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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Whole Wheat Snickerdoodle Cookies

I have made a few different types of cookies over the past few weeks and have discovered that cookies don't really need that much butter as I find on many popular food blogs on the the internet. My recipe uses half the amount therefore making them a little bit lite. Normally 1/2 a cup would go into a batch this size but I  used 1/4 cup and the results were perfect. In my opinion 1/4 cup is the ideal amount, any additional butter would have made them very greasy. I also added some whole wheat to make them more healthier.

(Makes 9 2" cookies)
(Prep time 10  mins, rest time 20 mins, bake time 15 mins)

Whole wheat 3/4 cup
All purpose flour 1/2 cup
Melted butter 4 Tbs
Baking soda 1 tsp
Brown sugar 1/4 cup
White sugar 1/4 cup
Vanilla 1 tsp
Egg 1 large
Salt 1/8 tsp

Cinnamon 1 Tsp
Brown sugar 1/2 Tbs
White sugar 1/2 Tbs


Combine butter, sugar, salt, egg, vanilla in a large bowl and mix all the ingredients together for about 2 mins. I just used a large fork to mix this all.
Then fold in the flour, whole wheat and baking soda.
Refrigerate this dough for about 20 mins so that it firms up a bit.
Roll out about 2 Tbs worth of dough (I could make 9 balls) and toss them around in the cinnamon sugar mixture. Make sure they are very liberally coated on all sides.
Place on a a lined cookie sheet and bake for about 15 min in a preheated 400 degree over.
When they are done take them off the cookies sheet and allow them to cool down a bit before eating.


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Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Idli - Sambhar - Chutney

This humble meal is what we recently had on Christmas Eve.
A small gathering of close friends and good food is always a good idea :-)

Following were the deciding factors behind our selection:
We wanted to spend very little time in the kitchen.
Wanted something spicy.
Something soupy and soul warming.
Very little cleanup.
And something you could eat tons of without feeling full or too guilty :-)

The idlis were made using store bought batter.

We used "Shastha idli batter" purchased from Mayuri.
You can get this easily from any Indian grocery store.
We steamed the batter in idli molds for about 15 mins on the stove top. We sprayed a little oil on the molds before filling it up with batter.

The sambhar was semi home made.

Tomatoes 1/2 cup chopped
Daikon radish 1 1/2 cups chopped
Okra 1 cups chopped
Eggplant 1 cup chopped
Green peas 1/2 cup
Carrots 1/2 cup chopped
Garlic 1/2 Tbs copped
Thai chilies 1 Tbs chopped (about 5-6 medium sized chilies) *adjust according to your tastebuds
Water 5-6 cups
Sambhar mix 5-6 heaping Tbs (we used MTR Sambar Mix available from any Indian store)
Butter 3-4 Tbs *optional - we went for it :-)

All the vegetables need to be cut small and they need to be the same size.. about 1/2".
Add the vegetables in a big pot filled with water, add the spice mix and turn on the heat.
Once the water has begun to boil, lower the heat and cook slightly covered for 30 mins.
Add butter at very the end after turning off the heat.

And the chutney was home made.

Fresh cilantro 1 bunch (stems and all - washed ofcourse)
Vinegar 1/2 cup (we used apple cider)
Dried red chilies 2-3 medium sized *adjust according to your tastebuds
Dried un-sweetened coconut flakes 1/2 cup *you can also use frozen or fresh grated coconut
Tomato 1 medium sized
Garlic 1 large clove
Red onion 1/3 of a small onion (roughly 1.5" thick slice)
Thai chilies 3-4 medium sized chilies *adjust according to your tastebuds
Salt 1/2 tsp

All of the above ingredients blended well in a blender.


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Thursday, November 22, 2012

Oven Roasted Chicken - Rana's Recipe

My gal Rana made this Arabesque last minute thanksgiving dinner possible just now :-)

She started with a whole, free range... organic chicken from Trader Joe's. She then rubbed some Baharat - an exotic Arabian spice blend that contains several different spices and herbs - all over the chicken. She also poured some Kraft olive oil vinaigrette, sprinkled some coarse black pepper and crushed bay leaves on all sides of the chicken and never used any salt. She let this bird sit on the counter for about an hour and a half - just the time I needed to shower, get ready, grab a few potatoes and head her way. We baked this on a roasting rack... breast side down for 30 minutes in a pre-heated 350 degree oven. We then turned the bird.. breast side up, we also turned the heat up to 400 degrees and baked for 40 minutes. We turned it over one last time... breast side down and baked for another 30 minutes.

Roasting the chicken on a rack ensures a nice and even brown color and the skin also gets very crispy. And to catch all the drippings and to prevent a mess and a possible fire inside your oven please place the rack inside a baking dish. We used a disposable aluminum pan.

The result: This fabulous, golden, succulent, super juicy oven roasted chicken bursting with flavor :-)
The sides were simple and quick to put together.
Mashed potatoes
3 small red potatoes boiled with skin on. Mashed with 1 Tbs of butter, 1 Tbs of onion and chives Boursin cheese, salt, pepper and some milk.
Sauteed vegetables
Carrots, green beans, mushrooms, onions, peas, garlic cooked in a tiny amount of oil and seasoned with salt, pepper and herbs. (The carrots and green beans were pre-cooked from Haggen)
Spinach salad
Baby spinach, sweet onions, carrots, cherry tomatoes tossed with olive oil, some balsamic vinegar and of course a little salt and pepper.
Cranberry and walnut tart
From Trader Joe's
French Bread
Haggen bakery

Everything was super awesome!
She suggested sweet Riesling will pair well with it :-)

And oh yeah... almost forgot.
We cooked while sipping Turkish coffee and munched on Boursin cheese with rice and charcoal crackers, cashews, raisins, Ritter Sport hazelnut chocolate and prunes!
Had a terrific time :-)
Thanks Rana for pulling this off :-)

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Friday, November 16, 2012

Chocolate Chip Cookies

I love soft baked cookies and these I made with some wholewheat and less butter.
And that makes them...... hmm..... lets say healthier. Therefore its okay to eat all of them in one go :-)

