Monthly Archives: December 2012

Farewell 2012!

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Its not been an easy year for me on various accounts. The pain of shifting to our new house was accompanied by total dissatisfaction with the way the house was handed over to us. The builder put us under tremendous financial pressure from which we are yet to recover.

But looking back now, my blessings outweigh the problems. I am now blessed with great neighbors and an open space which our family enjoys.

Its a different matter that there is only 2 swings for 900 families (at least they gave that!) and there is no community hall. So classes are held in a small place meant for laundromat. (For the dance class, the teacher and the students take turns to do the steps. They can’t do it together cause there is no space at all!)

What else to expect when you get a tiny 8 X 12 feet space for conducting classes for 900 families!

And the less we talk about the yoga classes and residents’ meetings, the better! The meeting is held in the lawn, with residents doing jigs and clapping dances to avoid mosquito bites.

But at least, we got our apartment. There are so many families who are waiting eagerly for their dream houses to be handed over!

With the year crowded with a lot of negative feelings (for me, at least – hubby dear is warm and positive, as always!), I wanted to bid this year good bye by counting my blessings. By looking at the brighter side of things. By thanking  everyone and everything that makes our stay in this planet worthwhile.

By expressing my gratitude.

owl cupcakes

  •  I am thankful for my family for being there for me, always. My family has been with me through every patch of my life – guiding me if I am lost, scolding me if I am wrong, assuring me if I am not confident and loving me irrespective of everything. I cannot express my gratitude in words to you! My older brother flew in to Chennai on the day my son was born. He left for Bangalore the same evening, and came back a day later, per the original plan!
  • I am thankful for my in-laws- for teaching me that family is not always about blood. I am grateful for having wonderful parents-in-law, great sisters-in-law & co-sister and a cool brother-in-law. None of them are plotting/ planning/scheming villain types the TV serials make out in-laws to be!

Russian Rose Bread

  • I am grateful for the world of internet, the wonderful world of blogging and the thrill of being able to be part of it. Blogging has helped me in more ways than one. I have developed a taste for photography, though its associated with food and kids at this stage. I am grateful for being a part of the Blogging Marathon group, my blogging would have stopped long back if not for your support, guys!

Pancakes

  • Right from my bachelor days to this moment, I have been blessed with great neighbors. It is a true blessing to be  able to get along well with the faces you see everyday. I miss Mittu and having my cousin nearby, but then you just have to go wherever life takes you!

Gingerbread Men

  • I am grateful for our new house. Its taught us a lot of lessons – not to go just for brand name, don’t judge the package from outside and most importantly, to read the finer print in an agreement and understand the implications. Despite the disappointments, I am glad that the society and the open space there makes the place great to live. 

Coffee (flavored) Cake

  • I am grateful for being married to a guy who is cool and level headed. I am just the opposite. I get tensed, angry, worried, anxious and guilty easily. Its hubby’s thankless job to bring me back to sense whenever I start off on something or the other.

Food Props

  • I am grateful for a whole lot of other things too, but the biggest blessings are time and health. I am grateful for each and every moment, day, week and year I get to spend here in this world. I am thankful a ‘healthy’ 2012.

Hope 2013 brings in a lot of happiness and satisfaction to everyone!

Happy New Year :-)

I am sending this post to Valli’s ‘Best of the Year 2012′ event.

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Yeasted Banana Bread

Yeasted Banana Bread

Time moves too fast and my son would turn six tomorrow. He has grown too fast from a baby to a toddler to a preschooler to a kid. He is almost a big boy now!

These years of growing up have been full of fun. But now he is too big for a lot of things we used to do earlier. What I miss most is being able to pick him up, cuddle him and him sitting in my lap!

Friends, Angry Birds and Ben 10 are influencing him now more than ol’ mom and dad.

Ten days back kiddo came home crying, with his fingers hurt. It took me a while to console him and after applying the medicine, I started asking him how he got hurt.

‘I wanted to show everyone how strong I was.’ Came the reply.

‘So what did you do?’ I asked.

‘I lifted the metal cover over the drains to show my strength.’

‘And…?’

