Cook's Hideout: May 2016

May 28, 2016

Vegan Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Filling and Ganache for Blog Anniversary

I started this blog in 2006 to share the recipes I was trying at home and at the time I wasn't even thinking of how long I would keep doing it. I am actually surprised that I have been doing this for 10 years already. So here's a chocolate cake recipe to celebrate the occasion.
Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Filling and Ganache
Even though I remember about the blog anniversary, with everything else going on in life, I wasn't actually planning on making anything special. But the BM group pushed me to get off my lazy behind and make this delicious chocolate cake. This is dedicated to the BM group, all my blogging buddies, my readers and my family who inspire me to keep blogging. Thank you all for your support without which this wouldn't have been possible.

May 27, 2016

Pasta Salad with Black Beans (Vegan recipe)

Memorial day is right around the corner and if you are looking for a dish to make, then here's an easy to make and tasty Pasta Salad with black beans and veggies. It's completely vegan, if you use vegan mayo but if you have regular mayo then go ahead and use it instead.
Vegan Pasta Salad
I am always looking for opportunities to try new dishes, so last weekend I took this pasta dish when I went to meet my blog buddies, Sushma, Rajani, Usha, Mir and Amara. The good thing about this dish is it can be made ahead of time and chilled until ready to serve, which makes it a great dish to make for picnics. barbecues or for take along lunches.

May 26, 2016

Leeks Sambar

Blogging Marathon#64: Week 4/ Day 3
Theme: Mega BM Bookmarked Recipes 
Dish: Leeks Sambar from Vidhya
For the final day of this month's marathon, I have an interesting sambar made with Leeks from Vidhya's blog. I bookmarked it the minute I saw it on her blog and made it once I got my hands on some leeks.
Sambar with Leeks
Leeks belong to the 'Allium' family along with onions and garlic. They have a mild onion-like taste and are crunchy when eaten raw. But they get soft and mild when cooked. I buy leeks quite often and make pasta sauces or dry sautes with them. Vidhya's leek sambar sounded very interesting and delicious.

May 25, 2016

Thai Pineapple Fried Rice (Khao Pad Sapparot)

Blogging Marathon#64: Week 4/ Day 2
Theme: Mega BM Bookmarked Recipes 
Dish: Pineapple Fried Rice from Mireille 
For Day 2 of bookmarked dishes I have a sweet, sour and spicy Thai Pineapple fried rice from Mir's blog. I have seen pineapple fried rice recipes on any food blogs but I wasn't sure how the sweetness of the pineapple would taste in a savory rice dish. So never tried to make it at home before.
Khao Pad Sapparot
But when I saw Mir's dish, I wanted to give it a try. I had all the ingredients on hand and my husband was travelling so I took a chance and made it for myself. I have to say I really liked this dish. The sweetness from the pineapple is actually complemented by the spicy curry powder and the saltiness of the soy sauce.

May 24, 2016

Alasanda Vada (Black eyed Peas croquettes)

Blogging Marathon#64: Week 4/ Day 1
Theme: Mega BM Bookmarked Recipes 
Dish: Alasanda Vada from Suma 
Can't believe we are starting the last week of this month's blogging marathon today. May seemed to have zoomed right past us. My theme for this week is 'Bookmarked dishes from last month's mega marathon'. It is an impossible task to pick just 3 dishes to make from more than 600 delicious dishes (24 bloggers * 26 days), but we have to start somewhere, right??
Black eyed Peas croquettes
So for the first day, I made these Alasanda vada aka blackeyed peas vada from Suma. I actually made it right after she posted it on her blog. I had some oil leftover from frying these nimki and so I decided to use it wisely and make these yummy vada.

