Sweet and Sour Pork with Vegetables- Smoky & delightful

I have been waiting to post this delicious recipe for an awesome sweet and sour pork that a friend sent me long ago. I played around with it quite a lot adding and subtracting until it was exactly how I liked it and so it is very different than it was originally but thanks V for bringing this to me. It is typically Asian with the soy sauce and ginger-garlic-chilly flavour combination. The smoky taste of pork elevates this dish to truly astonishing heights. I have also used this sauce base to make sweet and sour vegetables and sweet and sour chicken as well.

Sweet and sour pork with vegetables
Recipe source: My friend, the teller of stories-V

  • Pork- ½ Pound (cut into cubes)
  • Vegetables – 1 can or 1/2 packet frozen mixed veggies like broccoli, peas, carrot, beans etc.
  • 1 pod garlic- slice thin
  • 2-3 Green chillies ( I like the really small, extra spicy thai variety) 
  • 1 tsp ginger (minced or use ginger paste)
  • Cooking oil – 3 tbsp
  • For the pork marinade:
  • 2 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce (optional)
For the sweet sauce:
  • ¼ cup ketchup
  • ¼ cup water or chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp corn starch 
  • Mix ingredients for marinade in a bowl. Add the pork and rub until fully covered.Keep in the fridge for 20 mins or overnight to marinate.
  • Take the cooking oil in a wok. Fry the marinated pork well until browned on all sides and the flesh is flaky and not pink. Take out and drain the excess oil. Keep the wok aside but do not wash away the glorious pork juices, we'll use this in a bit.
  • Take all the ingredients for sauce in a bowl and mix well till the sugar dissolves and everything is well combined. Keep aside.
  • Take the wok you used to fry the pork . Add 1 tbsp of oil. Fry the garlic, and ginger until the raw smell is gone. Now add green chillies and fry on low for a few mins until cooked. Be careful that they don't burn or you and everyone in your house will have a coughing fit!
  • Add the can of vegetables and stir fry for 2 minutes or if using frozen vegetables cook as per packet instructions.
  • Make some space like a well in the center of the vegetables and add in the sauce. Stir till bubbles appear as the sauce boils.
  • Add the fried pork and mix well. Stir till all vegetables and pork is well coated with the sauce.
  • If the sauce is a little thin and you want to thicken it, mix the corn flour with about 3-4 tbsp s of water and pour it into the sauce. Mix and let it simmer until it has thickened.
  • Serve hot with plain or fried rice.

Berry Smoothies! The blender is my best friend this summer.

When it comes to appliances I used to have a minimalistic approach. Now I am slowly realizing that some appliances can really save you a lot of time and frustration and although you don't really need them, they sure are nice to have. I do a lot of research before taking the plunge and cluttering up my house (though the ice cream machine I must confess was in a moment of weakness and I hope it will not be banished to some cupboard and never see the light of day.)
That said, I do love my little Cuisinart Mini Prep Food Processor.Tiny but powerful it has served me well in the kitchen, grinding nuts and pureeing veggies. But it was a little too small to make smoothies comfortably and I didn't want a bulky huge blender cluttering up my counter, or have to deal with the washing up of the huge glass blender jar. So instead, I recently bought this Cuisinart Stick Hand Blender and now I feel like a fool for not having done so sooner.
What this stick/immersion blender can do:
Puree veggies for soup (right in the pot) -check
Blend spinach and onions for palak gravy right on the stove top-check
Mash bananas into creamy baby food for Jelly bean-check
Pulverize a handful of frozen fruit and a cup of soy milk into a JambaJuice busting smoothie?- oh yes!
The tip to making great smoothies in a blender is to add  little bit of liquid to liquefy the frozen fruit,- milk/soy milk and use short bursts or "pulses" of about 10 seconds to break up the frozen fruit or even ice cubes instead of letting the machine run for a long time where you end up with mush near the blades and chunks at the top. If using a stick blender, move it up and down so that there is even blending. 
I really like how easy clean up is as the blade part is dismantalable and can be easily dish-washed.

