Candy Corn Bark

As soon as fall comes, out comes the candy corn.  It's everywhere.  I've always wondered why it doesn't come in different colors other times of the year.  Maybe it does but it's not popular, that's for sure. Maybe it's just meant to be orange and yellow.
I've seen many different desserts made with candy corn.  I made Homemade Butterfinger Bars last year with candy corn.   Holy cow were those good!

 I knew when I found this recipe for Candy Corn Bark, that this would be my candy corn dessert of the year.  I couldn't for the life of me find candy corn M&M's though.  No worries, I just bought some other fall colored M&M's. 
My son actually made most of this.  Crushing the oreos and pretzels is probably the most fun. The almond bark was really good and the kids all loved it.  I do think that it could have used a bit more chunks of oreo and pretzels in the bark. Very, very sweet but super tasty!

Candy Corn Bark
Adapted from Cooking with K

14 Golden Oreo Sandwich Cookies
1 cup pretzels
24 oz. Chocolate Almond Bark
24 oz. Almond Bark
1 1/2 cups Candy Corn
9 oz. White Chocolate Candy Corn M&Ms (or any M&M's)
Line a large sheet pan with parchment paper. Break up Oreos and spread across lined pan. Arrange pretzels evenly around the broken Oreos; set aside.
In a medium microwave safe bowl, melt chocolate almond bark in the microwave 2-4 minutes at 30 SECOND intervals until chocolate is melted. Pour over the Oreo cookies and pretzels; set aside.

In a medium microwave safe bowl, melt white chocolate almond bark in the microwave 2-4 minutes at 30 SECOND intervals until chocolate is melted. Pour over the chocolate almond bark layer.

Sprinkle the candy corn evenly over the almond bark. Sprinkle the candy corn M&Ms evenly over the almond bark. Scattering them around the candy corn.

Pick up the pan and let it slam against the counter two or three time to set all the candy. Set the pan in a cool place to harden.

Remove the parchment paper with the candy and set on the counter. Cut or break up into serving pieces as desired.

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A Photofeature of the evening at ITC Grand Chola [Indiblogger meet]

Have you read my earlier post on the Indiblogger meet? No? Blasphemy i say... 1st go over here and then come drool at the images.... Go on, whatcha waiting for? Ok, you now have my permission to scroll down and enjoy the visual treat... :-)

Isnt it gorgeous? The beautiful chandelier in the main lobby.

Light oh so bright- The various light fixtures across the hotel and a floor pattern made of square tiles

Tring Tring, you called? The funky vintage telephone that i noticed across several lobbies

Psst.. keep this a secret, shall reveal what it is once opened
Welcome.. Wrap your hands around em birds and slide open the majestic doors. 
The beautiful door handles

 Which side do i turn? The corridor on the 30th floor, well, it is the 3rd floor, 
overlooking Madras Pavillion Restaurant

Glowing in the dark, ITC Grand Chola at 8pm. Shining like the Royal Palace it is.

 Hello, go on, enjoy the Hotel- the stairs seem to beckon. 
This is what greets you as you enter the Hotel through a side entrance

 Star light star bright, well, these shimmer in the ceiling like little twinkling stars, 
up above the grand staircase is where you find them.

So, wonderinng why I dint place the images in order? That is so you dont sneak away to visit the Hotel leaving me behind. Take me along and i shall give you a mini tour!! Smart, aint I? :-)

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Menu Plan Monday ~ October 29 - November 4, 2012

It's been a long time since I've done a Menu Plan Monday.  I either have been lazy and not planning meals or else I'll write it down on a piece of paper.  Well, inevitably the paper gets lost and then I forget my plan and then we end up eating weird stuff for dinner.  I LIKE planning my meals online because it keeps me organized.  The last few months I have not been organized.  I really want to get that back. It makes my life happier when I am organized. 
I've also been on a quest to use up the food that we have in the house.  A lot of it at least. I'm a stockpiler. I buy on sale and keep it around for when I need it.  Well, when the freezers and cupboards are full; it's time to use it up. Plus, money has been tight so I figure we'll USE all this food that I spent money on.  Makes sense, huh. 
I started this quest a couple weeks ago and things are getting down.  I still have a couple boxes of No Name Steaks in the freezer and a chuck roast. So this week I put both on the menu.  I still have a couple of pounds bacon that I bought at Costco last month so that will go great with our breakfast-for-dinner meal.  I have ground turkey that I will use for the spaghetti meat sauce.  I'll actually make a double batch of sauce and freeze some for next week.  I found a box of fish fillets that 4 out of the 6 of us will eat.  Plus I have a big bag of waffle chips that has been sitting in the freezer for a long time. My secret recipe post is a vegetarian meal, that's all I'm saying about that.  I can't wait for that one!! 

