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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Vanilla Chai Cake and it is Eggless !!!

Vanilla chai and I go way back together. Some , fourteen years ago when I had just moved to the States , it was  my must have beverage. I was way younger and could afford to drink the sugar laden chai ..rather I used to crave for it ! Older and much wiser, my relationship with it has much lost much of the it's fervor . The passion is there but have manged to restrain it to a  moderated level. The fact that vanilla chai is not available at all outlets of Dunkin Donuts might have helped too ! Who knows ?


When I came across this recipe , my joy knew no bound. I could now eat vanilla chai too !!!! In cake form of course ! Betty crocker has a chai cake recipe but it has eggs and here I was looking forward to an eggless cake recipe. I came across a similar recipe from Chef Zarnak which was eggless. I adapted from both and the result was simply divine. 

Note : I used Vanilla chai tea bags for the flavor I love..you guys are welcome to try any flavor of tea bag that you fancy . 
Ingredients -

1/2 cup water
4 tea bags ( I used Bigelow Vanilla Chai )
2 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon powder
1/2 tsp clove powder
1/2 tsp  cardamom powder
200 grams or 1/2 can condensed milk 

Method - 
Pre heat the oven to 350 degrees F or 180 degrees C and grease and flour a cake pan.



Boil the water and let the tea bags stand in it for 5 minutes. 


Meanwhile. cream  the butter and sugar with the help of a hand mixer.


Add the tea decoction and condensed milk while whisking it gently.



Sieve the flour, baking soda, baking powder ,cinnamon,clove and cardamom powder and fold it in the mixture.


Pour the batter into the greased pan and bake for 25 -30 minutes or till a toothpick comes out clean.
Cool on a wire rack and enjoy with chai :-)


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Cilantro Pistachio Pesto Pasta with Tricolor Veggies



We seem to be having an overabundance of snow days here. Today was an unexpected one as no information about school closing was given beforehand. Found out about it after my son was all dressed and ready to go to school. Well , knowing beforehand would have ensured that we would have given our hard working alarm clock a break but still it wasn't bad news. We lazed around in the bed and had a leisurely breakfast which is such a luxury on week days.


Yet another school closing also means that lunch needs to be special as kids are there to enjoy it fully. While giving it some thought, decided why not to make it colorful as well ..healthy colorful . If comfort food is essential to enjoying a snow day in all it's glory , why not sneak in some veggies as well ? And while at it, why not utilize the bunch of cilantro lying in the fridge. So, here is the end result - cilantro pistachio pesto pasta with tri color veggies.


Ingredients -

16 oz box Penne pasta
2 cups stem removed cilantro
2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp black pepper powder
1 cup white mushroom sliced
1 cup red pepper julienned
1 cup broccoli florets
1/2 cup pistachio nuts
1 pound minced chicken (optional) ( you may substitute it with soya chunks)
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tbsp oil for stir fry 
1 tbsp minced garlic
3 tbsp fresh lime juice
2 green chillies
1 tbsp Italian seasoning




Method -

Cook the pasta for 7-8 minutes in boiling water to have Al dente like consistency.
Drain in a colander and set aside.
Meanwhile for the pesto , in a food processor , blend the cilantro, lime juice , salt , green chillies , pistachio while drizzling the olive oil until you get a sauce like consistency.
Stir fry the minced meat or soya chunks as well as the veggies . 
Pour in the pasta and add Italian seasoning, black pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, little salt and mix  it all together over medium heat .
Finally , add the pesto sauce and give it a gentle mix.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Whole Wheat Strawberry Bread - Guiltless pleasure


It's strawberry galore time ! Time when we are flooded with fresh strawberries which are just begging us to try them out . Every year I tried to do full justice to their  awesomeness , after all we have to thank them  for being the nutrition powerhouse that they are. I really feel that organic strawberries  are under appreciated ..I really do ! At just 50 calories for a cupful of them , we get more than our daily share of Vitamin C from them. Organic strawberries are well known for their cancer fighting abilities due to their phyto nutrient content.


