Friday, April 21, 2017

Blood Orange Lemonade

A perfect summer drink using Blood Oranges. Ditch all the artificial colors and join the clean eats bandwagon with this one!


It is getting warm and it is time to bring out chilled drinks. Plus the season for Blood Oranges is almost coming to an end. Isn't it the best time to combine the two and make something delicious?

That was exactly my thought when I made this Sparkling Lemonade. Every weekend we go to the Farmer's Market and I end up with atleast a dozen citrus fruits. Juicing them all is an option but not the most interesting one. So I made this drink this time with fresh Blood Oranges. 


Apart from the taste and flavor of the oranges, there is something else I like in this drink. It is the way the way the 'blood' mixes in slowly with the transparent drink. It gives me a feeling that I should make this one for Halloween. Such a pity we do not get the Blood Oranges at that time. Else this recipe would give all the red velvet recipes a run for their money!


I was not a great fan of this fruit till not long ago. The color intimidated me all the time. And then I had Blood Orange Lemonade at the Farmer's Market. Since that day I have fallen in love with the color itself! No more red velvet color in use for the months that I can get this citrus. And the flavor is so good. I love that too. 

Now that I have told you all about why I got these beauties, here is a little something about the fruits themselves. Blood oranges' red pigment, anthocyanin, is an antioxidant. Blood oranges are a source of vitamin C like all citrus fruits. A medium-sized orange also provides 28% of the recommended daily intake of dietary fiber. These oranges can also be a valuable source of folate, calcium, and thiamine (source:Wikipedia). 


So using this power house fruit and a few more ingredients, head straight to your kitchen and make this immediately. Wait, is this recipe useless after a couple of weeks? Not at all; This recipe can be made in several other ways; read on about the variations and then start making your version.  


Variations

I used only blood oranges for this recipe. However, you can use any citrus fruit; orange, limes, sweet limes or a mixture of these. Also, if you would like a slightly sour version, skip the sugar. 

Another way of making a refreshing drink with Blood Oranges is to substitute Sparkling Water with a lemon flavored soda like Sprite or Sierra Mist. As they are sweet, the lemonade will be slightly sweeter. 

Looking for more drink recipes? Head to this gallery on TastyBev.co. There is a collection of all the drink recipes from my blog and more!   


Ingredients

Blood Orange 2 medium
Sugar 2 tbsp
Sparkling Water/Club Soda 
Lemon wedges 1-2
Ice as required


Method

Juice the blood oranges. Ensure no seeds or rind gets into it. Add sugar to the juice, mix and set aside. 

In two glasses, add ice cubes as desired.

Pur in the sparkling water and add a wedge of lemon. Slowly pour in half the blood orange juice in each glass. Mix and enjoy!




Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Simplest Blender Mango Popsicles

The easiest way to make Mango Popsicles is here! This one needs just three ingredients and a blender. No cooking, no machine needed and absolutely no artificial flavoring!


Mangoes are in season and I cannot stop making delicacies using them. Whether it is ice cream, milkshake, cake, aamras, mousse or savory fajeto; I am making everything. Apart from that, I am even gorging on slices of mango just like that! 

Such is my passion for the King of Fruits. A few days ago I posted a traditional recipe of Saffron Mango Kulfi, something that takes hours to make. Then I made this super easy recipe that needs just THREE ingredients and 5 minutes to mix. And yes, it is a one bowl recipe; needing just a blender! 

The recipe is straightforward; dump everything in a blender, churn and freeze. As the recipe does not have any milk or ingredients that has water, the possibility of the popsicle having ice crystals in them is eliminated. And it is so simple, even your kids can make their own popsicles. 


Not a fan of popsicles? Set the same ice cream in a pan and scoop the creamy ice cream into bowls. And when served with a side of mango slices; this ice cream is super awesome.

I made this version two weeks back for the first time. I LOVED it so much, that I have made two lots in the last two weeks. Thank God I have just one set of popsicle mold; I can only make six at a time! Otherwise we would have a sugar overdose at home!  

Wonder what I like best about this recipe? It is the fact that this is no cook and yet so creamy and delicious. To make this, I just place pieces of mango in the blender first, churn them and then add the remaining ingredients. Churn it one more time and then all you need to do is wait for the popsicles to set! 