May 20, 2016

Vegan Rich Chocolate Mousse

Today I have a rich chocolate mousse recipe that is guilt free and sooo delicious. The secret ingredient in this mousse is soft silken tofu. I was initially skeptical about using tofu in a dessert because I've had some really bad experiences with tofu based desserts years ago and I have not gone back to it till now.
Chocolate Mousse using Silken Tofu
I saw this recipe in Vegetarian Times magazine and wanted to give it a second chance. I was pleasantly surprised how chocolaty and creamy this mousse turned out and there was no tell-tale sign of tofu. I made this last weekend to eat as a movie night treat and both my kids absolutely loved it.

May 19, 2016

Wholewheat Chocolate Chip Cookies

Blogging Marathon# 64: Week 3/ Day 3
Theme: Wholewheat Dishes
Dish: Wholewheat Chocolate Chip Cookies
So for the final day of 'Wholewheat dishes', I have my kids absolute favorite cookie, Chocolate chip cookie. They were so happy when I made them and I was happy that they are made with wholewheat flour are a little more nutritious than the ones with all purpose flour.
Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies
Whenever I'm making any baked goodies for the family, I usually sub at least half of the all purpose flour with white wholewheat or wholewheat pastry flour. I don't care if the texture suffers a little bit with the substitution but I feel better serving the family something that is a little more nutritious than just empty calories. My next focus is in cutting down sugar -- lets see how that one goes.

May 18, 2016

Puffed Wheat, Almond and Coconut Granola Bars

Blogging Marathon# 64: Week 3/ Day 1
Theme: Wholewheat Dishes
Dish: Puffed Wheat, Almond and Coconut Granola Bars
Day 2 of 'Wholewheat dishes' and I'm using it in puffed wheat form today. My husband has been asking me to make granola bars at home for quite some time, so I tried these granola bar recipe from Cooking Light magazine.
Granola Bars with Puffed Wheat & Almonds
Recipe calls for goji berries which I have never used before. I bought some from the bulk section of Whole Foods -- they are quite expensive, but they are supposed have many health benefits. If you can't find them, then use any other fried fruit that you like.

May 17, 2016

Rajasthani Dal Dhokli

Blogging Marathon#64: Week 3/ Day 1
Theme: Wholewheat Dishes
Dish: Dal Dhokli
We are starting our 3rd week of blogging marathon today and my theme for the week is 'Wholewheat Dishes'. For the first day I made a hearty and comforting dish popular in both Gujarat and Rajasthan, Dal Dhokli. This has been on my list of dishes to try for a very long time and finally got a chance to try it out.
Spicy Dal Dhokli
Dal dhokli is a filling one pot meal where dhoklis aka Indian style wheat pasta :-) are simmered in dal until cooked through. From what I read, Rajasthani version is slightly spicier than Gujarati version. I tried the spicy version and it was amazing, both my kids loved it too. I told them this how close an Indian dish can get to Italian pasta and they were very happy to try.

May 13, 2016

Vegan Lemon Cupcakes

We are cruising past May with jest speed, last weekend was my birthday and Mother's day. We had a fun weekend getaway to Connecticut and a beautiful Mother's day party at a dear friend's house. Hope you guys had a good Mother's day. But make sure to appreciate your mom not just on her special day, but every day of the week -- she deserves it :-)
Lemon Cupcakes
I made these cute little mini lemon cupcakes for Mother's day last weekend. It is a variation of the basic vegan vanilla cupcake recipe, but instead of vanilla flavored with lemon zest and pure lemon extract.

May 12, 2016

Italian Piadina Sandwich with Roasted Vegetables

Blogging Marathon# 64: Week 2/ Day 3
Theme: Cook from 1 European Cuisine -- Italian
Dish: Italian Piadina Sandwich
After posting 2 well known Italian dishes (Risotto & Pizza), today's Italian dish is not very popular outside of Italy. It is a thin flatbread called Piada or Piadina and is typically made in the Romagna region. The flatbreads are then filled variety of cheeses, meats, vegetables and also with sweet fillings like bananas and Nutella. These are sold as soon as they are made in specialized kiosks called piadineri.
Vegetarian Piada Sandwich
Traditional piada are made with white flour, lard or olive oil, salt and water. I subbed some of the white flour with wholewheat flour and the lard with vegetable shortening. These piada are very much like our kulchas and are leavened with baking powder. These are rolled out very thin unlike the kulchas that are a bit thicker.

