Hot chocolate mix

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I wouldn’t  have tried it ever if I didn’t run out of ready to mix chocolate powder. Not a big deal, I know, but the thought was so intense. This is the time! Instead of nostalgia, this time though, curiosity kicked in 🙂

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When the scarcity and curiosity were on the scene, my instinct had to work hand in hand with them. As luck would’ve it, the trio had done a fantastic job.

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The whole scenario made me to dig deeper, to get a good sense of it. All I had to do was maintaining the consistency, and balance the taste. Vanilla and salt are two unlikely ingredients. But I took the chance anyway. Yep, although I’ve added vanilla and salt – it didn’t distract or disturb the course at all. Still it’s purely optional! It’s not that difficult as I thought it would be. Anyway, curiosity didn’t kill this cat 🙂 Oh, some people love to add marshmallows to their hot chocolate – well, maybe I should try one! You know, for us, in Atlantic Canada, it’s still Winter in the middle of Spring. Snow for some reason hesitates to leave the stage. It’s so heavenly and peaceful, indeed! 

1 cup fine sugar
1 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups of powdered milk
1 drop of vanilla
Hint of salt – just a hint!!!

Blend everything well. Store it in an airtight container. Refrigerate it. Enjoy!

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Quinoa peach pudding

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Well, this is my first attempt to try something sweet with quinoa. As things started to flow along, the lack of contrast made me to add some fruits, especially peaches instead of any other fruits. Luckily, I had some extra slices available in the refrigerator and seems to be apt and sort of soft for a pudding, definitely a nice contrast to the texture and tasted delicious.


Quinoa is such a versatile and diverse ingredient. I’ve been using it for quite a while ever since I came to know its copious amount of goodness as powerful as spinach, Swiss chard and beets. I wouldn’t mind spending extra dough on anything rich in nutrients. It doesn’t matter if I use it or not on a day to day basis, the flow and the steady supply of few healthy ingredients attracts a healthy and positive vibe in the kitchen. When you have that positive energy around, it automatically pulls you in that direction.

The year 2013 as “The International Year of the Quinoa” also triggered the demand and spread the awareness across the world. Before that, ages ago, people in South America had been the only folks ever knew about the rich factors of quinoa and utilizing its health benefits. The key factor is that it’s gluten free and high in protein which is great for a vegetarian diet.IMG_4756-02

Apart from its benefits, the texture of cooked quinoa is quite alluring. As it cooks, a delicate spiral ring can be seen around it. It is said to be the core of quinoa that holds most of its nutrients. A cup of cooked quinoa goes a long way. Once cooked the texture of it appears sort of fluffy and nutty which makes it a promising super food. Sweet or savory, it adapts well to almost anything such as salads, rice, yogurt etc.

There is an inedible part, the sinner saponin. It is a bitter soapy resin – an inedible powdery substance -which could easily spoil the whole thing. So remember to rinse thoroughly and get rid of any hint of resin before cooking.

IMG_4743-31 cup quinoa
1 ½ cups water
1 ½ cups milk
4 tbsp sugar
Salt to taste
1 tbsp butter
¾ tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cups of sliced fresh peaches
Few raisins

Soak the quinoa in a bowl of water for few minutes. Rinse and drain it using a strainer.

Boil water in a medium saucepan. Add quinoa to it. I would add butter at this point to avoid any cohesion.  When it starts cooking half way through, add milk to it. Stir well. At this point keep stirring since the milk has been added. This prevents from sticking at the bottom of the pan and scorching. That could spoil the entire dish. Turn the heat from medium to low and frequently stir the mixture to avoid scorching.

As it progresses, add sugar, salt and vanilla. The texture of the mixture should be neither thick nor thin, rather a smooth creamy delicious consistency. You can tweak the liquid content according to your desired level of consistency. Turn off the heat when the mixture has cooked through and creamy. Add the fruits of your choice and close the lid to allow blending everything well. You can say it is cooked when the outer ring of the quinoa pops out and encircles the seed. In the end just throwing a bit of better butter wouldn’t hurt anyone 🙂 Serve hot or cold with extra addition of fruits or nut. Enjoy,

Garlic toast – green gram sunny brunch

A plate full of pleasant ingredients and a hint of happiness – I couldn’t ask for more.  Although it was on a whim I decided to fix something quickly for my brunch. As I started adding things together, the requirements kept rising. To get an appealing texture for my brunch – two slices of garlic toast and a sunny side up egg needed something to connect each other and also a nice contrast.

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My mind was fixated on something green – mostly avocado mixture. I didn’t want to do any extra chopping or slicing or such. Simple, healthy yet elegant – that was the picture in mind. But, green gram was never in the picture. As I opened the refrigerator a quick glance at the box changed the course. The texture of it seemed right to use as the base spread. Hence the addition of green gram and then top with bacon bits and sprinkle some parsley over would go great! This is for sure a no recipe item.  