(makes about a dozen 1 1/2" cookies)
(prep time 5 mins)
(bake time 15 mins)

Vanilla 1 tsp
Salt 1/8 tsp
Baking soda 1/2 tsp
Bittersweet chocolate chips 1 cup (I used Nestlé Toll House )
Melted butter 4 Tbs
Wholewheat 3/4 cup
All purpose flour 3/4 cup
Egg 1 large
Dark brown sugar 1/3 cup
White sugar 1/3 cup
Whole milk 1 Tbs


This is quite simple and easy to make.
Preheat your oven to 350.
I used a fork and a large bowl to mix up the dough.
First combine the melted butter, egg and all of the sugar together.
Whisk this for a minute.
Now add the rest of the ingredients - except the chocolate chips -  and mix really well you might need to use your hands.
When the all the ingredients are fully incorporated fold in the chocolate chips and drop spoonfulls on a cookie sheet.
Bake for abour 12-15 mins in a preheated 350 oven. The sides should feel firm and the center only slightly soft.
Let these rest for a few minutes and they are ready to eat.

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Thursday, November 1, 2012

Chewy Oatmeal Cinnamon Cookies


These turned out pretty awesome :-)
This is my lighter version of the classic cookie. Incredibly chewy and yummy specially considering the fact that I used half the butter that would normally go into making these.

(Prep time 10 mins + 1 hour refrigeration)
(Bake time 15 mins)
(Makes 8 cookies, approx 3" dia)

Flour 1 cup
Quick cook oats (not instant oatmeal) 1 3/4 cups
Melted butter 1/4 cup
Dark brown sugar 7 Tbs (1/2 cup minus 1 Tbs)
White sugar 7 Tbs (1/2 cup minus 1 Tbs)
Condensed milk 2 Tbs
Egg 1
Cinnamon 1 tsp
Vanilla 1 tsp
Salt 1/4 tsp
Baking soda 1/2 tsp


Combine the sugar, salt, vanilla, egg, condensed milk and melted butter in a large bowl.
Whisk together for a minute and then add the flour and baking soda.
Mix well until a thick batter is formed.
Fold in the oats.
Make sure everything is well incorporated.
Roll out an 8" log and wrap in some saran.
Refrigerate for about and hour.
Cut the log into 8 discs and place on a baking sheet.
Bake in the middle rack of a pre heat oven at 375 degrees for 15-18 mins or until the sides seem slightly brown and the centers are firm but not fully hard.
Allow to cool for 10-15 mins.
Enjoy :-)
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Sunday, October 21, 2012

Lite Beef Chili

A perfect start to the long winter months ahead :-)
It was nice, very filling and soul warming :-)
I read someplace that cocoa powder is a great flavor enahncer in chili. This was new to me so I included some in the spice rub. The taste overall was good and I think the cocoa powder definetly added good color to the dish.
I am into lite cooking these days so I wanted to make this with as little added fat and salt as possible. So I began with a cut of meat that was lean and trimed off all the extra visible fat. And since I used canned kidney beans I added them in the last 10 mins of cooking to avoid an overly mushy texture.
(serves 2)

(prep time 15 mins)
(cook time 1 hour 15 mins)

Beef round steak 1 1/2 lbs
Celery 1/2 cup
Red onions 1/2 cup
Green bell pepper 1/2 cup
Garlic 1 tsp (minced)
Serrano chili 1 tsp (mined)
Canned tomatoes 1/2 cup (no salt added)
Canned red kidney beans (low sodium)
Oil for cooking 1 Tbs
Water 1 1/2 cup
Salt 1/2 tsp (I love using the pink himalayan salt for cooking - I get mine from Penzeys Spices)

For roux

Butter 1/2 Tbs
Flour 1/2 Tbs

Heat the butter in a non stick fry pan and add the flour to it.
Cook this on a medium high heat until the color of the paste turns medium brown.
This could burn easily so stir continually and don't take your eye off it.
Add some water to this (1/4 cup) and mix until all the lumps are gone.
Keep aside.

Spice Rub

Brown sugar 3/4 tsp
Cocoa powder 1/3 tsp
Dried chipotle 1 whole
Dried habenero chili 1 whole
Cumin seeds 3/4 tsp
Coriander 1/2 tsp
Whole peppercorns 1/4 tsp
Mexican dried oregano 1 tsp

Grind every thing in a coffee grinder and keep aside for later use.
The spice rub doesn't contain salt.


Avocado slices
Fresh lime juice
Green onions
Shredded cheese (I used pepper jack)


First prepare the steak, trim the extra fat and cut it up into 1/3" cubes.
Rub with the spice mix and let it marinade while you prep your vegetables.
Cut your celery, onions and green peppers into a fine dice about 1/4" thick.
Mince the garlic clove and the serrano chilies.
Heat some oil in a wide pot and sear the meat on high for a few minutes.
Don't worry about cooking it all way yet.
Remove the meat from the pot and keep it in a plate for later use.
Add all the veggies, garlic and chilies into the same pot and season with salt.
Turn the heat down to medium low.
Place the lid on the pot and let this cook for about 8-10 minutes or until all veggies are soft.
Add the meat back into the pot, add the tomatoes and the water.
Bring everything to a boil, cover and simmer on low for 50 mins.
Smash half the beans with a fork and add it to the pot.
Continue to cook for 15 mins.
Thicken as much as you like with the roux.
I ended up using half the amount I made.
The roux is very well cooked so just stir it in and cook the chili for another 5 mins.
I had this with some green onions, cilantro, avocado and shredded cheese.
Yummeee :-)

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Thursday, October 11, 2012

Butter Bean Salad

A lovely refreshing salad that I had with some herb roasted chicken breast.
I took this picture on day 3 so the colors of the vegetables are less vibrant but the salad itself still tasted great if not better :-)

(serves 3-4)
(prep time 15 mins)

Butter beans 2 14 oz cans
Cucumber 1/2 cup (diced small and seeds removed)
White onion 2 Tbs (diced small)
Red pepper 1/2 cup (diced small)
Green beans 1/3 cup (blanched and cut into small pieces)
Roma tomato 1 (diced small and seeds removed)
Celery 1/2 cup (diced small)

You can play around with the amounts.
Just make sure all the veggies are cut into a similar size.
Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and pour the vinaigrette on top.
Toss well.


