Summertime Indian Chow Down

It’s nights like this that make me want to shout, “My kitchen smells better than yours!” I’ve really been craving Indian food lately, and we’ve found a few spots in the metro area that have great food, but nothing really within our bubble. So, I’ve taken matters into my own hands.

Tonight we’re having Chicken Masala with Rice, Peach Lassies and Vanilla-spice ice cream. My staple Indian item is usually a vindaloo, but I’m having personal issues with peppers lately, so we’re on a bit of a time-out.

I learned some new things with this dinner, I found that Chicken Tiki Masala differs from Chicken Masala mainly with ginger being the main contributor to that. Cooking methods other than that are the same. For the masala I’m using a recipe from Sandra Lee:

  • 4 chicken breast halves without skin
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour, for dredging
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala seasoning, plus 2 teaspoons
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1/2 cup cream of chicken soup,condensed
  • 1 cup light coconut milk
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • Cooked white rice, to serve

Place chicken breasts and flour in zip-top bag. Shake until chicken is coated with flour. Remove from bag, shaking off excess flour and set aside. Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. When oil is hot, add the chicken breasts and fry until golden brown on both sides. You can also use a deep fryer to cook the chicken. I own Cool Daddy one but for this recepie, I decided to go with a pan.

Remove chicken to a plate and set aside. Add the onion and garlic to the pan and cook until soft. Add the garam masala, tomatoes, soup, coconut milk, and salt and pepper to taste and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and return the chicken breasts to the pan. Simmer for 15 minutes, then add the frozen peas. Return to a simmer and cook for an addition 10 minutes. Serve hot with white rice.

While all this is cooking, my husband has whipped up a cool Peach Lassie. He’s been to India for business and has never heard of this drink, but here’s what Wikipedia had to say about it,

Lassi is a traditional South Asian beverage, originally from Punjab, India/Pakistan, made by blending yogurt with water, salt, and spices until frothy. Yogurt is mentioned in ancient Indian texts, and so is buttermilk. Yogurt sweetened with honey is used in Hindu rituals. Lassi, the salted watery version, was probably introduced by the Turks in India, (lassi is similar to Ayran). Traditional lassi is sometimes flavored with ground roasted cumin. The Lassi of the Punjab sometimes uses a little milk and is topped with a thin layer of ‘Malai’ — a clotted cream — also known as Devonshire Cream. Lassis are enjoyed chilled as a hot-weather refreshment. With a little turmeric powder mixed in, it is also used as a treatment of gastroenteritis.
Dessert was different. How’s that for a description? It’s sorta like seeing someone’s prized (insert strange collection here) and saying, “wow, that’s nice.” I don’t know what to name it other than a Chai-vanilla ice cream.

I whipped up a basic vanilla ice cream recipe, from my Krump’s user’s guide and added these ingredients,

  • 1 pint vanilla ice cream
  • 1/4 cup brewed Chai tea, chilled
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • Sliced almonds for garnish

I like the idea of rich, multi-flavored, savory ice cream, and I bet my friends over at Ice Cream Ireland, would be happy with my experimenting. It just didn’t give that finish that I was looking for, I think I wanted the savory with a sweet finish.

Left overs are going to be so good.

You’ll scream for this ice cream filled post!

Have you ever had Blue Bell ice cream? Let me tell you, it really is the best stuff on Earth (I don’t care what Snapple claims!). So, last night, I don’t know, around 10:30 PM, I decided that I needed some Blue Bell. The problem is that Wal-Mart is the only place I know of in Arizona that sells the stuff and every Wal-Mart in Arizona is in a baaaaaaad part of town.

So, last night at 10:30 PM, I truck my prissy little arse to Wal-Mart to pick up a pint. And let me tell you, I learned that there’s nothing more intimidating than a female with ice cream on the brain; Nobody was messing with me!

