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Wednesday, July 12, 2017

No Bake Brownies

I came across this no bake brownie recipe when looking for ways to finish off the left over graham cracker cookies and condensed milk I had. This fuss-free preparation yields a really delicious treat that tasted more like fudge to my kids. I had halved the original recipe only to regret later when the whole thing was gone in one sitting. 

Source: Here
Recipe level: Easy
1 can of 14 oz. sweetened condensed milk
2 oz. unsweetened chocolate
2 & 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 to 1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
* For graham cracker crumbs, either pulse graham cracker cookies to fine crumbs in a food processor or put the cookies into a ziploc bag and crush with a rolling pin.
* Spray or brush a 9 inch baking dish with cooking spray and keep aside.
* Heat the condensed milk and chocolate together in a medium sized sauce pan on medium - low heat, until the chocolate melts and the mixture thickens slightly, about 10 minutes.
* Turn off the stove and remove the pan from heat. Add the cookie crumbs and half of the walnuts to the pan and mix well to combine. 
* Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish and spread with the back of a greased spatula. Sprinkle the remaining nuts uniformly over the top. Chill it until firm.

This post goes to Blogging marathon #78 under the theme "No Baking Desserts for Lazy Days". Check out the page to read what other marathoners are cooking.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Red Velvet Mug Cake

A mug cake is an easiest and quickest way to create and enjoy a piece of cake, especially if baking for one or two people or when one doesn't need any leftovers. It is also a perfect solution when a sudden craving for something sweet hits oneself at odd hours or to surprise an impromptu guest or to placate a cranky kid. 😊

A mug cake was also an easy solution for this week's blogging marathon theme of 'Baking desserts without using a convection oven'. One can bake 4 mug cakes by the time a convectional oven gets preheated and so it was perfect for the weather we have right now. 

Usually I bake chocolate based mug cakes and was looking for a different version for my daughter this time and found one here. I had to make minor adjustments to the recipe since the batter was too thick. She loved it going by the fact that it got made already 4 times in the past week.

Scant 1/4 cup lukewarm milk 
1/2 tsp. apple cider vinegar / white vinegar
1/4 cup minus 1 tsp. all purpose flour
1 tsp. cocoa powder
1/4 tsp. baking powder
A pinch of salt
2 tbsp. sugar
1.5 tbsp. oil (I used canola oil.)
4 - 5 drops of red food color (optional)
Powdered sugar for dusting (optional)

* Combine milk and apple cider vinegar in a small bowl and leave it aside for about 5 minutes. 
* Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder and sugar in a microwave safe mug / bowl. Add the milk-vinegar mixture, oil and food color and mix well.
* Cook it in a microwave for about 70 to 75 seconds.
* Serve immediately with a dusting of sugar if preferred.

This post goes to Blogging marathon #78 under the theme "No Baking Desserts for Lazy Days". Check out the page to read what other marathoners are cooking.


Monday, July 10, 2017

'No Bake' Cakes ~ Eggless Steamed Chocolate Cupcakes

These cupcakes are steamed instead of being baked and are perfect for those kitchens without ovens. Or when one is not in a mood to turn on the oven on a hot day and turn the kitchen into an oven instead. Or just when one is in a mood for some moist and fluffy cupcakes without the fuss of baking.
The challenge of the theme I picked for this week's marathon was to come up with baked desserts without using a conventional oven.  I had tried Japanese version steamed cupcakes 'mushi pan' some years ago and so, I knew 'steaming' was one way to go about it. I found a perfect recipe here that yields moist and fluffy cupcakes. They come out so perfect that no one would guess that these were steamed instead of being baked. I made a small batch of 3 cupcakes using a pressure pan and about 1/2 cup sized steel cups as moulds.
Ingredients: Yield 6 cupcakes
3/4 cup minus 1.5 tbsp. all purpose flour / maida 
1.5 tbsp. cocoa powder  
1/2 cup yogurt at room temperature
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. + 1/8 tsp. baking powder 
1/4 cup oil (I used canola oil.)
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
Aluminum foil for covering the cake moulds

