Puffed Rice Reindeers

Involve your kids while making these cuties. Adding marshmallows keeps the treats chewable, yet crunchy. You can replace puffed rice ( charmuri, murmura or pori) with Rice Krispie cereal for even more crunch. Once you prepare the base of this recipe you can create a lot of fun shapes and decorate it your way. Best way to keep your kids engaged is to let them get creative with the shapes. This is a fun recipe. Make sure having lots of fun is your main focus. Don’t worry about perfect shapes or patterns ūüôā¬†

Check out my Christmas specials feature on Parent Circle.com https://www.parentcircle.com/article/supereasy-christmas-dessert-recipes/

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Ingredients
Puffed rice or Rice Krispie cereal – 2 cups
Marshmallows – 2 cups
Unsalted butter- 2 tbsp
Vanilla Essence – 1 tsp
Candy Eyes
Cadbury Gems
Milk Chocolate – ¬Ĺ cup
White chocolate – small piece
Lollipop sticks

Method

  • Grease a square-shaped baking tray or dish.
  • Melt the butter on low flame. Add marshmallows and let them melt completely.
  • Turn off the flame and add puffed rice or Rice Krispie cereal into it and mix well
  • Immediately transfer the mixture to the square tray and press well using a greased spoon.
  • Use a sharp knife and cut into squares.
  • Melt milk chocolate carefully in the microwave or double boiler and put into a small plastic piping bag. Follow the same process with the white chocolate. Snip a small hole at the end of both the bags.
  • Put a little white chocolate on the end of the lollipop stick carefully push it into a puffed rice square while still a little warm. Similarly, prepare the other squares.
  • Using the white chocolate as glue, stick on the candy eyes and gems making sure you have a few red nosed ones to indicate they are Rudolph – Santa’s favourite reindeer.
  • Pipe on the antlers using melted milk chocolate.
  • Let the chocolate harden completely before packing it away in airtight containers.

Merry Berry Cobbler

A new friend we met via Leo (Yes dogs can be a reason to make new friends) from one of his  off-leash parks date was visiting me over the weekend for coffee. I wanted to bake something simple with three things in my mind.

  • Bake under one hour
  • Cool off just enough so that it is still warm and gooey
  • Eggless as my friend doesn’t consume eggs.

Food Network is basically food porn for me. I generally don’t note any recipes. Just look at all saliva-inducing food and wish I was eating that instead of a bowl of leftover dinner. But there are times when a recipe hits the spot and you remember every single ingredient, such as this cobbler recipe. This easy version of a fruit cobbler was something I have been meaning to try for a while. So this was the perfect occasion.

As the rules with baking go measurements are the most important aspect. Just remember equal portions of everything. Since it was just for the two of us, I used 1/2 a cup of all ingredients. I started off melting 1/2 cup of unsalted butter, in a mixing bowl, then put in 1/2 cup of sugar, 1/2 cup of self-raising flour and 1/2 cup of milk. Whisked it well and poured it into a greased baking tray.

I then topped it with the frozen berries we had in the freezer. Before topping them, I rinsed and patted the berries dry. After that, I sprinkled on some more granulated sugar before putting it into a pre-heated oven at 375 degrees F for 40 minutes.

Bake for longer if you are using more than 1/2 cup measurements. And sprinkle more sugar if you want a nice top crust. Don’t overcrowd the berries.

This is a perfect sweet fix to chat over coffee. A dollop of whipped cream would have added more yumminess but also the calories which we both didn’t need. It is one of those easy breezy recipes that can go in the oven while you quickly hide the scattered books, tea cups from last night and random wires before your friend pops over.

Homemade Strawberry-Rhubarb jam

Homemade Strawberry-Rhubarb jam

Homemade Strawberry-Rhubarb jam

Last weekend I organized a baby shower for my dear friend in Seattle, Tina. When Tina broke the news about their baby and shared her first trimester ultrasound picture, I knew I have to throw her the best shower.

Tina has always reminded me of my sister Akki. They are so similar in nature. Very very caring, nurturing, looking out for you and at the same time super-intelligent and practical. I missed out on putting together a shower for my sister being so far away. So doing this for Tina, was almost like arranging one for Akki.

As return favors, I wanted to put together a DIY project. Canning procedures have always fascinated me. I would sit for hours in my grandma’s kitchen during our school holidays and watch her painstakingly canning spicy mango pickles in the hot summers of Mangalore. Amma would store some in large barnis for the home and the rest in sterilized jars for us and my cousins to take back home. We would eat these amazing pickles – Moodi Uppad (whole raw baby mangoes in a spicy mix) and Kochhidina Uppad (finely chopped raw mango in the yummiest spice mix) with watery Ganji (Rice served with the water it is cooked in) in the monsoon season where our staple fish diet would be affected by the lack of fishing activities.

