Italian Summer Pasta Salad

 Italian Summer Pasta Salad1

 

After radio silence for 3 weeks, I’m back. Again. Can’t say for how long but I am here. So how are things guys? Here, monsoon has almost arrived and summer is officially over (for good!). But here I am, with a huge backlog of summer recipes. What am I to do when all these days I have been cooking all things “summery” regularly but not getting time to post them. Let’s just say that it is still summer somewhere in the world, right?! 😉

I love anything and everything Italian so when I came across this pretty looking salad on Sommer’s amazing blog I knew I had to get to it pronto. It is so good and SO refreshing! Zests of orange and lemon, al dente pasta, orange chunks, tiny tomatoes and torn basil all tied together with olive oil and Parmesan cheese. What’s not to love? Must try, whatever time of year it is for you.

I hope you’re having an awesome weekend.
Stay cozy, it’s gonna be a rainy one! xx

 

Italian Summer Pasta Salad3

 

Italian Summer Pasta Salad

Recipe scaled down & adapted from A Spicy Perspective

Yield: 2-3 servings | Prep time: 15 minutes | Cook time: 15 minutes | Total: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups whole wheat Farfalle pasta
  • 1 naval orange, zest and orange segments
  • 1 lemon, zest and juice
  • 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 cup scallions, cut into 1 inch segments
  • 1/4 cup torn basil leaves
  • 3 Tbsp shaved Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper

Directions:

  1. Place a large pot of salted water over high heat. Bring to a boil and cook the pasta according to package instructions. Drain the pasta and set aside to cool.
  2. Meanwhile, zest the orange and lemon. Place the zest and the juice of lemon in a large bowl. Add the olive oil and whisk. Peel the orange, gently break the segments apart and seed them. Place them in the bowl.
  3. Slice the tomatoes in half and add to the bowl. Then pour the drained pasta over the tomatoes and gently toss to coat. Add the scallions and basil leaves to the bowl and toss. Salt and pepper generously, about 1/2 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp pepper. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Note: I didn’t have scallions at hand so I had to skip them but they are highly recommended as it’d add some crunch & make the dish all the more flavorsome. 🙂

 

Italian Summer Pasta Salad2

Mango Cucumber Salsa

Mango Cucumber Salsa1
Hi! Trying to compensate my absence with back to back posts. I need to blog all the summer recipes I’ve made before the rainy season officially starts and I am really lagging behind. I thought at least I’ll give you this mango salsa recipe before mango season is ends. This salsa is a perfect accompaniment to your chips and a great side to grilled chicken or lamb chops.
I don’t remember how many bowls of this sunshine I have devoured this summer. It is my absolute favorite. I eat chips just so that I can have salsa (or any other dips/condiment for that matter!!) and end up having it by spoonfuls in lieu of chips! I have a couple of peaches sitting in my fridge, waiting to be used up & I most certainly plan of turning them in to this salsa sans cucumber this evening (with mint of course!).
Enjoy& be patient.
Weekend is almost here! 😉
Mango Cucumber Salsa2
Mango Cucumber Salsa:
Serves: 2 | Prep time: 5 minutes | Cook time: 0 minute | Total time: 5 minutes
Ingredients:

  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded & finely chopped
  • 1 cucumber, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1 ripe mango, sliced, pitted & finely chopped (about 1 1/4 cup)
  • Salt & freshly cracked pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chiffonade (can be subbed with coriander leaves)
  • Juice from 1 lemon

Don’t know what is basil chiffonade? – Pioneer woman tells you here!

Directions:

Toss all of the ingredients in a bowl. Refrigerate until ready to serve (about 3-4 hours max otherwise it turns mushy). Serve with your favorite chips or a meat of choice.

3-Ingredient Watermelon Kiwi Popsicles

3-Ingredient Watermelon Kiwi Popsicles3

 

Hello lovely people! Let me give you an update on whats been going on in life, you don’t know if you’re not following me on Instagram. It’s been more than 2 weeks since I last posted. Very eventful 2 weeks they were. Hubs & I visited my parent’s house for about 10 days. We celebrated Father’s day, spent some time with my grandmother, met up with couple of school friends after long long time, visited some cool, hip places for meal, watched drama after ages, shopped with my mom & sis, visited beach, bought way too many peach fruits, brushed up on some childhood memories, had an early birthday celebration and consumed liters and liters of Aamras (unsweetened mango pulp) accompanied by some kickass mom-made Gujju food! List is quite long and don’t ask me how I was able to fit ALL of this in my stomach in our such a short stay!!! But it was all too much fun!

