Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Eggless Coconut Cranberry Banana Bread




When life gives you bananas, what will you do?  Summer time is the time when I have overload of over ripe bananas in my kitchen.  Being a banana fan, my hubby never forgets to grab a bunch whenever he stops at the grocery store to buy anything.  When I do my weekly grocery shopping, I too make sure to grab his favorite fruit.  At times, we will end up with lots of bananas and if they don't finish within the anticipated time, we will have an overload of these overripe fruit.  But I always make sure that none of them gets wasted.  The overripe bananas are peeled and dumped into a ziplock bag and they go straight into the freezer.  I use them in smoothies, banana bread and Unniyappam (a Kerala tea time snack).  Just puree the frozen banana in the blender and you are good to use them in the batter of banana bread and Unniyappam.  




Here is the experimental banana bread I tried without eggs and they turned out to be very moist and delicious.  The addition of chewy coconut flakes and tangy dried cranberries complemented the egg-less banana bread.  This recipe is a keeper for lent period when it's a challenge to bake egg-less.


Ingredients:

1 cup - all purpose flour
1 cup - whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp - baking powder
1/2 tsp. - baking soda
1/4 tsp - salt
3/4 cup - brown sugar
1 cup - mashed overripe banana
1 tsp. - pure vanilla extract
1 cup - sweetened coconut flakes/fresh grated coconut
1/2 cup - dried cranberries
3/4 cup - low fat plain yogurt
1/4 cup - low fat milk
4 tbsp. - oil

Directions:
  • In a mixing bowl of a stand mixer, mix the 3/4 cup plain yogurt with 1/2 cup brown sugar.  Add baking soda and baking powder to the yogurt and mix well.  Let it sit for 5 minutes.
  • Pre-heat the oven to 350ºF.
  • Meantime, sift the flours and keep it aside.  After 5 minutes, you will notice some bubbles in the yogurt mix.  Add milk, oil, mashed banana and vanilla to the yogurt mix and mix for 30 seconds.
  • Add the sifted flour mix and salt to the wet ingredients.  Fold in all the dry ingredients and mix for another 10 seconds.  Fold in the coconut and cranberries.
  • Pour into a greased loaf pan or parchment paper lined loaf pan and bake for 50 - 55 minutes or till the loaf is bulged on the top and a toothpick comes out clean when tested on the center of the loaf.
Notes:
  • Keep the bread in a air tight container or wrap it with a aluminum foil and refrigerate.  Properly stored banana bread lasts for a week in the refrigerator.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Berry Fruit Roll Ups



We used to visit Kerala once a year during our summer vacations when we were in North India.  Our stay will be with the grandparents and we get to see our cousins from Bombay.  It will be a fun filled vacation.  Our grandparent’s house was surrounded by fruit trees like Mango, Guava, Jack fruit etc. There was a Citrus tree in the corner of the front yard, which my grandma watered and raised from an orange seedling which survived a long time without bearing any fruit. There was a humongous sweet mango tree right in the front yard which was there from my grandpa's childhood.  There were 2 swings setup for the kids to play, one on the mango tree and the other on the guava tree, but everyone preferred to play on the swing tied to mango tree because it was strong and steady and will help you to swing high.  Being scared of heights, I always liked to hang around the guava tree swing.  Another personnel reason for me was that the mango tree bears tons of sweet mangos and when you start swinging hard, you might get knocked out by the falling mango :).  But nothing seemed to bother anyone.  Everyone waits patiently for their turns and occasionally parents had to separate the fighting ones from the scene.. lol.  When it rains in the monsoon, the mangoes will be at their peak season and you can literally see a mango rain from this tree which generous drops the ripe mangoes into the river pebble filled front yard.  After the rain subsides, the mangoes will be filled in baskets with burlap lining to remove moisture and the ripest ones will be handpicked by the adults to serve immediately.  The rest will be placed in the storage to ripe.  I don't remember us cutting any mangoes as they were in abundance and we used to bite into each and gobble some and threw the rest.  Those were some good old memories.  I regret now for the amount of the honey sweet mangoes I had wasted then.  Now it hard to find that kind of sweet mangoes here.  Few years ago when we visited our grandparent's house, now owned by my younger uncle, I saw the same tree standing there without much branches and it barely bears any fruits now.  It still brings the warm nostalgia to all those who grew up in that house.  The old mango tree is still in the front yard with lots of wild Vanda orchid growing as a parasite on them.  It’s not just an old mango tree, but by standing firm it reveals the lesson of good work and hard labor of our great grandparents who planted it and passed on the fruit of labor to be enjoyed by generation after another.





