31 December 2013

Cranberry Wine


Happy Happy New year ,good bye good bye old year...this is a quite famous song..everyone might have heard ..right?? No?...hmm actually you are right ...because only I am familiar with this song because the lyrics are composed and sung by the Elvis Presley of my house ,Mr.Honey P ...Yepp every year end he would sing this song and I would run looking for cotton buds ASAP ...it's that melodious ..:P


Hmm,so hardly a day is left for the new year to start,for new beginnings,for new resolutions,for a fresh start in every way hoping and praying that this year everything will work out in our favor ,...and to bid good bye to this year to forget what we went through especially all hardships were just nightmares that hopefully won't happen again and to cherish all good memories and hoping them to continue forever.


My 2013 was not that good ..more downs than ups...don't know why God thinks that I can face anything and everything ,he has got faith on me more than I've on him now.But I wish he didn't trust me that much. But then as my mom would say ,"Always count blessings not your troubles." and when you compare yourself don't compare it to people who are superior to you in every way but to the ones who are inferior or are helpless than you.Then you'll realize how blessed you are STILL.I guess that keeps me on the right and strong perspective always.


Hope 2014 will be awesome !!

When there is plenty of wine, sorrow and worry take wing.” ― Ovid, The Art of Love

So,sometimes, year end ,usually, I end up making wine ...Hoping my sorrows and worries will take wing ..hehe:P ...


That being said I am certainly not a wine person ...I only drink home made wines not the store ones but then my hubby loves it and he would always emphasize what Louis Pasteur said once, "Wine is the most healthful and most hygienic of beverages.”

Well,I don't disagree either but with an exception to be remembered that "Moderation is the key." 

So this time I tried making cranberry wine .Last year it was Gooseberry wine .My aunt is a great wine maker.I got inspired by her recipe.This is how I made it.

 Cranberry Wine


Cranberry ,organic, dry - 255 gram
Sugar - 1 1/2 kg
Water - 1 liter
Cranberry tea bag - 1 no.(optional)
Champagne Yeast or Activated dry yeast- 1/4 teaspoon


  • Wash the cranberries well and allow them to dry .
  • Meanwhile boil water in a clean dry pan and add sugar into it.Let it boil until all sugar dissolves completely.
  • Allow it to cool a bit.When it is still lukewarm add the cranberries & the cranberry tea bags into it.
  • To this add champagne/wine yeast and stir well with a sanitized and dry wooden spoon or ladle.
  • Put everything into a porcelain or glass jar (DRY & SANITIZED) and keep it aside for five minutes.
  • After 5 minutes , close the lid tight and store it in a cool ,dry ,quite place for fermentation for 3 weeks approx.
  • Every day or every alternate days ,stir everything with a DRY WOODEN SPOON and mash the cranberries with the spoon too.
  • Once the sweetness of the wine is lessened to almost none,strain them using a cheese/muslin cloth into a dry sanitized bottle.Put the tea bag into it.Keep them aside for another 2 weeks undisturbed.
  • After two weeks again strain them using the cheese/muslin cloth into a clean dry sanitized bottle preferably with cork tops or airtight tops/lid.
  • It yields 1 liter or little more of cranberry wine. 
  • Cheers !!! Cranberry wine is ready !!
  •  The more time it ages,more flavorful wine it'll.
  • Always use clean,dry and sanitized ceramic or glass bottles and wooden spoons or ladles only .
  • I used the cranberry-orange tea bag for the tannin effect to make it little more astringent-e and that's why that color .It's strictly optional.
  • Use champagne yeast or wine yeast than activated dry yeast.
Cheers to a new brightful beginning ..Amen!!!
 Wishing all readers a very happy and blessed new year,loads of happiness,sorrows less ,peace,good health ,God bless.