Olive oil 2 Tbs
Fresh lime juice 3 Tbs
Red wine vinegar 1/2 Tbs
Minced garlic 1/2 tsp
Salt 1/4 tsp
Pepper 1/8 tsp
Chili flakes 1/8 tsp

Whisk everything together with a fork for a few seconds and it's ready.
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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Raw Juice Pulp Crackers

I have been eating raw vegan foods a couple of times a week now. I absolutely love the flavors and I am very surprised about the creativeness that goes into preparing some of these foods.

As tasty as this diet can be I don't think - at least not yet - that I'll ever fully convert because I don't necessarily agree with the all claims in health benefits and feel adequate research and proof is lacking. But I hope to maintain being 15-20% raw. Primarily because raw vegan foods feel light, refreshing and healthy plus I do agree with some of the health claims :-) and because I love the challenge of learning new techniques and coming up with or trying out new recipes.

I have been juicing for about two years now. I was instantly inspired from this movie which you can watch free on netflix and on hulu. I immediately got a juicer from Amazon the very next day. This particular Breville juicer is very compact, powerful, affordable and therefore suits me very well. I have a small kitchen, a ton of cooking related stuff and a looong wish list of stuff that I want. Anyway back to the juicer, its awesome! I LOVE all the juices I can make and am very much in love with it. On the flip side I am very unhappy about the pulp that I have to throw away. I don't have a need to compost so I make patties or add the pulp into soups but mostly it goes down the garbage disposal.

So basically the concept behind these crackers is something that I borrowed from the net while searching for ways to utilize leftover juice pulp. These seem good because you can store them for a long time.

I am making these raw and the guidelines tell me to "cook" them under 118 degrees to preserve all the nutrients. You will need a dehydrator for that. However, if you don't care about the whole raw deal then you can bake them in your oven at the lowest setting (170 or 180 for most people) until they feel crispy.

I am very pleased to share with you my very first raw recipe :-)
You can find hundreds of very creative recipes out on the net :-)
I hope to get better at these and will gladly share my experiments with you. These were pretty good with or without dip. I added no salt or extra spices but surely the addition of those will make for even tastier crackers.


Pulp from:
2 small granny smith apples
1 whole bunch of celery

I added to this pulp:
1 Tbs of flax seed (I didn't soak them)
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onions
2 green chilies thinly sliced

I pretty much mixed every thing up, spread the dough very thin on a tray and dried them on my Nesco 700 Watt dehydrator set at 115 degrees. After about 8 hours they were still a little soft (perfect texture for breads and wraps!) I flipped them and continued to dry them for another 6 hours to make them perfectly crunchy.
Total of 14 hours :-)

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Friday, September 14, 2012

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ummmm very good :-)
Chewy, moist and delicious.

(makes about 20  2"cookies)
(prep time 10 mins)
(bake time 15 mins)

All purpose flour 1 1/2 cups
Baking soda 3/4 tsp
Salt 1/4 tsp
Sugar 1/2 cup
Brown sugar 1/4 cup
Clover honey 1/4 cup
Butter 4 Tbs (melted)
Chunky peanut butter 1/2 cup + 1 Tbs
Large egg 1 (room temp)
Semi sweet chocolate chips 1/4 cup (I used NestlĂ© Toll House)


Pre heat oven to 350 degrees.
Whisk together the sugars, honey, melted butter, peanut butter and egg in a large bowl.
Add to this the dry ingredients and fold in.
Scoop spoonfuls of the dough onto a baking sheet and bake for 13-15 mins or until light golden brown. They will feel soft when they come out the oven. Let them cool down completely and the centers will become nice and chewy.

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Saturday, September 1, 2012

Jackfruit Seeds

I recently found out that ripe jackfruit seeds are edible and are considered a delicacy in South India. The idea sounded lovely and made me very curious about the flavor. I had to cook it. I searched for a few recipes and learnt that they need to be boiled for a while to get the skins off.

I saved up some seeds from the jackfruit that I had slayed earlier and following is the way I made it. I didn't want to make it into a curry, just something simple that I could eat atop a leafy salad. I selected some Pakistani/Indian inspired spices that would taste good with potatoes and went with that.
The flavor and texture was nice. Kinda like a nutty potato :-)

(serves 1)
(cook time 25 mins)

About 30 jackfruit seeds
Turmeric 1/4 tsp
Black mustard seeds 1/3 tsp
Black cumin seeds 1/3 tsp
Chili flakes 1/2 tsp
Pepper 1/8 tsp
Fenugreek seed powder 1/8 tsp
Canola oil 2-3 Tbs
Fresh mint 1/2 Tbs (chopped fine)
Fresh lime juice 1 Tbs


Start by boiling the seeds in salted water for 20 mins.The skin comes off very easily once the are cooked. Slice the seeds in half.
Heat some oil in a frying pan.
Add all the spices in the hot oil and cook for 30 seconds.
Now you can throw in the jackfruit seeds into the frying pan.
Toss around and cook for another minute or so.
Sprinkle some lime juice and mint on top.
I had it just like that over a simple salad (cucumbers and some greens no dressing).
But I would imagine it work great with roti or naan.
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Monday, August 13, 2012

Beef Lasagna

This turned out gorgeous and very tasty :-)
I baked it in a deep loaf pan.

(serves 2)
(prep time 20 mins)
(bake time 40 mins)


I used a total of 6 Barilla no boil lasagna sheets.
The ingredients are listed by layers followed by instructions.

