Ria's Collection

Thursday, October 13, 2016


Baked Hot & Spicy Chicken Tacos
The very first time I ever ate a Taco was during my Mount Carmel days in Bangalore. My department conducted a 2 day food sale every year for the final year students which was a part of the final practical examination. So when our seniors hosted the sale, one of their menu items were a vegetarian taco and that was filled with a super delicious saucy kidney bean filling which was on my mind for weeks even after the event.
Baked Hot & Spicy Chicken Tacos
My very good friend from college Vasu came to my rescue with her sister's recipe notes for homemade taco shells and filling.All those recipes contained some ingredients that I could never ever find in Kannur. So those recipes went underground and never saw daylight again!
Baked Hot & Spicy Chicken Tacos
After coming to the US, my Taco craze was satified. There are so many different and easy ways that you can make or even assemble them. Readymade shells from Old El Paso are a life saver! You just have to pretty much bring all the filling ingredients together and simply assemble the Tacos. Tacos are perfect for parties, game days or even a simple dinner! I love how easy it is to have a Taco Bar at our parties,where the guests can assemble their own Tacos with the fillings of their choice.

Baked Hot & Spicy Chicken Tacos
Today, I have a different take on a regular Taco...a baked version. It uses Old El Paso Refried Beans, Old El Paso Taco Shells, Old El Paso Hot & Spicy Taco seasonings along with some cooked chicken thighs, Mexican cheese and other toppings . I found this recipe on Becky's site and decided to make it right away! The ease was the main deciding factor,not to mention the flavour combinations!
Baked Hot & Spicy Chicken Tacos

Baked Hot & Spicy Chicken Tacos Serves 8-10

1 tablespoon olive oil
8 ounces cooked chicken, shredded
1/2 yellow onion, diced
One 16 ounce can diced fire roasted tomatoes,drained well
One 4.5 ounce canned green chilies
One 1 ounce packet Hot & Spicy Taco seasoning
Half 16 ounce can refried beans
10 Stand & Stuff Taco shells
Mexican cheese
Sour Cream

Method: In a medium saute pan, heat olive oil over medium high heat and once it is hot, add the onions and saute till transparent, 3-4 minutes. Add the diced tomatoes, green chilies, Taco seasoning & shredded chicken. Mix well and simmer for 8 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 F. Grease a 9 X 13 inch baking pan. Place the Taco shells in it and fill them with a tablespoon each of refried beans. Top them with the chicken mixture and then with cheese. Bake for 13-15 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the shells are a bit brown around the edges. Top with your favourite toppings and serve right away!

These Tacos were really flavourful and so easy to make! The filling can be made ahead of time,so it's just the last minute assembly that you need to do. Go ahead and make these for your next get together / game day / parties!  You can thank me later! :-)

Monday, October 10, 2016


These Reynolds Disposable Heat & Eat containers have come into our lives at the right time. They work perfectly for us now since we have a teeny tiny baby girl along with her big brother at home. It makes meal planning easier with less dishes to wash. . All we need to do is just heat and eat the meal when it's time!
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I usually never send lunch boxes with a full fledged Indian meal since it's a task to heat them up and we like our Indian meals nice and hot! These containers eliminates all of those and makes life a little bit easier. These containers are a made with plant fibers,can be heated up in a microwave and are a great alternative to plastic.

You can find these awesome Reynolds Disposable Heat & Eat containers at your local Walmart store in the food storage aisle.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016


Strawberry Cupcakes with Strawberry Buttercream Frosting
I know Summer is almost a year away (sadly!) but that doesn't stop me from baking with berries as long as I can get hold of some good ripe ones. I've been eyeing these Fresh Strawberry Cupcakes from Jaclyn's blog for the longest time now and there's no other perfect time to bake them than October as it's the breast cancer awareness month.It reminds me of all the pink goodies I used to see back in the day,when my blog was little during October. Now, I honestly get zero time to blog hop which in a way is good,since all those posts would make me want to recreate them all at home and everything eventually will find it's way to my hips!

Strawberry Cupcakes with Strawberry Buttercream Frosting
These cupcakes are very moist and so full of fresh strawberry flavour,both in the cake and frosting. They are light and uses two egg whites along with a whole egg in the cupcake batter,which I think is a smart move to make some very light cupcakes. I tried them straight out of the oven,literally burning my hands as I held them...they were so good! Light and fluffy like clouds! Recipe testing with Amma is always fun as we hold our breath together while tasting what we made, to see and feel if it has turned out the way it described itself to be. These cupcakes were worth it's time and effort.

Strawberry Cupcakes with Strawberry Buttercream Frosting
Many of you must have already heard about Susan.G.Komen and her initiatives.This October, you can make a difference just by baking and sharing cupcakes.Join KitchenAid to support Susan.G.Komen. Learn more here!

Strawberry Cupcakes with Strawberry Buttercream Frosting Makes 16 cupcakes

1 2/3 cup cake flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 large egg
2 large egg whites
1/3 cup fresh strawberry puree
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
5 drops red food colour (optional)
1/2 cup diced fresh strawberries

1/2 cup + 2 tablespoon strawberry puree
3/4 cup unsalted butter
a pinch of salt
2 1/2 - 2 3/4 cups powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
4 drops red food colour (optional)

Method:Preheat oven to 350F and prepare a muffin tin.