I celebrate my 29th birthday this Saturday. I’m freaking out as big 3-0 is approaching and my life in twenties as I know it is going to end. I am excited too ‘coz CAKE!!! Yeah, my brain is confused on how to react to this situation. Anyhoo, Friday can not get here sooooner! It is going to be a funtastic weekend!! 🙂

 

3-Ingredient Watermelon Kiwi Popsicles1

 

After dealing with unpacking, laundry and a health check before I apply for the Visa, I finally got some time to sit down today. I made these popsicles before we left to visit my parents (more than 3 weeks back). It was so dang hot there, I missed these very very much. I had to constantly drink ice water/tea or eat ice-creams in order to stay cool. These popsicles are child’s play to make with just 3 ingredients and only 2 if you skip kiwi slices (do not skip though!). The watermelon I used was quite sweet so I didn’t have to use any form of sweetener for these popsicles. In case the watermelon you use is not sweet enough, feel free to add a tablespoon of honey or maple syrup or any sweetener of your choice while blending. These are just perfect for breakfast, post-workout snack or dessert.

Happy Hump Day you all! 😀

3-Ingredient Watermelon Kiwi Popsicles

Yields: 4 Popsicles | Prep time: 2 minutes | Chill time: 6-7 hours or overnight

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups watermelon cubes, seeded
  • 1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 4 kiwi slices

Directions:

Blend together watermelon and lemon juice in a blender. Slide in kiwi slices in each Popsicle-mould and pour watermelon mixture on top, dividing equally. Insert stick in the centre of each mould, cover and freeze for about 6-7 hours. To demould, run the moulds under warm running water for 30-50 seconds. Dig in immediately!

*Recipe can be easily doubled or tripled or quadrupled!
*For less sweet watermelons, add 1 Tbsp of sweetener of your choice while blending.

 

3-Ingredient Watermelon Kiwi Popsicles2

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.

Leeks, Fennel, Apple + Walnuts Warm Salad

Leeks, Fennel, Apple + Walnuts Warm Salad1

 

Just popping in to say Hi as it’s been two weeks since we last talked! I am feeling unbelievably lazy and  don’t want to write much so I’ll leave you guys with this quick recipe. I hope you guys’ll understand.

Salads are usually underrated but this one right here is a total stunner. Perfect for spring! It was my first time using fennel in my home kitchen so I was quite excited in terms of what to make with it. I’m a salad person so that is what I wanted to experiment first. The combination of leek, fennel, apple and walnuts works so beautifully and sounds quite exotic but mostly they are all simple, earthy ingredients bound together by a simple dressing. I can’t wait to turn these ingredients in to a soup once the rainy days arrive in full swing(which I hope will be soon!).

Enjoy!
xx

 

Leeks, Fennel, Apple + Walnuts Warm Salad2

 

Leeks, Fennel, Apple + Walnut Warm Salad

Serves: as a side for 2/a hearty meal for 1 | Prep time: 10 minutes | Cook time: 10 minutes | Total: 20 minutes

Ingredients:
  • 1 apple, cored & sliced (peeling is optional, I didn’t)
  • 1 + 1 tsp lemon juice, divided
  • 10-12 walnuts
  • 1 Tbsp Olive oil
  • 1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 2 leeks
  • 2 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves removed
  • 1 fennel, small bulb, sliced
  • 3-4 lettuce leaves
Dressing:
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 and 1/2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp honey
  • freshly cracked pepper, to taste
  • salt, to taste

Directions:

*Preparing Leek : Cut the ends off the leek and discard. Quarter the leek lengthwise, wash under running water to remove all the grit and cut them into slices.
*Preparing Fennel : Check this easy tutorial on The Kitchn

