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Tuesday, May 03, 2016

An Ode to Summer: 3-ingredient Strawberry Popsicles

An Ode to Summer: 3-ingredient Strawberry Popsicles

Ingredient of the Month: An Ode to Summer

Spring puts a spring in my step and summer fills my heart with joy. Pops of colors everywhere. Yellow tulips. Orange daisies. Luscious red strawberries. Cherry Blossoms. Rosy hues. Lush greens. Farmers markets. The list is endless. 

PG of Whiff of Spice and I are dedicating this month to summery recipes and what can be more refreshing than yummy strawberry popsicles. 

Ingredients: (Yield - 6)
  • Strawberry - 3 Cups, hulled and halved
  • Lemon juice - 2 tbsp, freshly squeezed
  • Honey - 1/4 Cup (add little more if you prefer it to be sweeter)
An Ode to Summer: 3-ingredient Strawberry Popsicles


Throw everything into the blender and blitz everything into a puree. Pour into your prepped molds. Stick it into the freezer and leave it there overnight or at least for 4 hours. I followed the package instructions meticulously and left a half-inch gap on the top. Next time I will fill it almost to the brim.

Serve chilled. Savor the joy on your child's face. Bask in pride.

Monday, May 02, 2016

Asparagus with Bacon Bits


 

Ingredient of the Month: An Ode to Summer

 
Asparagus was more of an acquired taste for the 6.5 yo. He did not fall in love right away with it like he did with broccoli. So to entice him to eat asparagus, I would add some bacon bits to it. Since I had picked up a rather largish bunch of asparagus to make my Pan roasted garlicky Asparagus, I thought of making his serving with bacon bits like old times.
 
Asparagus has tremendous health benefits - it is loaded with nutrients, it has anti-oxidant properties and it is naturally diuretic - a great addition to your summer diet. We eat a lot of it during spring and summer when there's an abundant bounty of fresh, tender asparagus.
 
Ingredients:
  • Asparagus - 1 bunch, preferably tender,  washed, patted dry with a towel and the woody part trimmed
  • Bacon strips - 2 (or more)
  • Salt and freshly cracked to taste
  • Garlic powder - a pinch (optional)
Asparagus with Bacon Bits

Heat a pan and fry the bacon strips to their crispy goodness. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate. Once the excess oil drains off, chop into itty bitty pieces. Set aside.
Reserve as much bacon fat as you want to and discard the rest. To the bacon fat, add the tender asparagus and roast, tossing often. Sprinkle the salt, pepper and garlic powder and cook till it reaches your desired level of tenderness. Take it off heat and serve.

 

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Baked Quinoa Falafels

Baked Quinoa Falafels



This is the last recipe of the Kickass Quinoa series. Coming up with the recipes made me fall in love with this versatile power seed all over again and I will continue to experiment with quinoa and

Ingredients: (Yield about 20)
  • Cooked Quinoa - 1 1/2 Cups (recipe here)
  • Garbanzo beans/Chickpeas - 1 Cup cooked or 1 15oz can, drained and rinsed
  • Parsley - 1/2 Cup, chopped
  • Garlic - 2 cloves
  • Onions (or green onions) - 4 tbsp., finely chopped
  • Cumin Powder - 1 tsp
  • Coriander Powder - 1tsp
  • Paprika - 1 tsp (add red chili flakes if you want some heat)
  • Oil - 3 tbsp.
  • Almond Butter - 2 tbsp. (you can use tahini paste, of course)
  • Juice of a whole lemon
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 450F. Spray your cookie sheet with cooking spray or brush it generously with oil. Set aside.
 
Using your food processor, make a paste of the garbanzo beans/chickpeas, parsley, garlic, cumin powder, coriander powder, paprika, chili flakes or chili powder (if using), salt, freshly cracked pepper, almond butter, oil and lemon juice.
 
Now in a largish bowl, mix together the garbanzo beans paste, cooked quinoa and chopped onions. Scoop out the mixture and shape into balls or patties. Spread out on the prepped cookie sheet.
 
Bake for about 25 minutes till the balls turn golden brown. Flip the balls or patties halfway through - at abut the 12-minute mark.
 
Enjoy the melt-in-the-mouth falafels with a side of  Quinoa Tabbouleh or stuff these in pita pockets along with some shredded lettuce, tomato slices and a dollop of yogurt.

Original recipe: here

Quinoa Tabbouleh


Quinoa Tabbouleh




Tabbouleh (variations: tabouleh or tab(b)ouli) originates from the eastern Mediterranean region and is traditionally made with bulgur (made from groats of wheat), parsley, mint, tomatoes, lemon juice and salt.

I substituted bulgur with quinoa and adjusted the ingredients according to our taste.

