Monday, December 23, 2013

Soft Chewy Ginger Molasses Cookies

Most likely this is my last recipe of the year. Today's one is Ginger Molasses cookies. Christmas celebration is not complete without baking any cookies. Though Ginger Molasses Cookie is people’s favorite throughout the year, they are most popular specifically during Christmas Holidays. These are highly addictive, has nice combination of robust flavor of molasses and a rich spicy flavor of ginger. Ginger Molasses cookies are full of moist, soft and chewy that anyone would simply love it.

Molasses is thick and dark sticky syrup. It helps the cookies to turn a lovely dark ginger-brown color. It also adds a sweet flavor and gives them a nice texture. If you don’t get molasses, you can use brown or white sugar as a substitute. Though earlier I made chocolate chip cookies couple of times, baked these ginger cookies for the first time. Few of them will be sent to one of my friends for Christmas gift. I had to read many useful tips on how to make best cookies before baking these cookies.

Here are the tips that could help you :

  • Use room temperature butter : the fastest way to get butter to room temperature is to cut it into pieces and let it sit for 30 minutes.
  • It is very important not to over mix the batter to get fluffy cookie.
  • Chill the batter before baking : though it is time-consuming but it helps to prevent the cookies from flattening.
  • Lower the oven temperature : if you are baking thicker cookie turning down the temperature 25 degrees back.
  • Check on cookies 2 -3 minutes before they should be done, because cookies burn easily.  
Now coming to the actual recipe, that is very simple, takes hardly 30 minutes to complete the whole process.

Recipe of Ginger Molasses Cookies : for 2 dozens Cookies

Ingredients :

All purpose Flour / Flour : 2 cups
Baking Soda : 2 teaspoon
Ground Ginger : 2 teaspoon
Ground All Spice Powder : 1/2 teaspoon
Salt : 1/2 teaspoon
Unsalted butter : 1 stick ( at room temperature )
Sugar : 1 cup
Egg whites : 2
Molasses : 1/2 cup ( as a substitute use brown sugar or white sugar 1/2 cup molasses = 3/8 white or brown sugar)
Vanilla extract : 1 teaspoon
Method :
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F or 180 degrees C.
2. In a medium sized mixing bowl, take flour, baking soda, ground ginger, ground all spice powder and salt. Mix them together with a whisk and set it aside.
3. Using a stand mixer or hand mixer or wire whisk cream the butter and sugar. Add the egg whites one at a time and whisk.
4. Add molasses and vanilla extract mix them to combine.
5. Then finally add the flour mixture to molasses mixture. Mix it until just combined but do not over mix.
6. Line a parchment paper on a cookie sheet. Using a cookie scoop or ice-cream scoop ( 1 and half spoon for 1 ball ) take the dough and place on a parchment paper. Use two cookie sheet or bake in two batches so that cookies get enough space at least 1-1.5 inches between each cookie.
7. Bake them for 12 to 14 minutes. Remove form the oven and let it cool down on a wire rack. Serve with glass of milk, or a cup of coffee or tea. You can cover and store these cookies for about a week at room temperature.
Note : Chill the dough / batter before baking : though it is time-consuming but it helps to prevent the cookies from flattening.
Wish you all my readers Merry Christmas and a fabulous 2014 !!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Light Fruit Cake

I hope everybody is enjoying the best time of the year in US. I love the way Christmas is celebrated here. All the neighborhoods are so well decorated with lights and Christmas trees. People are visiting friends’ or relative’s places with pack of gifts. Kids are taking snaps with Santa Claus and waiting for surprise gifts from their parents!  And last but not the least is Christmas Special Cakes are being made at every home.

Today I will share the recipe of Light Fruit Cake that I am baking on Christmas Day for last couple of years. From the start of this month, I received many requests from my friends to upload this recipe. Though I was busy planning for a short trip to spend some quality time with family, I made this cake in hurry on their request. This is the easiest fruit cake, a perfect recipe for the beginners. It is light and free of alcohol. This is not the proper British Fruit Cake but easily can compete with the same in taste. 

This Light Fruit Cake is the combination of candied mixed peel and candied cherries. The best part is that it has lots of candied fruits and delicate almond flavor. And good thing is that, you do not have to wait to enjoy this Christmas Cake, as it can be eaten the same day it is baked!  If you like your fruit cakes to have a boozy flavor, you can mix the candied fruit and raisins with a little alcohol and let it soak for a day or two. In that case, rum, brandy or sherry is the good option in alcohol. You need to soak it at least for one day and give stirs a few times during the day. Ground Almonds are used in the cake batter. It’s not necessary to buy it from stores because you can make your own at home by grinding blanched almonds or natural almonds. If you like dried fruits, you can add them more instead of candied fruit and raisins by reducing candied fruits.

