Friday, November 25, 2016

Stuffed Mini-Peppers





Guests still home after Thanksgiving?? Bored of eating leftovers?? Not in a mood to cook anything tedious?? Here is the perfect solution for all of these problems!




Try these stuffed mini-peppers that use ingredients that you  already have in your kitchen, doesn't take long to put-together & is a crowd-pleaser!!



When I made these, I ate half a dozen of them right when they came out of the oven!! My husband loved them and so did everybody else! It was gone before I knew it. The best part: it is also a great make-ahead item for get-to-gethers! You can stuff the peppers and keep it in the refrigerator a day ahead and bake it just before guests arrive. Or, you could bake it and keep it in the fridge couple of days ahead of time and then just warm it up when your guests arrive & serve it piping hot! Your guests will be quite impressed: I guarantee!!




Do try it. You will love it!






Servings: 8-10



Prep time: 15 minsCook time: 8-10 minsTotal time: 23-25 mins



Ingredients:


Sweet Mini-peppers: 16-18 nos
Low fat cream cheese: 1 package ( 8 oz or 222gms)
Dried Italian herbs : 1/2 tsp
Garlic cloves: 2, minced
Black pepper: 1/4 tsp, freshly ground.
Cilantro/coriander leaves: 1 tbsp ( freshly chopped)
Olive oil : to drizzle

Method:


Take the cream cheese in a bowl. Whip it lightly using a fork until softened and creamy. To this, add the dried herbs, cilantro, black pepper & mix well. Keep aside.

Preheat the oven to 350 deg F.

Arrange a baking sheet lined with foil or parchment paper.





Wash and dry the peppers. Slice it into 2 without cutting the stem. You will end up with one half of the pepper with the stem and the other half without the stem. Remove the seeds and discard them.





Fill each of the halves with the cream cheese mixture prepared earlier. Arrange the peppers on the baking sheet in a single layer with the filled side facing up.

Lightly drizzle olive oil in the peppers. Place the tray on the middle rack of the oven. Bake at 350 degF or 180 degree Celsius for 8-10 mins.




Serve hot!





Enjoy!


I am bringing this to Fiesta Friday #147,  & Saucy Saturdays#72. Angie's co-hosts this week are: Julianna @ Foodie On Board and Hilda @ Along The Grapevine.

Cooking made easy:


The peppers used for this dish are sweet Mini-peppers. You can choose other kind of peppers that are not too "hot" or "spicy".

I have altered this recipe at times and added a kick to it by adding finely chopped jalapeños to the cream cheese mixture.

You can also use other healthier options like quinoa salad for the stuffed peppers. The choice is yours.

Tip for healthier living:


I have made this recipe healthier by substituting low-fat cream cheese instead of the regular cream cheese. This is one example for how you can indulge in regular food/treats by altering it slightly to make it much healthier for you and your family.


Food for thought:



An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last. Winston Churchill


Please do share your thoughts. Your opinion matters!



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Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Raspberry Cheesecake for Beginners





My husband's birthday was in the recent past. His favorite cake is the Cheesecake! He absolutely loves cheesecake. So, I set about making a cheesecake for him. I have made "no-bake" cheesecake before and didn't quite like it. This time I wanted to make a cheesecake that is baked. At the recommendation of a close friend, I decided to follow a simple recipe from the wrapper of the Philadelphia cheese. The recipe was for a classic cheesecake. I modified it  and transformed it into a raspberry cheesecake.The cheesecake was very simple and easy to make and the result was delicious!!






My colleagues loved it, but it was my husband who raised the bar. My husband, who is a man of few words, announced that this cake was as good as what you get in the stores!! For me, there is no higher compliment!!





The only downside of this cake is that you cannot make it in a rush.The advantage is that you can make it ahead of time and therefore is perfect for gatherings like birthdays, thanksgiving & holidays! Happy Thanksgiving to all of you who celebrate it!!





Servings: makes one 10 inch cake ( 16-18 servings)

Prep time: 20minsCook time: 55 minsTotal time: 5 hours 45 mins (including refrigerating time)



Ingredients:


Cream cheese: 4 packages ( 8 oz/226 gms each) ( room temperature)
Sugar: 1 cup
Eggs: 4, large
Vanilla essence: 1 tsp

For the crust:
Graham cracker crumbs: 1 1/2 cups
Butter: 1/3 cup

For the topping:


Fresh raspberries: 1 cup
Pink fruit jelly: 1/4 cup( preferably something pink or red)


Method:


Preheat the oven to 325 deg F.

Mix the graham cracker crumbs with melted butter. You can use your hands or pulse it in a food processor.

Press it onto the bottom of a 10-inch springform pan. Keep aside.



In a bowl add the 4 packages of cream cheese, vanilla essence  & 1 cup sugar. Beat well using a hand blender. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each egg, on low until just blended.

