Thursday, April 30, 2015

Quinoa Mexican Casserole with Enchilida Sauce and the Unexpected Hailstorm !

Admit it when it comes to quinoa, we need any number of recipes we can get . Naturally gluten free , it is the only plant food that is complete protein and a nutrition powerhouse. Rich in magnesium among other essential minerals and loaded with antioxidants , it literally begs to be included in our diet . But this is where the challenge comes . There are not many quinoa recipes to go around. So , when I came across this one from, I knew it deserved a serving on my dinner table too. Once I set up my mind for something, baking in particular  , little can dissuade me , not even a hailstorm . 
Let's talk about the hailstormnow . We had a major unexpected one . While I was grocery shopping for the ingredients of this particular bake, the roof of our supermarket was being pelted so hard that many a weaker soul were having a slight look of panic about them. Of course, the fact that the roof starting leaking and flooding one aisle might have contributed to the above mentioned panic. But , as you might have guessed, I am made of sterner stuff and hailing or not , I had to hurry back home and give this bake a try . So, when I saw half of my front windshield covered with the aftereffects of the hailstorm , I just gave it a mechanical swish and headed home.

Here is what you guys need to do in order to serve it at your dinner table -

1 cup quinoa ( I used tricolor one)
2 cups water
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp chopped garlic
1 onion chopped
1 jalapeno pepper , chopped ( I used the pickled one)
2 bell peppers diced ( different colors would be great)
1 cup corn kernels ( frozen one would do just fine)
2 cups Mexican cheese
1 1/2 cups enchilida sauce ( I used medium  , you may try mild )
1 can black beans
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tbsp chili powder
3 tbsp  lime juice
Salt and pepper according to taste
Spring  onions/scallions  and sour cream for garnishing

Method -
As with any other bake, we need to pre heat the oven . For this bake , the temperature would be 350 degrees F or 180 Degrees C.
Also, grease a rectangular pyrex dish , preferably a 9 X 13 one and set aside. 
Cook the quinoa till if fully absorbs the water and cover it.
Meanwhile , take the oil in a pan and saute the onions, garlic and jalapeno .
When they are slightly soft , add  the diced peppers and corn. Continue to saute for another few minutes.
Now , add the lime juice , cumin , chilli, salt and pepper.
In a large bowl, add the black beans and cooked quinoa along with the enchilida sauce.
Add the sauteed vegetables along with half of the cheese.Give it a good stir and transfer to the greased baking dish.
Sprinkle the remaining cheese on the top and cover it with aluminium foil.
Bake for 20 minutes covered , then remove the foil and then let it bake for another 10 minutes.
Serve with a dollop of sour cream and a garnishing of spring onions.

Tip - When you are going to put so much effort chopping the veggies , might as well double the recipes and bake two casseroles. By going  for a double batch , the oven will be used more efficiently and you can  freeze one for later . That's what I did ..though did not get a chance to freeze wanted it as lunch there went my second !

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Eggless Whole Wheat Banana Oatmeal Squares and the Healthy Twist !

What do you do if you find yourself with a couple of overripe bananas but are in no mood to make plain ole banana bread?  Admit it, you have already eaten it a gazillion times and by now you are craving for  a different version or change altogether. Yours truly faced a similar predicament this morning when she found three overripe bananas staring at her from the fruit tray this morning. I decided to transform their pitiful existence into something beautifully edible yet different . That's where the healthy twist came in.

The all purpose flour had to be replaced with nothing less than whole wheat .  Wasn't in the mood for 50 -50 either. So all purpose flour exited the scene albeit  with a heavy heart . Next, the oatmeal was converted into flour form by giving it a run in the blender/food processor. The original recipe which uses all purpose flour is dairy free , but yours truly took the liberty of  using 1/4 cup milk as the whole wheat batter was  thicker.  Could have added some chia seeds but omitted them for no particular reason .