Ingredients: (Serves 1)
  • Cooked Quinoa - 1 Cup (learn how to cook quinoa here)
  • Cucumber - 1/4 Cup, chopped
  • Tomato - 1/4 Cup, about one small tomato, seeded and chopped
  • Onions - 3 tbsp, finely chopped (Add green onions if you have some, about 2 tbsp and reduce onions to 1 tbsp)
  • Fresh Parsley - 1/4 packed Cup, finely chopped
  • Fresh Mint - 4 or 5 leaves, roughly chopped
  • Lemon Juice - 1 tbsp
  • A drizzle of good quality olive oil
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
Throw in all the ingredients into a bowl and give it a good toss. Cover and let stand for at least an hour. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Recipe Inspiration: here 

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Quinoa Lunch Bowl



Quinoa Lunch Bowl

 

The ingredient of the Month (April) is Kickass Quinoa - a superfood in its own right.

 
A gorgeous lunch which is pretty much a mix n match of leftovers (mostly food cooked ahead in bulk on Sunday) bowl motivates me to eat lunch properly Monday through Wednesday. Thursdays I cook again.

Ever since my parents left in November, I have not been eating lunch on time. After many years, I do not have company for lunch and I do not like that. The husband travels for work and my 6.5 yo goes to full-day school. Skipping lunches would make me go into a full-blown 'binge-mode' and that had been happening more often than desired. Not a good thing at all.

This is a freestyle recipe. Use whatever you have on hand, just try to incorporate elements from all food groups -

For this recipe, I had cooked the quinoa with chicken stock instead of water which added an extra layer of flavor. I seasoned the cooked quinoa with little salt and freshly cracked black pepper, threw in some chopped cilantro and squeezed a little lemon juice to brighten up the flavors. Tossed everything together and used that in my bowl, along with leftovers.
 
My Quinoa Lunch Bowl includes: 
  • Protein from 2 sources - quinoa & egg
  • Starch from leftover pan roasted butternut squash
  • Greens - some wilted spinach on the bottom of the bowl (it is hiding in the pic)
  • Veggies - leftover Garlicky Asparagus
  • Healthy fat from toasted slivered almonds
Recipe Inspiration: here


 
 

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Chocolate Quinoa Power Bites

 
Chocolate Quinoa Power Bites

The ingredient of the Month (April) is Kickass Quinoa - a superfood in its own right. 

This is a perfect on-the-go snack that duly curbed my hunger and also took care of my untimely and unwanted sugar cravings. As the month of April draws to an end, PG of A Whiff of Spice and I have close to 20 Quinoa Recipes between the two of us and what a remarkably prolific month it was! Stay tuned for the Ingredient of the Month round-up featuring Kickass Quinoa!
 
Ingredients: (Yield - about 16 to 18 )
  • Cooked Quinoa - 1 Cup (recipe here)
  • Pitted Dates - about 20
  • Almonds - 1/2 Cup + 2 tbsp.
  • Almond Butter - 1/3 Cup (or use your favorite nut butter)
  • Golden Flaxseeds - 1/4 Cup + 2 tsp
  • Dried Cranberries - 1/4 Cup
  • Dark Chocolate Chips - 1/3 Cup
  • Instant Coffee Granules - 1/2 tsp
  • Cocoa Powder - 1 tsp, unsweetened (optional)
  • Salt - 1/4 tsp
Chocolate Quinoa Power Bites
 
Using a food processor, crush the almonds into itty bitty pieces. Scoop out 2 tbsp. of crushed almonds and transfer to a bowl. To the same bowl, add 2 tsp of flaxseeds and cocoa powder and give it a quick whisk. Set it aside.
Now add the pitted dates to the food processor and blitz away till you get a crumbly mixture.
Warm up the quinoa if you are using leftovers.
Throw in the warm quinoa along with 1/4 cup flaxseeds, dried cranberries, dark chocolate chips, coffee powder, salt and the creamy nut butter and process till everything comes together into a sticky mass. The chocolate chips will melt from the heat.
Using a mini ice-cream scoop or a 1 tbsp. measure, scoop out  the mixture and shape into balls using the palms of your hands. Roll the balls in the crushed almond-flaxseeds-cocoa powder mix and arrange them in a single layer on a plate or a cookie sheet. Once done, bite into one and enjoy!
 
Recipe adapted from here.
 
 

Monday, April 25, 2016

Pan roasted garlicky Asparagus

Pan roasted garlicky Asparagus

 
 
When we were in Tennessee last weekend, our friends D & A, cooked a whole lotta stuff in their cast iron skillet, which reminded of mine. My cast iron pan had been tucked away in the darkest corner of the cabinet for more than a year now. Don't get me wrong... I LOVE cooking in it. Everything gets cooked way faster and clean-up is a breeze. It was just that it's weight would trigger severe spasms in my arm and shoulder.

I helped D cook the asparagus and she suggested that I add a sprinkle of garlic salt. What a great idea it was!
 
These tender asparagus spears caught my eyes at Wholefoods and I just could not walk away! And I just had to use the cast iron pan.
 
The husband did the heavy-lifting so all was good.
 
