Whole Wheat Greek Yogurt Banana Bread (with chocolate chunks)

A.. La.. One more Banana bread for the files. The bout of flu was pretty bad which meant I spent nearly a week and half playing nurse maid for the kiddos. The got sick in a cascade fashion.The weather here in NC was the most undecided – switching between “spring weather welcoming new life” to “hibernating winter chilly weather”. And Flu viruses had a field day and found  new victims at my place, I suppose.  Which naturally resulted in a lot of fruits getting underutilized. No smoothies as well as soups ruled the day. So, there I had 6 forlorn bananas looking at me. Like, asking when they would be put to good use.  And I had a whole box of mismatched chocolate chips – ranging from big old chocolate chunks to mini chocolate chips. All the way from Super dark with 85 % cacao to semi sweet 65% cacao. Nearly 2 cups worth. But then again what’s a little bit more to cheer up my kids. And since I had some lovely neighbors who helped me out during the mad rush of the last 10 days, they got some nice chunky slices too. All in all , 6 bananas , 2 loaves and quarter of one left .

Some would say I was procrastinating or rather procrastibaking. A million jobs, but I had to bake ! Whoever came up with the word, was a sheer genius who understood the therapeutic aspect of baking. And online ordering of groceries. And the magical power of 10 min power naps. But if someone could still let my nutty lab know that flying leaves in the wind, trash trucks, delivery trucks, people working in the yard, AT and T servicemen yada, yada, yada are not threatening and there is absolutely no need to warn or bark her head off to keep me out of harm’s way. Or you cannot play with everyone coming your way. That works as well. It would be wonderful if she doesn’t go bonkers, but then again it would not be Maya.

Whole Wheat Greek Yogurt Banana Bread ( with chocolate chunks)

The recipe itself is pretty simple. I just about emptied the contents of the fridge to make this and you can never really go wrong with Banana Bread. It is  quite simple. You can dress it up or keep it earthy. Indulge with cream cheese or simply warm it and have it with a cup of tea. Or coffee. Or Milk. Have it for breakfast or as dessert. You get the point, it is absolutely versatile.I doubled this recipe and made 2 loaves. I had a few thankful friends who rewarded me with a thumbs up for this .The vegan and other options are listed as well in the notes and through the recipe.

Whole Wheat Greek Yogurt Banana Bread ( with chocolate chunks)

Ingredients:

  • Bananas : 3 , mashed to yield roughly 1 cup or a bit more. It does not have to be perfect!
  • Sugar : ½ – ¾ cup ( I used Turbinado sugar. Use the ¾ option if you like your bread a bit sweeter )
  • Eggs : Large,2.(Use flax substitute for vegan option . See notes)
  • Greek Yogurt : ½ cup  ( Vegan option : Use silken tofu. See notes)
  • Vegetable or Olive oil : ¼ cup ( You can use melted butter for richer taste)
  • Whole Wheat Pastry Flour : 1 and ¾ cup .( See notes for options )
  • Baking powder : ½ tsp.
  • Baking Soda : ½ tsp.
  • Salt : ½ tsp.
  • Cinnamon : a pinch ( optional )
  • Nutmeg : a pinch ( optional )
  • Chocolate chips : ½ cup
  • Toasted ,broken Walnuts : ½ cup ( optional )
  • Pure Vanilla Extract : 2 Tsp.

Method :

  1. Pre heat oven to 350 F . 
  2. Grease and  keep aside the pan of choice.I used an 9 by 5 inch loaf pan as this works well as a loaf bread.
  3. Mash the bananas with a fork and keep aside. A few chunks of the bananas is what makes this bread a bit rustic. Do not pulverize the bananas. Or alternately using the paddle attachment of your stand mixer mash the bananas.
  4. Add the eggs or flax egg substitute, vanilla extract and whisk well. Add the Greek yogurt or its substitute, sugar, melted butter if using or oil , cinnamon and nutmeg if using .
  5. In another mixing bowl measure out the flour and add the salt, baking soda and  baking powder and whisk it well.
  6. Add the dry ingredients to the wet one and mix only until incorporated. Do NOT OVERMIX.
  7. Stir in the chocolate chips and reserve some to garnish on top and stir in the nuts if using reserving some likewise to garnish the surface.
  8. Bake  at 350 F for about 45 min- 60 min or until a skewer inserted in comes out clean.Keep checking after 38 min.
  9. Let it cool in the pan for about 10 min and slide out gently to finish cooling on the rack.
  10. Slice thick chunky slices . Eat plain, with cream cheese , or anyway you want .

