Cakes / Pastries / Cookies/ Bread/Muffins.

Fragrant Pumpkin Spice Cake

Pumpkin Spice Cake

This game changer cake have been a “fall” post, but then time flies you know and I had to finally document this recipe here for all the folks that kept asking for it! This one was inspired by @Sallysbakingaddiction and I love the heady fragrance of all the warm spices. The cream cheese frosting takes the cake to a whole different level. And by the way, you can totally make this cake without a stand mixer!

INGREDIENTS FOR CAKE:

2 Cups All Purpose Flour

2 Tsp Baking Powdr

1 TSp Baking Soda

1 Cup Brown Sugar packed. ( I used Imperial brand)

1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar

1 Tsp Salt

2 Tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice*

1.5 Tsp Ground Cinnamon

1 Cup Vegetable Oil

4 Large Eggs

1 Can Pumpkin Puree

1.5 Tsp Pure Vanilla Extract.

INGREDIENTS FOR CREAM CHEESE FROSTING:

1/2 Cup Butter at room temperature

3 cups Caster Sugar / Powdered Sugar

1 Tsp Vanilla Essence

8 Oz Cream Cheese at room temperature

Let’s get started…

Ingredients

Preheat oven to 350F and grease baking pan.

Take a dry bowl and dry whisk the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon powder and pumpkin pie spice together. Set aside.

In another bowl whisk the eggs, oil, brown sugar, white sugar, pumpkin puree and vanilla extract with a whisk until combined.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until well combined and the batter is thick,

Spread the batter on to the prepared pan and bake for 35-40 minutes or until a tooth pick that’s inserted, comes out clean.

*Pumpkin Pie Spice: 1/2 Tsp Each of the following: Ground Nutmeg, All Spice, Cloves and Ginger.

Cream Cheese Frosting:

Make sure that all ingredeitns are room temperature.

Beat all the ingredients until combined.

Frosting the cake:

Allow the cake to cool to room temperature and smear a thin layer of the frosting. This is called the Crumb layer of frosting and its needed to have a clean second layer without any of the cake crumbs.

Refrigerate for an hour.

Slather second layer of cream cheese frosting on the cake and decorate as you wish.

Italian Cuisine.

Olive Garden Style Vegetable Lasagna

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Olive Garden`s Lasagna Classico is a very popular dish for kids and adults alike. As a id all celebrations, birthdays and get togethers with family or friends are always at Olive Garden. This is a vegetarian version inspired by various versions online as well as my own adaptation of this dish. Although it seems to have a lot of ingredients, its simply a matter of adding them together to create this dish, Both the tomato sauce and the cheese sauce can be prepared ahead and the Lasgagna assembled on the day its required. A great party dish for kids or an excellent addition to a potluck. This preparation contains around 7-8 servings and can be stored frozen, in a container covered with cling film.

Ingredients:

Lasagna Sheets ( I used no bake)

Prepared Tomato Sauce

Prepared Ricotta Mix

1.5 Cups Mozzarella

Cooking Spray

Tomato Sauce:

2  28 Oz  Can Crushed Tomatoes

3 Tbsp Onion

1 Onion

2-3 Garlic Pods

2 Zucchini diced fine.

1 Yellow Squash diced fine.

1/4 Tsp Dry oregano

1/4 Tsp Dry Basil

Salt + Pepper to taste

Cheese Sauce:

2 Pounds Ricotta Cheese

1 Cup Mozzarella

1/2 Cup Romano

1 Tbsp Fresh Parsley leaves

1 Tbsp Fresh basil leaves

1 Tbsp Oregano Leaaves.

1 Egg Beaten (Optional)

Salt + Pepper to taste

PREPARATION:

  • In a large pan, add the 3 Tbsp Oil and then the garlic and the diced onions. Allow them to saute and sweat until translucent.
  • Add diced zucchini and yellow squash and allow to saute.
  • Pour in the 2 cans of crushed tomato, dry oregano, basil, salt and pepper.
  • Reduce the heat to a simmer and let it simmer for 20 mins.
  • Hearty Tomato Sauce is ready.

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  • In another bowl add 2 pounds of whole milk ricotta cheese, 1 Cup Mozarella Cheese, 1/2 Cup Romano Cheese and fold them together.
  • Now add 1 beaten egg, all the fresh herbs (substitute with dried, but fresh leaves really makes all the difference), salt and pepper and combine.
  • Set aside. Now both Tomato Sauce and Cheese Sauce are ready. Make sure they both are at room temperature.