Bottom layer
Ricotta cheese 1 cup
Whole egg 1 - large
Baby spinach chopped 1 1/2 cups ( cooked lightly in a small amount of oil until wilted)
Nutmeg 1/8 tsp
Fresh ground pepper 1/3 tsp
Salt  1/3 tsp
Pasta sheets 2

Combine every thing in a bowl and lay down your first layer in a loaf pan.
Place 2 sheets of pasta on top of it. Maybe now will be a good time to preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Middle layer
Lean ground beef  1/4 lbs
Ground veal 1/4 lbs
Garlic - chopped fine 1/4 tsp
Peperoncino flakes 1/2 tsp *adjust this according to what your taste buds like
Fresh ground pepper 1/3 tsp
Oregano 1/4 tsp
Parsley 2-3 Tbs (chopped)
Olive oil 1/2 Tbs
Fresh basil 7-8 leaves
Fresh mozzarella cheese 4 maybe 6 1" cubes
Marinara sauce 1/2 cup
Pasta sheets 2
( I made a quickie sauce by combining 1 part tomato paste + 1/2 part canned diced tomatoes+ 2 part tomato sauce. Cook for 8 minutes and allow to cool down fully before using )

Heat some oil in a wide skillet.
Cook the garlic for 30-40 seconds.
Add all the meat and season with oregano, fresh ground black pepper, peperoncino flakes and salt.
Cook on medium high heat until cooked. Please use your spatula frequenlty to break any lumps that might form in the ground meat during cooking.
Turn off the heat and mix in fresh parsley. Allow this cool for maybe 15 minutes
Assemble your second layer by spreading the meat mixture and randomly throwing in pieces of fresh mozzarella cheese.
Tear some basil leaves and sprinkle them on over it all.
Pour the marinara sauce and arrange two more sheets of pasta on top.

Top Layer
Crimini mushrooms (sliced) 1/4 cup
Shiitake mushrooms (sliced) 1/4 cup
Onions (sliced very thin) 1/3 cup
Garlic slivers 1 tsp
Dried thyme 1/4 tsp
Oil 1 Tbs
Pasta sheets 2
Marinara sauce 1/3 cup
Fontina cheese grated 1/3 cup
Parmesan reggiano cheese grated 1/3 cup

Heat some oil in a skillet and quickly stir fry the onions, mushrooms and garlic for about 5-6 minutes on med high heat.
Season with thyme, salt and pepper.
Allow this to cool a bit before spreading it over the pasta.
Place two final sheets of pasta and then pour the marinara, sprinkle some fontina and parmesan cheese on top.
Bake in a pre heated 350 degree oven for 40-45 mins.
I like to use a baking sheet beneath the loaf pan to catch any spillage.
Let it rest for about 20 minutes before eating.
Hope you like :-)
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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Something new...

I love fruits... fresh figs being on the top my list!
Came across some fruits that were new to me, thought I'd share pictures.

Above is something called a Dragon Fruit. From Vietnam I believe. The name I loved, it got me very excited to try it out. The appearance was very elegant, loved the bright fuchsia exterior and the contrasting interior, some varieties are a fantastic bright magenta on the inside! 

I really wanted to but the taste unfortunately I didn't like too much. It wasn't  horrible, it was slightly sweet, a little bit tart but mostly bland and not very juicy. The texture was nice however. You can eat all of the white pulp and the black seeds feel like kiwi seeds. I think I would use this for garnishes mostly. Can't see me gobbling down big bowls of it like I do with watermelon :-)

In case you wanna try it out I got this from a store called Viet Wah on Martin Luther King Jr. road in Seattle and was for around $5 per fruit. The fruit has some give to it when it is ripe sorta like a ripened peach.

This one is called jackfruit.
Was very much recommened by my dad (happy birthday bug) while he was visiting here back in November last year :-)

I had it for the first time several months ago. Got a cut up chunk of it from Uwajimaya and I also saw some recently at Mayuri as well.
LOVED IT! MmmMm VERY refreshing flavor, kinda like a cross between pineapple and umm something else, can't figure out what :-)

It is used as a vegetable and cooked into curries when it is unripe and green. And when ripe, the skin has dark brown patches all over it and presses down easily when pressed down with a finger. The seeds of the ripe fruit are edible, see my recipe here.

They are very very large and intimidating looking when buying whole. I was feeling adventerous and brought one home a few weeks ago from Viet Wah. I picked out the smallest of the lot and it weighed over 20 lbs! I had to search several videos on youtube to learn how to handle it. Gloves are an absolute must, can't stress this more! While cutting into it, a very sticky, super glue strength sap seaps out of the thick skin. That sap and the monsterous size of the fruit make it very difficult to handle.

I wanted to take pictures of the process but I got into it and just wanted to finish it quickly. Cleanup was a snap luckily, the sap can be easily cleaned with cooking oil :-) Thank God for that,  I thought I was gonna lose my beloved chef's knife :-) 

The taste............ mmmm .... so heavenly!
I shared it with friends and was loved by everyone who had it :-)

While I won't recommend tackling the big thing, get a small chunk of it and give it a try. You'd be so glad!

Read more ...

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


I have been meaning to write this post for a while now. And finally today I was able to get it done which I feel is great timing...  being the first week of Ramadan :-)

Several weeks ago me and Rana... a pal of mine... got together at her place to make this delicious traditional Iraqi dessert called basbousa. It was a lot of fun making this with her. To start off  we went to the Whole Foods near Wallingford to gather some ingredients. And while we were shopping for stuff we ran into Fabio who coincidentally was there promoting something. Still looking good.... front and back :-)

Anyhow, back to the basboussa .... very easy to make and so melt in your mouth awesome good! The texture is very similar to a super moist dense cake. The sweetness comes from the sugar within the dough and also from a sugar syrup which is poured onto the dessert after it is done baking.  Rana was nice enough to share her mother's recipe. We could only find fine semolina at Whole Foods but she recommends using the coarse kind which I believe you can get easily at Mayuri. You can also choose from several different flavors like cardamom, rose water or orange blossom water. We decided on vanilla and fresh lemon :-)