Here are my two little kitchen buddies ( Laurel & Hardy) who will be featuring in a lot of my kitchen escapades this summer:


Today's dinner-Easy Baked Chicken

Today was one of those days when Jelly Bean didn't want me out of his sight. Elaborate cooking plans on these days, with a squirming baby attached to my neck and arm will not work. So instead of having Geek get us more In-and-Out's delicious, really delicious burgers dripping mayo, I surprised him with this easy-peasy, totally awesome baked chicken. With a prep time of about 60 seconds and then tossed in the oven for 50 mins-what else can you ask for? Not even In-and Out!

Easy Baked Chicken
Recipe adapted from: Kim D on Recipezaar.com here

  • 4 chicken breasts/ or tenderloins, (if you get them with skin they will crisp nicely)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil. (You could also use melted butter if you're feeling naughty :)
  • 1-2 teaspoon Seasoning-All salt (like McCormick's Seasoning salt, I used Mc Cormick's garlic powder and Beef stew seasoning  )
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp dried Oregano (optional) 
  • Preheat oven to 400°F.
  • Take a shallow baking dish and pour half of the olive oil into it.
  • If you want you could also lay some slices of onion, tomato and chopped garlic
  • Now place the chicken breasts
  • Pour the remaining olive oil/butter over the chicken
  • Rub the seasoned salt or other seasoning over the chicken.You could also add some herbs like thyme and rosemary if you prefer.
  • Bake for 50-60 minutes or until cooked through but don't over cook, as they might be tough.

    The chicken was tender, juicy, cooked perfectly. I served it over some frozen beans which I cooked in the microwave per manufacturers directions, with some salt and pepper in the same dish (corning ware) that I'd baked the chicken so that it was covered in the lovely baked juices.
    I cooked the potatoes too in the microwave,  for about 5 minutes on High after cutting them into cubes or whole, after poking holes in them with a fork and rubbing them with some oil and salt. After 5 minutes switch off the mirowave and let sit for 1-2 minutes. If they feel like they are not done simply nuke them for a few minutes longer. Microwaved potatoes taste just like they have been baked and are soo easy! This is the only way I cook potatoes now.
    This baked chicken offers many variations. Next time I will try seasoning the chicken with lemon juice salt  and pepper. This chicken can be served over rice, with pasta, in a sanwich with freshly baked bread, in soups etc.

    Edited on 17th Nov 2010 to add:
    This has become my go-to recipe whenever I'm exhausted after a day of running behind our little crawling monkey who is all over the place. I made it again tonight when the thought of slicing and stirring made me want to cry. Today I used:
    2 chicken breasts ( I buy a big pack of individually ice glazed chicken breasts from costco and defrost in the microwave)
    1/4 th spoon of lemon pepper
    1 tsp of oregano leaves
    1/4 tsp of pepper powder
    A light sprinkling of adobo goya seasoning salt
    1/4 cup of gralic infused olive oil
    1 whole russet potato cut into cubes

    I also spread some of the garlic infused olive oil on some bread (or use regualr olive oil and just rub a fresh garlic glove cut in half over the bread) and put it on a cookie sheet in the oven during the last 10 mins to have some garlic bread on the side as well. Easy and delicious dinner and I barely had to cook it!

    Earl Grey Tea Cupcakes Vegan & Dairy free- Help! the cupcakes have taken over!!

    We were invited to dinner by baby T's mom so of course I had to make cupcakes, again. Whether you like them or not, if you invite me over for dinner, I will bring cup cakes. Soon if you even look in my general direction you will probably be force fed cupcakes. Because, my friends, they have taken over. More specifically, Vegan Cupcakes have taken over my world.
    This is another recipe adapted from that amazing book that I just cannot say enough good things about.
    This time I also solved my how to gift-pack cupcakes dilemma:

    1. Bake cupcakes leave them to cool. Do not frost

    2. Pick out cute gift bag like these ones from retailpackaging.com or be creative and make one yourself

    3.Pack cupcakes into zip lock bag
    4. Make frosting and scoop it all into another seperate zip lock bag so that your gift-ee can just snip one end of the frosting zip lock and pipe it over the cuppies herself. Much less messier.
    5. Put both zip lock bags, with other goodies like a card?, something hand knit? a bottle of wine maybe? into the cute giftbag
    6. Ta-da! Super nice hostess/Teacher/Sorry-I-split-coffee-on-your-pretty-skirt-but-heres-a gift gift.