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  • Preheat the oven to 350 F(Boiled Lasagna Sheets) and 425F (No boil lasagna Sheets).
  • Line your baking dish with oil or cooking spray.
  • Pour 1 Cup of Tomato Sauce on the base of the dish as the first layer and spread.
  • Lay your lasagna sheets (No boil or Boiled) in a single layer to completely cover the tomato sauce layer.
  • Spread a cup of cheese sauce over the lasagna sheets. Spread thinly without ripping the sheets.
  • Now add 1 cup of tomato sauce covering the cheese sauce completely.
  • Layer lasagna sheets and cheese sauce and repeat the process alternatively until all the sheets are exhausted.

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  • Finish the top layer with tomato sauce and sprinkle a generous 1 to 1.5 cups of mozzarella cheese on the top.
  • Coat the inner side of an aluminium foil with oil spray and use it to completely cover the baking dish.
  • The foil keeps the top layer from getting over cooked while the middle layers complete cooking.
  • Bake for 50 – 55 mins and when done turn off the heat.
  • Keep the lasagna as is in the oven with  the oven door slightly open.
  • Remove from oven and make uniform square cuts to the lasagna.
  • They will be well set and firm but well cooked and delicious.
  • Makes 16-20 pieces depending on pan size.

 

Easy LunchBox Series. · One Pot One Shot (OPOS) · Rice Varieties.

Fragrant Green Pulav – One Pot Dishes.

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It has been 7 years since Anubhavati was born and I must say it has been an amazing ride!  The journey has taught me a lot, not only in documenting what I cook for my family, but more in terms of photography, presentation and definitely my writing skills. Many of my readers mention that they enjoy the little titbit or narrative that comes before the actual recipe itself!!

Pilafs and one pot meals are always a pleasure to cook up and serve as they enable to act as a source of carbohydrate, protein and vitamins all in one…not to mention the fact that they are fuss free and easy. One of my favorite has been my mom`s version of the mixed vegetable rice – Vegetable bhath. My kids love this version as the rice is pinkish red because of the addition of beetroot!  They also love my Mint Rice and the Tomato Rice that I make!

This one was passed on to me by a friend K and she was more than happy to let me feature it on the blog. The star ingredient of this rice is really Green Chillies. The heat and the spice is only from the chilies and the resulting flavour is unique and very delicious.

INGREDIENTS:

2 Cups Basmati Rice.

2 Carrots.

1 Cup Peas.

6-7  Green Chillies.(Reduce if needed).

1 Bunch Cilantro.

1/2 Tsp Garam Masala.

1 Tsp Dhania Powder.

Turmeric.

6-7 Cloves.

4-5 Cardamom.

1 Onion chopped.

Handful cashews.

1/3 Cup Coconut Milk Powder.

PREPARATION:

  • Grind the cilantro, cashews and the green chillies to a coarse paste adding NO water. The green chillies are the star ingredient here and the aroma and flavour is allowed to shine in the dish. We do not add any red chilli powder.
  • Dice the onions, carrots, and potatoes if needed, and thaw out the peas and corn if using.
  • Soak the basmati rice in water for about 30 minutes.
  • Take a pressure pan and add about 2-3 tsp of ghee or oil.
  • Season with bay leaf, cloves and cardamom crushed.  When the aroma starts wafting from the seasoning, add the chopped onions.
  • When the onions are sauteed, add all the chopped veggies, salt and allow it to cook halfway through.
  • Add the pulsed chilli-cilantro paste and mix it in. Now follow with all the dry spices – Turmeric Powder, Dhania Powder and Garam Masala.
  • The mixture has to get cooked and the raw smell from the spices should slowly disappear.
  • Now add the soaked and drained rice, coconut milk powder and about 2 1/2 – 3 cups of water depending on the final consistency. Add salt to taste. You could also add a spoon of ghee to facilitate the cooking.
  • Close the pressure cooker, place the weight and cook on low/sim for about 25 minutes.
  • If on opening, there is excess water, let it cook for a couple more minutes.
  • If its mushy after 25 minutes, switch off the stove and allow it to stay open until its ready to be served.
  • Fluff with a work and serve with a cup of Boondhi Raita.

 

 

Cakes / Pastries / Cookies/ Bread/Muffins.

Plum Cake

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Plum Cake – It always brought back memories of Christmas holidays, time off from school, colorful stars outside homes, carols at school, and of course Plum Cake from the local bakery. It was truly a master piece and every bite would burst with sweet, tang from the raisins, the caramel sauce and the whole gamut of flavors that are so complex tapping in your taste buds in a way that  you have never known before…I love this cake so much that I had decided I was going to make the egg less version of the Fruit Cake at  home as often as I can. This is a more to go version and I love the compelling tastes in both of them a lot! It might seem like a lot of ingredients but once you actually bite in to this cake, you will agree that its completely worth it. The source of this recipe is from a friend R who got it from a post on a Facebook group.

