Mm, chaat

Sev Dahi Batata Puri 

Chaat is my favorite food group.

I could eat it all day, every day and not get tired of it. It’s bursting with flavor – sweet, spicy, crunchy, with each bite packing a punch. I’m fortunate to be surrounded by so many Indian restaurants so that I am always able to satisfy my chaat craving.

What’s the best thing you’ve eaten this week?

I hope you all have a lovely weekend!

A French-Inspired Evening

First stop: Paris Baguette 

So many delicious pastries to chose from.

A croissant, blueberry cream cheese pastry, and a cake donut

Next stop: Crepevine

The colorful menu written on chalkboards

The California crepe (bell peppers, avocado, sauteed onions, and cheese with chipotle sauce and salsa) with a side of potatoes and salad. True confession: I will order anything that has avocados in it.

Al this French-ness is making me wish I was walking on the Champs- Elysees at this moment. I guess downtown Palo Alto will have to do for now. I can’t complain too much when it looks like this.

I think trees should be lit up all year round (and not just during the holidays). Don’t you?

Fancy Grilled Cheese

Grilled cheese sandwiches were my favorite growing up (along with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches). I still enjoy eating one, but like to think my tastes have refined a little. Now with gourmet grilled cheese all the rage (like at The Melt) it inspired me to experiment with a classic.

As with last time, I used ingredients that were already in the fridge to create a unique and flavorful sandwich.

The spread: Trader Joe’s sourdough bread, pepper jack cheese, pesto, and an onion

The assembly: I like making pieces of cheese so that it spread all over the bread, getting all gooey and oozes cheese.

The finished product.

Do you like grilled cheese? What is your favorite variation on the sandwich staple?

The holidays in pictures

The holidays are now officially over and starting today, it’s back to reality. I spent part of the break in the Bay Area and part of it in LA.

Here are some pictures of the past few days:

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Edible holiday decorations in the Fairmont Hotel

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My new Kate Spade iPhone case that I wanted

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Watching my ice cream being made in front of my eyes at Smitten

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The tree in Union Square, San Francisco.

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A pesto crepe, with salad and seasoned potatoes on the side from The Crepe House

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A Diddy Riese cookie sandwich in Westwood, LA

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Pretty decor at a Mexican restaurant in LA

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Currently on my nails: Essie’s Bangle Jangle

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My winter attire in LA: tights, a dress, and sandals. Can’t beat 80 degrees in December/January!

How did you spend your holidays?

Here’s hoping that 2012 is an amazing year for us all!

Holiday Goodies

So I originally intended to make this post much earlier in the week, but things got in the way.  It was only this morning I realized that my sweet obsessed brother and sister-in-law are coming into town tonight. So I frantically began baking.

I knew I wanted to make something from scratch and peppermint flavored. A few weeks ago, I was browsing on Pinterest and I came across the recipe for chocolate peppermint bark cookies.  I knew I had to make them. Here is the recipe.

They were surprisingly easy! A few adjustments I made: I only used 1 1/2 sticks of unsalted butter and 3/4 cup of sugar. I also put much less chocolate chips and candy canes than indicated, no white chocolate chips whatsoever and the end result was just the perfect amount of sweetness.

The final product. I used a knife to create swirly designs and cut them in unique shapes.

What are you baking for the holidays?

I wish you and your family a very happy holiday! Have a lovely weekend.

Holiday Host Gifts

Now that it is officially December 1st, it feels like an appropriate time to talk about all things Christmas related. I was so surprised to see how many stores were decorated for Christmas…in October! But now with a swift change of the calendar, I have fully embraced the holiday spirit.

Many bloggers are posting great gift ideas for family and friends. However, around this time of year come many holiday parties. It always nice to bring something for the host and hostess who have generously invited you over.