‘And I was not able to! It fell down and my fingers got caught in between…’ Followed by more howling and crying and hysterics.

I don’t know what I should look forward to in 2013, but whatever the year brings – I know that is going to be interesting too!

Yeasted Banana Bread

Recipe Source:  Versatile Vegetarian Kitchen

Makes : 2 loaves

Ingredients:

  • All purpose flour           :       3 – 3.5 cups
  • Warm water                     :       1/4 cup
  • Active dry Yeast            :       2 1/4 tsp
  • Oil                                        :       3 tbsp
  • Mashed Banana             :       from 2 big bananas
  • Brown Sugar                   :      1/3 cup
  • Salt                                     :       3/4 tsp
  • Raisins                              :        1/2 cup (optional)

Method:

  1.  Sprinkle yeast in warm water, add a teaspoon of sugar. Mix and keep aside. I do this step in MW. I start off with microwaving water in a glass bowl for 5 -10 sec and after checking the temperature, I add sugar and yeast to it. Then I leave it in the MW itself for another 10 – 15 minutes until its foamed up. 
  2. In a big mixing bowl, add the flour, sugar, salt and mix with a whisk. Add the yeast mix, oil, banana puree to it and bring it all together into a dough. Knead for about 10 minutes in a lightly floured surface till you get a smooth dough. Knead in the raisins or any other dry fruits/nuts, if you are using.
  3. You might have to add a bit of water if the dough is dry and a bit of flour if it is too sticky.
  4. Pour a tablespoon of oil in the bowl, place the dough in it and coat it with the oil. Leave covered in a warm area for about 1 hour or until it doubles in size.
  5. When the dough has doubled in size, punch it down and shape the dough. Place it in a bread pan. Cover with a damp tea towel and leave till the dough reaches the brim of the loaf pan, about 45 minutes.
  6. Preheat the oven to 190 C. Bake the loaf for 15 minutes at this temperature and reduce to 170C and bake for another 20-25 minutes till the bread sounds hollow when tapped at the bottom. Brush the top with melted butter when you take it out of the oven.

Yeasted Banana Bread

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Gingerbread Cookies

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When people come home from abroad, they bring champagne bottles. My man came home with a soy sauce bottle – a low sodium one too, let me add.

Hubby was in Hong Kong this month. So this month’s grocery shopping was done in Hong Kong (after a lot of bugging and begging). The man returned home with different kinds of noodles, sugars, sauces and syrups.

So for once, I was not making substitutions in a recipe. I had soft brown sugar and golden syrup, both of which were needed for this recipe.

Gingerbread Cookies

My attempt with cut out cookies have been horrible failures till date. I finally end up flattening them between my hands or with a greased glass bottom. So I didn’t have much hope when I started making these cookies, but I was lucky this time!

My mess up was the icing. Instead of adding the liquids drop by drop, I added everything in the beginning and ended up with a runny icing. But then, I don’t think I would have been comfortable if everything turned out perfect! There has to be a mess up somewhere, that’s my signature mark, right :)

Gingerbread Men

These cookies had a great soft crumbly texture. I would have preferred it to be a bit more sweet, but everyone else liked  it the way it was.

These make great gifts. Kids love the shapes and decorations. I know there is a lot of room for improvement in the decoration department :), I am planning to try a hand at these again sometime soon.

For the last week of Blogging Marathon 23, this is my entry under Christmas Specials. Check out the Blogging Marathon  page for more themes and for recipes from other participants.

Gingerbread Men

Recipe Source: The Essential Baking Book

Makes : 16-20 cookies

Ingredients:

  • All purpose flour  :     2 1/4 cups
  • Butter                        :     125 gm, at room temperature
  • SoftBrown Sugar  :     1/3 cup
  • Golden Syrup         :      1/4 cup
  • Baking powder       :      1/2 tsp
  • Baking Soda            :      1 tsp
  • Egg                              :      1
  • Ground Ginger       :      1 tsp
  • Raisins                       :      1 tbsp (for eyes and nose)

Icing:

  • Icing sugar, sifted : 1/2 cup
  • Lemon juice             : from half a lemon
  • Milk/Water              : 1-2 tsp ( or as required)

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Line two baking trays with parchment paper. 
  2. Beat the butter, sugar and golden syrup together. Add the egg and beat again till its incorporated.
  3. In a big mixing bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder and ground ginger. Add this to the butter mix, and bring everything together with lightly floured hands.
  4. In a well floured surface, knead the dough for a minute or two till its smooth. Roll this dough in a chopping board, between two parchment papers, to 1/4″ thick. The chopping board makes it easy to carry and store the dough in fridge without the dough folding over. Refrigerate the dough for 20 minutes till its firm. Cut the raisins into very small pieces for eyes and nose. You can also do this with the icing, if you prefer.
  5. Take the dough from the fridge and cut with cookie cutters to get the desired shape. Re-roll the remaining dough and cut out shapes again.
  6. For gingerbread men, you can use the raisin pieces for eyes and nose. Bake in two batches (or more) for 10 minutes, until lightly browned.
  7. Cool completely and decorate with icing.
  8. Sift the icing sugar. You will have to add the liquids in teaspoonfuls to get the correct consistency. It should not be runny, but a smooth thick paste. Spoon this into a zip lock cover. Tie the end of the zip lock cover to get a cone shape and cut a small hole for the icing to come out.
  9. Do not make the cutting until the biscuits are ready for decoration or they will dry out.

Note: Mine turned out to be runny, since I didnt pay attention while adding the liquid :D. I will be careful next time!

Gingerbread Men

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Chocolate Cranberry Bread

Cranberry Chocolate Bread

December is a birthday studded month for our family. My son, my husband and my mother will all turn an year older in the last week of the year. So taking into account all the treats that we are going to indulge on, I thought I will keep my Christmas bakes light. I choose sweet yeasted breads with that in my mind.

This chocolate and cranberry sprinkled bread satisfies that sweet teeth, yet it is on the lighter side. This makes a good gift to anyone, especially those who are watching their weight. I wish my bread was as beautiful as Champa’s (look at the height of her bread!), but may be I will get it right the next time. For I am sure, I will be baking this bread again :)

For the last week of Blogging Marathon 23, this is my entry under Christmas Specials. Check out the Blogging Marathon  page for more themes and for recipes from other participants.

Cranberry Chocolate Bread

Recipe Source : Versatile Vegetarian Kitchen

Makes 2 loaves

Ingredients:

  • All purpose flour           :     3 1/2 cups
  • Warm water                     :    1 1/4 cups
  • Active Dry Yeast           :    2 1/2 tsp
  • Sugar                                   :    1/3 cup
  • Cocoa Powder                 :    1/3 cup
  • Salt                                       :    1 tsp
  • Oil                                         :    3 tbsp
  • Egg                                       :     1
  • Cherries/Cranberries  :     1/2 cup
  • Chocolate chips             :      1/2 cup

Method:

  1. Mix yeast and a teaspoon of sugar in warm water until it dissolves. Leave aside for 10 minutes or until it foams up. If the yeast doesnt foam, discard it and start again with a fresh batch.
  2. In a big bowl, whisk the flour, rest of the sugar, cocoa powder and salt. Once everything is mixed, make a well in centre and add the oil, beaten egg and the frothy yeast. Make a dough and kneed in a clean floured surface for about 8 -10 minutes until its smooth and elastic. You might have to add a bit more flour if the dough is too sticky.
  3. Once the dough is smooth, add the cranberries and chocolate chips and knead again until everything is incorporated into the dough. Place this in a well-oiled bowl, cover and leave to rise until it is double in size.
  4. Once the dough has risen, punch it back and knead for a minute or two. With your hands, shape the dough into a rectangular shape. The width should be same as the loaf pan’s length.
  5. Roll the dough into a tight log, place in the loaf pan and cover loosely with a damp kitchen towel or aluminium foil. Let the dough rise upto the rim of the loaf pan, around an hour or so.
  6. Preheat the oven to 190C for 10 minutes and bake the bread for 20 minutes. Lower the temperature to 170C and bake for another 10 – 15 minutes. Remove from the pan and tap the bottom of the loaf, it should sound hollow.
  7. I brushed butter on top of the bread as soon as I took it out of the oven. Cool the bread slightly. Slice and serve warm.

