Zucchini carrot soup

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I chanced upon this book The Perfect recipe for losing weight and eating right at the library and I decided to buy the book pretty soon after. The main reason for the purchase was the options which the book gives for making your own salad and soup. There is a section, ‘Create your own soup(or salad) combos’ in the book which had me hooked.

The author has divided the soup as a combination of herbs, meat, vegetables, starch and other flavorings. She lists out 10-12 items under each of these. So you can pick 1 or 2 herbs from the list, pick couple of veggies so that it adds up to 1 pound (1/2 kg), 1 or 2 starches  like black beans, rice or pasta and then flavor it the way you want. Its very similar to the ‘build your own’ salad my friend Swapna taught me to make, so that’s another reason I like the book :-).

True, I haven’t tried a lot of dishes from this book, but I have repeated the couple of recipes many times. So read for this version of Mexican Chicken and Black Bean soup,made in Instant Pot.

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Recipe adapted from: The Perfect recipe for losing weight and eating right

Ingredients:

  • 2 teaspoons oil
  • 1 large onion, finely sliced
  • 2 teaspoons chilli powder, or per taste
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • salt
  • 2 medium carrots, cut into circles
  • 2 medium zucchini, diced
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 cup cooked black beans or rajma
  • 1/2 cup elbow macaroni
  • 1 quart/liter vegetable broth (I used water)
  • 1 14.5 can diced tomatoes (or 5-6 tomatoes, pulsed in the mixer)
  • 2 handfuls of coriander leaves
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice

Method:

  1. Heat oil in a pan. I used the electric pressure cooker here (Instant pot). Saute the onions and once it changes color, add the chillli powder, salt and oregano. Saute for a few moments, then add carrots and zucchini.
  2. Saute that for a couple of minutes and add everything else except the lemon juice.
  3. Cook in soup mode for 10 minutes. Let the pressure release naturally and add the lemon juice, if preferred and serve hot.

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This recipe goes to this week’s Cooking from Cook Book Challenge. Please follow the link to know more about the event.

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Parippu thogayal

 

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My mother in law used to make poricha kuzhambu and keerai masiyal every Saturday for lunch. When we moved out, we started doing the same, but on Fridays and without the keerai masiyal. For us, it was poricha kuzhambu, pickle, rice and pappadam. If I feel fancy, I used to make a thogayal.

Poricha kootu or kuzhambu is a dish which uses up leftover bits of veggies. It takes all veggies in small quantities and is not spicy usually. A spicy pickle or thogayal makes an excellent side dish.

Read on for the pictorial recipe. This post goes to the Cooking from Cookbook Challenge. Please check out this page for more details about the event.

Heat 1/2 teaspoon oil in a pan. Add 1/2 cup toor dal and fry until it turns slightly brown. Transfer into the blender. In the same pan, add 3 garlic cloves , 1/2 teaspoon peppercorns and 3-4 red chillies(these are the spice source, so adjust according to your taste). Saute for a minute until the chillis are dry. You can add 1/4 cup coconut to the pan now and fry for another minute. I added it at the time of blending though.

Transfer everything into a mixer jar and blend with 1/4 cup coconut. We like thick and spicy thogayal, so I add only a little water to get everything smooth and ground.

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Overnight Chocolate Strawberry Oatmeal

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If someone is missing whether this week’s theme is ‘Oatmeal in alphabetical order’, let me assure you that its not. But after apple oatmeal, banana oatmeal and now chocolate-strawberry oatmeal, that question won’t really be out of place! What I am trying to do is come up with three different methods to cook the same breakfast. So for the last day (with the last of my strawberry loot) its an overnight oatmeal recipe. Its as easy as mixing all the ingredients and refrigerating it. The texture was surprisingly soft and not too unlike stove top oatmeal.

I did a general google search for overnight oatmeal since I hadn’t made up my mind about the flavoring. I found that most recipes use some amount of milk and a bit of yogurt to help thicken it up.And the rest is whatever is available in one’s pantry. So that’s what I did too. I have a HUGE batch of hot chocolate packets with me, now I know how to use it all up! After adding the chocolate mix, I remembered about the last of the frozen strawberries I had and that too went into the bowl. So read on for this easy way to start your day.

This post goes to Blogging Marathon# 70. Check out this page to see posts from other participating bloggers.

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 Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup oatmeal
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup yogurt
  • 4-5 strawberries, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon chia seeds
  • 1 packet hot chocolate mix (Or 1/2 tablespoon cocoa powder)
  • Sweetener of your choice
  • Toppings used – chocolate chips, banana slices, granola

Method:

  1. Mix everything together in a bowl or jar except the toppings.
  2. Refrigerate at least for a couple of hours before eating.
  3. At the time of serving, microwave it to warm it up. Add your toppings and enjoy!

