Dario's once more...

And there i was, back at Dario's for a dinner. You can read my previous review here

This time with the CFG gang and Suresh Cumar [ the man behind Dario's Chennai] was also with us tonight. Instead of doing another detailed review, am going to do a photo feature with a one liner on each of the dishes..

Focaccia Bread with Sun dried tomato dip/sauce- This is served complimentary and are quite flavorful.

Antipasto Siciliano -A fun platter- Olives, olives stuffed with red chillies, gorgonzola cheese, pickled onions, sauteed Italian vegetables, Brinjal cooked the Sicilian way and sun dried tomatoes- We all loved the cheese, it was stinky but we couldnt get enough of it. 

Funshi Darios- Whole roasted Mushrooms with lemon, garlic, parsley & olive oil- I loved this, even though garlic was strong.

Assorted Bruschetta platter- 2 with gorgonzola cheese, and 2 with Sundried tomato paste- The Cheese ones won hands down. 

This was another platter of Bruschetta- with sauteed zucchini, olive paste and tomato & basil- I quite liked the zucchini ones]

hey, wait a minute, we were offered 2 kinds of salads, damn, forgot to take pictures of them.. One was Aranciazola [Mixed salad leaves with orange slices, gorgonzola, olives and herbs] . The 2nd salad was   Verdure Grigalate [Warm mixed vegetables- baby potatos, colour peppers,zucchini, carrots and onion] 

Polpette Di Spinaci e Formatggio -- Spinach & Fresh cheese balls served with spinach cream dip -- We had this last time as well, i loved the starter but wish it was served with a spicier dip.

Pizza Carduni- Mozerella cheese, Artichoke, Broccoli, Mushroom, garlic, Olives an sun dried tomatoes - Loved it, the pizza stood still when you held it and dint wilt like a dried up flower.

 Pizza Stromboli-Mozzarella, red chilli, spinach, red peppers and sun dried tomatoes-- Personally, i loved this one-

During the course of the evening, we were all suddenly talking about Tea when Suresh mentioned they had a Morrocan mint which was quite good. Well, yes, we ordered some and between us had quite a few cups of the tea. And then, he also said they had Blackcurrant tea. Ta da, I wanted it, i love the flavour and quite enjoyed the tea. but Blackcurrant tea is not something you can have cups and cups of, it is quite strong. So, if you are at Dario's,, do try the Morrocan Mint, you will not regret and will come back to Thank me! This image is of the Blackcurrrant tea :)

Ok, moving ahead, here are the main courses that we got to sample..

Risotto al funghi Porchini- Risotto made with porchini mushrooms- It was creamy and simple flavours

Risotto Siciliano- Risotto cooked with tomato sauce, red chilli,aubergines, oregano,capers and cheese: This felt very Indian, maybe because of the tomato base.

Ravioli Kamarina- Ravioli stuffed with spinach& cheese served on a bed of tomato sauce cooked with peas , chickpeas, rosemary and cream- It was quite good, i am not a great fan of Ravioli but the texture here was light and soft.

Tortellini Formaggi &Funghi- Pasta Parcels stuffed with mushroom & cheese served in Cheese sauce- I love mushrooms and so liked it, but not a big fan of white sauce[gets heavy on the tummy]

Fusili Vitale-- Fusili tossed with fresh tomatoes,sundried tomato, garlic and mushrooms- It was good, but nothing new as i make pasta quite often at home.

Crepelle Al Funghi- Baked pancakes with mushrooms, garlic, cheese, tomatoes and peas- Creamy and rich, crepes filled with veggies, dint try it last night as i had this last time around :)

Moving on, we were served not one or two, but 4 desserts, of which 2 I loved and others were Ok... not my cuppa tea.

Erupting Chocolate- Well, it was like the molten chocolate cake, you cut in and out oozes rich chocolate sauce. If you are a chocaholic, go for it. 

No prizes for guessing- Tiramisu- However, this one tasted very different, and Suresh mentioned it was eggless. 

Where are the other 2? Patience... I have saved the best for last... Remember the song? yes, well, here it is, the dishes that stood out amongst the others, the ones that still lingers in my mind... What is it? Read on... 

