Thursday, February 24, 2011

Second Attempt at Mehendi

Mehendi artwork has been considered beautiful throughout the ages and in no way shows signs of going away. These hands were done the night before Eid, and I was invited b/c my friends knew I would like to experiment with drawing mehendi.  At the time of this picture, I had drawn with mehendi only once before (you can see that time here) and the other girls there were incredibly talented. I had a lot of fun hanging out with the girls, creating something beautiful, and then admiring that beauty!  Can you guess which hand I did?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Sushi and Tempura

Yesterday was amazing because I went to dinner with friends and had two of my favorite foods: sushi and sweet potato tempura. Last night's meal was a great value and left both my stomach and my wallet happy.  This picture is not from last night, but from a much fancier sushi and tempura outing in Chicago, but I was reminded of that night.  Yay for yummy food and pretty presentations!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Mehendi Inspired Tuxedo Brownies

Inspired by my first attempt at mehendi (seen here), I decided to decorate these tuxedo brownies.  What are tuxedo brownies, you ask?  They are a layer of brownie on the bottom and a layer of cheesecake on top.  Yum.  Maybe instead of mehendi patterns, I will make heart designs for Valentines Day in a few days.

Tuxedo Brownies

  • Brownie Layer
    • 1 pouch brownie mix
    • oil, water, and eggs according to brownie mix instructions
  • Cheesecake Layer
    • 2 cups (16 oz) cream cheese, softened
    • 2/3 cup sugar
    • 2 eggs
  • Preheat oven to 325deg F
  • In bowl, blend brownie ingredients according to brownie mix instructions
  • Spoon batter into lightly greased 13x9x2 in pan
  • In another bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth
  • Add 2 eggs and continue to mix until blended well
  • Gently spoon cheesecake mixture over brownie batter and spread evenly
  • Bake 40-45 minutes, but keep an eye on them
  • Cut into squares after cooling
  • Decorate with red frosting (as I did here) or melted chocolate

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Agra Fort

This is one of my favorite pictures from a trip to see the Taj Mahal (see pics of the Taj here).  As beautiful as the Taj Mahal is, I enjoyed Agra Fort even more because it also has impressive artwork and is huge, leaving more architecture to be admired.  In the picture above, we were standing on one part of the fort, overlooking the part of the fort that is pictured, which itself had a great view.  Here are some other favorite spots in the fort: 


Monday, February 7, 2011

Pre-Workout Smoothies

Yes, downing a smoothie before working out may seem like a bad idea--usually it's a post workout reward.  But I need this little boost of energy that is both easy and quick to make.  It would be amazing to be able to make these with fresh fruit all the time, but that is not always possible where I live.  The following is using mostly ingredients that keep well so they can always be on hand.

In a blender, blend the following:
  • vanilla yogurt
  • ice cream
  • ice cubes
  • milk
  • ingredients for flavors (see below)
  • sugar to taste
You can change the proportions of the ingredients to get the smoothie texture you desire at the moment.  Add more ice cream and less ice cubes and milk to make it thicker.  Add more milk to make it thinner and easier to gulp down quickly.  Add more ice cubes if you are in the mood for a less creamy version.

  • Strawberry: 
    • I got a large bag of frozen strawberries from Costco.  They last forever.  Drop a few in for each smoothie.
  • Strawberry Chocolate: 
    • frozen strawberries
    • chocolate syrup--the kind you make chocolate milk with :)
  • Banana Split
    • frozen strawberries
    • banana (use only 1/3 or 1/2 banana for a single smoothie)
    • chocolate syrup
  • Mango
    • mango pulp/syrup--I recently discovered this comes packaged in a plastic bottle at Asian supermarkets.  I was used to buying mango pulp in large cans and was always figuring out how to use that much pulp before it all went bad.  This bottle concept is amazing because it allows me to use a little bit of pulp at a time while the rest stays fresh.  
  • Strawberry Mango
    • frozen strawberries
    • mango pulp
I didn't give exact measurements on the flavors because I tend to add some, taste, add some more of this or that, taste, etc.  Just have fun with it!

Friday, February 4, 2011

A Huge Ring Makes Me Happy

Any day that I can get away with wearing a huge ring is a good day in my book.  This was today's awesome ring--given to me by my brother for my birthday.  Since then I have developed a small collection of large "cocktail" rings, so future posts of other rings highly likely!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Taj Mahal--up close and personal

It's always a good day when you get to spend it exploring one the most famous and beautiful architectural works in the world.  Most people are familiar with images of the Taj Mahal as seen above.  What I was most impressed by were the details--it's these details that made the trip to see it worth it.  Here you go, the Taj Mahal, up close:

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Cappucino Brownies

Regular brownies are always great, but even better when they are extra special like these Cappucino Brownies. The brownie part has a coffee flavor to represent the actual coffee. The white chocolate ganache on top represents the steamed milk foam on top of a cappucinno, and the cinnamon on top completes this "cup" of coffee.  I think I shall experiment more with different types of brownies. As always, recipe below:

Cappucino Brownies:

  • Brownies:
    • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
    • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, diced
    • 3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
    • 1 1/2 cups sugar
    • 3 large eggs
    • 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • White Chocolate Ganache:
    • 6 ounces high-quality white chocolate (such as Lindt or Perugina), chopped
    • 5 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Brownies:
    • Preheat oven to 325°F.
    • Line baking pan with aluminum foil, leaving overhang on 2 sides.  Spray foil with nonstick spray.
    • Stir butter and chocolate in a large saucepan over  low heat until chocolate is melted.
    • Remove from heat; whisk in sugar, then eggs, 1 at a time.
    • Whisk in espresso powder, vanilla, and salt; sift flour over and stir to blend well.
    • Transfer batter to prepared pan.
    • Bake brownies about 30 minutes until tester inserted into center comes out with some moist batter attached (make and chill ganache while waiting for brownies to bake and cool)
    • Cool completely in pan
  • White Chocolate Ganache:
    • Place white chocolate in medium microwave-safe bowl. Bring cream to simmer in small saucepan. Pour cream over chocolate in bowl.
    • Let stand 30 seconds, then stir until chocolate is melted and smooth. If necessary, microwave on low power in 10-second intervals until white chocolate is melted completely.
    • Chill about 25 minutes until ganache is thick but still slightly pourable.
  • Assembly:
    • Using foil as aid, lift brownies from pan. Turn over onto sheet of parchment paper, tray, or any flat surface.  Peel off foil.
    • Pour ganache onto center of brownies and  spread to edges.
    • Sprinkle with cinnamon.
    • Chill until ganache is set, at least 2 hours. 
    • Cut brownies and serve!