  1. Wash, core and slice an apple. Toss with 1 tsp of lemon juice to prevent discoloration and set aside.
  2. In a fry pan, add the walnuts and toast them on a medium-low heat until fragrant. Set aside.
  3. In the same fry pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add garlic, leeks and thyme leaves to the pan and sauté for about 3-4 minutes stirring occasionally. Add sliced fennel, cook for another minute or so and remove it from the heat. Immediately stir in sliced apples and splash remaining 1 tsp lemon juice.
  4. In a small jar, add all the ingredients for the salad dressing. Close the lid tightly and shake the jar vigorously until completely combined. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss.
  5. In a serving plate, make a bed of lettuce leaves and top with salad. Garnish with toasted walnuts. Serve immediately.

Baked Lemon Doughnuts with Lemon Cream Cheese Glaze ~ Eggfree

Baked Lemon Donuts with Lemon Cream Cheese Glaze1

 

Hello folks! April went by at a lightening speed. It was a total blur. A beautiful blur at that. Yes, I absconded again for the latter part of April. Well, I hope you didn’t miss me much. Sorry to say but I didn’t miss you guys one bit. Here is why. These past days were spent with my most beautiful angelic cutie pie tiny-little-peanut-sized-newborn-niece. She turned 12 days today. We feel so blessed to have her in our lives and welcomed her in to this world with lots of snuggles and baby talks. We immediately named her Cherry (lovingly, of course!) because trust me when I tell you this, she looks just like a ruby red cherry. She is such a doll, so adorable, so so precious. All the sleepless nights spent in soothing her back to sleep were totally, absolutely worth it. I’m back home now and miss her so so much.

The moment I returned home, I had to bake. To celebrate. I instantly thought donuts! I mean, come on, donuts=celebration. Summer is not treating us Bangaloreans well this year and lemons are always on my mind. Big, plump, juicy, organic, tart yet sweet lemons from my parents-in-law’s lemon tree. They are simply THE best. So lemon donuts it was. They turned out so amazing that the next day I made them again. This time around I doubled the recipe and baked it as an 8-inch single layer cake for my parents-in-law’s wedding anniversary. So if you don’t own a donut pan, buy one ASAP! These little things are addicting! For now, simply bake them as mini cupcakes or just double this recipe to get a cake.

 

Baked Lemon Donuts with Lemon Cream Cheese Glaze3

 

The recipe is simplicity at its best. Almost refined sugar free. No eggs required. No mixer needed. Just one bowl and a whisk is all you need to make the sun shine brightest! You can even prepare the glaze in the same mixing bowl. I am always happy with less dishes and lesser clean up. So in these donuts, moisture is being imparted by buttermilk and oil. Honey shoulders the responsibility of lending sweetness. Truly ordinary ingredients create this extra-ordinary treat. These baked donuts are light, fluffy and just lemony which doesn’t make you pucker!

These donuts are then topped with lemon cream cheese glaze. The glaze is a perfect accompaniment for the donuts. Again, just lemony and just sweet. Decorate them with a sprinkle of yellow colored sanding sugar. Vibrant, just like our little one.

So celebrate life and all things nice with these lemon glazed donuts!

 

Baked Lemon Donuts with Lemon Cream Cheese Glaze4

 

Baked Lemon Doughnuts with Lemon Cream Cheese Glaze ~ Eggfree

Makes: 6 | Prep time: 15 minutes | Cook time: 10 minutes | Total: 25 minutes

Ingredients:

For donuts:
  • 3/4 cup + 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp white granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbsp lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 3 Tbsp oil
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice (lemon enthusiasts may use 2.5 to 3 Tbsp)

For glaze:

Following measurements can glaze about 10-12 donuts.

  • 100 gm (3.5 oz) cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup icing sugar, sifted
  • Yellow colored sanding sugar, to decorate

Directions:

  1.  Preheat the oven at 180ºC / 350ºF. Grease 6-count donut pan with oil. Set aside.
  2. In one bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a mixing bowl, add sugar and lemon zest and rub together with finger to release oils from the zest. Whisk in honey, oil, buttermilk, vanilla extract and lemon juice until the mixture formed is completely smooth.
  4. Slowly whisk in dry ingredients into wet ingredients until just combined. Do not overmix. Divide the batter among prepared donut pan and bake in the preheated oven for about 8-9 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in a center comes out clean. Cool in the pan on a cooling rack for 5 minutes. Then carefully turn out doughnuts directly onto rack to cool completely.
  5. Glaze: Whisk together cream cheese, lemon zest, lemon juice and sifted icing sugar to form a smooth consistency. Dip completely cooled donuts one by one into a bowl of glaze and place back on a cooling rack. Sprinkle with yellow sanding sugar just before serving as the colors will bleed. Donuts will keep in an airtight container for 2-3 days stored in a refrigerator.