Since this Fruit Cake is so easy to make and needs only few ingredients, you don’t need to wait for special festival like Christmas, rather you can make them throughout the year. When you have guests at home, they will love it along with tea or coffee. One last thing to note that though you can serve the cake on the same day it is baked, it would be better to store it for a day or two before serving. Because it helps to mingle the flavors.

Recipe of Light Fruit Cake ( alcohol free ) : for a 9 by 5 by 3 pan 

Ingredients :

Flour / all purpose flour : 1 1/2 cups
Ground Almonds : 1/2 cup
Baking Powder : 1 teaspoon
Salt : 1/4 teaspoon
Zest of one small lemon ( outer skin )

Candied mixed peel ( optional ) : 1/2 cup
Candied red and green cherries ( cut into quarters ) / Fruit Cake mix / Tutti Frutti : 3/4 cup
Raisin ( preferably dark colored ) : 1/3 cup
Unsalted butter : 1/2 cup or 1 stick
White sugar : 3/4 cup
Large eggs : 3
Pure Vanilla extract : 1/2 teaspoon
Milk : 1/2 cup

Sliced / flake almonds : handful for decorating ( optional )

Method :

1. Preheat Oven to 350 degrees F or 180 degrees C and place the oven rack in the center of the oven. Butter or spray a 9 by 5 by 3 inch loaf pan with a nonstick vegetable spray.

2. In a mixing bowl, mix the flour, ground almonds, baking powder, salt and lemon zest together. Set it aside.

3. In the bowl of your electric mixer or with a hand mixer beat the butter and sugar until it is fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time and beat well. Scrape down the sides of the bowl if needed.

4. Add the vanilla extract, add the candied fruit, dried fruits and mixed peel (optional). Beat them nicely until they are well combined.

5. Add half of the flour mixture to the bowl and beat until incorporated. Add the milk and the remaining flour mixture and mix again it well.

6. Pour the batter evenly into the prepared pan and decorate the top with almonds. Bake for about 60 to 80 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

7. Remove from the oven and let it cool down on a wire rack. Once it is at room temperature remove from it from the pan and cut it into pieces. 

Note :
  •   If you like your fruit cakes to have a boozy flavor, you can mix the candied fruit and raisins with a little alcohol and let it soak for a day or two and give stirs a few time during the day.
  • You can serve the cake the day it is baked, better it is stored a day or two before serving, it helps to mingle the flavors.
  • You can cover and store this cake for about one week at room temperature.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Creamy Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Today’s recipe is a soup with vegetables. In general, soups with non-veg items like chicken are very popular. Not many people prefer vegetables soups. Probably you will change your mind after having this one. I never liked vegetables when I were growing up as a kid, no matter how well it was cooked and how yummy they were. Most of the time, I refused to eat anything vegetable with the meal. Rather I loved all kind of crabs and proteins. My son got the same habit from me. He loves all kinds of non-veg dishes but doesn’t like any green stuff on his plate. Though I have changed my choice off late because of my husband who loves all kind of green vegetables and fruits, I am struggling to change my son’s hatred towards anything green. To our surprise, only veg thing he likes is soup.

 He is a big fan of Creamy Broccoli Cheddar Cheese Soup, but won’t touch the same vegetable while served with the meal. This Broccoli Soup is top of my son’s favorite list. Whenever we go to Subway or Panera Bread, he used order this soup and wants me to make the same at home. Recently I found some wonderful recipes for this soup and could make a yummy home-made version of the same. The recipe is quick and simple. This delicious recipe will keep you warm in this cold season. It has addictive cheesy flavor that will tempt you to have more. The soup is creamy and pieces of broccoli are so small that you hardly notice them. It goes perfect with crusty bread. For the rich texture of the soup, I used half and half, you can use whole milk too, and I used sharp cheddar cheese for extra flavor, you may use mild cheddar cheese. But don't forget to use freshly cracked black pepper to spice it up!

