Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Peas & Asparagus Stuffed Jumbo Shell Pasta

I have received information and materials from ©Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. 2017. The opinions stated are my own. This is a sponsored post. #ForWhatMattersMost #CollectiveBias

A combination of Peas and Asparagus stuffed in Jumbo Shells, baked on a layer of Marinara and topped with Mozzarella Cheese! Can you ask for more deliciousness in ONE meal?  




Did you notice we are almost at the end of May? Another month passes us by as we start looking forward to warmer days and LOTS of Summer activities. As the days get longer and warmer, we make TONS of plans for family trips, barbeque evenings and long long road trips.

When we have the entire plan set for an upcoming weekend, I hate to wake up with a terrible headache. Worse still, when I end up with back ache coupled with headache. I already have reservations made for the day and I think I will have to pass the plan thanks to the awful ache. That is when I trust Extra Strength TYLENOL®. Available at Target, this one helps me to get back to the things I love with powerful relief of headaches, back pain and more.




Last weekend I hosted a party with some friends. We were planning a trip for the Memorial Day long weekend so got together to make some reservations etc. For this I made some delicious food; Olive Oil sautééd Asparagus stems, Peas and Asparagus stuffed Jumbo Shells, Watermelon Feta Salad and Mango Juice. 

I love how these shells come together quickly, can be stuffed with different combinations each time and are perfect to make ahead of any party or get together. As we are juggling between Spring and Summer, I got a BIG bunch of Asparagus and had tons of Peas in my refrigerator. So they came together in this wonderful baked pasta dish. 


The weekend had been exceptionally busy with gardening, bbq party the previous day and lots of spring cleaning. So I ended up with a back ache. I took the recommended dose of Extra Strength TYLENOL® to relieve the pain and concentrate on my menu and planning! 


Extra Strength TYLENOL® works to temporarily relieve minor aches and pains due to: the common cold, headache, backache, minor pain of arthritis, toothache, muscular aches, premenstrual and menstrual cramps. It also temporarily reduces fever. But remember it is only for adults and children 12 years and older. And MOST IMPORTANT, use only as directed and keep away from the reach of children. See how people are winning over their pain with TYLENOL®


So with the pain behind me, I could pull off this amazing dish with minimum effort! I made the filling and boiled the pasta shells side by side. Filled, topped and baked the shells till done and I had an amazing party dish in no time. I baked them just before serving and froze the leftovers for lunch the next day. To enjoy them, I just placed them in a preheated oven the next day and in 10 minutes, it made a great lunch! 


Variations

This version has a filling of Asparagus and Peas. If you cannot find either of them, add a vegetable of your choice. I have used Zucchini and Broccoli in the past and they taste awesome! 

I used a store bought Marinara Sauce in this recipe, but making your own version works well too. Besides, using your favorite sauce like pumpkin, spinach, alfredo or pesto is a great option too. For the topping, you can add some breadcrumbs too. They make the pasta even more delicious!! 

And lastly, if you cannot find the jumbo shells around you, try Manicotti or better still, make your own pasta. There is nothing more satisfying than that I guess!  


Hope you all try this recipe at home. It is a recipe that is fancy, easy to make, super delicious and make ahead all at once! Can you ask for anything more in a dish that is perfect for a party? I do not think so!  



Ingredients

Jumbo Shell Pasta 8-10 shells
Cream Cheese 3/4 cup
Mozzarella Cheese 1/2 cup
Asparagus 10-12 stalks
Green Peas 1/2 cup
Garlic 2 pods
Oregano 1 tsp
Red Chilli Flakes 1/2 tsp
Olive Oil 1 tbsp
Salt and Pepper as needed
Marinara Sauce (home-made or store bought)



Method

In a pan heat 6 cups water with 1 tsp salt. Once it comes to a boil, add the pasta shells. Cook till al-dante. I cooked them a couple of minutes less than the instruction on the box. This way they remain firm while filling. Drain and set aside.

Wash and trim the ends of the asparagus. Cut into 1/4 inch pieces and set aside. 

