5-minute Tomato Pasta Sauce ~ Meal for Two & Some Chit Chat

5-Minutes Tomato Pasta Sauce1

 

Let’s chat, shall we!? Time to end the lazy slump I’ve been rolling in lately. A lot’s been going on around here and I’m up for a full disclosure now. I did slip the news on Instagram couple of weeks ago but didn’t announce officially on the blog. So here it goes!! Drum-rolls please!!! I am going to LONDON this FALL for a one year postgraduate programme!!!!! WOHOOOO!!!!!!! HOW AWESOME IS THAT?!! Sorry for all the yelling but I’m SOOOOO excited for this new chapter of my life to begin. This year has been truly magical so far!

I got the confirmed offer on my admission about a couple months ago but was skeptical on sharing the news as there were so many things to consider and plan for before I decide to accept the offer. Let’s just say I didn’t want to jinx it! I was ecstatic (to say the least) to get into this prestigious college. I was (still am!) over the MOON would be an understatement. I leave in September and there is so much to do. I need to visit my parents, apply for Visa, do the shopping, pack my bags and off I go. Fingers crossed for a smooth sailing!

Now here is a bit of not-so-good-news. Umm… I’m not sure if I’ll be able to continue blogging along with my studies but I’m not going to incessantly worry over something I can’t control. As of now, the only thing I’m sure of is that the programme is going to be very intense and I am going to have to give my 101% attention to it, even if blogging takes a backseat. I AM absolutely ready to prioritize. I love blogging so much therefore I’ll be blogging here as much as I can until September and after that we’ll see how things go. I would love to pop over in between during my stay in London to share my experiences in new country, food related or not. I will definitely try to stay as active as possible on Instagram nonetheless so do follow me there to stay in touch and be my companion on #LondonDiaries! 🙂

*Recipe*

This recipe I am sharing today is bonkers awesome! It is the quickest meal I have ever made (apart from toss-in-all-you-have salads or couscous!). If you can boil the pasta then you can make this recipe. This one here is basically foolproof! The tomato paste (Brand name – Splitz) I used for this quick pasta sauce is made locally in Bangalore and the ingredients list reads – Tomatoes. That’s it! It does not have any funky ingredients I can’t understand or pronounce, just pure tomato goodness without any color or preservative or salt! Too good to be true and but sadly, it is mostly available only in Bangalore. But fret not. You can go ahead and try any other good, organic tomato paste you can find in the store near you.

This packet is definitely going with me everywhere I travel. I guess it’d be a blessing during my soon-to-start student life! What a cheap, no-fuss and delicious meal option with so many possibilities. Add any number of vegetables to this dish to make it more hearty and fulfilling. Just a heaping Tablespoon of this potent tomato paste is enough for one portion. You can tell I’m quite impressed! What can I say, sometimes simple is truly THE BEST! xx

 

5-Minute Tomato Pasta Sauce2

 

Quickest Tomato Pasta Sauce ~ Dinner for Two

Yields: 2 generous servings | Prep time: 2 minutes |Cook time: 15 minutes | Total time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups macaroni pasta
  • 1 cup pasta water, reserved after boiling
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped
  • Scant 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1 tsp salt or more to taste
  • 1/2 tsp dry basil herb
  • 1/4 tsp freshly cracked pepper
  • Shavings of Parmesan cheese
Directions:
  1. Cook pasta as per the package instructions. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water and drain the pasta.
  2. In the meantime, heat the pan on a medium-high heat. Add olive oil, garlic and onion and sauté for a minute. Add tomato paste and salt and sauté for about 2-3 minutes, scraping and stirring occasionally. The tomato paste will turn brown and this will enhance the flavors. Mix in basil and pepper and cook for another minute.
  3. Stir in 3/4 cup of reserved pasta water to the tomato paste and magically you’ll get your pasta sauce ready! If you want thinner consistency sauce, add remaining 1/4 cup pasta water too. Stir in the drained pasta. Divide between 2 serving dishes. Top with some shavings of Parmesan cheese and fresh basil leaves. Serve immediately.