Notes :

  • Egg substitute: 1 Tbsp. flax seed + 3 Tbsps. of water –  pulverized well will yield a homogenous mass equivalent to 1 large egg.
  • Greek Yogurt substitute: 1: 1 switch of blended silken tofu + a dash of lemon juice to give the tartness.
  • Butter substitute: Canola oil / olive oil. 1 :1 substitution works perfect.
  • Granulated sugar switch : Raw Turbinado sugar or jiggery
  • Flour : whole wheat pastry flour is the best substitute for All purpose flour.  If you do not have it and have only normal whole wheat flour, I would use 1 and ½ cups instead. It is quite dense.  Or you can alternate 1 cup of whole wheat flour and ¾ cup of all-purpose flour.
  • If you think your bread is browning too quickly and the middle is still squiggly and squishy, cover it with aluminum foil and return to baking.
  • Can I make muffins out of this ? Certainly. Should yield 12-14 muffins, baked for about 16 min or so.

 

Have I baked using these substitutes ?

The short answer would be an unequivalent “Yes”.  My observations though :

  • Using jaggery has given me a more denser and squishy loaf because of its wet nature.  Also I had better results with using store bought jaggery powder as 1 : 1 switch then pulverizing my own. I would assume that the commercially powdered jaggery was a bit more dry and hence worked better.
  • Olive oil worked just fine as a substitute.
  • Silken tofu also worked fine. Add in a Tbsp. or so of lemon juice to add in the tartness of yogurt. But I personally would look and choose the non GMO version of it. Make sure you blend it well before adding. You will not be able to blend it after adding it. Though unconventional, applesauce has work in a cinch too. The texture would be different a bit though.
    Whole Wheat Greek Yogurt Banana Bread ( with chocolate chunks)

 

Cinnamon Swirl Bundt Cake

Welcome back ! Well that was more of a shout out to self. It certainly has been ages since I ventured back to this special place. And I bring to you one of the finest creations to grace this page to begin my re-entry back into blogging. Not that I ever stopped making goodies. It was just the photography and recipe and all..

How would you like a wonderful vanilla pound cake with fine tender crumb? The fragrance entices you so wonderfully ( my lab , Maya refused to leave the oven unattended while it was baking )  and then you have these rivers of cinnamon swirl around in them. Fantastic. Moist, tender and heavenly.

 An absolute autumn’s delight  of a cake this one. A gorgeous tender crumb vanilla pound cake with ribbons of sweet spice cinnamon sugar and cream cheese glaze. This was such a hit a dinner party that I decided to make it again – this time just for my hungry kids !

Cinnamon Swirl Bundt Cake

Serve this warm with a dollop of ice cream if you must. But, I say a steaming cup of coffee , espresso or tea is the best accompaniment for this. A warm inviting slice of heaven and  a steaming cup of energy accompanying can take on a motley crew of teenagers, room parent work, PTA, gymnastic classes, robotics, slightly neurotic dog  and a full house at home and more. Bring it on !

Cinnamon Swirl Bundt Cake

 

Ingredients:

Cinnamon sugar :

  • Granulated sugar : 2/3 cup
  • Fine ground cinnamon : 3 Tbsp.
  • Fine ground nutmeg : A pinch

Cream Cheese Glaze :

  • Cream cheese : 4 Tbsp. ( at room temperature )
  • Confectioner’s sugar : 1 -1.5 cups(depending on how sweet you like your icing)
  • Pure vanilla extract : 1 Tbsp.
  • Milk or Cream : 2 Tbsp.+ as required to thin the glaze or icing.

Vanilla Pound cake:

  • Unbleached All purpose flour : 3 cups
  • Unsalted butter at room temperature : 2 sticks/ 1 cup/ 16 Tbsp.
  • Salt : 1 tsp.
  • Baking soda : 1/2 tsp
  • Eggs, large, room temperature : 6
  • Granulated sugar : 2.5 cup
  • Heavy cream or whole milk : 4 Tbsp.
  • Sour cream  : 1 cup
  • Pure Vanilla Extract : 2 Tbsp.

Instructions

Oven and Bundt pan preparation:

  • Preheat your oven to 350° F.
  • Generously grease with softened butter and then dust with flour your 10 cup Bundt pan and set aside. Please do take your time to grease and flour the pan. (If you are using an intricate Bundt pan, then please ensure that all nooks and crevices are well accounted for. There is nothing worse than baking a wonderful cake which stubbornly sticks to the pan.)