INGREDIENTS:

Dry Ingredients:

1 1/5 Cups All Purpose Flour.

1 Tsp Baking Soda.

A pinch of salt.

Wet Ingredients:

1 Cup Dark Raisins soaked in water for 30 minutes.

1 Cup Golden Raisins soaked in water for 30 minutes.

Handful of dates chopped.

1/4 Cup Butter.

1 Cup Brown Sugar.

1/2 Tsp Cinnamon Powder.

1/2 Ginger Powder.

1/4 Tsp Candied Ginger.

1/4 Tsp All Spice Powder (Garam Masala )

1/4 Tsp Orange Zest.

1/2 Cup Orange Juice.

1/2 Cup Tuitti Fruiti.

1/2 Cup Water.

2 Eggs at room temperature.

1 Tbsp Date Syrup/ Golden Syrup/ Caramel Syrup.

1 Tsp Vanilla Extract.

PREPARATION:

  • Soak the tuitti fruit in the orange juice for at least 1 hour and set aside.
  • Remove the water from the golden raisins and black raisins and discard the soaked water.
  • Take  a pan and add the black raisins, golden raisins, butter, brown sugar, cinnamon powder, all spice powder, ginger powder, and salt.
  • Add the 1/2 cup of water and allow to boil the mixture for about 3-4 minutes.
  • Remove from the flame and allow to cool.
  • Drain the tuitti fruity , save the orange juice and add the tuitti fruity to the mixture.
  • Beat two eggs with a whisk and add it to the mix after it  has cooled down COMPLETELY.
  • Add vanilla essence, chopped dates, orange zest, date syrup and orange juice.
  • Mix completely and slowly add in the dry ingredients – all purpose flour, baking soda and salt.
  • Preheat the  oven to 350F and bake the cake for about 45-60 minutes or until a toothpick that’s inserted in to a cake comes out clean.
  • Cool it on a wire rack and when completely cool, cut in to slices and serve.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One Pot One Shot (OPOS) · Side Dishes for Rotis/Dosas/ Naan.

Restaurant Style Methi Mutter Malai – One Pot One Shot Recipes.

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“Is Peas a fruit? or a vegetable” ? My daughter asked me one day and I really had to look it up to provide her with an answer. Surprise Peas is a fruit! Pea Pods are considered a fruit as they have seeds and they are developed from the ovary of a flower. Well, there`s a new thing that I learnt for today.  Peas is a favorite with everyone in our home. We add it to everything….rice, gravies, kootu varieties, and some times alongside vegetables too. When I wanted to make a dish where the star ingredient was Peas naturally everyone welcomed it. I was always on the lookout for easy one pot recipes and when I saw this one on Ramki`s blog, I was awash with excitement. I dressed it up with the ingredients that I wanted with, but the root idea is completely his genius. It takes roughly 15 minutes from start to finish and it had the extra ordinary restaurant taste. There are a few points to be noted:

  1. This method works ONLY with a pressure cooker with a solid base. I have a Prestige 5 Lt Pressure Cooker with Anti-Burning Base.
  2. If you are cooking on a coil/ glass top please switch on your burner for about 3-4 minutes BEFORE you place your cooker on it for maximum results and to avoid burning. Once you switch off the cooker, please move it to another burner as on coils, the heat is retained.
  3. Please follow cooking times exactly.

INGREDIENTS:

1 Tsp Butter.

1 Medium Onion sliced thin.

2 Green Chillies grated finely.

1 Tsp Grated Ginger.

2  Tsp Grated Garlic.

1/4 Cup Powdered Cashews.

1 Cup packed chopped methi.

1 Cup green peas.

1/2 Tsp Garam Masala.

1/2 Tsp Dhania Powder ( Corriander Powder)

1/2 Tsp Jeera Powder.

1/2 Tsp Red Chilli Powder.

1 Tsp Milk Powder (Optional).

Salt to taste.

1/2 Cup Beaten Curd/ Hung Curd/ Greek Yoghurt/ Sour Cream beaten.

1 Tbsp Whipped Cream or Heavy Cream.

1/2 Tsp Sugar.

Milk as needed to dilute.

Stainless Steel Pressure Cooker with weight and gasket.