Although making jams and pickles are often considered as a ‘Grandma’ activity for its lengthy procedures and patience required, I often enjoy them when I have some ‘me time’ on Saturdays. It is very relaxing. So the Saturday before the shower, I turned on some music, put all the ingredients together and made this jam.

Strawberries were the primary ingredient as they were the safest bet for a first time experiment. To make it a little more special, I added two cups of chopped Rhubarb as well.

To make a dozen of 1/2 pint jars of jam, I took around 6 cups of chopped fruit. 2 cups of rhubarb and 4 cups of strawberry. You must measure the fruits as you need equal amounts of sugar. So 6 cups of sugar in my case. In a pot, put the chopped fruit and half the sugar. No water is required.

The fruit breaks down in the pot and releases enough water of its own. Keep stirring it occasionally and let it come to rolling boil and let it boil for 5 minutes. Remove the white scum that forms on top. This is very crucial or else you might get white streaks in your jam. It is very simple to do it. Just scoop it out with a clean ladle.

After 5 minutes of the rolling boil and scum removal,¬† add around 2 thsps of freshly squeezed lemon juice and the rest of the sugar. Many add an ingredient called Pectin at this stage. But I wanted¬† this batch chemical free. Just pure jam. The lemon juice helps the jam set well, so you don’t really need the Pectin. Now let it come to a rolling boil again. Once it is on the roll ;), let it boil for 10 more minutes on the timer. Turn off the stove. Remove the remaining scum. The jam is ready.

Let it cool in the pot for ten minutes before pouring it in sterilized jars.

Sterilizing the jars:
This step is very important to store the jam for upto a year. You need to sterilize every single jar and tools including the ladle to pour in the jam for 10 minutes in hot water. An easier option is put them in the dishwasher and let the heated dry procedure do the magic. Canning jars are easily available online. I ordered mine from Amazon of course ūüėČ

Kahlua Cocoa birthday cake bliss

Kahlua Cocoa birthday cake bliss

I have always been a Nigella Lawson and Rachel Allen fan for their cake recipes. I wanted to try something new for a booze-loving friend. Decided to get my hands dirty in Kahlua chocolate heaven. This recipe requires usual chocolate cake ingredients and quarter a bottle of Kahlua liqueur for baking and icing. Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly spray a cake tin with oil/butter and line with greaseproof paper. Place 1/2 cup of oil in a large mixing bowl and while stirring with a whisk, add 2 cups sour cream, a dash of vanilla, 2 eggs, 2 cups sugar and a pinch of salt one at a time. Sift together a tsp pf baking soda, 1/2 cup of unsweetened cocoa , 1 1/2 cup of plain flour and add to the mixture. To this, add around a cup of warm water, 1/2 cup of the Kahlua and 3/4th cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips. Mix well until all combines Рthe mixture will be quite runny. Pour into the cake tin. Bake for about an hour or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Cool in tin, then remove and cool completely on a baking rack. Icing was just a glaze of powdered sugar and Kahlua mixed together. Ice the cake and refrigerate at least for an hour before serving. I served it with some whipped cream, but you can leave it out if you are having it with a creamy latte or cocktail. I must admit I left the cake in the oven too long as I slept half way though the baking time!! Lesson learnt. Never start baking a cake at 11:00pm on a work day.  Had to scrape off the top layer :D.  Like every year I ruined the icing as well. Made it too runny. But despite all this we loved the outcome. It was really yummy and boozy!!

Homemade Pav

The Brun-Maska nostalgia drove me to finally try the long due homemade pav recipe. I¬†remember¬†when Cherie posted the recipe in her blog, I was super-excited to see the spongy beauties baked like a pro! This bread is¬†readily¬†available in India, but I still haven’t discovered it in supermarkets here or in the UK. There are an array of choices in the bread aisle, but the good ol’ pav is never around. So the pav-bhajis, pakoras and batata vadas end up in their English, American or French counterparts. The¬†ingredients¬†are almost the same, but I am not sure what gives this bread its unique taste.

Anyway, I got to business. Those who saw my Facebook update would know I was in a rather whimsical mood today discovering Mohit Chauhan’s MTV Unplugged episode on YouTube. Singing along, I kneaded the dough which was spongy with the active yeast.

Although I made slightly larger ones, the end result was almost perfect! The taste was just like the ones we get back home.

I will try a half-whole-wheat/half-plain flour recipe for a slightly healthier version next time. Today I have made some yummy Kori-gassi (Mangalorean Chicken curry) which was one of the numerous Sunday special combinations from Mum’s kitchen. I love a chilled beer on the side to complete this meal. Even though it is freezing outside it is never too cold for a beer.

Go on and try this simple recipe. Baking is so much fun!