May 11, 2016

Easy to make Pizza Dough with Italian Vegetarian toppings

Blogging Marathon# 64: Week 2/ Day 2
Theme: Cook from 1 European Cuisine -- Italian
Dish: Pizza Dough with Italian Vegetarian toppings
Pizza is probably the most popular Italian dish all over the world. Each country conveniently customized the toppings to appeal to the local tastes -- like the spicy toppings in India and the extra cheesy toppings in America. But from what I heard, Italian pizzas are not overloaded with cheese or toppings and are usually made with light and refreshing tomato sauce instead of a slow simmered heavy tomato sauce that the American pizzas tend to use.
Easy Pizza
I've a few pizza recipes on the blog already, but wanted to try a new pizza crust recipe from King Arthur flour. They say this is the 'easiest pizza you will ever make'. After making it I can assure you that it is in fact very easy to make this pizza.

May 10, 2016

Afghan Cookies for #Food of the World

It seems like Super Tuesday today with 3 posts back to back. It's time for Food of the World monthly event and we are exploring the beautiful island country of New Zealand this month. I really had no clue what the food in New Zealand looks like. Even though it is one of the countries that I think I was very familiar -- blame it on the cricket matches I used to watch as a kid (they were quite a tough team to beat at the time).
New Zealand Cornflakes and Cocoa Cookies
So I googled and found out that New Zealand cuisine is largely based on local ingredients. Similar to it's neighboring country Australia, New Zealand cuisine is a diverse British based cuisine. Historical influences came from Maori culture, the indigenous polynesian people of NZ.

Flax Oat Wheat Dinner Rolls for #BreadBakers

It's time to bake for Bread Bakers again. Our host for this month is Deepthi who blogs at Baking Yummies. She wanted us to make either yeasted or quick, sweet or savory rolls. I had quite a roll recipes that I wanted to try on my Pinterest board. Finally narrowed it down to these Flax-Oat-Wheat dinner rolls.
Wholegrain Dinner rolls with Oats, Flax and Wheat
These rolls are hearty and have an earthy taste with the addition of oats, wholewheat and ground flax seeds. These are perfect whole grain alternate to the soft and squishy white dinner rolls. They are great to make for cookouts or for your everyday dinner.

Spring Vegetable Risotto

Blogging Marathon# 64: Week 2/ Day 1
Theme: Cook from 1 European Cuisine -- Italian
Dish: Spring Vegetable Risotto
We are on to our second week of blogging marathon today and my theme for this week is to 'Cook from 1 European Country' and I picked Italian cuisine. When I think of Italian food, pizza and pasta are the first to come to mind. But there is so much more to the world of Italian cooking. The many regions in Italy have distinctive cuisines based on the local ingredients available, cooking styles and eating habits.
'Vegetarian Risotto recipe
For the first day, I have this Spring Vegetable risotto. Risotto is a north Italian rice dish that is cooked in broth to a creamy consistency. Arborio, Carnaroli etc are the principal varieties of rice used to risotto. These are high in starch, round medium or short grained white rice -- they have the ability to absorb liquids and release starch, so they are stickier than the long grain varieties.

May 06, 2016

Mexican Chocolate Date Truffles (Vegan Energy Balls)

After doing the detox diet, I have been trying to avoid processed foods and refined sugar in our diets. But sometimes it is difficult to stop those afternoon sweet cravings. Instead of reaching to those chocolate candy, here are a much healthy and nutritious alternate -- these Mexican Chocolate Date truffles.
Vegan Chocolate Date Energy balls
These little energy balls are made with medjool dates, nuts and cacao powder. They are no-bake, no-cook and are perfect when you are short on time. I used mixed nuts with almonds, cashews, pistachios and peanuts, but you can use any one nut or your favorite combination of nuts.