In a pan heat olive oil. Once hot, add minced garlic and saute till soft. Then add the peas and asparagus. Also season with 1/4 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper powder chilli flakes and oregano. Mix well and cook for 4-5 minutes. 

Turn down the heat, cool and mix in cream cheese and 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese. Mix the stuffing well. 



In a baking tray spread some marinara sauce. Then take a shell pasta, stuff it with 2 tbsp of the stuffing and place it on the tray. 

Fill all the shells and place them on the baking tray. Sprinkle some cheese on top and add some marinara sauce too. 

Preheat oven to 350 F/ 180 C. Bake the shells for 12-15minutes, till the cheese melts and the filling starts to ooze out. 

Remove from oven and serve with a side of olive oil sautééd asparagus and some more marinara sauce. 




I am not a medical expert, and this post is not medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. ©Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. 2017. The third party trademarks used herein are trademarks of their respective owners.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Cotton Candy Frappé

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #FoundMyDelight #CollectiveBias

A childhood favorite grows up in the form of a wonderful coffee. This cotton candy coffee is what you need all summer long!


The scorching heat of Summer is on! All I can think of is a range of chilled drinks to enjoy through the day. Whether it is juice, coffee or cold drinks, we are up for everything all day long. 

It is fun to make a lot of flavorful drinks at home and enjoy them with family. I prefer to do that rather than visiting a coffee store each time. However it may not always be feasible to make a new drink every now and then. For those times I LOVE to have International Delight® Iced Coffee on a few cubes of ice. And yes, they make a great starter for an array of chilled drinks you can enjoy all summer long! 


Recently I brought home International Delight® Iced Coffee from Walmart. These coffees come in half gallon packs that are fridge friendly and ready to drink. Besides, they are also affordable and convenient. Just pop the cap and pour onto some ice. You have a glass full of delicious cafe style coffee ready! And use the same to make some yummy combinations of coffee too.




One of my favorite sweet as a kid was cotton candy. Made from spun sugar and added flavor, I would love to have this at local fairs, on the beach and sometimes even at home. And my favorite drink now is a glass of chilled cold coffee. So what better than combining the two to make a drink that is delicious and super easy to make!

Ever since the unicorn craze came into food I have a bottle of candy cane extract in my pantry. It is a perfect way to weave some magic into ordinary drinks and smoothies. Besides I also got some cherry flavored cotton candy on my last grocery shopping trip. And with a box of International Delight® Vanilla Iced Coffee and ice cream in my refrigerator, I was all set to make this drink.


The procedure is rather simple. Just whip up the coffee in a blender, add to a glass and top it with cream, cotton candy and a cherry on top. Not only does the drink come together in under 10 minutes, it is perfect to cool off in the summer heat. The presentation is chic for a summer party or for a bbq you might be hosting. For more inspiration and ideas, head here


Variations

With the coffee being out of the box, the taste and flavor does not change depending on who makes it! I used the Vanilla flavor coffee but the Mocha one works just as well. The combination of chocolate and cotton candy is a great one. 

Getting cotton candy extract should be an easy task. However, if you cannot find it anywhere, just add a BIG ball of cotton candy while making the coffee. Make sure it does not become over sweet though. 


Adding cream and maraschino cherry is optional, but completes the drink beautifully. Skip one or both if you do not like it. 

So run now to the closest store and grab a box of International Delight® Vanilla and Mocha Iced Coffee. Serve up a bold blast of vanilla flavor in seconds! Just open the fridge, pour over ice and enjoy. Chocolate and coffee flavors: the perfect pair. Their Mocha Iced Coffee come ready to drink, so all you need is ice and a frosty glass. Yum!


Ingredients

Vanilla Ice cream 2 scoops
Cotton Candy Extract 1/4 tsp + 1/8 tsp
Whipping Cream 1/4 cup
Sugar 1/2 tsp
Candy Cane 1 cup
Maraschino Cherries 2



Method


In a blender add International Delight® Iced Coffee, vanilla ice cream and 1/4 tsp cotton candy extract. Whip till smooth. 