Monday: Breakfast burritos, hashbrowns and bacon

Tuesday: Secret Recipe Club recipe

Wednesday: Steaks & Sweet Potato Fries

Thursday: Spaghetti & meat sauce

Friday: Fish and waffle chips

Saturday: Pizza night

Sunday: Slow cooker beef tacos

More menu planning ideas at I'm an Organizing Junkie.

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An evening at ITC Grand Chola courtesy Indiblogger

Dammit, I am going to be late. Was stuck on the flyover in North Usman road for nearly 10mins and I could feel the clock tick away. I am one of those who would rather be early than late, but today I knew I was going to be late, albeit a few minutes.  Finally, at 2.20pm I reached the gates, and i was ready to meet the Cholas, err, fellow bloggers. I was at ITCGrand Chola. Having driven past this majestic place a few times, I was eager to explore and hoped Indiblogger & ITC Grand Chola were going to give us a tour of the place before the end of the evening.  

As i made my way to the RajendraHall, on the 2nd floor for the Indiblogger meet, I hoped the Kings & Queens were not too angry with my tardiness. Phew, I was welcomed with a smile by what i assume was one of the soldiers at the Palace. :-)) 

 Unlike the earlier meets, I noticed there were round tables with chairs. Looks like the Kings had become modern after all.. I was asked to register [maybe this was to keep track of all the souls who came late, deserved a punishment], and a secret Wi-Fi sync, I found a seat in a table with a few familiar faces and said Hi Hello to others [I think I even breathed a sigh of relief to have made it to my seat.. alive].   We were nearly 80 souls, err bloggers that evening. Phew, and I knew for a fact that Chennai had many more.!! Trying to distract myself, I started looking around the hall, it was huge, and there was nowhere you could hide, except maybe under the table.. lol... Did i mention the tables had a little flower center piece and a martini glass with candy apart from a small jar of cookies? Yes, and the cookies were refilled as well. Each of us also had a bottle of water… 
The evening began with the court brought to order by Mr Phillipe from ITC Grand Chola, subsequent to which their Digital Marketing team took over. Running us through their “tweetsfortreats” campaign, they went on to lure us with a whole bunch of prizes to be won that evening- ranging from 500Rs vouchers to accommodation and meals. We were all hooked and done for right then and there [I knew I was done for..]. The rest of the evening went by with each of us crossing our fingers & toes hoping to win the biggest of them all [and ofcourse get out of there alive]…

And in true Indiblogger style, we had the “60 seconds of fame”, where we had to introduce ourselves, speak about our blog, and just about anything else we wanted to ramble on. Some were crisp & to the point, while others were quirky and well, there were a few, rather one who decided to give us a History lesson on the Cholas [was there going to be a pop quiz? *nail biting moment*, Just then I a "go to jail" flash on the screen and nearly jumped out of my seat in fear..eeps]  During this, there were a few who won vouchers [Ratzzz for having hit 15000 ft to Himalayas carrying the bag that she received from Indiblogger, another person for an NGO activity, and so on.. you get the drift…] We then were up on our feet, tapping em to Gangnam style and playing musical chairs... Run Run run i say!! was this a dry run for the jail punishments? ....
What followed next was the highlight of the evening… Um, after a brief fuelling ofcourse.. more like stuff up the pig before you slaughter moment... gulp... It was time for HIGH TEA [now, i’ve never really understood this concept, it is neither lunch nor tiffin, it is more like samosas & chai, satiate your hunger just enough, but leave you wanting more..go figure]

There was quite a spread- potato bonda, kachori, vazhapoo vada, Mexican empanadas with salsa and different kinds of sandwiches. Wait, there is more.. An island in the center of the hall with mouth watering dessert platters- Chocolate cake, cookies, tarts, meringue, chocolate, dry fruits & nuts…. Need i go on? It was quite an elaborate spread and delicious one at that. I got an opportunity to meet and  interact with the  Chefs, hear their experiences with ITC Grand Chola and of the menu that evening. As i looked around for coffee or tea, i noticed there were these tall containers with colorful liquids- Fresh Figs & Almond shake, Cucumber & celery juice, Banana & honey shake, Fresh lime juice, Watermelon juice and one more. I chose Figs, and it was yummilicious. A few opted for tea, and got to experiment with the wide variety offered.  There was Tea and Coffee in the main hall as well, along with cookies. 

