Friday, December 28, 2012

Healthy Carrot Muffins

Its a cold, coooold morning....brrrrr.....
sub zero temperature with ice forming on the surface of the roadside puddles and hands going numb even with the gloves on!
The weather here is not one where I feel like roaming the I usually do on normal days....
These days I want to head back as fast as my legs can take me and the stroller (where my little one is all bundled up) allows me, into my oh so warm home!
The winters here are cold and now I understand why people come out in droves during the summer...
They are tired of staying indoors!
Back home though the winter is usually not so severe and over before you blink your eyes...its still the best time of the year...
the smell of roasting peanuts mixed with the smog..(smoke and fog) that hangs in the air...
the hot samosas and the hotter and spicier food...
the juicy sweet guavas and oranges that flood the markets...
the amazing fresh vegetables, among them my all time favorite-sweet green peas and the carrots!
So as an ode to the lovely winters back home...

THE most healthy and tastiest carrot muffins I have had!!
its sooo easy to make and the kids love it!
so here goes:

3/4 cup regular whole heat flour or Atta
1/2 cup all purpose flour or Maida
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
a pinch of ground or finely grated nutmeg

1/4 cup canola/veg oil
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup natural apple sauce
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups finely shredded/grated carrots
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Line the 12 muffin cup tray with paper liners.
In a bowl, sift together both the flours, the baking soda, the salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.
In a larger bowl, whisk together the eggs and oil, and then the brown sugar.
Mix till they are well combined.
Now whisk in the apple sauce, vanilla essence and the carrots.
Add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
Ten stir in the walnuts (reserving some for later)
Divide the batter equally among the muffin cups, and sprinkle some walnuts on top of each.
Bake for around 20 minutes and check with a toothpick to see if done.
Enjoy slightly warm with your evening cuppa!

For more tried and tasted and slurrped over recipes, please click here

Monday, November 5, 2012

Savage Sandy Update!!

pic- Michelle Mcloughlin

Sandy has come...battered and pounded us... and gone!
But the reverberations are still felt....
I have never experienced a storm of this proportions first hand and it is nature's fury at its most frightening!
We were the lucky few who saw and were awed by Sandy from the safe confines of our homes-the doors and windows securely locked with the howling wind like a prowling monster outside banging and rattling the doors and windows!
The power going out didnt help in calming the nerves or the children...
But at least we were safe inside.
We got to know the extent of the fury and the destruction of Savage Sandy the next morning when it was all over the news.
And it was heartbreaking and jaw dropping!
The stories of how people managed to save themselves and then some who couldnt escape...
there is one of a man trying to escape upstairs from the rushing water in his ground floor, only to die as a tree falls on his roof and the roof collapses on him!
there are more heartbreaking stories of how parents were trying to escape the hurricane..they put thier small children in the car but before they can get in- a tree falls on them and they are killed instantly!
Another heart breaking incident is of a mother with two children (2 and 4 yrs old) in her arms-gets out of her stuck SUV to run for shelter and the children are wrenched from her arms with the force of the water...
She hunts but in vain and then gives up to wait out the storm in an abandoned porch..
the bodies of the two children are discovered the next day.
There has been so much destruction that its hard to believe...
Houses have been destroyed-gutted in the fire-completely demolished and so many people have become homeless overnight!
The entire Atlantic coastline has been demolished...the beautiful boardwalks at the beaches have become piles of wood!
Boats and cars were all piled on top of the other...
people were without water, without light and without food for nearly a week...
While our friends were evacuated from thier homes-went without power and water-we couldnt be of help to anyone because we were on the other side of the tunnels and the bridges that connect Manhattan to the other Burroughs of New York...
and the tunnels were flooded- subway was flooded-the bridges were closed off!!
So all in all-we all sat where we were to wait it out and escape the fury..
Its only now...after a week that New York is limping slowly back to life...
some Subway lines are working and some are still closed...
Poeple have to wait in lines for more than 45 minutes to catch a train to work....
The main tunnels are slowly being cleaned and getting ready for use-but the traffic is sluggish and slow moving...
Half of Manhattan is still dark...
Its a long road ahead...
Here are some pictures for you to see for yourselves how devastating the storm actually was.
(none of them have been clicked by me- they are all internet downloads)

pic-Clem Murray of Long Beach New Jersey, flooded!

sea water flooding the ground Zero site, pic-John Minchillo

Flooded cars in New Jersey- pic-Eduardo Munoz

the flooded famous yellow cabs, pic-Charles Sykes

flooded streets under the iconic Brooklyn Bridge, pic-Bebeto Matthews

the deserted Times Square which at nay time of the day and night has always been crowded...pic-Carlo Alegri

Sunday, November 4, 2012

peek into my fashion sketchbook!

 Been doing quite a few fashion sketches these days- not digital,but hand drawn and with ink..
and I'm loving it!
The flow of the brushes-the unpredictability of the inks and the finishing off some of them with the color pencils.
Been using all of my art supplies that I got from India- so that I can then get started on the stuff that you get in the U.S.
Got a loooong list ready!!  :-)

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Haunted Pumpkins at New York Botanical Garden

this is a REAL giant pumpkin btw!!!