    Earl Grey Tea Cupcakes- Vegan & dairy free
    Recipe source: Adapted from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World from here
    Makes about 12 cupcakes

    Wet Ingredients
    • 1 cup soy milk
    • 4 Earl Grey teabags or 2 tablespoons loose Earl Grey tea (I used Twinnings and next time I will use 5 bags since the taste was too mild for me with 4)
    • 1/4 cup canola oil
    • 1/2 cup plain soy yogurt
    • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
    Dry Ingredients
    • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda ( Think I will up it to 1/2 tsp baking soda next time)
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
    • 1/2 teaspoon orange zest
    • Preheat oven to 375ยบ and line tin with 12 greased cupcake liners (Grease well since these cupcakes have a tendency to stick to the liners)
    • In a saucepan or in the microwave, heat soy milk until almost boiling, add tea bags and citrus zest, cover and remove from heat.
    • Let sit for 10 minutes.When ready to use, stir teabags and thoroughly squeeze to make sure as much tea is dissolved in milk as possible.
    • In a large bowl or in your blender, mix together oil, yogurt, sugar, vanilla and tea mixture until all yogurt lumps disappear.
    • Sift dry ingredients into wet ingredients. Mix until large lumps disappear; it's okay if some small lumps remain.
    • Fill tins full (since these don't rise much) and bake about 20 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool.
    Ingredients for frosting
    (I didn't frost mine, just sprinkled some sugar and orange zest over my cuppies)
    • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted vegan butter (The Earth Balance brand is the best)
    • 2 cups powdered sugar (Or you could just whizz reqular sugar in your blender until fine and powdery)
    • zest of 1/2 lemon
    • 1-1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
    • Cream the butter until smooth, gradually beat in the powdered sugar until the mixture is very fluffy.
    • Zest the lemon over the bowl into the frosting, add the lemon juice and stir until smooth.
    • Spread or pipe the frosting on top of the cooled cupcakes. If you frost the cupcakes while they are still warm, the frosting may melt and become runny.
    Ease:  ❤ ❤ ❤ ♡ ♡
    Taste: ❤ ❤ ♡ ♡ ♡

    I was a little disappointment that they didn't rise very much. The next time I will try increasing the baking soda to 1/2 tsp instead of 1/4. Also I used Twinnings tea bags and the earl grey taste was very,very mild. Will increase to 5 or even 6 tea bags for a stronger flavor. I was very happy with the packaging though. Felt very Martha Stewart like :)

    If you like this you should totally check out my other favourite cupcake & cake recipes here
    All my dessert recipes are here
    All my favourite Vegan recipes are here
    Earl Grey Tea on FoodistaEarl Grey Tea

    Dairyfree, Vegan Red Velvet cupcakes for Father's day

    Yes this is one more awesome cupcake recipe from VCTOTW! They are egg-less and dairy-free but oh so freakingly delicious! I've always wanted to taste those gorgeous red velvet cakes but ever since I went dairy & egg free, the Geek has been dragging me away from bakeries so that I won't be disappointed that there's egg or butter or milk in everything I want to try. Why aren't there vegan bakeries near me?? Thank God for the vegan food bloggers who have shared their goodies with me and helped me keep my sanity ( and love handles)
    I've been waiting for a special occasion to make these pretties and with Father's day around the corner I thought "Must make these for T!" and ran to the store to get apple cider vinegar and toffutti cream "cheese" (Looks like cheese, tastes like a creamy cheese- but is tofu!) for the frosting, and of course red food colouring. Lots of it. After all, the red velvet just wouldn't be the same if it wasn't so violently, breath-takingly red.

