December 30, 2011

Eggless Vanilla Butter Cookies with Tutti frutti & Chocochip

Thought would end 2011 - a marvellous year for my blog & me - on a sweet note with this creamy buttery and sinfully rich Eggless Vanilla Butter Cookies. This is sure to a be a crowd-pleaser as well as a hit with kids too.. I baked it for Christmas but as I had already scheduled ChocoChip Kulfi for that day, thought would do this today - although a day late for the breathtaking 14 day Blogging Marathon. I divided 2/3 of the dough and added Tutti Frutti and added Chocochips to the remaining dough.Wishing all my readers a very happy New year and a super successful 2012 ! 



And In case you have missed the previous posts of this week's of Blogging Marathon under "Mixed Themes", here's a quick recap :
Day 1 - How to make Croutons at home 
Day 2 - Mullu Murukku | Deep fried rice flour snack
Day 3 - ChocoChip Kulfi for Christmas 

Day 4 - Low Fat Pav Bhaji
Day 5 - Peas Tikkis | Matar ki Tikki
Day 6 - Moroccan Spiced Chickpea-Squash Soup
This post is also to celebrate a landmark of 100000 hits for my blog - Thank you dear viewers, your support is very encouraging ! And to celebrate both these occasions, what better than with a super delightful Cookies that me and my little angel put together.Yes,while I rolled out the dough, she was more than willing to cut out cute little hearts and stars from her cookie cutter (I never thought I would use them) ! And as I send a batch of this to my Sis-in-law's family @ Madras (ok, Chennai), I feel nice to spread this happiness amongst family and hopefully S's nephews will also like them ! This is a simple recipe and I kind of toned down the butter and used some olive oil instead. Do make them and enjoy these baked goodies with a cup of evening tea. Along with Blogging Marathon (under Holiday Baking theme), this also goes to : Valli's Snack Mela, Radhika’s Baked Goodies,Sangee’s BakeFest,event by VardhiniValli’s Snacks MelaOnly Cookies and Cakes by Pari, Sinful Delights hosted at Zesty Palette,Sweet Baked at Krithis and DennysCooking Concepts Holiday BakingJulie's Christmas DelicacyVeena’s Kids Delight - Colourful PaletteKhushi's Bake With Your Heart & also Suma’s Cookies event 
Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM#11
Prep time : 20 mins. Standby time : 60 mins. Bake time : 12 - 15 mins. Makes : 20-25 medium sized cookies


Ingredients:

  • Maida /APF - 1 cup
  • Sugar Powder - 1/2 cup
  • Butter - 1/3 cup (I substituted 1/2 pf the 1/3 butter with 4 TBSP of Olive oil)
  • Chocochip - a handful
  • Tutti fruiti - 1/4 cup (substitute with candied fruit or candied peel too)
  • Vanilla Essence - 1/4 tsp (adjust to taste)
  • Salt - a pinch
  • Warm Milk - 1/4 cup

Method:
1) Cream butter and sugar well. Add the olive oil to the butter cream at this stage and mix well.
2) Sieve Maida and salt twice and add this maida mix 2 TBSP at a time into the sugar-butter mix and slowly sprinkle milk and mix all the dough into a soft dough. Divide the dough into 3 parts now. Combine 2 parts, add tutti fruiti and mix well again. Add Chocochips to the third remaining part and mix lightly. Roll both the parts into separate thick logs & refrigerate them for 45 mins- 60 mins before baking wrapped in separate cling wraps. 
3) After 45 - 60 mins, unwrap from cling wrap and roll into flat rounds (using ziplock covers) and cut them into exciting shapes using a cookie cutter. If you wish, you may also not roll out and cut out the logs into thick slices and bake them. But if you want to involve your kids, dont let go of this opportunity to let them discover using cookie cutter. My little angel enjoyed the experience a lot :-) 
4) Meanwhile pre heat oven to 160 C for 7- 8 mins. Line the baking tray with foil and spray cooking oil on it. Place the cookies and bake for 12-14 mins. Mine were done by 13 mins. They are soft when taken out. Place them on a wire rack for 10 mins and pack them immediately after cooled into air tight tins , and watch the soft buttery cookies disappear before you can say, "Ummmm" :-)

