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Thursday, May 28, 2015

Triple Berry Oatmeal Cups and Complex Migraines

Puzzled by the title . Found it too complex ;-) This bake and migraine has a connection indeed and will be revealed as you read further down the blog. I do admit that the connection is very "attention seeking " but in my defense will say that it was done in all honesty. What happened was that last week I woke up with severe vertigo ..unable to even stand let alone walk. The best way I can describe it is  like rolling in a barrel down a hill. The constant nausea didn't help things one bit . Hubby rushed me to ER ( second visit in two months due to somewhat similar symptoms) where thankfully after an unremarkable MRI was diagnosed with complex migraine. Since stress is one of the triggering factors , he doctor suggested a visit to the beach.
So , that's how we found ourselves on the outer banks of North Carolina the following weekend. Surrounded by family and beautiful view of the coast , needless to say that I felt relaxed and recharged, We spent a merry day at the beach and followed that with a very informative visit to the Wright brothers museum the next day . Will carry very fond memories of this trip . I thoroughly enjoyed this family outing  albeit for all the copious amount of junk food that was consumed. Being away from home on a vacation means that healthy food options are somewhat limited  or maybe we don't want to tax ourselves finding them. Anyways, to get rid of all sloppy eating and cleanse the body , decided to bake something healthy . You get the connection now . Great ! Knew you would figure it out .

( View from our hotel room ...calming isn't it...even manged to get me in the baking mood..will be sharing that recipe in another blog post)

Tripe Berry Oatmeal Cups : Makes 12 

Ingredients

2 1/4  cups instant oats
1 cup room temperature milk 
1/2 cup apple sauce
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup maple syrup ( I used even less )
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder( optional)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
berries for toppings ( any combination)

Method
Pre heat the oven to 375 degrees F or 190 degrees C and line a muffin pan with paper liners.
In a large bowl , put the dry ingredients like baking powder, oats, walnuts and salt.


In a separate bowl , whisk together all the wet ingredients - milk, applesauce, maple syrup , oil and vanilla extract  till well blended.

Now add this mixture to the dry ingredients bowl and mix the two  with the help of a spatula.
Fill the muffins liners with the mixture making sure that they are 3/4 th filled. Filling them with a scoop ensures equal sized muffins
Add the topping - sliced strawberries, blueberries or raspberries . Dry fruits make good toppings too.
Bake for about 25 minutes or until set.
Cool on a wire rack and enjoy as a healthy snack .

Friday, May 22, 2015

Strawberry Bundt Cake for it is Spring !

It's officially strawberry picking season . We are fortunate to have couple of farms nearby where we can indulge in this favorable activity . Alas, some health issues are preventing us from doing so . Allergies are not entirely to be blamed but it is just that unfortunate time when every member of the Roy household seems to be afflicted by something. Your sending us some healthy vibes will be truly appreciated. Meanwhile , I am doing the next best thing ..baking a strawberry cake ..make that a strawberry yogurt bundt cake because they are definitely more cuter and prettier . Did I mention that I simply love bundt cakes..good now you know why this cake is getting the special treatment.
I am in love with strawberries too. With my tender loving care , I have baked them in  Crumble  and healthy bread form in the past with excellent results. Imagine my excitement turning it into spring flavored cake. The original recipe comes from here but as is always the case, have taken the liberty to make modifications more suited to my family's taste and preference . The original recipe calls for 2 cups of sugar but I used only 1 1/4 cups and it still tasted divine. The sugary glaze on the top was omitted altogether but If you absolutely have to go for a glaze, would suggest a strawberry one to go along with it.

Notes - In this particular bake, we will be preheating the oven to 375 degrees F and then reducing to it 325 degrees once we put the cake pan in the oven. Also, since we can't line the bundt pan with parchment paper, we have to make sure that it is well greased and is sprinkled generously with flour to prevent the cake from sticking to the bottom of the pan.I have used lime zest and lime juice instead of lemon without any difference in flavor but please remember that in some cases lime juice might be too bitter.

