Cinnamon Swirl Quick Bread

It is a gorgeous day and looks like winter is on its last legs in NC.  Who wants to do a boatload (make it loads) of laundry, check things off the work checklist, shop, cook and drive around for a gazillion pickups and drop offs.. Right ! We sure can dream on, can’t we?.

Cinnamon Swirl Quick Bread

Meanwhile reality sinks in and work beckons and just for the lark of it , I think this week calls for something special. Why so, you may ask ? Why not ? I reason . It’s special cause we want it to be , cause we feel like it and cause I am singing Pharell Williams “Happy” song.  A3 theorizes that un-birthday , birthday celebrations are cool. Therefore , mom has been summarily hinted and pleaded alternatively, to pretty please plan and throw  a “surprise” one. No amount of  A1 and A2’s reasoning that one cannot really plan for one’s “surprise” party holds water. A3 promises to promptly forget he asked for one as long as he is promised his special day. LOL. I love this kid’s reasoning !

Cinnamon Swirl Quick Bread

I kind of agree. I guess if you really want it, then you should go for it. While the event still  has a few more weeks ( atleast 12 weeks ) to go into, I am pretty sure A1,2 and 3 will be thrilled to have a slice of this freshly baked cinnamon swirled bread . Hand it over with a tall glass of milk and wholesome fruit  to go with it. Yum ! After a long day of school and before the gym practice and meet, this is a welcome treat for them.

Cinnamon Swirl Quick Bread: 

A welcome treat, especially after a grueling day for the kids. Flecks of cinnamon in the batter will greet you along with a ribbon of cinnamon sugar smack in the middle. Vanilla enhances the flavor subtly and you have a moist crumb when you slice the bread. If only you can wait until its cool enough to slice !

Prep time : 15 – 20 min   Cook time : 45-50 min   Serves about 10 thick slices.

Ingredients:

For making the batter base :

  • Unbleached All purpose  flour : 1 cup
  • White Whole wheat flour : 1 cup
  • Salt : 1/4 tsp.
  • Baking Soda : 1 tsp.
  • Cinnamon powder : 1/2 tsp.
  • Unsalted Butter : 8 Tbsp. / 1/2 cup
  • Packed Brown sugar : 1/4 cup
  • Granulated Sugar : 3/4 cup
  • Egg, large, cage free : 1
  • Pure vanilla extract : 1 tbsp.
  • Buttermilk  : 1 cup or Milk , 2 % : 1 cup + 1 Tbsp. of Vinegar or lemon juice

For the Sugar swirl : ( whisk ingredients till combined well )

  • Granulated sugar : 1/4 cup
  • Cinnamon Powder : 2 tsp.

Method:

Note: please bring all the ingredients to room temperature before baking. The only exception for me is the vanilla extract which I take it out just when I start creaming the butter and sugar.

  • Pre heat the oven to 350 F. Spray a 9 by 5 inch bread loaf pan and set aside.
  • In a separate mixing bowl, scoop out  the 2 cups of flour and add salt and baking soda along with cinnamon and whisk very well to ensure thorough distribution. Alternatively sift it all together in a bowl.
  • Cream the butter and sugar in your stand / hand mixer till pale and fluffy.
  • Add the egg and whisk it till well combined.
  • Add the vanilla extract and whisk again.
  • Add the buttermilk if using or if not add the vinegar to room temperature milk and set aside for a couple of minutes and use.
  • Whisk well till combined thoroughly.
  • Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix till combined.
  • The batter would be thick and fluffy.  Optional : you can add cinnamon chips now in the batter if using. 

Layering the batter and baking :

  • Add half of the batter to the  prepped pan and smooth it.
  • Now add 3/4 of the sugar – cinnamon mix as a layer and gently pat a couple of times to get it to stick to the batter.
  • Now add the rest of the batter as dropfuls and smoothen it to get a layer like a sandwich. The reason to add as dropfuls and not add in one heapful is because this is such a thick batter , if you drop them in spoonfuls distributed along the pan length , then it is simply a matter of joining the dots.
  • Now add the reserved 1/4  of the sugar cinnamon mix on the top and pat down to let it stick.
  • Bake at 350 for about 45 minutes or so or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Remove, cool and then slice.
  • Serve warm !

Cinnamon Swirl Quick Bread

Cinnamon Swirl Quick Bread

 

 

 

Adapted from redflycreations and allrecipes.