Notes:
*You can add vegetables of your choice to make the meal more hearty. Just sauté the vegetables along with garlic and onion before adding tomato paste to the mix. Zucchini, broccoli, eggplant, bell peppers…. sky is the limit!
*You may also top the pasta with capers or olives.
*Use whole wheat or quinoa pasta to make this meal healthier. 
*Use penne or spaghetti pasta instead of macaroni.

Vegetable Whole-Wheat Noodle Bowl ~ For Two

Vegetable Whole-Wheat Noodle Bowl ~ For Two1

 

This peanut butter-flavored dish is a cinch to throw together. So convenient on a weeknight or when you’re just lazy. Just boil a pot of water, saute some vegetables and whisk together some sauces from your pantry. Dinner is served!

Vegetable Whole-wheat Noodle Bowl

Serves:2 | Prep time: 10 minutes | Cook time: 15 minutes | Total: 25 minutes

Ingredients:

For noodle bowl:

  • 2 nests of whole wheat noodles
  • 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 small red bell pepper, cut into 2 inch thin strips
  • 1 small head of broccoli, cut into florets
  • Pinch of salt
  • Freshly cracked pepper, to taste
  • 1 small bunch of scallions (spring onions), finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp lightly toasted white sesame seeds*, for topping

*You may use toasted peanuts too instead.

For sauce:

  • 3 Tbsp peanut butter
  • 1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
  • big pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 2 Tbsp of hot water (or a little more to achieve a thin yogurt-like consistency of sauce)

Directions:

  1. Boil a medium sized pot of water. Add the whole wheat noodles and cook according to the package instructions. Drain and set aside.
  2. Heat a pan over medium high heat. Add oil and sauté  garlic for about 30 seconds. Add red pepper and broccoli to the pan and sauté for another 5 minutes over medium high heat. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Whisk together all the ingredients for sauce, adding the hot water in increments at the end. You are going for a thin yogurt-like consistency.
  4. Once the noodles are cooked and drained, toss together the noodles, sautéd vegetables and scallions.
  5. Portion into small bowls and top with a generous sprinkling of sesame seeds. Serve immediately.

Baked Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Doughnuts

Baked Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Doughnuts2
This is my last recipe post for the year and I can not help but write about doughnuts! Yes! Another baked doughnut recipe for you all. I was able to scratch one more thing off my list before bidding adieu to 2013. No, I am not talking about buying a doughnut pan. I am talking about making pumpkin puree from scratch! It was added to the list simply because we don’t get canned pumpkin puree here. Of course the final result was immensely satisfying and rewarding. Pioneer Woman created this easy tutorial light years ago which I followed. Now I have freezer-full of pumpkin puree and no, I am not whining about it! 🙂
These doughnuts are my 2nd favorite after these. Do not close your browser window thinking this recipe is not good enough. These are equally soft, fluffy and gorgeous as my favorite ones. It is just that chocolate always tops my list and cinnamon follows hence the second place. If you want best of both worlds then fold in some dark chocolate chips to the batter. Totally sinful and acceptable! Just saying! 😉
Baked Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Doughnuts1
Baked Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Doughnuts3
These lovelies are so pillowy, you may want to sleep on them! They are perfectly cakey plus each bite is wrapped in cinnamon. Your house will smell dee-vine! The batter comes together easily in one bowl, without using any mixer. If you don’t own a doughnut pan, here is a good news, you may easily bake them in a muffin-pan!
I am not going to ask you to make them first thing in 2014 ‘IF’ your new-year resolution is to eat healthy as they are not completely low-fat but do indulge in them on your cheat-day as I can guarantee that you’ll absolutely LOVE them without regret!
Baked Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Doughnuts4
Baked Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Cake Doughnuts
Makes: 12 doughnuts | Prep time: 10 minutes | Bake time: 13 minutes | Total time: 25 minutes
Ingredients:
  • 1 large egg
  • 2/3 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 4 Tbsp yogurt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup + 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
For coating:
  • 3 Tbsp vanilla sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven at 180ºC/350ºF. Grease the doughnut pan with oil and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, pumpkin pie spice, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together egg and sugar. Beat in oil, pumpkin puree, yogurt and vanilla extract one by one. Slowly fold in dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Do not overmix the batter. Mix just until no flour pockets remain.
  4. Carefully spoon the batter to the doughnut pan, filling not more than 3/4th. Bake for 13 minutes. Let cool in pan for about 5 minutes and then invert on the cooling rack.
  5. In a zip-lock bag, combine vanilla sugar and ground cinnamon. One at a time, put the still-quite-hot doughnuts in a bag and shake lightly to cover. Remove from bag and serve! Store in an airtight container at room temperature for 2-3 days.