Allowing myself to drift away into la la land, I let myself be amazed at how well organized the entire thing was, Kudos to ITC Grand Chola. Ok, lemme not digress. The next task.. err activity was to form groups of 10, come up with a team and enjoy a tour of the place with one of the guides [ITC staff], and along the way come up with a story as well. We were the Raja Raja Cholas, and the story theme was Tintin and Cholas meet, or something of that sort.

We dint win the best story or anything, but we sure had a blast on the tour, guided by Gaurang [who’d hurt both his palms on a motorcycle accident that morning and had not even taken the day off.. how about that!] He was chilled out, knew every single sitcom we mentioned and we had a whale of a time, walking around the premises, for nearly an hour. [was there going to another high tea? at the end many wondered]

ITC Grand Chola is HUGE, even Huge is an understatement- spread across 8 acres, with 600+ rooms, multiple restaurants and bars, a cigar room, beautiful spa, a majestic swimming pool near the gym, the place is magical indeed. While standing near the pool, we felt like we were on top of the world, the city seemed to be down below.

The attention to detail, the rooms, the swanky lobbies, the resident lounge, the meeting rooms, the facilities & technology that has been incorporated are all fit for a king, well, for someone who loves luxury and comfort. The pictures will tell you what am talking about… 

And then, we were back in the main hall, curious to know what next! I had wondered what we would be doing for 5hrs [the event mail said 2-7pm], and there we were back in the hall, as the clock stuck 6.45pm. Who’d have thought!  A few minutes spent on sharing our experiences of the hotel, and then came the “Let’s see who won what”.[i kept waiting for someone to point their sword towards me - you there, come up here, you were late werent you, buhahaha.. off to gallows with you"]

Instead, prizes were given out to the Best team, best tweeter and *drum roll please*, yours truly won a prize as well “best photographs shared on the move”... Woohoo… Who’d have thought indeed? No blood shed, no tears rolling down cheeks...Me with my Blackberry, but well, it was fun… I won a 1night 2 day stay at ITC Grand Chola and was/am mighty kicked about.  Wait, that was not all, ITC Grand Chola was giving out a prize to everyone who was in the hall, how cool was that? We were each given a small piece of paper that had our prize in it. We had to redeem it for a voucher and that was our return gift. Again, i got lucky, I won a meal at Madras Pavillion for 2.. Woohoo once more!! 

It was one awesome evening- Lovely ambiance, amazing people, good food and a fun meet!! Thanks @indiblogger for giving us this opportunity and thank you @itcgrandhotels for being such wonderful hosts!!  

Quick facts about the Hotel:-
The architecture is based on the Chola temple architecture; influences from Brihadeeswara temple & Gangai konda chozapuram evident in the designs all along the place and there were not one or two, but 4 entrances.

The hotel has a total of 10 food & beverage centers, including Peshawri [Northwest Frontier cuisine], The Royal Vega [vegetarian restaurant], Ottimo [Italian cuisine],The Madras Pavilion [a 3course meal kinda resturant], Cafe Mercara[coffee shop],  and then there was Nutmeg[gourmet shop], Cheroot Lounge[ Drinks & Cigar lounge], Pan Asian, Modo Mio, The Pub and Tranquebar[this was originally supposed to have been an all women pub]. 
There are in all 6 swimming pools... The Presidential suite is over 4000 sq ft of space with its own private pool and valet. From what i gather, there are nearly 4 categories of rooms, one wing dedicated to women entrepreneurs and travellers. 
Oh and the Elite rooms come with allergen free, pure air etc etc...The pillars are fitted with RFID sensors. Rooms are operated using an iPad, you walk in, plonk on the bed and everything else can be controlled using the tablet. Meeting Rooms are not only functional, but swanky- especially the one called "Tanjore" . Kaya Kalpa- their spa is said to be the largest of its kind... 

ITC Grand Chola
Mount Road [next to Alexander Square building, opp Maruti center]
Chennai- 600032
Phone: 044 2220 0000

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Santa's treasures

As meninas adoram o Natal... E ficam felizes quando tiro as bolas e os enfeites e começo com mais uma sessão de fotografias. Cada uma delas tem o seu boneco de Pai Natal e adoram vê-los no meio das decorações. 

