M&M Illusion Cake

Well, school has opened. It’s been three weeks now. Kids are settled and everything is running smoothly. And I now I have some spare time for myself and for my blog which I was missing so much. It’s been two months since I had posted anything. However, during these two months ( kid’s summer vacation) I made tons of goodies and all my pictures and recipes are laying in my desktop. I will be posting them nearly soon.

Last week of August we celebrated our daughter’s birthday. Obviously her BFFs were with her to celebrate. Few days ago before her birthday she requested me to make an illusion cake for her. I normally bake cake for my kid’s special days. I feel satisfied when I cook for them.

I know all kids love M&Ms. So I had the basic idea to make three layers cake with butter icing and dropping the candies from the top layer but I was not sure how to make the wrapper suspend on the cake. So after some research I found a wonderful link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DQkvBLu2aT4 .

It explains very clearly how to make the cake. To give my daughter a surprise, I made  a checkerboard with chocolate butter cream. The outer cake icing was made of white butter cream.

When I brought the cake out, my daughter’s friends were awestruck and everyone wanted the slice which was fully covered with M&Ms. My daughter delighted and said it was the best cake ever.
Illusion M&M cake

Beet root and Carrot juice with Thai Basil Seeds

This red juice is loaded with lot of vitamins and minerals. It not only detoxify your body but also helps in controlling weight and has many nutritional benefits.Superb energetic tonic after a workout.It contains only few ingredients but tastes awesome.
Beetroot juice

4 medium carrots
1 small beetroot
2 stalk celery
1 tsp thai basil seeds
1/2 tsp lemon juice

Soak thai basil seeds for 15mins in half cup of water. The seeds will be double in size.Drain the water. If you want you can water also in juice.
Make juice either using juice blender or juicer.Add the basil seeds and lemon juice.Serve with/without crushed ice immediately.

Baked Indian Classic Mathri (Delicious Salty ShortBread Cookies)

In most Indian homes, Mathri is the common snack especially during tea time. These are not sweet but a savory cookies. They are generally deep fried and taste good paired with sour mango pickle. Living in a big family, my mother and my grandmother used to make these cookies. We kids had the duty of pricking the cookies with a knife or fork. Sometimes we used to write our initials with the knife so that we could claim that particular cookie as ours. These fried cookies taste especially delicious fresh from the frying pan. Since they have good shelf-life, my mother used to make a kilogram or two of cookies at a time. She used to store them in an air tight steel container and kept them on the top self of our kitchen cabinet. All her yummy goodies used to be in the top self, safely away from our greedy hands. But we sometimes used to climb to the top self to get those goodies😉 (only in afternoon when my mother used to take a nap). How precious were the days back then!
Instead of frying, I bake these mathris. Tastewise, they are equally as good and contain less oil. It’s difficulty level? None; it’s very easy to make.

1+1/2 cup Whole Wheat Flour
1/2 cup All Purpose Flour
2 tbsp Semolina
1 tsp Sugar
1-1 1/2 tsp Ajwain seeds (carom seeds)
1 tsp Black Pepper Powder
1/4 tsp Baking Soda
Salt to taste
1/2 Cup Oil or Melted warm Ghee (Clarified Butter)
*for vegans use unflavored oil instead of Ghee
1/2 Cup Warm Water

Preheat the oven at 375 Degrees F.
In a large mixing bowl mix all the ingredients except oil and water.
Add oil/ghee to the flour mixture and mix well to incorporate. Now gradually add warm water (little by little at a time) to bring the dough together. Do not knead just make a ball of the dough. If the dough becomes very hard add some water. The dough shouldn’t be either soft or too hard to roll.
Put the dough on a slightly floured surface and roll with a rolling pin. Roll the dough to the 1/8th inch or desired thickness and cut them into round shapes. Prick the cookies with the fork so that cookies doesn’t puff while cooking.
In a baking tray lay the cookies and bake them on the middle rack for about 12- 15 minutes, After 5-7 mins keep a close eye on these as they brown very quickly. When they are light golden brown then these cookies are done. Cool them in a cooling rack. These have a good self life if kept in an air tight container.
It tastes yum with mango or lemon pickle.
*oven temperature varies from oven to oven so the baking time may differ.

Calcutta Style Chow Mien

I grew up in Calcutta and I love its street food. Whether it is phuchka or jhal muri or chinese or egg roll or mughalai or a typical indian ghugni, each and every food is to die for. I never had enough and especially during Durga Puja these delicacies seemed much tastier. It must be the blessings of Goddess Durga🙂
We Indians love Chinese food so much that we reinvented Chinese food according to our own Indian taste. And trust me Indian Chinese tastes so good. And this Calcutta style Chow Mien is one of them.
I always make Chow Mien at home but somehow the street taste is always missing. Maybe because I make it hygienic and healthy🙂
chowmien (Small)
The recipe follows:
The measurements are approximate. You can adjust the ingredients according to your taste.