Its nearing the end of October...time for beautiful fall colors, Halloween fun time...and for catching the last few days of sunshine before it becomes really cold and gloomy!
and of course its time for Pumpkins and pumpkins and pumpkins galore...
pumpkin spice in fragrances, candles, potpourri....pumpkin pie, pumpkin cookies and muffins, all kinds of pumpkins to decorate the home with...
I had written a very interesting post (click here ) last year that had some amazing pumpkin ideas...
and this year we do the "HAUNTED" PUMPKIN variety!!
what say you?  :-D
The day was Sunday and one of the brightest and sunniest Sunday in a long time-and we couldn't waste it indoors...
when I found out that there was a Haunted Pumpkin Festival going on at New York Botanical Garden with the master carver Ray Vilafane (more about him later in the post) giving a live demo...
we gathered our friends and some food and had a fantastic picnic....
here are some awesome pictures of the Haunted Pumpkin Garden!

the zombie pumpkin glowing at one of the windows

one of the carvers explaining his creation!

this is just an example of how huge these pumpkins really are!

Master carver Ray hard at work making a life size zombie pulling monster pumpkins out of the ground- it was amazing to watch him!

close up of the Zombie taken from yahoo images coz my picture sucked!

an awesome creation!

After being extremely impressed with the carved pumpkin zombies I looked up Ray Villafane on the internet and I was blown out of my mind! what staggering talent!!
the images on his website(click here) will give you a fair idea of what I am talking about!
He has been a champion twice on Food Network’s Challenge Show, Outrageous Pumpkins, and his out of the box artistic versions of the traditional jack-o-lantern has earned him invitations from across the globe!! 
He has even done pumpkin carvings at the President’s Quarters in the White House!
He has a facebook page where his fans have named themselves as Villa-fans... :-)
here is the awesome zombie sculpture that he did last year for the New York Botanical Garden.

the artist in front of his creation

what amazing details...look at the nails!

Ray Villafane and his partner in zombie crime Andy Bergholtz
 didnt he just blow your mind???
This place has some A. M. A. Z. I. N. G people who are soooooo dedicated and passionate to thier art and creative pursuits that I am just humbled...
Its a seriously creative world out there, man!!

Now after the the terrifying zombies we move on to the soothing and beautifully landscaped Monet Garden at the Haupt Conservatory in the Botanical garden...
here is a look at some paintings that Monet did while in his garden in Giverny, France

Monet's idyllic garden in Giverny, France is what inspired this design of the Monet Garden in New York Botanical Gardens, Bronx.
enjoy some pictures...

I hope you enjoyed the excursion and the beeeaaauuutiful day spent with me.....
now till the wandering bug bites me again-

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Monday Treat: Chicken and Mushroom,Sour Cream Enchiladas

Top post on, the community of Indian Bloggers

This is one of my favorite Mexican dishes to have when we eat out... yummy, creamy and absolutely  DE+LI+CIOUS!!
and I didnt know that it was so easy to make!
It is also one of the dishes that you can assemble beforehand, for a party and then just pour the sauce over it and bake for a few minutes before you lay the table!
Most of the ingredients are easily available in India and for my Indian friends-the flour tortillas can be substituted with home made soft rotis kneaded with some oil/ghee.
so here goes:

2 chicken breasts, diced
1 onion, finely chopped
4 tbsp oil
2 medium sized bell peppers (different colors- I used red and green)
1 cup frozen sweet corn (thawed)
6 flour tortillas or rotis, about 8 inches each
1 1/2 cups grated  preferably Mexican blend cheese, or any other grated cheese that is available to you (for my Indian friends)
4-6  medium sized button mushrooms, thinly sliced
3 tbsp butter
1/4 cup flour
1 (15 ounce) can chicken broth
1 cup light sour cream
4 tbsp preferably taco seasoning (but you can also use any other flavored seasoning that you would like to add to the chicken to give it some zest!)


1-In frying pan, fry the onions till they become transparent, in oil over medium-high heat, then add chicken and stir until chicken is just done.
Remove from fire and set the chicken aside.

2- Add a bit of oil to the frying pan and stir fry the bell peppers and sweet corn with a bit of salt and pepper for 5 minutes.

3- Remove from fire and add to the chicken and mix them together.

 4-Divide cooked chicken mixture evenly between 6 tortillas; add 2 tablespoons cheese to each tortilla.

5-Roll the enchiladas and place them seam-side down in a lightly greased baking dish.

6- Take a bit of oil in the sauce pan and lightly fry the mushrooms till they start sweating.
 Remove the mushrooms from the pan and set them aside.

7- Melt some butter in the same saucepan; stir in flour and cook until lightly browned.
Gradually whisk in the chicken broth, smoothing out the lumps....then bring to a boil, stirring frequently-till it starts coating the spoon.

8- Remove from heat; stir in sour cream and mushrooms-mix well.
 pour sauce evenly over enchiladas.

6-Top with the remaining cheese.
And bake at 400F for 20 minutes until cheese is melted and sauce near edges of baking dish is bubbly.

Serve with some fresh salad if you want- I love it on its own.

For more tried and tasted and slurrped over recipes, please click here

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