Roasted Carrot Ginger Soup

Nourishing. Refreshing. Comforting. Delicious.

This soup is the perfect way to end a cold, damp, rainy day. The Ginger was almost an afterthought but I saw so many recipes online that totally recommended it so I decided to go with it. The mild heat from the Ginger complemented the sweetness from the carrots perfectly.

Carrot + Ginger = The best idea ever! 

I didn’t really follow any one recipe but sort of came up with my own variation. Instead of roasting the carrots in the pan with everything else, I decided to roast them in the oven with a drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper for that lovely caramelized taste!

Roast carrots

roasted carrots  Broth

Here’s what you need –

  • 2 pounds carrots, peeled and cut in small pieces
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, divided
  • 6 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • Salt and Pepper as per taste

Let’s get cooking –

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Place carrots in a large bowl and drizzle olive oil. Toss to coat and add some salt and pepper. Toss again. Spread in a single layer on a cookie sheet and bake, flipping every 15 minutes or so, until tender and browned in spots.
  3. While the carrots are cooking, heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until brown. Add the ginger and the vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and let simmer for five minutes. Remove from heat.
  4. When both the roasted carrots and the broth have cooled somewhat, add the carrots to the broth. Puree the soup in a blender or use an immersion blender directly in the pot. Please make sure your soup has cooled enough before you start blending.
  5. Place pureed soup over medium heat and return to a simmer. Add some thyme and ground cumin. Taste and add additional salt and pepper if desired. Garnish with dried parsley. Serve.

Carrot ginger soup

Quick homemade soups are my new favorite meal! 🙂

p.s. This also makes the perfect detox meal after a week long celebration.

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Us crazies turned 3 last week

Easy Peasy Chocolate Cupcakes

I love recipes that involve only a couple of steps. Especially when it comes to baking! This recipe was passed on to me by my mother, who is a terrific baker and would whip up the most extraordinary desserts in minutes! Icing on the cake right!? 🙂

She never really had the patience to spend a lot of time measuring or whipping or sieving and yet anything she made would taste so incredible. The ingredients would just come together so well! (I still dream of her Orange soufflé with those lovely delicious bits of orange rind. – coming up soon).

I, on the other hand, have always focused on the recipe, getting the exact measurements and making sure it looked exactly like it did in the book or photo and still struggle to get the taste right. With this one, I didn’t have to try too hard to get it to taste good. It is definitely a winner! Made a batch on the husband’s birthday as we had just returned from a trip the previous night and being a weekday, I didn’t have the time to bake an elaborate cake…like this 30 layer cake on his 30th – 

30 layer cake

This year, he just had to make do with these mini cupcakes!

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Doesn’t look terribly disappointed now, does he? 🙂

Here is what you need to make these beauties –

* 4 table spoons of good quality unsweetened cocoa powder
* 1  cup all-purpose flour
* 1  cup sugar
* 1  tsp baking soda
* 1 large free range egg
* ¾ cup oil
* ¾ cup yoghurt
* 1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the over to 180C or 350F. Line muffin tins with paper liners. The recipe makes about 24 mini cupcakes.

Mix all the ingredients in one large bowl and the batter is ready.

Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups, filling each two thirds full. Bake for about 15-20 minutes or until the tops spring back with touched with a knife.

Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely before icing.

Simple icing –

* 1 can of condensed milk
* 4 table spoons of good quality unsweetened cocoa powder

Combine until smooth, decorate your cupcakes and watch them disappear! 🙂

Mid-Week feel gooders #2

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With my days getting busier than ever, I feel even more compelled to take a break and ogle at beautiful objects/places/crafts. There is just so much creativity in the world, and hardly much time to truly value any of it. Sometimes I wonder what the purpose of life really is. It certainly cannot involve just working your life away. There is so much to see, so much to take in and most importantly, so much to appreciate!

Okies, before I get lost in my thoughts, I shall cut myself short and leave you with some stunning finds that will surely recharge your batteries.

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1. Gorgeous Light and Shadow Painting by Rashad Alakbarov. Would love a small one for my home!

2. Cheery Magnolias on a Dictionary page by FauxKiss.

3. The Bangalore Wallflowers have been transforming blank walls into beautiful pieces of art. They work in collaboration with the community and encourage people to contribute ideas and participate in the painting process.

4. I once owned a bag almost identical to this one. Hand made from recycled plastic. I bought mine from a small market in Manila. Dying to get my hands on another one.  

5. Would you have the heart to put a fork into this lovely plate? This Malaysia based mother of two creates lovely designs with edible items to get her daughters to eat. She provides step by step instructions on her blog- www.eatzybitzy.com.

6. Yes, I believe Unicorns exist! Digital Drawing by SnowSkadi.

7. Art installation made by Ronald van der Meijs from 5,000 repurposed bicycle bells set on steel pins. As the wind picks up, the bells gently ring against one another!