During one of our summer vacations we were introduced to the mango roll ups/leather that my grandma made.  The mango leather was made in bulk by sun drying the mango pulp.  The scorching sun and the availability of the honey sweet fruit were the best circumstances to create the delicious mango leather.  My grandma used to make this for her kids when they were young and she continued to make it for us too.  We were fortunate enough to enjoy the delicious treats she used to make for us during our visits.  And those irresistible tastes take me down the memory lane and made me try my hands on these berry roll ups.



Ingredients:
2 cups - fresh blueberry and strawberry mix
4 tbsp. - sugar

Directions:
  • Pre-heat oven to 200°F.
  • Puree the berry mix with sugar in a blender.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Pour the berry puree on the baking sheet and spread it evenly using an offset spatula by leaving some space on the sides.  Place the baking sheet in the oven in the middle rack and let the puree dehydrate for 30 minutes.
  • Lower the oven temperature to 170°F and set the timer for 3 hrs.  After 3 hrs, take the baking sheet out of the oven.  The center of the fruit roll up will be still smooth.  Let the roll up cool for another hour.  You can peel off the fruit sheet from the parchment paper once it is cooled down.
  • Place the fruit sheet on a wax paper/parchment paper.  Cut them into long strips along with the parchment paper and roll them into fruit roll ups.  Secure them with a string and store them in air tight containers.


Thursday, August 6, 2015

Super Easy Spicy Grilled Chicken Sandwich



Sun shines at its peak when I get out of work around 4:00 pm.  By the time I come home after picking kids from their Summer Camp, I will be exhausted and wish to lay down on the couch and cool down a bit.  Soon the reality of preparing dinner awakes my indolent brain and I give up the relaxation mode of my body.  At times I put a halt to my instinct to cook and will be completely on a relaxation mode by not moving a single finger.  I will be the queen of laziness on those days.  I am sure all Moms experience this mode once in a while when she is exhausted to the core.



During summer I hate to spend more time in the kitchen on weekdays when the evening sun shines so bright into my kitchen through the window.  I don't like to close the window blinds and cook in the artificial light, so to make things easier, quick meals are planned for weekdays.  Grilling is the best option for us in summer.  This quick and easy spicy chicken sandwich was created without any planning.  I threw in few ingredients from what I had in the pantry and viola it turned out to be a quick and easy filling dinner option. You can see from my pictures that it was not a planned one and I was randomly clicking pictures just in case if it turns out to be a recipe that I can blog about.  Obviously it was worth sharing and hence this post originate.  

Growing some Jalapenos in my patio..



The spices in this recipe can be adjusted per your taste.  You can melt a piece of Swiss cheese on the top of the chicken and add your desired condiments to the sandwich to suit your palate.



Ingredients:

5 - thin chicken breast
2 tbsp. - mayonnaise
2 tbsp. - sour cream
2 tbsp. - paprika powder (to add color)
1/2 tsp. - garlic powder
1/2 tsp. - ground pepper
1/4 cup - Frank's red hot sauce
1 tsp. - olive oil
salt to taste
additional Frank's hot sauce for brushing

Other Condiments:
1 - Hass avocado peeled and sliced into wedges
1/2 - red onion rings
5 - lettuce leaves
5 - slices tomatoes
1/2 tsp. - lemon juice
1 - Jalapeno sliced
Mayonnaise , ketchup, Mustard
5 - sandwich buns

Directions:
  • Wash and pat dry the chicken breast with paper towel.  If the chicken breast is thick, slice it thin horizontally or you can pound the chicken breast by placing it between plastic wrap and pound with a kitchen mallet.
  • Mix all the ingredients from the first list except chicken in a bowl.  Taste the marinate for salt and adjust per your taste.  Now add the chicken breast to the marinade.  Mix well.  Make sure each piece is marinated good.   Keep it in the refrigerator for 15 - 20 minutes.
  • Heat the grill to medium heat.  Cut a onion into half and insert a fork into the top of the onion half with flat side in the bottom.  Dip the onion in oil and brush the grill with it.  This acts like a non stick coat.  Place the chicken pieces over the grill, cover and cook for 5 minutes.   Flip the side and cook for 5 minutes.  Lower the flame to low; cover with the lid and cook till the chicken is fully cooked and center of the chicken is no more pink.  Brush some Franks's hot sauce on both side of the chicken and grill for another 5 minutes.  Turn off the grill and transfer the chicken into a plate.
  • Add the lemon juice to the avocado slices, onion rings.   Spread some mayonnaise on the buns. Assemble the sandwich with the desired condiments and secure them with a clean toothpick.  Serve them hot.

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