*You will have little cream cheese glaze leftover which is never a bad thing in my book. You may lick with spoon or store it in refrigerator for 3-4 days. Give the glaze a good whisk before using on baked goods.
*Double the donut recipe and bake it in an 8-inch cake tin. Bake for about 20-23 minutes.
*To make this recipe vegan, make your own non-dairy buttermilk. To 1 tsp lemon juice or apple cider vinegar, add 1/3 cup non-dairy milk of your choice . Let sit for 15-20 minutes and use as a regular buttermilk substitution.

Skinny Chocolate Avocado Banana Pudding & Pops – Raw! ~ For Two

Raw Chocolate Avocado Banana Pudding1

 

Raw Chocolate Avocado Banana Pops1

 

Okay, so I”m ashamed to EVEN call this a recipe but in actuality it is! However simple it might be. Sometimes simple is all we need. Simple is beautiful. We are experiencing summer at full force and I want to spend minimum time in kitchen that too away from stove and oven. Of course, still wanting extraordinary food to appear magically on my plate so I’m all about quick recipes nowadays. Cold salads, iced coffees/teas, cold cereal, smoothies and frozen fruit treats are what my days are made of.

A raw pudding. And pops. Same ordinary ingredients with just a bit of tweaking gets transformed into two incredibly delicious desserts. Desserts which are healthy and skinny at the same time. All you need is a high-speed blender. And some chocolate, cocoa powder to be specific. And avocado and banana. Avocado-haters, do not fret. You can not taste avocado. Promise! My husband truly hates avocado from the bottom of his heart, if used in anything other than guacamole and he couldn’t tell! Yes, I didn’t tell him beforehand and he couldn’t make out. Win! Also, you can totally have these for breakfast! 😉

 

Raw Chocolate Avocado Banana Pudding2Raw Chocolate Avocado Banana Pops2

 

Each recipe serves two but you can easily double, triple or quadruple the recipe to serve more people or have bigger portions. Stay cool this summer with these cool recipes up your sleeves!

Happy Monday you all!

Raw Chocolate Avocado Banana Pudding:
Serves: 2 | Prep time: 2 minutes | Chill time: 3-4 hours
Ingredients:
  • 2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp instant coffee powder
  • 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 ripe (large) avocado
  • 1/2 ripe (large) banana (fresh or frozen)
  • 3 Tbsp honey/maple syrup/date syrup
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 10-12 dices of fresh, ripe mango, for garnish

Directions:

Place all the ingredients in a blender (place dry ingredients in the bottom so they don’t stick to the sides of the blender) and whip till you get completely smooth consistency. Divide the pudding between two ramekins/bowls and refrigerate covered for at least 3-4 hours. Serve, topped with mango dices.

*Consume the pudding within 1 day of making it.
*Instead of mango, you may use strawberries/raspberries.

Raw Chocolate Avocado Banana Pops:
Serves: 2 | Prep time: 2 minutes | Chill time: 8 hours/overnight
Ingredients:
  • 2 and 1/2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp instant coffee powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 ripe (large) avocado
  • 1/2 ripe (large) banana (fresh or frozen)
  • 1/4 cup honey/maple syrup/date syrup
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup water

Directions:

Place all the ingredients in a blender (place dry ingredients in the bottom so they don’t stick to the sides of the blender) and whip till you get completely smooth consistency. Divide between two Popsicle moulds. If you do not have Popsicle moulds then divide between two paper cups like I did and cover with tin foil, poke the center of the foil with the Popsicle stick. Chill in freezer for at least 8 hours/overnight, demould and serve immediately.