Making the cinnamon sugar:

  • To make the cinnamon sugar, whisk all the ingredients listed in a small separate bowl and keep aside until ready to be used

Baking the pound cake:

  • In a large mixing bowl whisk the  all purpose flour, baking soda and salt and set aside.
  • In a bowl your stand mixer, fit in the paddle attachment and cream the sugar and butter. This process will take about 4-5 minutes. Stop intermittently and scrape the sides of the bowl so all the side splatter butter and sugar get creamed as well. I used the medium-high speed setting on my mixer.
  • Add the cup of room temperature sour cream and mix well.
  • Add in the vanilla extract and milk / cream and mix well.
  • Turn the speed of the mixer to low-medium and add in the eggs 1 at a time. Please ensure the eggs are at a room temperature. And add them one at a time. Take the time to make sure each egg is mixed well. Do not worry if you think there a slight split in the batter. It will all come together when you add the flour. Stop and scrape the sides of the bowl as required to make sure you have a homogeneous mix.
  • Once the eggs are all added , add in the flour and mix until just combined. It should just take you a minute or so . DO NOT OVER MIX. Fold the batter by hand gently once or twice to ensure the flour at the bottom is mixed well. This is a heavy batter, so make sure you get to the bottom of the  bowl.

Layering and baking the swirl pound cake :

  • Scoop in about 1/3 of the total batter into your Bundt pan. Layer about 1/2 of the cinnamon sugar mix and pat gently if needed.
  • Next add in the other 1/3 of the batter. I always found that scooping out tiny dollops of the batter , thereby covering the entire cinnamon sugar layer is a better option than trying to layer large amounts of batter. You can always sort of ” join the dots of tiny blobs of batter” to give an even layer as much as possible. Gently tap the pan on the counter to even out. Do not go crazy out banging , then you will have a “cinnamon dispersed” cake and not a “swirl” one.
  • Add in the other 1/2 of the sugar and layer with the remaining 1/3 batter similarly.
  • Gently tap the Bundt pan.
  • Bake at 350 F/ 50-65 minutes. Check with a bamboo skewer (the inserted skewer comes out clean) to ensure cake is baked through.

Unmolding the cake.

  • Remove the Bundt pan with cake from oven and cool it in pan for about 10 minutes. Gently run a knife along the edges to loosen the cake. Be very gentle as you do not want to go slicing the cake at the ends.
  • Cool another 10 minutes or so in the pan itself. Rushing the process can sometimes ruin your labor love and you might have a partial cake unmolded.
  • Then gently invert it out on a wire rack over a stand and cool completely.

Glaze/ icing the cake:

  • Using your mixer cream the sugar cream cheese heavy cream or milk, and vanilla extract on high using a whisk attachment. Thin it out more if you would like to pour out the glaze or keep it thick to pipe it out in pastry bag.
  • Glaze when very slightly warm or you can wait until it is completely cool to pipe out the cream as well.( Mine was attempted by an eager elementary school kid )

Slice and enjoy heaven on earth !

Cookie Butter &Toffee Bits Ice Cream – No churn, Eggless, Quick

Blazing away at 100 F, we are expecting thunderstorms in NC. And the wisdom tooth decides to show yours truly who the boss was. Flared up and enduring nagging pain was not how I thought I would be spending a Friday ! Nope definitely not fun and unplanned for.

Cookie Butter &Toffee Bits Ice Cream

And while A1 has a packed schedule , A3  learns to work on his team skills and to compete in the swim team. A winner by attitude  more than by numbers is what I would like for him to pick up this summer.

Cookie Butter &Toffee Bits Ice Cream

A2 weasels her way out of gym practice and her doe eyes plead for a summer treat as she fans herself to get some respite against the warm weather. And while we toss about if it would be a berry cheesecake ice-cream, or mango ice cream or cookies and cream one, she pounces on a Speculos butter in a jar and wants to know if we could make one with it.  

 

Cookie Butter &Toffee Bits Ice Cream

 

Creamy with crunchy bits, sweet and with a hint of cinnamon the Speculos cookie butter ( or Biscoff one) is for those indulgent days at home – weekends,  celebrations or pick me up. Pair it with fresh whipped cream  and some condensed milk and you have wonderful creamy, soft serve ice cream ready to drool for! Add in some  crunchy Heath toffee bits and its a perfect combination . Just 5 ingredients and you are on your way to create a fantastic and bowl licking summer treat. It’s quite irresistible as licked fingers hold a testament to this at home. Go on, enjoy !

Important Tip : Please make sure your whipping cream, the mixing bowl and whisk is quite chilled to begin with. I recommend leaving it in the refrigerator overnight .