Add cream, 1/8th tsp cotton candy extract and sugar to a bowl. Whip till soft peaks form. 


In a glass add the blended coffee. Top with some whipping cream. Finally, place a ball of cotton candy on top and add a maraschino cherry. 


Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Indo-Chinese Noodle Dosa

When Indo-Chinese meets South Indian, a delicious dosa recipe emerges. This Noodle Dosa is addictive, yet super easy to make! 


Dosa, a simple crepe made from rice and lentil has gone too far with respect to innovation. From the simple Sada Dosa and Masala Dosa we have graduated to Chinese Dosa, Maggi Dosa, Paneer Chilli Dosa and what not! Everytime I visit my favorite street vendor in Mumbai, he has a range of new flavors that are almost beyond my imagination! 

While some combinations are really unique, the rest are super delicious and easy to make at home. Among the newer combinations, the one with noodles and schezwan sauce is my favorite. I am a fan of Indo-Chinese food and Dosas is on my go-to list of comfort foods. So when there is a recipe that combines the two, I cannot not like it.

I have tried various versions of this dosa based on what I have had in India and how we like our dosa. This one turned out to be our favorite. With a teaspoon of Schezwan Sauce in each dosa with a simple stir fry of vegetables and noodles, we can never get enough of this version! 


To make this dosa I used a thin variety of noodles. The thin ones go really well with the dosa. I have used thick Udon noodles in the past, but they seem to overpower the dosa. With them, you can taste more of the noodles and less of the dosa! 

The filling I had in the dosa was enough for one dosa. If you like a super loaded dosa, feel free to add twice the amount. It will taste the same with just some extra noodles in there! This recipe works really well to use up extra noodles too. If you are looking for a quick way to use up hakka noodles after a party, this dosa might be your answer! 


Variations

If you have seen the vendors on the street make this dosa, you would see that they make the noodles on top of the dosa. While that is a great way to do, I like to make my noodles separately and combine ot with schezwan sauce and spring onions on the dosa. 

I have not added anything beyond the noodles and schezwan sauce in the dosa. However, cheese and paneer are often added to the dosa and they taste great too. If you want a milder version, skip the schezwan sauce and make the dosa the same way. 

If you like other vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower or mushrooms, go ahead and add them. I stuck to the traditional vegetables that I have seen the street vendors add. 

Plus, if you are making this out of leftover noodles, just add them all. It does not matter what all has gone into the noodles as long as you like it!

I served it with some homemade Schezwan Sauce, Coconut Chutney and Sambhar. Enjoy it with these or just have them without any sides. It tastes amazing both ways! 




Ingredients

Dosa Batter 2 cups

Dry Hakka Noodles 3/4 cup
Onion 1/2 medium
Pepper 1 medium
Carrot 1 medium
Cabbage 1/4 
Spring Onion 3-4 stalks
Oil 1 tsp
Soy Sauce 1 tsp
Vinegar 1/4 tsp
Salt and Pepper

Butter as required


Method

Make the dosa batter as per this recipe. Set aside. Cut all the vegetables into long strips.

Heat 4 cups of water and 1 tsp salt in a large saucepan. Add the noodles and cook till al-dente. Drain the noodles and put them in a saucepan. Sprinkle little oil on them and mix well, to ensure they do not stick. 

Heat oil in a wok or thick bottom saucepan that is wide. Add the pepper and onion. Mix well and add carrots and cabbage. Cook on high flame for 2-3 minutes and mix well.  


Now add the boiled noodles, vinegar, soy sauce, salt and pepper. Toss well and turn down the flame. 

To make the dosa, heat the tava/griddle. Pour about 1/2 cup-3/4 cup batter on the tava and spread to a thin round. Cook till the bottom is light brown. 

Spread 1 tsp Schezwan Sauce on the dosa and add the prepared noodles. Sprinkle some spring onions and lightly mash everything with a pav bhaji masher. 