Pan roasted garlicky Asparagus
 
 
Ingredients:
  • Tender asparagus - 1 bunch, washed, patted dry with a towel and the woody part trimmed
  • Garlic - 1 fat clove, minced
  • Oil - 1 tsp (or a little butter)
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
  • Garlic Salt - 1/8 tsp or a fat pinch
I used my cast iron pan to roast the asparagus so it took me just 3 to 4 minutes to cook these. Plus the bunch of asparagus was really tender.
Melt a pat of butter or heat about a teaspoon of oil in your pan. Throw in the asparagus spears along with the minced garlic. Toss and stir. Season with salt and freshly cracked black pepper, sprinkle the garlic powder and cook till the spears are tender.
 
Serve hot.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Quinoa Upma

Quinoa Upma

The ingredient of the Month (April) is Kickass Quinoa - a superfood in its own right. 

 
Last weekend we were at picturesque Sewanee, Tennessee visiting my school friend, D and her family and what a delightful time it was. We hiked, gorged on yummy food, drank a lot, laughed a lot, met some wonderful people and even went out on a double date night sans the kids. We brought back a lot warm memories.

Sewanee, Tennessee

Bridal Veils Falls, Sewanee, Tennessee


We came back late night Monday and the rest of the week was a blur - there were just too many things to do. It wasn't until today that I got back to cooking for Ingredient for the Month. The idea behind this came to me in my dreams! Go ahead.. laugh all you want to! But that's exactly what happened. Off to the recipe now...
 
Check out how to cook quinoa here.
 
Ingredients:
  • Cooked Quinoa - 2 Cups (recipe here)
  • Onions - 1 medium, chopped
  • Carrots - 1/2 Cup, chopped
  • Peas - 1/2 Cup
  • Ginger - 1/2 inch, finely chopped
  • Curry leaves - a couple of sprigs, washed and dried
  • Cilantro - 2 packed tbsp, finely chopped
  • Green chilies - 1 or 2, slit
  • Urad Daal - 1 tbsp, washed and dried (optional)
  • Oil - 1 tbsp.
  • Mustard Seeds - 1/2 tsp
  • Salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste
Quinoa Upma
 
 
Heat oil in a pan and temper with the mustard seeds, urad daal, green chilies and ginger. Fry few a couple of minutes till fragrant. Add the onions and carrots and cook till the carrots soften a little. Now tip in the peas and cooked quinoa and give it a good stir. Season it with salt and pepper. Stir to mix. Add a little water (about half a cup), cover and cook till the liquid evaporated everything comes together nicely. Sprinkle the cilantro and take the pan off heat.
 
Serve hot.
 

Friday, April 22, 2016

Plum Liqueur

Plum Liqueur


September 12th, 2015.

When I was at a loss with what to do with couple of pounds of cherries that our overnight guests had left behind by mistake, a fellow blogger (Sayantani of a homamakersdiary) suggested that I make cherry liqueur with them. Since we had to go to Kolkata suddenly, that plan got stalled. But the idea stuck.  By the time we came back from Kolkata and settled down again, cherries were gone for the season! For a while I toyed with the idea of making raspberry cordial inspired by a very favorite book - Anne of Green Gables, but an alcoholic version. I bought some raspberries but ended up making these Oatmeal Banana Raspberry Chocolate Chip Muffins instead.

Then I thought, why not plum liqueur! I love the Japanese Plum wine - Choya Umeshu and have a sneaking feeling that I am totally going to love this one too!
So this time I bought plums. Or rather I bought 2 lbs of plums instead of 1lb that I used for the recipe as I knew that I would end up snacking on those!

Plum Liqueur


This is what the jars looked like when I soaked the plums.



Ingredients:
  • Plums - 1 lb, red or black
  • Granulated Sugar - 1 Cup
  • Vodka - 1 Cup
  • Brandy - 1/4 Cup
 Gently wash the plums and pat them dry with a paper towel. Cut and pit. I chopped mine into smaller pieces, you can just cut yours into halves. I used mason jars as aging containers. Feel free to use whatever aging container you have on hand. Wash and dry your aging containers before using.
Place the pitted and chopped/halved plums in the aging container and add the sugar. Stir. Now pour in the vodka and the brandy. Stir some more till the sugar partly dissolves. Screw the cap on tight and place the container in a cool, dark place for about 2 months. Stir occasionally.
 
After 2 months, using a strainer or cloth over a bowl or a glass measuring cup, strain the liquid. Using the back of a spoon press as much liquid possible from the plum. Throw away the pulp. Or DON'T. I loved popping them in my mouth every now and then!
Now strain once again using a cloth and repeat the process till the liqueur turns clear. Pour into a bottle and store. Aging it for another month will enhance the flavors more!

Update: December 15th, 2015

Yup, I successfully aged it for 3 months, and it was ready, right on time for the Holidays!

Update: 18th January 2016

The holidays are over and my plum liqueur is still aging. I got distracted with all the baking and prepping for house guests during the holidays. Then started the prep for our Hawaii Vacation.