Cranberry Chocolate Bread

I am sending this recipe to:

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Brinjal Dates Pachadi

brinjal dates pachadi

I am deeply attached to my microwave. Without it, my cooking will come to a halt.

In the mornings while the pressure cooker is under pressure to cook the rice and dal, the microwave will hum a tune and go on cooking the vegetables for the side dish.

One great thing about microwave is that you can skip the oil completely when cooking, if you want to. How else can we turn a dish, which needs the brinjal to be deep-fried into a zero oil recipe? So this is the first week’s last recipe for Blogging Marathon 23, under zero oil recipes.

Check out the other participants here in Blogging Marathon page for more recipes and themes.

Recipe Source: Friend’s Mother

Serves: 2

Ingredients:

  • Brinjal                          :          250 gm
  • Dates                            :          5-8, chopped finely
  • Onion                           :          1 small, chopped finely
  • Tomato                        :          1 small
  • Coconut milk              :          1/2 cup
  • Tamarind extract       :          1 – 2 tsp
  • Green Chilies              :          5-6
  • Salt

Method:

  1. Cut the brinjal into cubes, microwave for 4-5 minutes or until cooked completely.
  2. In a big bowl, add the brinjal and the chopped onions, tomatoes and dates. Add the coconut milk,  tamarind extract and salt.
  3. Mash with a ladle or crush everything together with your hands. Add the chilies and mix thoroughly.
  4. This dish has a bit of everything – sweetness from dates and coconut milk, spice from chilies, tangy taste from tamarind. You can adjust the ingredients to your taste. Serve with rice as a side dish.

brinjal dates pachadi

 

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Oats Banana Sheera

I am yet to recover from my bout of laziness, so cooking is minimal at home. Hubby dear is away for a week, so bread and noodles is featuring prominently at the dining table. Breakfast is nutella sandwich and with a cup of tea, you feel like a king. Add this low fat sheera and its a feast!

Starting BM 23 on a sweet note, under zero oil recipes. This is not a low calorie food, as you still have sugar in it. Check out the other participants here in the Blogging Marathon page.

Recipe Source: Tarla Dalal

Serves : 2

Ingredients:

  • Oats                                 :           1/2 cup
  • Dates                               :           a hanful, about 5-6
  • Sugar                               :           1/4 cup
  • Milk                                 :           1/2 cup
  • Banana                            :           1 small
  • Nuts for garnishing

Method:

  1. Peel and mash the bananas and keep aside. Chop the dates into small pieces.
  2. Roast oats in a kadai for 3-4 minutes until the raw smell goes away. Add milk, dates, sugar and 1/4 cup water.
  3. Cook, stirring continuously, till the sugar melts and dates soften. Add the mashed bananas at the end, stir once and take off the heat.
  4. Garnish with nuts and serve hot/cold.
  5. If you want to add ghee, then roast the oats in the ghee.

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Eggless Gingerbread Cookies and Chocolate Sable Cookies – DB Nov ’12

 

November 2012 Daring baker challenge was hosted by Peta of Peta Eats . Holiday season is the time for sharing and Peta shared a dozen cookies, some classics and some of her own, from all over the world with us.

Check out the challenge recipe here at The Daring Kitchen.

And here I am, posting the recipe four days late. I made the Gingerbread cookies, Double Chocolate Sables  and Pinwheel Cookies on 27th. But I couldn’t post them on time.

I baked these cookies along with a friend as a gift for a birthday party. It all came out really nice. The pin wheel cookies are from the book ‘The Essential Baking Cookbook’

 

The gingerbread cookie dough turned out to be a bit tricky and I was not able to cut it into any shape. I think I rolled the dough too thin. Anyway, I didn’t waste much time worrying about the shape, I made small balls out of the dough and flattened them with the bottom of a glass. My son wanted to add a design and he came up with the lines with the fork.

