Appetizers/Snacks, Cakes n bakes

Zucchini parmesan crisps

Zucchini crisps

Winter season always calls for quick and hot starters or snacks in my house and this is one of them. At the beginning I got few batches which got a little soggy. After going through the web, I started preheating the baking sheet too and then started layering the zucchini and they turned perfect and crispy.

Ingredients:

zucchini- 2, medium

olive oil- 1 Tbsp

1/4 cup- bread crumbs

1/4 cup- grated parmesan cheese

1/8 tsp- salt

pepper to taste

Method:

Preheat the oven to 450 degree F. Mix all the ingredients expect zucchini in a bowl.

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Slice the zucchini into 1/4-inch thick rounds.

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Then dip the zucchini rounds on both sides and layer them on the preheated baking sheet which has been greased with cooking spray.

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Bake them until they are brown and crispy for 28-30 minutes and serve immediately!

Zucchini crisps

 

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Soup

Artichoke Soup

Artichoke soup

I was organizing my pantry last Sunday and found a can of artichoke hearts. Well what can I say, any dish with artichokes are favorite for me and my husband. Two dishes I had in my mind was artichoke spinach dip and artichoke soup. I was lazy enough to go grocery shopping for mayonnaise and spinach which I was running short of, never the less I had all the ingredients for the soup at home and hence prepared this hot artichoke soup for our wonderful evening.

Serves- 3 to 4

Ingredients:

Artichoke hearts-  8 oz can

Leeks-2, white part

Potato–  1 medium peeled

Garlic– 1 clove

Vegetable broth- 3 cups

Heavy cream– ½ cup

Olive oil– 4 tbsp

Salt – to taste

Pepper- ½ tsp

Preparation:

Chop Potatoes, white part of leek, garlic and keep aside.

Leek

Potatoes

Artichoke hearts

In a medium saucepan, Heat olive oil, add chopped leek and garlic.Sauté until translucent. Add potatoes, artichoke hearts and broth. Sprinkle salt and pepper, cover the pan and boil it for 20 minutes.

Artichoke soup

Once cooled blend everything together with heavy cream. Bring the blended mixture to heat and serve hot!

Artichoke soup

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Salads

Vegetable salad

Salad

My paternal aunt who prefers to have raw vegetables and fruits more than anything for her supper time, had prepared this salad at home when we visited her last month. This salad is so refreshing and I love the way how she used so many vegetables into one salad. I was full after having this salad and felt wonderful. I usually make salads or soups everyday before having dinner, so this salad made a new entry into my list and I prepare this most often than any other salad!

Serving-6 people

Ingredients:

Baby carrots -5

Baby radish -4

Yellow, orange, red bell pepper– Quarter of each

Cherry tomatoes– 1/4 cup

Spinach- 1 cup packed

Lettuce- 1 cup packed

Sweet corn- 1/4 cup

Tofu– 1/4 cup chopped into cubes

Cranberries-1/4 cup

Honey roasted groundnuts -1/4 cup (optional)

Toasted walnuts – 1/4 cup chopped

Dressing:

Any italian dressing

or

Honey- 2 tbsp

Freshly squeezed orange juice – 3 tbsp

Olive oil– 1 tbsp

Balsamic vinaigrette– 1 tbsp

Salt and pepper

Preparation:

Chop all the vegetables into small cubes.

Salad

Finely chop the leafy vegetables. Mix everything in a bowl. Add chopped tofu, cranberries and mix well.

Mix the dressing in a small bowl. Sprinkle salt, pepper and dressing according to your taste. Finally add the toasted walnuts and honey roasted groundnuts on top and serve immediately.

Salad

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Cakes n bakes

Date cake

I had a tin of dates and was debating on doing a sweet or date cake. Most votes was for the cake and ended up doing one. It turned out really soft and beautiful and at the end of the day, there were just few pieces left. My brother-in-law who visits us every weekend came and finished those last few pieces too. No one was actually satisfied having the cake so thought of baking it again. It turned out really well this time too. (We were actually fighting for the last piece) 🙂 The date cake story continues….

I called my brother-in-law on Wednesday and here how the conversation goes….

Me: What do you want me to bake this time?

BIL: Anything

Me: Anything? Date cake/ banana walnut muffins/ upside down cake.

BIL: hmmmm…. Date cake please…..

Me:  🙂 ok done.

So, within a span of 10 days, I ended up baking 3 date cakes 🙂

Ingredients:

Pitted dates- 18 to 20

All purpose flour– 1 cup

Milk-3/4 cup

oil- 1/2 cup  (vegetable oil or olive oil)

Baking soda– 1 tsp

Walnut– 1/4 cup (optional)

Sugar-3/4 cup (powdered)

Preparation:

Soak dates in milk for 2-3 hours.(If using dry dates, you might have to soak it overnight) Blend dates and sugar until smooth. In a bowl add oil and blended mixture and mix well. Now add (sifted) all purpose flour, baking soda and walnuts (optional) slowly and mix well.(I used a hand blender and mixed for 3-5 minutes, scraping the sides often.)