Kothamalli Podi – Fresh Coriander/ Cilantro Chutney Powder (Dry)

75 years of experience all bundled in a 5 feet petite frame. Hands that have worked a gazillion times to feed much of the family, friends of the family, extended family and friends of the extended family. And not necessarily gone by the book. She does not need measuring cups and tools. Her weathered hands just scoops and scores. Nothing fancy about it , but the taste is always impeccable. 

A bit of this and bit of that, and much love added as well. The age has definitely slowed down the bundle of activity a lot and I am witness to it . And just as to defy it, she clears the fridge out of 3 bundles of cilantro – fresh and not so fresh ones and makes her spice mix . Oh and what a hit it is at home. The flavor and aroma of it is simply outstanding and is a great accompaniment to everything from Idli’s and Dosai’s to a great topping on buttered toasts and sprinkled over fresh plain yogurt…Just eat it plain, with oil, swirled in yogurt or as you wish…Whatever you do , do not miss out on this one !

Kothamalli Podi - Fresh Coriander/ Cilantro Chutney Powder ( Dry)

 

A great way to finish up large bunches of abundant cilantro or coriander leaves, a great substitute for regular coconut or tomato chutney and molagaipodi, a wonderful spice flavoring for rice and an awesome way to eat up large quantities of green. A finger licking concoction from the hands of a culinary expert , my MIL .

 

Kothamalli Podi - Fresh Coriander/ Cilantro Chutney Powder ( Dry)

Prep time : 10-15 min +  over night drying time for washed coriander leaves

Active time : 15 min

Shelf life : 1 month , best stored in refrigerator to prevent loss of flavor

Ingredients:

  • Fresh coriander bunches, trimmed : 3 -4, large bunches
  • Channa Dal : 1/2 cup
  • Split, de husked Urad dal : 1/2 cup
  • Dry red chilies – 10 ( spicy kind)
  • Dry Bydagi or kashmiri chilies – 4 ( non spicy, but adds vibrant hue)
  • Sesame Oil/ Saffola oil/ canola oil : 2 Tbsp.
  • Asafoetida : A generous pinch ( 1 tsp.)
  • Salt : 1.5 tsp. + adjusted to taste
  • Dry tamarind : 3-6  inches
  • Powdered Jaggery : 1/2 tsp.
  • Turmeric powder : 1/2 tsp.

Method:

Preparation of the coriander leaves:

  • Trim the ends of the large bunches. I simply twisted out about 3 inches from the bottom to remove the stems. Wash in cold water very well. At least 3-4 times to remove the impurities.
  • Spread out on a paper towel or napkin, in a cool dry place to dry in shade. I usually do this very late in the evening and it dries overnight on the counter.

Preparation of the dry chutney mix:

  • In a wide skillet add half a tbsp. of the oil of choice and roast dry chilies and dry tamarind and set aside to cool.
  • Add in additional 1 Tbsp. of oil and roast the channa dal and urad dal sequentially to yield brown roasted lentils. Do not speed up this process. You will have burnt lentils on your hand. Medium high is the way to go. Also do not roast both the lentils together. Channa dal takes time to roast and split urad dal will brown faster. So take it step by step. Remove and set aside to cool.
  • Add in the remaining half tbsp. of oil and add the washed, dried  cilantro  with turmeric and half a tsp. of salt and wilt the cilantro. I believe this will also preserve the green color of the leaves. Remove and set aside to cool
  • In a blender, add the red chilies and roasted tamarind and blend to a coarse mix and set aside in a mixing bowl.
  • Add in the dals and jaggery and salt and whiz to a very coarse mix and empty out in the same mixing bowl.
  • Add in the wilted cilantro and whiz a couple of times to shred it, add in the dal- chili mix to give a final couple of spins to yield a very coarse, granular, dry mix.
  • Remove , taste test for salt and spices and store in cool dry place. As in my case, these were transferred to mason jars and stored in the refrigerator.

Kothamalli Podi - Fresh Coriander/ Cilantro Chutney Powder ( Dry)

Notes: Do not over blend , you will be left with a thick paste. Pulsing is the way to go. Your aim is to have a coarse powdery mix of cilantro and lentils. You will notice the natural flavor and texture of cilantro this way. Another option is to roughly chop the cilantro after drying it and before wilting it in the skillet. This way you will have more even mix rather than rustic  texture. Either way you cannot go wrong with it.