The quantity of condensed milk will vary based on how sweet the mangoes are. So first start with 1/2 cup and go on increasing based on requirement. Plus, I did not add any color in the popsicles, as the mangoes I used vere bright yellow. If you like, add some color and you will get deep yellow popsicles. 

Fancy pieces of mango in the pops? Go ahead and add them. Plus, if you like you can add some pineapple too. The popsicles will be amazingly sweet and sour. I have made them once, but never got a chance to shoot them. 

Do try these popsicles at home. I am sure they will become your favorite popsicle recipe too! And don't forget to share them with me on Facebook, Instagram or on this space! 


Ingredients

Heavy Whipping Cream 2 cups
Condensed Milk 3/4 cup
Mango Puree 3/4 cup


Method

In a blender add all the ingredients and blend for a couple of minutes, till all the ingredients are blended. 

Add the mixture to the popsicle molds. I could make 6 popsicles, but it will depend on the size of the popsicle mold you have. Alternatively add to a pan. Freeze for 4-6 hours. 

To remove, run under hot water for 20-30 seconds and enjoy!



Thursday, April 13, 2017

Chocolate Carrot Cupcakes for Easter

These are not your regular chocolate cakes. These cupcakes are full of carrots and spices. Are you making these for your Easter brunch?


This Sunday is Easter and I am already in mood for everything Carrots, Bunnies and the like! For the upcoming weekend I made some delicious cupcakes. I started preparing for this cupcake last week. The first step to make these beauties was to get the carrot tops and clay pots ready to use.


Initial Preparation 

While it only takes a few minutes to buy the carrots with tops from the Farmer's Market, I decided to grow them at home. I got a bunch of carrots last week and cut the tops. Added some water in a flat plate, placed the carrot heads in them and watched them grow! The only thing required was to change the water each day. In about 5-6 days, I had lovely greens on top of the carrots. You can do that or buy them ready-made. And yes, post the pictures, I made a delicious Pesto with the greens. It tastes delicious and super flavorful!

Coming to the clay pots, I have been meaning to use them for cupcakes and breads for a while. Finally the plan materialized for Easter and I bought myself these cute pots. Now that I own them, I will be using them more often for cakes and breads. While shopping, I saw that Wilton has silicone molds that resemble the clay pots, but I decided to stick with the traditional ones! 



Seasoning the Clay Pots

To season the pots, wash them well and dry them completely. I like to bake them at 350 F/ 180 C for 20-25 minutes before making a cake in them. This way you are sure the pots are perfect and do not end up breaking them with all your batter in them! Let them cool completely before pouring the batter in them. 


Making the Cake

With all these preparation done,I started with my cake. I used the basic recipe I use for all my chocolate cakes. I just added half a cup of shredded carrots and some cinnamon powder to make it perfect for Easter. Fill the molds upto 2/3rd level and bake them. Because there is carrot in there, it might take a few extra minutes to bake. But it gives a cake that is super moist and full of carrot flavor. 

Once the cake is baked, cool it completely and then start the decorating. I used Nutella (a personal favorite) to top this one. You can use Cream Cheese or Whipping Cream too. But I wanted the topping to be basic, given how moist the cake was! So just a tbsp of Nutella went on top, to ensure my shredded chocolate stuck well on the top. I added that and finally decorated the cupcakes with chocolate eggs and carrot tops.


The cake was almost too cute to eat. I ended up taking pictures for over two hours! After the pictures, I saw that it was really easy to remove the cakes from the pots. The parchment paper did all the work and my pots were clean after I ate the cupcakes. The cakes were super moist, full of carrots and cinnamon and really chocolatey! We had such a great time having these even before Easter is here! 

So wait no more, just head straight to the recipe. And do not forget to follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest to catch all the new posts instantly when they are published. 


Ingredients

For the Cake

Allpurpose Flour 3/4 cup
Unsweetened Cocoa Powder 1/4 cup
Brown Sugar (or white) 1/2 cup
Milk 1/2 cup
Vinegar 1 tsp
Baking Soda 1/2 tsp
Cinnamon Powder 1 tsp
Oil 1/4 cup
Carrot Shredded 1/2 cup
Salt a pinch


For the topping

Nutella/ Chocolate Hazelnut Spread 1/4 cup
Chocolate bar 1 piece
Colorful Eggs a few
Carrot tops (I grew them at home) 


Method

For the Cake

Preheat oven to 350 F/ 180 C. Line six claypots or regular muffin tin with parchment paper. Mix the milk and vinegar and let it stand for ten minutes. 