8. The Magic Mountain Lodge in Chile. What an amazing experience it would be to spend a couple of nights here!

9. Paper art by Jen Stark that will blow your mind.

Have a lovely rest of the week! 🙂

xoxo

Easy Two Ingredient Chocolate Mousse & Our Oscar Party

Chocolate-mousse-opener

It’s that time of the year again…when we settle down in front of the telly and watch the starlets of Hollywood walk down the red carpet. I personally love watching the red carpet pre-Oscar coverage so I have sort of started a custom of making a party out of it. Husband and I invited only! We make some yummy treats, sip cocktails and make a night of it. The main features tonight are a rich and creamy Chocolate Mousse and Tequila Sunrise that the husband concocted.  (Winner combo!)

So when I first read the recipe for this super easy Chocolate Mousse at Eat Live Run, I couldn’t believe that the ingredients consisted only of chocolate and water! Seriously, I was a little flabbergasted. Once my shock subsided, I decided to test the recipe. Now I am even more in shock because not only does it look perfect, it tastes JUST like Chocolate Mousse made the traditional way. I used 72% dark chocolate and you can add some sugar if you like your mousse sweeter. I didn’t add any and love the way it tastes.

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This fabulous recipe, Jennifer Lawrence in her gorgeous red Dior and Lupita Nyong’o in the powder blue Prada sure look like winners tonight!

Recipe by Herve This & Heston Blumenthal

Adapted from Eat Live Run

chocolate-mousse

Ingredients
4 servings
265g bittersweet (%70 cocoa solids) chocolate, chopped
240 ml water
4 tbsp sugar, optional

Method

  • Place a large mixing bowl on top of another slightly smaller one, filled with ice and cold water (the bottom of the large bowl should touch the ice). Set aside.
  • Put chocolate and water (also sugar if you’re using) in a medium-sized pan and melt the chocolate over medium heat, stirring occasionally. I added a tablespoon of dark rum to this mix for a nice bold flavor. 
  • Pour the melted chocolate into the mixing bowl sitting on top of ice and water, and start whisking with a wire whisk (or an electrical hand-held mixer) until thick. Watch the texture as you whip and make sure not to over-whip as it will make the mousse grainy. If the mousse becomes grainy (which is possible at your first try), transfer it back into the pan, reheat until half of it is melted, pour it back to the mixing bowl and whisk again briefly. I got it right the second time around.
  • Garnish with orange rind (optional but it tastes so good!)
  • Divide into serving cups, chill for about an hour and serve.

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Mid-Week feel gooders #1

mid-week-feel-gooders

I am a lover of pretty things, beautiful places, yummy food and innovative functional objects. Very often, in the middle of the workday, I take a couple of minutes off just to look at things that make me feel good. Helps me stay stimulated and the feel good factor doesn’t hurt either.

Here are my top mid-week finds to help get you through the rest of the week –

mid-week-feel-gooders

1. Aren’t these table mats lovely? Find the simple DIY tutorial at Design Sponge.

2. Bioluminescent Phytoplankton. Maldives, you are on my Travel wish list. 

3. Very cool rug from Loomrugs.

4. Chocolate Baileys Mud cake that I am dying to try. Find the recipe at Citrus and Candy.

5. Spring-ready sandals from Anthropologie.

6. Cheery and colorful prints by twoems!

7. I just cannot get over this wallpaper print. Available at Tangletree Interiors

8. Paleo Coconut milk Panna Cotta from Culinarystorm that looks so pretty, I might not be able to eat it.

9. I am a little obsessed with pendant lamps these days and absolutely love these ones from Urban Outfitters

Happy mid-week browsing! 🙂

Rainy Day Cupcakes with Banana Buttercream Frosting

Banana-buttercream-frosting

After a VERY long dry spell, it is finally raining! I love rainy days and thunderstorms make me happy. They fill me with a sense of nostalgia and bring back some really precious memories. I am reminded of all the yummy treats my mother would whip up just because it was raining! So to celebrate the rains, I spent the morning reminiscing and baking cupcakes.  Also, what better way to commemorate the season of love (oh the rains make me all fuzzy!) 🙂

Even if you don’t like the rains, try these Rainy Day Cupcakes because they will totally lift you up and brighten your day. Enjoy a cupcake or two with your loved ones, and feel the spirit of the season!

These are really easy to make and all you really need is two large bowls. Took me less than an hour to make and less than ten seconds to wolf down a few.

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Here is what you need

A 12-cup muffin pan, paper liners, 1 bowl, a whisk, a measuring jug that holds at least 1 cup, measuring cups and spoons, a fork and a spoon or spatula.

The recipe below makes 8 cupcakes. 

Ingredients 

For the cakes –

  • 1 1/2 cups (195 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup (150 grams) sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/3 cup (79 ml) vegetable oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 – 1/2 cup (79 ml – 118 ml) reduced fat (2 %) milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the Frosting –

  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) soft butter
  • 2 cups (400 grams) powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

Heat oven to 400 degrees F (205 degrees C). Line 8 standard-size muffin cups with paper liners. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of water to the 4 empty muffin cups (this helps to make sure the muffins bake evenly).