I love to bake and make homemade gifts. With these thoughts in mind, here are my ideas for affordable and homemade host gifts for the holidays, with a personal touch:

With every passing Christmas, my love for peppermint grows exponentially. Here is a great recipe that I plan on trying out myself this holiday season! Place the bark in a decorative bag or tin, either of which can be found at Etsy or Target.

Last Christmas, I made holiday cookies and found the holiday cookie cutters in the dollar aisle at Target. If you have a child, or a niece/nephew, have them help you with the decorating. They will love it! Be sure to make a little extra, because after carefully decorating I am sure they will want to eat a few. 🙂 Since the cookies are pretty in itself, they don’t need help in the presentation department. Simply wrap the cookies in some cellophane, tie it with a ribbon, and you are good to go.

Is there a more perfect winter drink than hot chocolate? I think not. Provide your host with all the essentials to make an amazing mug of hot chocolate. You can even cater to your host’s preferences, if you know them well enough. For instance, include pieces of shaved Andes mints for someone who loves mint. (Hint hint :)) Put all the items in a cute jar, add a pretty label, perhaps even a ribbon and hand it over to the host to enjoy!

For those of you that don’t like baking, this is the item for you. All it requires is some assembly but it is still just as thoughtful!

What is your go-to gifts for hosts during the holidays?

(All images courtesy of Pinterest.)

City by the Bay

The 4 day long weekend was a great one. It was a perfect balance of relaxation and activity. I took naps and finished the first book of The Hunger Games trilogy and am on the second, Catching Fire. One day was spent in one of my favorite cities, San Francisco.

We went to Union Square to catch the tree lighting and then ventured to the Hayes Valley neighborhood where we ate at Patxi’s Chicago Pizza. I love deep dish pizza and was happy to find a place in the Bay Area that comes close to the amazing pizza you get in Chicago.

The next stop was Smitten Ice Cream. This small ice cream shop features only a few flavors a day but they make their ice cream right in front of you. Using only fresh, local ingredients the ice cream is made in 60 seconds with the help of liquid nitrogen-run ice cream maker. The ice cream was full of flavor and creamy.

I had the TCHO chocolate (made in San Francisco) ice cream with cocoa bits.

Also, their cash register is an iPad and if you pay by credit card you have the option to have your receipt texted or emailed to you. Pretty cool! I can’t wait to go back when it’s warmer.

It was so fun to play visitor to a city where I’ve lived my whole life, exploring new neighborhoods and places to eat.

Technology and the Cookbook

Just the other day I was browsing through my mom’s recipe book trying to find a recipe for alfredo sauce. I flipped through all the recipes multiple times until I finally found it. I wondered why I was spending so much time when I could have easily found the recipe online in a matter of seconds.

This article, featured today on Huffington Post, discusses how technology is affecting the cookbook, and helping create satisfying meals. Certainly cookbooks as we know it are a thing of the past. There are countless websites that give you recipes based on the ingredients you have and your dietary restrictions. You can even splice together different recipes you find interesting.

There is also an added video aspect to recipes nowadays. Many cooks post YouTube tutorials of how to make items, which certainly helps those that learn visually. Or if you’re a beginner cook like me and lack any estimating skills about exactly how much masala to put in your paneer tikka masala.

How do you find new recipes? Do you still use cookbooks or have you shifted to recipe websites?

The Best Sandwich Ever

I thought of this sandwich creation a few months ago, when I was starving and looking for something to eat for lunch. It just so happened that all my favorite ingredients were in the fridge, so I experimented by mixing them all together.

I am a vegetarian, but this sandwich is so fulling and flavorful that meat eaters won’t even realize what’s missing.

Here are the steps to making the Best Sandwich Ever (I’m still trying to think of a better name):

The vegetables: tomatoes, lettuce, onions, cucumbers, and avocado.

The spread: spicy hummus, pesto, pepperjack cheese, bread, Sriracha, and Sambal paste.

The assembly: spread the hummus and pesto, add the cheese and vegetables, and top with some Sriracha.

Serve with some kettle cooked jalapeno chips and you’re good to go!