Carrot and Peach smoothie

Lately I have been using carrots a lot adding in everything I bake and cook. Probably, my mind would be fixated on that. But, smoothie was never in the picture. I really wanted to try it in a smoothie by blending few ingredients and bending few rules :).  Then came a perfect day, a darn dull and dreary snowy day nudging me to bring some soothing contrast.

In fact, since I’m a December soul, I love snowy and rainy days. But, I need something exciting and contrasting at the same time to brighten up and make it lively inside the home. Something like experimenting a new recipe would be the best fit. Sometimes, I divert my attention purely on some crazy new things mostly food 🙂 And I just pursued it wholeheartedly.

So while it was heavily snowing in Atlantic Canada, I managed to blend a glass of delicious smoothie 🙂

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1 cup mashed carrots

1/2 cup peach slices

1/2 cup yogurt

1 ½ cup of filtered water

Hint of vanilla

Few ice cubes

Sweetener of your choice

Pinch of salt [Optional]

 

In a blender, add all of the ingredients. Don’t add the whole amount of water in the beginning. Start with little amount of water. Once everything blends well and in smooth puree form, add the rest of the water (if desired) and extend the consistency.  Enjoy,

No fuss carrot cookie – cake bars

It’s a delicious combination of three different layers. The middle layer is mashed carrots sandwiched between cookie and cake. Between the layers the orange color gives a nice contrast whilst hiding the true –carrot- identity. Prior to this, I had tried to prepare a pie version of it by adding Graham crumbs as the base. But it was not appealing for some reason (I haven’t given up on that yet…I will be trying one more time :). Here the cookie dough as the base did a fantastic job by absorbing liquid content and kept the mixture intact between the layers while maintaining the consistency and taste throughout.

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It’s a great treat and comforting as well since it has vegetable as a one of the main ingredient :).  If your family has that one little fella who hates vegetable addition – it would easily mask that initial impression of vegetable added to it. In fact, soothing orange color in the middle does the ruse to do the appealing job! In the end, decorate with little whipping cream and chocolate glaze on top turns it into a decadent treat! Actually, caramel glaze goes far better than chocolate glaze. Unfortunately, I tried the chocolate version first and was hasty to capture the images. The next day when I tried it with caramel glaze, it tasted amazingly great! So I would recommend the caramel sauce 🙂

To get the firm yet soft base I used the cookie dough, over the cookie dough spread a layer of plain mashed carrots with a hint of pureed apple, and the final top layer is simple cake – a basic cake recipe would elegantly cover the top layer. It’s a very versatile no fuss cake or bar. When you bake it in a loaf pan, it’s easy to cut as bars. These bars are so great with coffee or tea. Or after meal, anytime!!

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For the bottom layer cookie dough
In a medium mixing bowl, combine the below dry ingredients and mix well.
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking soda
In a medium bowl, add the below ingredients and mix well until well blended.
3/4 cup softened butter
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 tbsp milk
1 tbsp vanilla
Add 1 egg to it and beat well. Add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture. Combine everything well.
For the mashed carrots
Simply boil few carrots in a pressure cooker with less water; probably a 1/4 cup of water plus steam would be enough. Or simply drain any excess water off, if there is any. As you mash it, add a tablespoon of apple puree. Honey or sugar for the sweetness, if desired and ya, if you’re more of a sweet gal/guy 🙂 Blend it well and mash it to a roughly smooth paste. Now, spread the mashed carrot mixture over the cookie dough, may be 1 inch thickness. It reduces to half as it bakes as the cookie dough absorbs the water content.
For the top layer cake
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup softened butter
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/4 cup warm milk
1 tbsp vanilla
Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In another bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Beat in the eggs along with vanilla.
Add the flour mixture to it. Gently mix everything together.
Grease a loaf pan with butter and remove excess grease from the pan and line a layer of parchment paper. Spread the first layer - cookie dough and level it evenly. Do not press hard! Then, over the cookie dough, layer the mashed carrot mixture about 1/2 inch thickness. Final layer would be the cake batter over the carrot mixture for about 1/2 to 1 inch thickness. You need to gently spread the mixtures without disturbing the layer beneath. Bake at 350° oven for about 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Oatmeal blueberry mini loaves

Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: is the time for home. Edith Sitwell.