Christmas Fruit Cake

Christmas Fruit Cake1

 

This was going to be my first year baking Christmas cake. I was super-excited! Really! I prepared the fruit-soak almost 3 weeks in advance which is major for me as I have never been much of a planner! And of course for the recipe as the liqueur gets a chance to marry the fruit 😉

I started hunting for recipes months ago. And I got to know that Christmas cakes have got such bad reputation! They are quite infamous for being boring, dry, overly sweet and like a hard brick that I was fairly skeptical at even attempting to make it at home. It deterred my enthusiasm quite a bit. Hence it was a pretty daunting task zeroing on THE recipe. But finally chanced upon the one which spoke to me and boy, hold your breath people, I have found THE recipe for your Christmas cake this year!

 

Christmas Fruit Cake4

Assorted fruits & nuts mixed in before pouring the liquere

 

 

Christmas Fruit Cake2

 

The recipe is fairly simple. As I told you before, the fruit-mix needs to be soaked in advance. Then a night before making the cake, just simmer few ingredients. This step guarantees moister and softer cake as the fruit-mix get a chance to soften up a bit. Dump all the other ingredients into this mixture. And that’s it! You know I have a thing for simple and quick recipes and this was just that! Pop the cakes to be baked in the oven and forget about them for an hour. Do whatever you do in the meanwhile like get lost on Pinterest (so addicting!) or doing your nails (perfect utilization of time!) and they’ll be ready! I did a taste from my mini loaf and the cake was supremely moist! Success!!

 

Christmas Fruit Cake3

 

Be sure to wrap the cakes (tightly) soon (when they are still quite warm.. almost hot) after removing from moulds and showering them with liqueur, to avoid anymore direct contact with the atmosphere. This will ensure that the moisture gets locked. If you want more liqueur then feed the cakes every 6-7 days with more liqueur (till ready to eat) and wrap them back. They taste best after several days/weeks of aging so be patient! 🙂

Happy Baking!!
xx

Christmas Fruit Cake

Recipe barely adapted from Rasa Malaysia

Fruit-Mix: To be prepared 2-3 weeks in advance or at least 48 hrs before

  • 7 cups chopped mixed fruits (I used assortment of raisins, sultanas, black currents, dried cranberries, dried apricots, dried pineapple, dried figs, glaced cherries, tutti frutti, orange and lemon peel)
  • 1 cup of roasted nuts (walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, pecans or pistachio – I used walnuts and almonds)
  • 1-1.5 cups of brandy or rum

Pour the chosen liqueur over dried fruits and roasted nuts and store this mix in a glass airtight container in a cool,dry place.

Preparing Cake:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 1/3 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 Tbsp milk powder (I skipped it & I don’t think it made a difference)
  • 2 Tbsp fresh orange zest
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon zest
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 heaping tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ginger powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 4 large eggs, slightly beaten

Directions:

  1. Combine prepared fruit-mix (fruits+nuts+liqueur), butter, sugar, honey, orange juice and baking soda in a large saucepan. Stir over low heat until the sugar has dissolved. Bring the mixture to boil and simmer for about 5 minutes over low heat. Stir consistently. Remove the saucepan and leave to cool. Do this step a night before or few hours before making the the cake as it takes sometime for the mixture to completely cool.
  2. Preheat the oven to 150ºC/300ºF. Grease 8×4 inch loaf pan and 6-count (3×2 inch) brownie pan with butter. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, milk powder, zests and ground spices.
  4. Gently stir in eggs to the cooled fruit mixture. Fold in the dry ingredients. Divide the mixture in to 2 parts and pour one half in loaf pan and the other half in brownie pan. Bake for about 60 minutes or until top slight cracks and is cooked.
  5. Remove the cake from the mould after letting cool for 5-10 minutes and generously brush the tops with brandy/rum. If you’re bold enough, make several holes in the cake by inserting skewer through n through at several places and pour the liqueur generously. Tightly cover with multiple layers of aluminium foil and finally with plastic wrap. Store in an airtight container. The cake tastes best eaten after a few days of aging. If you’re making weeks ahead like I did, brush the cake with brandy/rum every 6-7 days.

*Serve with a dusting of powdered sugar and decorated with glaced cherries and slivered almonds.

♥ Another great recipe I chanced upon is here. Do check it out!

#fbcookieswap : Maple Snickerdoodles

Maple Snickerdoodles1

Third & final recipe of the cookie swap! My third match was Himanshu of The White Ramekins. He has such an amazing blog. Scrumptious recipes accompanies beautiful photography. His blog is a delight to see and read!

This recipe is unbelievably simple, made with simple ingredients which I always have handy. I am sure you will too. I love everything cinnamon and these cookies fit the bill perfectly for all the cinnamon lovers! Perfect for the holiday season!

Maple Snickerdoodles2

These cookies are soft, thick and pillowy with a subtle hint from maple. I like my cookies soft so I baked them for just about 10 minutes but if you don’t then extend the baking time to 13 minutes.

To be honest, they are too good to be shared. Really, they turned out so awesome that I was tempted to eat the whole batch myself and not ship them at all! Best cookies ever!! You have to have to have to make these! Believe me & add it to your holiday baking list 🙂

Happy Christmas baking all of you!

Enjoy!

Maple Snickerdoodles3

Maple Snickerdoodles

Recipe inspired from Recipe Girl

Makes: 12 cookies | Prep time: 10 minutes | Chilling time: 30-60 minutes | Baking time: 10 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup + 2 Tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 3 Tbsp real maple syrup
  • 1 egg, large

Topping:

  • 4 Tbsp maple/vanilla sugar
  • 1/2 heaping tsp ground cinnamon

Directions:

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon. Set aside.
  2. In a bowl of your electric mixer, beat the butter until soft. Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy on a medium speed for about 1-2 minute. Beat in maple syrup and egg.
  3. Gradually add dry ingredients to the bowl and beat at slow speed until no flour pockets remain. Let the dough chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Do not skip this step as the dough is unmanageable at the room temperature.
  4. Preheat the oven at 180ºC / 350ºF. Line the cookie sheet with parchment paper.
    In a small dish, mix together the topping ingredients. Take about 2 Tbsp of dough and form it into a ball between your palms. Roll the ball in the topping mixture making sure they get coated thick and even.
  5. Arrange the dough balls on cookie sheet 2-inch apart from each other and bake for 10-11 minutes. Do not overbake. The sides should be golden and center may seem soft but it will set once cooled. Let the cookies cool on a cookie sheet for 5 minutes before transferring it to a cooling rack. Once cooled completely, transfer it to an airtight container. Cookies keep fresh for about 7 days at room temperature.

