Sunday, August 31, 2014

Baker's Corner: Carrot Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

So, I'll try not to get into an elaborate introduction to this post. All I'm going to say is that these are possibly the best cupcakes I have ever made (like seriously). I've baked vanilla, chocolate and red velvet cupcakes in the past but these babies beat all the others by a mile! For a while now, I've been exceedingly conscious of the fact that my blog has not yet featured a cupcake recipe and even though I've baked cupcakes on a few occasions in the past, I did not deem any of them worthy enough to deserve a place here.

Anyhoo, I came across this particular recipe while I was browsing through the Foodgawker gallery for a tried and tested, fail-proof cupcake recipe. We were invited to a barbeque at a friends place over the weekend and I had offered to bring in dessert. The funny thing is for the past several months, I've completely stopped making desserts (ever since I embarked on a no-sugar diet - another temporary thing that I have going on!) so in order to skip the temptation, I have been avoiding going anywhere near or even thinking about the sweet stuff. I decided to make an exception just this one time so I went full-steam ahead with my baking plans

This recipe yields cupcakes that are moist and have great flavour. The moistness of this cake comes from three ingredients - the brown sugar, oil and yoghurt. I absolutely love to use brown sugar while baking and Greek yoghurt is something that I always have in my fridge (I dig the stuff) so this recipe appealed to me all the more. The addition of carrots by no means makes this dessert 'healthy' so don't kid yourself but it has that heady 'spiced' flavour that is unique to a carrot cake. I made a critical mistake in the frosting in that I used melted butter instead of just softened butter and that led to the frosting being too runny. I managed to salvage it by adding more confectioner's sugar but that could have been easily avoided if I had paid more close attention to the recipe. So please don't be like me okay? Moving on, in order to makes the cupcakes look pretty, I made the effort to pipe the frosting as opposed to just lazily slathering it on like I usually do. The frosting held its shape reasonably well so I was satisfied in the end.

I'd like to thank my gang of BFFs for gifting me the gorgeous plates that you see in this post. You girls are the best! Okay so that is me done babbling. Go on now....make these yummy cupcakes and make a bunch of people real happy!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

TV Series Review: Breaking Bad

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For a long time, me and hubby have been singling out an American TV series and watching all seasons of it. This binge watching not only makes for entertaining tv viewing but is also a great conversation medium and something to look forward to after a long day at work. We have amassed a huge DVD collection at home of movies and tv shows which keeps growing! We've watched several shows over the years - F.R.I.E.N.D.S, Everybody Loves Raymond, Two and a Half Men (the one with Charlie Sheen), According to Jim, How I Met Your Mother, Seinfeld, Desperate Housewives, Lost and so on. Right now we are switching between The Cosby Show, Different Strokes and Moonlighting. One of the series that we finished watching a few weeks ago is the critically-acclaimed Breaking Bad, the final season of which concluded on television last year. I thought why limit myself to writing only movie reviews....from now onwards, I'll include tv series reviews too

Breaking bad is an American crime drama television series starring Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul, Anna Gunn, RJ Mitte, Betsy Brandt and Dean Norris in main roles. It is a ground-breaking series that explores the human psyche by showcasing the dark metamorphosis of a man's personality when confronted with adversity. Featured as one of the top-rated tv shows, Breaking Bad is widely regarded as the greatest television show in American cable tv history. It also has the distinction of entering the Guinness Book of World Records for being the highest rated show of all time. The show received numerous awards, including ten Primetime Emmy Awards, eight Satellite Awards, two Golden Globe Awards, and a People's Choice Award.

Set in the arid backdrop of Albuquerque, New Mexico, Breaking Bad chronicles the life of unassuming high school chemistry teacher Walter White and his junkie dropout former student Jesse Pinkman who are sucked into the dark world of the cartel, crime and crystal meth. How this all comes about is a roller coaster ride that will leave the viewer dumbstruck.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Recipe of the month: Masala Vada

Wishing all my readers a very happy Krishna Janmashtami 2014!

So, my parents were in town last month for a fleeting visit and I was preoccupied with them the whole time. As might be expected, I haven't had much time to devote to my blog. I didn't take time off work during their visit so every minute after I got back home in the evenings were extremely precious. I did take a day off and there was a public holiday for Eid and of course the weekends but you know how it is with just flies when you are having a good time

As with most mothers, my mom too fusses over what to cook for her kids when they are around. I have a list of favourite dishes that I always ask her to cook for me whether I'm back home in India or she is here in Singapore. This time was no different and I was rattling off different items that I wanted her to prepare each day of the week. Among those dishes, this Masala Vada was one of them. This recipe is actually from one of my best friends mom. Once, a long long time ago, when I had been to her house (which is only two streets away from my home in Mysore), her mom had made these vadas which I really took a liking to. I immediately asked my friend for the recipe and my mom has been making them for me ever since. 

There is something about deep-fried snacks that leaves you yearning for more. These vadas have great flavour which come from the onions, ginger, garlic, chillies and medley of fresh herbs. I just love the herb dill (sabsige soppu in kannada) so these vadas hold extra appeal for me. These vadas are pretty easy to make too. While the chana dal is soaking, you can get all the other prep work done. Grinding the dal without water can be a little cumbersome but if you have a good blender/grinder, it can be a cinch. 

Try this recipe and it may just become your new favourite snack! 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Staycation at Hotel Fort Canning, Singapore

What do you do when you are longing for a getaway but thanks to some reason or the other, your plans don't materialize? Well, you do the next best plan a staycation! A staycation, simply put, is a vacation in the place where you stay. It might sound a bit lame but trust me, a break is a break no matter where you go, passport or no passport. Just breaking away from the monotony of a routine is enough to get you recharged and rejuvenated. Apparently, staycations are very popular with Singaporeans and I think I'm beginning to understand why! 

For National day, we had a holiday on a Monday making it a much anticipated long weekend. Having not made any other plans, we decided on the spur of the moment on a staycation in Singapore. Since it was quite last minute, most places were already booked (including Resorts World Sentosa which would have been my first choice). For a couple who plans their vacations a great deal ahead of time and in painstaking detail, this was very unusual for us! After spending considerable time browsing Tripadvisor, we settled on Hotel Fort Canning for our sojourn. 

Hotel Fort Canning

Hotel Fort Canning is an iconic heritage hotel in Singapore nestled in the historical Fort Canning Park, a lovely and tranquil wedge of lush greenery located in the midst of the buzzing central business district. The history of this hotel dates back to the 20th century and is the result of the restoration of a former British Military Administration Building. The amazing location imparts an oasis of calm to this charming colonial style hotel.