Fine semolina 1 cup ------> I use 1:1 fine and coarse semolina 
Unsweetened coconut flakes 3/4 cup
Raw cane sugar 1 cup   ---->  I prefer using 1/2 cup sugar now
Greek yogurt 1 cup
Melted butter 1/4 cup
Pure vanilla extract 1 tsp
Baking soda 1/4 tsp
Fresh lemon rind 1/2 Tbs
Blanched almonds 1/4 - used for garnish
Simple syrup 1 1/4 cup - used later
Water 1 cup
Raw cane sugar 1 cup ------> I prefer using 3/4 sugar now
Fresh lemon juice 2-3 Tbs
Boil lemon juice, sugar and water in a pot and let it simmer on medium heat for about 10 mins. Make sure you stir for a bit in the beginning other wise the sugar could burn.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine semolina, coconut flakes, sugar, yogurt, butter, vanilla, baking soda and lemon rind in a large mixing bowl.
Use a wooden spatula or knead with your hands to incorporate all the ingredients together. This would take a few minutes and the result should be a lump free, slightly sticky and semi hard dough.
Spread the mixture in an 8" square baking dish, no need to butter the dish.
Make sure the surface is super smooth and very even because this is a hard dough and it won't spread much during baking.
Let this sit on the countertop for about an hour - a necessary step for the semolina to get soft.
Make diamonds or squares and cut the dough into pieces with a knife... like you would for brownies.
Again smooth out any edges that might have become rough while cutting.
Place an almond in the center of each piece and gently press it down.
Bake for 30-40 minutes or until light golden brown.
Once baked and out of the oven, reinforce all the cut marks with a knife, this will allow the syrup to get fully absorbed.
Immediately pour the warm sugar syrup on top of it and let it soak for about 10-15 mins atleast.
This dessert tastes best slightly warm. We had this with some Turkish coffee, killer combo! MmMmmmMMm! :-)

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Thursday, July 19, 2012

Lite Apricot Swiss Roll


I used fat-free whipping cream and did not use cinnamon.
Used unsweetened apricot preserves.
And I used almond flakes inside with the jam.
I dusted it with some cocoa powder.
Posting the recipe here for sake of completion:


4 egg whites
85 g sugar
juice of a half a lemon
1 tbsp cornstarch or corn flour
jam of your liking (I used apricot jam)
200 ml whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla sugar
mix of cinnamon and sugar and slices of roasted almonds or nuts to decorate


Whip egg whites and sugar until soft peaks form. Add lemon juice and carefully fold in corn starch or corn flour.
Spread the batter thinly to baking parchment (note that the batter will rise a bit) and bake at 175 C for 15 minutes.
In the mean time, place another piece of baking parchment on table and sprinkle some mix of cinnamon and sugar and almonds or nuts over it.
Place the baked sponge carefully over the paper covered with cinnamon-sugar-almonds-or-nuts mix and let cool until you whip the whipping cream into soft peaks with sugar.
Spread jam over the sponge. Then do the same with whipping cream.
Roll into a tight spiral and place into a fridge for a couple of hours (the roll will be perfectly set in 6 hours, but I ate it already after 3 hours and it was still delicious).
It is a very delicate and moist roll, every bite literally melts in your mouth and leaves you wanting some more. The texture was perfect – I couldn’t have asked for a better one. I think the cinnamon is an important thing to add – do use it, otherwise the end result might lack the necessary kick.
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Friday, June 22, 2012

Amaretti Fini


These were VERY DELICIOUS the picture above is quite horrible and doesn't do them justice!
Basically followed Chef Mary Anne's recipe with some small variations.
I used half ground almonds and half fresh ground hazelnuts.
Used 1/3 cup less sugar and added an extra tablespoon of orange rind and did not use the almond extract at all.

Posting the original recipe from her website here:


3/4 cup blanched almonds
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons grated orange zest
Pinch salt
2 large egg whites at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon almond extract


Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Line two or more baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
Grind the almonds in a food processor until they are almost the consistency of flour. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the sugar, orange zest and salt. Set aside.
In a separate bowl beat the whites and almond extract together until soft peaks form. Do not over beat or the egg whites will be too dry. They should look soft and shiny and be able to hang off a rubber spatula without falling off.
With a rubber spatula, fold the whites into the almond mixture; do this gently so as not to deflate the batter.
Use a teaspoon to spoon the batter onto the baking sheets, leaving 1 inch between.
Bake for 15 minutes or until the edges are slightly browned. Remove from the oven and transfer the parchment sheet with the cookies to a cooling rack. Do not attempt to remove them immediately or they will crumble. When they are cool, use a butter knife to remove them from the parchment and cool completely on a wire rack
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Saturday, June 16, 2012

Soft German Pretzels

(serves 3-6)
(prep time 20 mins - bake time 15 mins - dough rise time 3 hours)

All purpose flour 1 cup
Cake flour 1 cup
Active dry yeast 1/2 Tbs
Salt 1 tsp
Sugar 1/2 tsp
Butter 1-2 Tbs - Melted
Luke warm water
Coarse salt for sprinkling on top (I used Hiwa Kai - Black Hawaiian sea salt for asthetic reasons)
Food grade lye water 1 cup
Used to dip the pretzel in just before baking.
I was able to purchase a bottle for about a dollar from Uwajimaya.
This can harm the eyes and skin so please use gloves while handling this and keep away from children!

Combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
Pour in the butter and slowly incorporate enough water to make a sticky dough.
Transfer  the dough into a lightly oiled bowl and cover with some plastic wrap.
Place the dough in a warm place and allow to rise for abour 2-3 hours.
After the dough has risen take it out on a lightly floured work surface and form 6 equal size balls.
I rolled out three balls into an 18" snake with tapered egdes and formed a pretzel shape.
I rolled the other three balls into sticks.
Make a few cuts on the pretzels and freeze them for about 15 mins so they are easier to handle for the next step.
Dip each pretzel into the lye bath for 15-20 seconds and place them on baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
I sprinkled some salt on the pretezel sticks.
Bake for 18-20 mins in a 400 degree pre-heated oven or until they are a nice brown color.

*my inspiration:

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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Boston Cream Pie Cake

Something quick I made from boxed white cake mix, instant vanilla pudding mixed in with some whipped cream, and chocolate ganache spread on top.

