Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Ending The Year On A Sweet Note- Almond Chocolate Rocca

Ending The Year On A Sweet Note- Almond Chocolate Rocca
A year has gone by and it sure seemed like a blur. As I reflect on the year that passed by I feel  blessed and contented.This year has been great one, saw my fair share of lows and equal share of highs.If Summer trip to visit my parents and there by visiting Kashmir was a highlight then loosing my grandmother was definitely a big loss and a void that cannot be filled. This year spent time with quality folks both personally and professionally, stayed true to myself and stood up more. Cemented many friendships and let go of few. 

As the new year approaches I can feel the change in air, next year will be a year of change, a year of new beginnings and a year of promise. Call me OCD but I live by goals and have written up my set of resolutions for the year to come, one of them being staying healthy and exercising.

It is only fair that I bid adieu to 2013 on a sweeter note and hence the last post of the year and Almond Rocca.  

So here is Almond Chocolate Rocca step by step in pictures. Thanks to a dear friend for inviting me to a baking session and then sharing her recipe. This recipe has been adapted from here.

4 oz (1 stick) butter
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp light corn syrup
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp of Vanilla extract (optional)
1.5 cups toasted unsalted whole almonds, coarsely chopped
8 oz semi-sweet chocolate
Step 1. Prepare an 8x4 loaf pan by lining it with aluminum foil and spraying the foil with nonstick cooking spray
Step 2. In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, melt the butter.
Step 3. Measure 3/4 cups of sugar packed.
Step 4. Add the brown sugar, the corn syrup, and the salt, and stir until the brown sugar dissolves
Step 5. Cook on medium till brown sugar dissolves, this is critical for a crunchy caramel toffee, run the spatula through the mixture and you should not find any grainy consistency, that ensures that brown sugar has melted completely.
Step 6. Once the brown sugar melts, start your timer and cook the candy for exactly 6 minutes, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. If you want to use a candy thermometer, stir and boil the toffee until it reaches 290 degrees F (143 C).
Step 7. After six minutes, pull the toffee pan from the heat and stir in 1/2 cup of the chopped toasted almonds.
Step 8. Scrape the toffee into the prepared loaf pan—it should be in a layer about 1/2-inch thick.

Step 9.Let the toffee set for about 3 minutes, then use a pizza cutter or paring knife to cut the toffee into thin bars about 1/2-inch by 2.5-inches. These will look like small pieces, but once they are dipped in chocolate and rolled in nuts, they'll be substantially bigger. After another 2 minutes, go over your cuts again as the toffee continues to harden.
Step 10. I wanted my Rocca chunky and homey so made them size of about an inch.
Step 11. As you wait for your toffee to set, chop the remaining 1 cup of toasted almonds very finely, or put them in a food processor and pulse for several seconds until they are in very small pieces. Pour the finely chopped almonds into a shallow bowl. Once the toffee is completely cool and set, break it into pieces along the lines you made, and trim off any jagged edges with a knife.
Step 12. Melt the chocolate or candy coating. Dip each piece of Almond rocca in the melted chocolate, then place it in the bowl of nuts. Roll it around until it is coated with nuts on all sides, then take it out of the nuts with a fork and place it on a baking sheet. Repeat until all the toffee pieces are coated with chocolate and nuts.Refrigerate the tray to set the chocolate, for about 10 minutes. Store Almond Rocca in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks, but for best taste and texture, bring it to room temperature before serving. Original recipe can be found here.

My Rocca did not stay two weeks long, took them along on a road trip with friends and it was relished. Wishing all of my readers the very best in the year to come, may we all find peace and happiness in 2014.

My resolutions for the year 2014

Thursday, October 17, 2013

And This Festive Season

It feels really strange to mention Diwali is here, it feels like just yesterday we celebrated and then a year went by. Diwali brings such happiness, joy and lights up our lives. Personally I reflect on the year that passed by and be grateful for all the blessing we have been showered. There are days when I can't stop tears from flowing down my cheeks and then there are days where it's hard to put my feet on the ground. There are days where I long for solitude and then days when I would want to run to the comfort of my mom's lap. Like every year there are ups and there are down and its been a blessing to be on this journey with people whom I love and family and friends whom I can't live without. Past year has been a beautiful journey and a memory and hope the year to come would be the same.