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Cheese Pizza

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Its been ages since I made pizza at home. But then one fine day, I just added some flour and yeast to a bowl and got going from there. I made three pizzas that day and this is the first one.

This pizza was left alone with no toppings other than cheese and a few basil leaves. And not surprisingly, this was the kid’s favorite. Well, looks like that’s all I have to say about this pizza, would you believe?! May be its the fact that I far too sleepy that’s dried up my brain. And my mouth.

Anyway, whatever it is, my dear reader, consider yourself lucky that this is a short and cheesy post. Read on for the recipe and savor it with a bottle of imagination coke (that’s exactly what I got too!!)

This post goes to Blogging Marathon# 66. Check out this page to see posts from other participating bloggers.

3cheese pizza

Ingredients:

  • Pizza base dough (half the recipe quantity)
  • 2-3 tablespoon pizza sauce, ready made or homemade
  • 2 cups cheese (or per taste)
  • few basil leaves

Method:

  1. Prepare the pizza base as per the recipe. Once its doubled, flatten it out and divide into two portions.
  2. Roll each portion into circles (about 10-12″ diameter) using hands or rolling pin on a floured surface.
  3. Spread the pizza sauce and then top it with cheese as needed. Add few basil leaves if you have some.
  4. Bake in a preheated oven at 350F/180C for 15-20 minutes until the cheese is completely melted. Slice into triangles and enjoy!

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Watermelon salad

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The kid has always been a fan of watermelon. During summer season, vacation, mangoes and watermelons are the things he looks forward to the most! So for this theme of checkerboard, I decided to present him with a rubix cube fashion watermelon salad. The idea, of course, is from the net. There are far too many sources to name any one in particular.

Though it looked an easy task, it was extremely difficult to cut all pieces into same size. Finally I decided to keep a ‘good side’ and let the other sides take a hit. I couldn’t get even a smooth top, but I was impressed with 3 sides. The backside and the top was what took the major hit. It didn’t matter as the cubes came tumbling down as we started attacking the salad with a fork. And to be honest that was the most fun part :-)

This post goes to Blogging Marathon #66 under checkerboard theme. Check out this page to see post from the other participating bloggers. It is also a part of Valli’s Kid’s Delight event, hosted this month  by Archana.

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Ingredients:

  • watermelon cubes
  • honeydew melon cubes

Method:

  1. Dice the water melon into small cubes. Peel and seed the honeydew melon. Dice the pieces similar to the size of watermelon cubes.
  2. Arrange carefully in a rubix cube pattern.
  3. Refrigerate until time of serving.

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A-Z recap of popular American dishes

The last post for the alphabetical journey is over and its time for a quick recap. I am going to keep the talk to the minimum and let the pictures talk for themselves.

Please click on the desired picture to take you to the recipe link.

American cuisine

 

1biscuits

Biscuits

1cornbread

Cornbread and Chili

2Deviled Eggs

Deviled Eggs

4Eggs_Florentine

Eggs Florentine

1French fries

French Fries

1grilledcheese_sandwich

Grilled Cheese sandwich

3hot chocolate

Hot chocolate

2ice cream cake

Ice cream cake

2jello

Jello

2Key lime pie

Key lime pie

3lemon pound cake

Lemon pound cake

1MacNcheese

MacNCheese

2Navajo fry bread

Navajo fry bread

1okra

Okra, fried

2potato_salad

Potato salad

1quesadilla

Quesadilla

4red velvet cake

Red Velvet cake

3sloppy joes

Sloppy Joes

1tiramisu

Tiramisu

2Uncrustables

Uncrustables

1veggieburger

Veggie burger

2waldorf_salad

Waldorf Salad

3Gingerbread house cake

Xmas Gingerbread cake

2smoothiebowl

Yogurt smoothie

burritto bowl1

Zucchini burrito bowl

 

Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM# 63

X-mas Gingerbread house cake

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This post is a part of  the mega Blogging Marathon and A-Z challenge. I have chosen ‘popular American dishes’ as my theme.

The cake was made long time back, around Christmas time. But it stayed in the drafts for a long time and it seems perfect to use it for the alphabet X as X-mas theme cake.

Gingerbread house is usually made with cookies, but I have always wanted to make it with cake. My half hearted trials have always been disappointments until this one here. I baked a hot milk cake for the base, its perfect for the job. Soft, yet sturdy enough for the sculpting. Pound cake is another good choice.

The sculpting was a lot more difficult than I imagined. So was frosting. I have not given any measurements here, because its hard to determine an exact quantity for many things. Decorating was the most fun part. I even tried making impressions of tiles on the roof! So just let your imagination run wild and let a colorful dream take shape :=)

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Bake a cake of your choice in a 9X13 inch pan. Using a long serrated knife or a cake leveler, cut the cake across into two layers. Now with a sharp knife, cut the cake into three equal portions. So you have 6 pieces of cake in all.

