Monday, October 27, 2014

Honey Oats Bread

We - yes that's appropriate since there are 2 of us.  Since the day when we were thrown into the dark corner we have been awaiting for your warmth touch.  Days, weeks and months passed by like light years.  Why did you neglect us?  We deserved better place than the dark corners.  We eagerly waited to be picked up when the footsteps got closer to us each time.  Even though you were a finger tip close to us several times, you ignored us for long.   What changed your mind now?  All long waited moment has come...a ticklish shiver of joy passed through us when you picked us with care and ran the silky strands though us.  Yes, this is the place we belong to. Don't you agree that we look much prettier here than in the dark cold corner? -  She viewed herself in the mirror.   Yes it looks much prettier now.  With great contentment she adored the 2 buttons she sewed on to her jacket that was lost last winter!!

Do you procrastinate?  Have you thought of being more organized?  Have you wished that you never waited long to get things done?  Sometimes it will be a simple task and need only 5 minutes of your time, but why do we neglect those and push aside? Time to ponder...

A homemade bread recipe is a must in the repertoire of a blogger.  I am not sure why it took so long for me to post one.  I baked this beautiful bread on the weekend that made my entire house smell like a bakery.  And speaking of which, who doesn't like fresh baked homemade bread?   My blissful face proclaimed that something good was happening in the kitchen to my hubby's curiosity.  The freshly baked aroma of the bread was irresistible in the first place;  hubby and kids came to see if they could get a slice; but I had to guard the bread like a 'chicken protecting her chicks' from eagle for the pictures.   I had to wait for the bread to cool completely, but it was too good to resist.  Finally I did the ceremony of cutting the bread. We enjoyed the warm slices of the bread with homemade mixed berry jam and some milk.  Its a lightly sweet hard crust bread with a soft texture.


Dry Ingredients
3 1/2 cups - all purpose flour
1/2 cup - whole wheat flour
1 cup - rolled oats / old fashioned oats
1/3 cup - dry milk powder
1 1/2 tsp. - salt

1 packet / 7g/ 2 1/4 tsp. - active dry yeast
1 tsp. - sugar
1 1/3 cup - luke-warm water
3 tbsp. - melted butter
1/4 cup - honey
1 tsp. - oil ( to coat the dough)

To sprinkle
1 1/2 tbsp. - rolled oats
1 1/2 tbsp. - warm honey

  • Add 1 tsp. of sugar and  2 1/4 tsp. yeast to 1 1/3 cup of luke warm water and mix gently and leave it to get activated for 5 - 10 minutes.
  • Mean time in a mixing bowl of a stand mixer or regular mixing bowl, combine all the dry ingredients.  Add the frothy yeast mix, melted butter and honey to the dry ingredients.
  • Attach the dough hook and knead for 2 to 3 minutes till everything is mixed well.  If you are not using a stand mixture, just knead it till everything is mixed.  The dough will be sticky.  Apply 1 tsp. of oil on the dough and cover with a kitchen towel and keep it in warm place to rise for at least 1 hour or till the dough rise and attains double its volume.
  • Grease a standard 9'' x 5'' loaf pan.
  • Take the proofed dough out the bowl and place on a floured surface or clean kitchen counter.  Flatten with your hand to form a  thick circle.  Roll the dough once into a log shape.  Pinch together the seem sides and the ends.  Place the rolled dough into the loaf pan with pinched sides down.  Cover the dough with kitchen towel and let it rise for another hour.
  • Pre-heat the oven to 350°F.
  • Brush the top of the proofed bread shaped dough with warm honey and sprinkle the oats over it.  Bake the bread for 40 minutes in the middle rack till the top gets light brown color.
  • Transfer the bread to a wire rack to cool completely before cutting.
  • Wrap the bread in aluminum foil and store outside for 2 days.  If planning to store more than 2 days, keep it wrapped in refrigerator.
  • You can use instant oats instead of rolled oats.
  • While baking, if you notice the top of the bread is getting browned fast, keep it covered with aluminum foil for first 20 minutes and remove the foil and finish baking.
  • Wait till the bread is completely cooled before cutting, otherwise the slices will not come out good.  Use a serrated knife to cut the bread.
  • You can make sandwiches and French toast with this bread.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Eggless Cardamom Butter Cookies / Nan Khatai

Diwali (Indian festival of lights) is coming up and bloggers are busy posting all the delightful treats on their blogs and Indian stores are crowded with people doing last minute shopping for sweets, clay lamps and groceries.  The stores advertise grocery items on sale and there is usually a big crowd in the Indian store where I get my Indian groceries.  So going there on Diwali season during my lunch time from work is a risk, since I won't be able to return on time even though the store is close by.   So I rely on homemade sweets during Diwali.  Trust me, they tastes much better than the store bought sweets.

For this Diwali, we are indulging on this melt in mouth Cardamom Butter Cookies aka 'Nan Khatai'.  Like I said, it’s like a piece of white cloud that will melt in your mouth.  The texture is close to short bread cookies, but it is very delicate and the touch of cardamom uplifts the whole butter cookie to another level.  There are several variations to this recipe, but here I used the simple ingredients to make this yummy treat and I topped it with a piece of cranberry to give an appealing contrasting look.  If you have never tried making these treats, I insist that you should give this a try.  You will definitely enjoy this treat!!