Hoje foi dia de cores mais tradicionais - os vermelhos, verdes, o azevinho que fui buscar ao jardim e as bolinhas de todas as cores, que vêm naquelas caixas de cartão amorosas. São os nossos tesouros de Natal, bem antigos, como eu gosto!...

The girls love Christmas... And they're delighted when I take the ornaments and baubles boxes and start another photo session. Each one of them has their own Santa's doll and they love to see them in the middle of the decor.

Today I chose more traditional colors: red and greens, with holly that I took from the garden and vintage glass baubles of all colors - they come in those cute old cardboard boxes. They are our Christmas treasures, vintage pieces as I love...
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Friendship Fruitcake Starter

Alright. Everybody go grab your grocery list real quick. 
Got it?
Buy these simple ingredients.  Can of peaches. Can of apricots. Can of pineapple chunks. Jar of maraschino cherries. I know you have brandy and sugar in the cupboard already.

 I found this on Veronica's blog last week. It's a starter for a fruitcake.  If you want this fruit cake for the holidays, buy the stuff NOW and get it going.  If you're like me and don't care, you can wait if you want.  But don't wait because seriously, did you SEE that cake up there??  That is Veronica's cake.  I haven't made it yet but I've made enough of her recipes to TRUST her when she says that it is completely delicious.

 So I threw the fruit in a bowl, along with the sugar and the brandy.  I'll let it sit on the counter for 3 weeks, drain and voila, I'll have the liquid starter for the cake. 
It's fun and easy.  Plus it smells awesome when you open it up to stir.
Head on over to Veronica's blog to see more scrumptious pictures of her cake.  The cake that YOU WILL HAVE if you listen to us and just get this starter going.

Friendship Fruit Cake Starter

1 (20 oz) can pineapple chunks, drained
1 (16 oz) can apricots, drained
1 (16 oz) can sliced peaches, drained
1 (10 oz) jar maraschino cherries, drained
1 1/4 cups brandy
1 1/4 cups sugar

Combine ingredients in a large glass jar or bowl and stir well.

Store at room temperature, covered with a lid or plastic wrap, for three weeks, stirring at least twice a week. Mixture will become more and more red as time passes.

Drain fruit and reserve the liquid. You should have two cups of liquid, and this is your starter.    The 2 cups of liquid you have now will all be used for candying fruit for the cake.

You can save the sweetened, brandied fruit for another use. I think I'm going to do what Veronica did and turn the fruit into jelly.

Don't forget to head to Veronica's blog and give her some love. She's the inspiration behind all this!!

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Recipe- Zucchini & Broccoli Rice with Corn

I was home alone and that meant I could go woohoo and cook whatever I wanted.. No maid No cook, rather neither had showed up that day. For some it might have a moment of panic but not for me. It was such a liberating feeling, to know that the house was all mine..

Opened the fridge, rummaged through what was in it and found the bag of goodies- zucchini, broccoli, and one big corn.. That was all I needed.

The Rice-
1cup rice (I used normal rice but you can use Basmati rice)
1/4 zucchini chopped up
1/2 broccoli cut into florets
1 tomato
2 cloves
2 cardamom
1 small stick of cinnamon
1/2 green chilli ( this one was big)
Butter- 1tsp
Salt to taste

1. In a pan dry roast the spices and tart them aside
2.add a wee bit of butter and fry the green chilli
3. In a rice cooker add all the ingredients and allow to cook
4. In about 25-30 mins the rice is ready

Options- you can add herbs/ garam masala/onion- garlic and just about anything else to the rice..

The Corn-
Quite simple- I broke the corn in half, added a bit of turmeric powder and salt and let it cook in the pressure cooker for a food 20 mins

Lunch was served and it was delicious!!
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The Last Broad Beans

The beauty of eating truly seasonally is that by the time we have eaten our way through a glut, whether broad beans or zucchinis, we can't bear the thought of eating them again until the next year's crop appears.
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Saraswati puja, chandi homam and ilai sapaadu

Today being Saraswati Puja, it was a special day in the Navaratri celebrations, it was also the day of Chandi Homam for Sringeri swamigal [since he was in Chennai, it was organised at the Sudharma, the place where he was staying]. Ggramma was up early and pushed us to shower and give a book for the puja.. We did and then I waited for them to leave for the temple so I could get down to work and my routine. It was decides that we would do lunch at the temple and so there was payasam, Sunday and appam made at home as prasadam..

