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Friday, February 25, 2011

Pineapple Halwa - Pineapple Pudding

I had heard about Pineapple Halwa but never attempted to make this at home and also had never tasted one. Gajar ka halwa/ Carrot Halwa being my favorite. But always had a desire to try making pineapple halwa. This opportunity came quickly as about half a pineapple made its presence felt everytime I opened my refrigerator. We had used half of it for making Raita and used it also in the black bean salad. But we still had some left. So I set out to make this halwa for the very 1st time and I was happy. Its delicious and just melts into your mouth. I'm sure this halwa is going to be a regular at our house.

Ingredients :
  • 3 cups Pineapple finely chopped/grated
  • 1/4 cup clarified butter/ghee
  • 3/4 cup sugar *
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup Milk / Mava powder 
  • 1/3 cup cashews and slivered pistachios
* You could adjust the amount of sugar in this recipe depending on the sweetness of the pineapple. I used 1/2 cup sugar first and then found out it needed 1/4 cup more.

Preparation :
  1. Heat ghee in a thick bottomed pan / kadai. Fry the cashews and pistachios. Keep them aside. In the same pan add the grated pineapple along with its juice. Fry for about 4-5 minutes on medium heat.
  2. Now add 1/2 cup whole milk and mix it well. Cover and let it cook on low-medium heat until all the milk is absorbed. This takes about 10-15 minutes. 
  3. Add sugar and  mix it well. Add the milk / mava powder and stir well making sure it does not stick to the bottom of the pan. Add the fried nuts. Let  it cook on slow flame until the halwa/pudding starts to leave the side of the pan.Turn off the flame.
  4. Your Pineapple Halwa is ready to be served. Its best enjoyed warm or at  room temperature.
  5. This recipe serves 4.     

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Quinoa and Vegetable Stir Fry.

For many of us who have not heard or know little about  Quinoa pronounced as "Keen-wah" , this post is for you. It was only recently that I heard about this super grain and set out to find more about it. It was hard to find this in the local grocery stores. Once on a visit to my nearby Trader Joe's I found Quinoa and I'm highly impressed with the results. This is my first recipe with Quinoa and I'm sure I'm going to use it more often after reading about the tons of health benefits it provides.

Alright lets get introduced to the key player in this dish, shall we...Quinoa

Now Quinoa is most commonly considered a grain but in reality it is a seed. It is a species of goosefoot which is a grain-like crop which is grown for its edible seeds. They are no ordinary seeds as it is high in amino acids. In simpler terms high in protein and that too a complete protein, which means it has all the 9 essential amino acids. With me so far..or did I confuse you.

 Alright apart from being a Protein Powerhouse,  its ideal for people with celiac disease (as its gluten-free), great for vegans and people who are lactose intolerant as it provides Calcium as well.

It is a recently rediscoved ancient "grain". It was native to South America and once considered "The Gold Of The Incas" as the Incas discovered the intake of Quinoa seeds increased the stamina of their warriors.

Some of the other health benefits are:
  • Lowers the Risk of Type 2 Diabetes.
  • Provides cardiovascular health - for those concerned about atheroscherosis.
  • Helps prevent Migraine headaches.
  • Prevents heart failure.
  • Provides Cardiovascular benefits for postmenopausal women.
  • Protection against breast cancer.
  • Prevention of gallstones.
For more details about the health benefits Click here.

Cooked Quinoa has a fluffy, creamy , a bit crunchy texture with a nutty flavor. It is very versatile and can be easily adapted to savoury or sweet recipes and even to salads or soups.

  • 1 cup Quinoa
  • 1 cup shredded green cabbage
  • 1 carrot cut
  • 1 orange bell pepper cut ito strips
  • 1 green bell pepper cut into strips
  • 2-3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 bunch green scallions chopped
  • 1 tbsp Ching's soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp Ching's  red chilli sauce
  • 1 tsp Ching's green chilli sauce
  • 1 tbsp vinegar
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • salt to taste

Preparation :
  1. Quinoa can be cooked the same way as you would cook regular rice. The only thing to remember is to wash it thoroughly under running water in a fine sieve or a cheese cloth. Quinoa in its natural state does have a bitter coating called saponins ..some of it is removed while packaging some may not be. So always a good idea to wash it well.
  2. Now cook the washed Quinoa by adding 2 cups of water in a pot.Add some salt to taste.Bring it to a boil and cover and let simmer for about 15-18 minutes until the water is all absorbed and the Quinoa is cooked. Keep this aside.