 Risottoragli Asaparagi- Risotto cooked with Asparagus, cream and cheese- Oh man, this was divine. you could taste the richness, the flavour and there were so many different textures. It was the highlight of the evening for many of us. :-)

Panna Cotta- A simple dessert served with Blueberry preserve and thin slices of apple- every spoonful was heavenly

The Lemon cheesecake- Hubba hubba hubba.. This one sure is a winner.. The lime flavour comes out so beautifully, it sings a song in your mouth :-)

As i bid adieu, it was one awesome evening with Friends, Food and an ambiance that oozed with FUN...

You can read my earlier review here

Highlights at Dario's
  • It is a pure vegetarian restaurant
  • There is a lovely indoor and outdoor seating area
  • They are open till 11pm... 
  • There are plans to launch corporate lunch packages with a set menu[ for large groups] priced around Rs650
  • The desserts are eggless, even the Tiramisu.. 
A meal for 2 should cost around Rs1000 - 1500... 

Dario's Address:
#11, Kasturi Rangan Road,
2nd Street,
Chennai- 600018
Ph:             044-4919 3333      
URL: [you can not only read about the restaurant, but also see the detailed menu]
Landmark: Next to Ashwini Hospital [1st right after the Russian Cultural Centre]

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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Sweet Potatoes and Pears

This is one of my favorite side dishes.  The coconut sugar and spices caramelized beautifully on the sweet potatoes and pears.  This was sweet and delicious. 

I hadn't used coconut sugar before.  I'd heard good things about it and heard that it was a "better" sugar.  This is what I read about it.

Coconut sugar, derived from the flowers of the coconut tree, is an organic, sustainable natural sweetener that shows promising results for people who suffer from chronic illnesses or conditions such as diabetes, gallstones, cancer, heart disease and obesity. This sugar has a low glycemic index and is also a nutrient powerhouse, filled with lots of vitamins, minerals and amino acids. Coconut sugar is minimally processed, unbleached and contains no preservatives.
Coconut sugar is made from the sugar blossoms of fresh coconuts found in the tropics. It is harvested by slicing the bud of the coconut tree flower to release the sap or coconut nectar. This nectar is then boiled into a thick caramel and dried into crystals. Nothing is removed during this process. Coconut sugar is similar in texture and taste to brown sugar but far outweighs its nutritional profile.

I certainly found it good and it tasted awesome!  I bought some more and have used it plenty. 

Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Pears
Adapted from Laura's Gluten Free Pantry

4 large sweet potatoes, cut into bite sized chunks
4 pears, cut into bite sized chunks
1 cup coconut sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 9 x 13 in. baking dish with cooking spray.  In a large bowl, mix together the sweet potatoes, pears, coconut sugar, vinegar and spices. After tossing the ingredients together for several minutes, place on the dish or baking sheet and bake for 1 hour. 

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Rhubarb Dessert

 Anybody have any rhubarb in their freezer?  I waited until the last minute last summer to stock up.  I went to the farmers market and scooped up as much as I could.

 Sara from Finding Joy in my Kitchen has amazing recipes. I've made several and love how she tries to make everything healthy.  I know she's made several rhubarb recipes and I'd be willing to bet that she has rhubarb in her freezer!

 This is her moms recipe. Sara says that mom makes it all the time and it is a summertime staple.  I just knew that a recipe that is made that often just had to be good.

 It actually is a very simple recipe.  It came together very quickly. It was positively delicious and I can totally see why mom makes it every year!

I am so glad that I am able to post this rhubarb recipe for The Secret Recipe Club. I encourage you to check out Sara's blog.  I know for sure you'll find something awesome to make. I promise.   

Rhubarb Dessert
Adapted from Finding Joy in my Kitchen

4 T butter
2 C graham crackers

1 C sugar
4 C rhubarb, sliced
3 T corn starch
1/2 C water

1 C whipping cream
1 1/2 C mini marshmallows

1 5-6 serving instant vanilla pudding, made according to box

Combine graham cracker crumbs and butter. Mix well.

Press into a lightly greased 9x13 glass baking dish and bake at 350 for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, combined sugar and cornstarch and stir in rhubarb and water. Cook over medium heat, stirring until thickened. Reduce head and cook for 2-3 minutes.

While the rhubarb filling is cooking, prepare the pudding according to recipe directions. If you wish, you can use a boxed pudding mix (use the larger, 5-6 serving box). Cool (cover with plastic wrap while cooling).

Whip the whipping cream until light and fluffy and then fold in the marshmallows.

Now, you're ready to assemble the mix.