I love the concept I think it will be great for birthdays and such. For sure I am going to try making it from scratch someday :-) And maybe someday I'll be able to make cake look all even and pretty :-)
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Saturday, June 2, 2012

Lite Carrot Cake


This was aweome!
Happy birthday mom, love you very much.
Posting the recipe here just in case:

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
6 egg whites (best if room temp)
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 (8 ounce) can crushed pineapple , undrained
2 cups shredded carrots
2/3 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup raisins


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Spray 13" X 9" baking pan with non-stick spray. Set aside.
In a large bowl, stir together the flours, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg and cloves, set aside.
In another large bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form.
Slowly beat in the sugar.
Then slowly beat in the applesauce, buttermilk and vanilla.
Using a spoon, stir in the flour mixture just until combined.
Then stir in, one ingredient at a time, the crushed pineapple, carrots, walnuts and raisins.
Spread mixture in prepared pan.
Bake for approximately 40 minutes, or until toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.
Cool completely.
Frost with Cream Cheese Frosting.

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Sunday, May 20, 2012

Salmon With Grilled Fruit And Acerola Vinaigrette


(serves 1)
(prep time 30 mins)
How it's done

Alaskan king salmon fillet slightly less than a pound
Rub some olive oil on all sides.
Season with some salt, coarse pepper, thyme and some chili flakes.
Cook on a medium grill for about 5-6 mins each side.

Grilled fruit salad

Nectarine 1 - cut into quarters
Plum 1 - cut into quarters
Fresh pineapple 2 wedges

Rub some olive oil on the fruits and grill on high heat for about 3-4 mins each side.
Allow to cool and chop them into smaller pieces.

I also added these veggies to the salad

Celery 1 Tbs - very finely diced
Red onions 1 Tbs - very finely diced
Green bell pepper 1 Tbs - very finely diced
Red bell Pepper 1 Tbs - very finely diced
Raw beet root 1 Tbs - very finely diced
Radicchio 3 Tbs - cut into strips
Romaine lettuce 1/4 cup - cut into strips
Fresh parsley 1/2 Tbs - chopped finely

Toss the fruits and the veggies together in a bowl with about 1 Tbs of acerola vinaigrette.
Serve along side the salmon. I used about 1/2 the amount of salad that was made.

Acerola Vinaigrette

Olive oil 4 Tbs
White wine vinegar 1 1/2 Tbs
Acerola jam 1 Tbs
Fresh ginger 1/4 tsp *optional
Garlic clove 1/2 tsp

Emulsify all the ingredients with a hand blender.
The result will be a rich creamy white dressing.
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Thursday, May 3, 2012

Mofongo Relleno De Pollo

(serves 2-3)
(prep time 45 mins - quicker if you decide not to make the molds)

Chicken breast 2 - cut into 1" pieces
Yellow onions 2/3 cups - chopped
Green pepper 1 - chopped
Canned tomatoes
Cilantro 1/2 cup - for garnish
Fresh lime wedges - for garnish
Achiote paste 1 Tbs (see recipe below)
Oil for cooking 2-3 Tbs

Plantains 4 large - cut into 1" pieces
Sea salt 1/2 tsp
Green onions 1/2 a bunch which is about 4-5 stalks - Chopped very fine
Garlic 2-3 cloves - minced
Olive Oil 1/4 cup
Oil for deep frying

Making the chicken:

Start by heating up some oil in a wide skillet.
Add the chopped up onions and let them cook for 4-5 mins on med hig heat until they are translucent.
You can now add the achiote paste and stir it around for a min, I should mention here that I used half the amount of paste for this recipe, which was roughly 3 Tbs.
Add the chicken to the skillet and after about 2 mins add the tomatoes.
Season with some salt.
Add the bell peppers during the last 3 mins of cooking.
Let it cook uncovered on med high heat for  12- 15 mins or until the chicken is done.
Set aside.

Making the mofongo:

While the chicken is cooking you can start working on the plantains.
Deep fry the plantain pieces until they are light golden brown for about 3-4 mins.
You don't want to make them very crunchy the inside should remain mushy.
Alternatively you could also steam the plantains for a lighter variation.
Mash the plantains like  you would potatoes.
And then add garlic, green onions and some olive oil to the mashed plantains.
Season with some salt.
Form molds on a plate with your hands and fill it up with the chicken filling.
Sprinkle some fresh cilantro on top and serve with a wedge of lime.

Achiote paste*


*Achiote paste can be purchased pre-made

Annatto seeds 2 Tbs - I got these from Penzeys they have great little store in Seattle
Cumin 1 tsp
Allspice 3-4 berries
Whole peppercorns 1/2 tsp
Mexican oregano 1 1/2 tsp
Dried habanero chili 1 large
Garlic 1 large clove
Cloves 2-3 pieces
Enough liquid to make a paste, your options are:
  • Bitter orange juice
  • Lime juice
  • Tequila
  • White wine vinegar
  • Water
  • Some kind of broth
I used white wine vinegar.

Grind all the dry ingredients and garlic in a coffee grinder.
Add the liquid of your choice and mix well with a spoon.
I used half of the paste and froze the rest.

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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Cornish Pasties

Decided to make these on a whim while watching "Agatha Christie's Poirot - The Cornish mystery"
They turned out quite nice :-)
I had them with some ketchup and whole grain dijon mustard.

(makes 6 servings)
(prep time 15 mins + 30 mins for the dough to rest)
(bake time 45 mins)
For the filling

Lean ground beef 1 lbs
Green onions 4-5 stalks - chopped fine (about 1/4")
Red bell pepper 1/4 cup - chopped fine (about 1/4")
Celery 1/4 cup - chopped fine (about 1/4")
Zucchini - 1/4 cup - chopped fine (about 1/4") I left the peel on
Green chilies 1 Tbs - chopped *optional
Hard boiled eggs 2 large - cut into small pieces *optional
Coarse ground black pepper 1/2 tsp
Cayenne pepper 1/4 tsp
I did not have any mushroom at hand but I think some chopped shiitake would go great with this!

Combine everything together in a large bowl and make 6 sections.

For the dough*

All purpose flour 3 cups
Vegetable shortening 8 Tbs - refrigerate the shortening so that it is cold
Ice cold water 3/4  cups (you might not need all of it)
Baking soda 1/2 tsp
Salt 2/3 tsp
Honey 2/3 tsp

*you can also use store bought pie crust as instead

You will also need one large egg for eggwash. Lightly beat the egg with about a tablespoon of water and keep aside.