Wish you a prosperous New Year (in advance),

Sending this to Sharanya's Let's cook for christmas

29 December 2013

Cake Pops


If lollipops are for kids (which is not applicable for me though ..I still love those little suckers :P),then cake pops are for EVERYONE.Hardly anyone can resist by their cutie beautie looks and yummy delights all in a bite.It is something rising in fame and name all over the blogosphere especially .


I always wanted to try making them but since I am not a hardcore baker as of now ,it was in the waiting list . When it's Christmas , there's no more waiting and if you have a baked cake ,it's really a piece of cake ..I mean not just the saying ,it is !!..as all you need to do is crumble a portion of a cake depending upon how many you wanna make,mix something like frosting,icing that can help hold them together and mold them into desired shape and some pop sticks to stick into it ,that you can buy from any craft stores like Michaels,Hobby Lobby or even from Walmart and melted chocolate to cover it to secure its shape . That's it . Cake pops are ready .


Kids will go gaga over it and anyone who is not a cake fan like Honey P will be too curious to say no and will be already eyeing on the next one...

This is how I made them .

Cake Pops


Icing - 1-2 tablespoon
White chocolate - 1/2 cup
Vegetable oil ,drops- 3-4(optional)
Cake pop sticks - as you need
Sprinkles for decoration



  • Take a bowl and crumble finely the half portion of the cake .
  • Add the icing little by little  to it and mix well everything with hand till it becomes moist enough to shape it into small balls .
  • Using hand or using a mini icecream scoop ,scoop out or create golf sized balls.
  • Pop all those cake pop sticks into each and every ball and freeze them for an hour .
  • Meanwhile ,take a (deep and narrow preferably)microwave safe dish and put all those white chocolates into it and couple of drops of any vegetable oil into it and microwave for (repeated) 30 secs (stirring at every 30 secs until the chocolate is completely melted).
  • Remove from the microwave and take the cake pops out of the freezer and start dipping one by one in such a way that it should also cover the stick and the cake meeting point .
  • Take a bowl with sprinkles and dip and coat the cake pops with it quickly as otherwise melted chocolate may harden quickly.
  • Stick the cake pops into the Styrofoam block to allow them to set completely.
  • Place them into the freezer again to speed up the setting time for 10 minutes approx.
  • Remove from the freezer and enjoy . 
  • I got 10 cake pops approx.
  • Use either frosting or icing to mix with the cake to make it into balls,but add little by little .
  • I used straws instead of the sticks and even that worked fine.But better use the cake pop sticks.

Hope you'll like it..

Sending this to - Sharanya's event ,"Let's cook for christmas"

27 December 2013

Plum cup cakes or mini GIFT cakes ?


 Who can say no to cup cakes..isn't it?? It's like seductive guilty less mini sinful pleasures everyone's dil maangey more ...including Honey P's...yes,even he can't dare to say "No" ..That's why I always bake cup cakes with the leftover cake batter ...and this time too with the Plum cake batter , as gift wrapped and decorated with fondant ...now that's an edible perfect gift you don't even have to wait to open it ...All you have to do is to strip down the cup cake cover and BITE !!! and U R IN HEAVEN !!!

However ,warning : Don't even think or step on the weighing machine by any chance or U'll be in He....? u know where :(...I hide it since I am blessed with a Ghajini memory (shortie):| ...just to be on the safer happier side...


Moreover, Xmas and New year give you the valid excuse to make,bake and devour guilty free ..well,as I always say and believe ,"It's not festival if there's no sweets and snacks ,you have to forget about sexy abs and six packs :P."...well..:D....that's me I totally forget the definition of the term,"Calories".....

So,there's no specific recipe as they are made up of the leftover Plum cake batter (previous post) ...


  • Take a marble size white fondant and roll it into small circles and cover the top of the cup cakes ,folding the edges firmly.
  •  Take another five nos. of marble shaped white fondant,using a toothpick apply a drop of  different colors to the respective fondants ,using fingers give a good massage to the roll in such a way that it becomes a colored round fondant and now roll them into circle or oblong shape  and cut them into four long strips.Put two strips criss-crossed onto the top of the covered cup cakes.