With all this talk about nutrition, it should come as no surprise that I wanted to bake them in a healthy way. And what is more healthy than home baked 100 % whole wheat bread laden with strawberries, right ? This is the kind of bread you can eat without feeling guilty about ., provided you do so in moderation . The original recipe comes from here but as usual I have taken the liberty of adapting it . For this particular recipe , I have reduced the sugar to just 1/2 cup ..relying more on the natural sweetness of the strawberries  rather than cloying it by the addition of more sugar.

Ingredients


2 cups fresh strawberries , sliced 
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp cinnamon powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup oil
2 eggs room temperature
1/2 cup chopped pistachios ( optional or replace with nuts of your choice )

Method

Pre heat the oven to 350 degrees F and grease a loaf pan.

In a separate bowl. sieve the whole wheat flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon and add the brown sugar .


Mix them all together and make a well in the middle. Now beat the eggs lightly.


Into the well , add the beaten eggs , oil, chopped pistachios ( or any nuts of your choosing ) and sliced strawberries and mix them till well combined with the help of a spatula. Take care as to not overmix.


Pour the prepared batter in the loaf pan and bake in the oven for 50 minutes to 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean . Notice how I have used parchment paper to line the pan so that the bread comes out easily.


Cool on a wire rack and enjoy with your favorite beverage !


Thursday, February 19, 2015

Chocolate Cookies with Sprinkles and Snow Days !


We are having some snow days..actually three in a row now. The poor condition of the secondary roads means this figure might still extend.Though I appreciate the break from the normal routine but poor weather also means that  we all are stuck at home and the kids are suffering from cabin fever. How do I treat that ? Well , baking of course ! Nothing like a colorful and chocolaty bake to pique the kids interest and  keep them engrossed .


With that in mind, set about to bake some chocolate cookies . Nothing like good ole comfort food to cheer you up especially when the weather is gloomy . And , when the comfort food has a pop of color as well , the end result is simply divine.  Rainbow Sprinkles did indeed brighten the bake and the kids spent some merry time rolling the dough balls and then sprinkling them on top.



Ingredients -

1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup butter
12 oz semisweet baking chocolate
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup caster sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1 egg

Method -

We will be melting the chocolate first . The method I am using is called the double boiler method. You place a glass bowl on top of pot of boiling water making sure the glass bowl does not touch the water underneath . You may melt the chocolate in the microwave too. Remember to stir it after every 1 minute if doing it in the microwave
.

Using the double boiler method pictured above , melt 12 oz of chocolate and keep it aside for cooling.


In a separate bowl. cream the butter and both sugars(brown and caster) . You don't need to use a hand mixer ...a  wooden spatula would do just fine.


Now, add the melted chocolate  to the creamy mixture and stir it together. The warmth of the chocolate will aid in the melting of the brown sugar too.


Follow this with the egg. Give it a good stirring with the wooden spatula !


Flour, vanilla extract and baking soda need to be added next . Gently mix them in.


Lastly , we add the cocoa powder and stir it all together to form a dough like consistency.


Cover the mixture and keep it in the refrigerator for half an hour. This will aid in the dough ball formation later.


After about 20 minutes ,  preheat the oven to 350 degrees F . Ten minutes later  , take the dough out of the refrigerator and make smalls balls out of it. Press some rainbow sprinkles on the top and keep it in the refrigerator for 10-15 minutes.


Cool on a wire rack and enjoy !

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Mocha Brownies make great Valentine Treats !

Mocha brownies with pink icing sugar decoration set in red heart doilies ..it doesn't get any cuter than this !  Cute enough to be given as special treat to the hard working teachers at  my daughter's school. I mean the get enough store bought chocolates . These home bakes brownies should convey a nice personal touch , don't you think ?
This recipe for the mocha brownies comes from the book "Cookie Classics" from Better Homes and Gardens . They are also referred to as bar cookies and along with the mocha flavor also carry a delightful hint of tangerine ! I have used colored sugar to decorate them and the heart doilies serve as the perfect prop considering they are being used as Valentine treats.

