Creamy Banana Pudding


Even though this is more of a summer dessert, I love almost anything made with bananas. This another easy and delicious dessert that can be made ahead. Use a pretty trifle bowl and line the vanilla wafers so that they look pretty around the edges.


Creamy Banana Pudding

(Serves 8-10)

  • 1 box Nilla Wafers
  • 2 boxes (4-servings each) vanilla pudding (you can substitute with french vanilla or banana)
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1 can (14 oz) condensed sweetened milk
  • 1 tub (16 oz) Cool Whip
  • 3-4 bananas (sliced and tossed in 1tsp lemon juice to prevent browning)
  1. In a large bowl, mix condensed milk and 3 cups milk till combined.
  2. Beat in the vanilla pudding according to package directions.
  3. Gently stir in the Cool Whip and mix till it is all incorporated.
  4. In a 9X13 glass tray, cover the bottom with a layer of Nilla wafers. Top with half the sliced bananas, and half the pudding mixture. Repeat layers (I save the ‘perfect’ ones for the top layer and use the broken and crushed ones for the center, making sure that the damaged edges do not show from the outside).
  5. Place the remaining wafers on the top and drizzle with melted chocolate or caramel. Chill well  for a few hours before serving.








Oven Fried Fish


Easy and healthy fish dinner. Change the seasoning as you wish – cajun, lemon pepper, curry powder,….


Oven Fried Fish

(Serves 4)

  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 Tbsp hot sauce (Tabasco)
  • 1/3 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 tsp cajun seasoning (or any other of your choice)
  • 4 fish fillets – about 3-4 oz each (I love tilapia, but you could use haddock, flounder or catfish too)
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  1. Sprinkle fish fillets with salt and pepper and rub well. Set aside for 15 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 450* F. Spray baking dish/cookie tray with non-stick spray and set aside.
  3. In a wide dish, combine the milk and hot sauce and mix well.
  4. In another wide dish, mix the bread crumbs and seasoning.
  5. Dip the fish fillets in the milk and then into the seasoned bread crumbs to coat well.
  6. Place the fillets in the tray without them touching each other, and bake about 10 minutes till the fish flakes easily with a fork.
  7. Serve with a wedge of lemon or lime.









Chocolate Cherry Trifle


One of the easiest desserts to put together, and it makes a great presentation. Tastes awesome too. It can be assembled a few hours before serving, but no one has complained about leftovers the next day (if  we ever have any leftover).


Chocolate Cherry Trifle

(Serves 10-15)

  • 1 box brownie mix of choice (baked and cut into 1-inch cubes)
  • 2 boxes (4-servings each) instant chocolate pudding
  • 4 cups milk
  • 1 can (21 oz) Cherry pie filling
  • 1 tub (8 oz) Cool Whip
  • Toffee bits / Skor Candy bar (chopped)
  1. Set aside brownie pieces to air dry for a few minutes as you assemble the rest of the ingredients.
  2. Prepare instant pudding with milk as per directions and put aside for few minutes to set.
  3. In a medium / large trifle bowl, layer a third of the brownie cubes. Top with 1/3 pudding, 1/3 pie filling, 1/3 cool whip, and sprinkle toffee bits if using. Repeat layers.
  4. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and chill at least 1 hour before serving.







Banana Butterscotch Cake

Banana and butterscotch are two of my favorite flavors. The recipe for this easy, moist cake was on the back cover of a bag of Toll House butterscotch chips. Enjoy!

Banana Butterscotch Cake

(Serves 8-10)

  • 1 2/3 cups (11-oz. pkg.) Butterscotch Flavored Morsels
  • 1 pkg. (18.5 oz) yellow cake mix
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup or 2 medium mashed ripe bananas
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 375* F
  2. Grease a 10-cup bundt or tube pan.
  3. Microwave 1 1/3 cup morsels into a medium bowl on MEDIUM-HIGH (70%) power for 1 minute; STIR. If the morsels keep some of their shape, microwave an additional 10 to 15-second, stirring just until they are melted.
  4. In another large bowl, beat cake mix, eggs, bananas, vegetable oil, water and granulated sugar on low speed until moistened. Beat on high speed for 2 minutes.
  5. Stir 2 cups of the cake batter into melted morsels and mix.
  6. Spoon batters into prepared baking pan alternating between plain and butterscotch cake mix.
  7. Bake 35-45 minutes till a wooden toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean.
  8. Cool in the pan for 20 minutes and then invert onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
  9. Place the remaining morsels in a zip-lock bag and microwave on medium-high for 30 seconds, kneading to smoothly melt the chips. Microwave additional 10 seconds if necessary.
  10. Snip the corner and drizzle over the cooled cake.