    Vegan Red Velvet Cupcakes
    Recipe source: Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World from Mac & Cheese
    Makes about 22 cupcakes

    Wet Ingredients
    • 2 cups soy milk
    • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
    • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
    • 2 ounces red food coloring ( I used 1 tsp red food gel which is more concentrated. You could add other colours instead or omit- doesn't affect the taste)
    • 4 teaspoons vanilla extract
    Dry Ingredients
    • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
    • 2 cups sugar
    • 4 tablespoons cocoa powder (I use and like Ghirardelli)
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • Preheat oven to 350 F
    • Add vinegar to soy milk, and set aside about 10 minutes to curdle. ( I didn't really taste any sourness but went ahead and assumed it had curdled by then)
    • Sift dry ingredients in a large bowl.
    • Add vegetable oil, food coloring, and vanilla extract to the curdled soy milk, and mix well.
    • Pour liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients, and mix until combined.
    • These rise well so fill cupcake liners ¾ full to leave room.
    • Bake in a preheated 350° oven for 20 minutes or until done.
    Frosting Ingredients
    • ½ cup margarine, room temperature ( I didn't add this)
    • ½ cup Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese, room temperature
    • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract ( I added only one and added one tsp butter flavouring)
    • 4 cups confectioners sugar (I just put regular granulated sugar and whizzed it in my blender until fine. Without this the frosting will taste gritty)
    • Cream margarine, cream cheese, and vanilla extract.
    • Slowly mix the confectioner’s sugar into the creamed sugar, and then beat until smooth and fluffy.
    • If its still too runny and liquid y, you could add more sugar or keep it in the fridge and it will harden a little
    • Frost only once cupcakes have cooled else it might melt and become runny.

    I also used this cute little mini bunt pan. Isn't it simply adorable? It was non-stick and I just greased it thoroughly with canola oil and got it nicely into all the little grooves. Once done I was surprised by how easily the cute little cakes just popped out.


    Ease❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ♡
    Taste: ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ 

    This is the third recipe I've tried from the amazing book Vegan cupcakes take over the world and if you are dairy/egg allergic or vegan or even if you are not, this book is going to take over your world.
    As with the orange cupcakes T loved them and could not believe they didn't have eggs or butter. We have been popping several mini cupcakes and I'll be sad when they are all gone.

    The frosting can be omitted but gives a nice mouth feel as the creamy silkiness brushes your palate.
    I limited myself to 1 tsp of red gel so mine were not virulently, traffic stopping red as you can see, and also since there was a lot of coco powder, slightly brownish.
    I did notice something about that reaction of coco powder and vinegar that somehow enhances the redness. I would recommend leaving the batter for a while as mine got even redder after a few hours.You could omit the food colouring but if you do it'd just be another chocolate cake. Tasty still, that subtle chocolate y-ness which depends upon the amount of coco powder used and is in no way affected by the redness, but without it, visually not as appealing.

    If you like this you should totally check out my other favourite cupcake & cake recipes here
    All my dessert recipes are here
    All my favourite Vegan recipes are here
    I am sending these cupcakes off to What's for lunch honey?'s monthly mingle"Special Sweet Treats" hosted at theapartmentkitchen.net
    I'm also sending them to the Sizziling summer contest hosted by Spicy Tasty

    Meet my container herb garden :)

    I come from a family of agriculturists but thought I had not inherited my grandfather and grandmother's green thumbs. I had grown to accept this fact after I killed the cute pink headed cactus from watering it so much it actually rotted. I mean who could kill a cactus? But then the whole cooking thing happened and I was always out of that crucial bit of mint or cilantro that makes such a wow of a difference and I began wishing for my own herb garden so that I could have these whenever I wanted. I missed the curry leaf tree at home which grew right behind the kitchen. I used to just reach out the window to pluck some while I was cooking.
    A trip to home depot was all it took and now I'm all set with my container herb garden in my little apartment patio- Mint, Cilantro (Coriander) which I use a lot in Indian dishes so can't wait for them to become a little bushier before I use them. My Chives have exploded and are doing very well and so is the Lemon thyme. I used some of the chives on my baked chicken and it was extra yummy! Am so proud! I just might have that green thumb after all! Now I just need to find me a curry leaf plant. And then who knows, tomatoes, strawberries, spinach maybe?
    Here is a visitor. I tossed him out but he was back the next day. Hope he is gone now. Mr. Snail I'm sorry but you are just not welcome here. But you all, thank you for visiting!