  •  Take two strips - fold each one of them like a bow shape , cut them and put them firmly on to the Cris-crossed strips on the top of the cup cake in such a way that they look like four bows.That's it the cup cake is gift wrapped with a bow.I used an edible pearl to put at the center of the bow for a nice finishing touch.

See now you don't have to spare money to buy any laces ,gift wrap or bow anymore for a perfect gift -sounds good?? :P ...well,hope you'll like it.:)

A good conscience is a continual Christmas ~ Benjamin Franklin

Sending this to - Sharanya's event ,"Let's cook for christmas"

25 December 2013

Christmas Plum cake - Kerala style (Alcohol free)


 "Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful."~Norman Vincent Peale

I guess that's why I bake usually on Christmas eve :p as I know for sure everything will turn out softer and more beautiful :D. Hallelujah.............


Actually ,that's not exactly a joke but that's how it is to me..because first of all I don't bake a lot as Honey P is not a big cake fan and when I do it's ususally on some special occasions and especially on Christmas eve and just like the saying above whatever I bake for sure comes out much softer and beautiful I believe ..well,Christmas is in the air and christmas is in the heart and therefore Christmas is in my oven too :D ....


That being said, that's not just to it ,I definitely second the saying above in every way ...so ,true ...Christmas waves a magic wand !!! especially in this chilly windy winter which I detest like anything ,I hardly feel like stepping out of my home ,I hardly feel like wrapping myself with those woolen clothes it's the Christmas in the air which as if says ,"Come on girl,get out of your comfort zone (home) and look out ,it's beautiful out there" ..as if saying ,"Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder". It is not always bad,if you know how to find good in everything.....I believe that's one of the prime message of this festivity season...


Can't agree more actually,because it is !!! I step out at day and I find every single person glowing , at night all those beautiful decoration outside everyone's home-big and small just makes you smile ,a christmas-y visual treat it is and if it's snowing heavily you won't feel like complaining either because that makes a perfect white christmas and lo and behold ,"Manju is in wonderland !!"....I think this is the best and my favourite season to be in USof A. Thank you my lord for this blessing, it certainly, for this, snow,winter and festivity numbs all my worries and makes me cheerful again :)..


Also reminds me ,Charles Dickens saying ,"Happy, happy Christmas, that can win us back to the delusions of our childish days; that can recall to the old man the pleasures of his youth; that can transport the sailor and the traveller, thousands of miles away, back to his own fire-side and his quiet home!"

Well,who can disagree to that :))...same here I also become nostalgic ,it undoubtedly transports me back to the wonderful bygone days ...back in India when I was small I had neighbors who were Christian and months before they get ready to celebrate Christmas by decorating their home with all those blinking ad sparkling lights,a Christmas tree on the courtyard with all goodies and a glowing star on the top and then a biig star hanging outside the patio and the Christmas carol ,that though I hardly understood or knew was soothing and meant for me ,"Happy Birthday lord Jesus !!"...O how I looked forward to December then!!..and every Christmas we got invitation at their home where aunty would serve us with traditional kerala food like spongy appam and spicy beef fry for the breakfast followed by lunch - Chorrum,meenum,kappa (Rice,spicy fish curry,Tapioca) and other Christian delicacies ....and what really makes me dead nostlagic is recalling my friend and myself giggling and enjoying every bit of none other than one of the most integral food of Christmas ,"Plum cake" .


Now that those days are gone ,feels more like a dream ,like snowflakes ,I try to rekindle and recreate those precious memories of Christmas by baking the season's cake- the Plum cake and moreover if there is one cake my man loves the most ,"Kerala Plum cake" its is...So, Christmas makes me bake ,no matter what it takes, a yummy Plum cake " :D....