Yields - 30 cookies

2 cups - All purpose flour
1/4 tsp. - salt
1/2 tsp. - baking powder
1/2 tsp. - green cardamom powder (refer notes)
1 cup (2 sticks) - unsalted butter and room temperature
1 cup - powdered sugar

  •  Pre heat oven to 300°F.
  • Combine powdered sugar and butter in a mixing bowl till creamy using a rubber spatula or a wooden spoon.
  • Sift all purpose flour, salt and baking powder into the creamed butter.  Using your hand knead it to a soft dough.  Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 15 - 20 minutes.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Take roughly 1 table spoon of the dough of each cookie and roll into smooth ball, press the ball slightly between your palms and press a piece of cranberry on top of it. 
  • Bake for 22-25 minutes on the middle rack.  The cookie should be still white in color.
  •  Cool the cookies on wire rack and store in air tight container.
  • You can get green cardamoms from Indian stores or online .  The seeds inside the pods should be powdered and used for flavoring.  It has a strong flavor. Adjust the amount per your taste.
  •  Make sure to cream the butter and sugar well, so that there are no lump of butter left, which can deflate the cookies.  The mix should not be runny.
  • If the dough is not rolled into smooth balls, cracks will appear on the cookie while baking.
  • If the dough seems to be sticky, don't panic, cover it with a plastic wrap and plop it into the refrigerator for 15-20 minutes so that it hardens a bit and is easy to work with.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Creamy Strawberry Dressing

Cooking elaborate meals on weekdays is impossible for me after work.  I usually do quick fixes for dinner.  For that I need to plan ahead and make some dishes on the weekend or get the chopping part done so that my job gets easier on the weekdays.  Roasted vegetables with a drizzle of Olive Oil and a dash of spices & herbs are welcomed by even the youngest member of my family.  To be honest he prefers raw vegetables; adding spices sometimes make it too spicy for the lil guy.   We have 2 extreme sets of taste buds in our household.  The eldest one wants everything spicy.  So its a dilemma for me to make things with a perfect balance that appeases both palates.  I love the roasted version of salads.  So I usually roast veggies on the weekend to pack it for lunch during the weekdays.  Along with I either make the dressing ahead and kept it handy, which makes my life easier.

Store bought salad dressings are easy to use.  But have you noticed the ingredient list on the back of the bottle?  Its hard to find the conventional brand without MSG.  Otherwise you have to get the organic version of the dressing.  Here is a simple guilt free salad dressing that you can use on roasted or raw salad vegetables that tastes delicious and is healthy too.  You can very well adjust the quantity to make half the amount of the recipe.

Yields - approximately 2 cups


3/4 cup - extra virgin Olive oil
1/4 cup - Apple Cider vinegar
1/2 cup - fresh/frozen strawberries
2 tbsp. - honey
1/2 tsp. - sea salt
1/2 tsp. - dried basil leaves

  • Add all the ingredients into the jar of a blender.  Blend it for 30 seconds.
  • Transfer to a mason jar with airtight lid and store it in the refrigerator.
  • Enjoy your favorite salad with creamy strawberry dressing.
  • The left over can be stored up to one week in the refrigerator.
  • You can use regular vinegar instead of Apple Cider Vinegar.
  • You can substitute regular table salt for sea salt.
  • If you need to jazz up the dressing, add some pepper powder and red chili flakes to it.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Homemade Chunky Apple Sauce With Cinnamon

Trees are painting their leaves
Birds are traversing seas
Are you ready for the Autumn breeze?

Like an artist, nature started to paint the surroundings with the yellow and orange hue.  The array of trees with yellow leaves on my way to home brings out the aesthetic of autumn which rejuvenates the energy in me after a long day.  I see kids playing in their yard and making use of the last bit of day light before dusk comes with its relentless cold arms.  Scare crows and Halloween decorations are popping up in the front yards of almost all houses.  Markets are filled with all size and shapes of melons, squash and gourds.  Yes, fall is officially here.  I wish the days were longer and the sun shined brighter!!

Its the season of apple picking and if you have tons of apple picked and don't know how to use it, here is a way you can devour the apples.  I started making the apple sauce when my kids started to bring the packed apples home untouched.  Kids like variety in their food, so we cannot blame them even if its easy for us to throw an apple in their lunch box.  My kids absolutely love the chunky version of apple sauce which is seasoned with cinnamon.  The aroma that fills in the house while making the apple sauce is really pleasant and you really wish it stays like that forever instead of spending money on air refreshers.  If you had done some heavy cooking with spices, try making the cinnamon flavored apple sauce after that, which will neutralize the spiced smell that lingers in the house.

This is a simple recipe and your kids are going to thank you for making this.  If you don't have kids, make it for yourself, I am sure you are going to thank me for it :).   They tastes perfect while they are warm.

6 cups - peeled and cubed apples
1/4 cup - brown sugar
1/2 tsp. - ground cinnamon

  • Take a heavy bottom sauce pan.  Add apples and brown sugar to the pan.  Cover and cook on low heat for 15 minutes.  The apple starts to cook in the steam and starts to get mushy.  Mix well and set the timer for another 10 minutes and cook on low heat. 
  • Use a potato masher to carefully mash the soft apple, leaving some chunks.  Cover and cook on low heat for another 10 minutes.
  • Add Cinnamon powder and mix well and cook for 2 minutes.
  • Enjoy the warm cinnamon flavored chunky applesauce after it cools down a bit or you can transfer the sauce to a clean/sterilized jar and refrigerate for later use.
  • Adjust the amount of sugar if you are using tart apples.
  • Warm apple sauce brings out the flavors better when compared to the cold sauce.  So even if you have refrigerated the sauce, just warm it for 10-15 seconds in the microwave before having it.
  • You can keep it refrigerated for one week.
  • I usually make a batch and pack it as a dessert in the snapware containers for kids lunch.

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