Update: February 2016

Came back from the vacation, rejuvenated! But once again forgot all about the plum liqueur which has been nicely maturing in the pantry.

Update: April 2016

The plum liqueur is ready, tried and tasted. And at last photographed!

Plum Liqueur

 
Recipe inspired by drinksmixer
 

Friday, April 15, 2016

Baked Broccoli Quinoa Tater Tots

 
Baked Broccoli Quinoa Tater Tots
 

The ingredient of the Month (April) is Kickass Quinoa - a superfood in its own right.

It has been a while that I wanted to make Baked Broccoli Tater Tots, or you can just call them baked broccoli bites. 'Tater Tots' is just a fancy schmancy name given to grated  potatoes shaped into a cylinders and deep-fried to its crispy glory! Mine is a healthier version of it. Like way, way healthier version of it! It has broccoli and it has quinoa and it is baked. It is a wholesome meal in itself, packed with nutrients and very flavorful!
 
My 6.5 yo couldn't wait to dunk it in ketchup and pop one into his mouth!
 
 
Baked Broccoli Quinoa Tater Tots
 
 
Ingredients: (Yield: 12 to 14)
  • Steamed or blanched Broccoli - 2 Cups
  • Cooked Quinoa - 3/4 Cup (recipe here)
  • Panko breadcrumbs - 1/3 Cup
  • Grated Cheddar Cheese - 1/4 Cup
  • White onions - 1/4 Cup, finely chopped
  • Cilantro - 1/4 Cup, finely chopped and packed
  • Egg - 1, large
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
  • Oil for brushing on the aluminum foil
 
Baked Broccoli Quinoa Tater Tots
 
 
Preheat oven to 400F. Line a cookie sheet with a aluminum foil and brush it generously with some oil. Set aside.
 
Blanch or steam the broccoli. Squeeze out the excess water and throw it into a food processor along with the cilantro. Pulse it 2 or 3 times till you get a grainy mix. Be careful not to blitz it into a paste. If you do not have a food, you can use your knife to give it a rough chop. Transfer to a bowl. Add the cooked quinoa, panko bread crumbs, grated cheese and finely chopped onions. Season with salt and freshly cracked pepper. Using a fork, mix everything together gently. Taste and adjust seasoning. Now make a well in the middle of the mix and crack open an egg. Give it another quick whisk and let the mixture hang out for about 20 minutes.
 
Using a mini ice cream scoop or just eyeballing it, shape the mixture into your preferred shape. Lay the tater tots on the oiled and prepped cookie sheet. Bake for about 20 to 23 minutes. At the 15 minutes mark you can flip over the tater tots once.
 
Baked Broccoli Quinoa Tater Tots
 
 
Serve hot with ketchup. Enjoy!
 
Recipe inspiration from here!

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Baked Cheese stuffed Quinoa Carrot Broccoli Bites

Baked Cheese stuffed Quinoa Carrot Broccoli Bites

The ingredient of the Month (April) is Kickass Quinoa - a superfood in its own right.


These are outrageously filling. I could not eat more than 2. Dinner went super-quick.  Only catch is these have to be served hot and eaten while it is still warm to enjoy the ooey-gooey cheesy filling.

Baked Cheese stuffed Quinoa Carrot Broccoli Bites


Ingredients: (Yield - about 6)
  • Grated Carrots - 1/2 Cup
  • Grated steamed or blanched Broccoli - 1 Cup
  • Garlic - 2 fat cloves, minced
  • Onion - 1/3 Cup, white and finely chopped
  • Cilantro - 1/4 Cup, finely chopped and packed
  • Quinoa - 1 Cup, cooked (recipe here)
  • Cumin - 1 tsp, powdered
  • Panko Breadcrumb - 1/2 Cup plus couple of tbsp. for coating
  • Egg - 1
  • String Cheese - 1, cut into 6 equal pieces
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
Baked Cheese stuffed Quinoa Carrot Broccoli Bites

Preheat oven to 350F. Cover a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and brush oil on it.
Mix all ingredients except the egg, string cheese and extra panko breadcrumbs (for coating) together.
Adjust seasoning and whisk in the egg.
No scoop out couple spoonful of the mixture, place a piece of string cheese in the middle and shape into round balls. Add more panko crumbs, if required.
Roll the shaped balls in the extra panko crumbs. Arrange on the prepped cookie sheet and bake for about 20 to 25 minutes. Turn once at the half way mark.

Serve hot.


 

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Quinoa Breakfast Bowl - Ingredient of the Month

Quinoa Breakfast Bowl - Ingredient of the Month
 

The ingredient of the Month (April) is Kickass Quinoa - a superfood in its own right.

Instead of your bowl of oatmeal in the morning, try this. This does require a little prep work but the best part is that you can make a batch of quinoa on Sunday and use it throughout the week. Cooking quinoa is just as easy.
 