I have seen the Chandi homam couple of times in Sringeri- back in the days gramma along with others used to carry a tray with material that were used for the puja.. This time top she took a silk cloth, some turmeric and coins to put in the homam (havan) ..

Around 1pm, I changed into a saree, wore the customary bangles etc, braving the sudden downpour headed to the temple. I reached just as the Chandi homam was winding down - saw the elephant all decked up blessing kids and adults; an a horse that had been a part of the pooja.. Few minutes later, spotted he grandparents coming out of the dining hall. She immediately went inside and asked if there was place, luckily there was 1 seat and I was asked to go grab it.. Normally am not top fond of these elaborate spreads, especially with the Avial and sambar. But today, menu was different and food was good and simple..

There was carrot curry, white pumpkin koottu, carrot & tomato raita, potato curry, appalam, coconut rice, vada, boondi laddoo and a tamarind chilli based pickle.. Instead of boring standard sambar there was a mixed vegetables sambar type, followed by rasam and curd.. Oh, there was Jagger's based payasam as well.. It was good and I enjoyed it, probably because I had also not had any breakfast but for a soon of sundal at home..

We then spent a few minutes talking to a few uncle's and aunts before heading back home :-)
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Fortnight Menu at The Crown, Residency Towers, Chennai

Chennai hasnt been this lovely in a long time.. The weather was just perfect, we were sitting outside, near the infinite pool, and the gentle breeze kept us company through the evening. We were at The Crown in Residency Towers, Chennai. They have introduced a new menu, limited items, but quite a few choices for both the Vegetarians & Non vegetarians, an experiment they were running for 2 weeks, a fortnight, and one that had received a response far better than what they had anticipated.

Chef Shaktivel who chatted with us on and off told us he was quite surprised at the response, especially since they had thought it being Dussehra/Navaratri, crowd might not be that much. But, they were pleasantly surprised. This menu had been introduced at The Crown in the 20th Floor & Southern Aroma on the Ground floor ... 

Vegetarian meal was priced at Rs500, while Non veg was at Rs600. What did it include? Soup, Main dishes, Desserts and one drink [ Gin/Vodka/Rum/Whiskey] and this menu is on till the 28th of October

So, there we were, the 3 stooges- Deepa, Shadir and yours truly, all set for an evening of fun and good food... Well, we were not disappointed... but did learn a few inside information..  :-)

Ok, time to get down to business, err food that is. While we waited for Shadir, we decided to order a drink, both of us opted for something with Vodka, and it was quite good, just that our drinks had a lot of orange peels, which kept clogging up the straws and i requested the waiter to strain the drink, which he did promptly. 

Our evening began with an elaborate selection of starters [ mind you, it is not part of their Fortnight menu and was offered to us from the main Crown Menu].. the 1st round was Indian starters -

Stuffed mushrooms- which were absolutely yumm- well, i do love mushrooms in any form and these were cooked to perfection. The tandoori paneer & cauliflower were good, and so was the Hara bara kebab. One other item on our plate was  potato patty of sorts, it was a bit bland and had a funny dosa dough texture. The chef told us they used chickpeas flour for the outer coating [ as a policy they dont use cornflour or any starch]  Oh, how can i forget, we also got to taste some delicious baby corn starters- cooked with tomatoes, curry leaves and spring onion, it was gooood

Then came the platter of continental starters- bruschetta with Basil & tomatoes which was good and simple, stuffed zucchini - i loved this one and finally a slice of tomato with a mozerella slice on top and a basil tucked between. It was alright, nothing great. 

Shadir was having a feast, with his plate piled on with a wide variety of meat starters, and he seemed to enjoy them all.. ;)

Phew.. we were quite stuffed, and so requested the chef to bring us just a sampler of the main dishes. We had quite an interesting chatting session with the Chef. He was curious about how we write reviews, especially since  we were not catering students or had catering backgrounds. We explained how we wrote reviews, clarified any doubts we had while at the review and the main aim of writing the reviews. Shadir also showed a sample of his blog, explaining the post, style of writing, purpose of the blog and so on. Even though some questions from the Chef surprised us, we were glad to have had this open chat with him.. Showed that the review mattered to them, a lot. 