Pour over the crust in the springform pan. 

Place in the middle rack of the oven and bake for 50-55 mins or until the center is set. Leave it in the oven with the oven turned off and the door open for another 30 mins.



Take it out of the oven and let it cool down completely on the countertop ( around 2 hours).

While the cake is cooling, prepare the topping.

Rinse, drain and keep the raspberries in a bowl.

Heat the jelly in a saucepan on the stovetop until melted. Turn off the flame. Pour the melted jelly on  the raspberries in the bowl.



Once the cake is cooled, release the edges of the cake from the pan gently using a spatula or a butter knife. Release the springform pan and keep the cake on a rack it serving plate/ cooling rack.


Arrange/pour the raspberries with the jelly on the Cheesecake.



Refrigerate the cheesecake for at least 4 hours or until serving.



Enjoy!!

I am bringing this to Fiesta Friday #147,  & Saucy Saturdays#72. Angie's co-hosts this week are: Julianna @ Foodie On Board and Hilda @ Along The Grapevine.

Cooking made easy:


To slice the cheesecake easily, use a knife that has been dipped in warm water. Keep a bowl of warm water handy and dip the knife in warm water before cutting each slice.


Tip for healthy living:


To enjoy this cake without packing the pounds, make the serving portions small by making thinner slices. You will still enjoy the dessert, but guilt-free!


Food for thought:



We do not remember days, we remember moments. Cesare Pavese




Please do share your thoughts. Your opinion matters!



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Monday, November 14, 2016

Mangalore Buns ; Meatless Monday



What exactly is Mangalore Buns?? Like the name suggests, it is Buns that is found in the small city in Southern India. So what is buns?? It is basically fried dough, the batter for which is made with banana and yogurt. It is absolutely delicious! It can be served hot or even after it has cooled down. It is not oily while eating and does not loose it's taste upon getting cold. It is soft and fluffy on the inside.  It is ubiquitous in all the small restaurants and tea stalls in that region. It is usually served for breakfast and for evening tea, accompanying either tea or coffee.




 It is quite easy to make.It can be made sweet or savory.  In the hotels it is served with coconut ginger chutney or sometimes sambar too.  My mother likes to add black pepper powder in the batter so that it can be eaten as is. Some add cumin seeds or a pinch of cumin powder hot flavor. I like it plain without anything in the batter or accompanying it. I modified it for my little ones by sprinkling powdered sugar on top and calling it a giant munchkin. They relished it and wanted me to make more. It is a great way to use over-ripe mushy bananas! Do give it a try. Here is the easy recipe:



Servings: 8-10


Prep time: 4-5 hours ( which includes the fermentation time)
Cook time: 20-30mins ( to roll and fry the entire batch)Total time: 4.5- 5.5 hours


Ingredients:


Overripe bananas: 2 medium sized ( 4, if small), peeled and mashed.
Yogurt ( curd): 1 cup
Sugar: 1 tbsp
Salt: 1/4 tsp
Baking soda: 1/4 tsp
All purpose flour/ maida: 2 cups
Besan ( chick pea flour): 1/4 cup
Oil for frying.

Method:


In a bowl , add the mashed bananas, yogurt, salt, sugar & baking soda and mix well. To this add the besan ( chick pea flour) and the maida ( all purpose flour) slowly and make a dough. The dough will be slightly shaggy. If you need, you can add slightly more maida and knead. There is no need to knead too much. Cover the dough with a damp cloth and keep aside for 3-4 hours. I like to make my dough at night and use it next morning for breakfast.




Pinch lemon-sized dough and make a ball. Dip it in maida and roll it into a thick poori. You can use a rolling pin or use your hands to shape the poori. Repeat this with all available dough.




Heat cooking oil in a kadai/ wok on medium flame. Once the oil is adequately hot, drop the rolled bun into the oil. Cook it on one side for 2-3 mins on low flame. Gently tap on it until it puffs up.  Flip it and cook the other side for 2 mins. It should turn a nice reddish brown.





 If you rush or fry on high flame, the out side will burn and the inside will remain uncooked. Therefore it is essential to make sure that the oil is hot but frying is done on medium-low flame.




Serve hot as is or with chutney/ sambar.

Enjoy!

Cooking made easy:


I find it easier to flatten and roll the dough in maida and then shape it using my hands. You want to ensure that the poori is thick and evenly flattened.

Tip for healthy living:


All fried food must be eaten in moderation. Try to pair it with something healthy so that the meal is balance and  complete and also there is no overindulgence.