The dough is very much like pie crust.
Combine all the dry ingredients and the honey in a large bowl.
Cut the shortening into the flour mixture with two forks.
You will see large crumbs beginning to form, that's good we want to keep those crumbs they will make the dough flaky.
Pour ice water to this little by little and keep mixing with the fork.
Add enough water to make the dough barely come together, it should resemble coarse wet sand.
Use your hands briefly just to gently knead and form a tight ball from the dough.
The dough will still feel very crumbly.
Wrap the dough in some plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 30 mins.

After the dough has rested 30 mins take it out on a flat work surface which has been lightly dusted with flour.
Cut the dough into 6 sections and roll out each into a 7-8" diameter circular disc.
Place the meat in middle of each disc, brush the sides with some eggwash. Bring the sides up and pinch the two ends together to form a seal.
Brush the top of each pasty generously with some more egg wash.
Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 20 mins and bake further on 400 degrees for another 25 mins.
Allow to cool down for 15-20 mins before eating.

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Sunday, April 1, 2012

Grilled Halibut Steak


(prep time less than 10 mins)
(cook time 20 mins)
(serves 3-4)

Halibut steak 2 pieces ( a little over 1 lbs each)
Juice of 1 large lime
Olive oil 2 Tbs
Sweet paprika 1/2 tsp
Oregano 1/2 tsp
Thyme 1/2 tsp

I lighted up my hibachi stlye gas grill on high and let it heat up while I prepared the steaks.
Rub some olive oil on the fish steaks and then sprinkle salt, pepper, paprika and the herbs on one side.
Reduce the heat to low and place the steak on the grill herbed side down and then season the other side.
Cook covered for about 8-10 mins per side.
Squeeze lime juice on top.
I served this along side some oven roasted veggies.
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Monday, March 19, 2012

Steamed Sea Bass


Steamed Sea bass
(prep and cook time less than 15 mins)
(serves 6)


I had 6 pieces from 2 fillets of seabass.
Dried chipotle powder
Himalayan pink salt

Sprinkle a little chipotle and salt over the pieces of fish.
I steamed it, covered, over the kale wild rice I was cooking so none of the good fish oils were lost.
You could simply steam it over boiling water.
After 7 mins they will be fork tender, juicy and delicious :-)

Wild rice with Kale
(prep and cook time less than 60 mins)
(serves 6)


Wild rice 1 1/2 cups
Yellow onions 1/4 cup (chopped finely)
Celery 2-3 stalks (chopped finely)
Garlic 1 tsp (minced finely)
Kale 1 bunch about 3 cups chopped (stems removed and leaves chopped coarsely)
Salt 1/2 tsp
Pepper 2-3 grinds
Olive oil 2-3 Tbs

In a large pot heat up some olive oil and add to it the chopped onions and celery.
Cook for 8 mins on medium heat or until the onions are tranlusent, stirring once or twice.
Add the garlic and cook for another 45 seconds.
Season with salt and add about 2 3/4 cups of hot water.
Bring the water to a full boil and then add the rice.
Cook covered on reduced heat for about 30 mins or until the rice is cooked through.
Turn off heat.
Fold in the kale, cover with a lid, and let the kale take in the heat from the rice for about 10 mins.

I served this alongside some salsa and guacamole.
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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Chunky Salsa

(Serves 6-8)
(Prep time 15 mins)


Tomatillos 3 (cut up into med sized pieces)
Red tomato on the vine 4 (remove seeds and cut up into pieces)
Yellow tomato on the vine 4  (remove seed and cut up into pieces)
Jalapenos 1 med (minced very fine)
Red onions 1/4 cup (chopped finely)
Garlic 1/4 tsp (minced very fine)
Cilantro 1/2 bunch (chopped coarsely)
Juice of 2 large limes
Salt 1/4 tsp
Pepper 1/8 tsp

Place all the cut up tomatoes in a sieve and season with salt.
Put the sieve in the fridge and allow the water to drain from the tomatoes for about 15 mins.
Combine all the ingredients together in a large bowl.
Mix well.
Serve chilled.
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Monday, February 20, 2012

Italian Meatballs

(serves 2-3 ppl)
(prep and cook time 45 mins)

Ground beef 1 1/2 lbs
Bread crumbs I used a food processor to grind 1 1/2 slices of Dave's-Good Seed-killer bread!
Whole milk 3 Tbs
Egg 1 large (lightly beaten)
Crimini mushrooms 1/4 cup (chopped fine)
Onions 1/3 cup (chopped fine)
Parmesan reggiano 1/4 cup (shredded fine)
Parsley 1 whole bunch (stems removed and chopped fine)
Oregano 1 tsp
Chili flakes 1 tsp *optional
Salt 1/2 tsp
Pepper 5-6 grinds
Olive oil 4 Tbs for pan frying the meatballs


Soak the bread crumbs in milk.
Combine all the ingredients (minus the olive oil) in a large mixing bowl.
Mix gently.
Form tennis ball size meatballs.
Heat up some oil in frying pan and lightly sear all sides of the meatballs.
Drop the meatballs in warm marinara sauce and let them simmer for 25 mins or until done.

I served this on some whole wheat spaghetti.
Hope you like :-)

Marinara Sauce

Tomato sauce 1 1/2 cup
Tomato paste 1/3 cup
Canned whole tomatoes 1/2 cup

Crush the tomatoes or chop them into smaller pieces and combine them with the other ingredients in a large bowl.

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Friday, February 3, 2012

Oven Roasted Chicken

(Prep time 20 mins)
(Marinade time 1 1/2 days)
(Bake time 1 1/2 hours)
(Serves 4-6)

Habanero peppers 3 (whole)
Allspice berries 10
Cloves 10
Peppercorns 1 Tsp
Bay leaves 3
White vinegar 1 cup
Kosher salt 1 cup
Ice cold water 1 gallon

Blend the habanero peppers and some of the water, say maybe a cup, in a blender. The idea is to juice the chilies so that the chicken can absorb the flavor better.
Add this to the rest of the water.
Mix in salt, vinegar and the remaining spices.
Keep refrigerated.

