Sunday, August 30, 2009

Red Velvet Cupcakes

As i mentioned in my previous, I've been taking a cake decorating class and we get to bake a cake every week for class. This decorating class is offered through Michael's and have 3 different courses. I finished my 1st one and am waiting to start the 2nd in a couple of weeks. So for our 3rd class, we had the option of making cupcakes and i decided on making red velvet cupcakes. Most people i know just love red velvet cupcakes and these came up moist and soft and airy which equals to PERFECT!! The rich red color with the chocolate flavor makes it great for any occasion. Red velvet cupcakes are usually either filled with or frosted and filled with cream cheese. The tartness of the cream cheese just goes so well with the sweetness of the cake. Here's the recipe.

Red Velvet Cupcakes

2 1/2 cups sifted cake flour*
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 oz. red food coloring (two bottles)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon baking soda

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two 12-cup muffin tins with cupcake papers.

2. Sift together the cake flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl; set aside. In a small bowl, mix food coloring and cocoa powder to form a thin paste without lumps; set aside.

3. In a large bowl, using a hand mixer or stand mixer, beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about three minutes. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then beat in vanilla and the red cocoa paste, scraping down the bowl with a spatula as you go. Add one third of the flour mixture to the butter mixture, beat well, then beat in half of the buttermilk. Beat in another third of flour mixture, then second half of buttermilk. End with the last third of the flour mixture, beat until well combined, making sure to scrape down the bowl with a spatula.

4. In a small bowl, mix vinegar and baking soda. Yes, it will fizz! Add vinegar mixture to the cake batter and stir well to combine. Using an ice cream scoop, fill cupcake cups with cake batter (they should be 2/3 – 3/4 full). You may not fill all the cups, I ended up with 20 cupcakes. Place muffin tins on the middle rack of a preheated 350 degree oven. Bake for approximately 20-22 minutes, rotating pans halfway through. Cupcakes are done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Check early and don’t over bake!

5. Cool the cupcakes in their tins on a wire rack for 10 minutes then remove and allow to cool completely before frosting. Frost cupcakes with cream cheese icing (recipe below) and decorate with red sprinkles if desired. The cupcakes above were decorated using the Wilton Cupcake Decorating Kit and Valentine’s Sprinkles. They can usually be found at craft stores like Michaels or Joann.

*pictures courtesy of Jigar Champaneria*

Key Lime Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Lately, I've been on a baking marathon. I've been taking a cake decorating class at my neighborhood Michael's and it's been so much fun. The only thing is that i have to bake a cake every week. There's only my husband and i at home and to eat all that cake, a big NO NO! So I've been sending it to my husbands work and i leave some for my play dates. Anyways, a dear friend had some yummy key lime cupcakes not to long ago and that got me tempted to try it out. I searched online for a good recipe and came across this one that i used. This recipe was used by so many people with great reviews, i figured it's got to be good. And guess what, it was great! I just loved it. The refreshing taste of the key lime just leaves you wanting for more. The cupcakes itself are moist and airy. And to make them look pretty, top it off with a lice of lime.My cupcakes are probably more green than they should be, but i like the brightness.You can always add less of the food color if you like something lighter. Here's the recipe :)

Key Lime Cupcakes
Adapted from Buttersweet Bakery courtesy of Bon Appetit

1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup self-rising flour (make your own--add 1-1/2 tsp. baking powder & 1/2 tsp. salt to 1 cup all-purpose flour)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1-1/4 cups sugar
2 large eggs
2-1/2 Tablespoons key lime juice (about 10 key limes) or regular lime juice
1 Tablespoon key lime zest (about 10 key limes) or regular lime zest
1/4 teaspoon neon green food coloring ( i used the gel color in kelly green)
3/4 cup buttermilk

1 8 - ounce package cream cheese, room temperature
1-1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 Tablespoon key lime zest (about 10 key limes) or regular lime zest
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Sift and whisk all-purpose flour and self-rising flour in a medium bowl. Don't have self-rising flour? You can make your own by adding 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt to 1 cup all-purpose flour, mixing well.