Clockwise: Strawberry&Vanilla, Homemade Vanilla and Cake Batter.
Remember I said my MooMoo was in town visiting this last weekend? MooMoo taught me how to make coffee about 12 years ago. Remember I said I was a coffee drinker now. She taught me to make it, “A scoop a cup.” My Uncle Steve jokes that when you put cream in MooMoo’s coffee that the cream never makes it back to the top. That’s good coffee huh?
One night while she was here, we made Coffee gelato. I use the gelato recipes from the cookbook, The Silver Spoon. I spiked the recipe with some chocolate chips (vegan chocolate chips Molly!).

Flying Grannys: Texas Chapter

“They made me throw away my clam chowder at the airport!” My grandmother came to visit me this past week. She and her beau went to Napa the week earlier and she had stopped at Boudins on her way to the airport. She wanted to surprise me for dinner in Phoenix with clam chowder and sour dough bread from San Fransico.
The bread alone was worth it. We stopped at the grocery store on the way home and got lots of different cheeses, a few bottles of wine and our weekend was set.
Have I mentioned that my grandmother turned 80 this year? For her birthday, she wanted to go sky diving. Well the thought of MooMoo (that’s what we call her, don’t ask), the thought of MooMoo falling out of a plane was more than we could handle, so we got her a ride on an acrobatic airplane.

She did tell me at one point that she would go sky diving- GULP!

April Showers sometimes bring Lemon Meringue Cupcakes

Dark skies and thunder oftentimes accompany springtime showers. In the desert, we don’t have to worry about turbulent springtime weather, but sometimes we can find ourselves going through our own thunderstorms. I’m having one; BLAH!

Here’s what I’m struggling with. I have a pink freakin blog. Hello…it’s PINK. I moretimes than not, post about cupcakes…happy little cupcakes. So, what do you do when you think your pink blog looks like Pepto Bismol and you want to throw your happy little cupcakes at small children?

OK, truthfully, my aim is really bad, so I don’t think any halfway nimble child has anything to worry about.

Now that we’ve established that I’m all BLAH, I managed to make cupcakes. And if life wasn’t tough enough, I got a Rachel Ray magazine the other day. I know, you don’t have to say it…

I took a Lemon Meringue Cupcake recipe featured in one of the articles and combined it with a technique I saw over on 52 Cupcakes. I think they turned out really nicely:

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Creamy, dreamy cupcakes

Here’s an article from AZCentral: Thanks Krista for sending me the link!

Jaimee Rose
The Arizona Republic
Mar. 14, 2007 12:00 AM

We’re at least 180 days from the Scottsdale opening of Sprinkles – the worshipped Los Angeles cupcakery – and already the Valley is crazed for cupcakes.

Local foodies are dishing about them on chowhound.com. They’re being served at weddings, dinner parties and posh society events.

Places to get a cupcake fix are popping up all over: Cupcakes Corner Cafe opened in Phoenix in February, and Cupcakes is coming to Scottsdale in April. (An event heralded in 944 magazine, of all places. See, even the hipsters love frosting.)

Nationally, this frosting frenzy has been mounting for ages. New York went cupcake crazy about four years ago after Carrie and Miranda gobbled Magnolia Bakery’s confections on Sex and the City. Sprinkles opened in Beverly Hills in 2005, and customers still wait in line for 30 minutes to buy a single red velvet cupcake heaped with cream cheese icing.

Oprah passed them out on her TV show. Tyra Banks confessed to being obsessed.

Now you can buy Sprinkles mixes at Williams-Sonoma, and the country has reached critical cupcake mass. There are a cupcake blog (cupcakestakethe cake.blogspot.com), a cutesy “cuppycake” song circulating on YouTube and even Starbucks offering two-packs to take home.

Come September, when Sprinkles opens at Scottsdale and Camelback roads, we’ll have our turn to wait in line for cake.

Meanwhile, we’re getting our sweet tooth on.

At La Grande Orange Grocery in Phoenix’s Arcadia section, customers are biting into 2,000 Tammie Coe cupcakes a month. (Perhaps this is because there are 2 1/8 inches of gooey cream cheese icing piled on Tammie Coe’s decadent coconut cupcakes – we measured.)