Ingredients

3/4 cup all purpose flour
2/3 cup butter
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate (chocolate chips work fine too)
1 tsp instant coffee crystals
1 tsp shredded orange or tangerine peel
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
powdered sugar to decorate

Method-

Pre heat the oven to 350 degrees F and grease a 8x8x2 baking pan.


Take a medium saucepan and melt the 2/3 cup butter  at low flame.


Add in the 1/3 cup cocoa powder and coffee crystals and slowly stir them in . Remove from flame.


Add in the sugar and gently stir it in .


Next, comes the eggs (one at a time ) and vanilla extract. Beat them gently so that they just combine .


Add in the flour and fold it gently in the mixture.


Follow that with the chocolate chips and orange /tangerine peel . Gently fold them in as well.


Pour the batter into the greased pan and bake at 350 degrees F for about 30 minutes .


 Cool on a wire rack, cut into squares and enjoy !

Monday, February 9, 2015

Whole Wheat Oats Blueberry Banana Bread and a Healthy Week Day Start !

The Roys love banana bread. We really do . Love it so much that even my kids can boast of baking it on their own .  The fact that their version is loaded with chocolate chips is altogether a different story. Mama Roy tries  to stick to the healthier version though and today was no exception . The box of blueberries sitting in the refrigerator had been giving me pleading looks for the last few days . I could have listened to it earlier but in my defense can only say that  I wanted to give full justice to it . In short , I wanted a recipe which could subdue it's tartness for our taste preference but would still be a healthy appealing bake.


Blueberry pie did not interest me nor was I particularly inclined towards muffins having baked them just two weeks earlier. Also, the fact that it was a healthy Monday bake meant that I had limited time  on my hands . So , imagine my relief when I came across this particular  blueberry banana bread  recipe on the driscolls website .If you guys remember how much we love banana bread than you can understand this particular recipe's appeal for me. I did a few adaptations to make it more healthier version of the original . Was highly imperative  to cut down on the guilt felt after feasting on it .
If you guys want to join " we love banana bread " club , grab a notebook and jot down the ingredients . Digital devices are welcome too , personally just prefer saying the old fashioned way..makes it sound more vintage and romantic !

Note- This recipe has been adapted into a more healthier version from this original one.  I just substituted 1 cup all purpose flour with whole wheat flour . So that we have a 1:1:1 ratio of oats,whole wheat and all purpose flour. Also , the original recipe called for baking it at 375 degrees F but I find that baking at that temperature leads to an uneven bake , so again took the liberty of reducing  it to 350 degrees F. The results were  still amazing !


Ingredients
 2 ripe bananas mashed
 2 eggs ( room temperature)
 2 cups blueberries ( washed)
 1 cup old fashioned oats
 1 cup whole wheat flour
 1 cup all purpose flour 
 1 cup buttermilk ( just added 1 tbsp lemon juice  to 1 cup milk and let it stand) 
 2 tsp baking powder
 1  tsp ground cinnamon 
 3/4  cup brown sugar packed
 1/3  cup oil
 1/4 tsp baking soda
 1/2 tsp salt 

Method -
 Pre heat the oven to 350 degrees F and grease a loaf pan well.



Sieve all the dry ingredients ( oats, whole wheat and all purpose flour , salt , baking powder, baking soda  and cinnamon powder ) in a bowl and set aside. 
In a separate bowl , whisk all the wet ingredients (buttermilk, mashed bananas , oil , sugar and eggs ) .
Add the flour mixture in batches making sure to stir it gently till it is just incorporated.
Now is the time to gently fold in the blueberries.
Pour the batter into the greased pan and bake for around 50 mins or until a tooth pick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool for a sufficient period . Take it out from the loaf pan, cut into slices and enjoy !