December 28, 2011

Moroccan Spiced Chickpea-Squash Soup

Paired with Swetha of Tasty Curry Leaf for Blog Hop Wednesdays for this fortnight, I was deluged in a huge spread of Soups and Salads at her blog, and finally I chose the Moroccan Spiced Chickpea-Spinach Soup, although I didnt add the spinach. This can be made as a thin soup or a thick broth. I made it a little thin, although the textures of chickpea and the butternut squash more than add to the thickness and volume. Do play around the ingredients as you wish for the garnish too. I simply added 1/2 a tsp of cream and topped it with homemade baked & herbed croutons for a very filling and light meal. The almond meal (about 2 tsp) also added to the nuttiness - a new texture that we liked a lot, and this soup was a total relief from all the rich foods & snacks consumed around Christmas. This goes off to Holiday Cooking under Blogging Marathon, Veena’s Kids Delight - Colourful Palette Radhika's Winter Carnival and also to Blog Hop Wednesdays. Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM#11 and blog hoppers here
Prep time : 20 mins. Cooking time : 10 mins. Serves : 2
Ingredients:
  • Chickpea (Kabuli Chana) - 1/2 cup - soaked and boiled.
  • Almond Meal - 2 tsp (See notes for details)
  • Butternut Squash - 1/4 cup
  • Salt - to taste
  • Olive Oil - 1 TBSP
  • Onions - finely minced - 1/4 cup
  • Garlic - 1 to 2 pods
  • Apricots - 1 or 2
  • Lemon juice - 1/2 TBSP
  • White pepper powder - 1/2 tsp
  • Cream - 1/2 tsp (for topping)
Notes for almond meal:
Soak almonds in warm water for 20 mins. Peel the skin off & wipe dry with soft kitchen towel. Air dry them for 10 mins, and pulse in a coffee grinder. You may make this is bulk and add them to soups or salads for a crunchy nutty taste
Method:
1) Blanch the squash in hot water for 8 minutes. Drain and grind it with 3/4 of the boiled chickpeas and half of the salt. Reserve.
2) Soak apricots in warm water for 2 mins. Mince finely and reserve.
3) In a soup pot, warm olive oil. Saute chopped onions and garlic. Now add the squash-chickpea puree, chopped apricots, remaining salt, a pinch of white pepper and bring to a simmer. 
4) Now lower the flame and add the almond meal (2 tsp) and turn off the stove.
5) Add the lemon juice and adjust salt and seasonings. Finish with cream, remaining chickpeas and serve immediately.
6) Serve warm with croutons or any homemade bread

December 27, 2011

Peas Tikkis | Matar ki Tikki

Street Food and me go together. Although my consumption has come down drastically after marriage, thanks to an over paranoid husband, I do indulge in street food delights - at home ! Which is very healthy, and pocket friendly. And come holidays or long vacations for kiddo, I usually go overboard in recreating that street magic right inside my own kitchen. And today's post - Peas Tikki or Matar ki Tikki - is something I have been longinggggg to make ! Somehow I usually end up making Beetroot Cutlet or Makai Tikki, but now being December, peas are available in abundance. And fresh peas works best for this recipe. I have already confessed my love for Peas in my post on Peas Pulav, so decided to make the most of this season through this yummy recipe. This goes well with homemade Green chutney and / or ketchup too ! And makes for an excellent appetiser at any party or a quick snack for kids too.

Sending this to: BM week 2 under "Colourful Palette for Kids" theme, My event HLI Peas, hosted by Veena,  Radhika's Winter Carnival , CWS Peas – event by Priya and also to Valli’s Snacks Mela along with Kid's Colourful Palette - hosted by Veena.  Check my fellow Marathoners here
Check other Chaats / Street food delights here 
Prep time : 20 mins
Cook time : 20 mins
Makes : 8 - 10 Tikkis