P.S. Want to make these Pops even more chocolaty? Cover them with the chocolate magic shell just like a professional by following this easy-peesy tutorial.
P.P.S. Use white chocolate for these Pops! 😉

 

Sunshine Smoothie for Two ~ 100th Blogpost!

Sunshine Smoothie1

 

Woohoo (with more o’s than I can type)!!! This is my 100th blogpost! I know I should have reached this teeny-tiny (quite huge for me of course!) milestone a long time back but I’m glad I did. I thank each and everyone of you for being with me on this journey. And even tolerating my sporadic absence. You guys are sweetest. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Really 🙂

I’m sure we all agree on this that no celebration is complete without a cake. And I know I should have brought one today but instead, I come bearing smoothie and I ain’t sorry. This is no ordinary smoothie, it’s a sunshine smoothie! Yes, pure liquid sunshine for breakfast and you won’t need anything else. Great way to get lots of fruit in your system. So go fruit wild this summer. This one is mindbogglingly refreshing!

 

Sunshine Smoothie2

 

This fruity concoction is so creamy, it may trick you into thinking there is ice-cream involved. This smoothie is created using shockingly simple ingredients aka fruits and nothing else! I’m a huge fan of frozen banana whip and it works as a great base for a smoothie. I made this whip for breakfast last week with frozen kiwi and banana and it turned out totally amazeballs. The idea was sparked then to turn it into a gorgeous smoothie.

I went fruit crazy and added mango (my fav), banana, kiwi and orange with a squeeze of lime and a spoon of honey, blend and Ta Da! You get this tropical heaven. Truly summer in your glass! (See I didn’t whine about the hottest, sunniest weather we’re experiencing here even once.. Ha!)

Put your feet up and enjoy this citrus bursting smoothie. It’ll brighten up your day and make the weather certainly more tolerable. Trust me.

Sunshine Smoothie for Two

Serves: 2 obnoxiously | Prep time: 10 minutes 

Ingredients:

  • 1 large frozen mango, previously peeled & sliced
  • 1 large frozen banana, previously peeled & sliced
  • 2 frozen kiwi, previously peeled & sliced
  • 2 oranges, peeled, seeded and sliced
  • Juice from 1 lime
  • 6-8 ice-cubes
  • 1 Tbsp honey (optional)

Directions:

Blend all the ingredients in a blender on high speed till you get a smooth consistency (for about 2-3 minutes). Serve in tall glasses.

*You may turn this smoothie into green smoothie by adding 1 cup of your favorite greens.

*You may swap kiwi with frozen chunks of pineapple. Whatever rocks your boat!

Baking 101 & Raspberry Banana Bread ~ A Guest Post on The Tummy Tale

Raspberry Banana Bread2

 

For many of you, baking can be quite overwhelming at first. A lot of beginners will burn a few (or a lot) of cookies, flatten some cakes or over bake brownies.  So when Elson asked me if I could do a post on baking basics, I was anxious (this kind of post is my first attempt!) and excited!!

I am reproducing that guest post ~ ‘Baking 101’ and the recipe of Raspberry Banana Bread for my readers here but hop onto The Tummy Tale blog for some good reading. While you’re at it, don’t forget to check out Elson’s fabulous recipes. Elson believes in using simple ingredients to create special dishes and his forte is Mangalorean cuisine. Also, do check out his ‘The world on my plate‘ series.

If you spend enough time in the kitchen baking, you quickly begin to pick up the dos and don’ts. I am far from a professional pastry chef or even an expert baker but with these tips and tricks, I’m hoping to make baking an easier, more enjoyable experience for you all. So, here it is – baker’s dozen tips & tricks!

