Homemade Taco Sauce

Have you noticed we like Mexican inspired foods?  I know, every other recipe here is Tex Mex or something similar.  It's what we eat, so it's what I share.  My daughter loves taco sauce. I'm more of a salsa gal.  But Danielle loves taco sauce. We always seemed to be buying it.  Then we caught on to how easy it is to make it!  

She's the one who makes it now.  Sometimes we cheat and just use some homemade Taco Seasoning.  Danielle likes it pretty mild but you can change up the spices and make it as spicy as you like. 

Homemade Taco Sauce

15 oz. can of tomato sauce
1/3 cup water, more for desired consistency
1/2 tsp. chili powder
2 tsp. cumin
2 tbsp. onion, chopped
1 1/2 tbsp. white vinegar
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. chili flakes (less if you don't want it spicy)

Mix all together and blend in a blender or food processor. Add water until it is at desired consistency. Cook in saucepan to heat up the flavors.  Taste and season as desired. 

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****Chicken Fiesta Salad

This was probably one of my most favorite salads.  It's not just any ordinary salad.  It's like a flavor explosion in one salad bowl.  Trust me on this one, it's amazing!

It even makes an awesome snack just as a dip with chips!  Seriously tasty eats! 

Chicken Fiesta Salad Recipe

1 cup Chicken Fiesta Recipe
Organic romaine lettuce or any greens
2 tbsp. Guacamole
2 tbsp. sour cream
2 tbsp. Garlic Aioli
2 tbsp. Taco Sauce

Fill bowl up with tasty greens.  Top with remaining ingredients.

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Dark Chocolate Ice Cream

Melting fast!
A couple of Christmases ago, my daughter gave me an electric ice cream maker. On sweltering days like today (41 degrees C) it is a godsend.

For dessert tonight I made a very dark, very rich chocolate ice cream.  With ingredients including 70% cocoa dark chocolate, cream and eggs (from our chooks), this ice cream is hardly a dieter's treat.  Yet because it is so rich, one is inclined to eat less, so perhaps it is not quite so naughty after all.

This is a traditional ice cream made from an egg custard.  You could adapt the recipe to make vanilla ice cream by eliminating the chocolate and adding a crushed vanilla pod to the milk and cream prior to heating.

Please note: this dessert needs to be planned ahead because the chocolate custard must chill fully before being churned in an ice cream maker.  I recommend preparing the custard the day before churning, if possible. Also, depending on your ice cream maker, you may also need to freeze the metal bowl ahead of time.

Dark Chocolate Ice Cream 

1 Cup (250 ml) milk
1 Cup (250 ml) cream
4 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tbsp cocoa, sifted
150 melted dark chocolate (I used 70% cocoa chocolate)

  1. Whisk eggs, sugar and sifted cocoa together until well combined.  
  2. Combine milk and cream in a medium saucepan and heat to scalding point (very hot to the touch but not quite boiling).  
  3. Pour milk mixture into egg mixture a little at a time, whisking constantly.  
  4. Return mixture to the saucepan and heat gently, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickly coats the back of a wooden spoon.  It is important not to let the custard boil as the eggs will curdle.
  5. Gently stir in the melted chocolate.
  6. Pour the finished chocolate custard into a bowl and refrigerate until well-chilled.
  7. Churn in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's directions.  
  8. If you don't have an electric ice cream maker, freeze the chocolate custard in a metal cake tin until nearly frozen, then transfer the custard into a bowl and beat with electric beaters until smooth.  Freeze again until firm. 
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Cooking with the Tadka Girls- Pasta in lemon pepper sauce!

Few weeks or maybe a month ago, I read a blog post by a friend in which she had mentioned this book "Around The World With The Tadka Girls [Ruchira Ramanujam, Ranjini Rao]".We spoke about the book to a point where she mentioned it was a good book to have, not only were the recipes good, they were easy to make and the ingredients were all simple ones [most of which we would have around the kitchen]

Two weeks ago,I was at a bookstore, when I called this friend asking about the title of the book. Another friend who was with me exclaimed on seeing the book in my hand. We decided to buy a copy and share the book! 

Day before, when I was wondering what to make for dinner, I decided to refer the book. Spotted a Fettucine and prawns recipe, read through it and went ahead to tweak the recipe a bit [since am a vegetarian, i chose to replace prawns with vegetables].. It turned out beautiful, took less than 15mins to cook and I loved the tangy peppery flavours.

The Recipe!

Farfalle pasta- 1 cup
Onion- 1
Garlic- 3 pods
Thyme/mixed herbs- 1 tbsp
Salt- to taste
Black pepper- 2 tsp
Oil- as much as required
Butter- 1 small cube
Water- enough to boil the pasta in
Vegetables- mushroom, baby corn, carrots and capsicum [green, yellow & red]
Lemon/lime juice- 1.5 tsp
Lemon/lime rind/peel- 1 tsp

In a pot, add water, salt and oil- add the pasta and allow it to cook. I added the baby corn to this as it takes a while to cook.Strain and keep aside. Dont throw away all the water, keep 1/2 cup aside. 