May 05, 2016

3 Day Clean Eating Detox Diet -- My Experience and the Outcome

If you have been following my blog, then you already know I did a 3-day Detox diet and I've posted the recipes for the dishes to eat during the cleanse in the past couple of days. I wanted to do a post on everything that's involved with the cleanse, in case you are interested in doing it yourself. 
Disclaimer: I am not a dietitian or nutritionist -- I followed the Clean Eating detox program from Clean Slate cookbook and I'm simply giving what's written in the book. 
Other Detox Diets: You can google 'Detox Diets' and there are quite a few different ones available (there's Dr. Oz's detox, Gwyneth Paltrow's detox, then there's all-juice detox). Read through them and pick one that fits in to your lifestyle.

3 Day Detox Diet -- Detox Soup with Carrot & Green Beans

Blogging Marathon# 64: Week 1/ Day 3
Theme: Detox Diet
Dish: Detox Soup with Carrot & Green Beans
What I really liked about this 3-day detox diet is that we never felt we were dieting or eating less in the 3 days. The portions of all the meals are quite substantial and we are also allowed 2 snacks each day -- either 1oz. of nuts and/ or 2 pieces of fruit. Today I have the recipe for the soup that is served for dinner during the cleanse.
Detox Soup with Carrot & Green Beans
It is a simple soup with carrot and green beans. Make the full batch on the first day and you are good to go for the next 2 days. Hot soup is poured over fresh spinach and chopped dill and then steeped for 5 minutes for the greens to wilt.

May 04, 2016

3 Day Detox Diet -- Detox Salad with Beets & Arugula

Blogging Marathon# 64: Week 1/ Day 2
Theme: Detox Diet
Dish: Detox Salad with Beets & Arugula Salad
I have to admit I was a little skeptical to start a detox diet. I've never done a detox or a diet in my life and the thought of not eating what I want to eat for 3 days was a little disturbing. But I just wanted to do something for myself -- something for getting healthier.
Detox Salad with Beets & Arugula
It took me about 1 week to clean up the fridge and pantry of the mega marathon leftovers and then another week the body for the cleanse. It is best to go easy on coffee, dairy and gluten about a week before you start the actual detox diet. Alcohol and cigarettes are a big no-no a week before and during the cleanse.

May 03, 2016

3 Day Detox Diet -- Detox Smoothie Recipe

Blogging Marathon# 64: Week 1/ Day 1
Theme: Detox Diet
Dish: Detox Smoothie with Strawberries & Grapefruit
After a month blogging nonstop, we are back in the regular 3 days a week blogging schedule this month. I picked up an interesting theme to start the month off. After indulging on delicious Indian food for the mega marathon, I thought detoxing would be just perfect to reset my system.
I bought 'Clean Slate' cookbook couple of weeks before Valli announced this month's themes. Even though at the time, I didn't really had a chance to read about the detox diet, I went ahead and signed up for this theme. It wasn't until I was done cooking for the mega marathon that I started thinking on how to go about this whole 'detox' business.

May 02, 2016

A-Z Dishes from around 4 corners of India (Journey through the Cuisines Recap)

We just completed our month long mega marathon, 'Journey through the Cuisines'. I picked 4 states from 4 corners of India and it was fun looking for recipes that fit into the alphabetical order and then cooking & enjoying the regional favorites. I have already added many of the dishes into my weekly rotation. Also I have so many of my fellow marathoners recipes bookmarked that I really really want to try ASAP.
This marathon would not have been possible without the amazing food bloggers that blog traditional regional recipes. They have truly inspired me to explore my own regional food and blog about it -- this will be a great learning experience for me. So BIG thanks to all the Indian food bloggers for posting the authentic and traditional dishes from around India.

Here's the Recap of Journey through the Cuisines.

Week 1: West Bengal Cuisine

Week 2: Rajasthani Cuisine

Week 3: Gujarati Cuisine

Week 4: Kerala Cuisine

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



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