 

Kothamalli Podi - Fresh Coriander/ Cilantro Chutney Powder ( Dry)

 

Pic ref : If you are wondering above the tag on Manirathnam on one of my pictures it refers to a maverick and extremely talented director of Indian cinema – who made movies using the diffused and dark light effect.  When I shot this picture, I thought of him 🙂

Whole Wheat Dark Chocolate Banana Breakfast Muffins

This is so not the case of life giving you way too many bananas . This is the case where I sort of threatened mock mutilation to the loving members of my family  because I wanted those two bananas to get over ripe to use for this recipe. I have secret minor addiction to pretty pictures on Pinterest ( ok not so secret any more ) but hey I can enjoy a good one now and then . While I do admire them, I so seriously need to invest some more time in understanding the mechanics of good photos…When I found this on Pinterest, the one bowl ideology spoke to me – after all who like messy kitchens? And I seem to have had a bit of a downer mood today. So in a minor adaptation of that recipe we hit jackpot on this muffin. I know it says breakfast muffin , but kids are getting it for an afterschool snack — with a warm glass of milk. Edited verdict: Kids simply loved it !

Unlike the recent past, bananas do not get a chance to go over ripe here at home. Between the kids and M, hardly any gets left over. So yours truly had to get a fresh bag of ones to let 2 stragglers from the previous batch put to good use. Nearly had a sign out to not eat/ or even think of eating/ feeding maya, the ones that were on its way to get ripened or over ripened. And they were put to amazingly good use. These gorgeous muffins are so calling out your name! C’mon grab a bowl, make these and let me know how it turned out !!!

Whole Wheat Dark Chocolate Banana Breakfast Muffins

Notes: Using whole wheat pastry flour will  produce more soft muffins. My local grocery store does not stock it and my only option was to order in bulk . Using APF of course will yield you possibly more fluffier ones. While the original recipe calls for baking with honey, I am hesitant to heat up honey based on Ayurveda principles and would gladly use brown sugar in its stead. You can also use jaggery as well. If you do use jaggery you definitely would be adding to the nutritional quotient as it is chockfull of minerals and Iron too.  Would you like to make it vegan? Use apple sauce and cutback on yogurt , or use almond milk and use flax seed  ground and beaten in water as substitute for egg. It would yield a slightly more denser muffin though. But all in all this recipe is definitely a keeper. Oh yes! The one bowl adaptation of it would definitely work as well. When you reach step 4 in the instructions add the dry ingredients sequentially in the mixing bowl.Fold in the chocolate chips gently and reserve to sprinkle on top. Perfecto!

Whole Wheat Dark Chocolate Banana Breakfast Muffins

Prep time : 10 min               Baking time : 16-18 min          Yield 12 muffins

Recipe source : http://www.joyfulhealthyeats.com. This is a near faithful adaptation of the recipe .

Ingredients

  • White whole wheat flour : 1 +2/3 cups
  • Bananas : 2 – 3  over ripe and spotted ( mashed would equal a cup or so)
  • Brown sugar : 2 – 3  large
  • Vanilla Extract : 1/2 Tbsp. 
  • Thick  plain yogurt : 1/3  cup of it ( used home made)
  • coconut oil (melted ) : 1/3 cup 
  • Large Brown egg : 1
  • Dark Cocoa powder : 2 Tbsp.
  • Salt : ½  tsp.
  • Baking soda:1 tsp.
  • Dark chocolate chips : 1/2 cup

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. Line a 12 cup muffin tray with paper cups.
  3. In a large bowl or bowl of your stand mixer, add the bananas and mash it. Add sugar, vanilla extract, yogurt, oil and egg and whip it till combined.
  4. In a separate bowl measure out white whole wheat flour, add the 2 Tbsp. of dark cocoa , baking soda and salt and mix it/ whisk it very well.
  5. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ones and mix until combined.
  6. Add in the chocolate chips and reserve some to top it on the muffins .Fill each muffin tin  to ¾ of its well.
  7. Bake for 16-18 minutes.
  8. Serve warm / cold with a tall glass of milk, hot chocolate or coffee !

Whole Wheat Dark Chocolate Banana Breakfast Muffins

Banana Cinnamon Muffins with Crunch Top – whole wheat version

The weekend was a hub of activity. A1 was busy fiddling with some robotics stuff . A3 had a soccer game. And my ! What a game it was … Intense one  with U8s running around  the field with all the energy they could muster. My little Ninja was in the offence and kissed the field about 8 times ( some scraped tissues too for the warrior) . And then he took a ball to his face – Bang on the cheek. Ouch! Brave little one though ! After a few minutes he was back into it. Learnt to play like a champ – which means emulated sportsmanship behavior in my books. 