In another pan, add the butter and oil, saute the garlic and onion for a few minutes. 
Add the chopped vegetables and saute till they cook
Now, add the salt, black pepper and herbs
Once the vegetables are well done, toss in the cooked pasta and mix well.
Squeeze in the lime juice and add the lime ride/peel[either grate it or chip finely]
Add 2 tbsp of pasta boiled water and turn off heat when all come together.

Serve hot!

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****Breakfast Nachos

This pile of supreme awesomeness was my breakfast. Oh yea.  I love breakfast burritos.  This is the same taste as a burrito but better with a crunch! 

Keeping this meat free I used Chipotle Beans on it.  This gives it a wonderful smokey flavor that is great with the eggs.  I also used our homemade taco sauce.  So much better than the bottled stuff!  I wish I had my Guacamole or Avocado Aioli in the fridge but I was out. Hubs bought some 100 calorie packs of guac so I just used that. Not as good as mine but it worked!  

Breakfast Nachos

Tortilla chips, couple of handfuls
2 eggs
1/3 cup Chipotle Beans
2 tbsp. Taco Sauce
Grated cheese for the top, I used colby jack
Guacamole or Avocado Aioli, optional for the top

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17th Birthday Dessert Night


For her 17th birthday my daughter requested a dessert night for herself and around ten of her best friends.

I have rarely enjoyed organising a party so much, largely due to the active involvement and assistance of my beautiful daughter.  Em had very clear ideas about the look of the party and the food to be served, and we worked together to bring her ideas to life.

Rather than a one or two-coloured palette Em wanted 'rainbow colours'.  After visiting several homewares stores for ideas we discovered the cloth napkins below at Bed, Bath N' Table, which Em immediately felt were perfect.  The bright pastel colour scheme was continued with colourful balloons and streamers and even multi-coloured cachous on the cupcakes. The table was set with a pale lemon tablecloth, white plates, dessert spoons, the pretty napkins and real glassware.  Colourful solar lights lined the garden beds and  a string of coloured light bulbs shone overhead.

The menu of dessert finger food we prepared included:
  • white and dark chocolate-dipped strawberries
  • vanilla cupcakes with piped pink buttercream icing (you can find the buttercream recipe here; we added a few drops of cochineal to the basic recipe) and a sprinkle of multi-coloured cachous
  • little chocolate eclairs filled with chantilly cream and iced with dark chocolate
  • little lemon meringue tarts filled with home-made lemon curd
  • tiny melting moments
  • chocolate brownies
  • hot chocolate with marshmallows
We had a busy day cooking and getting the house ready, but the enjoyment of the girls who attended (and especially the birthday girl) made all the effort worthwhile.

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Mounds Bars

Mounds or Almond Joy?  

Hubs likes dark chocolate so he prefers Mounds. I love nuts so I prefer Almond Joy. 

These are kinda the best of both worlds. No almonds but there are ground pecans in there.  Hiding, but they are in there. 

Smothered in dark chocolate.  Yup, best of both worlds.  

Dark chocolate AND nuts. 

Seriously good stuff. They don't last long, trust me. 

Mounds Bars Recipe

3 cups finely chopped pecans
1 lb. sweetened coconut
1 lb. powdered sugar
1 can sweetened condensed milk
Dark chocolate chips, about 12 oz.

Mix everything in a big bowl.  Form into logs, I got 4 logs. Wrap the coconut logs in wax paper and freeze for 30 minutes to an hour.  These actually last in the freezer for a long time if you happen to only make 3 logs worth of Mounds Bars and forget about the 4th one for about 6 months and then open the freezer to a nice surprise.  Ahem. 

Melt dark chocolate. Cut coconut logs into chunks, not to thin.  They are pretty easy to cut with a big knife. Dip the coconut chunks into the chocolate until coated, place on wax or parchment paper.  We used some handy dandy plastic dipping tools but a couple of forks work just fine. Cool completely and devour.  

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Chipotle Bacon Ranch Salad Dressing

I love making my own salad dressings. They are healthier, tastier and you can make them just the way you like them. 

You can make it spicier and add more chipotle peppers.  It does get spicier as it sits in the refrigerator though.  Make it vegetarian and nix the bacon if you want. Make it thinner, thicker, however you like it. It makes a great dressing for egg salad or potato salad too. 

Chipotle Bacon Ranch Salad Dressing Recipe

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 tsp. dried dill
1/2 tsp. dried parsley
1/2 tsp. dried chives
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
Freshly squeezed lemon juice to taste, about 1 - 3 tsp.
1/4 tsp. cumin
1 chipotle pepper
3 strips of bacon

Combine everything in a blender and blend until smooth.  If it's not the right consistency, go ahead and add some more buttermilk but it seemed perfect to me.