(1) Spread the rhubarb layer over the cooled graham cracker crust.
(2) Cool -- to almost room temperature.
(3) Spoon the whipped cream with marshmallows over the rhubarb layer.
(4) Spread the cooled pudding over the marshmallow layer.

Refrigerate until ready to serve.

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Pork Carnitas

 I've found that there are many different ways to make carnitas. I've made them 2 ways.  The easy version and the not so easy but tastier version. The easy version is to just throw your pork into the slow cooker, rub some spices on it and let it cook slowly until it is shreddable.  Voila.  Pulled pork or carnitas.

I like to make my own spice mix.  I like to know what's in there.  I often don't measure, I just throw it together and it usually comes out fine.  Don't be shy, use plenty of spice. 

Sear the meat.  The delicious smell will start to drive you crazy at this point. You're still a long way to go so be patient.

After 3 hours in the oven it's ready to shred. Then it's time to spread some of that savory sauce over the meat and return to the oven to caramelize and get a bit crispy.

Pile on top of corn tortillas or whole wheat tortillas with your favorite toppings and dig in!

I even put some on a tostada with and egg and spinach for breakfast.  Topped with hot sauce and it's a perfect breakfast!

Pork Carnitas Recipe

7 - 8 lbs. boneless pork, I used boneless pork ribs but you can use pork shoulder or pork butt as well.

Spice Rub: (this worked good for the amount of pork that I used)

1 tbsp. paprika
1 tbsp. smoked paprika
1 tsp. cayenne
1 tbsp. salt
1 tbsp. pepper
1 tbsp. garlic powder
1 tbsp. chili powder
1 tbsp. oregano

Braising liquid:

1 1/2 cups orange juice
water to cover


Cut pork into 2 inch chunks, trimming off large amounds of fat but leave some on for flavor.  Toss pork with the spice rub. 

Heat a pan (or two) on the stove with enough vegetable oil (or bacon grease) to cover the bottom.  Brown the cubed pork on both sides.  Do this in batches so the pieces don't overlap.  We're just looking to sear the pork at this point. 

Transfer the meat as it gets done to a oven proof bowl or pan.  Deglaze the pan's bottom with orange juice, stirring to break up the borwn bits.  Throw the orange juice mix into the bowl with the meat.  Fill with water until it is nearly submerged. 

Cover and throw it in the oven at 300 degrees.  Stir the pot after one hour. Stir the pot after 2 hours.  After 3 hours it should be almost falling apart.  Carefully put the liquid back on the stove in the pan and boil the liquid, allowing it to boil down.

Shred the pork and place it on two baking trays so that it is spread out.  Turn your broiler on high and place a rack towards the top.  Pour a bit of the braising liquid over the pork and gently toss.  Broil for about 5 minutes, stir and broil for about 5 minutes more until the outside begins to caramelize. 

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Florals at home

Chegaram as flores... Lindas de morrer, tal como eu esperava... Mas por muito que quisesse tirar mais fotos, não consigo, com este tempo. Duas semanas sem luz, sempre a chover, sempre cinzento.

Nunca mais chega a Primavera...

Flowers by DK Designs

The flowers have arrived... Beautiful, as expected... But as much as I'd like to take more photos, this lousy weather doesn't provide the light that I need. It's been raining for weeks, cloudy skies, gray light.

Oh Spring, please come quickly...
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Chicken Tortilla Soup

Here is a soup that I can't believe I don't make more often.  It really is one of my favorites. The flavors are perfect and I like to make it really thick.

This is a very healthy, gluten free soup.  It is super filling too. One bowl fills you right up.

We all love it.  The only debate at my house is how spicy it should be.  I like it pretty mild, I like a little zing in my mouth but I like to taste it too.  So not too much spice.  My husband and brother like it to be spicier.  They'll add some more taco seasoning or some hot sauce to it.  Not me, I think it's perfect just the way it is.