They tasted good, so I am happy :)

Eggless Gingerbread Cookies

Recipe Source: Art of Dessert

Ingredients:

  • Flour                                    :  2 1/2 cups
  • Ground Cinnamon            :  2 tsp (you can a tsp add more if you like)
  • Ground Ginger                   :  2 tbsp
  • Baking soda                        :  3/4 tsp
  • Butter                                   :  1/2 cup ( I used 100 gms)
  • Sugar                                   :    3/4 cup
  • Milk                                     :    1/4 cup
  • Honey                                  :   4 tbsp.

Method:

  1. Add the butter, milk, sugar and honey in a pan. Heat this in low heat till the butter is melted completely and the sugar is dissolved. Keep aside and let it cool down.
  2. Sift the dry ingredients (Flour, cinnamon, ground ginger, baking soda). Add it to the melted butter mix. Mix until combined. If the dough is very wet and sticky, add a bit more of flour, but not too much.
  3. Flatten the dough a bit between two sheets of parchment paper. Transfer to a baking tray and refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight.
  4. The dough might get sticky at room temp., so take it out in batches from the fridge.
  5. When ready to make cookies, preheat the oven to 200 C/400F. Roll the dough between two parchment papers until its 1/4″ thick. Cut out shapes (or just make round shapes like I did and crisscross with a fork.
  6. Transfer to a baking tray, leaving a little space between the cookies so that they don’t fuse together while baking.
  7. Bake for 10 minutes or until golden.

The double chocolate sable cookies were really nice. They tasted better the next day than right out of the oven. I skipped the egg yolk in the recipe and added about two tablespoon of milk to moisten the dough. So crispy, so crunchy and so yummy – I will be making these again :)

Double Chocolate Sable Cookies

Recipe Source: Food Network

Ingredients:

  • Bittersweet chocolate       :   3 ounces (about 90gms), frozen for 10 minutes
  • Flour                                    :   1 1/4 cups
  • Cocoa powder                    :   1/3 cup
  • Baking soda                        :   1/4 tsp
  • Salt                                       :   1/4 tsp
  • Butter (unsalted)              :  11 tbsp. (about 150 gm), softened
  • Sugar                                   :  1 cup
  • Egg yolk (large)                 :  1

Method:

  1. Grate the chocolate and keep aside. In a big bowl, mix the dry ingredients(flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt).
  2. Using a hand mixer, beat the butter and sugar until just combined. Add the yolk, beat again. Add the flour mix to the butter mix and beat until just combined. Don’t over mix.
  3. Fold the  grated chocolate to this with a spatula and bring the dough together with your hands. Again don’t overwork the dough.
  4. Divide the dough into two. Lay the dough in a parchment paper and shape it into a log. You can roll the paper around the log and refrigerate for at least one hour. Repeat for the other piece of dough. The dough can be frozen at this stage for about 2 weeks.
  5. If you keep the dough logs in an empty towel roll, it will maintain its shape, else it might flatten a bit on the base. I use a long round cookie box or a tall stainless steel vessel for keeping the log, instead of a towel roll.
  6. When you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 F/180 C. Line 2 baking trays with parchment paper.
  7. Slice the chilled logs into 1/2″ thick cookies. Place them in the baking trays leaving about an inch between the cookies. Chill them again in the fridge for 15 – 20 minutes.
  8. Bake them for about 12 – 15 minutes, until set on the outside. Take out and let them cool in the pan for 5 minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack.

I have made this refrigerator mocha-cocoa spiral cookies many times. This time we rolled them from the wrong side and the dough log was too thick by mistake. We got bigger cookies and lesser numbers. But then, who is complaining? They tasted absolutely great!

I always end up with some burnt cookies in the first batch. That is because  I am not sure about the time or will be busy getting the next batch ready that I will forget about the batch in the oven. This time too, the tradition was upheld, but thankfully the numbers were minimal :D

I will update the recipes here later. This is the click of the gift hamper.

Check out some of the cookie recipes in this space :

Thanks Peta for a fun challenge :) I loved baking these cookies. I am planning to try some of the other recipes later!

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