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The perfect nibble

These are the Dark Chocolate Cookies with Hazelnut Filling that I made for my Christmas cookie baskets. A low-calorie option for my health-conscious friends.

“They’re beautiful and delicious. I’m going to enjoy having one each afternoon – the perfect nibble.”

Anne Colby, copy editor on the features desk at the Los Angeles Times

I was doing my holiday baking and I wanted a cookie that my health-conscious friends would enjoy. This cookie was the very thing. I made a batch precisely as the recipe instructed. Then, I thought that this would be the perfect cookie to go the no-sugar, non-dairy route.

So I substituted Earth Balance butter substitute for the butter and used a non-dairy, no sugar hazelnut filling instead of Nutella.

The white chocolate drizzle does have sugar in it, though.

One of my friends, who is allergic to dairy, praised the cookies highly by saying it was unusually moist for a non-dairy cookie. I guess most of the vegan options he has tried are much drier than this luscious cookie. He even suggested that I start selling this tasty new option!!

Want to make them yourself? Click here.

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Celebrating Holi

Just part of the Holi spread: Aloo Tikkis (potato pancakes), Gujiya (delicious Indian pastries), Somosas and Kurma (both savory and sweet fried Indian snacks).

The Swaroop family came together on Sunday, Feb. 28, 2010 to celebrate Holi, the Indian Festival of Colors that is traditionally celebrated by splashing colored water and attacking each other with colored powder in a festive, fun celebration that includes a massive Indian spread. In our family, everyone gathered in Huntington Beach to celebrate.

However, we did not play colors. It was decided that nobody was up for the task of cleaning up the mess the colors leave. So sad, since it isn’t really Holi for me without the rambunctious glee of color but more of a food fest.

Nothing wrong with a food fest, though! Pictured above is our spread of the plethora of main courses: Hand-made sandwiches by Sujata; Fried Chicken, Chicken Soft Tacos and Potato Salad provided by Suki.

Fried Chicken

Here is a closer look at one of the staples of our Holi menu. It’s not exactly a traditional Indian item, but it is certainly a traditional Swaroop Holi item. The chicken and the potato salad behind it was picked up from a local deli. It looks good, doesn’t it? Well, you should’ve been there because the delicious aroma stayed in the house all day long tempting those of us there to devour some. We did.

And let’s not forget the massive chicken soft tacos. Above, Roshan enjoys a taco as he finishes up lunch. Actually, they were so good he had two!

The family: In this picture is Sunita, Ram, Karen, Shawn, Surabhi and Rita enjoy lunch in the California sunshine. There was a steady downpour the day before so we felt blessed for the balmy weather.

Fourth festivities

The highly anticipated Tres Leches cake brought to us by Shelley, Gabbi's daughter. A Tres leches cake, or Pastel de Tres leches (Spanish, "Three milk cake"), is a sponge cake,—in some recipes, a butter cake—soaked in three kinds of milk: evaporated milk, condensed milk, and heavy cream.

The highly anticipated Tres Leches cake brought to us by Shelley, Gabbi’s daughter. A Tres leches cake, or Pastel de Tres leches (Spanish, “Three milk cake”), is a sponge cake,—in some recipes, a butter cake—soaked in three kinds of milk: evaporated milk, condensed milk, and heavy cream.

The whole family gathered at the home of Vijay Chachi, Subodh and Surabhi to celebrate Independence Day with a BBQ.

We got there around 3 p.m. and were treated to chicken, kebobs, turkey burgers, hot dogs, grilled veggies and veggie burgers all made by Subodh. Surabhi was the other half of Team BBQ and made us salsa, guacamole, green salad, chips, potato salad, chutney and the burger trimmings. Karen brought her famous brownies, Bansi Dada brought cantaloupe, strawberries and watermelon. Suki brought some decadent lime-coconut cupcakes. And, of course, there was ice cream sundaes and the highly-anticipated Tres Leches cake by Shelley.

It was a decadent day where we got to bask in the beautiful California sunshine, eat lots of great food and watch a James Bond movie marathon.