! Zaro's had a great variety of muffins and cookies (real big ones!). I loved their white chocolate and macadamia nut soft cookies..they were heavenly! Since then, I always end up hunting for a similar one!

I was craving for those cookies but just couldn't get myself to buy one of those! So then I thought, why not make them myself.. n why not make a healthier version of those..n have those instead for breakfast! I also had a bunch of other reasons to bake something. I recently bought a new set of mixing bowls and had to use them sooner or later! I also got myself a new phone and decided that my cookies would be the first thing I click!

So the goal was to make sure the essence of the cookie was maintained but in a healthy way, obviously I decided to go the Oats way. The original recipe asked for using all-purpose flour but I used whole wheat. I also substituted half of the sugar for honey and reduced the butter by a little bit.

White chocolate & macadamia oatmeal cookies

Ingredients: (Makes 12 cookies)
1.5 tablespoons butter, softened
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 egg
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
7-8 tablespoons whole wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup and 2 tablespoons rolled oats
1/4 cup chopped white chocolate
1/4 cup chopped macadamia nuts

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease cookie sheets (used parchment paper to avoid the greasing).
  • In a large bowl, cream together the butter, honey, and brown sugar until smooth. Beat in the egg, then stir in the vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder, and baking soda; stir into the creamed mixture. Mix in the oats, white chocolate, and macadamia nuts until evenly distributed. Refrigerate this mixture for about 15-30 mins. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto the prepared cookie sheets.
  • Bake for 10 to 12 minutes in the preheated oven, or until edges are toasted. For crisper cookies, bake longer. If you leave the cookies on the cookie sheet for a few minutes before transferring to cool on wire racks you will have a softer bottomed cookie.

These came out really well. So light and yummy, and not too sweet, which is just perfect for me. I baked them for 12 mins to get the crunch. So as far as the week goes I definitely have a good start planned for each day. These cookies were so simple and quick that I already plan to make another batch in the week with a different combination.
Happy baking!

P.S. All pics shown here were clicked through my new phone! :)

Monday, June 13, 2011

Artsy-craftsy me..

I dont consider myself a geek even though I am in a profession where most of us are or end up becoming geeks..I am a software engineer..shhh. But don't worry I am not here to discuss all that.
What I do plan to show off are my not soooo.. nerdy qualities! :P

A little more than an year back I started off with a project which I then planned to put up in my room. Almost 13 months later and here I am about to finish it!! yeye! :)
I remember talking to my fiance about this back when we had just got introduced. I actually waited longer to tell him about this, thinking he would judge me for being too nerdy! But he actually ended up saying that this kinda things would make me shine in front of his mom.. :P

Its a counted cross stitching kit. The 'counted' part makes it a bit easier. Its a simple and stress-free job and I have loved spending my evenings on it. I was so excited about getting this that I actually bought 3 different ones and planned to put them up all on a wall.. I know it will look great!! For now I am only done with one and below is the finished product.

A more closeup view:

All I have to do is get it prepped up and frame it. I already have a place reserved for it as well as for the upcoming ones. I now plan to start off with something new.So here I go on..honing my nerdy skills..

Friday, June 10, 2011

Celebrating health Mexican style!

I have been making conscious decisions at cooking healthy and yesterday was the perfect day to make a nice hearty soup. The weather was gloomy and even my fiance wasn't feeling all that I decided to make a tortilla soup. I was looking around for recipes and came across a bunch of them but this was my winner. The original recipe uses chicken and I decided to make a veggie version out of it.(The recipe in the link will definitely make 4 large portions of the soup. I had cut down the quantity to half and still we had a real good amount of soup!)