In a bowl sieve together flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon powder and salt. Mix well and sieve again. Set aside. 

In a large bowl or the bowl of the stand mixer, mix together milk, vinegar and oil to a homogenous mixture. Add the dry ingredients and fold them all together. Finally add in the shredded carrots and mix together. 

Divide the batter equally among the pots/molds and bake for 14-16 minutes, till a toothpick inserted in the centre of the cupcake comes out clean. 


Remove and cool completely on a rack. The cupcakes can be wrapped in cling wrap and refrigerated overnight.


To finish the cakes

When ready to decorate, remove the cakes from the refrigerator. Keep the carrot tops and eggs ready. Using a microplane shred the chocolate bar in a plate. Add a tbsp of Nutella on each cake and spread it evenly.

Turn the cake over into the plate with shredded chocolate and ensure it sticks evenly. Add the carrot tops, Easter eggs and Easter toppings. Serve!




Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Ciabatta Sandwich Rolls for #BreadBakers

Making artisan bread from scratch is easier than you think. This Ciabatta recipe is a perfect example; no bread maker required and no special ingredients!




Bread baking is therapeutic. That has always been my feeling since the FIRST time I baked bread at home. I fell in love with the Chemistry and Biology that goes on in bread-making. Whether it is the right mix of ingredients to ensure that the dough rises or the way yeast reacts with sugar and salt to raise a whole loaf of bread. It is all very interesting and fascinating to watch.

Besides, serving fresh bread to family and friends is like a small achievement in itself. When they all look at the even size dinner rolls or at a loaf that resembles the one bought from the store, there is an excitement that I made it at home. They refuse to believe it at first, but finally they do. So the next statement is almost always the same; will you teach me please? 

Seeing and hearing all this, I have been making similar types of breads for a while. Since a few weeks my husband has been insisting that I make some more exotic breads and he has been pushing me to make sourdough at home. While I muster enough courage to make that, here is my first bread from sponge that has risen slowly over 18 hours! 



It is all thanks to Anshie, our hostess for this month's BreadBaker's challenge; where the theme is Italian breads. Do check out her blog for some delicious recipes. I looked up a few sources and made up my mind that I was going to make Ciabatta for this month. 

A lot of resources online have different ways to make the bread. I had a copy of The Cook's Illustrated Baking Book, and followed the recipe there. And boy, after having this bread I do not think I am going back to the regular bread rolls again! 



Ciabatta, a flat bread from Italy is perfect for sandwiches. Made from a slowly risen sponge, this bread has a slight sour taste, making is appropriate for flavorful sandwiches. This version of sandwich bread has zero or very little oil. I loved this fact the most! Adding 3 tbsp oil/butter in my regular bread recipe is my least favorite step! With this bread I can do away with that. 

I made the sponge as mentioned below one evening. The next morning I baked the bread. I loved how I got uneven holes in the bread, and the amazing sour flavor the bread had. I could make four medium size sandwich breads from the proportion mentioned below. 



We had sandwiches stuffed with greens, cucumber, tomatoes, mayonnaise and cheese. For the remaining two breads, I cut them to slices and smothered them with minced garlic, balsamic and some butter. Toasted the slices and served them with a side of balsamic. The combination was simply too good! I now look forward to making a large loaf and making garlic bread out of it. Until then, enjy this recipe!



Ingredients

For the sponge 
All purpose Flour 1 cup
Instant Active Dry Yeast 1/8 tsp
Water 1/2 cup

For the dough
All purpose Flour 2 cups
Instant Active Dry Yeast 1/2 tsp
Salt 1 1/2 tsp
Water 3/4 cup
Milk 1/4 cup (Room temperature)




Method

In a bowl mix together the ingredients under sponge. Ensure that all the flour is well incorporated with the yeast and water.

Cover and rest in a warm dry place for 12 hours. The sponge can be made 24 hours in advance too. 

To make the dough, mix all the ingredients under dough with the activated sponge. It will be super sticky and using a stand mixer will make the process less tedious. 

Mix it all and knead on medium speed for 12-13 minutes. The dough should be shiny and smooth by then. Cover and let the dough rise for an hour, till doubled.



