Ria's Collection: 2015

Thursday, December 31, 2015


Raspberry &  Nut Smoothie
This my dear friends, is an attempt of mine to stay full and healthy with a super easy snack. Ever since I started school, I am on the go by 6.20 am every weekday.I can barely finish my cup of coffee by that time. Forget about having breakfast that early in the morning! So I usually pack a small container of honey Greek yogurt with some berries,almonds topped with wheat berries.I actually look forward to that,it's just so delicious and super filling!
Raspberry &  Nut Smoothie
Raspberry &  Nut Smoothie

Today,since it's the last day of 2015 and since I am filling my head with healthy resolutions for 2016, I decided to make a smoothie with peanut butter,fruits,nuts,milk and yogurt to reinforce my thoughts! I never really keep up with any resolutions that I makes,especially if it involves food. This coming year,I hope to stick to the healthy way of eating that I've planned for me as I am always surrounded with white flour,sugar and more sugar.

What are your new year resolutions? Do you make any? How do you keep it up?

SKIPPY Natural Peanut Butter
I used Skippy's Natural Peanut Butter Spread for this smoothie. You can pretty much make this smoothie your own. Add more if you think it's needed, take away a few things that you don't like and make it all your own. That's one thing I love about making smoothies...it can be customized easily! Here's how I made it!
Raspberry &  Nut Smoothie My own recipe

1 medium ripe banana,peeled
1/2 cup cold milk
1/4 cup honey Greek yogurt,cold
1/4 cup fresh raspberries
1 tablespoon Skippy's Natural Peanut Butter Spread
1 tablespoon slivered almonds

Method:Put all the ingredients into a blender and blend till smooth. You can use ice is you like it extra cold.

2015 was a different year for me. I lost my dear Uncle in April whose loss can never be replaced. Other than that, it was a pretty awesome year for me and my family. I joined Le Cordon Bleu and I am chasing my dreams. 2016 is going to be exciting as I will be graduating in June and joining the best industry!

Wishing you and your loved ones a prosperous New Year!
Don't forget to visit Skippy's website for delicious recipes and coupons!!

Monday, December 21, 2015


When I was little, I remember getting extremely excited when someone gave us a Betty Crocker's cake mix. There was something so heavenly about those cakes. So fluffy,soft and delicious! My brother and I would go crazy over it and finish the whole cake in a matter of few hours. I think Ritchie still does it! We both enjoy a Betty Crocker  cake even to this day. With all these memories in the back of my mind, I had to agree to do a post with Ian decorating some cookies using a Betty Crocker Cookie Mix. Needless to say, I was very thrilled when folks from Betty Crocker contacted me to do a post using their products!

Oh yes, Betty Crocker is not a real person. I had a difficult time getting used to that when I learnt about it! I really thought 'she' was a genius! So this past Sunday, Ian,Jobin and I spent an afternoon baking and decorating cookies.Ian had the best time! He went crazy with spreading Betty Crocker's Rich & Creamy Vanilla Frosting over the Sugar Cookies that I baked for him using Betty Crocker's readymade mix. Look at that face...that smile is worth a thousand words!
Ian was very excited about the gingerbread man shaped cookies. He would play with it first,then,slowly bite into it's head and stare at it. He would continue doing that till the whole cookie got over. It was really funny to see him do that with wonder in his eyes! Even though I was behind the lens most of the 'cookie decorating' time, I was reliving my childhood through him. Ian thoroughly enjoys being in the kitchen and helping me with my chores. I really see a mini-me in him!
So before this Holiday season is long gone,spread some cheer and decorate cookies with your loved ones!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015


Ithink Fudge is best associated with Christmas. Especially this Nestle Toll House White Chocolate Fudge with Honey Roasted Peanuts in it. It is one of the prettiest fudge that I've made so far. When I first read about this fudge on Nestle's website, I was really intrigued. This is my first time making a fudge with white chocolate and it didn't disappoint me one bit. It's a quick one and sets very well.
When you are thinking of making gift hampers this season,to share with family and friends, this one would fit the bill perfectly. Just make sure they are well chilled all the time or else, it might get a bit soft at the bottom. It will not be melting soft but a little bit sticky soft. This recipe called for 1 1/2 cups of sugar which I think is a little too much sweetness for us. Remember, we are using Nestle Toll House Premier White Morsels too,which is a little more sweet than the milk or dark chocolate. I would suggest that you use about a cup and maybe 1 teaspoon more of sugar for this recipe,if you like your fudge to be on the less sweeter side. It's totally upto you.