Beat butter until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add sugar and beat to blend. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Add lime juice, lime zest and food coloring. Continue mixing until all ingredients are well combined.

Beat in flour mixture in 3 additions alternating with buttermilk in 2 additions.

Spoon equal proportions of batter into a standard 12 cup muffin pan lined with paper liners. Place in a preheated 350 degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes.

Remove the cupcakes immediately from the pan, letting them cool on a rack.

While waiting for them to cool down, make the frosting.

Beat cream cheese, powdered sugar, butter, lime zest and vanilla extract on medium until smooth.

*pictures courtesy of Jigar Champaneria*

Monday, August 17, 2009

Onion Bhajia

Here's a dish every Indian kid has grown up eating. There's so many variations of the Onion Bhajia. They are basically onion rings or onion strings but with spices and a different type of batter. And Just like onion rings/strings, onion bhajia should be eaten while they are hot. Depending on which part of India you're from, some call is pakora, some call it bhaji and we gujarati's called it bhajia. It's usually made as an appetizer or even as an afternoon/evening snack to be eaten with some masala chai (tea). It's crispy with a little bit of spice, sweetness and sourness. You can never get enough of this. Once you start eating, it's just so addicting!

~Ingredients~ (Serves 2)
3 medium onions
1/2 cup Gram Flour
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp coriander powder
1 1/2 tsp lemon juice
1/4 cup Rava (semolina)
1/4 cup cooked rice (mashed up)
2 tbsp rice flour
2 pinches of asafoetida powder
salt to taste

(Because onion has so much moisture in it, you do not need any water for this batter. Start with 1/4 cup of gram flour and add more if you feel there's not enough batter. The mixture should be some what dry with a little bit of moisture. You may also add as little or as much lemon juice and chili powder as you like.)

1) Cut onion into half and slice it into thin slices. Separate the onion slices and put them in a large enough bowl. Toss in the rest on the ingredients and mix well. The mixture should be dry with a little moisture from the lemon and onions. Taste the batter a little to make sure there is enough seasoning.
2) Heat some oil and using you hand, scoop some of the onions and sprinkle them into the hot oil. Be careful not to burn yourself. Fry them at medium hi heat until golden brown. Remove from oil and serve hot. Enjoy!!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Butter Chicken

As I'm looking at the picture of Butter Chicken, thinking of what i should write in this blog, all i can think about is the rich, creamy flavor. It's like i can almost taste the chicken just by looking at it! I do keep forgetting to mention that all the pictures of my food are taken by my dear husband whose passion is photography. So thanks alot for these wonderful picture! Alright, back to the chicken. So growing up, my mom never made butter chicken at home. And the only time we'd have it is if we went to an Indian restaurant . I like butter chicken but never really had it where it just blew me away. Not until one year, when i was back home in Singapore, visiting my family. My dad's cousin had me over for dinner and she made this delicious butter chicken. All i could think the entire time and the rest of the week was the butter chicken. The flavors, tenderness of the chicken and the yummy sauce. It was just right! I knew i wanted the recipe and to also see how it was prepared. I called my aunt, and she was so nice to share this recipe with me and have me over again so i can see how it was made. I have to say it isn't the healthiest but which Indian dish isn't?? I've made this many times and it's always been a hit. For those of my friends who've had it, you know what I'm talking about! So here's the recipe :).