Spread some butter on top, and fold the dosa into half. Serve with Sambar, Coconut Chutney and Schezwan Sauce


Thursday, May 18, 2017

Eggless Strawberry Chocolate Cake

A perfect combination of chocolate and strawberries that is colorful, delicious and easy to make. A summer treat that everyone needs to try!


Strawberries are in season and I am making a TON of recipes using them. From milkshake to cake and from ice cream to chocolate dipped berries. We went a couple of weekends ago to pick strawberries. The berries there were super bright colored and looked amazing! 

While we had initially decided to bring home only a pound or so, we ended up with FOUR pounds of berries to finish between the two of us! We made glass of milkshake, roasted half a pound of berries and made a couple of smoothie bowls too. 



Then I wanted to make a cake that was full of strawberries. I thought I would make a strawberry cream cake. My husband is a fan of chocolate cakes. Thus, I changed my mind and made a chocolate strawberry cake. The sweetness of chocolate and the fruity flavor of strawberry came together really well in the cake. I started to wonder why I had not combined the flavors in a cake earlier. 


The cake came out really delicious and we devoured it in two days! We thoroughly enjoyed the chocolate flavor in the cake, with the strawberry pieces studded in there. And with the Nutella based ganache on top, there could not have been a better cake! 


Personalize your Strawberry Chocolate Cake

I made an EGGLESS version of the cake. Initially I used to never be convinced with eggless baking. However, I tried a buttermilk version of the cake and I have been in love with this recipe since then. In the past, I have made eggles versions of pineapple cake, chocolate cake and this strawberry cake. However, if you like a cake with eggs, replace the buttermilk part with 1 egg. It should work really well. 

Almost all chocolate cakes have Vanilla extract in them. But I was going to try a newer combination. So I added Almond extract in the cake. With all the Nutella on top, the almond flavor worked really well in the cake. If you would rather make a traditionally flavored one, use Vanilla Extract. 


The recipe here uses strawberry. However, the same can be made with blueberries or raspberries too. Better still, you can combine the berries and make a mixed berries version! Do not forget to roll the berry pieces in flour before adding to the batter. Else, the berries will settle to the bottom of the pan. 

I baked the cake in a 9 inch Angel food Cake mold. However, the same cake can be made in a 8 inch pan or in two 6 inch pans and stacked. It all depends on how you like your cakes. 

Lastly, the ganache I made is from Nutella. If you like a chocolate version, add chopped dark chocolate in a bowl and add cream on it. And decorate the cake with fresh strawberries like this or with chopped berries and chocolate chips. 


Ingredients

For the cake

All purpose Flour 1 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp
Sugar 1 cup
Cocoa powder 1/2 cup
Strawberries 1 cup, chopped 
Buttermilk 1 cup (Can be substituted by 1 cup milk+1 tsp vinegar)
Oil 1/2 cup
Baking Soda 1 tsp
Almond Extract 1 tsp 
Salt a pinch

For the Hazelnut Ganache 

Nutella or chocolate hazelnut spread 1/2 cup
Whipping Cream 1/4 cup

Strawberries a handful to decorate


Method

To make the cake

Mix together milk and vinegar and let stand for 5-6 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 F/ 180 C. Line a 9 inch bundt cake or 8 inch round with non-stick spray or parchment paper.

In a bowl sift together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. 

In the base of the stand mixer or in a big bowl mix together buttermilk, almond extract and oil. Whip till combined. Add in the dry ingredients and mix well. 

Roll the strawberries pieces in 2 tbsp all purpose flour. Add that to the batter and gently fold them in. 

Transfer the batter to the prepared mold. Bake for 20-22 minutes, till a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. 

Remove and cool on a cooling rack till the cake is completely cool.


To make the Ganache

Add Nutella in a bowl and whip lightly. Heat cream in a pan till it starts to bubble. 

Pour over Nutella and mix well. Cool till it thickens a little. 

Pour the ganache over the cake and let it settle. Decorate with strawberries and powdered sugar. Enjoy! 





Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The BEST Instant Jalebi recipe

An instant version of Jalebis; sinful crisp fried spirals dunked in sugar syrup. This Indian version of Funnel cakes make a perfect dessert or breakfast recipe!


Jalebi, those rounds of crispy fried flour dunked in sugar syrup. The dessert that everybody enjoys! Some people dunk it in milk, some in rabdi and the rest enjoy it for breakfast with gathiya. 

Jalebi is one of the most popular desserts at weddings. A live counter of jalebi is pretty common now. A person makes fresh jalebi there and it is served with rabdi or vanilla ice cream. Everytime I think of a wedding, I instantly dream of the orange yellow rounds of goodness!


I have a traditional recipe of jalebi on the blog. However, it needs a lot of planning to make them. So I started making this instant version. Now, with this recipe, Sundays are so much better. We plan to make jalebi in the morning and we are enjoying hot breakfast in under 30 minutes! A typical Gujarati breakfast combination of home-made jalebi and store bought gathiya. Plus, fried chillies and papaya mixture. It is heaven on a plate to say the least! 


Everytime I visit India, I love to visit Shrinathji, a small town in Rajasthan. There is a famous temple there that I love to visit. But besides, I simply love all the food that can be enjoyed on the streets on the town! A typical day starts with a lovely breakfast of Jalebi, Gathiya, Kadhi and Masala Chai. Here is a glimpse of the breakfast combination.


Shrinathji is where I have had the best jalebi ever. When I am back from India, I crave this combination really often. So an instant version of jalebi comes to my rescue. 


Difference in this and the traditional version

The traditional recipe to make Jalebi requires mixing the ingredients and leaving it to ferment overnight. The fermentation depends on where you live and the temperature. It is sometimes dicey because I leave it to ferment overnight hoping to make jalebis the next morning but it does not ferment. So my plan goes for a toss! 

While the ingredients in this recipe are similar, the addition of fruit salt converts the recipe to an instant one. That is the ONLY difference between this and the fermented one! 


Variations

The ingredients in the recipe are such that every pantry will easily have them. Using cornstarch or besan gives the same result. You can make it with either of them. 

I used home-made yogurt that was thick. If your yogurt has water, add 3 tsp and reduce the water content. Make sure you use just enough water. Adding too much will make the dough drip and not form rounds. 

Adding color in the recipe is optional. Add it if you want bright colored jalebis. It does not alter the taste at all. 


Ingredients 

For the Jalebi 
All purpose flour/Maida 1 cup
Cornstarch/chickpea flour 2 tsp
Yogurt 2 tsp
Ghee/ Clarified Butter 2 tsp
Yellow/ Orange Food Color a pinch
Water 1/2-3/4 cup
ENO/ Fruit salt 1 tsp
Oil or ghee to fry

For the Sugar Syrup
Sugar 3/4 cup
Water 1/4 cup
Cardamom seeds 1-2 pods
Saffron a pinch



Method

To make the Sugar Syrup

Mix together sugar and water in a wide saucepan. heat on medium flame till the sugar melts and the syrup is thick. I did not check the string consistency, just ensured it is thick enough to coat the jalebis. 

Add saffron and cardamom seeds. Mix and keep on lowest flame till jalebis are made. 


To make the Jalebis

In a bowl mix together the flour with all the other ingredients except water, oil and fruit salt. 

Heat oil or ghee in a pan. Keep on medium flame. 

Add fruit salt to the jalebi mixture and mix well. Use water to make a pancake style batter. The amount varies based on the besan/cornstarch and all purpose flour brands. The mixture will froth and become light. 

Transfer to a jalebi maker/ empty ketchup squeezy bottle or a ziplock bag. If using a bag, make a small hole at one end. 

Make overlapping rounds of the batter in the oil/ghee. Fry till crisp on medium flame. Turn over and fry for a minute. 

Drain and add to the sugar syrup. Turn it around to coat completely. 

Serve immediately with gathiya, papaya sambar and fried green chillies.