3.  In a skillet, heat some oil. Add the minced garlic. Saute for a minute. Add the white portions of the scallions. Add all the chopped vegetables. Mix well. Add soy sauce, red chili sauce, green chili sauce, vinegar. Mix well.  Let it cook on high heat for 2-3 minutes.  Adjust the salt.

3. Next add the cooked Quinoa. Mix it well. Cook for 3-4 minutes on high heat till its well incorporated with all the veggies and the sauce. Turn off the heat. Garnish with the greens of the scallions and serve.

4. This recipe serves 2-3. This is a complete meal by itself. Its healthy and packed with nutrients which makes it a guilt free indulgence. Enjoy and stay healthy. 

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Mini Chocolate Chip Cupcakes

These cupcakes were made for my younger son's Valentine's day party at his preschool. I really enjoyed making them and my son was very happy too. He loves nature and when I said how about I decorate them with roses he was excited. I'm a bit late with this post but I wanted to share the process of making decorative roses for your cupcakes. I hope this post helps. Maybe you could make them for your next years Valentine's day or maybe just for yourself whenever you are in a mood for them..After all who can say no to such delectable delights !!!

For the cupcakes- This recipe makes 24 mini cupcakes.
  • 1 + 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips
  • 2 eggs
For the decorated roses
  • 16 oz box of Betty Crocker's Rich and Creamy white frosting
  • Wilton's tip #2D
  • food colors of your choice
  • Disposable pastry bag(s)

Preparation :
For the Mini Cupcakes
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degree F (180 degree C). Line the muffin/cupcake pan with the cupcake liners. 
  2. Sieve together all purpose flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt and keep aside in a bowl. 
  3. Add sugar and vanilla essence and mix well. 
  4. Add milk, vegetable oil , beaten eggs and chocolate chips. Mix until all ingredients are blended. 
  5. Pour into the prepared cupcake pan and bake in the preheated oven for about 12-14 minutes until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean 
  6. Allow the cupcakes to cool completely before decorating them to your liking.
For the decorated Roses
  1. Tint the frosting with the food color of your choice. I have used Wilton's pink and yellow colors. I have decorated half the cupcakes with the yellow roses and half with pink. So I tinted half the frosting with yellow and the rest with the pink color.
  2. First you begin by cutting off the tip of the pastry bag.( You will need to cut depending upon the decorating tip you are going to use). Then Insert the tip#2D  into the pastry bag. Fill it with the frosting using a spatula upto about 3/4th of the bag and leave some room so as to be able to twist the bag and secure it.
  3. Now hold the pastry bag between your fingers and thumb. Applying pressure squeeze the frosting and start making the roses by starting at the center of the cupcake and going around it. It might need a little practice before you make them onto the cupcakes. But I found this is the easiest way to make roses and the cupcakes look so beautiful.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Chocolate Dipped strawberries

In case many of you are looking for ideas for a perfect Valentine's Day treat or gift look no further. Presenting you the classic Chocolate Dipped Strawberries. They are easy to make look amazing and taste heavenly. What more can one ask for.. Wishing everyone a Happy Valentine's Day.

Also Valentine's Day is a little extra special day for me as, this was the day I was married so it  marks our wedding anniversary too.  We'll be celebrating our 11th anniversary.  "S" is a remarkable , loving and kind person and friend and I really can't believe its been 11 years. It still feels like yesterday. Ours was a love marriage and I was and still am a die-hard romantic thats why I wanted to get married on Valentine's day.  I'm happy our love story had a happy ending. 

  • 18 fresh Strawberries
  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips 
  • baking sheet lined with wax paper
I have used Nestle's toll house milk chocolate morsels/chips

Preparation :

Wash the strawberries and pat them dry. Keep the stems intact.

Melt the chocolate chips in a double boiler (one heat proof  bowl contained the chocolate chips and it was placed on top of another pot with simmering hot water). Whisk gently till the chips are all melted. Turn off the heat. Now Dip each strawberry into this melted chocolate by holding onto the stem. Swirl the strawberry and let the excess chocolate drip back into the bowl. Place the Strawberry gently onto the baking sheet lined with wax paper. Repeat the same procedure with the rest of the strawberries. 

Chill the strawberries in a refrigerator for about 30 minutes. You can see the chocolate coating has set well. Enjoy your Chocolate dipped strawberries and share them with your loved ones.