Saturday, December 29, 2012

Langostino Pasta with Vodka Sauce

Happy New Year, 2013, to all my readers and followers! :)
Enjoy this one-pot wonder! 


Shell pasta - 1 cup, raw

Canola oil - 2 tbsp
Vodka Sauce - 8 tbsp (Bertolli brand)
Brown Mushroom - 8-10, small, remove the stalk and slice the head
Onion - 1 medium, sliced
Tomato - Cherry or Medium sized ones, chopped into halves

Langostino (recently found this in Costco near the Shrimps counter!)  -  1/2 cup to 1 cup, depending on taste.
meat of the squat lobster, which is neither a true lobster nor a prawn. It is more closely related to porcelain crabs and hermit crabs. Crustaceans labeled as langostino are no more than 3 inches (7.6 cm) long, and weigh no more than 7 ounces (200 g). Langostinos are not langoustes (spiny lobsters) despite a similar name (in Spanish, lobster is called langosta). Also, langostinos are sometimes confused with langoustines (Norway lobster), which is a true lobster common in European cuisine. (Source: Wikipedia link)
Chilli Powder - as per taste, just to whet my appetite for hot food - you can avoid this!
Salt/Pepper seasoning - as per your taste


Cook the Pasta as per the instructions on the packet. I usually add a little Salt and a few drops of oil in the boiling water for the Pasta to absorb the Salt and to remain separate respectively.

Drain the cooked Pasta and keep it aside.

Heat Canola Oil.
In High heat, cook the Mushroom and Onion.
When half-done, add the Cherry Tomatoes.
Add the Vodka Sauce, Pasta and the Langostinos and toss well for the sauce to mix well.

Season with Salt, Pepper and Chilli Powder (optional).

You can replace the Langostino with Shrimp (any size) or shredded Chicken. It is best to make this for one person at a time - beauty is in the detail! Uber-delicious! :)

Friday, December 28, 2012

Knit Stole (Light Country Peach)

In my growing years, I remember my mom and her friends getting together to knit and exchange patterns during winter. The local market would have the colorful yarns sellers, some of them claiming to have come straight from Kashmir! What a delight to watch those colors and more so when they were knit into beautiful sweaters, scarfs, mittens and what not! They intrigued me then - they intrigue me even now - the adrenaline rush (kid you not! ;)) on seeing the end-product is always cool! My first knit was a pencil bag - if I remember correctly, it was something we did as part of the school project (SUPW class, anyone? :)). I was so proud of it and held on to it for a long time after.

Thank you, Maa, for introducing me to it and nourishing that interest further. My granny (Aai) was the best - I definitely got the crafting gene from both of them. This has kept me away from boredom more often than not - when I am in a solemn mood, I depend on this as a diversion and to boost my spirit. If you have any such neat tricks to keep you satisfied and content, do share them - would love to hear more.

Enjoy the stole I knit during this holiday season - I love the color and texture. I have a weakness for the seed stitch that I have used in this stole and try to use it wherever I can, though it is usually used only as a border by most other crafters.

You need:

Knitting Needles - Two (6 U.S 4.0 mm)
Caron Simply Soft 6oz Skeins - Three Skeins Light Country Peach (9737)

How to:

CO 72 stitches for 17'' width (more or less depending on the desired width - make sure it is even number of stitches)
For the rest of the work, always slip the first stitch of a given row to get a neat edging to the stole.
Knit the first 25 rows for end-borders (refer pic below).
Seed stitch the rest of the work -
  • 26th Row Right Side (RS) - Slip first stitch, knit and purl repeatedly the rest of the stitches till the last stitch which needs to be knit.
  • 26th Row Wrong Side (WS) - Slip first stitch, purl and knit repeatedly the rest of the stitches till the last stitch which needs to be knit.
Knit the last 25 rows for end-borders (refer pic below). 
Bind off by knitting the last row. Finished length was 76''.

Stay warm and cheerful! :)

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Peda using Ricotta Cheese dedicated to Aai

In some of my past posts, I had mentioned my Aai (Odiya word for Maternal Grandmother) and her simplistic yet uber-delicious cooking skills. She was more than an inspiration for me. I trully admire her spirit - she always had a kind word for everyone, even for people she knew did not always mean well for her! How many of us can be like that? Well, she was!