By the way I wonder why it's called Plum cake when it's just not the plum fruit that goes into it there are many other fruit pieces too and If I were to name it I would have named it ,"RUM CAKE" because soaking all the fruits in the rum is what makes this cake stand apart from the rest .Though this time I opted an alcohol free version and my verdict ,definitely it's not exactly as flavorful like the rum version but soaking it in orange juice (longer) didn't make it less flavorful ,every bite will for sure say,"it is plum cake". Rum's kick may be absent but orange juice's acidic properties does the ultimate trick.

This is how I make my Plum cake -

Christmas Plum cake


All Purpose Flour /Maida (Sifted) - 1 cup
Butter (room temperature) - 3/4 cup
Brown Sugar - 1 cup
Egg (room temperature) - 4 nos.
Baking Powder - 1 1/2 teaspoons
Dry fruit mix (Plum,Apricot,Raisin,tutti-fruti) - 1/2 cup
Cashewnuts - 1/4 cup
Vanilla extract - 1 teaspoon
Orange juice - 1/2 cup or enough to soak the fruit

For the spice powders :

Cinnamon powder - 1/4 teaspoon
Nutmeg powder - 1/4 teaspoon
Ginger powder - 1/4 teaspoon

For the caramel :

Granulated sugar - 1/2 cup
Water- 1/2 cup

                                                           Doily and fondant for decoration


  • Soak all dry fruit mix ,cashewnuts in orange juice and keep it overnight in a bottle at room temperature AT LEAST or for the best flavor keep it for 2-3 weeks or longer the better.

  • Preheat oven at 350 degrees F/180 degrees C.
  • In a heavy bottom pan,add sugar and a tablespoon of water on medium high heat.
  • Once the sugar starts melting,swirl it instead of stirring it until it becomes a dark brown color.
  • Turn off the heat, add 1/2 cup of water and stir well - Caramel is ready.

  • Cream together butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy.
  • Add the eggs one at a time while mixing/creaming.
  • Fold in the flour,baking powder and all dry spice powders.
  • Pour the caramel and beat everything until creamy and well combined.
  • Pour the soaked and drained dry fruit-nut mix and mix everything well.
  • Grease the cake pan and pour the cake batter up to the half of the cake pan.
  • Bake it for 45-60 minutes or until a skewer/knife/toothpick inserted into it comes out clean, and then cake is ready.
  • Let it cool on a wire rack.
  • Once cooled place a doily on top of the cake,sprinkle powdered sugar and decorate with leaves made with fondants.
  • This is an alcohol free version so I used orange juice instead of the traditional rum .
  • Use white sugar if you wish ,brown sugar is not necessary .
  • Use any dry fruit mix or any nut mix like almonds,walnuts,dates etc.Choice is yours.Chop into small pieces all dry fruits well before soaking in rum or orange juice as per your choice.Longer the soaking ,better the authentic flavor .I soaked for 2 weeks but usually it can be soaked since or for a year.Longer the better.
  • Before mixing the soaked fruit-nut mix into the batter,rub them in flour well so that they will be distributed evenly in the cake.
  • Before creaming butter-sugar using whisker ,mix it with hand once for extra softness.
  • Before putting the batter into the oven , tap the cake pan with batter to release the air bubbles.So that it bakes well and evenly.
  • I used a doily to decorate the top of the cake with powdered sugar and used colored fondant to make leaves for decoration.
I used less caramel.I don't prefer the darkest version.

Hope everyone had a memorable Christmas . Here's wishing virtually,"Happy Birthday Lord Jesus.!!"...in my every good act and thought I see your (God's) presence (better than in any church,temple or mosque) ,bless me and everyone to have the same forever and make this world a beautiful worthy place to live in...Amen to that !!