Food for thought:


No one wants advice-only corroboration. John Steinbeck


Friday, November 11, 2016

Paneer Jalfrezi


My husband and I both love paneer. My husband more than me ! The other evening, I had this sudden urge to eat paneer jalfrezi. This is a very simple and delicious dish that has bell peppers, onions, tomatoes, spices and of course paneer! It is usually a dry dish with very little sauce, but there do exist versions with sauce. To me, Jalfrezi  is dry & flavorful.



Will you believe me if I tell you that I made this dish in under 15-20 minutes?? Yes, I did. When I tell someone that I did something in such a short time, people find it hard to believe!! But it is possible!!  The reason I can make a dish this quick is because I prep as I cook. While I pan fried the paneer, I got the vegetables I required out of the refrigerator. I chopped the onions and kept ready. While the pan was getting hot, I chopped my tomatoes. When I sautéed the onions, I chopped the bell peppers & the paneer and kept ready. When everything was in the pan and coming together, I even cleaned the kitchen! I  made this dish and had dinner as I was doing my laundry.Of course, you cannot do it for all dishes and definitely this method may not work for everyone, but it works for me!! I made this dish and had dinner as I was doing my laundry.




Here is how to make this super simple dish!!


Prep time: 15 mins ( for those who prep)Cook time: 10minsTotal time: 25 mins


Ingredients:


Paneer ( Indian cottage cheese): 250 gms
Cooking oil: 1 tbsp + 1 tbsp
Cumin seeds: 1 tsp
Dried red chillies: 3-4, broken into pieces.
Onion: 1 medium sized, diced large.
Ginger: 1 inch piece, sliced julienne
Tomato: 1 medium sized
Green bell pepper: 1
Red bell pepper: 1
Orange bell pepper: 1
Turmeric powder: 1 tsp
Garam masala powder: 1/4 tsp
Kasoori methi( dried fenugreek leaves): 1/2 tsp.
Vinegar: 1 tsp
Salt: to taste
Coriander leaves/cilantro: 1 tbsp, chopped for garnish.

Method:


Slice the paneer into bite-sized pieces. Sprinkle a little bit of salt and keep aside.

Wash, deseed and slice the bell peppers and tomato into 1 cm thick slices.

Heat 1 tbsp oil in a skillet/ frying pan. 

Place the paneer pieces in a single layer. Fry it for 2-3 minutes on each side or until lightly golden.

Remove from the pan and keep aside.

To the same pan add the other 1 tbsp oil. Heat on medium heat. 

Add cumin seeds. Once they splutter, add the turmeric powder,  red chillies, diced onion and ginger. 

Sauté for 2 mins. Now add the bell peppers, sauté for a minute. 

 Add the sliced tomato and sauté for a minute or two.

 Add garam masala, salt, kasoori methi & vinegar. Mix well. Saute for a couple of minutes until it all comes together.

Turn off the flame. Garnish with finely chopped cilantro.



Serve hot with rice/ roti( flatbread)/ poori ( fried flatbread) or just regular bread.



Enjoy!!

Cooking made easy:


Whenever you bring a block of paneer, cut it into bite-size pieces, soak it for 10 mins in warm water that has a pinch of turmeric and a little salt . Then pan fry it until golden brown. You can store it in the freezer for future use.

Tip for healthy living:

Paneer is a great source of calcium for vegetarians.

Food for thought:


One cannot and must not try to erase the past merely because it does not fit the present. Golda Meir

Monday, November 7, 2016

Curried Squash Lentil Barley Soup; Meatless Monday



The falling temperatures and the shorter days, not to mention the on & off cold and cough that accompanies the fluctuating weather, drive us towards food that is warm and comforting. In Fall, soups seem very attractive when compared to salads or anything else for that matter. Soups soothe the throat and rejuvenate the body. The Fall bounty of a myriad variety of squashes , gourds and pumpkin makes soups colorful and desirable. I love all vegetables with their festive colors.  In this soup, I have used butternut squash and pumpkin. I have added orange lentils for their protein and fiber and some barley to make it wholesome, balanced and a complete meal! I have to admit that the lentils took away the attractive appearance of the soup but the taste was delicious and filling!  Usually after drinking a soup, I feel hunger pangs in no time! This time however,  I wasn't hungry ! I also added ginger and a little curry spice for it's anti-inflammatory properties!
It is super-easy to make & freezes well. You can also use your slow cooker to make it. You can make a batch for the whole week! I took some to work and everyone loved it!






Servings: 8-10


Prep time: 30 mins + 30 mins for soaking barley.Cook time: 30 minsTotal time: 1 hour.