And it was time for the main dishes... They arrived in style, laid out in a make shift table next to our seat. There were 3 types of Indian Bread - Garlic naan, plain naan and stuffed kulcha . Alongside were 4 side dishes - Dal makhni [my favorite],  Rilli milli sabzi [with mixed vegetables], a paneer gravy and one more mix veg gravy. We also got to taste Vegetable Biryani, served with onion raita. I enjoyed the Garlic Naan, Daal makhani and the biryani was not bad. The Paneer was  bit rubbery, and the other dishes were a bit salty [tangy and pulips]... 

Oh  boy, we couldnt get enough of the lovely view and the amazing breeze. As the chef spoke to us about Desserts, we nodded happily, requesting they bring one of each, while we sat back and enjoyed the breeze. The ambiance is to die for, especially in a city like Chennai, and combine it with pleasant weather, and you are in heaven.... 

First to arrive was a long white plate with different desserts neatly laid out- There was an apple crumble [yumm, need you ask], mudpie[ was it made of bitter chocolate?], Kala jamun[ cut into 4 pieces and served on a spoonful of rabdi] and finally, the Cheesecake with blueberry sauce.. No two ways about it, my favorite was the apple crumble... There was also a rasmalai, which was fresh and divine, but i am not a big fan of this dessert. And last but not least, came the brownie sizzler served on a single slice of pineapple[ the big puzzle that went unanswered was why the waiter placed a small cube of salted Amul butter as he placed the brownie on our table and why we dint get chocolate sauce and the whole drama]


We stuck around for a while longer chatting with the Chef, while he explained their menu, plans for the coming festive season and new changes we should expect to see soon at the restaurant. He also gave us a small tour of Southern Aroma before bidding us good night. 

As always, it was a fun evening... the 3 of us spoke about the others who were missing, and of how each experience is different, interesting and amusing.... 

Would i recommend you visit The Crown? Absolutely. Apart from today evening, have been here couple of times earlier, and all my experiences have been good.. Make sure you go on a day like today, sit outside, enjoy the lovely ambiance while sipping on a drink and enjoying some good food.

The Crown
20th Floor, The Residency Towers, 
#115, Thyagaraya Road, 
T. Nagar
Chennai- 600017
Ph: 044 28156363


This was part of a CFG Showcase that I attended and was conducted by Chennai Food Guide.
The reviews posted on this blog are based on my personal experience. Also remember that restaurants and eat outs sometimes change with time, so does their food and service. So, kindly consider these factors while visiting the places. Remember, no two palates are the same. Bon Appétit  :-)
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Baked Apple Donuts - Gluten Free

I haven't done a whole lot of gluten free baking.  I've made my own GF flour and have picked up a few other gluten free items throughout the last several months.  I found Chelsey's recipe for Baked Apple Donuts while perusing her blog for The Secret Recipe Club. Her blog Mangia has so, so many wonderful recipes.  The donuts sounded fantastic so I headed to the store to buy some Almond Flour.  As I'm getting all the ingredients for the donuts, I realize that I already HAVE a bag of Almond Flour.  Clearly I had bought some months ago when buying other gluten free flours.  This stuff isn't cheap!

 While Chelsy was inspired to make this recipe from Amy, she really did make it her own. She made these gluten free and dairy free.  These are baked, not fried and really have healthy ingredients.  I made a double batch and the kids all loved them. They may not have been the prettiest of donuts but they sure delicious! 

Baked Apple Donuts Recipe
Adapted from Mangia

1 cup almond flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 cup brown sugar
4 eggs
1 apple, peeled, cored and finely chopped

For the topping:
1/4 cup melted coconut oil
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a donut pan (or you can use a muffin pan) Place the almond flour, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg in a large bowl, mix well.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs and brown sugar.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix well. Add apple and stir. Pour the batter into each donut cup, filling 3/4 of the way full. (muffin pan about 1/2 way full) Bake for 12 - 15 minutes. (mine took a good 15 minutes).

While the donuts are baking, make the topping. Melt the coconut oil in a bowl, set aside. Combine the granulated sugar and cinnamon on a plate and distribute evenly around the plate. 

Take the donuts out of the oven, pop them out when the are slightly cool enough to handle.  Dip both sides in the coconut oil, then press both sides into the cinamon sugar mixture.  Lick fingers and repeat with remaining donuts. 