 
Ingredients: 2 small servings
  • Cooked Quinoa - 1 Cup (recipe here)
  • Milk - 1 Cup (I used almond milk)
  • Cinnamon Powder - 1/2 tsp
  • Raisins - 1 or 2 tbsp., depending on your preference
  • Chopped nuts of your choice (optional, I used almonds)
  • Honey - for drizzling (optional)
Quinoa Breakfast Bowl - Ingredient of the Month
 
 
Bring a cup of milk to simmer along with the cinnamon powder and raisins. Throw in the cooked quinoa to it. Once it comes to a boil, lower the heat and let the quinoa cook in the milk till it reaches your preferred consistency. Stir from time to time. Take it off heat, once done.
 
Transfer to a bowl. Add a handful of chopped nuts to it. Drizzle some honey if you want to. I did not - the sweetness from the raisins did the trick for me! Enjoy!
 
 

Monday, April 11, 2016

Kickass Quinoa - Ingredient of the Month - How to Cook it?

Kickass Quinoa - Ingredient of the Month - How to Cook it?



The ingredient of the Month (April) is Kickass Quinoa - a superfood in its own right.

Do not be daunted by the task of cooking quinoa. It is as easy as cooking rice. If you want to use the quinoa in a savory dish, you can cook it vegetable or chicken broth instead of water. Quinoa will triple its volume, once cooked. So if your recipe calls for 1 Cup of quinoa, you will need 1/3 Cup uncooked quinoa.

"..of all the whole grains, quinoa has the highest protein content, so it's perfect for vegetarians and vegans. Quinoa provides all 9 essential amino acids, making it a complete protein. Quinoa is a gluten-free and cholesterol-free whole grain, is kosher for Passover, and is almost always organic." [source]

Kickass Quinoa - Ingredient of the Month - How to Cook it?

You will need:
  • 1 Cup of uncooked Quinoa
  • 2 Cups of Water or Broth
  • Pinch of salt  
First and foremost, give the quinoa a good rinse. Easiest way is to take the quinoa in a fine mesh strainer and running water through it while scrubbing well for couple of minutes. If you do not wash it well, there's this soapy after-taste that is totally unpleasant.

If you want to you can toast the quinoa before cooking. That  will add another layer of flavor. I usually skip it.

Take one part of quinoa and 2 parts of liquid in a pan and cook it on medium heat. Stir it from time to time. Once it comes to a boil, lower the heat, cover it and cook for another 15 minutes or so. Take it off the heat, and let it stand for about 10 minutes - still covered. By now the grains should have absorbed all the liquid. Fluff it using a fork and transfer to a bowl/container. Now use the cooked quinoa anyway you like. Store leftovers in the fridge.

 

Whole Wheat Orange Cranberry Muffins (Oil-free/Butterless)

Whole Wheat Orange Cranberry Muffins (Oil-free/Butterless)


Tart cranberries plumped up in freshly squeezed orange juice. Whole-wheat flour. No oil. No butter. Just a touch of sweetness from honey. Yum, right? Added bonus - the 6.5 yo loved it too! He just wished that there were a few chocolate chips too! This boy! He loves chocolate. If he could have his way, he would have sprinkled some on his salad as well! Anyhoo.. off to the recipe now!

Ingredients: (Yield 6-7 muffins)
  • Whole-wheat flour - 1 Cup
  • Baking Soda - 1 tsp
  • Salt - 1/2 tsp
  • Cinnamon Powder - 1/2 tsp
  • Egg - 1 large, at room temperature
  • Honey or agave - 2 tbsp
  • Unsweetened Apple Sauce - 1/3 Cup (recipe here, or you can use store-bought   
  • Vanilla Extract - 1tsp
  • Freshly Squeezed Orange Juice of a whole orange
  • Orange Zest - of a whole orange
  • Cranberries - 3/4 Cup
Whole Wheat Orange Cranberry Muffins (Oil-free/Butterless)


Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a muffin tin with cupcake liners, coat those lightly with a non-stick cooking spray. If you are using foil cupcake liners you can skip this step. Set aside.

Let the cranberries hang out in the freshly squeezed OJ and orange zest for a couple of hours or more. You can just add the cranberries, OJ and orange zest to a bowl, cling wrap it and stick it in the fridge overnight.

In a bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients - whole-wheat flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon powder.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, honey, apple sauce, vanilla extract and cranberry-OJ mix till just incorporated.

Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl of dry ingredients and gently mix. Be careful not to overmix. Let the batter rest for about 20 minutes.

Scoop in couple of spoonful of the batter into the prepped muffin cups. Bake for 13-15 minutes till done. Insert a toothpick in the middle of the muffin to check for done-ness. If it comes out clean, your muffins are ready. Baking time will vary depending on your oven. If you overbake, the muffins will dry out.

Let the muffins hang out in the muffin tin for a few minutes till those cool down enough to be handled. Transfer to a cooling rack and let the muffins cool down completely before serving.

Store leftovers in an airtight container. These will stay fresh for 3-4 days.