Prep time : 15 min  

Freezer time : 6 hrs. – overnight  

Serves : 8-12

Ingredients:

  • Heavy whipping cream : 2 cups
  • Speculos / Biscoff cookie butter : 1 cup
  • Sweetened condensed milk : 7 oz. or  1/2 tin
  • Pure vanilla extract : 1 Tbsp.
  • Heath crunchy toffee bits : 1/2 cup

Method :

  • In your well chilled mixing bowl, add in the 2 cups of heavy cream ( chilled) and start by whisking on slow ( so you do not splatter your walls) and increase to high speed whisking to yield soft peaks.
  • Add in the condensed milk , vanilla extract and whisk it very well and then add in the cookie butter and whisk it well again so the final result has a soft peak consistency.
  • Add in the toffee bits, gently stir it in and pour it into freezer safe bowl. Make sure the container can be covered air tight and let it freeze for atleast 6 hrs to overnight.
  • Serve in dark chocolate dipped waffle bowls, cones , with or without sprinkles or eat it straight out of the container on a grueling day !

Cookie Butter &Toffee Bits Ice Cream

Happy Summer !!!

Baked Cauliflower Tandoori Bites

Baked Cauliflower Tandoori Bites

New year and new beginnings?  Nah , more like everyday is a clean slate to make something out of yourself. It’s what I keep telling myself . There is joy in small things. It’s the small things that build it up for the grand finale – life . Calvin and Hobbes sum it up the best in a beautiful snippet on watching the stars and losing yourself in it its infinity.. Sometimes it’s good to be lost.

Baked Cauliflower Tandoori Bites

So all the while, NC gets about a few inches of snow and ice and we get snowed in at home – School is far far away in another land. Tee hee.. The joy of skipping school – even my high schooler fell prey to its charm and exhibited an uncharacteristic elation.

So while mom and kids lazed around and spent quality time and lost themselves in snowmen and hot cocoa, DH was stranded trying to make his way back amongst the sea of travelers and some 8500 canceled flights.  Over night layover and a really bizarre circumnavigation apart, a welcome face pops in after nearly couple of days of journey. Home sweet home !

 Welcome home –  with a hot cup of tea and wonderful tandoori bites…

Baked Cauliflower Tandoori Bites

When fresh veggies were not exactly ruling the roost in this part of the country, I usually have a stock of fresh frozen (if I can manage the non GMO kind, then definitely ) of vegetables in my freezer. Cauliflower florets – a favorite here. I used this to make the tandoori bites. It was a full head of fairly medium  – big sized cauliflower that I had cut in florets and frozen. I would say about a pound of it.

Baked Cauliflower Tandoori Bites

Baked Cauliflower Tandoori Bites:

Prep time : 5-10 min   Marination time : 5 hours to over night

Baking time : 15 -20 min

Vegetable:

  • Cauliflower florets – A head of cauliflower cut into bite sized florets or frozen 16 oz. bag

For the Marinade:

  • Thick plain yogurt : 1/4 cup
  • Plain chili powder / Kashmiri powder : 1 tbsp. ( use your judgment for the heat)
  • Chaat masala : 1 Tbsp..
  • Salt : 1 tsp.
  • Tandoori Masala : 1 Tbsp.
  • Garam Masala : 1 Tbsp.
  • Mint -Coriander Green chutney : 2 Tbsp.

Optional :

  • Ginger- garlic paste : 1 tsp.

Method:

  • Defrost the cauliflower florets or if using fresh ones, either nuke it in the microwave for a couple of minutes or quick blanch it.  Let it come to room temperature.
  • Whisk all the ingredients listed under marinade. Taste test if desired so.
  • Pour the marinade on the cauliflower pieces and mix it to ensure all of it is coated thoroughly.  Keep it covered in the refrigerator for minimum of 4-5 hours , but can be left overnight for best results as well.

Baking :

  • Pre heat oven to 400 F.
  • Layer a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Spray oil if desired so on them so the pieces do not stick.
  • Spread the cauliflower florets so they are in single layer on the sheet.
  • Bake for 15-20 min or so. Keep an eye after about 12 minutes of baking. A lot depends on the tenderness of the cauliflower and your oven. 

HUGE TIPIn the 8- 10 min interval, flip the cauliflower florets and rotate the pans to ensure even baking. If not you run the risk of burning the smaller sized ones.

  • You should get crisp but tender cauliflower florets bursting with flavor.
  • Serve with a wedge of lime and some mint – coriander green chutney as dip. You can also use a cool yogurt dip.

Bite sized, perfectly spiced and zero oil… Isn’t this just awesome?