And then of course A2. She had her gymnastics meet. My butterfly was spreading her wings. I can see “The turning of a corner” for her where she develops more self confidence and self esteem. And more important learning to compete with the right spirit. And she did well. So on the conversation back home on the take away points from the meet, we somehow ended up on breakfasts and proteins and cupcakes. I know, I know! My A2 can wheedle things out me .. This time it was a beseeching request for baked goodies. No,No , Not too much trouble , but since mommy bakes sooooo good then perhaps a cupcake ! Again not too much trouble , I hope but of course 🙂

Banana Cinnamon Muffins with Crunch Top

What she was getting was a cinnamon strudel wheat banana muffin :-)..a crunchy top and oh so feathery light muffin. A2 was pleased as a punch and demolished two of these. And her siblings got to enjoy it as well. This was collateral advantage !

Banana Cinnamon Muffins with Crunch Top – Whole Wheat Version

Prep Time: 10- 15 minutes

Baking Time: 18-22 minutes

Makes: 12 muffins

Ingredients:

For the muffin base:

  • White whole wheat flour : 1 Cup
  • Unbleached and un bromated APF : 1/2 Cup
  • Baking soda : 1 tsp.
  • Baking powder : 1 tsp.
  • Cinnamon Powder : 1 Tbsp.
  • Pure Vanilla Extract : 1 tsp.
  • Salt : 1/2 tsp.
  • Bananas: over ripe, 3,mashed very well.
  • Soft brown sugar : 3/4 cup.
  • Brown Egg: 1 , beaten
  • Unsalted butter : 1/3 cup.

 For the crunchy top crumble

  • Soft brown sugar : 1/2 cup
  • APF Flour : 3 Tbsp.
  • Ground cinnamon :  1tsp.
  • Butter : 1 Tbsp.

 Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Line a muffin / cupcake pan with 12 liners
  • Mix the dry ingredients – both the flours, the baking soda, baking powder, salt and sugar and cinnamon powder. Whisk it very well to ensure even distribution. Set aside.
  • Mash the 3 over ripe bananas very well. I typically like them without any big lumps.
  • Beat the egg and vanilla extract with a fork. Add in the 1/3 cup of butter , but make sure it is melted and cooled down enough so it does not scramble the eggs.
  • Mix the dry and wet ingredients together and beat until just combined. Do not over beat or over mix. 

For the crunchy top crumble:

  • Mix the ingredients listed under this and sprinkle on the muffins. The mixture would be slightly crumbly. 

Baking:

  • Bake for about 18-22 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.

 Notes:

  • Using the cold butter for the crunchy top would give you a more crumbly appearance. It is delicious.
  • Using a semi melted or room temperature butter would result in a thin crunchy top, which also would be delicious,
  • You can absolutely do this entire this using self rising flour alone. Just do not add any salt or baking powder. Reduce the baking soda to 1/2 tsp. and you will get soft fluffy muffins. Works like a charm every time.
  • I did this with white whole wheat flour. The regular wheat flour from hardened red/golden wheat would yield slightly denser muffins. Tasty nonetheless.

Banana Cinnamon Muffins with Crunch Top

Grab one to go with at all cold/warm glass of milk and you are set !

 

 

 

Rava Idli’s – Quick and easy royal fare on a budget!

I quite honestly was not planning on writing a post on this one.  Today was the beginning of a long weekend  and I woke up craving filter coffee. For the uninitiated, the filter coffee process is a near sacred ritual in many south indian households including the one in which I grew up. This drip mechanism in which hot water percolates through fresh ground coffee is quite aromatic and then coupled with hot steaming milk and a pinch of raw cane sugar- Nirvana in a cup !

Steaming hot cuppa
Steaming hot cuppa

Well cravings not withstanding, I think my inner south indian also felt like having hot Idli’s.. And of course no Idli batter at home. ( cause someone was a headless chicken the entire week and so did not get to do the required prep work)

Well this quick mix will satisfy that and the best part is the super soft Idli’s that it yields. Perfect results with minimal efforts. Now only if my daily routine would mimic this..Tsk!Tsk!

 Steaming hot Idli’s with  a hot cup of filter coffee  and I yearn for  the sounds of the yesteryears.. Amma and Amma ( M.S Subbalakshmi)

Perfect Combo!
Perfect Combo!

 A super easy and quick method to make Sooji / Rava/ Semolina Idlis . Serve it with the accompaniment of your choice from chutneys to potato palya.