Sunday, April 10, 2016

Whole-wheat Strawberry Banana Chocolate Chip Quick Bread

Whole-wheat Strawberry Banana Chocolate Chip Quick Bread
 

It has been just too busy! With too many things going on! And when life is so busy, blogging takes a back seat. I baked after a LONG time. And while I was still in the mood, I tried out two more recipes over the weekend.
 
Ingredients:
  • Whole wheat Flour - 1 1/4 Cups (keep 1 tbsp aside) + 1 tsp
  • Baking Powder - 2 tsp
  • Cinnamon Powder - 1/2 tsp
  • Salt - 1/4 tsp
  • Banana - 1, big speckled one, over ripe, sliced
  • Strawberries - 1/2 Cup, hulled and roughly chopped
  • Honey or Agave - 2 tbsp
  • Oil - 1 tbsp
  • Vanilla Extract - 2 tsp
  • Egg - 2, large at room temperature
  • Chocolate Chip - 2 tbsp (optional)
  • Sliced strawberries for garnish (optional)
Whole-wheat Strawberry Banana Chocolate Chip Quick Bread

 
Preheat oven to 325F. Grease a loaf pan with butter and dust it with flour. I like lining the bottom of the loaf pan with parchment paper too.
In a blender, blitz together the banana, strawberries, honey (or agave), oil, vanilla and eggs till everything comes together.
In a big bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients - whole wheat flour, cinnamon powder. salt and baking powder. Make a well in the middle and pour in the smooth strawberry-banana mix. Using a fork, mix everything together till just incorporated. Do not over-mix. Lastly, fold in the chocolate chips. Let your batter hang out for about 20 minutes if you can.
Pour the batter into the prepped loaf pan and bake for 40-45 minutes, till done. Insert a toothpick in the middle to check for done-ness. If it comes out clean, it is done!
Let the bread cool in the pan for about 10 minutes before inverting it onto a cooling rack for it to cool completely.
Slice it, slather with butter (or not) or your favorite preserve/jam/jelly/nut butter and enjoy! It was soft, moist and pretty whole-some.

Saturday, April 09, 2016

Dairy Free Eggless Chocolate Cake

Dairy Free Eggless Crazy Wacky Depression Chocolate Cake
 
It was a good friend's birthday today and it being a really crazy day/week, it didn't even occur to me that I should bake her a cake! Since her kids are allergic to many things, and they are strictly vegetarian (no eggs, too) store-bought cakes are not an option. So their only options are cakes that she bakes.
I keep forwarding her dairy-free eggless recipes that I chance upon and I had come across this particular recipe a few days back! This and a Dairy Free Eggless Vanilla Cake which I plan to make within a few days.
Better late than never,  at 6:20 pm, I started baking this cake. I was done baking and taking photos by 7:15pm.
 By the time I was done baking, she had already messaged me to say that she tried out this 'Crazy Cake' recipe. It was so funny that we used the exact same recipe! She had just switched out the water with orange juice (I plan to steal the idea) and I had added coffee granules to heighten the chocolaty flavor.
This goes by the names Crazy or Wacky or Depression Cake! The fact that it is dairy free and eggless and was baked in the same pan that it was mixed in made it very popular indeed! Not to mention it takes less than 45 minutes from start to finish!
 
Dairy Free Eggless Crazy Wacky Depression Chocolate Cake
 
Ingredients:
  • All Purpose Flour - 1 1/2 Cups
  • Cocoa Powder - 3 tbsp, unsweetened and good quality
  • Sugar - 1 Cup
  • Instant Coffee Granules - 1/2 tsp
  • Baking Soda - 1 tsp
  • Salt - 1/2 tsp
  • Oil - 5 tbsp
  • Vanilla Extract - 1 tsp
  • Water 1 Cup
  • White Vinegar - 1 tsp
 
Preheat oven to 350F. Bake it on the middle rack.
 
Here's what I did following the 'Wacky' or 'Depression Cake method. Do grease your pan with butter if you plan to use the same pan to bake your cake in. I wanted mine to look a little fancy since I wasn't going to add any frosting to it so used a well greased and floured Bundt Pan. A 8-inch square or round pan will work just fine.
 
Whisk together the dry ingredients in the pan - AP flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking soda, sugar and coffee granules.
 
Make wells or depressions in the flour-mix - 2 small ones for the vinegar and vanilla essence and one largish one for oil. Pour in the vinegar, vanilla essence and oil into the wells/depressions. Pour water into it and mix gently till smooth. I used a rubber spatula. It was easier to scrape and mix with it. Be careful not to over-mix.
 
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes till done. Insert a toothpick in the middle to check for done-ness - if it comes clean, it is done!
 
It turned out to be very flavorful and moist. I dusted the cake with little powdered sugar and cocoa powder due to dietary restrictions. Next time, I am going to pour some ganache over it. You can top it with your favorite frosting.
 