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Christmas centerpieces

Ok, este fim-de-semana estou em modo Natal. Sempre que começo a pensar na próxima decoração, tenho de me inspirar com fotografias e imagens, para saber que peças procurar e em que cores vou apostar. Então vou "ensaiando" com coisas que tenho em casa e de forma a que direccione as minhas pesquisas para as ideias que vão surgindo.

Não sei o que vou usar neste Natal, nem sequer sei onde o vou passar. Mas adoro os arranjos dessa época, as bolas e os brilhos, a fantasia das decorações, o imaginário infantil e o calor das minhas memórias!

Agora, digam-me: com chávena ou sem chávena? :)

Ok, so this weekend I'm on a Christmas mood. Ever since I start looking for the next colours and decor pieces, I have to create some vignettes, so that I can inspire myself and decide on what I want to do next. 

I don't know what I'll be doing this Christmas. I don't even know where I'm spending Christmas Eve. But I love the fantasy of festivities, the vintage balls and shiny ornaments, the kids' imagination and my childhood memories!

Now, tell me: with the teacup or without it? :)
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Early or not...

Demasiado cedo para posts de Natal? Não para mim! Este ano vou usar chávenas antigas com enfeites vintage e vou misturar todo o tipo de coisas bonitas que encontrar por aí... Ainda não sei que cores vou escolher, mas vocês sabem que eu deliro com o Natal e todas as inspirações que me rodeiam!...

Too early for Christmas posts? Not for me! This year I'll be addind baubles to vintage teacups and mixing all sorts of pretty things that I come across with... Still not sure what colours I'm using, but you know I get crazy with all the inspiration that surrounds us...
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Vegetable Enchiladas with Chile Gravy

 I feel like I've made every combination of enchilada humanly possible.  Chicken, beef, turkey, vegetarian. I love them all.  Up until fairly recently I was a a whole wheat tortilla fan.  They are nice and big and are easy for wrapping enchiladas.

 Now, that I am eating gluten free, I am a corn tortilla fan.  I love the taste better than whole wheat tortillas now.  The only problem.  They make a cruddy enchilada. 

They taste wonderful but they don't wrap well. At. All. I've tried warming them first or getting them slightly damp.  They still end up splitting and breaking when I wrap them. 

I'm a little OCD so the wrapping difficulty used to bother me but I'm completely over it now.  I mean, seriously, does it MATTER if you don't get a nice neat enchilada out of the pan?  No.  What matters is the deliciousness that is inside and on top of the corn tortillas.   

 So clearly you may not get the most beautiful enchilada meal in the world but you will get an enchilada with an awesome creamy vegetarian inside and a super flavorful chile enchilada sauce on top!

Vegetable Enchiladas with Chile Gravy
Adapted from Cinnamon Spice and Everything Nice

Chile Gravy:
2 tablespoons chile powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed between fingertips
2 tbsp vegetable oil
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup flour
2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
bit of olive oil, for sauteing
1 onion, chopped
4 packed cups fresh baby spinach
1 can corn (or about 1 1/2 cups of frozen)
2 cans black beans
10-12 (or more) corn tortillas
1 + 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar or Monterrey jack cheese
1/2 cup sour cream

Chile Gravy:
In a small bowl combine all the seasonings: chile powder, cumin, paprika, black pepper, salt and oregano.
Heat the oil over medium-low heat in a large skillet and quickly saute garlic 2 minutes; whisk in flour and cook a few minutes while constantly whisking/stirring. Add all the seasonings and cook 1 minute.
Pour in the chicken broth and whisk until smooth. Turn heat up to medium-high and bring to a boil: reduce heat and slowly simmer about 20-25 minutes, stirring often. Taste and season with additional salt as needed. Meanwhile make the enchiladas.
Heat a tablespoon or two of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat; and onion and cook until translucent. Add spinach and stir until spinach starts to wilt. Remove from heat and add corn, black beans, 3/4 cup of the cheese and the sour cream. Season with salt and pepper. Stir until well combined.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease a 9x13 deep-sided casserole pan. Wrap the tortillas in damp paper towels and microwave 1 minute. Top each tortilla with a heaping 1/3 cup of filling; roll up tightly and place seam side down in casserole pan.
Pour the chile grave evenly over top. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and top with green onions.
Bake 25 minutes until bubbly all over. Allow to set 5 minutes before serving. Serve with sour cream.
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