Happy belated Christmas wishes from us to the world,

Sending this to - Sharanya's event ,"Let's cook for christmas"

22 December 2013

Tawa Naan| A leavened thick flatbread made on a flat pan


I am so bored of the usual home made Indian flatbreads- Rotis,chapathis,parantha,puri,bhatura ( Reminds me Hindi movie,"3 Idiot's dialogue - "Dhokla, Faafda, Handva ,Thepla, Khakra ... aise lagta hai koi missiles hai ..hope mine doesn't sound like that :P) etc etc. Anyways,so I made Naan.Not Tandoori way,not in Oven but on a flat skillet pan/Tawa. Easy and super quick .
Honey P was like ,"When did we buy naan ?? Is that the frozen naan from the grocery store ?? Orr..is it the leftover naan from yesterday's ...well we didn't go to the restaurant yesterday ...so how come ???


I said,"Honey P, I made it ".:)) ...
Honey P - "I didn't know we had a clay oven."
Me - ohh ee chettande oru tamaasha :p (Honey P can joke too :p)
Honey P - Pinne enganne ?? (Then how did you do it ??)
Me - Ende yetta on our usual tava/pan you know .
Honey P-Really ,mmm...kollamallo (awesome)
Me- Restaurant style aayit ille...nalle taste ille yetta (  (It tastes great just like restaurant style,right Honey P)
Honey P - pinnalathey...nee alley ondakiye (Ofcourse,....rest won't translate..u'll think I am self-boasting :D:D..well....)

Moral of the story,"He gave me a thumbs up." :D . He just loves naan.Yep,I prefer this way more than made in an oven ,it comes out much softer and yummy.

Moreover, this post is exclusively dedicated to my special friend,"Blessed Jewel" ,I met somewhere in this blogosphere and she requested for the same looong time ago but I didn't get a chance to do so because of certain inevitable circumstances but it was something in my "To-prepare-ASAP" list and my top most priority but unfortunately it got delayed and am extremely sorry to my sista for the same .But better late than never ...So here..an easy breezy recipe for "U" which can be made on a flat pan directly.

Little bit about Naan,(to those who don't know the exact definition ;P ) - Well my dear friends ,Naan is a thick leavened flat bread quite popular in South Asian countries and is made with all purpose flour,yeast/baking powder,yogurt .

This is How I made Naan on a flat pan :

Tawa Naan


All purpose flour - 4 cups
Active dry yeast - 1 teaspoon
Sugar - 1 tablespoon
Warm Almond milk/Milk - 3/4 cup
Baking powder - 1-2 teaspoon
Salt to taste
Yogurt/Curd - 3/4 cup
Ghee/Butter/oil - 2-3 tablespoons
Warm water or milk as needed for kneading

1.Frothy yeast 2. Non sticky dough 3.Dough's size got doubled 4. Roll them into balls 5.Place it on pan,bubbling,blisterin and blackening underneath.

  • Activate dry yeast by combining it with warm almond milk and sugar and stirring it well until yeast is dissolved . Let it sit for 10 minutes approx or until risen and frothy.
  • Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl ,followed by wet ingredients including the above frothy yeast.
  • Mix everything well and knead it into a smooth ,non sticky dough.
  • Cover the bowl with a damp cloth or plastic wrap or an aluminium foil.Keep it aside in a warm place like in an oven for an hour or until it gets double in size.
  • Once the size doubles,punch it down ,put a tablespoon of ghee/butter/oil and knead once again into a dough.
  • Divide the dough into big lemon size shape balls.
  • Using a rolling pin,cover each and  every balls with little flour (to make rolling easier & non-sticky) and roll them into teardrop shapes ,8-9 inch long and about 1/4 inch thick.
  • Warm a Tawa/Flat pan/Cast iron skillet on high heat (Keep an eye though as the pan should be really hot).
  • Carefully place the naan on the hot pan (stretch the naan a little with fingers as the rolled naan tends to shrink back a little) for about 1 minute or until it starts bubbling.
  • Flip the naan. ( It will appear blistered and blackened/deep browned which is expected).Cover it with a lid and cook it for another 1 minute. Repeat for rest rolled out balls.
  • Put the stove off.Remove naans and if you wish brush both sides with butter which I didn't do it.
  • That's it naans are ready to be served with any spicy paneer curries or non-vegetable curries.I served this time with spicy Patiala chicken curry.
  •  You can also use a combination of all purpose and whole wheat flour.
  • I used almond milk to make it little more healthy .You can use just warm water or milk .I microwaved the almond milk for about 1 minutes.It should be just warm not hot .