Cupcakes:In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix together buttermilk, colour and puree in a another bowl.In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar on high speed using your KitchenAid hand mixer until creamy and pale. Add in the whole egg and mix well to combine. Add in the egg whites one at a time and beat in well. Add the flour and buttermilk mixture alternately and gently mix it in. Fold in the diced strawberries and divide the batter among the lined muffin tin (about 1/3 cup full) and bake for 18 - 20 minutes.Let the cupcakes cool in the tin for several minutes, then transfer them onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Frosting: Cook the strawberry puree in a small sauce pan over medium low heat until it reduces to 3 tablespoons, about 15 minutes. Chill it well.
Cream butter and salt until almost white. Add the strawberry puree, 1 cup of powdered sugar and vanilla. Beat well to mix. Add in the remaining sugar and beat well.If your buttercream is stiff, adjust the consistency with heavy cream. Frost the cupcakes as desired.
Ian has his favourite flavour picked out for a cake,which by the way is Chocolate. He asks for the same old chocolate cake and chocolate brownies,so I rarely make any other flavour these days . If it's a Marble Cake,it's okay with him but other than that, if I were to give him a choice, he would always go with his most favourite flavour. So when I baked these, I made a separate batch of chocolate cupcakes for him. Even then, when he saw these pink cupcakes, he grabbed one and then he ate another one before bed. Today, as soon as he was back home from his Montessori, he casually walked past by the cake box and picked out one for himself.

I think that can only mean one thing, these turned out pretty good!

Thursday, September 22, 2016


This post is sponsored by Dorot but the content and opinions expressed here are my own.
It hasn't been that busy here as I thought it would be when a baby arrives. It could be because it's my second time around. Things have been really smooth and the siblings are bonding very well! Even though Amma insists on me taking some time off from the kitchen, it's something I find very hard to do. So whenever I can, I sneak into the kitchen and try my hand at something new since Amma has all our day to day meals covered.

Have you ever hoped that you could find some awesome herbs in frozen paste form that you can just pop it out of the case,straight into whatever you are making? I never really cared for the ginger garlic pastes that we get to buy at our local Indian stores because they don't smell or taste anything like it. Whereas Dorot products are really really good. So flavourful and super easy to use!

They have Crushed Garlic, Chopped Basil, Chopped Parsley,Glazed Onions, Chopped Dill,Chopped Cilantro, Chopped Chili, Crushed Ginger in their product line. As a garlic lover, I was attracted to their Crushed Garlic.Each cube holds one clove of garlic. Just pop it out and use it as you wish. You can find their products at any Trader Joes (one of my most favourite places to shop!) & Whole Foods. The product was easy to find and you can find them at the frozen section of Trader Joes or Whole Foods. Dorot has been kind enough to offer you guys a discount on your purchase. Click here to avail the offer!
Amma loves a good garlic bread! So when I spotted this recipe on Rachel's blog, I instantly bookmarked it to try it that night. It turned out really fluffy, soft and tasty! We enjoyed it with a warm bowl of Roasted Red Pepper & Tomato Soup. It was an amazing meal!
Makes one 10 inch loaf
3 1/2 cups bread flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
1 1/2 teaspoon dried basil, divided
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
2 + 6 cloves garlic, ground to a fine paste,divided
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup + 2 tablespoons very warm water
1/4 cup milk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted & divided
6 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Method: In the bowl of your stand mixer, mix together flour, sugar, yeast, 1/2 teaspoon dried basil,2 cloves of garlic & salt. With the machine running on low speed, add in the oil, water & milk. Mix on low - medium speed until the dough comes together and leaves the sides of the bowl, about 4 minutes. Leave it to double in size,covered,in an oiled bowl.
Once doubled in size, punch down the dough and roll it out on a lightly floured surface to a 12 x 20 inch rectangle.
Smear 3 tablespoons of melted butter, remaining 6 cloves of garlic paste,1 teaspoon dried basil and sprinkle the cheese over it. Cut the dough into 6 rectangles and stack them up. Cut the stack into 6 squares and place them in a lightly greased 10 inch loaf tin.Cover the bread dough and let it rise for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350 F.Once the dough has risen, drizzle the remaining 1 tablespoon of melted butter over it and bake the bread for 30-35 minutes. Enjoy while warm !

You can find a $1 off discount coupon to use towards any of the Dorot garlic and herb products,here!

Friday, September 16, 2016


Baby Zara!
Meet our new love, Baby Zara born on 16 September 2016.
Ian is in love with his baby sister!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016


Long weekends usually call for lots of food and drinks! This past Labor Day was no different. We went to the Valleyfair once again and took part in the 40th Annual Green Giant Corn Feast happening there.We love corn and didn't think twice about standing in the line to eat the freshly cooked buttery corn sprinkled with lots of lemon pepper! The stalls were giving out 30,000 pounds of fresh corn to the park visitors and the lines were growing by the minute!
Ian loves going to such fairs where there is fun and food involved. The weather was perfect, cloudy but not hot. So we sat down by the stage with the piping hot buttery corn and listened to the live music performed by local band Restoration Revue. After that,we took Ian for all the rides the little ones could ride on! He was so excited all throughout and couldn't decide which ride he should go on next! Appan & Amma are visiting and they found the caricature stall quite exciting and got a colour caricature done. It was really a lovely day,well spent with the people we love!
There will be a lot really fun events happening at the Valleyfair this fall,perfect for families & foodies alike, so keep your eyes peeled open for it! You can get more details regarding them here!

This post is sponsored by Cedar Fair Entertainment Company and all opinions are my own.

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