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I love you, Mom!

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“There is way too much food.”

– Ram Swaroop, 82

For our annual Mother’s Day Brunch, we always gather at my parents house to celebrate all the Moms in our family including my mom, my aunts and sisters-in-law.

This year I organized it with my sister Suki. We decided to have all the people who aren’t parents to contribute to the potluck. Even my teen-age nephews and nieces. We have a family full of incredible chefs and I wanted to taste something from all the age groups from 12 to 45.

As a result, we had a ton of food including Mexican quiche, veggie quiche, crab quiche, rosemary potatoes, macaroni cole slaw,
veggie kabobs, turkey tacos, fajitas, salsa, guacamole, chips, quinoa salad, fruit salad, bagels, lemon tiramasu trifle, Dinesh‘s chocolate cheesecake bars and cookies.

Everyone brought their A-game and everything was delicious. It was a tasty way to show how much we care about the Moms in our family.

Thanks to all our Moms especially my beautiful, smart, encouraging, loving Mom for making the choice to take on the most challenging and rewarding job on the planet. You make the world a better place.

Below, one of the earliest pictures i have of me and Mom. I love you Mom!

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Giving thanks

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In my faith, we periodically have pujas where we have an opportunity to gather, sit quietly and give thanks for our blessings. At every puja there is prasad offered usually by the person or for the occasion we are marking (birthdays, anniversaries, new job, new home, etc.). Usually it is a sweet or deep-fried treat.

Tonight, we are having a puja. Because I just started a brand-new job working in the industry I spent a year training for I am feeling especially grateful. So I asked if I could offer a Prasad to thank God for the bountiful blessings I’m enjoying.

The answer was yes. So I asked my niece what was the best thing she’s learned to make in her 5th grade home ec class. She told me about Simple Cinnamon Bites. I wondered how good they really were? I told her to rank them on a scale from 1 to 5 with 1 being mediocre and 5 being addictively delicious.

She told me they are a 6! So we decided to make these to offer tonight. She ended up making them with me assisting her. Above, is a picture of the chef with the first batch from the oven.

The first day of the year

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“Mmmmm, that was good.”

– Sujata Swaroop

Every year on the first of the year our family gets together to have an anniversary puja that starts around 10 a.m. A lot fewer people usually come to this puja than others. 10 instead of 25.

Since it is the day after New Year’s Eve and the morning of the Rose Parade and Rose Bowl, many wander in for brunch around 11 am or noon.

Happy New Year!!

Sinfully sweet

This sweet and rich concoction is simple. Just brownies, topped with mini-marshmallows and then drenched in chocolate frosting. One bite is all I needed for a sugar buzz, but others had several servings of this chocolate treat.

“It’s delicious!”

Anne Yemma, host of the Labor Day barbecue I went to in Trabuco Canyon

My former colleague from the Los Angeles Times, Mark Yemma invited me to his beautiful home for a Labor Day bbq. I told him I would be there and bring brownies or cookies. I ended up making these Birthday Brownies for his party.

We ate them with the chocolate cake since the BBQ doubled as a birthday bash for Mark’s upcoming birthday. Another former colleague, Dave Campbell,  also told me that my concoction was tasty. And asked for a second serving! What a great feeling to have made something that everyone enjoys.

For photos of the party, click here.

For recipe of the brownies, click here

Tasty tart, souffle & galette

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I started off the day with a bang with a cooking class at Sur La Table in South Coast Plaza on Fresh French Fruit Dessert. My sister, Suki, and I were part of a 12-person class taught by Chef Katie Torres and her trio of assistants.

We made a Plum and Raspberry Tart, above. Chef Katie showed us how to place the fruit in the tart and then pour the cream in in top of it before cooking. Way easier than the way I’ve always done!

Next, we learned how to make Apricot and Blueberry Galette. We started off making the Sweet Pie or Tart Dough. I learned that you don’t want to overmix dough in a food processor which I had been doing. The result was a much more tasty crust than I had ever made.

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And then we learned how to make Lemon Souffle with Strawberry Sauce, below. I was tasked with separating egg whites from the egg yolks with a Sur La Table egg separator which leached the yolks into the whites ruining the whole batch.

Tip: A fancy Sur La Table cooking tool isn’t necessary or even productive in some cases. When we went back to doing it the old-fashioned way it worked!

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The desserts were all delicious. Especially with a steaming cup of cappuccino.

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A Dieter’s Dream

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It’s important for me to maintain a healthy lifestyle complete with exercise, plenty of rest and a healthy diet. But it’s challenging when it comes to desserts!

I try to eat very little sugar since I’m so addicted to it. That often means either going without dessert or caving in to the enticing lure of sugary treats!

Today I created a Chantilly Cream without any sugar or cream. My recipe tastes great with a hint of vanilla and a thick, light texture. Mine uses cottage cheese, vanilla yogurt, Splenda and good-quality vanilla.

My sister made a Peach-Rhubarb Crisp for our Dad on Father’s Day so I am going to serve it with that as well in my Strawberries and Cream concoction for Dad!

Click here for the recipe!

All chocolate, no sugar

These cookies taste so sweet you'll be stunned they are sugar-free.

“Excellent.”

– Shalini Dore, senior editor at Variety

It was a cold and rainy day. A perfect day to stay home and bake some chocolate chip cookies. Only these are the sugar-free variety so I could have all the sweet taste without the harm of sugar since I am fairly addicted to the stuff. There is Splenda is in it but that’s all.

These are easy, quick and chockful of the sensuous flavor of chocolate … you’ll fool everyone. The secret is the applesauce it it.

Want to try for yourself, click here for the recipe.