 

 

 

 

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

Lemon Pistachio Biscotti with dark chocolate drizzle !! Perfectly crisp and delicious!

Gosh ! Don’t you just love  Biscotti ? Well I do ! Atleast now. Twice baked goodies of perfection originated in Italy and as American as apple pie, these  find their way into my pantry now more often.

Lemon Pistachio Biscotti With dark chocolate drizzle

There was time it was viewed as dry dust by me. More like saw dust. Hard as rock and bone dry, I was puzzled by it’s universal love. Maybe I had just got a bad batch, I reasoned. But nope after a couple of tries just nodded my head pleasantly and fixed a smile on my face whenever I was offered one, all the while thinking perhaps it was an acquired taste and how not choke on it!  I mean how much can one love those hard as rock, dry as saw dust cookies…. even when dipped into espresso?

Then, I chanced upon these glorious home made treats from a fellow worker. Moist but yet crispy with tons of flavor !  ( Yes, I do realize its quite oxymoronic in its description). She was generous enough to bake me some for Christmas. Rather her mom was a sweetheart ! And then over the years I developed tender feelings towards it. That’s just me, sort of need to crack the science in it.

Lemon Pistachio Biscotti With dark chocolate drizzle

And another version at TJ’s marketed as the soft biscotti caught my fancy. Rather DH bought a tub and we I indulged in it a bit too much over the weeks. Whatever the case, I fell in love. Oh!, not that dewy, butterflies in the stomach kind , my lips are are truthful, but the OMG I can bake this at home kind.

So after much wheedling for the recipe and a few pointers and misfires, this recipe from a friend and mish mashed with the one on Allrecipes site works perfectly!

Crispy and crunchy and perfectly dippable but eminently eatable as a standalone cookie,with a generous combination of lemon and pistachios and with a touch of softness so you enjoy the cookie ! Add a tiny, tiny touch of wow with the gorgeous drizzle of dark chocolate ! C’mon now, what’s your excuse for not reaching out for one ?

Lemon Pistachio Biscotti With dark chocolate drizzle

  • Baking temp : 375F
  • Baking time : About  25 minutes + 10 minutes 
  • Prep time : 15-20 minutes
  • Yield : 24-48 cookies

 Ingredients

  • All purpose flour / APF : 3 1/4 cups/ ( I use unbleached and unbromated one)
  • Canola/Vegetable/Sunflower oil : 1/2 cup
  • Sugar : 1 cup ( 1/2 white + 1/2 brown or all white granulated)
  • Large Eggs : 3 ( at room temperature)
  • Baking powder : 1 Tablespoon
  • Lemon extract : 1 Tablespoon
  • Grated zest of lemon : 2 tsp.
  • Chopped raw pistachios : 1/3 cup ( chopped roughly)

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Line 2 baking trays with parchment paper. This recipe absolutely needs parchment/ baking paper. Greasing the sheets with oil or dusting with flour might not really produce the same kind of success.
  3. In a separate bowl mix 3 and 1/4 cups of flour and baking powder and whisk well to ensure they are mixed. While measuring out the flour, just scoop and level the flour. DO NOT make it a packed cup.
  4. In  the bowl of your stand mixer or the large mixing bowl you are going to use, break open  3 eggs and beat together with oil and sugar and lemon extract and lemon zest. Just a couple of minutes will do. You are aiming for a homogeneous mix of all.
  5. Add the flour to this egg- oil -sugar and flavor mix in stages until all incorporated. The dough will be heavy and sticky. DO NOT add any more flour than what is called  for.
  6. Scoop out the dough onto the 2 prepared  cookie sheets by dividing it as equally as possible.
  7. Flour your hands well. Yep I prefer flouring my hands rather than flouring the sheet or the dough. Just dip your hands or dust it well with the flour. Now pat each dough to about 1/2 inch thickness and the length of your cookie sheet. I kept the width of the dough to about 9 inches ( ala the starbucks kind) so it did not extend all the way to the end. But if you keep the width to about 4 – 5 inches then you can form a neat rectangle that extends to the length of the cookie sheet.
  8. Bake for 25 to 28 minutes in the preheated oven, until golden brown.
  9. Remove from the oven and let it cool for a couple of minutes. DO NOT wait too long then the cookie log will harden to a point beyond usability. Using a pizza cutter or a very sharp serrated knife, make 1/2 inches to 1 inch slices thickness.
  10.  Place the slices cut side up back onto the baking sheet. Bake for an additional 5-7 minutes on one side.
  11. Then flip it and back for another 3 minutes or so on the other side. Please do keep an eye out. You want these toasted golden brown and not burn to crisp.
  12. Remove and cool on a wire rack.
  13. Once cooled very well, melt some dipping dark chocolate and drizzle to create a lovely pattern.
  14. Let the drizzle set and enjoy the fresh baked biscotti with a cup of espresso, latte or like in my case a good cup of tea!