I fell in love with honey roasted nuts a long time ago. That was during my Bangalore days when we would simply roam around the malls over the weekends,having nothing else better to do. There wasa little kiosk in Garuda Mall that sold different kinds of nuts. They were really good and a bit expensive for how much you can get. Then I tried making those at home for Appa's 50th birthday party. It was a huge success and I have shared that recipe with you all on this blog.You can use honey roasted almonds or any other nuts instead of the honey roasted peanuts. It must be honey roasted though,otherwise it might be a little too plain.

HONEY NUT FUDGE Makes 64 pieces

1 cup plus 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
2/3 cup evaporated milk
2 tablespoons butter
2 cups mini marshmallows
2 cups Nestle Toll House Premier White Morsels
1 1/2 cups honey roasted peanuts,divided
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Method:Line a 9 inch square baking pan with foil.
Combine sugar,evaporated milk and butter in a medium, heavy duty saucepan.Bring to a full rolling boil over medium heat,stirring constantly.Boil, constantly,stirring for 4 1/2 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
Stir in marshmallows, morsels,1 cup peanuts and extract.Stir vigorously for 1 minute or till the marshmallows have melted.Transfer it to the prepared pan. Chop the remaining nuts coarsely and sprinkle it over the top. Press it in. Chill in the refrigerator until firm. Lift from pan and slice them into tiny pieces. Enjoy!

For more festive ideas, visit Nestle Toll House Pinterest & Facebook page!

I am hosting an Instagram giveaway,so be sure to follow me on Instagram!


Thursday, December 3, 2015


Ilove olives. Pitted or not,they appeal to me. It reminds me a lot of Uppumanga that we would make at home in Kannur. When Mezzetta sent me a big box of goodies last week,I was so thrilled that I wanted to try something new with it,than the usual tapanade or dip. I decided to fry it using a simple light batter and pair it with a delicious dipping sauce. The batter has a secret ingredient in it,which you would have already guessed from the name of this post,a beer.
If you don't want to add beer, you can substitute it with club soda. The beer/soda will give make the batter super light and gives the end product a very nice crispness. You can use this batter to fry other things like shrimp,fish etc. Don't you just love anything deep fried with a crisp coating? This is just like that!

Mezzetta is family owned since 1935. They source the finest fresh produce from the sun-drenched soils of California, Italy,Spain, France, and Greece and prepare them according to their Italian family recipes  at their state-of-the-art production facility in Napa Valley.

You will have to select olives that were already pitted for this recipe. It's makes everything a lot easier.The original recipe called for dipping the olives into the batter and frying it. I added a twist to it. After I pulled them out of the oil, I let them drain for a few seconds and then dipped them once again into the batter and fried them till golden. That step gave my olives a lovely coating and made it extra special. I would suggest that you use regular olives. If you are using olives in oil, make sure you wipe it out completely as the oil would prevent the batter from clinging to it.
For the olives:
1 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
12 oz beer of your choice
2 cups of pitted olives

Cumin Yogurt Sauce:
1/2 cup greek yogurt
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
a squirt of lemon juice
salt and pepper

Olives: Heat oil in a sauce pan for deep frying. In a medium bowl, mix all the ingredients together and fry the olives one by one until golden. Do a double fry if you'd like that. I did it and it was wonderful!
Sauce: Mix all the ingredients together and serve alongside the fried olives.

Do not miss out on the Holiday Memories Sweepstakes that's being  hosted here!

• Grand Prize (1) - Instant Print Digital Camera plus a Ultimate Olive Lover’s Gift Basket including Mezzetta Olives, Olive Spoon, Cutting Board, Olive Bowl, Cocktail Napkins and Recipe Card.