Ingredients -
1 cup butter ( 2 sticks at room temperature)
2 cups sugar ( I used 1 1/4 cups..the taste was still divine)
3 eggs ( room temperature)
Zest of 1 lemon ( I used lime ..Caution : It can be bitter )
1 tbsp lime juice 
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour ( divided)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup yogurt
12 oz  diced fresh strawberries

Method
Pre heat the oven to 375 degrees F and grease and flour a bundt pan .
Sift the flour ( 2 1/4 cups along with the salt and baking soda.) 
To this mixture , add the lemon zest and give it a good stirring with the help of a spatula.
In a separate bowl , cream the butter and sugar with the help of a hand mixer. 
 When  it becomes light and fluffy , add the eggs one at a time followed by the lemon juice.

Now, we will be adding the flour mixture and yogurt in small batches alternately making sure it is well incorporated . Do not overmix .
The remaining 1/4 cup flour will be now sprinkled on the diced strawberries so as to coat them. This ensures that the berries do not sink to the bottom of the cake but are uniformly distributed. Fold these coated strawberries gently into the cake batter.

Take the greased bundt pan and pour the batter carefully in it. Place it in the oven and reduce the temperature to 325 degrees F . 

Bake for an hour or until a tooth pick comes out clean. ( At around the 50 minutes mark, I increased the temp to 350 degrees F ).
Take out of the oven and let stand on a wire rack for atleast 20 minutes before you attempt to turn it .
Cut into slices and enjoy !


Saturday, May 16, 2015

Date Pistachio Swirl Bread and the Naming Vacillation !

I am still vacillating as to what I should name this bread.Swirl bread is the first to come to mind but in all fairness date pistachio swirl bread seems more apt. Highly tempted to call this a fruit and nut bread but somehow I feel that the name does not do it justice ..sounds too vague. If you are reading this blog, then you do know my final choice but right now my vacillation continues. How about eggless fruit swirl bread ? Doesn't sound very enthusiastic ! Might just have to ask my daughter to do "eeny meeny miney moe" to choose since I can't make up my mind. That is what she does whenever she is vacillating..we are permitted to copy our kids sometimes.

Enough with the naming choices. Let's talk about the bread. For this one, I really wish there was a way technologically , that you could taste this bread . It is an utter delight and the pistachio and date filling just tastes divine. Had been meaning to make a swirl bread for quite sometime now and when I came across this recipe , simply knew what my next bake would be . The original recipe calls for a date and almond filling but I am currently obsessed with pistachios , so my filling got an abundance of them.Family and neighbors ( few lucky ones who got to sample) loved the taste and it was quickly devoured proving that this is one successful bake which you will get called to bake again and again .

Ingredients
Yields 2 loaves

2 cups all purpose flour
2 tbsp melted butter
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp water
1 1/2 tsp instant yeast
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup pitted chopped dates
1/2 cup chopped pistachios

Method -

Take the all purpose flour in a bowl and make a well in the center . To it add the warm water ,sugar and yeast . Make sure the water is not hot. 
Wait a few minutes and you will see bubbles rising to the top . Now add the melted  butter, evaporated milk and salt.
Knead it for a good 10 minutes and then transfer to a greased bowl.

Cover it and keep it a cool dark place till it doubles in size ,almost for an hour.
Take it out of the greased bowl, punch it down , divide the dough into two parts and then roll each into a 8 X 11 inch rectangle.

Spread the filling in each rectangle , leaving space on the sides.
Start rolling the dough into a tight cylinder . Repeat for the other half of the dough.

Transfer both the rolled dough into greased loaf pans or any other baking dish and leave to proof for another 1 hour.
Now, bake them both at 350 degrees F or 180 degrees C for 25-30 minutes.

Cool on a wire rack , cut into slices and enjoy them buttered.


Sunday, May 10, 2015

Black Bean Brownies to keep it simple !