Ingredients -
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup oatmeal flour ( give it a quick run in the blender/food processor)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup milk ( room temperature)
1/4 cup brown sugar ( by all means add more if you like things sweeter)
1 cup mashed bananas
1 tsp baking powder 
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
white sesame seeds for sprinkling on top.

Method -
Pre heat the oven to 350 degrees F and grease and line a small square pan ( I used 6 inches)
Take a bowl and add the dry ingredients - whole wheat flour(sifted) , baking powder(sifted) , salt and brown sugar.
Now add the wet ingredients - oil, milk, mashed bananas and vanilla extract.
Mix thoroughly with the help of a spatula and transfer to the greased pan.
Sprinkle the sesame seeds on top and bake for 30 minutes or until a tooth pick comes out clean.
Cool on a wire rack , cut into squares and enjoy with a cup of masala tea .

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Rosemary Braided Bread and Current Obsessions

We have a braid obsession going on in the Roy house. My daughter has reached that age when any tangible thing that can be braided is most certainly is. Much as I adore my daughter , her constant braiding of my hair was getting a wee bit annoying so decided to get creative and divert her attention from my poor tresses to braiding bread instead. It is too early to call this diversion a success but no such doubts regarding the bake. It was a resounding success based on the time it took my family members to finish the last of it .
Patience is definitely a virtue while baking bread . Right from checking for bubbles to see whether the yeast is activated to proofing it twice till it doubles in volume ..haste is the enemy . But the end result is so worth it. Bread baking is extremely gratifying and therapeutic as well. You get the high of having accomplished the same  which our ancestors have been doing for times immemorial. Origins of the bread have been traced back to the early Egyptians  and was kept alive and thriving by ancient monasteries in Europe. If baking bread has piqued your interest, would definitely recommend reading 52 Loaves : One Man's Relentless Pursuit of Truth , Meaning and a Perfect Crust by William Alexander .
Coming back to this particular recipe, which is most thoroughly enjoyed with tea ( hence the tea kettles)  , I used the dried rosemary garlic version . By all means , you can try it out with just the herb ,omitting the garlic but I am always partial to the latter. The dried rosemary went twice , first during kneading the dough and then before the bake, was sprinkled and pressed on purely cosmetic reasons. Again, if you are partial to sesame seeds , go ahead and sprinkle those instead . Would like to also mention that the recipe is for 2 loaves. All the better for it. Let's take a look at the ingredients .

3 cups all purpose flour
1 1/4 cup luke warm water
1 tbsp sugar
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast or one 7 ounce sachet
3 tbsp dried rosemary
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil
1 egg for the egg wash ( You may omit this if you don't eat/like eggs)

Method -
In a large bowl or your stand mixer one , add the water, sugar and yeast and wait till bubbles are seen. This might take a few minutes and helps to check whether the yeast is working.
Now add the salt , olive oil , 2 tbsp of rosemary and 2 cups of flours. If using the stand mixer , attach the dough hook and knead for 7-8 minutes adding the third cup of flour slowly.
If you don't have a stand mixer, not a problem. Simply put your muscles to good use and knead with your hands for 7-8 minutes . (Apologies for the picture quality of first two pics , didn't want to remove my stand mixer on account of it being bulky) .In the third,  detached it and clicked in light ).
Transfer the  kneaded dough onto a greased bowl . Cover it with a damp cloth and keep it in a dark. draft free place for one hour or till it becomes double in size.
See how it had doubled in size . Punch it down . Don't worry we will be proofing it again after we braid it.
Transfer it to floured work surface and knead it again gently for a few minutes.
Divide the dough into 3 parts , roll them and then cut them in half. Remember , the recipe calls for 2 loaves ..we will be making 2 braids or 2 bread loaves using three strands each.
Take one set of three halved strands and roll it further to make them longer. Fuse them at one end and start braiding as you would a three strand braid.
This is how it should look like.Do the same with the other half and keep them both in a dark , draft free area for another rising. This could take 45 minutes to an hour.
Now , mix 1 tbsp of water to an egg , mix well and brush it all over the braided breads. Sprinkle the remaining dried rosemary and keep it a pre heated 375 degrees F oven for 35 - 40 minutes . Check for doneness by tapping on the bread. You should hear a hollow sound.
Take it out , brush it with butter and enjoy with tea or any other beverage of your choice.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Kiwi Melon Smoothie or is it Kiwi Cantaloupe ?