Coat a rubber spatula with nonstick spray and use it to remove the risen dough onto a baking sheet. Get the entire dough out and mix once. 

Divide the dough into four parts. Using one part, flatten it out a little. Fold the dough into half and into half again. Transfer the bread onto a parchment lined tray. Repeat for the remaining three parts and let the breads rise for 30 minutes, till the top develop some holes. 

Preheat oven to 450 F/ 230 C. Place the breads in the middle rack and place a large tray filled with water in the lower rack. Bake the breads for 22-25 minutes, till it is light brown on top. Remove and cool completely. Use the bread as required. 





#BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme. You can see all our of lovely bread by following our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated after each event on the #BreadBakers home page.

We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient. If you are a food blogger and would like to join us, just send Stacy an email with your blog URL to foodlustpeoplelove@gmail.com.

BreadBakers
Check out the breads from Italy that our fellow #BreadBakers have baked this month:

Monday, April 10, 2017

Mason Jar Salads + A quick yummy salad

Everything you wanted to know to make salads in Mason Jars! This one has some easy to follow tricks to get it right each time! 

Have you seen Instagram, Pinterest and Foodgawker filled with salads in a jar? I saved a ton of pins and images of these salads for a while. Finally, I started making them for my lunch and now I am loving it! After experimenting a few combinations and following articles online, I now have a set way of making my salads. Would you like to know? Read on.  


The essential components of making a Mason Jar Salad are: a dressing, a protein component, vegetables, greens and sprouts. By mixing various combinations of these layers, the possibilities are infinite! 

video

Starting from the Dressing, you can use anything from an Olive Oil based Vinaigrette to a creamy Mayonnaise based dressing. Or something like a Balsamic base with add-ins or Greek yogurt too. If you would like store bought dressings, just buy a few of your favorites and mix and match as required. Alternatively, make them from scratch on salad at a time. Add some herbs or leaves in any of the bases and mix well. Your yummy dressing is ready!  

Next is the Protein. The possibilities for meat eaters is plenty. But vegetarians are not far behind! From tofu or quinoa to legumes like sprouted moong beans or garbanzo beans, these are perfect for the Mason Jar. The lesser common ingredients are cheese and farro. Pick one of these as per your liking and keep changing it to make salads new each time. 

Vegetables and Fruits form an integral part of the salad. Whether it is chopped cucumbers, carrots, tomatoes, apples, celery, radish, cabbage or pineapple; they not only add color and flavor to the salad but also crunch and taste. If you like raw vegetables, add that. But if you would rather steam them, add cauliflower, french beans, broccoli or peas. Cut them all to small pieces so that it is easy to fill in and remove from the jar.

Next up is the Fixings. Shaved nuts, raisins, cheese, walnut pieces, dried cranberry, pine nuts etc etc etc. This list is infinite. Mix and match the fixings as per your choice and layer them in! They add a crunch to the salad and make it super delicious too. 

Salads and Greens are the last component of a salad jar. The required freshness in the salad is imparted by these greens. Iceberg lettuce, Romaine hearts, bean sprouts, arugula or microgreens. Add your favorites and your salad will be super crunchy. 


The secret to a perfect and tasty Mason Jar salad is all in the order.

While picking the ingredients for a salad is important, the order in which they go into the jar is REALLY IMPORTANT. I have had a couple of soggy salads and now I guess I know how to deal with them! 



The dressing goes into the jar first. This is so important! This guarantees that your salad ingredients don't get soggy. Next are the grains, protein or anything chunky. These form a WALL between the dressing and the delicate toppings. 

Just to double sure, I add an extra layer of protein to separate the top layers from the dressing. Anyway, some extra protein never hurts anyone! 

Next in are the fixings. The ingredients that you want to stay dry until just before you eat it. I like to add cheeses, nuts, dried fruits etc in my jar. 

And if you have any leafy greens, they go in last. That way when you turn the Mason jar over and unload it all into a bowl, the greens will make the salad bed. Then there will be the remaining ingredients and finally the dressing! Genius, isn't it!

Now with all that information, check out this salad that I made yesterday. It has everything in order and was such a delight for Sunday! 