* Sift flour and cocoa powder together into a bowl and keep it aside.
* Beat yogurt lump-free in another bowl, using a hand mixer or a whisk. Add sugar and beat again to combine. Add baking soda and baking powder to the yogurt and mix well. Set aside for 5 minutes until the mixture starts to bubble on top. 
* Meanwhile, grease the muffin moulds that are going to be used or 1/2 cup size steel cups. 
* Heat water in a steamer / pressure pan / pressure cooker that is going to be used to steam the cupcakes.
* Add oil and vanilla to the yogurt mixture and mix well to combine. Next add the flour and cocoa powder mixture and gently stir to combine.
* Spoon the mixture to the prepared moulds / cups up to halfway and cover them with foil to avoid condensation over the cake tops.
* Place the covered moulds / cups into the steamer / cooker and close the lid.
* Steam cook on the lowest level for about 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted at the center comes out clean. 
* Remove the cupcakes from the steamer and let them cool. Gently run a knife around the edges and unmould the cakes.
* Decorate the cupcakes with icing or powdered sugar and serve.

1. Don't use the pressure valve if using pressure pan / cooker .
2. If the water level in the steamer goes down for any reason before the cupcakes are steamed, carefully add some hot water to the steamer and continue steaming. 
3. Filling the batter only up to half of the cups instead of the usual 2/3rds would prevent the cake tops sticking to the foil.
This post goes to Blogging marathon #78 under the theme "No Baking Desserts for Lazy Days". Check out the page to read what other marathoners are cooking.


Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Brown Sugar Butter Syrup & Gulkand / Rose Petal Jam Sauce

Brown sugar butter syrup is a quick and easy preparation. It is a yummy syrup to use in lieu of maple syrup over pancakes / waffles. For those wondering where the pictures of that syrup are, I haven't posted them. :) I was not happy with the quality of the syrup pictures I took and so, they are going to get updated the next time I make the syrup.

Ingredients for brown sugar - butter syrup:
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup butter
1/8 tsp. vanilla or maple extract (optional)

* Add sugar and water to a sauce pan on medium heat, Bring it to a boil, stirring until the sugar melts. 
* Let the mixture continue to boil for about five minutes and add butter. Stir until the butter melts and add any extract if using. Turn off the stove.
* Serve warm over pancakes / waffles. Refrigerate any leftover syrup and reheat before serving.
I used some of the leftover syrup to prepare an interesting sauce based on gulkand that turned out to be delicious. Even my daughter who detests gulkand could not stop eating it. Basically a jam sauce can be prepared by adding a little quantity of water and sugar, if needed to the jam and cooked until a desired quantity is reached. The gulkand sauce also can be prepared this way, only if you prefer the pronounced flavor of gulkand in the sauce. Somehow I didn't and tried the sauce again with some of the left over brown sugar butter syrup I had and that's what caught my fancy. 

Ingredients for gulkand syrup:
1/4 cup syrup from above 
1/4 cup gulkand / rose petal jam
2 tbsp. water 

* Add the ingredients to a small sauce pan and cook on medium flame, stirring. If the mixture appears too thick, add a tbsp. or more water and cook until the desired consistency is reached. Or add the ingredients to a microwave safe bowl and cook in the microwave in 30 seconds / minute intervals until desired consistency is reached. Please note that this sauce thickens after cooling because of the butter used.
This post goes to Blogging marathon #78 under the theme "Toppings for Pancakes / Ice creams". Check out the page to read what other marathoners are cooking.


Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Caramelized Banana Topping

This is one of my kids' favorite pancake topping and in fact, it got made twice in my kitchen this week. Sometimes I make a thicker version of this delicious sauce (if i can call it so) and love to slather it on my toast instead of jam. Today, my daughter dumped a spoonful of this topping at the center of a dosa and ate it as a roll. Just as yesterday's peach sauce, this fruit based topping too does not take much time and is simple to prepare. The sweetness and the thickness of the syrup can be controlled. This batch of sauce had a darker hue but sometimes it is on a lighter side.