Nothing says "Summer is coming" better than a fruit smoothie . Made this cataloupe kiwi one in the hope that it would bring some sunshine in our neck of woods where it has been gloomy for the past week. Let's not pay attention to the fact that kiwi is a winter fruit or the fact that to this date I am really not sure whether melon and cantaloupe are the same. Back in India. they were always melon or musk melon to be precise ( a simple google seach yielded that fact) but here they are cantaloupe. Seems while all cantaloupes are musk melons , the vice versa is not true. Let's keep it simple though it whatever you may , it won't take away the deliciousness ..not even a wee bit .
Ingredients - (Serving for two)
2 kiwis peeled and cut
1 tsp lime juice
8-10 mint leaves(more if desired)
2 tsp honey ( I omitted it altogether)
1 1/2 cup chopped cantaloupe or melon 
1/2 cup water
some ice cubes

I used a Vitamix for this but any blender should do. Simply put all the ingredients (chopped melon, kiwi , mint leaves, lime juice, water , honey and ice cubes ) and blend till smooth.
Serve in a glass and for decoration , see the pic below or use your own creativity !

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Chocolate Swiss Roll For Birthday Cake !

My son is a chocoholic . Even after reading the first statement, if you were inclined to ask him what kind of cake he would prefer for his birthday , his without a doubt reply would be "a chocolate one." By now , you must be thinking that I have it easy while decided what type of bake to bake for his birthday . You may be right or somewhat right . Last year for his birthday I had it easy ..rosettes were in  , so I simply decorated a chocolate fudge cake with chocolate butter cream rosettes. Here is a picture of the same . Just don't get confused ..the blog post is still about the chocolate swiss roll.
This year , my inner gemini was screaming for something different. Admit it , there is not a lot you can do with a chocolate cake . You could cover it with ganache and decorate with chocolate shaving but have done it so many times, that it has virtually become yawn inducing. Moreover , since it was a family affair only , didn't want a bulky layered cake . In lieu of the above , it is hardly surprising that the chocolate swiss roll caught my fancy.
My choice of filling for the swiss roll was whipped cream. The sponge itself was a fatless one . Yes,it did not have butter / oil in it so the use of the whipped cream wasn't very guilt inducing.I used my stand mixer both for whipping the eggs and cream. let me take a moment to formally give a shout out to my stand mixer for being  the most hard working appliance in my kitchen . It was quite a laborious task of whipping eggs and  cream and it rose to the challenge and gave my tired muscles a much needed break. Now that the applause has died down , let's move to the recipe -

Ingredients -
3 eggs
3 ounce sugar
2 ounce all purpose flour
1 ounce cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp baking powder