PREPARATION:

  • The whole concept of One Pot One Shot is to be able to throw in all the ingredients and cook them in their own juices using steam without adding any water. This camelises onions, cooks rice, flash cooks vegetables retaining their nutrients and breaks them down rendering them completely cooked and ready to consume.
  • In the pressure cooker, directly add the butter, sliced onions, grated chillies, grated ginger, grated garlic, peas, chopped methi leaves,  cashew powder, garam masala, dhania powder, cumin powder, milk powder and salt to taste.
  • No need to mix.
  • Now place it on HIGH on the stove with the weight and wait for two whistles. They will come quickly one after the other.
  • Switch off flame and in a few minutes release the pressure.
  • You will see completely cooked veggies inside but they wont be mushy.
  • Now add the beaten curd, sugar, whipped cream (heavy cream) and give it a quick mix.
  • I added a few pieces of pan seared organic tofu to the gravy.
  • Mix, garnish with chopped cilantro if needed.
  • One Pot One Shot Methi Matar Malai can be served with hot rotis, phulkas or Jeera Rice.

 

Naivedhyams/ Festival Offerings. · Snacks & Tiffin Items

Chettinadu Vellai Thenkuzhal Murukku.

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“Simplicity is the ultimate form of sophistication”

The most tastiest dish is probably the most simple and yet the most comforting. What could it be? The porridge that your mother makes with the most available ingredients on hand…sometimes it`s hot steaming rasam, or a bowl of soup, or a cup of dhal…be it whatever it may, what really counts is the small acts of care and love that go with it. This is a delicacy that I learnt from my good friend`s wife. She is an expert in making it and would never fail to send it for me whenever she did…I loved biting in to its crisp rings and enjoy the crunchiness and the simple flavors. It never felt greasy at any point and you would almost feel  like it was baked! There are simply a few things that have to be taken care of when you make this murukku. I have enlisted them at the very end…hope this helps.

INGREDIENTS:

2.5 Cups Raw Rice Flour.

1 Cup Roasted  Urad Flour.

2-2.5 Tsp Salt depending on the taste.

3-4 Tsp Oil / Vanaspati /Ghee.

PREPARATION:

  • Rice Flour could be made in two ways. One way is to wash the raw rice, allow it to dry by spreading on a sheet and when completely dry, getting it powdered in the Flour Mill. The other way is to use the Rice Flour that`s readily available in the stores. Either way make sure that the rice flour is sieved and set aside.
  • This Murukku is called “Vellai” as it`s almost white in color. This is acheived by roasting the Urad Dhal on a low flame until you get the wonderful aroma. It should NOT be roasted red as we do in Kozhukattais. Once they Urad Dhal is well roasted, cool, powder and sieve. Set aside.
  • Mix the rice flour, urad flour, and salt and add the required amount of oil/ ghee/ vanaspati. Use room temperature water and mix to get a smooth pliable dough. When done, smear the ball with a spoon of oil and keep covered with a damp cloth so the dough does not dry out.
  • Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed vessel and keep a dry collander lined with a paper towel ready.
  • When the oil is hot enough, press it in to little murukkus with a Murukku Press directly on to the oil.
  • When the murukku hits the oil it will hiss and get fried. Once the bubbles subside, remove the murukku with the help of a slotted ladle or a skewer and drain on to the collander.
  • These Murukkus are very crisp yet buttery, light yet melt in the mouth soft.
  • Store in air tight containers for about 2-3 weeks.

TIPS:

  1. This is the most simplest and minimalistic murukku with just 3 ingredients, yet the most flavourful.
  2. If you find the dough is dry, sprinkle a few drops of water and a tsp of oil. If you think its too squishy, add a few spoons of rice flour little at a time and a spoon of oil and knead it together.
  3. Coating the  ball of dough with oil, helps it to retain all the moisture without drying out.
Appetizers · Cakes / Pastries / Cookies/ Bread/Muffins.

Marshmallow Chocolate Gems.

 

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Sometimes the best party foods I would say are appetizers alone! I could survive with just different appetisers. I guess what makes them so loved are the fact that they are bite sized, easy to handle and extremely tasty. This one was something I had pinterested a few months back and almost forgot about ! When my daughter wanted to call her friends over for a mini birthday party, this was something I thought about. It was fun to see them dress up the marshmallows with different colored “gems”.Obviously all the girls wanted the pink ones and I was left with an odd numbered white marshmallows!!! Easy to make, also the kids love getting involved. I made another batch with white chocolate over white marshmallows and dressed them up with strawberries! Pretty!

INGREDIENTS:

A Bag of Pink and White Marshmallows.

Melting Chocolate.

A Tsp Butter.

M&M`s of all colors.

PREPARATION:

  • Arrange all the marshmallows on a tray.
  • Place the melting chocolate on a glass container and place this over a saucepan of boiling water.
  • Slowly stir the chocolate until it melts.
  • Add a dollop of butter and stir.
  • Slowly take the marshmallows one by one and swirl the head in the melted chocolate.
  • Press an M&M candy on top.
  • Don`t they look pretty like sparkling gems?