I agree winter is simply a blessing for us. The serene and subtle snowflakes drift the land into a winter wonderland. Everything seemed like a picture perfect portrait, a beautiful art done by none other than winter itself. Hitting that sun rays on us, even better

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As the forecast predicted, hint of sunshine seeped through the cold air shining in glory, slowly but steadily. That seemed a fantastic opportunity to capture few delicious images. Baking mini loaves with blueberries and oatmeal had been in my mind for quite some time. Today seemed perfect for such an interesting idea. I’m not sure if I sugar coated it too much 🙂 Bit of excitement and fear of failure may be the reason. Because, the oatmeal craze, could ruin the whole thing. I’m talking about the two super foods; oatmeal and blueberries. Even though, the thought process feels bit overwhelming, the desire to deliver it successfully kicked in.

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I thought, one to one ratio of oatmeal and all purpose flour and a generous amount of frozen blueberries would be the ruse. Measure a full cup of quick oats, pulverize it and then add it to the all purpose flour. Combine the flours well. And follow the recipe as normal as you would. Instead of adding the blueberries directly to the batter, try blending it in half portion of the flour first. That will avoid the unpleasant sinking of berries while baking.

The oatmeal blueberry mini loaves were a success. The best way to enjoy the treat is with fresh blueberries and a cup of cold milk. In the morning, an ideal for a breakfast and great treat as a snack as well. Enjoy!

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Ingredients

¾ cup all purpose flour
1 cup of quick oats
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt

3 eggs
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 stick of butter
1 tsp vanilla
 1 full cup of frozen blueberries

Grease the mini loaves pan with cooking spray. Cut the parchment paper in small rectangles and line it in each mold. That will avoid the dreary tendency to stick half portion of the loaves at the bottom of the mold.

Pulverize the measured one cup of oats and add it to ¾ cup of all purpose flour. Combine the flours, baking powder and salt. Add the frozen blueberries in half portion of the flour mixture and dredge them well.

In another bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Beat eggs adding vanilla to it. Add the cream mixture and the flour mixture. Gently incorporate everything.

Mix everything together with a wooden spatula. Fill ¾ cups full. Bake in 325°oven for about 20 – 25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted into the centre of the muffin comes out clean. Enjoy,

spinach falafel cutlets

Indeed a feast to the eyes; falafel fulfills everything you want for a meal or best to whomp up your weekend with family! It fits easily and comfortably both as a snack or even by itself as a meal. Delicious addition of vegetables and pickles on the side simply enhances the whole beauty and gives a healthy touch as well. Hence it makes falafel a must have in vegetarian menu. It  also provides sufficient protein portion.

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Unlike other fritters, the interesting fact I like about is its delicious dual texture. The consistent dark brown texture on the outside and the graceful green texture inside was quite intriguing to me. Honestly it took a while to get a good grip of processing the beans to frying some fantastic looking falafel cutlets. I would say, replacing parsley with spinach seems to be a great option. Two handful of fresh spinach is a big deal, indeed 🙂

Anyhow, now I’m quite good at preparing falafel at home. This post is purely intended to save the recipe and share the joy!  That being said, feel free to comment if you find anything less or more 😉

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Let me tell you, it won’t tolerate if you bend the rules – as I did in my earlier attempts – by adding more water to ease the stiffness and heedlessly adding flour to correct the discrepancies. Even though adding flour helps to some extent, the flaw reflects in the end result.

Instead, gently process the soaked chick peas batch by batch without adding water in the food processor and treat it nice and easy. If you wish you could switch spinach instead of parsley as I did. Hint of onion, ginger and green chilies, to spice it up a bit. As to give the shape, simply use your palm to give the beautiful falafel cut. It’s neither hard nor fun, but in the end it’s worth the effort. 

1 cup dried chick peas

2 handful of fresh spinach

1 small onion, sliced

2 green chillies, halved

1 tsp cumin powder

1 tsp ground pepper

1/2 tsp baking soda, optional

Salt to taste

Oil for frying

In a large bowl, rinse and soak 1 cup of chick peas. You need enough amount of water to completely submerge the chick peas. Also, remember to level up the water every few hours as the beans tend to increase in volume. Soak it up around 8 hours or so.

After a quick rinse, drain the water off. Transfer the beans in a food processor or mixer, adding along fresh spinach, onion slices, green chillies, ground pepper, cumin seeds and salt. Pulse it until the mixture blends well to a coarser texture yet sort of smooth overall. Add just a hint of water when necessary. Too much water would hinder the right forming of the fritters while frying. Adjust salt and spices according to your taste.

Shaping into small patties are simple. Using a spoon, scoop spoonful of mixture, gently roll and shape the mixture in your slightly grease wet palm. Deep fry the patties in oil until golden brown. It may look green in the beginning after you dropped the patties in the hot oil. Allow it to reach the right texture and in the process it get cooked through as well.

Drain them on a paper towel. Serve with lots of greens and pickled vegetables and sides. Enjoy!