2 lbs chicken
1 tsp Red chili powder
1 tbsp Lemon Juice
a little Salt

1/2 cup Yogurt
2 tbsp Ginger paste
2 tbsp Garlic paste
1 tsp Garam masala
1 tsp Red chili powder
Salt to taste
1 tbsp Oil
2 tbsp Butter (for basting)
Red Food Color

900 grams tomato
500 grams onions
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
2 tbsp whipped cream
2 tbsp Kasoori Methi
1 tsp fresh ginger, garlic and chili paste
1 tbsp Garam masala
2 tsp red chili powder
2 Bay leaves
5 cloves
2 Elacho
Salt to taste

~Method for Tandoori Chicken~

1. Remove the skin and clean the chicken. Make incisions with a sharp knife (or fork) on breast and leg pieces. ( I usually end up using skinless, boneless breast )
2. Apply a mixture of red chili powder, lemon juice and salt to the chicken and leave aside for 15 min.
3. Hang the yogurt in a muslin cloth for 15-20 minutes to remove extra water. Add red chili powder, salt, ginger-garlic paste, garam masala powder, tandoori masala, oil and red colour.
4. Apply this marinade to the chicken pieces and refrigerate for 4 hours or more.
5. Cook this chicken in pressure cooker on low heat for 15-20 min. Do not add water. When cool, open the cooker. If there is too much water, boil it away on high heat till dry. Let it cool. Reserve the gravy and use it in butter chicken sauce later.
6. Break up the chicken into small boneless pieces.
7. Heat 1 tbsp butter in a non-stick pan. Stir-fry the chicken pieces on high till a little browned. Do this in 2 batches. Remove and keep aside.

(Alternatively, you can use tandoori chicken made in oven and then break it into boneless pieces. If making in the oven, You'll need butter for basting. For Pressure cooked chicken, you can skip the butter for basting and heat up just a little bit of oil so that chicken doesn't stick to the bottom.)

~Method for Preparing Sauce~

1. Quarter tomatoes and chop onions into big pieces. Put into pressure cooker. Do not add water. Cook for 10 min. on low. When cool, open the cooker. If there is too much water, boil it on high to reduce the water. Remove and cool. Blend in a blender and then pour mixture through a sieve to get a smooth sauce. It should look like a thick sauce.

~Method for Butter Chicken~

1. Heat 2 tbsp butter and 2 tbsp oil in a pan. Add bay leaves, elacho and cloves. Then add ginger, garlic and chili paste, red chili powder, garam masala and salt. Cook for 1 minute or till dark brown.
2. Add sauce. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Add sugar or lemon to get desired taste if necessary. Add red colour if necessary.
3. Add cooked tandoori chicken pieces. Simmer for 5 minutes and then add kasoori methi (crushed), fresh chopped coriander and whipped cream. Mix until all ingredients are stirred in well.
4. Serve hot with naan or paratha.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Vegetable Stew with Cous Cous

Thursday's are play date days and that means yummy lunch for the parents. My friends and i get together with our kids once a week and enjoy each other's company and have fun watching the kids be silly. It's such a great moment. This recipe here was shared with me by a dear friend from my play date group. It's such a simple recipe but so satisfying and delicious. Even my 15 month old daughter will come get a few bites from my husband and i while we eat. I've made it a bunch of times and it's a keeper. And every time i have this, i think of all the fun we have and stories we share at our play dates. So thank you my friend for this wonderful recipe:)

For the Cous Cous, you can get it at any grocery store. Follow directions on the package to cook it.

Vegetable Stew with Cous Cous

1 medium Potato
1 zucchini
1/2 cup broccoli florets
1 medium onion
1 carrot
1 8oz can tomato sauce
1 32oz Vegetable stock/broth
1 tsp minced garlic
Salt to taste
crush red pepper to taste
hot sauce of your choice to taste
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley


1) Chop all the vegetables into cubes. ( cube them to the size you would prefer)
2) In a large pot, heat some olive oil and add onions and minced garlic. Stir well and let it cook for 2 mins.
3) Add in the rest of the chopped vegetables. Stir well and cook covered for about 3 mins.
4) Add in the vegetable stock/broth along with salt, crushed red pepper and hot sauce of your choice. (You may use chili powder if you like) Stir well and bring it to a boil.
5) When the stock comes to a boil, add in tomato sauce. Bring to boil and let it simmer until the liquid has thicken up a bit and vegetables a cooked.
6) Garnish with chopped parsley and serve hot with Cous Cous.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Mee Siam