Black Bean Soup


Thousands of recipes can be found for Black Bean Soup and I’ve experimented with different versions. This recipe is my version after a few trials. It is a big family favorite, and makes a substantial meal by itself. Before I start with the recipe and instructions, I must give credit to my 8-year old who is my “light-boy” & “set-designer”.


Black Bean Soup

(Serves 4-5)

  • 3 cans (15 oz each) black beans
  • 1 medium onion (chop)
  • 3 medium garlic cloves (chop)
  • 1 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1-2 tsp chilli powder (to taste)
  • 1 tsp dry oregano
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 2 Tbsp oil
  • salt to taste
  • Cheese
  • Sour cream
  1. Puree 2 cans of black beans without draining. Drain the third can and set aside.
  2. Heat oil in a pan and saute garlic for a few minutes till lightly brown.
  3. Add onion and saute for a few more minutes till lightly brown.
  4. Add chilli powder, cumin powder, and oregano and saute for few seconds.
  5. Add 1 can  of drained black beans, the pureed black beans, salsa, and salt to taste. Add more water if you want a thinner soup.
  6. Simmer 10-15 minutes and stir often.
  7. Serve topped with grated cheese and/or sour cream.

NOTE: The spice and salsa measurements above are only guides. Feel free to increase or decrease to suit your taste. I use a one-pound bag of dry beans that are soaked overnight and cooked in the crockpot or pressure cooker. In this case, I substitute 1 1/2 cup beans and 1/3 cup cooking water for 1 can of black beans. This leaves me with about 1 1/2 cups of extra beans to use for another time. If you intend to use all of the beans in this recipe, increase the spices and salsa to taste.



Oatmeal with Dates and Walnuts


With a Jamaica trip few weeks away, I didn’t want to give in to the PB&J sandwich craving this morning. Oatmeal is not exactly an exciting breakfast for me but my husband loves it. I wanted something sweet, and this was an all natural, guilt free and delicious breakfast! If you use unsweetened milk, increase the number of dates to your liking. The recipe below was not overly sweet. It is important to let the date cook in the milk for a few minutes to make them soft and juicy, and to flavor the milk.

Oatmeal with Dates and Walnuts

(Serves 2)

  • 1 cup oats
  • 1 3/4 cup milk of your choice (I used sweetened soy milk)
  • 6-8 dates (chopped)
  • 2 Tbsp toasted walnuts (chopped)
  • cinnamon powder to taste (about 1/4 tsp)

1) Cook oatmeal and dates in milk according to directions for the type of oats used. This can be done either in the microwave or stovetop.

2) Add cinnamon and mix. Set aside to cool for 5 minutes.

3) Divide into 2 serving bowls and top with nuts and fruit / raisins.

Coconut & Mustard Seeds Rice (Kai Sasive Chitranna)

Coconut and Mustard Seeds Rice (Kai Sasive Chitranna)

Many variations of this dish exist in South India, but the one below is popular in Karnataka. Kai coconut; sasive = mustard seeds; anna = rice. Basic Chitranna in Karnataka refers to rice flavored with lemon juice, salt, turmeric, chillies, cilantro, and mustard seeds and channa dal seasoned in a teaspoon of oil. Each family tweaks this recipe by adding or omitting grated coconut, peanuts, cashews, onions, capsicum, dill, etc. In a broader definition, chitranna includes plain cooked rice that is mixed with a masala / paste that has been cooked separately.

Credit for this recipe goes to my mother-in-law. As with all women of her generation, she never measures anything and just eyeballs all ingredients for consistent results each time. I had her lay out all that she would use for this dish, and measured each ingredient before adding it to my recipe book.

Coconut & Mustard Seeds Rice (Kai Sasive Chitranna)

(Serves 4-6)

  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds (available at all Indian grocery stores)
  • 1/2 cup grated coconut
  • 1/2 cup cilantro (chop)
  • 4 red chillies
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/4 tsp asafetida (optional – available at all Indian grocery stores)
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp tamarind paste
  • 1 tsp salt

1) Cook 2 cups of raw rice and set aside to cool.

2) In a small blender jar, make a paste of all ingredients above without adding any water. Set aside.