When the legendary Barefoot Contessa Coconut Cupcakes came out as a prepackaged, $10 mix last April, there was a run on them at AJ’s Fine Foods and the shelves were emptied for weeks. The trend has prompted a cookbook spree: think 34 cookbooks with cupcake in the name, from Crazy About Cupcakes to Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, on amazon.com.

At Frances – a Phoenix boutique that has nothing to do with baking – there are cupcakes on note cards, and knitted cupcakes handmade by a local artist are selling so wildly that there’s a waiting list for new designs.

We’ve seen cupcakes on baby clothes and adult T’s alike. Gwen Stefani is putting them on handbags. Juicy Couture is printing them on $128 hoodies and calling it “cupcake couture.” Women’s tank tops strewn with cute cupcakes are selling for $49 at Electric Ladyland in Scottsdale.

The cupcake, it seems, has become a simple symbol of joy.

Slade Grove watches when customers bite into one of his cupcakes at Wicked Bakery, in north Phoenix. He adores absorbing “the facial expressions of it – they just melt into pure ecstasy,” he says.

Part of the cupcake’s charm lies in some strange illusion of virtuous control: This is your allotted portion. This is what you’re supposed to eat. It’s all contained in this neat little wrapper. How fattening can it be?

(If you don’t want to know the answer – and you probably do not – skip this bit: Cupcakes, with their heaps of icing, often have more calories than a slice of cake. Grove says they can range from 250 to 1,000 calories. Each.)

Cupcakes also carry the niceties of nostalgia: They are what moms used to bake and send to school for birthdays, before the era of prepackaged safety rules. You got to pass out your cupcakes to your classmates, who wished you a happy birthday, and everyone was nice to you all day.

“I love that they’re playful,” says Dena Patton, founder of Chat, Chew & Chocolate, a Valley events company. There’s a cupcake named for her group at the new Cupcakes Corner Cafe, which has been mobbed with hungry eyes since opening Feb. 27 in Phoenix. Eating a cupcake, Patton says, “reminds me of childhood. I love the fun of it. It’s messy. I love that I get to lick frosting off my fingers.”

But still, she says, she can’t quite believe such a melee over a $3 baked good.

“At Sprinkles, people’s eyes are like biiiiing! They just get addicted,” Patton says. “There’s like this craze around it. There are franchises. In cupcakes. That’s crazy to me.”

Cupcaking with Worms

It is important to realize that are many different species of worm, each suited to a different habitat. These worms are suited perfectly for a little cupcake garden.  I copied these cupcakes from my newest cookbook, A Baker’s Field Guide to Cupcakes.  I’m really enjoying the layout of the book, it’s easy to follow. For example, for each recipe, there’s a write up that explains either the variations you can take with each one and then the recipe follows with a picture of the end product. It’s a paint by numbers cupcake book which is perfect for me. I tend to not be too snazzy in that part of baking.

I’m getting better results with the ’basic’ cake recipes in this book. The recipes I’ve used from Martha tend to explode out of the little cupcake holders and so far, I’ve had really good luck with these.

As always, I take the treats up to the office and share them with my team, but I wanted to participate in AfricanKelli’s Calculated Acts of Kindness challenge, so today I took them into the break room and shared.  Everyone who happened to be  in the break room at 2:15PM today, got to attend a Cupcake Party! It was really fun. I got a chance to visit with some people I usually only get to say ‘hello’ in passing to in the hallway and meet some people I hardly knew. There was even one guy, who didn’t say one thing to me, walked straight over to the cupcakes and grabbed one and walked away. Hope you enjoyed it random cupcake grabber!

This meal was brought to by the by the letters E, the number 9 and no fossil fuels.

“Self.” That’s how I start all my personal internal conversations. “Self, you really should try to do something half way active. You’ve had desserts for most of your meals this week. Haven’t we been talking about the approaching swim suit season. Do you really want that new ‘curve’ around your tummy slushing around for everyone to see?”