Chicken Tortilla Soup Recipe

  • 1 1/4  lbs. boneless chicken breasts
  •  2 tbsp. taco seasoning (my recipe below)
  • 1 cup onion, diced
  • ¼ cups green bell pepper, diced
  • ¼ cups red bell pepper, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can (10 oz.) rotel tomatoes and green chilies
  • 32 ounces, chicken stock
  • 3 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cans (15 oz.) black beans, drained
  • 3 Tablespoons cornmeal
  • 5 whole corn tortillas, cut into strips around 2 To 3 inches

  • Homemade Taco Seasoning

    1/4 cup chili powder
    2 tbsp. paprika
    2 tbsp. smoked paprika (just use regular if you don't have smoked)
    3 tbsp. cumin
    2 tbsp. onion powder
    2 tbsp. salt
    2 tsp. garlic powder
    2 tsp. coriander
    1/2 tsp. pepper
    1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

    Mix spices all together.  Put in a sealed container and keep until needed. I use this for taco meat and chili.
    Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix taco seasoning together.  Sprinkle about 2 tbsp. taco spice mix on both sides of the chicken and rub in with your fingers. Save the rest of the seasoning mix.
    Place chicken breasts on a baking sheet. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until chicken is done. Or put in a casserole dish with a cover and microwave until done. Use two forks to shred chicken. Keep the juices and set aside.
    Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a pot over medium high heat. Add onions, red pepper, green pepper, and minced garlic. Stir and cook for a few minutes. Add shredded chicken with juices and stir.
    Pour in Rotel, chicken stock, tomato paste, water, and black beans. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer for 45 minutes, uncovered.
    Mix cornmeal with a small amount of water. Pour into the soup, then simmer for an additional 30 minutes. Check seasonings, adding more if needed—add more taco seasoning and salt if it needs more spice. Turn off heat and allow to sit for 15 to 20 minutes before serving. Five minutes before serving, gently stir in tortilla strips.
    Ladle into bowls, then top with sour cream, diced red onion, diced avocado, pico de gallo, and grated cheese, if you have it!

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    Cheddar Apple Mashed Potatoes

    We eat mashed potatoes quite a lot around here.  Usually we just throw the usual in them. You know, a splash of milk, a little butter and some S&P.  Easy mashed potatoes.  My boys like them that way, they don't like me adding stuff and changing them up. 

    "Why change a good thing, Mom?!"

    Well, change is good.  Sometimes I like to add things to my mashed potatoes.  So much to my boys' dismay, I made these mashed potatoes and completely fell in love with them.  I've made them several times.  Unfortunately to keep peace in the family, I made a batch of regular potatoes for the boys.  Their loss, not mine. 

    Cheddar Mashed Potatoes
    Adapted from Bizzy Bakes

    4 lbs. potatoes
    1/2 cup milk
    1 cup (4 oz) cheddar cheese, shredded
    1/2 cup onions
    2 apples, chopped (I used fuji)
    Salt and pepper
    Dried chives to garnish (optional)

    Chop potatoes into chunks, drop them into a large pot of water. Brink to a boil and simmer until potatoes are soft.  While potatoes are cooking, combine onions and chopped apples in a pan with a bit of cooking spray.  Saute until tender. 

    Drain the potatoes and return to pot. Add milk and onion/apple mixture and mash.  I like to leave a few chunks.  Add cheese and stir until melted. 

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    Sam's Club & Box Tops for Education Giveaway

    Giveaway closed

    I used to laugh at my dad for buying in bulk.  He'd buy those enormous packages of toilet paper and store them in his closet.  I was seriously embarrassed.  Fast forward 25 years and now what am I doing?  Buying even MORE enormous packages of toilet paper and storing them in my closet.  Yea, now I understand.  I have 3 kids, a husband, a brother and a whole mess load of daycare kids to feed so we go through a lot of stuff here.  Sam's Club has been awesome and I shop there all the time! 

    My daughter is obsessed with clipping box tops.  Seriously. She gets excited when we bring things home that have box tops.  She clips them and keeps them in her baggie until it time to mail them to her school.  We home school the kids but are still able to use them for K12. 

    Do you clip Box Tops for Education?  

    We buy a lot of cereal at Sam's Club.  General Mill's Honey Nut Cheerios is for sure a favorite around here.  My husband has a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios every morning.  While the kids like to mix it up and sometimes eat Lucky Charms or Cinnamon Toast Crunch.  Cereal is big around here.  I am a huge coupon shopper and have found that the prices at Sam's Club for cereal are the cheapest.  Plus, my daughter gets to clip the box tops which make her super, duper happy.  

    Some other products we buy at Sam's Club with Box Tops are Progresso Soup and Cottonelle wipes and toilet paper. She tears those Box Tops off right away when we get those in here.  

    Here are some box tops offers that Sam's Club is offering. 