Lemon Pistachio Biscotti With dark chocolate drizzle

Green Power Morning Smoothie

Good Morning ! Summer seems to be racing by and our days are alternating between packed crazy days and lazy ones.. In all the rigmarole and recent vacations and indulgences not withstanding , a few pounds seems to have crept in and settled rather unpleasantly. And I realized bouncing back to lustrous skin seem to be taking awhile after the milestone birthday. In more ways than one, I guess the body is sending me signals. Well I have received it loud and clear. Need more greens and raw in the system. And I suppose a routine does not hurt.

Green Power Morning Smoothie

The first in this would be this awesome super delish morning green power smoothie.

If you abhor the taste of greens, I promise you will not realize this has so much of it. This is light and refreshing and is full of vitamins and immunity boosting powers. I mean what exactly are you waiting for? I did know  what I was waiting for . This is going to be huge part of my routine from now on.

A refreshing and light green smoothie that sends you a burst of energy and is very energizing on the palate as well. The freshness of lime and zing from the ginger is a definite welcome.

Green Power Morning Smoothie

Ingredients:

  • Fresh spinach or kale : 1/2 cup
  • Ginger : 1 inch, skinned and sliced
  • Celery stalk : 1 or 2 cut
  • Green apple : 1/4 -1/2 sliced
  • Banana : 1/2 sliced
  • Turmeric powder : 1/2 tsp.
  • Cucumber : 1/4 -1/3 cut in slices
  • Wild honey : 1 tsp. ( optional)
  • Lime : 1/2 to be juiced
  • Ice cubes : 2-4
  • Water : 1/4 cup

Green Power Morning Smoothie

Method:

  • Pulverize it all in your Nutribullet or blender of your choice to get smooth refreshing drink.
  • Enjoyed cold and best served fresh.

Green Power Morning Smoothie

Notes:

  • While going raw, please try to use as much organic resources as possible.
  • Wash thoroughly. I repeat wash thoroughly.
  • You can always substitute a few, add more, add some protein etc to this . Personalize it I say!

Enjoy!

Green Power Morning Smoothie

Bharwan Tondli / Spice mix Stuffed IvyGourd / Stuffed Kovakkai

This is going to be a super quick post from me. It’s been a  long day and I sure hope to wind down soon. The last week’s trip to the grocery store made sure I  got a good pound + or so of these fresh Ivy gourds. They were tender and heaped out in mounds in the produce aisle. Naturally they had to make their way home. We love these cute little veggies at home and my daughter calls these mini cucumbers Doppelganger, but of course you could not eat them raw. We do cook a lot of these at home and they make delicious stir fry as well a part of mixed veggie masala rice.  I have  another recipe up on the  blog  with cashewnuts and black channa. That was awesome as well. You should definitely try it . This time though I  did want to try something a tad different with these. The best part about these veggies are they are pretty much a blank slate waiting to be gourmet-fied :-)..  This is super good as an accompaniment with a light dal tadka and phulkas. Oh my !

Bharwan Tondli / Spice mix Stuffed IvyGourd / Stuffed Kovakkai - Dry spices mix
Bharwan Tondli / Spice mix Stuffed IvyGourd / Stuffed Kovakkai – Dry spices mix

The prep would definitely consume a bit more of your time , but since it uses dry spices , this is an awesome make ahead dish as well.  And also the end justifies the tiny bit of labor you would have to do..

Bharwan Tondli / Spice mix Stuffed IvyGourd / Stuffed Kovakkai - split into quarter
Bharwan Tondli / Spice mix Stuffed IvyGourd / Stuffed Kovakkai – split into quarters
Bharwan Tondli / Spice mix Stuffed IvyGourd / Stuffed Kovakkai - filling it with spices
Bharwan Tondli / Spice mix Stuffed IvyGourd / Stuffed Kovakkai – filling it with spices

 

Delicious and absolutely tender cooked ivy gourd stuffed with dry spices and cooked in minimal oil in a covered skillet. Easy, vegan and absolutely lip smacking!!

 

Bharwan Tondli / Spice mix Stuffed IvyGourd / Stuffed Kovakkai - ready to be cooked
Bharwan Tondli / Spice mix Stuffed IvyGourd / Stuffed Kovakkai – ready to be cooked

Prep time : 30 – 40 min  Cook time : 15 – 20 min  Serves : 4

Ingredients:

Vegetable:

  • Tender Ivy gourd/ Tondli/ Kovakkai : 1 Lb. approximately

Dry spices:

  • Cumin seeds : 1 tsp.