Poila Baishakh of my Childhood and Now

Poila Baishakh of my childhood was somewhat different. Poila Baishakh would be the time of Haal Khata (new account books for businesses) and of new Ponjika (Almanac). I would see my Ma pour over the Ponjika and look up the Durga Pujo dates and then dig out her Bhromon Songi (a travelers' guides of sorts, there was no google at that time) to plan our annual vacations. My Dadu (Grandpa) would visit the local businesses that had invited him with me in tow. It meant that we will get countless Bengali calendars boasting the faces of many gods and goddesses (which slowly gave way to glossy pictures of nature) and boxes of yummy sweets. Sometimes I would accompany my Baba to the local fresh produce and fish market. My Didu (GrandMa) would be whipping up delectable fares and waiting up for her kids and grandkids to show up! There would be alpona (decorative patterns) adorning the entry ways and fresh flowers.

In many households there will be Lakhsmi and Ganesh Pujo.

Prabhat Pheris are perhaps a thing of the past. But it was a beautiful tradition where men and women, dressed in their traditional best (Dhooti-Panjabi for men and Laal Paar Saada Saree for women) and walk in a procession, belting out melodious renditions of Rabindrasangeet and greeting friends, families and neighbors with the customary 'kolakuli' and wish each other 'Subho Naba Barsho'.
 
Even though the celebrations changed over the years, somethings never changed. The day would always be spend with family. We would all get together, dressed in our best. There would be lots of food and lots of adda. And gifts. And more adda over the evening cuppa tea and beguni/piyaji (fritters).
 
The Poila Baishakh menu would most definitely boast of Mutton Curry, Mishti Pulao, at least two different kinds of fish, shrimps and of course Mishti Doi. Food is still the center point of the celebration, but now with a host of restaurants offering an extensive Poila Baishakh special menu, many prefer eating out than cooking at home.
 
There would always be something new for me to wear. And my Ma would buy something new for the home - cushion covers, bed sheets, bed covers, something from the Chaitra Sale. Now, the malls dress up to attract the crowd. There are exhibitions and handicraft melas now. This is the time to freshen up the d├ęcor.  This is a tradition that I have religiously followed. Who doesn't like new clothes! And it gives us an excuse to dress up in sarees & pajama-panjabi! And buy something new for the home!
 
My earliest memories of Poila Boishakh apart from  the rolls of new Bengali calendars, boxes of sweets was of my Ma going on a cleaning spree. Now my Ma is borderline OCD when it comes to cleanliness - and just before Poila Baishakh she would go into a deep cleaning mode. Every year without fail. Every nook and corner would be dusted and cleaned over and over, every inch of the floors scrubbed and every piece of drapery and washable upholstery cleaned/washed. This year is no different. She is in her spring clean mode. And the cockroaches and other creepy crawlies would stand no chance against her trusted Godrej Red Hit.

Some of those elements still remain. Somethings never change.

Subho Naba Barsho you all!

Know more about Godrej Red Hit:
Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/HITkpkd/?fref=ts
Twitter : https://twitter.com/HITKPKD
Order online here : http://www.amazon.in/HIT-Crawling-Insect-Killer-CIK/dp/B00XORDU9E/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1459950917&sr=8-1&keywords=lal+hit

Disclaimer : This post was written in association with Godrej HIT.

Sunday, April 03, 2016

EGGstatic March - Ingredient of the Month Roundup

Collage made by PG of A Whiff of Spice


My friend and fellow blogger, PG of A Whiff of Spice and I have started a new series - Ingredient of the Month and the month of February is dedicated to Eggs. Hop to my friend's page for the round-up details - A Whiff of Spice

Monday, March 14, 2016

Sorshe Posto Dim - Eggs in Poppy Seed & Mustard Gravy

Sorshe Posto Dim - Eggs in Poppy Seed & Mustard Gravy


Don't laugh when I say that I dread boiling eggs. I am not a fan of peeling or eating hard boiled eggs either. The husband and the 6.5 yo love eating boiled eggs. But they only get to eat it when the husband is around and he is boiling and peeling the eggs. In my defense, my eggs turn out either horribly over-boiled or pathetically under-boiled. And then I will have a hard time peeling them - almost always mauling the whites to the extent that it starts resembling the cratered surface of the moon. And no, none of the egg peeling hacks ever work for me.

Last Sunday I asked the husband sheepishly, how long does he boil the eggs for. He said 13 minutes.

13 minutes. 13 minutes! 13 was the magic number! How lucky for me.

I confidently put 8 eggs to boil and set the timer for 13 minutes. I ran to check when the timer beeped. Much to my dismay, there was no rolling boil, the water had just started to simmer. Hearing my anguished lament (or perhaps it was a frustrated grunt - I forget which), he came to the kitchen, and lectured me on the principles of egg boiling starting with the fact 13 minutes is for 2 eggs. Less water. And only when he's multitasking and boiling them on medium low heat. Darn!