  1. Take your time and read the recipe thoroughly from beginning to end before you start. Many baking failures come from not reading and understanding the recipe, not from poor recipes! Remember, cookbook authors and bloggers REALLY want to help you bake masterpieces. They know and understand the limitations of home kitchens. So have faith in the recipe and read the notes.
  2. Get your mise en place started. Measure out all the ingredients mentioned in the recipe to exact amounts first before you proceed further. There is nothing worse than reaching halfway and realizing you’re out of an important ingredient. Prepping is very very important.
  3. Unless otherwise stated, use room temperature ingredients. If something is meant to be used cold then a recipe should state that, otherwise make sure your eggs, butter, yogurt etc. are at room temperature.
  4. Buy salted butter for your toast but unsalted butter is what you need for all the baking you plan on doing. You want to control the amount of salt going in your baked goods. So unsalted is a way to go!
  5. Always preheat the oven. This might sound amusing to some of you but this step is of utmost importance.
  6. Preparing baking pan – Grease and/or line your baking tin. Use paper liners for muffin tins (unless stated otherwise). Always grease a Bundt pan with butter and dust the insides with flour. Do not grease the cookie sheet unless the recipe states you should; just line it with parchment paper.
  7. It is always better to sift the dry ingredients to avoid lumps. This step will ensure that baking powder, baking soda or salt are equally dispersed among flour. Also, measure the flour after it’s been fluffed up a bit with the help of a fork. Lightly spoon it into the measuring cup and level it off (weighing flour is of course more accurate but I’m more accustomed to cup-method).
  8. Use baking powder and baking soda no more than 5-6 months old. Dud ingredients will make your recipe dud. Also, baking powder and baking soda are different ingredients and not interchangeable! So pay attention. They serve the same purpose but do not react the same way in baked goods. Read here for more info.
  9. When baking cakes, cupcakes and cookies, take your time creaming the butter. Beat/cream for at least 3-5 minutes (preferably with the electric mixer’s paddle attachment) to aerate the butter.
    Check if the recipe calls for any herb or fruit zest. If so then rub the herb/fruit zest into the sugar which will release the essential oils and then add this sugar to butter and beat/cream really well again. A trick I have learnt recently from Joy The Baker is beating the spices along with the butter and sugar to enhance the flavor much more.
  10. When mixing the batter, gently fold the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients – you don’t want to lose all the air. Over-mixing will especially ruin your muffins and make them tough and rubbery.
  11. Keep in mind that all ovens are different. Do not rely on the time in the recipe to work for your oven. It is usually provided by a time range which is just an estimate for you. Set your timer for several minutes before it says it will be done just to make sure you don’t overcook. Check the doneness by inserting toothpick in the center of the baked goods. Trust the process and trust yourself.
  12. Make it your own! Just because baking is all about science doesn’t mean you can’t get creative with the ingredients that only affect the flavor. Change up the extracts, spices, and other add-ins that only affect the flavor of the baked goods to make it your own. Have fun in the kitchen and it will all turn out amazing!

 

The more you bake, the better you will become. But remember… “When baking, follow directions. When cooking, go by your own taste.” – Laiko Bahrs J 🙂

 

Raspberry Banana Bread3

 

*Recipe*

This recipe is a no fuss, too easy even for beginners sort. So after reading the tips and tricks mentioned above, get your baking mojo on and try this basic, classic banana bread made a tad bit healthier. Vegetarians and vegans are going to be much much happy.

This recipe is eggfree and oil/butterfree. Yes! Can you believe?!! For sweetness, I have used date syrup in part which lends a beautiful depth of flavor to the bread. The other part comprises of brown sugar. Brown sugar + banana = a match made in heaven! Brown sugar gives a caramelized flavor but you can make the bread refined sugar-free too by using coconut sugar in place of the brown sugar. It would be wonderful too! The bread is light, airy and moist (in a good way). Yes! Not a crumb in sight, my friends. Perfect for toasting and if you’re not skinny-minny types then slathering it with some butter. If you are not into healthy baking then feel free to use all-purpose flour completely. Don’t have date syrup? Use liquid jaggery or maple syrup or honey. All works brilliantly. Don’t have raspberries? Use strawberries or may be toasted walnuts or chocolate chips! Change the ingredients as per your convenience and make the recipe yours. Add a dash of cinnamon if you like. Just have fun! So brew yourself a cup of coffee, preheat the oven and get baking. Your quest for that perfect banana bread ends here.

Enjoy!