2 tbsp. butter
3 tbsp. water
3 - 4 tbsp. brown sugar
1 medium sized banana
2 tbsp. coarsely chopped toasted walnuts / pecans

* Cut the banana into 1/4 inch thick rounds.
* Melt the butter in a pan. Add sugar and water to the butter and continue cooking until the sugar melts and starts to bubble.
* Add the banana slices and cook about 2 minutes on each side.
* Add the toasted nuts and mix well. Turn off the stove and serve warm.

This post goes to Blogging marathon #78 under the theme "Toppings for Pancakes / Ice creams". Check out the page to read what other marathoners are cooking.


Monday, July 3, 2017

Peach Sauce

Here is one easy breezy peach sauce from my kitchen. Fruits sauces are quite simple to prepare and a great way to top pancakes, waffles, ice creams and more. Or even to gobble up a spoonful just passing by as I do sometimes to appease my sweet tooth. One can make use of those overripe fruits lying around in the kitchen to prepare a fruit based sauce. Choose fruits that are sweet so that the quantity of the sugar used in the recipe can be cut.
4 peaches (About 2 cups diced peaches)

1 tbsp. cornstarch
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup sugar * 
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon (optional)
* The quantity of sugar depends upon the sweetness of the fruits used.

* Peel, core and dice the peaches.
* Whisk water and cornstarch into a paste without any lumps. 
* Add all ingredients to a sauce pan and cook until a desired consistency is reached or until the fruit starts to turn mushy.
This post goes to Blogging marathon #78 under the theme "Toppings for Pancakes / Ice creams". Check out the page to read what other marathoners are cooking.


Monday, June 19, 2017


I came across bionico when looking for an easy dessert recipe from the Latin cuisine. It is one of the popular street snacks from Mexico and is a perfect treat to serve on a hot day. It is along the similar lines as the popular fruit custard from India though no cooking is involved in the case of bionico. A medley of chopped fruits are drenched with a sweetened sauce, made primarily with dairy products and  coffee granules.
It takes only a couple of minutes to prepare the sweetened sauce but it is a very delicious and interesting base to the fruit medley. Any combination of fruits you have on hand can go into this recipe as long as they are sweeter. Similarly, any toppings of your choice can go into bionico. We didn't feel that granola complimented bionico well but it can be included if proffered.
Recipe source: Here
Ingredients: (Yield 4 servings)
About 5 cups of chopped mixed fruits
(The original recipe had banana, apple, papaya, strawberries and grapes. I used banana, cherries, mango, peaches and strawberries.)
Ingredients for the sweet sauce:
Half of 14 oz. condensed milk can
3/4 cup evaporated milk
1/2 cup Greek yogurt / low fat sour cream
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 to 1 tsp. instant coffee granules

Ingredients for toppings:
Chopped pecans (I used walnuts instead.)
Sweetened coconut flakes
* Add all the ingredients mentioned under the sweet sauce into a bowl and whisk to combine.
* Add fruit pieces to parfait glasses / bowls. Pour the prepared sweet sauce as needed over the fruit pieces and garnish with preferred toppings.
This post goes to Blogging marathon #77 under the theme "Latin American Recipes". Check out the page to read what other marathoners are cooking.