So here's what he does -

* Puts a pot full of water (regular cold tap water) along with the eggs on medium-high heat and a pinch of salt.
* Covers and cooks the eggs till it comes to a rolling boil.
*Turns off the heat and lets the eggs hang out in the covered pot for in the hot water for 15 minutes (for hard boiled eggs). If you want softer yolks, you have to take the eggs out sooner.
* Lets the eggs cool down by placing them in cold water before peeling.

I boiled another batch of 8 eggs to perfection yesterday. And then peeled them almost perfectly too!

**I have a coil burner and that's why it takes way longer to boil water than regular gas flame burners.

So here's recipe #2 in our "Ingredient of the Month" series.

Ingredients:
  • Eggs - 4, boiled and peeled.
  • Poppy seed paste - 2 tbsp
  • Mustard seed paste - 1 tbsp
  • Turmeric - 1/4 tsp
  • Panch Phoron - 3/4 tsp (mix of fennel seeds, cumin seeds, nigella seeds, fenugreek seeds and radhuni seeds)
  • Green Chili - 1 or more, slit
  • Onions - 1 small, sliced
  • Cilantro - 2 or 3 tbsp, finely chopped
  • Salt to taste
  • Oil - 1 tsp + 1 tsp
Using a paring knife score the boiled and peeled eggs gently. Heat 1 tsp oil in a pan and lightly fry the eggs. Set aside.
If like me, you grind the poppy seed and mustard seed in a spice or a coffee grinder, then in a bowl, mix the ground poppy seed and ground mustard seed with 3-4 tablespoons of water and let it rest for a few minutes.
Add remaining 1 tsp to the hot pan and temper it with the green chilies and panch phoron - five spice mix. I usually make my own 5 spice mix by mixing equal amounts of fennel seeds, cumin seeds, nigella seeds, fenugreek seeds and radhuni seeds. If I do not have any radhuni seeds on hand, I use mustard seeds instead.
Once the seeds start spluttering, add the sliced onions and fry till translucent. Pour the poppy seed-mustard seed paste and cook for a minute or two till the raw smell is gone. Sprinkle the turmeric and season with salt. Tip in the eggs (I sliced mine in half) and mix gently till the masala coats the eggs. Let the eggs soak in the gravy for a couple of minutes. End with a generous sprinkle of finely chopped cilantro. Take it off the heat.

Serve hot with rice or roti. Refrigerate leftovers.

Sorshe Posto Dim - Eggs in Poppy Seed & Mustard Gravy

 

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Dhoney Pata Dim

Dhoney Pata Dim
 
 
The month of March is dedicated to eggs. My friend and blogger Progna Ghosh (PG) of A Whiff of Spice and I have started this new series - "Ingredient of the Month" (Check out February's here!). I spent almost one-third of the month being too busy with prior commitments and/or being sick, so here I am at last with my first Egg recipe - Dhoney paata Dim or eggs cooked in cilantro based gravy. This is a very easy recipe and I make variations of this recipe often.
 
Ingredients:
  • Eggs - 4, boiled and peeled
  • Cilantro - 1 Cup, packed
  • Garlic - 2 fat cloves
  • Tomato - 1, small chopped
  • Green Chili - 1 or more depending on your heat preference
  • Onions - 1/2 Cup, sliced
  • Cumin powder - 1/2 tsp
  • Coriander powder - 1/2 tsp
  • Garam Masala Powder - 1/8 tsp or a fat pinch
  • Turmeric - 1/4 tsp
  • Oil - 1 tsp + 1 tsp
  • Salt to taste

Using a paring knife, score the surface of the boiled and peeled eggs. Heat oil in pan, and lightly fry the eggs till they turn slightly golden brown. You can skip this step and add the scored boiled eggs directly to the cooked gravy! But we love the wrinkly golden brown eggs in our family. Set aside.

In a blender, make a smooth paste of the cilantro, garlic, tomato and green chili with half a cup of water. My paste was a little chunky as I used my food processor. I am yet to replace my conked off blender.

Heat oil in a pan and fry the onions till caramelized. Sprinkle cumin powder, coriander powder and garam masala powder and cook till the raw smell is gone and the gravy has thickened slightly. Season with salt. Add the boiled eggs to the gravy and let the eggs soak in the flavors. Serve with rice or roti and refrigerate the leftovers.

For the Garam Masala powder, I coarsely grind 1 inch of cinnamon, 1 clove and 1 green cardamom.

Dhoney Pata Dim

 

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Chocolatey February - Ingredient of the Month Roundup


  
Collage created by PG of A Whiff of Spice
 
 My friend and fellow blogger, PG of A Whiff of Spice and I have started a new series - Ingredient of the Month and the month of February is dedicated to chocolate. Delicious, decadent chocolate. Her recipes are in line with her blog - Diabetic friendly while mine are on the indulgent side.
 
  
Chocolatey February - Ingredient of the Month Roundup
 
 
Chocolatey February - Ingredient of the Month Roundup
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
   Chocolate Fudge Sauce - an 'Almost' Guilt-free Version
 





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