    Berry Banana Frozen Yogurt-Vegan, Dairy Free

    Is it getting hot where you live? It sure is, here in sunny California. Good thing I have a big bag of frozen berries in my freezer, ready to whipped up into berry smoothies, berry desserts and this easy-peasy berry banana frozen yogurt.

    Berry Banana Frozen Yogurt
    Recipe source: My own

    • 2 cups yogurt (for vegan version use soy yogurt)
    • 2 ripe bananas mashed
    • 1 cup frozen mixed berries ( I used strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and black berries)
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • 1 tbs maple syrup
    • 1/4 tsp cinnamon pwd
    • Mint leaves for garnish- a few

    • In the bowl of a stand mixer, take the yogurt and the mashed bananas attach the paddle and mix until well combined.You could also use a hand held beater or blender for this
    • Add the vanilla, maple syrup and cinnamon powder and continue mixing.
    • Transfer the contents into the ice cream attachment of your stand mixer/ice cream maker so that the ice crystals are broken up while freezing.
    • Take the frozen mixed berries in your blender and pulse it a couple of times until powdery.
    • Mix it with the frozen yogurt in the last 5 minutes of the ice cream maker's rotation. I love how it takes on a beautiful swirly pinkish-purplish colour (depending on the berries used)
    • Garnish with a few berries and mint leaves
    • The frozen yogurt will have a soft serve consistency so serve immediately. If you are freezing the leftovers, it might become hard in the freezer so leave it out for about 10 mins before serving.
    • Serve it over warm lemon cake for extra points!

    Ease:  ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ 
    Taste: ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ 
    I don't have an ice cream maker yet, though I have just ordered my Cuisinart ICE-40 Flavor Duo Ice Cream Maker
    after a lot of research  and am excited about all the glorious ice creams I'll be making this summer!  You don't really need one you just have to make sure you regularly take the contents out of the freezer and mix to avoid the formation of ice crystals and keep your froyo or ice cream smooth and creamy. 

    Check out these useful tips on how to make ice cream without a machine  and how to make ice cream softer
    I guess I wasn't religious enough and mine had some crystals. It also melted quite fast so make sure you serve it at the last minute and eat up fast! Which shouldnt be a problem since it tastes goood :)
    If you like this you should totally check out my dessert recipes are here
    All my favourite vegan recipes are here

    Product review: Baby stuff- what's essential, and what's not

    A friend recently shared her good news of a tiny teeny bundle on the way and asked me about the essentials she would have to get ready before baby arrived. Since I went through this phase pretty recently I know how overwhelming an experience it can be. One trip to babiesrus and I ran out screaming in about 10 minutes.
    There was so much stuff ! I found that I was more comfortable looking online for reviews and good deals rather than a huge store with rather uninformed and disinterested salespersons. So to all you new moms/ new aunties here is my list of top baby things ranging from the most essential-cant-live-without to the nice to have but not reeeeaaally needed.