Method -
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F or 200 degrees C.
Measure all the dry ingredients with a weighing scale . (We are using 3 oz in this recipe).
Take a baking tray and sprinkle it with flour ,Put parchment paper on it and grease with cooking spray . Grease well so that the sponge can easily come off the parchment paper.
Meanwhile, start whipping the room temperature eggs in the stand mixer . You may use the stand hand mixer too .
While the eggs are being whipped , add the sugar in small portions to fully blend it in.
Add the vanilla extract and whip till they become double in volume and stiff peaks are formed. They will turn pale in color and the mixture will not be runny.
Sift the dry ingredients (flour,cocoa powder and baking powder ) and add to the egg mixture in parts making sure to fold it gently with the help of spatula. Make sure not to deflate the eggs by over mixing. Do not use the mixer while folding in the dry ingredients.
Transfer the batter to the baking tray and spread it evenly. Give it a gentle tap and bake in the oven for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile , take another sheet of parchment paper and sprinke it with cocoa powder.
Take the cake out of the oven and transfer it to the above mentioned parchment sheet.
While hot , start rolling  and covering it with the same parchment sheet.
Do not worry if it cracks up a bit ( as pictured) . Roll it up firmly in the parchment paper .Thye cracks will get closer. 
Keep it for 5 -10 minutes till it has sufficiently cooled down. 
Meanwhile , you can whip the cream. Should take close to 5-6 minutes in the stand mixer.
Unroll the cake and spread the whipped cream evenly on it. 
Roll it again gently making sure  it gets wrapped in the parchment paper again.
Keep it in the refrigerator for a few hours .
Unwrap and cut into slices. Devour them immediately or save some for later.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Baked French Fries and Junky Fridays !

Have no clue when this happened but somehow Friday became "Friesday" in the Roy household. Wait..I think I have a clue . Maybe it is the fact that after a week of healthy eating and home cooked meals , the idea of indulging in some junk food seems too hard to resist. I may detest fried potatoes personally but hubby and kids are far too fond of them . So much so that even the talk of them is enough to warrant a visit to the nearest Burger King . Yes, they are very selective about their fries. It has to be the above mentioned as anywhere else just wouldn't cut it..anywhere else the fries are either too bland or not crispy enough . So, you guys get the general idea of how possessive they are regarding their fries and any call for replacement or substitution is met with fierce resistance from Mr. Roy himself.
But when has that deterred me before ? I am always ready for a challenge . My son may have given a "shocked" look when I suggested the idea of baked fries but mama dearest remianed unfazed . With a calm and determined resolve went to the pantry to check my arsenal -er - my stock of spices. Did some mental juggling and came out with a winning recipe. My secret weapon would be Sriracha in powder form. I had recently bought a jar and wanted to put it to good use . Italian seasoning would also do their part but they might have to take  back seat to the Sriracha. I didn't think they would mind  . They hate being in the limelight. Yes, they told me so . Of course I am kidding but let's get back to the recipe.

It has been adapted from the "Oven Baked Corn Fries Recipe" from averageBetty . A lot of liberties have been taken though -starting with the seasoning of Italian spices to coating it with rice powder and not to mention the more than liberal sprinkling of crushed red pepper too. Her recipe calls for corn meal which I used in the fries pictured above but I was also fortunate that a very special friend wanted to try this recipe immediately but didn't have corn meal. I recommended using rice flour and with her expert hands , that came out great too. So, do not fret if you don't have corn meal . Just go for rice flour and if you have both , do "eenie meenie minii mo " to choose. That is what my daughter does.
4 medium sized potatoes
1 tbsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp black pepper
1 tbsp Sriracha garlic powder ( or use crushed red pepper )
2 tbsp corn meal ( or rice flour)
4 tbsp olive oil 
Salt to taste

Method -
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees or 220 degrees C . Grease a baking tray and line it with greased parchment paper.
Now, with the skin intact wash and cut the potatoes into long slices in the style of french fries.
Coat them with olive oil and sprinkle Italian seasoning , black pepper, Sriracha garlic powder, salt and corn meal or rice flour..
Mix them well so that each one gets coated with seasoning and rice flour or corn meal.
 Now , spread them in the baking tray making sure that they don't overlap. That will ensure an even bake.
Transfer the baking tray to the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Take them out , flip them with a spatula and off they go for another 15 minutes.
Once, you get a nice golden brown, take them out and thoroughly enjoy them.

Did I mention that my kids absolutely loved them and even Mr. Roy did not comment otherwise which in itself is the biggest compliment !

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Carrot Whole Wheat Oatmeal Cookies and Pleasant Surprises !

