Friday, February 28, 2014

Whole wheat banana muffins

This is a muffin i make quite regularly. It is a very healthy recipe and all three of us like it a lot. Ritu keeps asking for "more mussin". This uses overripe bananas,so this recipe comes handy when you have overripe bananas that you neither want to have nor want to throw off. These muffins are dense yet soft. It is called  banana bread muffin because the batter is very similar to that of banana bread.

Banana whole wheat muffins

Recipe from Sally's Baking Addiction


1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
6 Tablespoons olive oil (or canola/vegetable oil/coconut oil)
1 cup mashed ripe banana (2 bananas)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (i skip this as we are not found of the flavor and I never have it in my pantry)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 and 1/2 cup whole wheat flour (or white-whole wheat or all-purpose flour)


Preheat oven to 425F degrees. Line 12-count muffin tin with cupcake liners and set aside.

Make the muffin batter by whisking together the egg and sugar for about 4 minutes until light in color. Stir in the oil, banana, and vanilla extract.

In a separate bowl, mix together the salt, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and flour. Slowly pour dry mixture into wet mixture. Stir together until just combined (do not overmix). Spoon batter into each liner- about 3/4 full. Fill any unused muffin cavities with 2-3 Tablespoons of water to assure the muffins bake evenly.

Bake muffins for 5 minutes at 425F degrees. Lower temperature dial down to 350F degrees and continue to bake for about 15 more minutes* until the muffins are set and lightly browned or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Baking in high temperature for 5 min and then bringing down the temperature gives the muffin a high dome. Allow to cool for 5 minutes in the tins and transfer to wire rack to cool completely before glazing.

* - 15 min for medium sized muffin pan, 11 min for mini muffin pan

These muffins have always come out well. The only place you can go wrong is the baking time. Since the baking time can vary between ovens it is a good idea to keep checking if the muffins are done towards the end.

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Saturday, February 22, 2014

Focaccia bread with herb oil

I am on a baking spree this month. It all started with Arun's b'day for which I did quite a lot of research and finalized on a mango custard cake with mango pudding filling and mango cream frosting.

I have been thinking of baking a bread since sometime now. So when I saw a recipe for Focaccia caprese in Ria's Collection I thought I would try baking the focaccia bread. Focaccia is a type of flat Italian bread made with yeast and olive oil and flavored with herbs. Caprese is a salad of fresh mozzarella, tomatoes and basil. Focaccia bread in the recipe was topped with this trio combination and hence the name Focaccia Caprese. This recipe is an adapted version by Aparna of the original recipe from Kitchen Whisperer. This recipe does not require any fancy gadget and I kneaded the dough with my hands. And I modified the recipe a bit due to unavailability of an ingredient. You might think it must be one of the herbs which is not usually used in south Indian cooking. But no, I had all of those, but I had only 2 cups of all purpose flour. So I used 2 cups of all purpose flour and 1 1/2 cups of whole wheat floor. Now when I think of it, I feel glad I didn't have 3 1/2 cups of all purpose flour. If I had I wouldn't have dared to use whole wheat flour in my first attempt to bake a bread. Now that I have used it and found that the bread came out good and since these days I am in search of healthy recipes, I would probably stick on to that.

Focaccia with herb oil

Original recipe: Kitchen whisperer
Adapted by: Aparna
Makes two medium sized or four small focaccia


For the bread
2 teaspoon instant yeast

1 1/2 tablespoon sugar
3 1/2 cups all purpose (I used 2 cups all purpose flour and 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour)
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 olive oil (regular also works)
1 - 1 1/2 cups warm water
A little more olive oil for brushing the dough
For the herb oil
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
1/2 teaspoon garlic paste
Salt to taste


Herb oil: Mix together all the ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.

Bread: Mix together all the ingredients through olive oil and then add in the warm water and form a soft elastic dough that is just short of sticky. Form a ball of the dough, take it out, oil the bowl with some extra olive oil, put the dough back in and coat it by turning the dough a couple of times. Cover and let it rise until doubled, for about an hour.

Pre heat the oven to 210C / 400F. Once risen, take the dough out and divide into two. Place them on a cookie sheet and press it out gently to 1 inch thickness.I shaped mine into a circle. Let it rise for 20 mins. Slightly oil your fingers and poke into the dough at equal intervals to create a dimpled effect. Brush the top of the bread with the herb oil, generously. Bake for 18-20 mins or until golden brown.
I made 2 medium sized Focaccia. We had one straight out of oven (along with soup) and the other, next day. It was a bit chewy when we had it the first day. I think that was because we didn't wait for the bread to cool down even a bit. When I said 'straight out of oven' I meant literally and not figuratively. It was dense yet spongy on the second day. The flavorful herb oil made contributed heavily in making this bread totally delicious. I would definitely make this again and next time possibly make some sandwiches out of it.

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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

365 days - One frame a day - Feb 18th

Helping out achan to set up new solar garden lamps: when Arun said that we have some pani(work) to get done, and handed over one of the lamps, Ritu went and fixed it just like he showed. And then told him, " Acha more pani".

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Auto Awesome Movies

I am loving the Auto awesome movies created automatically by the Google photo app that combines the photos and videos in our mobile. It is like getting a surprise gift and lovely to watch all the photos and videos as a small short films.

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Monday, February 17, 2014

365 days - one frame a day - Feb 17th

With her new ride: She was very excited to try it out and kept on going from one end of the house to the other.

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Sunday, February 16, 2014

Saturday, February 15, 2014

365 days - One frame a day - Feb 15th

On my kitchen window sill!

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Birthday cake!!