This festive season I would like to wish all my family, friends and my readers a season of love & peace.
May your hearts be filled with love and tolerance. This also is the time of the year to open our hearts and wallets and be generous to those in need, I am staunch believer in Karma, sow shall you reap has always been my principal and I have experienced it first hand both good and bad. I do believe in the power of giving, giving does not have to be monetary, it could be time and other resources too. Below are few local organizations that have been doing an outstanding work, please click on the links below for additional information.

Sankara's Mission:
Our mission is to reach out to the rural poor and provide quality eye care free of cost to the needy by building operationally self-sufficient super specialty eye care hospitals across India. Click here for more details.

Maitri Foundation

Helping Women Help Themselves

Maitri's Mission statement: 
Maitri’s mission is three-fold:
  • To help integrate clients into the mainstream of American society, so that they feel comfortable and become full participants in it. Maitri recognizes that the very social and cultural separation or isolation that it’s clients experience contributes largely to their problems, and is a hindrance to their solutions.
  • To focus efforts on supplementing and complementing existing services, not on duplicating them. To this end, Maitri has developed close working relationships with mainstream agencies and organizations, as well as organizations working with similar ethnic groups.
  • To work towards fostering self-reliance and self-confidence in its clients. We believe that a large number of difficulties experienced by Maitri’s clients arise out of a real or perceived situation of dependency. This philosophy is encapsulated in Maitri’s motto of “Helping Women to Help Themselves” and Maitris mission statement:
Maitri believes that the best human relationships are characterized by mutual respect, open communication, and individual empowerment. To that end, Maitri’s activities are designed to help South Asian women make an informed choice of the lives they lead.
Maitri currently has a quadruple donation match, best time to stretch those dollars.

As they say there is no bigger giving than the giving of education.
Asha's Mission:
Asha for Education is a secular organization dedicated to change in India by focusing on basic education in the belief that education is a critical requisite for socio-economic change.

Sanjose Homeless Shelter

May all of you feel generous, now get ready for the next few post on ideas to decorate your homes and to wow your friends with some home made goodies.
Till then,

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Stir Fried Vegetable Fried Rice - October - Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which is an annual campaign to increase awareness of the disease. While most people are aware of breast cancer, many forget to take the steps to have a plan to detect the disease in its early stages and encourage others to do the same.  For more information click here and information about how you can participate or contribute click here

Last few weeks have been very hectic, between kids activities, work and home hardly have time to breathe. Today's recipe is inspired by my visit to Trader Joe's last weekend. I love Trader Joes PERIOD. The amazing array of ingredients from around the world and reasonable prices make it my first choice for groceries. Every time I walk the aisle there is always something new, get the creative juices flowing and makes want to experiment. So made stir-fried vegetable fried rice, so delicious and healthy that kids asked for seconds and that's a rarity.

Makes for about 4 cups
Cooking time ~20 min
1 cup of boiled rice-left over rice works even better
2 cups frozen stir fry mix from TJ's (contains beans, mushrooms, baby corn, red bell pepper, broccoli,carrot and lotus stems)
1/2 cup flavored tofu or firm tofu cut into cubes
1/4 cup green onion chopped
couple tbsp fresh mint
tbsp fresh basil chopped fine
1/3 cup coriander chopped fine
2 tbsp ginger julienned finely
1 garlic chopped fine
3 tbsp of Ginger mango chutney from TJ's
1/3 cup soy sauce adjust according to taste
fresh ground pepper
salt according to taste
and pinch of sugar

Stir fried vegetable fried rice

Ginger Mango Chutney - Perfect blend of heat and sweetness
1. Heat wok and add tbsp of oil and when hot add ginger and garlic and saute for 20~30 seconds
2. Now add soy sauce, sugar, salt and allow it cook for few seconds, Soy sauce thickens
3. Add all frozen vegetable and tofu and toss till they are well coated with the sauce
4. Allow for the vegetables and tofu to cook, takes about 6~7 minutes
5. Check for salt and adjust accordingly
6. Add rice and all the fresh herbs and saute till well mixed and allow to cook for about 2~3 minutes.
7. Garnish with coriander and green onions and serve hot.

Makes for comfort food, especially now since evenings are getting cold.
Have a fabulous rest of the week, I am looking forward to the festive season and can't wait to celebrate the same with family and friends.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Fall In Love

Fall In Love

My favorite season of the year is here, can't believe we are on the last leg of this year.  Time to enjoy the spectacular show nature puts on, time for books, boots and some hot cocoa.
Few of my favorite pics from Pintrest. So sit back, relax and enjoy...


