Friday, May 16, 2008

A story-teller and a cartoonist in the making!

This is what TJ drew yesterday and I saw it this morning lying on the floor! Just by glancing at it I knew what it is, but double checked with her to confirm! At first she refused to share with me what it is because - of course, it's about a fight! (look at the mad look in the big girl's face) But, after a lot of coaxing she reluctantly told me that she messed up her akka's (meaning big sis) cat toy and akka got so mad at her and snatched it from her! Oh, how much I wish she retains this story-telling/caricature artist skills of hers well into her teenage years so that I can find out what she and my older kids are doing behind my back (ya dream on)!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Tomato-tortilla Soup and Chille Rellenos for A.W.E.D event!

The only Mexican food I've ever tried is here though I know home cooked meals taste even better. Chipotle is actually not a type of chile, it is a smoking/drying process. It is in fact the green jalapeno chile which has been smoked and dried. This process adds a smoky flavor and nutty taste to the chile- this is one of many things I learned from my friend Alicia who helped me with a lot of things-she brought me Mexican cookbooks, cleared any doubts I had, even helped me with the cooking. In fact, she did more work than I did while I learned a great deal about Mexican cuisine.(I know, I had a lot of choices and I could've come up with something different, but I was caught in a time crunch due to the vacation I took and I came back just yesterday!) Thanks a ton Alicia, now I can cook a variety of Mexican food!

Tomato-Tortilla Soup


2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium red onion, coarsely chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 cup dry white wine

8 overly ripe tomatoes, seeded and coarsely chopped

Water 1/4 teaspoon

Chipotle pepper flakes

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Chopped cilantro

Diced avocado

Grated White Cheddar Cheese

Fried Tortillas


Heat oil in a medium sauce pan over high heat.

Add onions and cook until soft, add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds.

Add the wine and cook until reduced by half. Add the tomatoes and enough water to cover the tomatoes by 1-inch.

Bring to a boil, lower heat to medium and simmer until tomatoes are very soft and start to break down, approximately 30 minutes.

Blend the mixture in a food processor and process until smooth.

Return to the saucepan, season with chipotle pepper and salt and cook for 5 minutes.

Ladle into bowls and garnish with diced avocados, cheese, cilantro and a few fried tortillas.

Chille Rellenos


4-5 Poblano Chile peppers

1 tablespoon olive oil

3 cups thinly sliced onions

2 -15 to16 ounce cans black beans, rinsed, drained

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 cup grated reduced-fat Monterey Jack cheese or reduced-fat cheddar cheese

1 cup mild salsa

1/2 cup fat-free sour cream


Preheat broiler.

Arrange chilies on baking sheet.

Broil until charred on all sides, turning occasionally, about 20 minutes. Enclose in paper bag; let stand 10 minutes. Here's a how-to video on this.
Peel chilies. Cut 1 lengthwise slit in each chili; carefully remove seeds.
Meanwhile, heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-low heat.

Add onions; sauté until golden, about 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Spread onions evenly in 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Mash half of beans with cayenne in medium bowl.

Mix in remaining beans. Spoon mixture into chilies. Arrange chilies seam side down on top of the onions. Sprinkle cheese over chilies. Cover with foil. (Can be made and refrigerated 4 hours ahead of time)
Bake chilies 15 minutes. Uncover; bake until cheese melts, about 5 minutes longer. Serve with 2 tablespoons salsa and sour cream, alongside steamed rice.

There's a recipe for a dessert Alicia gave me, but somehow I lost the picture of that and so I am not posting the recipe here. I'll do it sometime later. These are my entries for DK's A.W.E.D (Mexican) event.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Some more of TJ's sketches

I had mentioned earlier that TJ is sharpening her skills to draw sketches of her favorite little toys. Take a look at this, the first picture shows her toys Cinderella and the American idol girl toy, and the next image shows her sketches of those! The american idol toy has a microphone and when we move that to her mouth it plays a tune and that explains the musical notes in her picture!

Well, meet TJ, my favorite artist!

Beans and lentils

I use 3 to 4 or even more kinds of beans and lentils in everyday cooking (nope, no problems of any kind so far, maybe because our systems are so used to this!). In fact, there's this special kind of Pongal curry Mom used to make which she said she learned from her MIL. This curry uses all kinds of beans, lentils, all edible roots and vegetables, spices and herbs available in a South Indian pantry, the result is absolutely palette pleasing. I have made this curry only twice in the 10 years I have lived in the US, since using just a handful of beans and lentils of each kind and one each of the vegetable will yield so much of the curry that it will last for more than a week! I'll try to cook and blog the recipe when I find time.
The moment I saw this month's click event theme, I wanted to make a Rangoli using beans and lentils. My grandma is an expert in kolams and rangolis and with her I've made so many for festivals and special occasions using products like colorful rangoli powders, used filter coffee powders, salt, food grains and flowers- too bad I did not own a camera those times otherwise I would have had so much of pictures and information to blog just about this great art my grandma practiced and perfected and created almost every single day for more than 70 years!

I'm not an expert in rangolis, I occasionally come up with acceptable ones but compared to my grandma's masterpieces they just won't make the cut.

For this month's Jugalbandi's click event entry, I came up with this. This took me less than 15 mins and I used just the beans and lentils available in my pantry as of now. TJ helped me with this and she also said it looked like a beehive (I wanted to call it a rangoli)! And so, I decided to call it my Beanhive Rangoli!

Click on the image to enlarge

Bean-hive Rangoli!