Being exposed to baking from a very young age (thanks to my mom for bringing out my creative side), I am excited to be blogging (hopefully not bragging) about my passion and obsession for baking. I hope to make this a fun journey of learning and growing with my friends and fellow bloggers.
Welcome to my small little world of sweet treats. Passionate about baking cakes, cupcakes, truffles and eating them too! Having being exposed to such wonderful home-made treats from a very young age, I hope to bring across my passion and love for baking and creating new recipes through this site. All in all, this will focus on fun as well as healthy baking, decorating and everything else creative (could include my love for painting/sketching as well, so I could divert a little from my blog's title :)). Thanks for visiting!
One of my fond memories of visiting Costa Rica was eating Arroz con Pollo for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Yes, I made sure I didn't miss out on my daily dose of this amazing dish! After being dissapointed with the way it tasted in a few restaurants in New York City and in Panama, I decided that enough is enough. I just cannot desperately be on a look out for restaurants that serve this dish. So much so that I've dragged my husband to some not so great joints just because they had this dish on their menu. Only to get dissapointed though! Here's my take on homemade Costa Rican Arroz con Pollo. I couldn't find the exact ingredients, so I had to play around with what I could get here. And to my surprise, it was a great dish and a nice change from the regular Indian chicken with rice. And instead of the regular french fries that I had on the side, I replaced it with sweet potato baked fries! I have to admit that the regular french fries are out for me and the sweet potato ones are in! Will post the recipe for that sometime soon. They are yummy, healthy, sweet and the way I made them were tangy and spicy as well. Lots of flavor packed into one fry.
For the chicken part: 5 piece chicken drumsticks, 2 tablespoon vegetable oil, 4 cloves garlic, 3 celery sticks, salt, pepper, oregano, 1 tbsp annato seed, paprika to taste
For the Rice: 2 cup rice (any rice preferably long grain rice), 1 tbsp vegetable oil, 2 minced carrots, 1 teaspoon annatto seed, pinch of salt, 4.5 cups chicken stock
For the Sauce: 1/2 cup onions, finely chopped 1/2 cup red bell pepper, finely chopped 1 tomato, cilantro, 1 small can tomato paste, 4 tbsp goya sofrito, 6 tbsp salsa ranchera to taste
The Chicken: Heat vegetable oil in a saucepan over medium high. Add chicken, salt, pepper, garlic, oregano, cumin, and celery. Turning occasionally until chicken is golden brown evenly. Debone chicken. Skin chicken (optional.) The Rice Heat lard or vegetable oil in a medium heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add rice stirring often until rice is slightly brown. Add carrots, annatto, and salt. Add 1 ¼ quart water. Bring mix to a boil over medium high heat. Cover saucepan and simmer until rice is tender. Turn off heat and leave rice in saucepan covered for 10 minutes.
Yum!! I like certain kinds of cheesecake, especially the ones that have a nice caffeine kick to it. So to prepare for a get together, I decided to bake a nice cheesecake. I have no problems saying that I won't ever have to visit cheesecake factory to grab a bite of their cheesecakes. Like them a lot, but if a similar kind can be made at home, then why bother. Unless of course I'm busy and tied up, because it took me a good half day in making the cheesecake. Nevertheless, it was a fun process indeed. A lot of research went into preparing the pan, the water bath to put the uncooked cheesecake in (this is done to avoid any cracks on top) and also understanding the science behind the process of baking cheesecakes. Yeah right, for the last one!! ;)
A picture of the creamy cheesecake! Didn't click too many this time around! The base was not the regular graham cracker crumbs but goya chocolate wafers crushed up. They are just readily available and they taste good!
I'm proud about posting some pictures from my very first truffles order. I love the home made stickers that I stuck on the bag. Purchased those from Michaels.
The truffles were made of dark chocolate ganache and half of them were rolled in cocoa powder and the other half had sprinkles on them. They are quite yummy and they melt in your mouth. I will be trying different kinds in the future, with coconut coating, caramel and sea salt (my favorite combination that I've started liking recently), nuts coating and much more. Anyone interested, please reach out to me on my facebook page - Baked by Chitra.
I wouldn't say that I'm a big fan of French cuisine, but I have to admit the food here really made me rethink. Alright the STINKY CHEESE festival was on and the taste of this cheese has left a real bad taste in my mouth. I had it in Portugal. No offence to the stinky cheese lovers out there, some people really enjoy it!
Coming back to the point, the potato leek soup was good. Another appetizer that I tried was the Gorgonzola Rissoto, I was a little scared to try it out because by then I was slightly overwhelmed with the cheese smell from the adjoining table. Little mental, you see! Still wanting to give it a try and I enjoyed the appetizer. The cheese wasn't so over powering, but the dish was almost good enough to be an entree. Quite filling and yummy!
My MS Paint skills need some work!
What I really want to share with all of you is the Moroccan lamb, which was extremely tender and juicy and the oh so yummy dark chocolate tart with Salted Caramel Icecream. The tart was good but what blew me away was the ice cream that accompanied it. It was to die for. So much so that I have been inspired by this dish to come up with my very own creation of a salted caramel cake/cupcake recipe. Yum.
Only if I had visited Barcelona as a child, I don't know where I would have ended up today and what I would be doing. Would I have been a crazy passionate artist or would I have ended up being an architect who loves taking risks like Gaudi. Que Sera, Sera..... I would go with the former if I had a choice. Only if I had a choice...I would have either been an artist or a singer or a designer or some sorts...oh how my creative soul weeps! Oops, where was I? I get distracted so easily that I literally have to apply brakes on my thoughts! So anytime you see an 'eeeeeeeeeee! DIVERSION!' mentioned in my post, it's not meant for you but for me to take a breather and focus!