Ingredients:


Barley: 1/2 cup, soaked in 4 cups water for atleast 30 mins.
Orange lentils: 1/2 cup
Butternut squash cubes: 4 cups
Pumpkin cubes: 2 cups
Turnip cubes: 1 cup
Water: 2 liters
Ginger: 1 inch piece
Cumin powder: 1 tsp
Coriander powder: 1 tsp
Red chilli powder: 1/4 tsp
Black pepper: 1/4 tsp, freshly ground.
Turmeric powder: 1/4 tsp
Bay leaf: 1
Garam masala powder: 1/8 tsp ( optional).
Coconut oil: 1 tsp
Salt: to taste
Jaggery: 1/2 tsp ( brown sugar/ sugar can be used instead).


Method:


Cook barley in 4 cups of water until tender, around 20 mins. When the barley is cooking, prep the remaining ingredients.

Boil 2 liters of water in a pot. 


To this add the washed lentils, ginger and cook for 15 mins. Remove the scum that accumulates on the surface. 

Now add the  cooked barley, squashes, turnips, bay leaf, turmeric, cumin and coriander powder, black pepper, jaggery and salt. Cook until tender, around 30 mins. 

Add more water if you find the soup thick.

Heat 1 tsp coconut oil on medium heat. Add the curry powder and red chilli powder. Turn off the stove. Add this to the pot.




Serve hot ! Enjoy with some crusty bread if you wish! I had it as is!






Cooking made easy:


Any kind of lentil and any kind of squashes/gourds can be used in this soup. You can totally skip the use of garam masala powder. If you do that, just add the red chilli powder with the cumin & coriander powders.
You can use as less chilli powder as you wish!


Tip for healthy living:


As evident in this post and several other posts, it is totally possible to enjoy a hearty meal without any meat  in it. It is not essential that one has meat in all their meals! Meatless Mondays is a great initiative in this direction.

Food for thought:


Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success. Henry Ford

Monday, October 31, 2016

Sabudana Wada ( Fritters made from Tapioca pearls).



Sabudana ( tapioca pearls) is one of the most commonly consumed item during fasting. Sabudana is basically tapioca pearls. Sabudana can be used to make kheer ( pudding), khichidi , thalipeeth ( pancakes), idlis and wadas. For all these items, Sabudananeeds to be soaked in water for 3-4 hours first and is then used. Dry Sabudana pearls are hard and therefore inedible. Soaking it in water makes it soft , tender and edible. Today, I am sharing with you the recipe for Sabudana wadas that is super-easy, quick and delicious.





Servings: makes around 6-8 wadas

Prep time: 3 hours ( includes soaking time)

Cook time: 10 mins 

Total time: 3 hours & 10 mins


Ingredients:


Sabudana: 1/2 cup
Potato: 1 medium sized
Green chillies: 2-3, finely chopped
Cumin powder: 1/4 tsp
Coriander leaves: 1 tbsp, finely chopped
Crushed peanut halves: 2 tbsp ( optional)
Salt/rock salt/ sendha namak: 1/8 tsp
Sugar: 1/2 tsp
Oil for frying or greasing the appe pan.
Water: for soaking Sabudana and boiling potato.

Method:


Soak Sabudana for 3-4 hours with just enough water to cover it.





Boil whole potato with skin, in water, until tender enough to mash, around 10-15 mins.

When the potato has cooled, remove from water, peel, dice and mash it coarsely without adding any water.


To this add chopped green chillies, cumin powder, salt, sugar, soaked and drained Sabudana, coriander leaves, crushed peanuts and mix well to make a dough.





Pinch lemon sized portion of dough and shape it into a ball. Gently pat it down to shape it into a patty. 


Do this with all available dough and keep aside.

You can fry it using the deep-fried method or the using the appe pan ( healthier version). If using the appe pan, don't flatten the ball too much.

For deep-fried version:

Heat oil on medium heat in a small wok/ frying pan. 


Once the oil is hot enough, add the prepared patties into the oil.

 Do not drop more than 2-4 at a time as it will overcrowd the pan. If overcrowded, it will not fry well.




Fry for 2-3 mins on one side or until golden brown. 

Flip and fry for 2-3 mins on the other side. Drain onto paper towels.

Serve hot with a chutney of your choice.

Appe pan method: ( healthier version)

Heat the appe pan on medium heat. 


Grease the appe pan thoroughly. 

Place the prepared balls of dough into the indentations in the pan. 

Cook for 3-4 minutes on each side or until cooked thoroughly.

Serve hot with a chutney of your choice.






Enjoy.

Cooking made easy:


How do you know if your oil is hot enough??
If you drop a little drop of batter into the oil, it should come up and float on top of the oil. This means the oil is at the right temperature.
If the batter sinks, the oil is not hot enough.
If the oil is smoking, then the oil is too hot and most likely will burn the food.

Tip for healthy living:


Any given day, cooking something in the appe pan is healthier than deep-frying as the appe pan uses less oil and therefore the calorie content of the food item is less.

Food for thought:


True friendship is like sound health; the value of it is seldom known until it is lost. Charles Caleb Colton