Ingredients:
  • Fresh Shelled Peas - 1 cup
  • Potato boiled - 1 
  • Onions - 1/2 minced fine
  • Ginger Garlic Paste - 1/2 TBSP
  • Garam Masala - 1 TBSP
  • Salt - to taste
  • Red Chilli powder - 1/2 tsp
  • White Pepper Powder - 1/2 tsp
  • Anaradana Powder - 1/2 tsp (dry pomogranate seeds - powdered)
  • Amchur / Dry mango powder - 1/2 tsp
  • Chaat Masala - 1/2 tsp
  • Kasuri Methi - 1 TBSP - crushed slightly
  • Green chillies - minced - 1/2 tsp
  • Coriander and mint leaves - a handful
  • Oil - to shallow fry
  • Topping: Roasted gram powder /Yellow fine cornmeal - 5 TBSP
Method:
1) Boil and slightly mash the green peas. Grate the boiled potato to the mashed peas. Add all the ingredients except the oil and topping and mix well. Make into equal portions and refrigerate for 1/2 an hour in a cling wrapped plate
2) Take one portion of the tikki, flatten it a bit and roll it in the topping mixture to cover all sides
3) In a fry pan, add 2 TBSP of oil and shallow fry for 6 - 8 mins (flipping at intervals) to ensure uniform browning and crispy texture on the outside
4) Repeat for all the peas-potato mixture. Drain on absorbent paper
5) Serve hot with Green chutney and/or Tomato Ketchup ! The holiday is made :-)


December 26, 2011

Low Fat Pav Bhaji

Yes, you read it right - Pav Bhaji can be low fat and low cal too. After the stupendously successful Pumpkin-Chocochip Bread, I was more confident of experimenting with Pumpkin Puree in more of my dishes, especially those which required volume (like Cakes / Pav Bhaji) all the while cutting down extra carbs through butter or even Potatoes. So, one evening on a whim, kiddo asked me to make Pav Bhaji, but I didnt want to load up a lot. So I offered to make it for a Sunday evening snack, and as it was her X mas holidays asked her to help me out as well. She surprisingly agreed (it was the Pav bhaji that worked magic - letting go of Chota Bheem and friends on Television never seemed easier ;-)) Now, since she is too young to chop veggies for the pav bhaji (which was majorly Pumpkin puree etc), I asked her for little things , like getting me the masala powders from the shelves within her reach. And imagine my surprise when the first masala packet she brought out was Pav Bhaji Masala, followed by Amchur & Red Chillipowder. I was touched that my little one was a cute chef in the making:-)  And as she doesn't like Potatoes in most forms (except may be fries), she helped me get some veggies like Carrots and Beans from the refrigerator. She also chose capsicum as she likes the crunch in the Pav Bhaji. So armed with all this, holiday cooking never looked better, and rather tasted better. The Pumpkin puree was a total hit, with even mom approving of the taste. It isnt sweet at all as one might be inclined to think. Rather the masalas we add cuts down the sweetness while the puree increases the volume but with no extra fat :-) Try this for a quick evening snack or even make it for school lunchbox. You surely have a winner there. Sending this to Week 2 BM # 11 under "Holiday Cooking" and also to Valli's Snacks Mela , Veena's kids delight and Radhika's Winter Mela. Its a wonderful party idea too, and you might want to increase the spice if serving to elder guests.
Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM#11


Prep time : 20 mins. 
Cooking time : 15 mins.
Serves : 3
Ingredients:
(A) Bhaji of the Pav Bhaji:

  • Pumpkin (Butternut Squash) - 2 cups peeled and cubed
  • Onions - 1 large minced
  • Oil - 2 TBSP
  • Ginger garlic paste - 1/2 tsp
  • Capsicum - 1/2 minced fine
  • Carrots - 1 small - grated
  • Fresh Peas - a handful
  • French Beans - a handful
  • Tomatoes - 2 large
  • Salt - to taste
  • Turmeric - 1/2 tsp
  • Garam Masala - 1/2 tsp
  • Dry Masala (each 1 tsp) - Pav Bhaji Masala, Red Chilly powder, Amchur
  • Butter - 1 TBSP
  • Coriander & lemon - for garnish