 Prep time : 10 – 15 minutes  Steaming /cooking time : 10 minutes    Yields : 16 steamed cakes  Serves : 4-6

 Ingredients:

  • Sooji/ Rava/ Semolina  ( medium )- 1.5 cups
  • Channa dal : 1 tsp.
  • Split Urad Dal : 1 tsp.
  • Hing: A big pinch
  • Mustard seeds : 1 tsp.
  • Jeera : 1/4 tsp. ( optional)
  • Salt : 1 tsp + adjusted to taste
  • Green Chili : 1  (finely chopped)
  • Fresh Ginger : 1/2 inch ( finely chopped)
  • Curry leaves : 6-8  (finely chopped)
  • Cilantro : 1/8 cup ( finely chopped)
  • Cashewnut  quarters/ halves : 16
  • Oil : 1/2 Tbsp. + 1/2 Tbsp.

 Mixing:

  • Plain Yoghurt : 3/4 cup
  • Water : 3/4  cup
  • Lemon juice : 1 Tbsp.

 Required before steaming:

  • Eno : 1 tsp. + 1 Tbsp. of water

Method:

  • In a big skillet, add in one tbsp. of oil and add the cashew nuts and fry it and remove it when golden brown.
  • In the same skillet , add in the hing, mustard seeds, channa dal and urad dal. Fry it for a minute or two.
  • Subsequently add in the green chilies, ginger, chopped curry leaves. Fry it well too.By now the channa dal and urad dal would have attained a nice golden brown hue .
  • Add in the 1.5 cups of rava and fry it too . Take care to not let it brown. Just a couple of minutes would do.
  • Remove the mix in a wide bowl.
  • Add in the salt and whisk it to ensure it is distributed well.Cool it for about 5 minutes or so.
  • Meanwhile grease the idli molds , place the cashew pieces in it and get the water steaming in the pressure cooker of your choice.
  • Add in the  beaten yogurt + water + lemon juice and mix it well to the cooled Rava mix.
  • The mix would be a little watery initially, but would absorb the liquid in a couple of minutes as the dry sooji rehydrates itself.
  • Just before steaming, add in 1 tsp. Eno and add in the tbsp. of water on it. You should see instant frothing which indicates Eno is active.  Stir it in for well. Do not over mix it as you will kill the activity of the leavening agent.
  • Distribute the wet batter into the 16 greased molds. Top with chopped cilantro.
  • Steam in for about 7-9 minutes. Turn off the flame and let it remain in the steamer for a minute.
  • Hot steaming and super fluffy Idli’s ready in a jiffy.
  • Serve it with tomato chutney, idli chutney powder or potato palya.

 Notes:

  • The batter mix should not be too thick or dry . You will have rock hard Idli’s then. Your batter should be wet and of a thick cake batter consistency.
  • Check to make sure the mix is to the right consistency and mixed well before adding the Eno salt.  Once added, just whisk it for 30 secs. to ensure even distribution and pour it into the molds.
  • You can add grated carrot or cooked peas as an variation. In fact this is such a blank slate, you can top it with almost any veggie of your choice or make it a stuffed one.
  • if your Eno salt is not active, then you will not have soft and fluffy Idli’s.

Oats and Almond Butter Choco Cookies – Eggless and delicious!

A mouthful of  a name.. But that’s all right, cause this is one cookie you will fall in love with.  A breakfast cookie, crunchy crumbly cookie, a bite into low sugar decadent piece this is. And thanks to Sonal’s post on her blog and the Epicurean delights group on FB, this recipe beckoned to me. Plus I was on the lookout for a flourless one as well, eggless too. The clincher, this is not one of those overtly sweet cookies.
 
I honestly wanted to follow the recipe to the T, but then again I had a jar of almond butter sitting in the refrigerator. It did need to get used up , so switching things  a bit, I ended up with this cookie.
Also I used unsweetened cocoa powder and used brown sugar entirely.

Ingredients:

  • Almond Butter: 1 cup (I used the creamy one made from roasted almonds)
  • Oats ground : 1 cup(Roasted quick oats are pounded to get this)
  • Brown sugar : 1/2 cup packed.
  • Baking powder : 1 tsp
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder :1/3 cup
  • Milk :1/3 cup (Added in intermittently to help the binding the dough)

Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 350deg F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  • Whisk all the dry ingredients in a bowl.
  • Add in the almond butter and mix thoroughly. At this point the mix is partly crumbly and part sticky.
  • Add in the 1/3 cup of milk intermittently to get a soft pliable dough. You don’t want a runny mess on your hands, so depending on the brand of oats in use, you might need more or less of the required amount of milk.
  • Drop in spoonful’s of batter  and press gently or roll into small lime sized balls and slightly flatten them on to the cookie sheet. I was actually able to roll it out into small globes because of the almond butter.
  • Bake at 350 deg F for 15-18 min.
  • Enjoy them warm with a glass of milk or just eat them plain!
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