• Runner Up Prizes (10) - Ultimate Olive Lover’s Gift Basket including Mezzetta Olives, Olive Spoon, Cutting Board, Olive Bowl, Cocktail Napkins and Recipe Card. 

Entry: First Name, Last Name and Email Address

Expires: December 31

Winners Chosen at Random

Winner will be notified and will receive prize within 2 weeks

Tuesday, December 1, 2015


"I love the excitement,the childlike spirit of innocence and just about everything that goes along with Christmas" ~ Hilary Scott
It's the most wonderful time of the year! Christmas is just around the corner and that only means one thing...there will be a lot of baking in our house! This year,I am looking for all the shortcut recipes that I can make ahead of time and store in the freezer so that I can pull them out whenever the time comes.Hefty's freezer bags works perfectly for that. I always freeze cookie dough and it bakes up perfectly whenever I feel the need to munch on one or maybe three or when we have friends stopping by unexpectedly.If you need more information on how to freeze cookies and treats,click here.

I am a huge fan of shortbreads.I have posted a few recipes for it already here on the blog and I've made them so many times over the last few years. December is my most favourite month and it's the most happening month with regards to shopping too! Gifts for my little family, secret santas and family friends. This year is no different. The best part is that we are getting a 2 week break from school,halfway through the month and I am so super excited about it!

Butterscotch is one of my favourite flavours in an icecream and a cake. Infact it's one of Appan's favourite ice cream flavour. Amma makes a lovely butterscotch souffle with cashew praline and it's just awesome! It is one flavour that I haven't seen around much here in the US. I wonder why. This shortbread dough is a dream to work with. So easy,so simple and yet so delicious. I love the recipes I've made so far from Taste of Home.
Cookies like these makes a perfect holiday gift. Just pack some together in a pretty bag and tie it with a bow to complete the look. Do you have a favourite holiday cookie recipe? I always lean towards simple cookies made with butter during this time. I love a plain old Nancuts to the Snowball cookies to the Jam Filled Sandwich cookies. You can find all those recipes here on my blog!

1 cup unsalted butter,at room temperature
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butterscotch chips,finely chopped
1/2 cup English toffee bits

Method: In a large bowl,beat together butter,sugar and vanilla on high speed until pale and fluffy,about 1 minute. Whisk together flour,cornstarch and salt in a bowl and add it to the butter mixture. Mix well using a hand mixer until it comes together as a dough,10-15 seconds. Gently fold in the butterscotch chips and toffee bits.

Form them into logs over a piece of plastic wrap and wrap them tightly. Put them into gallon sized Hefty Slider Bags and store in the freezer*.

When ready to use,pull the cookie dough out and leave it to thaw on your countertop for 10-15 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350 F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
Slice the cookies into 1/4 inch thickness and place them on the cookie sheet 2 inch apart from each other and bake for 18-20 minutes or until it's golden around the edges and pale brown on top,like in the photographs above. Let it cool on a wire rack and when completely cooled,store them in an airtight container.

*If you want to use them right away, chill the cookie dough for an hour,slice and bake as instructed.
These cookies were irresistible. They are so crisp and delicious. I have never ever seen or tasted a butterscotch shortbread until I made these today. This is definitely going to be made again! We all loved it!

If you want to make your life easier,just print these beautiful designs from Hefty and clip them onto your Hefty slider bags. They will make the treats that you made for your loved ones,extra special!
Don't forget to check out Hefty's page on how to freeze your treats so that they are ready for you,when you want them to be!

Friday, November 20, 2015


This time,like everyother time, I am making only a few sides for Thanksgiving dinner since we always do a potluck. With my current situation at home,I am embracing the make ahead recipes like no other.They are my life saver now. This sauce is a breeze to put together and when you can put into Hefty slider bags,it's going to be safe and sound in the freezer. I got this recipe from Hefty's website and it's a good one!
Jobin's Mummy makes a savoury pickle using fresh cranberries and it's just awesome! That's the only time I've had it spicy. For that matter, I have had cranberries only in the sauce from otherwise. I know it's a very good ingredient to bake with but I still have not explored that side of it. These days after all the sweet stuff that we bake in school, I hardly bake anything sweet anymore at home other than the regular chocolate or marble cake. The other day,I was telling Jobin that I might just give up sugar by the time I am done with school! We bake a LOT on a daily basis and bring them all home!
Like I said earlier, this cranberry sauce is so easy to put together. Just dump all the ingredients into one pot and let the heat do it's work and before you even realize, your sauce would be ready for use! I have my sauce ready in slider bags for the main day and all I have to do is to gently reheat it up!