(B) To Serve : Pav or Dinner Rolls - storebought or baked at home - 6 nos


Method:
1) Peel the pumpkin and puree the cubes without water in a blender. Similarly blanch and puree the tomatoes separately. Strain and reserve
2) Chop onions and capsicum fine. Blanch peas in hot boiling water for 6 mins.
3) Grate carrots and chop french beans fine
4) In a large non-stick pan, heat oil. Add onions and half the capsicum. Saute well. Add the french beans, ginger garlic paste, salt and saute again till onions slightly brown. Now add the grated carrots and mix again.
5) Once the raw smell goes off, add the peas, pumpkin puree, tomato puree and all the dry masala powders, garam masala and mix well.
6) Cook covered for 10 mins.
7) Add 1 TBSP of butter and half the coriander leaves
8) Switch off stove and transfer to serving plate.
9) To serve, lightly grill the pav with butter / nutralite on a hot tava for 15 seconds.
10) Serve the hot Bhaji (vegetable gravy) with pav, lemon wedges and some chopped onions.

December 25, 2011

ChocoChip Kulfi for Christmas | Chocochip Indian popsicles - Christmas treat :-)

Chocolate, Xmas, holiday cheer - an explosive combination. Along with butter cookies, we made homemade Chocochip Kulfi. This was a last minute thought for dinner over with guests last evening and was a total sellout. As we had some kiddos coming over, I made these Kulfis in the gingerbread man cake moulds, and the kids loved it a lot. This was a welcome change from the cone shaped kulfis, and added another Kulfi to the menu card after Kesar Pista Malai Kulfi. Thanks dear husband for the wonderful suggestion, the silicon moulds worked like wonder on a wonderful Christmas eve party :-) Along with Blogging Marathon under Holiday Cooking, this goes to Veena’s Kids Delight - Colourful PaletteVardhini’s Sinful DelightsRadhika's Winter Carnival. Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM#11


This is a quick to make Kulfi although it requires to be frozen atleast overnight or 8-10 hours before an event. I made it at around 8am for an evening party. Do add some nuts for that extra crunch while you bite into this delightful frozen delight. Apologies for the low light in the snaps, I realised at the last moment that I was yet to snap them up before the kids had a dig at it :-) Do make this for kids' birthday party and am sure kids will lap it up!
Prep time : 40 mins. Freezing time : 8 - 10 hours. Makes : 7-8 kulfis (medium size)
Ingredients:

  • Full Cream Milk - 1 litre
  • Condensed Milk - 1/4 tin (adjust according to taste)
  • Choco Chips - 1/4 cup
  • Grated Chocolate shavings - 1/4 cup ( I used plain cooking chocolate)
  • Vanilla essence - 1/4 tsp
  • Chopped Nuts - a handful (opt.)

Method:
1) Boil milk on low flame till it reduces to less than half.
2) Take off the stove, and add the chocolate shavings and stir vigorously till it melts and turns silky
3) Put the milk-choco mixture back on simmer and add half the chocochips and the entire condensed milk. Stir well and reduce the mixture till it turns thickish. If not using full cream milk, add 2 tsp of cornflour slurry (cornflour mixed in 3 - 5 tsp of water) and mix well till it reduces to a thickish mass. Turn off the stove and add in the chopped nuts (if using).
4) Cool over a bowl of ice cubes for 20 mins. 
5) Pour into kulfi moulds (in this case, I used silicon cake moulds in the shape of the Xmassy gingerbread man) and poured some into regular kulfi moulds. We got about 7-8 kulfis in all. If using the cake moulds, be sure to pour in only 3/4 of the mould, else it tends to get messy to demould.
6) Freeze overnight or for at least 8 - 10 hours during the day. Demould and serve immediately :-)

Merry Christmas and Season's Greetings !


Wishing all my readers and friends a very happy X mas and season's Greetings to you and your family ! 
*******************************************************
Bells will be ringing, the glad, glad news;
Oh, what a Christmas, to have the blues;
My baby's gone;
I have no friends;
To wish me greetings, once again;
Choirs will be singing, Silent Night
Oh, Christmas Carols, by candlelight;

Please come home for Christmas; 
Please come home for Christmas;
If not for Christmas, by New Year's Night;

Friends and relations;
Send salutations;
Just as sure as the stars shine above;

This is Christmas, Christmas my dear;
The time of year to be with the one that you love;

Then will you tell me, you'll never more roam;
Christmas and New Year will find you home;
There'll be no more sorrow;
No grief or pain;
'Cause I'll be happy that it's Christmas once again