Ingredients

Mayonnaise 1 tbsp
Sour Cream 2 tbsp
Mint leaves 3-4
Carrot, Radish, Cucumber 1/4 each
Frozen Corn Kernels and Green Peas 1/4 cup each
Iceberg lettuce few leaves
Alfalfa Sprouts 1/4 cup
Italian Seasoning 1/4 tsp
Salt and Pepper as required



Method 

To prepare the individual layers

Mix mayonnaise, sour cream, salt, pepper and Italian Seasoning. Shred two or three mint leaves and mix them in. Refrigerate till ready to use.

Wash and drain the sprouted moong beans. Set aside.

Peel and chop carrots, radish and cucumbers. Season with some salt and keep ready. 

In a bowl add the peas and corn. Microwave for two minutes. Alternatively boil them for 5 minutes on the stove. Drain and cool completely. 

Soak iceberg lettuce in ice water till crisp. Remove and squeeze out water.

Wash and drain alfalfa sprouts and set aside.

To prepare the salad

Pour the mayonnaise and then add the layers in the following order:
  • Sprouted Moong Beans
  • Chopped carrots, radish and cucumber
  • Peas and Corn Salad
  • Iceberg Lettuce
  • Alfalfa Sprouts
Sprinkle some salt and pepper on top. Add a mint sprig on the side and serve. Or close the jar and pack. 

To eat, just overturn the jar in a bowl. Mix and enjoy!



Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Roasted Strawberries

Have you ever tried roasting strawberries? A two ingredient recipe that is perfect as a topping for yogurt, granola or ice cream!


I always buy strawberries when I go to the Farmer's Market. I love how they can be used in many many ways. Sometimes I make milkshake using them, sometimes muffins and most often I devour them straight from the refrigerator! 

For the longest time I enjoyed them raw. Then I had the roasted version of these strawberries and fell in love with that. Since then, I make sure I have a jar full of these berries in my refrigerator. Once I reach the bottom of one jar, the second lot is baking in the oven!

To make these, all you need is strawberries and sugar. While the method is really simple, I like to make these when I am baking something else. That way I end up with two things baked in the same time! The tougher task is to wait for the strawberries to cool before I can devour them. Because, all so often I end up burning my tongue with the HOT berries. 


And you know what, the recipe is forgiving in terms of how the berries are. So if you are like me and get carried away in the farmer's market and bring home a TON of strawberries, this recipe is perfect to use them all immediately. Though the pack might have some really ripe ones and others just ripe, use them all. The combination will turn out perfect. And if you brought them home and forgot to use them for a few days, they might be a little over ripe. In that case too, the roasted berries come out perfect. Just adjust the amount of sugar and you are all set! 

You can make a jar full of these berries and use them for a week. Just make sure you cool the berries completely, transfer them to an airtight jar and refrigerate. Use them as required. I have tried this many times, the only problem is that I end up finishing the berries within a couple of days! 


Wondering where I use them in such quantities? Here is where they go: On Greek Yogurt, with Ice-Cream, on Pancakes and Waffles, as a topping for Tropical Chia Pudding and in desserts like this Mousse Cookie Jars. And lastly, I eat them with a spoon, straight out of the jar! I once tried a milkshake using the roasted berries and the result was amazing. I am still trying a few additions and variations to that recipe till I fall in love with the recipe and it is ready for the blog! 

Now that Spring is here and Easter is around the corner, I am making a big lot of these berries. You ask why? Because these will go into the baskets I am making to take along for Easter parties. And yes, they will also make perfect hostess gifts for my friends who are hosting barbecue parties starting this Sunday! Are you making these for your Easter baskets too?


Variations

While I roasted the strawberries with just sugar, the berries are perfect if you add some Vanilla Extract or Balsamic Vinegar to the strawberries. The Vanilla infused ones work really well with ice-cream and pancakes. And yes, try adding the Balsamic roasted berries to a salad. The combination is KILLER! 



Ingredients

Strawberries 15-20
Sugar 3 tbsp


Method

Wash and cut the strawberry greens. Chop the strawberries into equal size pieces. I cut the small ones in half and the large ones into fours. 

Transfer to a bowl and sprinkle sugar on them. Toss them and spread them in a baking tray. 

Place in an oven preheated to 350 F/ 180 C. Bake the strawberries are soft and release some juices. Cool to room temperature. 

Transfer to an airtight bottle and refrigerate. Use as a topping on yogurt, granola or ice-creams.