3) For seasoning, set aside the following:

  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/8 tsp asafetida
  • 1 Tbsp channa dal
  • 1 Tbsp udad dal
  • 1/4 cup peanuts
  • 1 large spring curry leaves (stripped, washed & dried)
  • 1 tsp turmeric

4) Heat 3 Tbsp oil in a medium pan and add mustard seeds. Cover and wait for it to pop on a medium flame,about a minute.

5) Add asafetida, channa dal & udad dal and lightly brown.

6) Add curry leaves and stir till it stops crackling.

7) Add peanuts and roast till golden brown. Remove from heat and add turmeric.

8) Immediately add the coconut-cilantro masala and “fry” in the hot pan for a few minutes. Let it cool in the same pan.

9) Mix with the cooked white rice and adjust salt and tamarind paste to taste.

Spiced Carrot Ginger Soup

With the cold weather setting in, a salad is not always the most inviting meal when trying to get our veggies for the day. Chopping and prepping a ton of vegetable is sometimes a chore too. A hot bowl of soup sounds so inviting, but I know that baked potato soup should not be a regular menu item. This carrot soup is easy to make, and is not only healthy, but also quite versatile. The spices give it a good punch, and I’ve had a quick lunch by adding leftovers on a bowl of quinoa or brown rice that was sitting in the fridge.

Spiced Carrot Ginger Soup

(serves 5-6)

  • 2 Tbsp oil
  • 1 large onion (chop)
  • 4 cloves garlic (chop)
  • 1 inch ginger (grate)
  • 1 Tbsp corriander powder
  • 1 Tbsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground pepper
  • 2 lbs carrots
  • 6 cups stock
  • Cilantro for garnish

1) Wash, peel and chop carrots in chunks.

2) Heat oil in a large pan and saute garlic for a minute.

3) Add onion and ginger and saute till well roasted.

4) Add corriander, cumin, and pepper powder and saute for few seconds, making sure it does not burn.

5) Add carrot chunks and lightly roast with the spices.

6) Add stock and salt and bring to a boil. Simmer covered for about 30 minutes till carrots are tender.

7) Cool slightly and strain / scoop out the vegetable chunks and puree. Alternately, use your immersion blender and cream the soup.

8) Return to pot or serving bowl, garnish with cilantro and enjoy.

NOTE: I prefer to use vegetable stock in this soup, but chicken stock can be used too. If you do not have stock on hand, use about 3 bullion cubes with water, but salt accordingly. The next time, I plan on adding some lentils to make this a heartier soup – will post an update on how it turns out.

Vietnamese Meatballs with Chilli Mayo

This meatball recipe is so easy to put together and very delicious. The flavors are amazing, and it’s hard to resist having a few right by the stove when I’m cooking up a batch. They are similar to the meatballs in Vietnamese Banh-Mi sandwiches. Slit French baguettes in half and pull out some of the center. Spread chilli-mayo, add meatballs, sliced jalapenoes, cilantro, grated carrots, and enjoy!!

Vietnamese Meatballs with Chilli Mayo

(45-50 meatballs)

  • 1 lb ground chicken / pork (I use chicken)
  • 3 green onions (chop fine)
  • 1 Tbsp Sriracha (or any Asian chilli sauce)
  • 1/4 cup basil leaves (chop fine)
  • 4 garlic cloves (grated / minced fine)
  • 1 Tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 tsp pepper powder
  • 1 tsp salt

1) Grease or line a plate with wax paper and set aside.

2) Put all ingredients in a large bowl and GENTLY mix till incorporated. Over-mixing will result in tough meatballs.

3) With moistened hands, lightly roll scant tablespoons of mixture into 1-inch meatballs. (I use a tiny ice-cream scoop to help keep the sizes similar.) Do not compact the meat mixture.

4) In a wide skillet, heat  a few tablespoons of oil and add a few meatballs at a time. Cook on medium-low till brown, turning often.

5) Serve with Chilli Mayo sauce (recipe below)

NOTE: I always make these meatballs with ground chicken from the Korean supermarket – I find that this meat is more moist and finely ground than the one at regular grocery stores. The meat mixture can be chilled for 30-45 minutes for easier shaping. Shaped and uncooked meatballs can be made 1 day earlier and refrigerated. I have cooked these meatballs earlier in the day and warmed in a 350* oven for 8-10 mins, but the freshly made ones are so flavorful, moist and light.

Chilli Mayonnaise

  • 2/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbsp Sriracha
  • 2 green onions (finely chopped)

Mix all ingredients and season with salt if desired. Can be made 1 day ahead and refrigerated.