That’s the conversation that precipitated my purchase of a bicycle. Now before you think I’ve gone and lost my mind and forgot about that unfortunate front break, flying over the handle bars incident I had when I was 16; I haven’t. I wanted a bicycle that would let me get from point A to point B, involve a little movement and look stylish. Look at this pretty little thing: And it’s all mine.

I was so excited this morning when I thought about all the things my bicycle and I could do.  Yesterday we went to La Grande Orange and got a sparkling water, this morning we would go to Sprouts.

Grocery list in hand, I headed out and it was a lot of fun.  I even rang my little bell at a few kids on the way. When I pulled up at the grocery store, I even had an audience.  The cashier and the manager both came out to talk to me about my bike. We talked about biking things. It was all very fancy. She even loaded my front basket so nothing would fall out. I felt really good on my way home. I was actually out and moving, I had to be thoughtful about what I purchased, I didn’t use any grocery bags and I didn’t have to use my car to get there.

It was only a buck…why not buy it

Buying and creating websites; it’s a sick compulsion when you work at a .com. I can’t explain it. You sit around during the day and someone will say a funny little line and “Poof” there’s a website up in minutes. I will even admit, that I have been bitten by the bug, only a few times.

One day last week, Tischy walks up to me at work and he says, “Hey!” (he starts all his conversations that way), “Hey! Do you want to buy a hot dog for a buck?” Confused look overcomes my fantastic face. “Yeah, I started www.dollarhotdogs.com just now. It’s going to be amazing. I’m going to sell hot dogs, made to order for a buck.”

Back in my office a while later, I browse to the site and sure enough. He’s selling hot dogs for a buck. It’s kinda cleaver, I must admit, but will he really put his money where his mouth is. Will he really deliver a made to order hot dog via mail?

I placed my order. It was $1.00 + .80 for shipping and handling. I walked in this past week, to a special delivery. I actually received my dollar dog!

I wish you could see the postage stamp, it cost him $1.83 alone for the stamp. $2.00 for the box and we haven’t even factored in the cost of the hot dog! Needless to say, I’m NOT going to eat it. I give it an A for effort, but I don’t think he’s making a million on this one.

From Phoenix with Love

Thinking about the people I love and doing thoughtful things don’t usually line up in my life. I buy cards for almost every significant event, compose a thoughtful message and never get the cards in the mail. I can’t even think of a good excuse why I don’t. I have stamps, my office is across the street from a post office, I just can’t seem to make the two actions connect.

BUT, this year, HA! I actually executed on something semi thoughtful. I made stationary.

It was a little scary wondering through the craft store. I was embarrassed. I needed a glue gun. The minute I asked some glitter-bedazzler-sewing maven for a glue gun, they would know I was a novice. They might, even point and laugh at me.

So, trudging through the store, I finally found the cutest little glue gun you’ve ever seen. I fought through the stamp isle (more on crazy scrapbookers later) and found some pretty ribbon. 19 hours later, I had a finished product, ready for delivery.

HAPPY VALENTINES DAY Y’ALL!

Everyday recycling…More you can do

I take out the trash less.  That’s one of the BIG benefits since I started recycling paper products and cans at home.  The City of Phoenix dropped off my new blue recycling bin and I’ve been filling it with joy.

Who knew it, taking out the trash can be fun. Once you start recycling, you start to see all sorts of opportunities to reduce, reuse and recycle.  I’m saving all my dry cleaner hangers and taking them back about once a month.  We go through about 75 hangers a month (a clear indication I don’t iron).

Krista at work, who’s a very seasoned environmentalist, started a can counter web site. Over the past year, she’s trained an entire wing of the office to drop cans off at her desk, and she take them home to recycle.  Since, we work in technology, you can imagine the amount of a caffeine consumption over there. You can visit her at KristaRecyles.com.