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Escapee Chicken


Lola is our escapee chook. Where Ninja, Scarecrow and Nightmare are usually content to stay in their (ample) yard, Lola takes every opportunity to escape.

Sometimes she digs under the fence and wriggles out commando-style; other times she flies onto the roof of the henhouse and escapes that way.  Not even clipped wings deter her.

I understand her desire for freedom.  Despite her obvious intelligence (or maybe because of it) Lola is at the bottom of the pecking order and spends much of her time being pecked at by the other chooks. 

Lola's favourite hiding place is under the now enormous tomato bushes.  This afternoon I noticed that she has developed a taste for the ripe tomatoes at the bottom of the bushes.

Clever girl!
Flaunting her freedom
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Jerk Chicken

You like things spicy?  This Jerk Chicken will get you sweating!  It had a wonderful flavor though and everyone loved it.  

The leftovers were perfect on a salad the next day too. 

We ate this with watermelon.  That helped to cool things off a bit.  :-)

Jerk Chicken Recipe

2 lbs. chicken breasts
Jerk Marinade

Mix marinade and marinate chicken.  I marinated them for about 6 hours.  Cook in a pan until done or else grill the chicken. Put some of the marinade in the pan with the chicken so it can cook with the chicken.  Spicy but super delicious!

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First Tomatoes

What is it about the first tomatoes of the season that is so exciting?  No other vegetable or fruit seems to inspire such enthusiasm. 

Is it because there is such a vast difference between supermarket tomatoes and those that are grown at home?  Surely it's also because the first ripe tomatoes in December mean that summer has truly arrived.

The tomato plant shown here is a cherry tomato that self-seeded and is now the biggest, bushiest tomato plant I think I have seen, certainly for so early in the season.  Hidden amongst the leaves at the bottom of the plant the tomatoes are beginning to ripen, but you have to go down on hands and knees to find them.

In a month or two I'll be overwhelmed by abundant tomatoes and will be considering how to preserve them - dried, in chutney or in tomato sauce.  But for now I am content to eat them straight off the bush, just as they are.
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Rocking it, CFG style...

Do you love food? 
Do you love to cook?
Do you enjoy eating?
Do you like to party?

Well, if you answered for all or any of these with a big nod of your head, then time for you to read further...

Do you wanna see what it was like last year? at our 8th Anniversary..Here you go

If in case you answered No, well, you are here, so you might as well continue reading, actually just go ahead read it all.. be nice and nobody gets hurt, alright ;o)

The month is December
The date is 22nd
Time: 6.30pm onwards
The venue is Accord Metropolitan Hotel, GN Chetty road.

So what is so big about the day? Well, D'oh. It’s time for you to mark this on your calendar, so you don't miss out on this awesome event..

What is the event you ask? Gosh... its Chennai Food Guide's 9thAnniversary bash. It is going to be an evening of fun, food and foodies... you will get to meet fellow foodies, chefs, people from the industry, crack up laughing, groove to some cool beats, dig into some amazing food- basically have a whale of a time.. 

Come join us for this wonderful evening... If you would like to attend, ping me, leave a comment with your name/email id and I shall connect with you Or you could simply click on the link and pick up your ticket.

Early bird tickets are available, but the timer is on.. so don’t waste too much time contemplating. Go for it..

Online payment--

See ya there~  


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The Biryani & Haleem Workshop is back... 8th December!!

When you bring two ladies who are passionate about food, and love to experiment you are in for a treat, actually a feast! 

Maaria of Adoniya launched a series of Cupcake workshops and now she has gone further extending a warm welcome to Tasneem Ayub [Aunty] for the Biryani & Haleem workshop. Nope, this is not the first one, there was one 2weeks ago which saw 21 people learn how to make the most amazing Biryani and Haleem, straight from Aunty..  Experiments in the kitchen with recipes from cookbooks or the internet is fun, but when you get to learn from someone like Aunty you are bound to go home with a precise recipe and a foolproof method as well. What is more, you will have a blast learning the dishes~ !!

What can i say about aunty.. She is amazing, and food is all about caring and sharing and giving to her!! She has hosted dinner parties, brought over food, sent across food, and shared recipes freely numerous times. We love her food- zafrani badaam, bread halwa, veg biryani, tomato thokku, walnut chutney, Qubani ka meetha and so much more....She is such a sweetheart that if she has a group of veggie and non veggies coming over, she pays so much attention to make sure both groups have enough options...  :-) 

Have I attended the workshop? Sigh, you had to ask dint you.. Nope. Not because I don't like Biryani but only because I am a vegetarian :-) 

Now stop reading and go grab your seat for the upcoming workshop already... Last few seats remain for the biryani and haleem workshop this Sunday at Adoniya Academy!  

For more details and online registration visit

Maaria - 9840285950 
Tasneem Aunty - 9884078631

Have a great experience and do tell us about it.. 
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