December 24, 2011

Mullu Murukku | Deep fried rice flour snack

This time for Karthigai Deepam,  I made Thiru Kanamudhu (or Thasmi) - a very special kheer and also today's dish -Mullu Murukku. However I couldn't take any pictures that day due to a hectic schedule. So I made this again over Christmas (much as I would have loved to bake a fabulous Plum Cake for Christmas,I wasn't sure about adding any more sugar to my family's diet and decided to go easy on it) .I have tried making this Mullu Murukku for almost what would be the first time, and although it didnt shape out like the typical  murukku (roundel shaped),the taste was fabulous. It must have been coz I tried this dish all on my own for a very little quantity, and that didnt have the volume to really spiral it up like a real murukku. Having said that, we liked it a lot with our evening tea, and my kiddo also took some to school in her snack box to share it with friends.

I shall post the recipe for the Thiru Kanamudhu shortly-its my grandmom's signature dish, and we all loved it a lot. Now to today's recipe - Mullu Murkku. I  have used an assortment of flours here, but you may choose to make this only with Rice flour. Sending this to Blogging Marathon under "Holiday Cooking" and also to Valli’s Snacks MelaRadhika's Winter Carnival & Cooking Challenge – Tamilnadu by Vidhya.
Check out more Fried Delights here

Prep time : 15 mins. Frying time : 10 mins, Makes : Approx 100 gms of the snack
Ingredients:
  • Rice flour - 1 cup
  • Channa dal - 4 TBSP
  • Moong Dal - 4 TBSP
  • Asafoetida - a generous pinch
  • Salt - 1 tsp
  • Ghee / Butter - 3 TBSP
  • Red Chilly powder - 1 tsp
  • Jeera / Cumin seeds - 1 tsp (opt.)
  • Oil - to deep fry + 4 tsp for making dough.

Method:
1) Roast both the dals separately. Cool and grind them
2) Mix & sieve all three flours couple of times.
3) To the flours, add melted ghee (or butter), 4 tsp of heated oil, salt, red chilly powder and asafoetida and mix well till they turn into crumbs.
4) Now sprinkle warm water little by little and mix till it forms a nice pliable dough. The dough should be neither too soft nor too hot. Cover with a damp muslin cloth for 5 - 8 mins. Make equal roundels of the dough (For the above proportion, I got about 3 medium sized roundels)
5) Meanwhile, heat about 2 -3 cups of oil in a deep bottomed pan / kadai.
6) Grease the Murukku mould and add one roundel into the mould. Press onto a slotted spoon and insert gently into the hot oil (Oil should be hot, but not smoking). Fry well like how Pooris are made on a gentle medium heat. 
7) Remove with a slotten spoon onto paper towels. Repeat with remaining dough.
8) Cool and store in airtight containers. 
9) Enjoy with a hot cup of tea or pack them into kids' snackboxes for a special homemade treat! 

December 23, 2011

How to make Croutons at home | Baked Croutons | Preps in the Kitchen

One of the best ways to use bread is to make Croutons at home. Although I do make Croutons at home, i never made it as a snack, and in bulk. Vardhini's recipe showed me how to do so, and even kiddo took some croutons as a munch-on for her snack break at school. Thanks Vardhini for this recipe -it surely showed me a way to use up those final slices of a bread loaf, which seem to be left unused everytime we buy a loaf , all the while making a perfectly crunchy snack for those 4 pm types, when hunger (read temptation to indulge) strikes the tummy ! Also, pep up any soup and the kids would love it...


Without much ado, lets get to the recipe now - Homemade Baked Croutons ! This goes to Week 2 of BM # 11 under "Preps and Preserves" category. This entire week will see me present a mix-n-match theme under different themes ! Check out the other Marathoners here. Also, linking this to : Radhika's Winter Carnival , Valli’s Snacks MelaRadhika’s Baked Goodies & Sangee’s BakeFest,event by Vardhini


Prep time : 5 mins. Bake time : 10-12 mins 
Source : Here
Ingredients:

  • Bread slices - 8 slices (I used ordinary sandwich bread although French bread is recommended)
  • Olive Oil - 1 TBSP
  • Italian Seasoning - 1 TBSP (+ 1/2 tsp of Red Chilli Flakes)
  • White Pepper Powder - 1/2 tsp (opt.)
  • Salt - to taste (take care as the bread would also contain some)

Method:
1) Using a serrated knife, cut the bread into small chunks. Do not trim the edges. 
2) In a large bowl,add the bread chunks, oil, seasoning, salt, pepper powder. Give it a nice mix. Rest for 3 mins
3) Preheat the oven to 175C for 8- 10 mins.
4) Line a flat baking tray with foil (helps clean up) and spread the chunks evenly on the lined plate taking care not to overlap them.
5) Bake for 10-15 mins till they brown. I checked at 12 minutes, and they were done.
6) Cool completely. Store in an airtight container and serve with any soup

Updated Host List for HLI & MMK & some makeovers .....

Its that time of the year, where old resolutions are broken, new ones made, dust the old, ring in the new, create wishlists and tuck it all under the 'Christmas Tree' where Santa (good old dad/ grandpa in most cases) picks up the lists and fulfill a couple of them.. Well, its the same for me too - close to an year of running this blog, and it looks like yesterday! Advance X Mas and new year wishes to you all :-) May the cheer of the season bestow the choicest blessings upon you and your family !  
Well, coming to today's announcement - its more a compilation of  two major events that began at this blog and a slight makeover for them. And for all those lovely friends who have opted in to host my further events on HLI & MMK, a big thank you. The essence of these two events remain the same, while their names change a bit.. like calling a child by his/her pet name for a year and then registering a proper name.. I am sooo thankful to all my hosts - both in the past, and in the future too - and thought it befitting to announce this makeover before the year rolls by into a new one, where they are geared up to greet the new year. In case of a faux pas that any host names have been left out, do let me know so I could update immediately. Thank you dearies, for your enthusiasm. And in case any of my readers do want to pitch in through the year on remaining slots, do let me know...


(1) Healthy Lunchbox Ideas - my first event ever will remain close to my heart, as much as a firstborn is. It will now be called Cooking for Kids and the logo will also change as below. The rules of this event pretty much stay the same, but request hosts to check their emails 10 - 12 days before their event starts. Cooking for Kids - will now extend to all courses of food - main course, appetiser, snacks, desserts etc as long as they are cooked healthy and with one central ingredient as chosen by the hosts. The dishes need to be low fat and low fat, no deep fry with grilled,steamed and other healthy options. Hence the name - Cooking for Kids


(2) My Mother's Kitchen - my second event conceptualised at this blog - was to discover old and heirloom recipes from everyone's kitchen. Somehow, the concept got diluted at some point, and now has been reinvented as  "Kitchen Chronicles" which will have a new theme running every month. The new logo is also as under. It will also feature newer global trends in cooking, including Vegan and Wholegrain delights.. Stay tuned to watch more on this space.


Hope you liked the new names. Yes, it will take a while to register them, but the essence of the events remain the same.


Now that we are done with the makeover, lets quickly list my hosts down. Do let me know in case of any correction or even if you are eager to host the open slots.


Kiddies' Delight hosting schedule
Month
Host
Ingredient
Roundup URL
Jan-12
Zucchini

Feb-12
Sprouts

Mar-12
Sweet peppers

Apr-12
Squash

May-12
Apple

Jun-12
Beets

Jul-12
Mushrooms

Aug-12
Methi (fenugreek)

Sep-12
Sweet potato

Oct-12
Open
Radish

Nov-12
Open
Bottlegourd

Dec-12
Open
 Berries


Kitchen Chronicles schedule as under 
Month
Host
Theme
Roundup URL
Jan-12
Veena
Cooking with leftovers

Feb-12
Nupur
Soup it up

Mar-12
Sangee
Summer Splash

Apr-12
Saras
Heirloom Recipes

May-12
Geetha
Baked Delights

Jun-12
Archana
Go Nuts

Jul-12
Vardhini
Only Vegan

Aug-12
Kavi
Backyard remedies

Sep-12
Kalyani
Finger foods

Oct-12
Open
Wholegrains Mela

Nov-12
Open
Winter Special

Dec-12
Kalyani
An Xmas affaire

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