Put the mixture into a 9 inch pan and bake for 35 – 40 minutes at 350°F or until a toothpick comes out clear when inserted into the cake.

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Cakes n bakes

Banana, Walnut Bread

 My aunt had visited me two years back from Mumbai and she bakes awesome cakes and bread. She actually was the one who taught me the baking tricks with lot of good tips. She baked this bread while she was in my house and since then I have baked it too many times. I always wanted to blog about it but never really got a chance to take some pictures, which I finally did yesterday. A perfect bread to have with a hot cup of tea or coffee in the evenings

Ingredients:

All purpose flour-2 cups

Powdered sugar– 1 cup

Bananas- 3 (fully ripened and big ones)

baking soda-1 tsp

walnut-1/4 cup (chopped into small pieces)

olive oil– 1/4 cup

Preparation: In a large bowl mash the bananas really well and add powdered sugar and mix well. Add olive oil and walnut, mix until it has incorporated well into the mixture. Sieve all purpose flour along with baking soda. Divide the flour into 3 to 4 batches and add each batch of flour to the mixture slowly and mix. Make sure to have mixed the flour in one direction to avoid uneven mixing. Grease and flour the baking pan (I used 9 inch loaf pan) and add the mixture evenly. Preheat oven to 350°F and bake the bread for 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick comes clear when inserted in the center. Cool it for 5-10 minutes, Make sure the edges of the bread are clear from the pan (Insert a blunt knife and make it clear, making sure not to touch the base of the pan) before inverting. Do not keep the bread out for too long as it might loose its softness.

 

Linking this post to Fruit Fiesta.

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Side dish

Instant garlic pickle

This is a must try for garlic lovers. Garlic as known to everyone, has lot of heath benefits, it is a wonderful seasoning to add aroma, taste, and added nutrition to your dishes. Garlic pickle for me is  irresistibly tempting to eat with hot rice or dosas.

Ingredients:

Garlic- 30 cloves peeled and sliced lengthwise

Mustard and fenugreek powder-3 tsp

Red chilli powder-2tsp

Olive oil– 3 tbsp

Jaggery– 3 tbsp

Tamarind paste-3 tbsp

Salt- to taste

Preparation:

Heat olive oil in a vessel(can use peanut or sunflower oil too). Add garlic and fry until golden brown, add all the above ingredients mentioned. Cook for 10 minutes or until you see little oil floating on top. Add salt to taste and mix well.Can store the pickle in the refrigerator for  a long time.

PS: To make mustard and fenugreek powder, dry roast 3 tbsp of mustard seeds and fenugreek seeds, grind them into fine powder and then use it.

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Main Course

Pesto Pasta

I can never forget having pesto pasta the first time at an Italian bistro, the flavors just hit me and the taste was so good. I could never guess the ingredients until I asked my husband. Then I did some research and found out that small variations in the sauce can ruin the flavors.

There are different ways of making this pesto sauce. Some prepare it with walnuts, almonds and combination of pine nuts and walnuts. There are variations in using the cheese too. I prepared the sauce with only pine nuts and felt the authentic taste. I really liked the way it turned out. Took this to my office for lunch and my colleagues could not resist asking for some 🙂

Ingredients:

Pasta- ½ pound (Any type)

Button mushroom– 2 oz (or small can)

Extra virgin olive oil– 2 tsp

Ingredients to make Pesto sauce:

Basil leaves- 2 cups packed leaves

Pine nuts– ¼ cup

Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese – ½ cup (grated)

Extra virgin olive oil- 2/3 cup

Salt and pepper – for seasoning

Preparation:

To make pesto sauce:

Blend basil leaves and pine nuts coarsely in a food processor or blender. Add in olive oil slowly until it mixes well. Pour the sauce in a container and add the cheese and mix well. Add salt and pepper as per your need.

The pesto sauce can be stored as prepared for up to a week in the refrigerator. If you are planning to store the sauce for a longer time, store it without adding cheese. Apparently, if you top the sauce with olive oil and store it in the freezer, the sauce will be good up to three months.

To make the pasta:

Cook the pasta as per the instructions given on the pack. Add mushrooms 5 minutes before the pasta is cooked. Drain and run cold water on the pasta to prevent it from sticking.

Heat 2 tsp of olive oil in a pan, add the pasta and mushrooms and stir well for few minutes. Add 2-3 tbsp of pesto sauce and mix well.

Do not heat the pasta too long after adding the sauce. Mix well and serve immediately!

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