Sunday, June 18, 2017

Avena Colombiana

Avena means oats in Spanish and avena is also an oatmeal based drink from South America that is quite popular locally. There are subtle variations in the recipe depending upon where it is prepared in the Latin American regions. However, generally rolled oats are stewed in a mixture of milk, water, cinnamon and cloves and finally sweetened with sugar.
Avena is usually served as a breakfast drink both for kids and adults though serving it as an evening snack is also not uncommon. This thick and creamy drink can be served either warm or cold, depending upon the seasons. I prepared it past this week when we had the heat wave going on and obviously, I had served it chilled.
Recipe Source: Here
Ingredients: (Yield 2 servings)
1/4 cup rolled oats
2 cups milk
1/2 cup water
A pinch of ground cloves
1 cinnamon stick
Sugar to taste
* Cook oatmeal, milk, water and cinnamon together for about 10 to 15 minutes on medium flame. Add ground cloves and sugar to the mixture and cook for about 5 minutes more.
* Let cool the mixture and chill it, covered.
* Discard the cinnamon stick and blend the oat mixture fine. Add extra water if thinner consistency is preferred. Serve it cold.
This post goes to Blogging marathon #77 under the theme "Latin American Recipes". Check out the page to read what other marathoners are cooking.


Saturday, June 17, 2017

Pan de Coco - Coconut Bread from Dominican Republic

Pan de Coco is a coconut bread from the Latin region and the version here today comes from 'The Dominican Republic'. The recipe varies region wise and comes in both sweet and plain versions. This Dominican version is not on the sweet side and  instead these are 'heavy and salty' kind flat breads. According to the the original recipe, these are usually served with fish or meat dishes that have lot of sauce so that these breads are used to scoop those gravy kind dishes and soak up the juices.

These coconut breads are supposedly evolved from a combination of a recipe of 'Johnny cakes' brought by the English immigrants to the region and coconut, which is locally available in abundance. The coconut flavor is not pronounced much in this version though they are called coconut buns and coconut flakes are not an usual addition. These breads are more like biscuits with a crispy exterior and we had them hot from the oven, slathered with butter. 

Recipe source: Here
Ingredients: (Yields 6 breads)
2 & 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt (Reduce the qty by 1/2 tsp if salty breads are not preferred.)
1 cup coconut milk
2 tsp. coconut oil + extra for greasing baking sheet and palms 
1/4 cup coconut flakes (optional)

* Preheat the oven to 300 deg F. Grease a baking sheet and keep aside.
* Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a mixing bowl. Add coconut milk and oil to the dry ingredients and knead together to a dough. Grease your palms with oil and work the dough if it is sticky.
* Divide the dough into 6 portions and roll them into balls. Flatten them on the greased baking sheet, into discs of about 6 inches diameter. 
* Sprinkle the coconut flakes if using, on the top of the discs.
* Bake them for about 25 minutes or a toothpick inserted at the center comes out clean. They are not going to get brown but remain pale after baking.
* Once cool, they can be toasted quickly but at high temperature to brown them. (I skipped the step.)

This post goes to Blogging marathon #77 under the theme "Latin American Recipes". Check out the page to read what other marathoners are cooking.


Monday, June 12, 2017

Bajra - Methi Rotis / Methi Dhebra / Indian, Millet Flour Flatbreads

Here are some millet flour based flatbreads as part of the 'healthy lunches' I am posting this week. These are inspired from the western state of India, Gujarat and can be converted to a gluten free version if wheat flour is left out from the recipe. These wholesome rotis are spicy on their own and do not need any side dish as such but a spicy pickle and some cool yogurt would make great accompaniments. Dhebras can be made two ways. The first one where wheat flour is completely eliminated, shaped into smaller and thicker discs and are deep fried. The second method is where they are rolled out into thin rotis like I did and are cooked with little oil. The deep fried dhebra make a great evening snack while the thinner version makes a great addition to lunch or dinner menu.
Ingredients: (Yield 8 - 9 dhebra)
About 2 cups firmly packed fresh fenugreek greens / methi leaves 
1 or 2 green chillies
1 tsp. grated ginger 
1 and 1/2 cups millet flour / bajra flour 
1/2 cup wheat flour (optional)  + extra for dusting
1/8 tsp. turmeric powder
Salt to taste
1/2 tsp. red chili powder
2 pinches of asafoetida
1 tbsp. white sesame seeds
1/4 cup yogurt
Oil for toasting dhebras