Dry spice powders:

  • Amchur powder / Dry mango powder : 1  tsp.
  • Red Chili powder : 1 tsp.
  • Dhania  powder  : 1 tsp.
  • Garam masala : 1.5 tsp.
  • Sambar powder : 1 tsp. ( optional )
  • Haldi / Turmeric powder : 1/2 tsp.
  • Salt : 1 tsp + more if required

Water:

  • 2 Tbsp. required for cooking

Oil :

  • Oil of your choice : 1.5 – 2 Tbsp.

Garnish :

  • Finely chopped cilantro

Method:

  1. In a bowl add all the ingredients listed in the dry spice powders mix and mix it thoroughly so the salt and spices are evenly distributed.
  2. Wash the vegetables very well, trim the ends and discard any ripe ones if you discover ( they are usually red on the inside).
  3. Slit the gourd/ tondli/ kovakkai vertically into 4 ( like an open flower) without slitting it all the way through. The idea is to create a pocket to retain the spices.
  4. Now stuff the dry spice mix in all of these. This does require you to employ a bit of patience.
  5. Once done , heat a flat bottom cast iron or non stick skillet with a bit of  depth on its side.  Add the oil and the cumin seeds which will sputter on contact with the hot oil.
  6. Slide the stuffed vegetables gently and arrange so they are in a single layer.
  7. If you have left over of the dry spice masala filling you can either store it to be used later or sprinkle all over these .
  8. Add a couple of tablespoons of water by sprinkling all over it and cover and cook for about 8-10 minutes.
  9. Once they are nearly done, remove the cover and let it roast uncovered in the pan. Gently flip the vegetables over to ensure even cooking.
  10. Remove when completely cooked  and garnish with chopped cilantro leaves.
  11. Serve hot as an accompaniment with soft rotis, dal and steaming hot rice.
Bharwan Tondli / Spice mix Stuffed IvyGourd / Stuffed Kovakkai - Garnish with cilantro and serve
Bharwan Tondli / Spice mix Stuffed IvyGourd / Stuffed Kovakkai – Garnish with cilantro and serve

Creamy Peach Apricot Cardamom Ice Cream – Eggless, Quick and Fuss free

An impending trip to the farmer’s market  usually has me emptying the fridge and scurrying around creating more space in the veggie and fruit racks. And rarely am I disappointed . This visit too I was treated to gleaming rows of veggies and fruits. Peaches and more  peaches. Naturally I had to pick a basket. And then of course apricots. Bright yellow and of course beckoning to be taken home.

The peaches were so luscious and sweet . Just the right balance of tart in them. The gorgeous apricots though cut a zinger right through me. So tart that you can cut your  teeth with it! They sure looked and felt ripe. So my options were limited to making a tart chutney with it  or make an ice cream. The chutney was of course out of question as my fridge was loaded with greens and I would making a few chutneys out of it, so therefore Ice cream it was !

Creamy Peach Apricot Cardamom Ice Cream - Eggless, Quick and Fuss free

Taking off from my Guava Ice cream and Mango Ice cream , this too is quick fuss free and uses minimal ingredients and  is made in a jiffy.

Sizzling hot summer? Tons of fresh fruit ? Peaches? Apricots? Would you like some creamy dreamy no fuss and egg free Peach Apricot Ice Cream? Made in a jiffy and with just a hint of cardamom? Exotic, Mon Cher.. and not overtly sweet and such an indulgence on a hot day!

Chilling time of fruits and  mixing bowl : 4-6 hrs

Actual prep time : 20  minutes        Freezing time : 4-6 hours.

Serves : 10-12  people

Ingredients:

  • Heavy whipping cream : 1 pint / 16 oz
  • Sweetened Non fat Condensed milk : 14 oz can
  • Ripe peaches : 6-8, washed and sliced
  • Apricots : 10-12 , Washed and sliced
  • Cardamom powder : a generous pinch

Method:

Note : Pre Prep :

  • Before whipping the cream ensure the contents as well as the mixing bowl is well chilled . This will get you to whipped creamy stage faster and also hold it.
  • If using the KA stand mixer, ensure the wire whisk and the bowl is chilled well for a couple of hours.