    • New Plus Members will receive 100 Bonus Box Tops.* (a $10 value to any BTFE participating school)
    • Upgrade your current Membership to a Plus Membership to receive 50 Bonus Box Tops.* (a $5 value to any BTFE participating school)
    • New Advantage or Business Members will receive 25 Bonus Box Tops.* (a $2.50 value to any BTFE participating school) 
    *Offer valid only with original receipt of purchased membership taped to certificate. Only available in-club. Offers available to the first 50 new Plus Members at each club, to the first 100 members who upgrade to a Plus Membership at each club, and to the first 100 new Advantage or Business Members at each club.
    Act now and take advantage of these Box Tops opportunities that Sam's Club has to offer. To find a Sam's Club near you, visit For a full list of Bonus Box Tops items, visit

     Sam's Club was kind enough to give me a $25 gift card to buy products with Box Tops.  With a family as large as mine, this is extremely nice to have.  Any help is appreciated.  I would love for one of you to be able to get some help buying your General Mills products with box tops at Sams Club.  

    Entry 1 - Leave a comment letting me know if you clip box tops and what some of your favorite products are?

    Entry 2 - Visit Sam's Club on Facebook and like them! Come back and leave a comment after.

    Entry 3 - Follow Sam's Club on twitter!  Come back and leave a comment after.

    "Disclosure: I have received gift cards, and the information contained herein from Sam's Club and General Mills through MyBlogSpark."

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    Bacon and Cheddar Deviled Eggs

    This month for the Secret Recipe Club I was excited to make something from Tina's blog.  She has so, so, so many awesome recipes on her blog Mom's Crazy Cooking.  I chose her Bacon and Cheese Deviled Eggs.  I had just been talking to my MIL about deviled eggs and have been craving them.  I saw Tina had several deviled egg recipes but this one jumped out at me.  Yea, she pretty much had me at bacon. 

    Her recipe was also part of her Egg Crazy Cooking Challenge so there is a ton of egg recipes on this page as well. We love, love, love eggs so I appreciated looking at a lot of these!

    These were everything I would want in a deviled egg.  They were creamy, salty and so, so good. I already plan to make these again as an appetizer for my next gathering.  Everybody loves deviled eggs. I cheat and buy the eggs already hard boiled so they are a snap to make!

    This would make a fantastic egg salad sandwich too.  I can't wait to try it!

    Bacon & Cheddar Deviled Eggs (or Egg Salad Sandwiches)
    Adapted from Mom's Crazy Cooking

    6 hard boiled eggs
    1/3 cup of mayonnaise (or maybe a little more if needed)
    1-1/2 tsp mustard
    3 or 4 strips bacon, finely chopped
    ¼ cup cheddar cheese, finely shredded
    a few sprinkles of green onions, finely chopped

    Hard Boil Eggs first, and let cool. Or cheat like I do and buy your eggs already hard boiled. Cut eggs in half lengthwise. Mix together egg yolks, mayonnaise, mustard, cheese, bacon and green onion into a bowl. Fill egg whites with the egg yolk mixture and sprinkle the eggs with a little paprika.

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    Cowboy Cookies

    After 17 days in a row of posting healthy, gluten free, low carb, low calorie meals. I thought I'd shake it up and post these cookies that are just the opposite of all that. Horrible aren't I?

    I made these a long time ago.  I love making desserts, I just need to wait until there is an event in which I need to bring a dessert. 

      These are awesome cookies.  Packed tight with just about everything. 

    Cowboy Cookies Recipe

    3 cups flour
    1 tbsp. baking powder
    1 tbsp. baking soda
    1 tsp. cinnamon
    1 tsp. salt
    3 sticks butter (softened)
    1 1/2 cups sugar
    1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
    3 eggs
    1 tbsp. vanilla
    2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
    1 cup white chocolate chips
    3 cups rolled oats
    2 cups sweetened coconut flakes
    2 cups chopped pecans

    Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in bowl.

    Beat butter in a big bowl until smooth and creamy.  Gradually beat in sugars and continue beating to combine.  Add eggs. 1 at a time, beating after each.  Beat in vanilla. Stir in flour mixture until just combined.  Add chocolate chips, oats, coconut and pecans. 

    Drop about 1/4 cup of dough (i used a bit less) onto greased cookie sheet, spacing about 3 inches apart.  Bake 10 - 13 minutes until edges are lightly browned.  Remove to rack to cool. 

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