Black bean tortilla soup

2 tbsp - Vegetable or corn oil
1 ear corn on the cob(remove the silk hairs, but keep the husks for grilling) or fresh-frozen cobs, defrosted
1 can black bean ( I prefer organic)
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning ---|-- didn't have either so just added curry powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin -------|
Salt and pepper
1 small to medium zucchini, small dice
1/2 medium yellow skinned onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 to 2 Chipotle peppers in Adobo sauce (medium to hot heat level), chopped
1 (14-ounce) can stewed tomatoes
1/2 cup tomato sauce/ use tomato paste/puree and add equal amount of water to it
1.5 cups vegetable stock
1-2 cups blue corn tortilla chips, broken up into large pieces
1/2 cup yogurt ( substitute for sour cream, drain through a cheesecloth-lined sieve for 30 minutes in the refrigerator for a thicker texture)
  • Preheat your oven to 350 F. Once heated place the corn covered with the husks in the oven over a foil or on a cookie sheet. It should be done in about 10 mins, turn it after 5 minutes.
  • Place a pot to heat, once hot add 2 tablespoons oil. Add the garlic and the peppers. Saute for a minute and add zucchini and onions. Cook vegetables for about 5 to 7 minutes to soften. Add tomatoes, tomato sauce and stock. Bring soup to a nice bubble, and reduce heat to medium low.
  • Scrape corn off cob and add to soup. Add chips to the soup in handfuls and fold in. Add salt and freshly crushed pepper to taste. Serve soup immediately with a dollop of yogurt.
I excluded a bunch of things from the original recipe to cut down the portion size. This still made a nice dinner for us (truly a complete meal!)

Note: Please add the salt at the very end since a lot of the ingredients already have salt and I hardly needed any at the end. Do not miss out on the chipotle peppers! They are the secret for this recipe! They really give an amazing flavor to the soup.

I highly apologize but I did not click any pictures! ( I know I should be punished for it) but nevertheless please believe my word! :) The soup was delicious.. I got a good job nod from my fiance too!! and he definitely isn't easy to please.. :P

So give this a try and do let me how it turned out!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A fresh start!

I have decided to blog again with an intention to document and share things that I enjoy..
I highly regret to not have blogged all my days in Jersey City and New York and all the memorable experiences. But I learn from my mistakes and here I go with my first blog.

A lot has happened since I moved to California! I was literally in the situation where the well-known dialogue "नया घर..नया जॉब..नयी बीवी (पती)..बढिया हैं!!" perfectly applied to me and I have decided to take complete advantage of each of these things. ;)

I now share a lovely home with my hubby-to-be and have spent some quality time decorating it (will post the pictures sometime). With my new home, I finally got my very own kitchen (no more sharing!) and hope to get back my love of baking and learning to cook healthy.
As for the new job, its more relaxed than my previous one and hence keeps my evenings mostly free. I have a lot of things on my mind and have already started on a few.

Last month we had our parents visiting us and for about a month our time was spent mostly around the family. We had a great time especially because I got to eat authentic dishes all made by my moms!

I have been spoiled with all the good food around me and now I am getting back on track with it! Exercise is one thing that I need to devote my time on and I have started off by joining a local Yoga class. Boy, they kick ass! Its a power yoga class wherein the room temperature is raised which apparently makes our body make smoother movements as well as helps in burning more calories. I hope I keep up with my planned schedule..which also includes healthier cooking.

As for cooking, yesterday I had made Masoor Pulao (Lentil Rice) and used brown rice instead of the usual white Basmati. It turned out pretty well but I really didn't wait to click pictures first because I was starving! I will remember to click them the next time I make it and I am sure there will be a next time for it.

Masoor Pulao (Lentil Rice)

1.5 cups Brown Rice
3/4 cup - 1cup Whole Brown Lentils (Masoor) (soak them for about 2 hrs)
1 medium onion sliced
4-5 cloves garlic chopped
1-1.5 inch piece ginger chopped
4-5 cardamoms
8-10 cloves
2 small pieces cinnamon
1 tsp turmeric
1 tbsp red chili powder (or amount based on your liking)
1.5 tbsp garam masala powder or biryani masala or any other curry mix usually works.
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp oil
  • I usually make this in a pressure cooker but you can make this in a stew pot too. Start with adding some oil to the pot and once it heats up add the cumin seeds,turmeric, followed by ginger and garlic. Saute the ginger garlic for a minute and add in the onions.
  • Once the onions turn transparent,add the lentils and let them saute for a few minutes. Add in the spices and let them cook for a few minutes. Finally add the rice and let it saute for a few mins. Add 3 cups of water ( i.e. twice the amount of rice) and bring it to a boil.
  • Once it starts boiling add salt to taste and keep it on the saltier side so that once its cooked it will be the right proportion.Place the lid and allow about 4-5 whistles or on a stew pot you can check to see if the rice is cooked.
I also made a tomato koshimbir (salad with yogurt) to accompany it which mainly involves chopping whatever veggies(tomato,onion,cucumber,beets..) I have and adding chilli powder,salt and a pinch of sugar to taste and bringing it all together with yogurt.

I have a bunch of things lined up to blog about and I already know what the next one is going to be. Thank you for visiting my blog and taking your time in reading my first post!

Stay tuned. :)