I have to admit that I am very carroty person ..nope I am not a red head though my penchant for red dresses and lip color is well known . It is just that I love carrots and anything derived from them especially in sweet form. Yep, Gajrela or gajar ka halwa as it is called in some parts is my all time favorite dessert . Come to think of it , it's kind of strange that I haven't incorporated this Vitamin A and dietary fibre rich food in my bakes yet.Well , now seemed as good time as any , so when I came across this carrot oatmeal cookie recipe from KitchenAid , I knew I had to give it a try.

If you have been following my blog , you must be familiar how I try to put a healthy twist to my bakes, This recipe was no different was simply begging for some healthy makeover. For starters, I knew the all purpose flour was a definite no no . So, replaced it merrily with 100% whole wheat flour.Also, took the liberty of replacing the butter with equivalent amount of olive oil. As regards the sugar, the original recipe called for 3/4 cup each of brown and granulated sugar which I promptly replaced with 1/2 cup of each. The end result was still quite sweet . If you desire even less sugar , by all means go ahead and reduce that quantity as well.

Ingredients -
3/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar 
1 egg
1 cup shredded carrots
1/4 cup water
2 cup rolled oats
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

As always , preheat the oven to 375 degrees F or 190 degrees C.
In a bowl , add the oil , both sugars and egg and give it a good mix with the help of a hand mixer. 

Now add the carrots and water. Mix them in as well and then add the dry ingredients - flour., oats , baking soda and salt. Fold it in with the help of a spatula.

With the help of a cookie scooper , drop equal sized balls on a greased baking tray . Bake for 10 - 12 mnutes .Cool on a wire rack and enjoy !

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Strawberry Crumble and the Fruity Affair !


Contrary to what you guys may be thinking based on the page title, let me hasten to tell you that it is not the start to a fruity affair but a continuation . My love affair with baking fruits is as strong as before's just that some more passion has been infused into it on account of it being spring . Any loyal follower to my blog can attest to witnessing the byproduct of this affair in the myriad bakes posted here. From the whole wheat blueberry bread to oats banana muffins and all bakes in between, I have you "fruitily"covered.

Today , it was the strawberries that attracted me ..had me in their spell right from the first glance at the new health food store in our town. The fact that they were organic and still reasonably priced only added to the attraction . Like a damsel in distress in the vintage romantic novels my mom used to read , I swooned and was about to faint but then common sense prevailed and I just grabbed them and claimed them for my own . I did pay for them just in case you guys were wondering.

Once home , I used the hands of a lover to give them a thorough wash and placed  them comfortably in a white fruit tray . Looking at them I knew it had to be a special bake to give full justice to their youth..ahem..ripeness. That's when the idea of a strawberry crumble took shape and refused to leave my head . Crumble is the ultimate spring/summer fruity bake topped with a flour oat mixture and in this case seemed perfectly apt for my darling strawberries.Their juiciness and texture would only become richer and silkier and I would get an opportunity to try the new ramekins that I bought . What ? I was not so blinded by love and passion as to ignore common sense and practicality?

Ingredients -
Serving size : 4 

For the topping -
3/4 cup oats
3/4 cup almond meal
4 tbsp butter
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup brown sugar

For the filling -
3 cups strawberries (hulled, washed and sliced )
1 tbsp flour
1/2 tsp lemon juice (adjust according to tartness or leave it completely)
1/2 tsp nutmeg powder
2 tbsp maple syrup

Method - 
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and grease four ramekins  with a spray.
In a glass bowl, pour the lemon juice over the strawberries . Add the maple syrup , nutmeg powder and finally the flour. Coat them over the strawberries and set aside for a few minutes for enhancing the flavor.

In a food processor, mix all the ingredients for the topping till you have a crumbly texture .

Divide the filling mixture equally among the ramekins and top it with the crumb mixture .
Place the ramekins on top of a baking sheet and place it in the oven for a good 30 -35 minutes till the top is golden brown.
Remove from the oven and cool sufficiently as the inside will be very hot . Serve with ice cream and enjoy the glorious spring  weather .