TIP: Nice info on brining.

Compound butter:
Unsalted butter 4 Tbs (softened at room temp)
Juice of 2 limes
Dried rubbed sage 1 tsp
Dried rosemary 1 tsp
Dried thyme 1 tsp

Combine all the above ingredients really well and refrigerate for 15 mins to firm up a little bit but don't let it become rock solid.

TIP: Most of the butter melts and falls out, but for an even lighter version skip the butter all together and use just the herbs and sprinkle the lime juice on top of the skin.

Spice rub:
Cayenne pepper 1/2 tsp
Coarse ground pepper 1/2 tsp
Paprika 1/2 tsp

Combine all the spices in a bowl and keep aside.


You will need lots of room in your refrigerator and a very BIG pot.
Soak whole bird in brine for 24 hours, it should be fully submerged in water. Keep refrigerated.
After 24 hours place the chicken on top of a wire rack and drain for 6 hours in the fridge.
The skin will become very dry.
Place the chicken breast side up, use your index finger to get beneath the skin and loosen it, try to reach and loosen the skin on the legs too. Be gentle so you don't puncture the skin. Take some compound butter and try to push it in as much as you can beneath the skin. Once the butter is under the skin you can massage the top of the skin and help it reach nooks and crannies.
This is great video to understand the process better.
Sprinkle cayenne, pepper and paprika on all sides of the chicken.
Wrap the chicken in saran wrap.
Marinade in fridge for 6-8 hours.
Remove the saran wrap and let the bird rest uncovered on the countertop for 20 mins before baking.
Stuff the chicken with a small hand full of whole garlic cloves and a small handful of onion quarters.
Then truss the chicken with some cooking twine.

IMPORTANT: Don't stuff the chicken while it's marinading because bacteria will accumulate in the cavity. And don't stuff it too much because the chicken won't cook completely, the cavity should only be filled one thirds.

You will need to adjust the rack in your oven to make sure that the top of the chicken is atleast 6-8 inches away from the heating element.
Rub some olive oil, about 2 Tbs, all over the chicken.
Place the chicken on top of a wire rack and inside a baking dish to catch all fluids and fat.
Bake for 30 mins 400 degrees breast side up.
Use a large towel to protect your hands and flip the chicken breast side down and bake for another 30 mins.
Turn it breast side up again and continue baking for the last 30 mins.
(Overall cook time is 1 1/2 hours at 400 degrees)
To preserve juiciness it is very important to let the chicken rest for 20 mins on the countertop before you cut it.
I served this on top of some roasted root vegetables but I am sure it could work well with some thick cut french fries, grilled veggies, a nice rice pilaf or a leafy salad if you prefer.
The roses were edible and made out of potatoes and yams, I will post a video about that soon sometime.
Hope you like this and give it a try.
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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Baked Trout in Banana Leaves


(prep time 15 mins)
(cook time 40 mins)
(serves 6 ppl)

Fresh whole rainbow trout 6 med sized (scales, heads and tails removed)
Stewed tomatoes 1 16oz can
Garlic 4 cloves chopped fine (about 2 Tbs)
Yellow onion sliced thin 1/2 cup
Green chilies 2 med (sliced thin) *optional
Pepper 1/2 tsp
Roasted cumin powder 2/3 tsp
(Dry roast some cumin in a single layer in a frying pan on med high heat., stir occasionally to ensure even browning. Remove from the heat when the cumin turns a very dark almost blackish color. Allow this to cool and then grind)
Banana leaves 6 pieces each roughly a 10 inch square * use aluminum foil instead
(I was able to get frozen leaves from Uwajimaya however you can get them fresh from Viet Wah sometimes)


Combine the salt, pepper and cumin in a small bowl.
Sprinkle the fish on both sides with this blend, also season inside the belly cavity.
Stuff the cavity of the fish with slices of onions. garlic and chilies.
Close the fish and spoon some tomatoes along with the juice over the fish.
Wrap in banana leaves.
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees
Bake the wrapped fish for about 40-50 mins or until done.

Corn Salsa

Corn kernels sliced off from 3 cobs
(Each cob was wrapped in a moist towel and then microwaved  on high for 4 mins , you could of course grill it for a better flavor)
Black olives chopped 4-5 Tbs (I used black cerignola olives)
Red onions chopped fine 3-4 Tbs
Red bell pepper chopped 2/3 cups
Pear 1/2 chopped fine
Flat leaf Italian parsley 4 Tbs (chopped fine)

Toss all the chopped vegetables in a large bowl and drizzle with the dressing.
Refrigerate for a few hours for the flavors to develop.


Olive oil 2 Tbs
Pineapple juice 3 Tbs
Apple cider or white wine vinegar 3 Tbs
Garlic clove 1 whole
Sugar 3/4 Tbs
Pepper 1/4 tsp
Salt 1/3 tsp

Combine all the ingredients in a blender and blend for about 30 seconds.

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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Chocolate Walnut Banana Bread

(prep time 15 mins)
(bake time 1 hour)

All purpose flour 2 cups
Baking soda 1 tsp
Salt 1/4 tsp
Butter 1/2 cup (melted)
Light brown sugar 3/4 cup
Eggs 2 large (lightly beaten)
Really really ripe bananas 4 large (about 1 1/2 cups mashed)
Cinnamon 1/2 tsp *optional
Heavy cream 2 Tbs
Walnuts 1/4 cup (coarsely chopped)
Dark chocolate bits 1/4 cups ( I  used moonstruck dark chocolate 68% cacao)


Lightly grease a loaf pan with butter and dust with some flour.
Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
Whip together butter and brown sugar in a large bowl.
Add and mix the eggs and the heavy cream.
Now gently stir in mashed bananas, walnuts and chocolate bits.
Fold in the flour, baking powder and salt.
Pour batter into prepared loaf pan. 
Tap the pan on the counter top a few times to release air bubbles.
Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 60 to 65 min.
Or until a toothpick inserted into center of the loaf comes out clean.
Cool on a wire rack.

The above recipe is a modified version of this recipe.
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