So the point that I am trying to make here is that Gaudi's structures are so inspiring and artistic. A true artist's work indeed! What he thinks in his head actually looks wonderful in reality! SA few friends might be able to understand why I'm saying this. :) I have a tendency to drift in my thoughts and then trying it out in real life...hasn't worked so far for me!
Eversince I've been back from Spain, I've been wanting to pay a tribute to Gaudi's work in my own little way. One of the things that really left an impression was how the stained glass has been incorporated so well in the building in such a modernistic way. Is this a word, really? I have to admit that I am not too too fond of stained glass, atleast not the very traditional kind. But here I saw such wonderful colors coming together and hence, I decided to bake some stained glass cookies. This were then used to create some random pieces of art. You know I have to keep my creative mind busy or atleast that's how I defend myself.
The recipe that I used for the stained glass cookie was from realsimple.com. I made some minor changes to the recipe as mentioned below.
Makes 36 to 48 cookies (depending on size of cutters)| Hands-On Time: 1hr 00m | Total Time: 4hr 25m
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
6 to 8 ounces assorted fruit-flavored hard candies, such as sour balls or Life Savers—unwrapped, sorted by color, and crushed (about 1 cup total) ....I used jolly rancher hard candy.
Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes; beat in the egg, vanilla, and salt. Reduce speed to low and add the flour, mixing just until combined (do not overmix).
Divide the dough in half, shape into two disks, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until firm, at least 3 hours.
Heat oven to 350° F.
On a lightly-floured surface, roll out each piece of dough to an ⅛-inch thickness. Using 2- to 2 ½-inch cookie cutters, cut the dough into shapes and place on parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing them 1 inch apart. Using a ¾- to 1-inch cookie cutter, cut out the centers from each cookie. Reroll and cut the scraps as necessary.
Spoon ½ to 1 teaspoon of the crushed candy (depending on the size of the cutout) into the center of each cookie. Bake until just golden at the edges, 7 to 9 minutes. Let cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
I didn't follow steps 4 and 5 and used different cookie cutters to come up with random shapes, you'll see more in the pictures below.
Before putting the cookies in the oven, I filled the cut outs with the crushed candy, filled them to the top.
Bubbling in the oven!They look so pretty, don't they.
Pull the cookies out within 7-9 minutes, I went a little over for my first set. You'll notice that the candy might still be bubbling when taken out. Worry not, it will set eventually!
Now starting with some random designs. My goal was to make the stained glass window, but it was quite difficult to do it with the cookies, hence these designs..BTW, these cookies were slightly tough to eat and the candy makes them a little harder. I have some dough saved in the freezer and am going to try making a different kind of cookie. If you really want to make the stained glass cookies, you can during the holiday season and hang them on your christmas tree.
Getting on with the cookie sculptures or as I like to call them. In order to do this, I had to stick them together and I started with glue. Silly me! And of course, this was not meant for eating. The glue idea did not work at all and then suddenly a light bulb lit up in my head. I thought why not attach them together with royal icing, yeah! That worked wonderfully. So I decided to make one structure to put a tea light candle in it and another one to come up with a bicycle. OK, I have to admit the latter piece kind of happened by fluke, but I so enjoyed making it. Couldn't believe that I could do this with cookies! So much fun!!
I've been missing in action for the last coupla days. I wasn't well, but mainly that life's been a little hectic! I know excuses...excuses!
So to make up for the lost time, I thought why not post something that reminds you of the 'not so cold days'. Apple oatmeal crumble or rather Apple banana oatmeal crumble. If I had any other fruit, I would have added that in as well. Trust me for going overboard sometimes. Anyway, coming back to the crumble, I've made this around the apple picking season in fall, but I love the taste and aroma of apple/oatmeal/brown sugar so much that I didn't mind making this around this time of the year. Is it spring yet?
So to begin with, this is my very own recipe. Are you worried yet?
Recipe for Apple Banana Oatmeal crumble
(courtesy Chitra Mehta)
3-4 medium sized apple (you can use any kind!)
1 riped banana
3/4 cup oats
1/2 cup whole wheat flour filled to the top
3/4 cup brown sugar to taste
1 tbs low fat yogurt
1/2 cup orange juice (I used Trader Joe's orange banana juice, you can use plain orange juice - store bought or fresh)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg powder
pinch cayenne and pinch salt
2 tbs olive oil - Can be replaced with 4 tbs of butter
1 tbs maple syrup
A little honey to drizzle on top before baking
Preheat oven to 400 degree Celsius.
Take about 3/4 cup oats and pour it into a mixing bowl
Take about 1/2 cup whole wheat flour and add it in as well
Adding in 3/4 cup brown sugar or more depending on taste
I added in 1 tbs cinnamon, ignore and stick with the 1 tsp. Please!
1/2 tsp nutmeg powder only. Glad you're listening to me so far! No I mean it!
He he! For the kicks, add in a pinch of cayenne. Mine's slightly more than a pinch! You can choose to leave this out totally!
Mix it all in.
Banana...mash it in
Chop apples and throw them into the mixture. Trust me it can't get simpler than this.
Add in vanilla extract
Yes a tbs of low fat yogurt. Mine's a little more, again I don't follow recipes exactly, even if they're mine. ;)
Adding in orange juice, you can use freshly squeezed. I am big on this, but I didn't have any fresh oranges.
Some olive oil.
Mix it in with a spoon.
Or you're hand, it's always much better this way! Avoid licking you're hands...
1 tbs maple syrup...Aah!!
I used the same mixture to rub it in the ramekins. You can coat it with Pam baking spray.
Drizzle some honey on top and you're good to go.
Put them in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes. Check them after that for doneness. If the oatmeal isn't browned completely, put it in for another 2-5 minutes.