For those of you who have been to Singapore, the food you've had there is something you'll never forget. The authentic local food has it's own unique flavors and ingredients. Because the majority of the population consist of the Malays,Chinese and Indians, you can imagine all the different flavors you'd get. This dish here is actually a Malaysian dish and depending on where you have it, can be made with soup or without the soup. I however like it with the soup. It's a spicy and tangy soup with peanuts and because the noodle used in Mee Siam are rice noodle, it's light on your stomach. Traditionally, this dish is made with salted and fermented soy beans called Tao Cho and it also has belachan which is a shrimp paste base. I however make it without the soybeans and shrimp paste since i have friends who are vegetarian. So flavorful yet simple and it still taste just like it should. In Singapore, you can have Mee Siam even for breakfast or for an afternoon/evening snack. Since i have a 15 month old, and a few of my dear friends have kids around the same age, we have play date Thursdays. And it's just great because not only do the kids get to enjoy and play, the parents get to look forward to lunch and having a good time a well. Every week, whoever that's hosting the play date will make a delicious lunch for the 3 to 4 of us that are there. So it was my turn a couple of weeks ago and this is what i choose to make. Here's the recipe: ( This recipe makes for about 6 to 8 ppl )

7 Red Jalapenos
7 cloves Garlic
3 small onions
3/4 cup ground peanut

~Garnish For Noodle Soup~
cubed fried tofu
chopped green onions
Boiled egg

1)Blend Jalapenos, garlic, onion and ground peanut in a food processor until it's a fine paste
2)In large pan, heat up 1/4 cup oil and saute the paste for about 10 mins. Stirring every few mins.
3)Remove 3/4 of the paste and put it in large pot to make the soup. With the remaining 1/4 paste, add 1 tbsp soy sauce, 1tbsp ketchup and 1 tbsp chili sauce and some salt to taste. Mix everything together and let it saute over medium heat for 2 mins. Turn it off and let it cool.
4)Make a packet of Rice noodles and mix the cooled paste into the cooked rice noodles. Make sure rice noodle are not over cooked. Warm it up in the Microwave just before serving.

(You can get rice noodles at the Chinese market. I like to use the thin, fine rice noodle. Any brand is fine.)

~Soup Method~
1) Add 4 cups water to the paste in the pot and bring it to boil.
2) In the mean time, add 2 tbsp brown sugar, chili powder, salt, some lemon and 1/2 cup finely ground peanuts.
3) Bring the soup to boil. Soup should be spicy with a bit of sweetness and sourness. Let it boil for about 5 mins .
4) Put some rice noodles in a bowl, top it with some chopped green onion, tofu and sliced boiled eggs. Pour hot soup over and serve.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Chocolate Chip Banana Cupcakes

The first time i made cupcakes from scratch were for my daughter's 1st birthday. And they turned out great and everyone enjoyed them. One little girl however loved it so much that she told my mother in law to have me make them for her again. That sure made my day! How could you say no to a child is what i thought. I made Lemon curd cupcakes for the birthday party and thought, why not try something different this time. Kids like chocolate and bananas! So i searched around online and came across this recipe. They were more muffin like and tasted like banana bread. Only difference was the chocolate chips.I made them and sent some over for the little girl who wanted my cupcakes. Of course i had to save some or my family too! It's such a great recipe to make with kids and to enjoy them later with the rest of the family! The best part of it all is the smell of fresh baked goodies! Mmmm so good!