  • Combine flour, 3/4 cup of the sugar, baking powder and the salt in a large bowl with a whisk. Whisk well.
  • Next, add vegetable oil to a measuring jug that holds at least 1 cup. Add the egg then fill the jug to the 1-cup line with milk (this should be 1/3 to a 1/2 cup of milk). Add vanilla extract and whisk with a fork until combined.
  • Add milk mixture to the bowl with flour and sugar then use a fork to combine. Do not over mix.

cupcakes

  • Spoon the batter into the paper liners. I generally use an ice cream scoop so that all my cup cakes turn out the same size.
  • Bake these for about 15 to 20 minutes or until tops are no longer wet and a toothpick inserted into the middle of a cake comes out with crumbs and not batter.
  • Once done, let them cool on a wire rack and work on your frosting.

I decided to make Banana Buttercream frosting and although I have never made it before, it turned out quite well. In fact, it was so good that I think I prefer it to any other kind!

  • With a hand mixer, cream together the banana, butter and vanilla extract.
  • Beat in the powdered sugar one cup at a time, until you have a rich and creamy frosting.  I added some blue food coloring but you can choose to not add any.
  • Frost your lovely cakes and prepare to watch them get demolished.

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This one is for all my loved ones out there.
Love, hugs and kisses!

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To do and see in New Orleans

New Orleans is definitely one of the most unique places I have visited in the USA. You would expect a sort of chaos given that the city’s multi cultural and multi lingual heritage. Yet, all you see is the perfect marriage of different food, architectural styles and traditions. As you walk around, you can just be blown away by the cultural history that is so pronounced in the streets of New Orleans!

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1. Walking tour of the French Quarter – To start your trip right, you must get acquainted with the history of the lovely city. Most tours are about 2 hours long and so very informative! Free tours by foot offers free tours of the city almost everyday. However, these get booked pretty fast so make you you reserve a place online. The tour generally starts around Jackson Square, takes you around Royal Street and parts of Bourbon and finally ends back at Jackson, where the festivities for the day would have begun if you do the early morning tour.

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2. Visit Beignet heaven – No trip to NOLA is complete without making at least one trip to the famous Cafe Du Monde. I agree it is very touristy but the beignets are utterly divine! The freshly fried dough covered in powdered sugar just melts in your mouth! I polished off an entire bag full in under ten minutes. Grab a quick coffee au lait and warm fresh beignets before you start your walking tour.

3. Get yourself a PO’ BOY! – The famous submarine sandwich from New Orleans! The traditional version is usually stuffed with yummy fried shrimp, oysters, catfish or crab along with lettuce, mayonnaise, tomato and pickles. Order in some from Killer Poboys while you sit and sip a drink at Erin Rose. Also worth mentioning are the Po’ Boys from Nola Po-Boys. We got some to go and they were just perfect!

4. Take in the sounds and sights on Bourbon Street – The liveliest street in New Orleans! It is quite narrow and a no traffic zone at night so you can wander the streets, go bar hopping or just admire all the lights and signs. The street is lined with bars on either side and you get the opportunity to listen to SO many Jazz bands live! Do try and catch a performance at the famous Preservation Hall and The Musical Legends Park to soak in some of that lovely spirit of the city.

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5. Try an Alligator on a stick – Alligator meat is a very common item on the menu in NOLA. I suggest you be adventurous and give it a try. If time permits, go on one of the swamp tours too. These tours generally include a meal too.

6. Walk around the French Market – Bright and colorful, this market consists of vendors selling keychains, T-shirts, souvenirs, masks and magnets. There are a lot of food carts too. I personally recommend trying the crawfish mac and cheese. It was most comforting on the cold rainy day. I got stopped by so many people to ask me what I was eating! 🙂

Hop onto one of the stools and enjoy a hot pot of Gumbo or some warm jacket potatoes with cajun seasoning!

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7. Ride a street car – There are four major street car lines in NOLA and a ticket one way costs only $1.25. Immortalized by Tennessee Williams in  “A Streetcar Named Desire,” the street cars are a fun, inexpensive way to explore the city. The canal street and Riverfront lines provide convenient access from the foot of Canal Street to City Park Avenue and along the Mississippi.

8. Sip your ‘sazzie’ (Sazerac) while going around a carousel! – The famous carousel bar at Hotel Monteleone is quite an attraction! The bar is overlooking Royal Street and many renowned authors have sat here and sipped cocktails. The carousel actually moves around every 15 minutes or so, but so slowly that you can hardly tell. We sampled the Sazerac and the Hurricane here and both were really delicious cocktails! Another drink worth mentioning is the hot buttered rum. Dark rum with hints of caramel and butter – it the best thing on a cold rainy night!

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9. Visit the oldest continually running bar in the USA! – Lafitte’s Blacksmith shop was such an interesting find. It looks like an old shop from the outside and is quite warm and inviting. Built between 1722 and 1732, it is reputed to be the oldest structure used as a bar in the United States. Sipped a lovely Ramoz Gin Fizz as we warmed up  in the candlelit bar!

10. St. Louis Cemetery #1 – This is one of the most popular cemeteries in New Orleans and home to a number of famous tombs. The tombs are all different shapes and sizes, and each quite interesting to look at. The tomb of Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau definitely stands out as it is marked and has a lot of offerings scattered around. Very cool! Very historic!

NOLA, I hope to visit you again very soon! Maybe for mardi gras 🙂