Every few months , a bug bites me . Let's not take the expression literally . Yes, I am bitten but not by a real life tangible one. The "bug" in my case is an invisible force which attacks my neurons in such a way that the end result is lack of enthusiasm. Lucky me , it only lasts temporarily ( well atleast till now) but during that time frame, everything seems a chore ..even baking which is like my spiritual spa. That's when I crave real simple and easy to make recipes for my weekly challenge. Nothing like a new baking recipe to break you out of this rut especially one which requires minimal effort but doesn't compromise on taste.
The original recipe comes from here and quite unlike what i normally do, have made absolutely no change to the recipe. Blame it on my lack of enthusiasm bug..after all it affects my creativity as well. Don't tell me you guys were unaware of the link between the two ! Coming back, did I mention that these brownies are an eggless bake? I was tempted to call it a gluten free one too ,on account of no flour in the recipe but the use of oatmeal in them forbade me from doing so . If you guys are sure that your oats are gluten free , by all means brand this recipe as eggless gluten free one.
Ingredients
1 1/2 cup black beans( if using can, remember to wash ,clean and rinse the beans)
1/2 cup oats
1/3 cup maple syrup or honey( I used a mix of maple and agave)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tbsp cocoa powder
2 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup chocolate chips 
Method -
Preheat the oven to 350  degrees F or 180 degrees C and grease a 8x8 baking dish.
Except the chocolate chips , mix all the other ingredients (beans, oats, sugar , salt, maple syrup, vanilla extract , oil ,cocoa and baking powder) in a food processor. 
Make sure they are well blended and then add in the chocolate chips.
Transfer the mixture into the greased pan and bake for 20 -25 minutes.
Cool on a wire rack , cut into small pieces and enjoy !

Note : I could not taste the black beans at all and neither could my kids . Why not surprise your friends and see if they can guess ?

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Coconut flan and the Weekend Labor of love !

The sinfully delicious coconut flan.Yes, another Mexican treat which also happens to be my weekend labor of love. It's Cinco De Mayo time after all and I am doing my wee bit to contribute to the culinary fiesta. It's not that I haven't dabbled in Mexican cuisine before . A memory trip to the start of 2015 will confirm that I was mildly obsessed with all culinary things Mexican . Be it the Mexican Brownies or savory corn bread, I was giving it my full attention . Both of them also happen to be excellent choice for your fiesta party by the way . Now , you have the dessert covered with this out if the world delicious recipe for coconut flan . You have to give this one a try and please don't forget to leave a thank you later :-)
When we talk of coconut flan, there are plenty of recipes available  but finding one that didn't require ridiculous amount of condensed milk/sugar and was at the same time relatively easy was an impossible task. As usual ,  I decided to take matters in my own hands and came up with this recipe which uses one third the sugar than Marcela Valladoid's but still tastes divine. My toughest critics are in my house and everyone of them gave it their thumb of approval which in itself is no mean feat. So , now we can finally pronounce it as a foolproof recipe and is guaranteed to wow your guests at your next fiesta.
Ingredients -
4 eggs
1/s tsp salt
1 cup caramel sauce ( I used the Hershey's one )
1 can condensed milk
1 can evaporated milk
1 can coconut milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
Shredded coconut for garnishing

Method
Grease any baking pan of your choice and pre heat the oven to 350 degrees F or 180 degrees C.
Pour the caramel sauce on the pan making sure it coats it completely on the bottom and sides.
Now in a blender, mix the eggs, three milks(cococnut, condensed and evaporated) along with salt and vanilla extract.
Pour this mixure into the caramel coated pan and place this pan inside a bigger baking dish. Fill the latter with water so that it covers half of the caramel pan containing the mixture.
Cover with aluminium foil and bake it till a toothpick inserted comes out clean  ..normally it takes more than an hour..for me it was 1 hour 40 mins.
Cool for some time and let it refrigerate overnight.This will ensure better result.
Take it out and let stand for 10-15 mins. Now run a knife along it's edges to loosen it up.
Invert on a serving dish and garnish with sweetened coconut flakes. You may toast them too but I was in a hurry to eat :-)