I have always baked a cake for Arun's b'day and i would like to think that i have improved with each of them. In fact the first cake I ever baked was for Arun's first b'day after our marriage. I over baked that chocolate cake and it was just a tad bit less crunchy :P.

The second one was better, a layered chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and strawberry filling. Taste wise it came out okay, but it had sunk in the middle a bit. :(

So this time after having baked quite a lot in the past one year I knew i would be able to bake a good one. With that confidence I also decided I am going to try my best at decorating the cake too. So I bought a decorating tips and frosting bags. After searching the entire blog land for a good cake recipe, I finally decided on a Mango custard cake with Mango pudding filling and Mango cream frosting. I combined recipes from two blogs to create this one.

Eggless Mango Pudding
Recipe from Ria’sCollection

1 1/2 c heavy whipping cream
1  c sweetened mango puree
4 tbsp sugar or to taste
1 tbsp gelatin dissolved in 3 tbsp water

 Whip the cream to stiff peaks along with sugar and then fold the puree in. Melt the gelatin, cool it for a minute and then fold it into the pudding / mousse.

Mango Custard Cake
Adapted from “One bowl vanilla cake” recipe from Ria’s Collection

1/2 c unsalted butter,room temperature
1 1/4 c sugar
1 egg
1 3/4 c all purpose flour
1/2 c custard powder ( I used mango custard)
1 tsp salt
3 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/4 c milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

Pre-heat the oven to 350F/180C .Line and dust a 9" round cake tin.
Using a whisk, cream the butter and sugar till light and fluffy.
Add in the egg and whisk till incorporated and fluffy.
Add in the remaining ingredients one by one and whisk together for 2 mins.
Pour into the tin and bake for 55-60 mins or till done.
Cool in the tin for 10 mins, remove and cool completely.

Mango cream 

Heavy whipping Cream – 1 cup (Use 2 cups for bigger cake)
Confectioners’ Sugar (or powdered sugar) – 3-4 tblsp
Sweetened Mango Pulp – 5-6 heaped tblsp

Beat the heavy whipping cream in a chilled bowl until soft peaks form using an electric hand mixer or a whisk.
Add powdered sugar and continue to beat for one minute.
Add mango pulp in intervals and keep beating until desired texture and taste is obtained (add more or less pulp as you prefer)
Vanilla Buttercream

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
3-4 cups powdered (confectioners') sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream or half-and-half (see note above about substituting milk)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
salt, to taste

Beat softened butter on medium speed with an electric or stand mixer. Beat for about 3 minutes until smooth and creamy. Add powdered sugar, cream, and vanilla extract with the mixer running. Increase to high speed and beat for 3 full minutes (the longer you beat, the creamier the frosting). Add more powdered sugar if frosting is too thin or more cream if frosting is too thick. Add salt if frosting is too sweet (1/4 teaspoon).

If you have a serrated knife, then you can bake one cake and cut it horizontally to get two 9” round cakes. Or if you don’t have one like me or if you want a taller cake like I wanted, bake two cakes.
Let the cakes cool and refrigerate for some time. Once the cakes have become cold, put one cake back into the baking tin. Add a layer of pudding on top of the cake. Refrigerate the tin for 4 hours.
After the pudding has set keep the other cake on top of the pudding layer and carefully invert the cake onto a cake base.
Cover the sides and top of the cake with Mango cream. Add a very thin layer of Mango pulp on top so that you have a beautiful and bright top to write your message on.
Decorate the cake using Vanilla Buttercream frosting.

Birthday boy was really impressed with the cake. He couldn't believe that I baked such a tall two layered cake. And he was impressed by the cake decorations too. It was a surprise for him when he came from office on his birthday. We, as in Ritu and I,  had put up birthday banner, blew balloons, set the table with cake, gifts and other decorations. According to him we celebrated his b'day as if he turned three :D

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Friday, February 14, 2014

365 days - One frame a day - Feb 14th

Someone is pouting a lot these days!

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Saturday, February 1, 2014

Chilli Chicken Pizza

Back in India we used to get all kinds of variety pizza with Indian flavors. Here the choices are much more limited. So i was glad to find this recipe for chilli chicken pizza. The base is very easy to put together. i have used this base with various toppings. There is no yeast needed for the dough and it comes together in 5 minutes. Ritu loves helping me out by putting cheese on the top of pizza. :) And she will go on and on until i force her to stop.


Two Ingredient Pizza Dough

Recipe from Ria’sCollection

1 1/2 to 2 cups self-rising flour
1 cup Greek Yogurt OR 1 almost overflowing cup of regular yogurt, hung in a cheese cloth for 20 mins.

In a medium bowl, mix together the two ingredients and form smooth, soft and non-sticky dough. You may use more flour depending on how the dough is coming together.

Chilli chicken
Recipe from Ria’sCollection


Boneless chicken/Chicken breast -100 g cut into 1/2" pieces
Red chilli paste or red chilli powder- 1/4 tsp
Soya sauce- 1 tbsp
Salt & pepper to taste
Cornflour-2 tsp
Oil for frying

Marinate the chicken pieces with everything except cornflour and leave aside for 30 mins.
Drain the excess marinade, add cornflour and mix well.
Fry the pieces in oil.
Mix with 1 tbsp of the sauce to keep the chicken succulent.


Dust the pizza baking dish liberally with semolina. Roll out the pizza dough to form the base, top it up with pizza sauce, the prepared chilli chicken and shredded mozzarella cheese and bake the pizza for 12 minutes at 500 F. 

The pizza came out well and we loved it. Home made pizza is much lighter compared to the store ones.( that is if you cut down on the cheese on top :P)

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