4 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup orange juice
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon lime zest
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Method: Mix all the ingredients together in a pot and bring it to a boil on medium high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 10-12 minutes or until the sauce has thickened. Let it cool to room temperature and freeze them in Hefty slider bags.

When needed, thaw them in the fridge overnight and serve it at room temperature.

For more Thanksgiving ideas visit Hefty's website!

Sunday, November 8, 2015


This pasta dish is a staple in our house. I've always made it with Chorizo because it's one of my favourite things to eat and cook with.When you pair it with a Ragu Pasta sauce,it's even better!I sometimes fry them and serve it alongside rice and it kind of takes the place of Beef Ulathiyathu.If you have never tried it, you should. It's a pork sausage with a lot of spice in it.It's delicious and makes everything that you make with it taste awesome!There are two kinds of Chorizo,fresh & dry. I like to use the fresh ones and you can use it just like how you would use a ground meat.

I rarely buy pasta sauces but when I do, I prefer to buy Ragu. It's such a well balanced sauce and it's not overtly tart. Some bottled sauces are so tart that you really wouldn't know how to fix the dish in the end. I used Ragu's Roasted Garlic Pasta sauce because I do have a weak point for roasted garlic,for that matter everything with garlic in it. I don't mind if the sauce is chunky or smooth. This roasted garlic sauce was made chunky.
Assunta made the voyage from Italy to America with a little something extra up her sleeve,her family's recipe for tomato sauce - a secret and sublime combination of vine-ripened tomatoes,fresh basil,fennel,garlic and ground pepper,meticulously writing down every detail and hiding it for safe passage.She must have known she was onto something when the neighbour's raved about it. Then the neighbour's neighbours. Word spread and when people in Iowa started grabbing it off the shelves,well,the legend was off and running.
It wasn't easy,Assunta grew up in a man's word during America's toughest time -the Great Depression.And in a time when people expected less,she gave them more. When people were forced to put their hoped,dreams and aspirations on the back burner, Assunta placed hers directly on the front burner.Her recipe literally became the recipe for her success...Thus, Ragu pasta sauce was born! Hundred of pasta sauces have graced the shelves over the past 80 years, but only one has become America's number one.

Ragu pasta sauces are made with farm grown ingredients and contains no artificial flavours or high fructose corn syrup.

Serves 4

2 fresh Chorizo links,case removed
1 small box button mushrooms,cleaned and sliced
1 small onion, diced
1/2 box good quality Rotini pasta
1 1/4 cups of Ragu Pasta Sauce ( Chunky Roasted Garlic)
Fresh parsley
Salt & Pepper

In a medium sized pan,on medium high heat, saute the crumbled chorizo till it starts to release it's oil. Add the mushrooms and onions and saute till all the water from mushroom dries up. Add the pasta sauce to it and cook covered,on medium heat for 25 minutes.
Meanwhile,cook the pasta according to the instructions on the box.Do not drain the pasta.
Check the sauce for seasoning and set aside.When the pasta is done,using a slotted spoon,add the hot pasta directly into the sauce and mix well.Check for seasonings.Garnish with chopped parsley and serve hot!

If you want to thin out the sauce,you may use the pasta cooking water for the same.
This is a good one, try it someday. I am sure you will like it. If you are planning to use ground meat instead of chorizo,make sure you season them accordingly. Chorizo is very very flavourful!

There is a sweeps contest running on Food(dot)com. The contest is titled Ready. Set. Cook! and it challenges home cooks to create new and unique recipes featuring Ragu sauce plus a set list of other ingredients! Click here for more details!

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