* Coarsely chop the fenugreek greens and finely chop green chillies.
* Combine flours, turmeric, salt, chili powder, asafoetida and sesame seeds in a mixing bowl. Next add fenugreek greens, green chillies, ginger and yogurt to the bowl and mix well.
* Add water in small increments and form a firm but a pliable dough. Cover and rest the dough for about 10 to 15 minutes.
* Grease your palms with oil and divide the dough into 8 or 10 portions and shape each ball into a disc between palms. Work with one dough portion at a time and keep the rest covered.
* There are two ways to proceed after this step. Method one involves rolling out the dough balls into thin circles and toasting them on a hot skillet. Method two involves directly placing the dough ball on an unheated, oiled tawa / flat pan, shaping it and then toasting. I am giving below both methods though I don't follow the rolling method. I find the second method convenient and easier since the millet dough tends to be on the stickier side. 
Method 1: 
* Heat a skillet on medium flame.
* Roll out each portion into a thin circle of about 5 - 6 inches diameter, dusting with flour if necessary.
* Place the rolled out disc on the hot skillet. Flip it when you notice bubbles on top. Apply oil on the surface after about 10 seconds and then flip it again. Continue  to cook gently pressing it with a spatula until brown spots appear on the bottom side. 
* Apply a little oil over the top side, flip it and cook until the bottom side now develops brown spots. 
* Remove the dhebra and cook the remaining dhebras following the same steps.
* Keep the cooked dhebras covered until serving.
Method 2:
* Pour a tsp. of oil at the center of an unheated tawa / skillet / flat pan. Place a portion of the dough at the center and shape it into a thin circle using fingertips. Turn on the stove and cook on medium flame until there are brown spots on the bottom side, . Brush some oil over the top side and flip it. Cook until the bottom side develops brown spots. Remove the dhebra once it is cooked on both sides.
* Let the skillet cool down a bit before cooking the next one since the dough can not be shaped on a hot skillet. To cut down the waiting time, the skillet can be washed in cold water or two skillets can be used instead. 
This post goes to Blogging marathon #77 under the theme "Healthy Lunches". Check out the page to read what other marathoners are cooking.


Sunday, June 11, 2017

Oats Khichdi

Here is a healthy, tasty and quick version of khichdi using oats and masoor dal. I opted for masoor dal here since it is one of those lentils that cook faster even without a pressure cooker but moong dal or toor dal can also be substituted here. This is a great recipe to try if looking for ways to incorporate oats in spicy dishes.

Ingredients: (Yield 2 - 3 servings)
1 cup rolled oats
3/4 cup to 1 cup masoor dal / red lentils
1 to 1.5 cups chopped mixed vegetables (I used beans, carrots and peas.)
1/8 tsp. ground turmeric
1 tbsp. ghee
1 tbsp. cashews
1/2 tsp. grated ginger
1/2 tsp. mustard seeds
1/2 tsp. cumin seeds
2 to 3 red chillies, broken into bits
A pinch of asafoetida powder
1/4 tsp. ground pepper (optional)
Salt to taste
* Wash masoor dal / lentils in two exchanges of water and drain. Add masoor dal, chopped vegetables, about 2 cups of water and turmeric to a sauce pan. Cook on medium flame, stirring intermittently and add water if needed. 
* Add oats and salt when the dal is cooked and continue cooking for about 8 to 10 minutes or until the oats soften.
* Heat ghee in a small pan and toast cashews until they turn golden brown. Remove them with a slotted spoon. Next add ginger to the same ghee and saute until it starts to turn golden. Add mustard seeds, cumin seeds, red chillies and asafoetida. When the mustard seeds start to splutter, turn off the stove and add it to the cooked oat - dal mixture.
* Add the toasted cashews and ground pepper to the oats and mix well.
* Serve warm with pickle and papad.
This post goes to Blogging marathon #77 under the theme "Healthy Lunches". Check out the page to read what other marathoners are cooking.