    1. A safe, sturdy, yet doesn't-weigh-a-ton car seat and stroller: You can't leave the hospital without a car seat so this is one of the first things you should have ready, and installed properly. Travel systems or combos of car seat + stroller often are better deals than buying each individually. We bought one that was highest rated for safety on consumer reports but is a pain to lug around because it is so heavy (gracco quattro) I wish we had got the Metrolite instead:
    2. A nursing pillow: The first few weeks (months for me) of nursing can be really really challenging, and a nursing pillow really helps! I had neck and back pain for weeks before a cousin recommended this goofy looking pillow which I now use to prop up jelly bean up on our couch during the day. His "arm chair" I call it.
    3. A Crib or Packnplay: Even if you are planning to co-sleep with baby in your own bed (which I do since it's much more convenient to nurse in the night) it's really nice to have a safe place to lay baby, especially in those first few months when baby is so small and fragile and you are terrified of rolling over him or her in your sleep. I lost many sleepless nights until my sister-in-law sent us a Graco pack-n-play in Cabo which is great because it is lightweight and portable and can be easily rolled from room to room, and converts into a play yard when baby is older. I couldnt find the cabo model online now, I liked it because it has a "stages" mode, where the mattress can be lowered to accomodate growing baby. Packnplays also come with all sorts of fancy things like bassinet and changing table etc. which I don't think you really need. Try and get hold of the Cabo model at your babiesrus if you can.
    The Co-sleeper is also something I explored, since it attaches to the side of your bed so its very easy to slide baby from your bed into it. Didn't work for us since our bed was too high.
    4. Avent Bottles with Microwave Sterilizer:Even if you are planning to nurse, having some bottles and formula on hand is a good idea.We tried various bottles before my awesome sister-in-law sent us these. They have a nature replicating 'slow flow" which is important for a new born, we found they didn't cause gas like other bottles which made baby suck in more air, and best of all they are easy to sterilize. Two times, random women- one at the mall the other a waitress, who saw me using these bottles have actually come up to me to tell me how great they found these bottles too! I too highly HIGHLY recommend them. The only quirk is that when shaking them with formula, just be sure to hold the lid down with your thumb so that you don't spray your self with leaking liquid.
    5. A baby tub: Technically you can bathe baby in your sink or in a basin, but this tub really makes bath time with a squirmy, slippery baby s lot more hassel free. I love this tub since it has a safety "bump" to prevent infants from sliding into the deeper part of the tub. Not that you need me telling you, still remember to NEVER leave baby unattended in the tub for even a minute! It helps to have everything ready before bath time so you dont feel the need to run and get something while baby is in the tub.
    6. Daily essentials: You should have a bunch of diapers since babies go through about 10 a day especially in the first few months. Yes poor you . Get pappa on diaper duty if you can! Jellybean uses the Pampers Swaddlers though I've read reviews where the newer version of these with "dry max" technology has caused lots of babies to get diaper rashes. We haven't had problems so far but I still prefer to get the original ones if I can find it. I've heard that the Luvs Diapers brand also from the Pampers stable is a good, lesser cost option. Once you know the brand your baby suits, getting them in extra large cases from amazon.com or diapers.com is a good idea.
    Oh and after rashes and Tylenol recalls I shun Jhonson & Jhonson products like the plague. Jellybean likes Aveeno Baby Wash & Shampoo which many mommies recommend.
    7. Cotton front open, snap button shirts and long onesies & mittens: Do yourself and baby a favor and don't get rompers and t-shirts with small necks and frilly and itchy clothes for your baby.They may look cute but you'll be changing baby several times a day with spit ups and diaper blowouts and onesies are the easiest to wear, comfortable and since it is one piece, that's one item less to wash and fold! also don't forget mittens! babies have surprisingly sharp nails and could hurt themselves or you!

    8. Nursing Pump: This is great especially in the first few weeks while you and baby are getting used to nursing. Can be a lot less frustrating than waiting for baby to latch on properly and be awake long enough to get a proper feed. Essential absolutely if you are planning on getting back to work and want to continue working.
    9. Nice to have- Moby wrap: I'd heard a lot about this but was skeptical about a long piece of cloth to hold my baby. Would it be secure enough? Would I be comfortable looking like a crazy hippy/ tribal woman? Well it is a little fussy to put on but it really helped me soothe poor Jelly bean during his colicky days when he wanted to be carried around all the time. No poky buckles and it comes in many pretty colours too!Good for running errands so that you have your hands free too. Lots of moms swear by it.
    10.Nice to have-baby entertainers: In a few months you'll be watching your little one like a hawk waiting to see signs of your little one qualifying for the baby olympics with turning over and crawling and other fantastic feats. Jelly bean spends tummy time on his baby gym gifted to him by his sweetest aunt C, and he likes to bat at all the overhanging toys with a double windmill arm-action.
    Swings are good to entertain and rock baby to sleep.Preferably one with a plug in option so that you don't spend a small fortune on batteries! This one lasts till toddler hood so its a really good option.