Recipe of Creamy Broccoli Cheddar Soup : Serves 3 to 4


Butter : 4 tbsp
Onion ( yellow ) : 1 medium sized ( finely chopped )
Flour : 4 tbsp 
Whole milk : 2 cups
Half-and-half : 1 cup
Vegetable Stock : 1 cup 
Chopped Broccoli : 1 lb (stems removed and discarded, florets cut into bite-size pieces.) 
Shredded Cheddar Cheese : 1 cup, and more for garnish
Salt : a dash
Pepper : ( freshly ground )
Nutmeg : pinch 

Method :

1. In a large pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until they are soften. Sprinkle the flour over the onion and mix well. Cook for another 1 minute. 

2. Add the milk and half-and-half to the pan and whisk slowly. Add the broccoli, nutmeg, a pinch of salt and the ground pepper. Cover and reduce the heat. Let it simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Once Broccoli is tender, add the cheese and stir it well. 

3. Now take a blender, add the mixture and keep the blender on low and blend it up, still it will have a good amount of texture. You can puree it completely or use potato masher to break up the broccoli.

4. Finally whisk in the vegetable broth, re-warm it over low heat. Garnish with additional cheese and extra broccoli and serve hot!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

My First Pumpkin Pecan Pie with Home-made Pie Crust

I had made this dish on Thanksgiving weekend but it took couple of weeks to write down the recipe. So thanks for bearing with me. Today’s one is Pumpkin Pecan Pie. After the field trip to the pumpkin patch from his school, my six years old started insisting that we have to bake a pie on Thanksgiving. He was so much into Pumpkin that he got a book from his school library to help his mommy to prepare the dish for him. Finally on the day, he was happy that mom could make it! Instead of eating he was more interested to cut the pie with knife. If you closely look at my pictures, then you can find those signs. But before that, he too helped me in mixing and beating the filling.


There is a tradition of serving Pie on Thanksgiving Day in both the United States and Canada. Pumpkin Pecan Pie is generally made into an open, single crust pie shell that is filled with smooth custard-like filling. The filling is made with pumpkin puree, eggs, cream / milk, sugar and spices. It’s a soft pie as it is made with an unbaked crust. The filling is also uncooked that is baked until the crust becomes browned and the filling is set. Once the filling is done, let it cool down at room temperature and then you can serve with a dollop of whipped cream. I myself avoided the cream and added some pecans for crunchiness. There are several options to make your best pie crust. What I had made is buttery and has crumble texture. This is my very first home-made Pie crust. Actually I was nervous about making pie crust at home, but realized later that making pie crust is not so difficult! Last few days I read many recipes for the same, but could not trust anything other than my favorite Joy of Baking.

Recipe Of Pumpkin Pecan Pie : for a 9 inch Pie (Serves 6 to 8 )

Ingredients :

For the Pie Crust :

All-purpose flour : 1 1/4 cups
Salt : 1/2 tsp
Sugar ( granulated white sugar ) : 1 tbsp
Unsalted Butter : 1 stick, chilled cut into 1 inch pieces 
Ice water : as required 

For Pumpkin Filling :

Fresh pumpkin puree : 2 cups or canned Puree : 1 can ( 425 g )
Heavy Whipping Cream : 1/2 cup
Light brown sugar : 1/2 cup
Ground cinnamon : 1 tsp
Ground cloves : 1/8 tsp
Ground Ginger : 1/2 tsp
Salt : 1/2 tsp 

Pecan : 1 cup 

Method :

To Make the pie crust :

1. In a food processor or in a big mixing bowl, place the flour, sugar, salt and mix it unit they are combined. Add the butter and again mix it. Add two tablespoons iced water and make a dough. If necessary add little water.

2. Turn the dough on a flat surface and make a ball. Flatten it into a disk and cover it with plastic wrap and let it rest for 30 minutes into the refrigerator.

3. Once the dough is sufficiently chilled, place on a slightly floured surface and roll out into a 13 inch circle. Check the thickness to prevent the pastry from sticking to the counter. 

4. Fold the dough in half and gently place it to a 9 inch pie pan. Tuck the overhanging pastry under itself, decorate the border. You can trim the pastry to the edge of the pie pan.
Covered it with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for about 30 minutes or until the filling is ready. 

To Make the filling :

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl, take the eggs and whisk it lightly. Add the pumpkin puree, salt, sugar, ground cinnamon, ground cloves and ground ginger.