Chocolate Chip Banana Cupcakes Recipe

* 3 cups all purpose flour
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 1 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
* 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
* 3 large eggs
* 1 1/4 cup white sugar
* 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
* 3/4 cup canola or vegetable oil
* 2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
* 2 cups mashed bananas
* 1 cup mini chocolate chips or chopped chocolate chunks, semi sweet or milk chocolate


* Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. This recipe makes 24 regular size cupcakes, so line muffin pans with paper or silicone liners and set aside.
* In a large bowl, combine flours, salt, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon. Set aside.In another large mixing bowl with a hand-held or stand mixer, beat eggs and sugars together. Add oil, vanilla, bananas and blend well. Scrape bowl.
* With mixer on low speed, add 1/2 the flour mixture and mix. Scrape down bowl and add the remaining flour. Beat on low just until blended and the dry ingredients are incorporated into the wet ingredients.
* Fold in chocolate chips and coconut if desired.
* Fill prepared muffin cups 3/4 full with batter. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-22 minutes, turning once half way through baking, until pick comes out clean.
* Let sit on cooling racks for 5 minutes before removing cupcakes from pans.
* Cool completely before frosting.
* At this point, the cupcakes can be wrapped in Ziploc Bags and frozen for up to 2 months.
* Makes 24 regular size cupcakes.

Chicken Biryani

Biryani is one of my all time favorite dish. Growing up in Singapore, you get all types of cuisine to choose from. And i remember my dad taking orders from everyone for our weekend biryani luncheon. I personally love having Fish Biryani. However, i've grown to like Chicken Biryani as well. When i first moved to the United States, my knowledge about cooking was very limited. I'd make simple and easy food which almost requiered nothing. And part of it also had to do with the fact that i was home sick and missed my family and friends dearly! But as years went by, it gave me more and more confidence to try new recipes and learn from my mother in law and mom in Singapore. And it's still a learning process. Sometimes my mother in law and mom would ask me for recipes :). And it feels great to be learning and sharing my experiences with my loved ones. So here's my all time favorite Chicken Biryani recipe that i learnt from my dear Mother in law:) She's an amazing cook and a great inspiration to me.

~Chicken Biryani~
Serves about 4 to 6 ppl


1 1/2lbs Chicken breast cubed
1/2 cup yogurt
1 tsp Chili powder
3 tbsp tandoori chicken powder
2 tbsp ginger, garlic and chili paste
salt to taste.

1) Marinade the cubed chicken in the above ingredients and let it sit in the fridge for about 4 hrs. i usually marinade extra chicken and freeze the extra in a ziplock bag. That way, the next time i want to make more biryani, i have my chicken marinated and ready to go.
2) In a large pressure cooker, heat up some oil/ghee and add the marinated chicken . Add another 1 tbsp of ginger. garlic and chili paste to the marinated chicken. Stir well and pressure cook chicken for about 15 to 30 mins on low. Chicken should be well cooked and tender when you open the pressure cooker.
3) Heat some oil in a separate pan and add some cloves and cinnamon sticks. Add 2 chopped up medium onions and saute till they are golden brown.
4) Add the sauted onions into the cooked chicken along with 1/2 cup of yogurt , 3 tbsp of chicken masala, 1 tsp turmeric powder and 1/2 cup chopped cilantro. Mix well and taste for seasoning.

- 2 cups of basmati rice, washed and soaked for 1/2 hr.
- 1/4 tsp saffaron

1)Cook rice in a rice cooker with some ghee, salt and saffaron.
2) When the rice is cooked, remove the rice cooker lid and let the rice cool a little.


1)Slice up 2 large tomatoes and set aside
2) Take a baking dish and spread some rice . ( i like using my rectangular lasagna baking dish)
3) Place the cooked chicken on top of the rice followed by the sliced tomatoes. The tomatoes are to give some moisture and flavor to the rice. Put as many or as little as you'd like.
4) Repeat steps again in the order of rice/chicken/tomatoe
5)Cover the baking dish with some foil and bake it in the oven at 375 for 1/2 hr.
6) Serve hot with some yogurt on the side.