Happy Friday and have a relaxed weekend..

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Spicy Chole-Channa Panini/ Spicy Garbanzo Panini- A Mix of East & West

Summer this year was spent in India, had a lovely time and throughly enjoyed my stay. Every time I come back with myriad  of experiences mostly good and some that are forgettable. India I think is experiencing growing pains, I met people from both sides, one with progressive thinking, open minded, NGO's and mostly society conscious and the other extremely orthodox to the point of believing in untouchables(yes they do exist) ,close minded and with extreme narrow vision. I was beyond shocked to say the least. Progression to  me means maturity of though and action, mind and heart, you could ape the west and buy the best gear available drive the best car,but if you forget your core values such as respect for elders, tolerance for others and your thinking hasn't developed  what use is the progress of.
Can only hope and wish that people inculcate best practices of the west with the beliefs of the east.

Speaking of making the best of both worlds is where my recipe comes in play. Inspired by a dear colleague, tried out Panini with Chole. Simple, delicious, healthy and super easy to make. So here goes the recipe

Preparation time ~ 10 min
Feeds 1 person
Recipe given for one portion, expand according to your servings

2 whole wheat Roti/tortilla
2 tbsp fresh mint chutney
1/4 tomato cut into small cubes
1/4 cup green bell pepper/capsicum cut into small cubes
1/4 cup red onion chopped finely into small cubes
1/2 cup of greens (cilantro,mint and green onions finely chopped)
pinch of salt
pinch of chaat masala
1. Spread mint chutney generously on the roti/tortilla
2.Now spread choley/channa
3.Top generously with fresh vegetables and mixed green
4. Add a pinch of salt, sprinkle chaat masala and drizzle sweet tamarind chutney.

5.Now place the roti on the griddle/panini and place the other roti on the top and allow to cook.
6.Remove from the griddle and allow to cool for few seconds, using a knife/pizza slicer div up the Roti panini into four
7. Enjoy them hot with your choice of chutney or ketchup and a glass of cold mango lassi
Crunchiness of vegetables,sweet and spicy chutneys and the flaky roti makes for super delicious snack which can be a meal in itself
Hump day is over, looking forward to the weekend.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Spicy Tortilla Pinwheels/Rolls - Easy Peasy

Spicy Tortilla Pinwheels/Rolls - Easy Peasy 

Today's post would be very short, just wanted to keep the blogging steam going. Long weekend was much awaited and was very productive. After the remodel this was the first long weekend, so got a chance to un-box and organize at home. Tiring as it was, glad that the we can now walk in the garage without the fear of tipping. Remodeling saga made me realize the amount of unwanted junk that we have piled over the years. After giving away,donating and throwing away , home sure feels airy and light:)

Weekend was not all work though, had attended few parties and hosted few too. Nothing beats an evening spent with like minded friends, decided to make this vegetable pinwheel/rolls as appetizer.

Preparation time about 20 Minutes
Makes for about 20 pieces

This recipe is totally customizable according to your taste and liking, replace/add  the choice of your vegetables and spread.

4 tortillas
spicy blackbean and chipotle hummus- use your choice of spread
1 zucchini peeled and sliced finely
1 carrot peeled and julienned thinly- you can add vegetables like bell pepper, jicama, cabbage etc..
cup of green onion chopped
cup of cilantro cleaned and chopped
1/4 cup of mint finely chopped

2 tbsp paprika
2 tbsp garlic salt-  choice of flavored salts
2 tbsp taco seasoning
1. Mix all the greens in a bowl and keep in separate
2.Lay flat tortilla and spread a generous about of hummus
3. Now layer all the vegetables and spread along the tortilla
4. Add generous about of greens
5. Sprinkle dry spices according to your taste.
6. Now gently roll the tortilla,taking care not to spill the filling
7. Cut tortilla into 5~6 rounds

Serve them chilled or at room temperature, wanted to make some peanut dressing but never got a chance to do as I ran out of time, but if you do please try the below dressing super easy and very tasty.

Peanut dressing
Makes for 1 cup
3 big tbsp of chunky peanut butter
1 tbsp of white vinegar
1 tbsp red chili paste
salt according to taste
tbsp of lemon juice
pinch of brown sugar
1/4 tbsp finely chopped garlic- optional

Mix all the ingredients well in a bowl and allow to sit for few minutes, goes very well with the rolls.

Weekend is almost here and I have quite few things planned next few days, wish me luck !!

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