Healthier Raspberry Banana Bread – Eggfree & Oil/Butterfree {can be made refined sugar-free too!}

Yields: 1 8×4-inch loaf, about 10 slices | Prep time: 10 minutes | Bake time: 60 minutes | Total time: 70 minutes

Ingredients:

• 1 cup whole wheat flour
• 1/2 cup all purpose flour
• 1 tsp baking soda
• 1 tsp salt
• 1/3 cup yogurt
• 1/3 cup date syrup (or liquid jaggery or maple syrup or honey)
• 1/3 cup brown sugar (to make it refined sugar-free use coconut sugar)
• 3 large over-ripe bananas, mashed (I used heaping 1 & 1/2 cups purée)
• 1 tsp vanilla extract
• 1 cup chopped raspberries (fresh or frozen)

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven at 170°C/350°F. Grease the 8×4-inch loaf pan with oil and set aside.
2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk together yogurt, date syrup and brown sugar until completely incorporated. Whisk in banana purée and vanilla extract.
4. Make a well in the center of dry ingredients and slowly stir in wet ingredients to dry ingredients. Stir until no flour pockets remain. Do not over-mix. Fold in chopped raspberries.
5. Pour the batter in your prepared loaf pan and bake for 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with few moist crumbs. Let the bread rest in the loaf pan for about 10 minutes before inverting it on a cooling rack. Let cool completely before slicing. Serve warm as is or slathered with butter. You may toast the slices too. Store the bread in an airtight container up to 1 week in refrigerator. It freezes well for up to 3 months.

*For a more classic twist, substitute raspberries with toasted walnuts. For chocolate lovers, I would suggest replacing raspberries with dark chocolate chips. I’ve tried and it is dee-vine!

Tomorrow is ‘Banana Bread Day’ and you might wanna bake one to celebrate!

Lemon Crinkle Melts

Lemon Crinkle Melts1

A melt in your mouth lemon cookies.. Ooh, how I love thee. I craved them one afternoon so bad that I had to bake them PRONTO! I LOVE lemon even more than chocolate. Please don’t hate me! If there is a choice between chocolate and fruit, I most certainly always choose the latter (umm..yess.. mostly!). Chocolate vs lemon tart? Absolutely lemon tart! Chocolate donuts or strawberry filled donuts? Undoubtedly strawberry! Are we still friends? Okay, great! 🙂

Lemon Crinkle Melts2

These cookies were SOOO GOOD that I might have tried eating 4 in a go. Don’t try to picture that! I found this fantastic recipe on White On Rice Couple blog and they looked so gorgeous that I had to make them. I slightly reduced the quantity of butter and sugar mentioned in the recipe to suit our taste and they were perfect for us.

This recipe does not use any lemon extract and if you are worried about the lemon quotient then worry not, my friends. They are plenty lemony. I was blown away by the flavor and texture would be an understatement! If you love lemon cookies and love snickerdoodles like I do, you will find yourself stuffing yourself silly with these lovely cookies. Soft interior with slightly crisp exterior achieved by rolling the dough in confectioners sugar before baking. Delicate and bright! What’s not to love?!

Can you tell I’m obsessed? Yeah, this recipe will be definitely made again & again & again.
Enjoy!

Lemon Crinkle Melts3

Lemon Crinkle Melts

Recipe slightly adapted from White On Rice Couple

Yields: Around 24 cookies or more depending on size

Prep time: 10 minutes | Chill time: 30 minutes | Bake time: 9-11 minutes | Total time: 1 hour

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup white granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg (make it eggfree & use 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce)
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup confectioners sugar

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C / 350°F. Line a couple cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda for at least 20 seconds. Set aside.
  3. In a bowl of your mixer, add lemon zest, brown sugar, white sugar and mix together with hand. Add butter to the bowl and beat butter and zesty sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla extract, egg and lemon juice until well combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix again to make sure everything is incorporated.
  4. Stir in the flour mixture until just combined, making sure to scrape the bottom of the bowl to get all of the flour. Cover the bowl with cling film and let the dough chill in refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  5. Sift the confectioners sugar onto a large plate. Form the dough into 1 inch sized balls. Roll the balls in the confectioners sugar then place 2 inches apart on the lined cookie sheets.
  6. Bake for 9-11 minutes or until the bottoms of the cookies just begin to turn light golden and the tops of the cookies look matte (no longer shiny or wet looking). Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Note: To make these cookies vegan, replace butter with vegan margarine.