2 cups boiled string noodles
1 cup mixed vegetables(shredded cabbage, julienne carrots, thinly sliced bell peppers, green beans cut in 2 inches long)
1 medium sliced onion
1-1 1/2 tsp red chili flakes
1 tsp crushed garlic
2 Tblsp sesame oil
2-3 Tblsp soy sauce
1 Tblsp tomato ketchup
2 tsp hot red chili sauce (increase or decrease according to the taste)I use Maggie hot chili sauce
2-3 tsp vinegar ( I used rice vinegar)
Salt and crushed black pepper to taste

This recipe will be cooked on high heat.
Put the gas on high heat. Place the wok and add oil.
When the oil is hot add onion and sauté. Do not let the onion burn. When the onion becomes loose add garlic and after few seconds add all the vegetables. Sauté for 3-4 mins. Stir occasionally. When the vegetables look tender add cooked noodles.
Add salt, red chili flakes, black pepper, soy sauce, chili sauce, ketchup. Mix well and let it cook for 2-3 mins. Adjust the spices. Add vinegar and mix everything properly. Turn off the gas and sprinkle some chopped green onion. Drizzle some sesame oil ( it’s totally optional).
Serve hot.
*You can add scramble eggs too.

Easy Crusty Baguette

After a long tiring weekend, my family just wanted to have light dinner and I also didn’t want to cook. So I thought of making vegetable soup and some bread to go along with it. A very hassle free recipe which gives a soft chewy baguette in just two hours. No need to pay attention or need to knead several times. If you have stand mixer then the work will be done easier and if not then kiss your magic hand.🙂
A very easy and quick recipe for Baguette.

1 cup+ 1 Tblsp whole wheat flour
1/2 cup bread flour
3/4 tsp active dry yeast
3/4 tsp salt
2/3 cup lukewarm water(110F)
1/2 tsp sugar
2 tsp garlic powder
1 Tblsp dried rosemary

In a stand mixer bowl pour yeast, water and sugar and let it ferment for five minutes.
After five minutes add rest of the ingredients. Attach dough hook and knead for five minutes. The dough should be soft and pliable.
Cover the bowl with cling wrap and keep it in a warm place for 40- 50 mins to rise.
After 45 mins punch down the dough. Place the dough on the floured board and shape into a loaf. Cover the loaf with a towel. At the same time preheat the oven at 450 degrees F. While the oven is getting ready, the dough will be set for second rise.
When the oven is ready slash two cuts on the dough with a knife. Mist some water on the dough. Slide the dough into the the baking pan. Spray mist occasionally. Bake for 20- 22 mins until golden and sounds hollow when knocked.
Cool the baguette on cooling rack. After 10 mins slice the baguette diagonally.

Provençal Beans

Once in a while it happens to all of us. When you talk on the phone with your dear ones you forget about the time. Me and my sister love to talk for hours. Today, while talking to her(btw, she lives in India) I forgot that my girl was coming home early from school. In the midst of our juicy gossip I saw my daughter coming with all her stuff hanging around her. I told my sister,”Sis, now you need to sleep and I need to cook. Good night.”
It was one O’clock p.m. And in crisis my brain works more than usual. I remember when we were in France I had a very simple dish called Provençal Beans. It had minimal ingredients but was loaded with proteins and vitamins. The taste was exquisite. It’s very easy to make and in no time a very healthy wholesome meal will be on the table. Serve it with cooked quinoa or with bread or with both.

Vegan Provençal Beans

Vegan Provençal Beans quinoa

1 can red kidney beans(washed and drained)
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, cut in cubes
1/2 cup mixed bell peppers(red/green or yellow), cut in cubes
2 small tomatoes cut in cubes
3-4 cloves garlic crushed
1/2 teaspoon dried basil or 4 fresh basil leaves
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried crushed rosemary
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/2 – 1 tsp red chili powder(to satisfy my Indian palate)😉
1/2 cup tomato purée + 1/4 cup water
1/4 tsp sugar
Salt to taste

In a sauté pan heat oil and sauté onion and garlic till onion becomes transparent.
Add peppers, tomatoes, beans, herbs, salt, sugar, purée and water. Cover with the lid and cook for 2-3 mins so that everything incorporates well and water is also absorbed.
Switch off the burner and serve hot with cooked quinoa or with bread slices.



Short Bread Cookies

This is one of the most easiest recipes I came across, easy to remember and very quick to cook. Simple ingredients but the result tastes awesome. When I was kid I was always eager to open my tiffin box during lunch time in school. My mother always used to pack some surprise goodies in my tiffin box (I have somewhat followed my mother’s tradition and kids love surprises in their lunch boxes). Shortbread cookies was one of them. There was a bakery shop near our house who used to make yummy treats like this. This shortbread recipe reminds me of that place.

Short Bread Cookies

Short Bread Cookies

I got this wonderful recipe from my fellow blogger Kenneth Goh:

Wonderful recipe and easy step by step instructions. Thanks for the recipe!

My only change in this recipe is that I have used whole wheat flour instead of white flour. And it came out just as good and tasty. I might pack these in my daughter’s lunchbox tomorrow as a surprise🙂

50 gms sugar (I measured first and then ground it into fine powder)
100 gms unsalted melted butter (approx 1 stick)
150 gms whole wheat flour
1 tsp vanilla essence

Preheat oven at 350 degrees F.
Mix all the ingredients and make a soft dough.
Roll it to 1cm thick. Cut into the desired shapes. Pierce lightly with a fork.
Transfer cookies in the baking tray at bake them for 12 – 15 mins.