Procedure :

  • In the bowl of your stand mixer if using ( or a regular hand mixer can be used ) attach the wire whisk and proceed to whip the heavy cream to nearly stiff creamy peaks. Start on slow speed and bring it to higher speed for about 4-7 minutes. By now you should have very creamy and stiff peaks formed. Take care not to harden it and create the sweet cream whipped butter from it . You do not want it.
  • Meanwhile slice the peaches and apricots and blend it smooth to a thick smoothie/ pulp like extract without adding any water. 
  • Add in the condensed milk and apricot – peach pulp .
  • Change to flat beater and mix it again for about 3 minutes until they are mixed well. You will see a thick creamy mass. 
  • Add in cardamom powder and mix it again.
  • Scrape the sides of the bowls and pour into a freezer safe bowl. Close tightly  to prevent any crystallization.
  • Should set in about 4-6 hrs.
  • Thick , luscious creamy peach –  apricot ice cream is ready to be indulged in !

Creamy Peach Apricot Cardamom Ice Cream - Eggless, Quick and Fuss free

Notes :

  • You can use whipped cream in place of the heavy whipping cream if you are pressed for time.
  • Saffron is an optional exotic spice which will also lend a unique flavor

Verdict : Very creamy , smooth and light  ice cream, with flecks of the fruit and cardamom.

 

Beetroot leaves Thogayal/Chutney/Relish

A trip to any grocery store invariably ends up in me looking for fresh beets. And if it is usually packed with leaves, then the fresher the better naturally. The gorgeous color  and crispness of the leaves is a natural draw for me. Actually I am a sucker when it comes to all kinds of fresh leafy greens (Make it most of the veggies ). Can never resist the siren’s call !!!

 Beetroot leaves Thogayal/Chutney/Relish

So there was this lushest pack of beets beckoning to me in the produce section of HT. Gorgeous bright green leaves with veins of deep red and big fat beets clustered to it. I just had to pick it up! Don’t judge me please, I can always rationalize it as  how one can never have too many veggies. So in any case, these gorgeous beauties came home and I was itching to make something out of it. Usually the leaves can be sautéed and made with a bit of soaked dal to yield a side accompaniment. But I want something else..  I wanted to make this relish that my mom and grandma could practically whip out of any vegetable. The basic recipe remains the same but the varieties it yields with it as the base is  amazing. This is great as a spread, a side dish or to simply use it up mixed with rice and veggies as well.

 

Gorgeous green leaves with thick red veins !
Gorgeous green leaves with thick red veins !

Beet leaves sautéed and fine ground with roasted urad dal, tamarind, red chilies, whole black pepper to yield a slightly spicy, a bit tangy and wonderful earthy relish/ spread/thogayal. Chockfull of nutrients in a bowl!

Prep time : 10 min  Cook time : 10 min  Yields :  8 -10 servings

Shelf life : 1 week refrigerated.

 Ingredients:

  • Beet leaves – trim stem, chop roughly to yield 2 cups
  • Skinned, split Urad Dal : 1/2 cup
  • Wet tamarind : 1 inch piece
  • Whole black pepper : 1/4  Tbsp.
  • Red chilies ( mix mild to high heat) – 4-6 or lower according to spice level
  • Oil : 2 tsp.
  • Salt : 1 tsp + to taste
  • Water : 1/3 cup – add as required to grind

 Optional : Seasoning ( but highly recommended)

  • Oil : 1 tsp.
  • Curry leaves : 4-6
  • Mustard seeds : 1 tsp.
  • Hing : a generous pinch

Method:

  • In a  skillet  add initially 1 tsp. of oil and on heating add chilies and whole black peppers,
  • Add washed,skinned, split urad dal and roast till it is a nice brown in color. Drain and set aside to cool.
  • In the same skillet , add another tsp. of oil and now add the thoroughly washed and cut beet leaves and sauté till it is tender. Say about 5 minutes. Add the piece of tamarind. Turn off the flame and scoop it side in another plate to cool.
  • On cooling , grind the dal and chili and pepper mix initially along with salt to a rough grind.
  • Add the leaves and tamarind and a couple of tablespoons of water and grind till you reach your desired consistency. Add more water if desired. A smoother relish will be easier to handle but will have lower shelf life if you add too much water. 

Optional Seasoning but highly recommended:

  • Heat oil in skillet, add hing and when it sizzles add mustard seeds which will splutter in the heat and then add curry leaves.
  • Turn off the flame and pour it over the relish and mix it well.
  • This is a great way to temper the spices as well enhance the taste if the relish along with increasing the shelf life a bit.
A thick spicy chutney/relish/thogayal chock full of nutrients !
A thick spicy chutney/relish/thogayal chock full of nutrients !

Enjoy with hot steamed rice, phulkas , dal and even a slice of toast!