With some buttercream frosting as glue, stack the layers on top of each other. Refrigerate or flash freeze for easy handling.

Using a sharp knife, cut out the roof shape carefully. Frost with chocolate buttercream. This is not as easy as it looks, so I took a lot of time with this. Once frosting is done, dip a palatte knife in hot water and run it all over the frosting for a smooth finish.

Use red fondant for roof and door. White fondant for windows. Cookie frosting for snow and candies for decorating. Pretzels for side windows.

1Gingerbread house cake

Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM# 63

2Gingerbread house cake

Veggie Burgers

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This post is a part of  the mega Blogging Marathon and A-Z challenge. I have chosen ‘popular American dishes’ as my theme.

I can’t believe we are at the last leg of our journey here. My catching up with others journey will happen only next month, but yeah, for most part, we are almost there at the end. Four more posts and its over! The first thing I am going to do is schedule posts for the next three days. At the moment, the plan is to put everything up in the blog and be as prepared as you can be. Be ready! That’s the motto. I can already feel the change!

And you can already guess my intro for tomorrow. Its going to be about the forces in nature that prevented me from being on time. Why I was not able to schedule the posts or even get around editing the pictures or worse…what prevented me from getting the cooking done! Ah well.. I have always been a “last minuter” (I am coining that term if there isn’t one already) and I don’t see things changing anytime soon. It hasn’t changed for almost four decades now and we don’t have to rush and assume its going to change from tomorrow :D.

While I am getting ready with excuses for tomorrow, you can check out a fabulous veggie burger recipe. Nailed that ‘V’, didn’t I? ;-)

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Heat 1 teaspoon of oil in a pan.Saute one chopped medium red onion and one chopped red bell pepper. You can add carrots or any other veggies if you prefer. Set aside once its cooked. Mash 1.5 cups cooked black beans(or beans of your choice) with a fork or in a food processor. You want most of it mashed, but not all.

Add the mashed beans to 3/4 cup cooked rice. Now add the cooked bell pepper mix, along with 1 teaspoon chilli powder, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, salt and pepper. Combine everything well with your hands or a wooden spoon. Depending upon the moisture of the bean mix, you can add 1/4- 1/2 cup breadcrumbs.

Add 1/4 cup oats if desired. It adds some texture to the patty. Divide the mixture into 4-­5 equal parts. Shape each one into a nice flat patty. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a pan and cook the patties on medium­-low heat. Cook both sides and drain on a kitchen napkin when done.

Flip over, cook both sides and drain on a kitchen napkin when done. I made more smaller patties compared to 5 bigger patties. For sauce, mix 2 tablespoons of mayonnaise with 1 teaspoon each of ketchup and yellow mustard. At the time of serving, spread the sauce on the burger buns. Layer it with cucumber slices(you can make pickle out of it and use, I didn’t!), the patty, slices of tomatoes and onion and then top with the other half of the bun. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 tablespoons oil, divided
  • one medium red onion, chopped
  • one medium red bell pepper, chopped
  • one medium carrot, chopped fine
  • 1.5 cups black beans(or beans of your choice), cooked
  • 3/4 cup cooked rice
  • 1/4 cup oats
  • 1/4 -1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon chilli powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • salt and pepper

To serve:

  • a sauce made of mayo, ketchup and mustard
  • burger buns
  • sliced cucumber, tomato and onions

Method:

  1. Heat 1 teaspoon of oil in a pan.Saute one chopped medium red onion and one chopped red bell pepper. Set aside once its cooked.
  2. Mash 1 cup cooked black beans with a fork or in a food processor. You want most of it mashed, but not all.Add the mashed beans to 3/4 cup cooked rice. Now add the cooked bell pepper mix, along with 1 teaspoon chilli powder, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, salt and pepper.
  3. Combine everything well with your hands or a wooden spoon. Depending upon the moisture of the bean mix, you can add 1/4- 1/2 cup breadcrumbs. Add 1/4 cup oats if desired. It adds some texture to the patty.
  4. Divide the mixture into 4-­5 equal parts. Shape each one into a nice flat patty. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a pan and cook the patties on medium-low heat. Cook both sides and drain on a kitchen napkin when done.
  5. Flip over, cook both sides and drain on a kitchen napkin when done. I made more smaller patties compared to 5 bigger patties.
  6. For sauce, mix 2 tablespoons of mayonnaise with 1 teaspoon each of ketchup and yellow mustard. At the time of serving, spread the sauce on the burger buns. Layer it with cucumber slices(you can make pickle out of it and use, I didn’t!), the patty, slices of tomatoes and onion and then top with the other half of the bun. Enjoy!

Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM# 63

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Red Velvet Cake

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This post is a part of  the mega Blogging Marathon and A-Z challenge. I have chosen ‘popular American dishes’ as my theme.

Red velvet cake is a Southern classic. This cake was a big rage in the recent years, but its a recipe that date back to a long time before. It was apparently around WWII, because Wiki says that’s when people started adding beet juice to get the red color.

Around Valentine’s day, you get to see red velvet cake parade all over the internet. It adorns all kinds of desserts- cakes, cupcakes, trifles, pies, donuts, cheesecakes and what nots! Personally I have never been a big fan of red velvet cake, because color is the only factor in it that makes it different. But hey, that’s just me!

The recipe here adds a good amount of food coloring. But the presence of coffee negates some of the red color. My bright red batter turned back brownish-red the minute I added the coffee. The site insists on not skipping the coffee, so I would go with it if I am making it again. The cake tasted absolutely delicious – the texture was soft and spongy with a tinge of red color. There are many recipes with out the use of artificial colors if you want to stay clear off it. Beets are again the most common source for color then.

I used this cake for another post to show how the chocolate lace collar is made. You can check it out in case you are interested.

1red velvet cake

Recipe source: Divas Can Cook

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon each baking soda and baking powder
  • a pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-2 oz. red food coloring
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar
  • ½ cup hot coffee (1/2 cup water with 1/2 teaspoon instant coffee powder)
  • 2 cups heavy cream plus 1/4 cup powdered sugar, whipped for frosting
  • Chocolate, if making the lace around the cake

Method:

  1. Heat oven to 350F/ 180C. Grease and line two round 9″ cake pans with parchment paper.
  2. Whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cocoa powder and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a big bowl, add oil and sugar. Whisk well. Add eggs, buttermilk, vanilla and red food coloring. Mix until combined.Add the coffee and vinegar.
  4. Add the flour mix in 3-4 batches to the wet ingredients. Mix until no streaks of flour remains. Divide the batter evenly into the prepared pans.
  5. Bake for about 30-40 minutes or until a skewer inserted in center of the cake comes out clean. Once its out of oven and let the cake rest in the pan for at least ten minutes before taking out of the pan. Let it cool completely.
  6. Red velvet cake is traditionally decorated with cream cheese frosting, but I have used whipped cream here.

Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM# 63

1collar

Quesadilla

1quesadilla

This post is a part of  the mega Blogging Marathon and A-Z challenge. I have chosen ‘popular American dishes’ as my theme.

Quesadilla (pronounced keisadiya) is not an American dish. It has Mexican origins, but its part of American cuisine in a big way. Mexican food as such is very popular with enough changes to suit the American palate.

Recipes as simple as this can be modified anyway you want. What I have here is a very basic and very simple quesadillas.  I usually prefer veggie and beans filling for quesadilla, but my son loves it this way with only cheese as filling and nothing else.I have used ready made flour tortillas, but you can make your own at home. Even better, use a whole wheat chapati. Cheese filled chapatis do sound good to me!

Fun thing about this post is the textiles used here. Its from my blogging friend Pavani. Last week, we had a mini BM meet. Pavani, Usha and Mireille had come over and we had a wonderful time which included a photo session and small shopping trip to Christmas tree shop near by. Any meet that includes food prop shopping is fun and this was no exception. But Pavani sent me on a sugar high when she gave all of us some textiles from her collection. I was so happy that I don’t even remember whether I thanked her at that point of time! Given that my current prop obsession is kitchen napkins for taking pictures, it was a timely and well appreciated gift.

Thanks a ton girls, you make my life so much better with your company and now, with textile pieces as well :-)!

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Pictorial:

Place a pan on medium heat. Add one tortilla with 1/3 cup shredded cheese it. Cover it with another tortilla.

Cover with a lid (optional, but it helps melt the cheese better) and flip when the bottom side is lightly brown. Take off the heat when both sides are lightly brown. Cut into eight triangles and serve with salsa. Recipe below.

Ingredients:

  • 2 ready made tortillas
  • 1/3 cup shredded cheese

Method

Place a pan on medium heat. Add one tortilla with 1/3 cup shredded cheese it. Cover it with another tortilla. Cover with a lid (optional, but it helps melt the cheese better) and flip when the bottom side is lightly brown. Take off the heat when both sides are lightly brown. Cut into eight triangles and serve with salsa.

For fresh tomato salsa, mix finely chopped tomatoes(2 medium) and red onions(1/2 medium). Add salt and pepper to taste, a squirt of lemon juice if preferred and 2 handful of chopped coriander if you have them (I didn’t!). Top with a dollop of sour cream for a guilty pleasure :D.

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Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM# 63

4quesadilla