Now the next post will be "Patiala Chick...err I mean Chicken".........................

Eat,Love,Live well,

19 December 2013

Fish cutlets - Kerala style


Now who doesn't like Fish cutlet...I know I know "Vegetarians" DON'T...I meant among non-vegetarians ??...mmmm..I know one for sure...my man,Honey P :| ....However,it's my favorite ....for I am a true Mallu /kerlalite girl ...fish runs in my blood u know (well not literally ) ...Keralites are great seafood lovers afterall and fish is a staple at every home back in God's own country....there are so many varieties of fish recipes made at every household - fish curries ,fish fries,fish dry side dishes,steamed fish and what not..well ,aaaand fish cutlets. Though fish cutlets are not something made every day but as an evening snack or for lunch or especially as an appetizer during Christmas eve ....I love the aroma when these cutie munchie tastie cutlets are fried ..for me it says ,"Christmas is in the air ."

FUNTIME-These are my reindeer shaped cutlets !!

This is how I make Fish cutlets :


Fish cutlet


Potato,Big,boiled & mashed - 1-2 nos.
Onion,chopped,big - 1no.
Green chilly,chopped - 1-2 nos.
Fish fillets - 2 -3 nos.
Ginger-garlic paste - 1 teaspoon
Garam Masala - 1/4-1/2 teaspoon
Chilli powder - 1/4 teaspoon
Coriander powder - 1/4 teaspoon
Turmeric powder - 1/4 teaspoon
Curry leaves - one stalk
salt to taste
Bread crumbs - 1-2 cups
 Egg - 1 no.
Oil for frying

For marination

Chilli powder - 1/4 teaspoon
Coriander powder - 1/4 teaspoon
Turmeric powder - 1/4 teaspoon
Pepper powder - 1/4 teaspoon
Salt to taste


  • Marinate the fish fillets with everything under "For marination" and keep it aside for a few minutes .
  • Heat 2 tablespoon oil in a skillet and shallow fry the marinated fish.Let it cool.
  • Shred the fried fish into small fine pieces.
  • Meanwhile,heat 2 teaspoon of oil in a pan and saute chopped onion and green chilly until the onions become translucent.
  • Add ginger-garlic paste and saute until the raw smell is gone on low flame.
  • Add garam masala,chilli powder,coriander powder,turmeric powder,curry leaves and saute for a minute or two.
  • Add the shredded fish pieces and the boiled-mashed potato to the above and mix everything well.
  • Add salt to taste and put the stove off.
  • Allow it to cool a bit .
  • Now make small balls out of the mixture and flatten it between your hands (round,oblong or any desired shape) and keep them aside.
  • Heat oil in a pan .
  • Beat an egg .Keep it aside.
  • Take each ball/Patties and dip them into the beaten egg and cover them nicely with bread crumbs.
  • Deep or shallow fry them one by one without crowding into the hot oil on medium heat until both the sides are light-dark brown.
  • Serve them hot with ketchup .

  1.  Use any big fish fillets like cod,salmon,tuna,tilapia etc.Here I used Cod fish.
  2. This is a spicy fish cutlet.To reduce the spiciness and instead of frying,you can also boil or steam the fish just as it is and mix with mashed potato and powders.
  3. Adjust green chilli,red chilly powder and garam masala as per your desired spiciness.
  4. Instead of bread crumbs you can also use all purpose flour directly but the taste will differ.

Eat,Love,Live well,

Sending them to Sharanya's Let's cook for the christmas event