The sad news is that she recently left for heavenly abode. This post is dedicated to her - that's the very little I can do. I could not see her in my last India visit - and this will always remain a disappointment in my life. You may be thinking - why Peda for Aai? Wikipeda page for Peda is here for more information. During my school days, whenever she would visit us, she would get me "Cherry Pedas" - ooh, what a delight they were! They were Pedas in Cherry fruit shape - as my dad says, he is still trying to find where she used to get them from! Those Pedas were special - and will remain so forever for me!

A few years back, my SIL made Pedas out of Ricotta Cheese (I believe from a friend's recipe). When I remembered that, I went googling for "Peda using Ricotta Cheese" - found a number of recipes but I narrowed down on Achu's Kitchen's Peda. Thank you, Achu!

I first made them for a cookie exchange in my friend's place. I knew everyone was making cookies, so I decided to try something Indian! Nan Khatai came to mind, but later decided on the Pedas as they are sweet. The pics from that event. Later on, for my own holiday party, I made them to include in the goody bags. Have received a few compliments so far - glad my friends liked them. So yes, this is a keeper recipe! I am sure I will be making once too often in future - if you try it out, let me know how it goes!

Here is Achu's recipe with minor modification:


  • Ricotta cheese.................................................................... 15oz.
  • Sugar ................................................................................. 1 cup
  • Milk powder....................................................................... 1 cup
  • Mawa (Nanak brand, grated).............................................. 1/2 cup
  • Clarified Btter( Ghee )......................................................... 2 tbsp
  • Cardamom powder............................................................. 1 tsp
  • Pistachios ( thinly chopped )................................................ 2 tsp / as required to garnish (optional)
  • Heat a pan and add Ghee to it. I used Butter one time when there was less Ghee in the house.
  • Once it is gets melted, add Ricotta Cheese and cook under low flame for 20 - 25 mins.
  • The moisture content should evaporate fully. Stir it continuously.
  • Next add Sugar to it.The mixture will become watery again.
  • Once the Sugar dissolves with the Cheese mixture, add the grated Mawa and Milk powder and cook till the mixture start leaving from the sides of the pan. It will take 15 - 20 mins.
  • Take a small portion of it and try rolling it into a ball. If it attains the shape without sticking to your palm, then we can access that the right consistency has attained.
  • Add Cardamom powder at this stage and stir well. I grind the Cardomon using a stone pestle and mortar.
  • Remove the mixture from heat and let cool.
  • When warm enough to handle (does not matter if the mixture completely cools down - once I made the above mix in the night and shaped them the next morning), squeeze a small lemon size portion of the mixture between your fingers and palm to form small balls.( apply a little ghee on your palm to avoid sticking).  Give each ball a slight press between your palms to get a flat shape.
  • Garnish with chopped pistachios and saffron (optional). Instead, use the cookie shapers or wood design implanters (Thanks, Maa, for getting those for me - they were a delight to use and such beautiful pattern on the Peda, just like store-bought!).
They will stay good for a week. Store them in an air-tight container in the refrigerator. Enjoy them in this holiday season! :) Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Mama's "Not Yo' Mama's Banana Pudding" :)

I have been waiting to start a series of guest posts from my friends and family who mean a lot to me. These people have definitely influenced me in a big way - each in their own way has made my life experiences rich and memorable.

This is the first in the series. It is from my sister-in-law who is my name-sake (we both have same nicknames which has led to quite a few confusion situations! ;)). When you get married via arranged marriage and move into a new family, there are some people who will make you feel at home and she was/is definitely one of them. I have always enjoyed the few moments we have spent with each other and I cherish her being "family". Thank you, Mama, for all the camaraderie! :)

Mama had made this super-delicious "Banana Pudding" when I was visiting them during Thanksgiving this year. Wow! The taste and smell still lingers! So you can imagine? I had to get the recipe and she was as gracious as ever to share it in no-time with all the detailed steps. Thank you, Mama, for sharing the recipe. Btw, Mama has her very own blog - would recommend everyone to take a look! Good luck, Mama, in all your pursuits - may the new year 2013 fulfill all your dreams and beyond! :)

Continue reading for the yumm recipe...