Stir it and mix it until they are well combined.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pie shell, put the pecan on the top and bake the pie for about 45 to 55 minutes or until the filling is set and the crust has browned. ( though the center will still look wet )

Place it on a wire rack and let it cool down at room temperature. Serve it with whipped cream or without cream.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Stuffed Roasted Chicken / Cornish Game Hen for Thanksgiving

Hi there, hope you had a great Thanksgiving weekend. We too had a very relaxed laid-back vacation and plenty of shopping trips to malls on black Friday. I am yet to get out of the lazy mood of long weekend and get back to normal routine. Several new posts are in queue and I have the pictures ready for them. But I am bit slow to concentrate and write up the recipes. After few attempts, finally I could complete one which I am going to share today.

When everyone was busy baking big turkey on Thanksgiving Day, I had a different thought and bought a small Cornish Hen from grocery store. Cornish game hens are the perfect answer to roasted chicken for two. One hen which is divided in half and can serve two persons and you won’t see any leftovers. Doesn't it sound awesome for dinner menu of a small family? 

marinated it with some Indian spices and stuffed with some cooked minced turkey. It is then browned on both sides and slowly cooked until it becomes tender and juicy. Wow! It came out super yummy! It doesn't merely add a touch of elegance to your dinner table; this roasted Cornish hen is moist and full of flavors. You can select stuffing based on your choice and whatever your family or guests like. I used turkey stuffing because my husband prefers the same compared to other meats. Instead of usual Italian seasoning, I made it with some Indian spices to add more taste.

You can try the same recipe with chicken too. This kind of roasted chicken/turkey is my son and hubby's favorite. So whenever I feel tired to make something heavy dishes, I buy this one from our nearest grocery for them. Since long time, I was curious about roasting the whole chicken, but I used to get nervous after seeing the size. I was always in doubt if I would be able to handle it properly and how the end product would come out. Eventually I realized that it’s not a big task and anyone can do it without much expertise. So bookmark the recipe for next Thanksgiving Day and get a break from age old Turkey dinner.

Recipe of Stuffed Roasted Cornish Hen : Serves 3 

Ingredients :

Hen / Chicken : 1 1/2 lb 

for first marination :

Lime juice : 2 tbsp
Ginger paste : 1 tsp
Garlic paste : 1 tsp
Kashmiri Red chili powder : 1 tsp
Black pepper powder : 1tsp
Salt :

For stuffing and 2nd marination :

Minced turkey / chicken : 1 cup around 1/2 lb
Onion : 1 big one and one small ( finely chopped)
Ginger : 1 tsp ( paste )
Garlic : 1 tbsp ( paste )
Tomato : 1 medium sized chopped 
Butter + white oil : 2 + 2 tbsp
Green Cardamom : 2 
Cinnamon : 1 inch stick
Cloves : 2 
Red chili powder / or chopped green chilies : as per tolerance 
Coriander powder : 1 tsp
Turmeric powder : 1/2 tsp
Salt : 

yogurt : 1/2 cup
Boiled egg : 1 

Extra oil for brushing 

Method :

1. Wash and pat dry the whole chicken. Prick the chicken with fork and add lime juice, kashmiri red chili powder, ginger - garlic paste, black pepper powder and salt. Rub them all over the chicken / hen, under the skin and in the cavity.

2. Take a pan, add 2 tbsp butter / oil and heat it up. Add cracked cardamom, cinnamon and cloves to the pan. Once they start to splatter, add the chopped onion, saute it. Once onion turns to golden in color, add the ginger and garlic paste. Keep stirring until raw smell goes off.

3. Add chopped green chilies / red chili powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder and salt. Mix it well until oil starts to separate from the spices. Now take half of the spice mixture off from the pan and set it aside.

4. Add tomato to the pan, once tomato becomes soft, add the minced turkey / chicken to the pan. Stir it and mix it well with the remaining spices. 

5. Stir it and let it cook until minced turkey / chicken is cooked. Add salt and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, until it becomes thicken and dry. Switch off the gas and let it cool down.

6. Now take a bender, add the spice mix ( that you kept it aside ) and the yogurt then make a paste. 

7. Take out the hen / chicken from the first marinade and rub the paste all over the chicken gently. Wrap it tightly with a plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator. Let it sit for overnight or at least 3 to 4 hours.

8. Now Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F . Take out the chicken again from marinade and stuff the minced turkey in the cavity. Take the boiled egg and carefully slit the outer area length-wise. Put the egg too in the cavity and tie the legs and tuck it in.

9. Place the chicken on a baking dish and put it in the oven. Basting occasionally with the leftover marinade and let it cook for 25 minutes for each sides or until it is done. Once chicken is almost done drizzle few drops of butter and broil it at 500 degrees F for 5 minutes for each sides. Serve hot with some roasted veggies or with Spicy Cranberry Sauce