Skinny Zucchini & Mushroom Soup

Skinny Zucchini & Mushroom Soup1
I am so stressed nowadays.. And the reason for all the stress is not real life.. But internet life.. I know I haven’t been posting much but I have been lurking around and appreciating what all the food bloggers are up to. All over the internet I am seeing incredibly delicious holiday food..
Christmas IS actually upon us!!! Oh my gosh! I mean where DID November go?! I mean where did the year 2013 go? I am still trying to wrap my mind around this reality and meanwhile December is already slipping away at a lightening speed. Looks like everyone is ready for it but me. Web is getting bombarded with countless uhh-mah-zing fudge and truffle recipes. Peppermint and chocolate is in the air! Red and green are ruling! And all I have got to post today is SOUP!
I mean don’t get me wrong… I totally adore soup! The temperature is fluctuating constantly around here so it is perfect for the season! This light and skinny soup is so easy to make just like all the other recipes I post over here. One pot meal = happiness!
I know zucchini season is over for most of you out there but we’re still getting enough of it here. Pair it with earthy mushrooms and you get a thick, silky, creamy consistency soup without even adding any cream to it. Thyme lends a beautiful depth of flavor. And another advantage is that no vegetable stock is required for this soup! Yes!! Water works just fine & you won’t even miss the stock.. win-win 🙂
Give me a mug of this cozy soup with garlic bread and I am in heaven!
Skinny Zucchini & Mushroom Soup2
Skinny Zucchini & Mushroom Soup
Serves: 3 | Prep time: 5 minutes | Cooking time: 15-20 minutes | Total time: Under 30 minutes
Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp margarine (Olive oil can be substituted)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 300 gm (2 small) zucchini, roughly chopped
  • 200 gm / 7 oz mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • Few sprigs of fresh thyme
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups water

Directions:

  1. Heat the skillet on a medium heat and add margarine to it. Sautè onions and garlic cloves on a low heat till pink and translucent.
  2. Add zucchini, mushroom and thyme sprigs to the skillet and sautè till cooked for 10 minutes. Add 1 cup of water to it and let it boil. Turn off the heat.
  3. Remove the thyme sprigs and puree using a hand blender/food processor. Add this puree and another cup of water to skillet and let it come to boil. Season with salt and pepper. Adjust the consistency of the soup by adding more water if needed. Serve hot!

*Serve it with shredded Parmesan for a cheesy kick!

Baked Chocolate Banana Doughnuts ~ Low-fat & Egg-free!

Baked Chocolate Banana Doughnuts1

 

I pretty much say this about the every recipe I post here but these are the BEST thing ever ever baked in my kitchen! At least so Mr claimed!

These are so moist, soft and super-pillowy. Banana and chocolate heaven in each bite! These baked doughnuts will truly rock your world I tell ya! People with diet-restrictions, this recipe is a MUST in your repertoire!! Such a result without eggs and whole wheat flour… Amazing!

Baked Chocolate Banana Doughnuts3

 

 

Baked Chocolate Banana Doughnuts2

 

And these beauties are then topped with ganache.. A white chocolate ganache.. slurp… It is so gorgeous and I am telling you that this ganache is a MUST for these donuts! I mean who eats a naked donut, right?!!! And then the sprinkles which truly are a NECESSITY! 😀

I shall not endorse it anymore but you gotta try it to believe it! 🙂

Baked Chocolate Banana Doughnuts

Yields: 8 doughnuts

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3 Tbsp Hershey’s unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup + 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 cup mashed very ripe bananas (about 2 medium bananas)
  • 4 Tbsp yogurt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

For Ganache:

  • 2 Tbsp medium-fat cream/milk
  • 4 oz white chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • sprinkles, optional

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven at 180ºC/350ºF. Grease doughnut pan with baking spray. Set aside
  2. Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl. Set aside.
  3. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together melted butter and brown sugar. Whisk in mashed banana, yogurt and vanilla extract.
  4. Slowly fold in dry ingredients into wet ingredients. Divide the batter equally and fill the mold no more than 3/4th. Bake for 11-12 minutes. Cool in pan on a cooling rack for 5 minutes. Then carefully turn out doughnuts directly onto rack to cool.
  5. Preparing ganache: In a microwave safe bowl, heat the cream for 40-60 seconds. Fold in chopped white chocolate and mix till it melts completely. Dip cooled doughnuts one by one into bowl of ganache and place back on a cooling rack. Top with sprinkles and serve. Doughnuts will keep in an airtight container for 2-3 days.

*In ganache reccipe, white chocolate may be substituted with dark chocolate.