I can only speak for myself, but it's not often I find a recipe that is quick to make, delicious to eat, and impressive to look at. But I found these three criterions rolled into one in a glorious Paula Deen banana pudding recipe titled Not Yo' Mama's Banana Pudding. For full disclosure, I was drawn to the recipe because of the novelty of the name and because "Mama" is my pet name. That, and the fact that this recipe had been reviewed 5-stars by a thousand-some people.

The dramatic diva suppressed inside me would like to say that the first time I made this pudding was a happy accident where the stars aligned so that I could make this dessert. But, the reality is far less titillating: It was 3 am and I needed to prepare something with the ingredients in the kitchen for a barbecue the next afternoon. I typically have the opportunity to cook for a potluck few times a year and because I usually stay up late into the night working and studying (OK, and procrastinating), I tend to revert to a tried and tested recipe. But 3 am is an inconvenient, if not impossible, time to go grocery shopping, so I scrambled online to see what I could make with the random ingredients in our fridge, the eclectic ensemble of fruits on our counter, and the overflowing pantry filled with snacks and spices.

Long story short: Twenty minutes after finding the recipe, I was all tucked into bed with an episode of The Good Wife playing on my TV (yes, I am that nocturnal) and my dessert chilling (pun intended) in the refrigerator. The next day my impromptu attempt at making a dessert turned out to be a hit and since then, this recipe has replaced caramel walnut brownies as my go-to dish for potlucks and gatherings.


2 bags Pepperidge Farm Chessmen cookies
6 to 8 ripe bananas, sliced
2 cups milk
1 (5-ounce) box instant French vanilla pudding
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 (12-ounce) container frozen whipped topping thawed, or equal amount sweetened whipped cream


Line the bottom of a 13 by 9 by 2-inch dish with 1 bag of cookies and layer bananas on top.

In a bowl, combine the milk and pudding mix and blend well using a handheld electric mixer. Using another bowl, combine the cream cheese and condensed milk together and mix until smooth. Fold the whipped topping into the cream cheese mixture. Add the cream cheese mixture to the pudding mixture and stir until well blended. Pour the mixture over the cookies and bananas and cover with the remaining cookies. Refrigerate until ready to serve or at least 2-3 hours.

The only modifications I make to the recipe above is that I tend to add more bananas—it really varies by banana size and how many ripe bananas I have on hand. I find adding more fruit evens out the sweetness and the rich flavor of the pudding, but it boils down to personal preference.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Strawberry Santa - Merry Christmas!!

This was prepared following the post here. Her Santa Claus's are much more beautiful. Thank you for sharing, Leanne! They brought a smile on my face every time I saw them. As well as for the number of guests in my holiday party who got a chance to enjoy them - an absolute hit with the kids for sure!


Strawberry - about 40

Cream Cheese - 8 ounces
Granulated Sugar - 1/4 cup
Vanilla Essence - 1/4 tsp


Black sesame seed - to make eyes, 2 grains per Strawberry (optional)

Mix Cream Cheese, Granulated Sugar and Vanilla Essence till it is soft and fluffy.
Put it in a ziplock bag and seal it.

Chop off the stem so the Strawberry can sit on the base.
Chop off a little at the other end to use as cap.
Prepare all the pieces that you need like this.

Make a small hole in the bottom corner of the filled ziplock bag.

Add a dollop of the Cream Cheese mix between the two pieces.
Add a small dot of the same cream cheese mix on the small piece as a pom-pom.

These Strawberry Santa's are one of the cutest food-items I ever saw. 'Almost' felt guilty eating them away! :) They are going to be a constant fixture in all my holiday parties!

Merry Christmas, Everyone!

Note: You can also have Strawberries with the dip as-is!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Happy holidays, everyone!

Wishing everyone a wonderful holiday season! Happy Hannukah! Merry Christmas! Happy New Year! Celebrate life, family and friends! I will be back blogging more frequently soon..

Here's some Eggnog to spread the delicious cheer... :)