This morning, I saw a story on the news where you can remove your name from direct marketing mailing lists.  Looking at how much junk mail I toss in the recycle bin, I thought it would be worth a shot.  It’s only a buck and hey, if it works, then all the better.  Check out the web site for the Direct Marketing Association. Tired of getting all those credit card offers, call 1-888-5OPT-OUT.  I’ll keep you posted.

Vegan with a Vengeance Chocolate Cupcakes

Curious. That’s what I was when I saw a recipe for Vegan Cupcakes. I’m not a vegetarian or a vegan, and I was curious about what goes into a cupcake without milk, butter and oil.

My shopping spree took me to the most Hippy store I know, Sprouts. I love going to there, shopping while sipping on free coffee samples and listening to “At the car wash.”

I’ll tell you, this experiment made me more conscience about what I’m cooking with.  My final verdict is that I’m glad I learned something new, but no lifestyle changes for me. I am going to try to make a soy latte with some of the new ingredients sitting my kitchen.

On a side note, I did have this vegan cupcake with a big glass of milk. I know, it defeats the purpose, but come on, can you really have a cupcake without milk?

Devil’s Food Vegan Cupcakes

Adapted from “Vegan With a Vengeance,” by Isa Chandra Moskowitz (Marlowe, 2005)

Time: 1 hour 45 minutes

FOR THE CUPCAKES:
Nonstick cooking spray
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
3 tablespoons black cocoa powder (see note) or more Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup plain soy milk
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

FOR THE FILLING:
1/3 cup nonhydrogenated margarine, such as Earthbalance
1/3 cup nonhydrogenated shortening
21/2 to 3 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
For the chocolate icing:
1/3 cup plain soy milk
4 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup or confectioners’ sugar

FOR THE ROYAL ICING:
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 to 2 tablespoons plain soy milk.
1. For the cupcakes: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12-muffin pan with paper liners, and spray lightly with nonstick spray. In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a mixer, combine the soy milk, oil, syrup, sugar, vinegar and vanilla. Mix at medium speed for 2 minutes. Add half the dry ingredients and mix to blend. Add remaining dry ingredients and mix for 1 minute.
2. Use a standard ice cream scoop to fill cupcake liners 3/4 full. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Turn out onto a cooling rack and allow to cool completely.
3. For the filling: In a mixer, beat margarine and shortening until combined. Add 21/2 cups confectioners’ sugar and beat until very fluffy, about 10 minutes. Taste for sweetness and add remaining 1/2 cup sugar if desired. Add vanilla and beat for 1 minute more.
4. For the chocolate icing: In a small skillet, bring soy milk to a simmer. Reduce heat to very low and stir in the chocolate and maple syrup, stirring until just melted. Turn off heat.
5. For the royal icing: Using an electric mixer or by hand, sift sugar into a bowl and add 1 tablespoon soy milk. Mix, adding up to 1 more tablespoon soy milk until consistency is like stiff toothpaste.
6. To assemble: Prepare two pastry bags, one fitted with a large plain tip, and one with a small writing tip. Fill large-tipped bag with filling, and the small-tipped bag with royal icing. (Instead of pastry bags, thick resealable plastic bags may be used. For filling, cut off one corner of bag so the opening measures a scant 1/2 inch across. For icing, opening should be just large enough to pipe a thin line.)
7. Using your pinkie, poke a hole in center of each cupcake top about an inch deep. Push tip of pastry bag with filling into each hole, firmly squeezing in filling and slowly drawing tip up and out. When all cakes have been filled, wipe off any excess that sticks out from holes; tops of cupcakes should be flat.
8. Place cupcakes on a baking sheet or tray that fits in refrigerator. Rewarm pan of chocolate icing over low heat if necessary, stirring constantly. Dip top of each cupcake into icing, swirling to coat completely. When all cupcakes are dipped, refrigerate 10 to 15 minutes to set. When set, use royal icing to make squiggles across center of each cupcake. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve, up to 1 day.
Yield: 12 cupcakes.