Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Skinny Strawberry Ice Cream

When we think about summer, what comes to our mind first is ice cream, frozen yogurt, sorbet or sundae. Probably we can still smell the taste of ice cream that we used to have during summer vacation in our school life. We could finish several scoops without feeling guilty about calories. There was no worry about how we look in our profile pictures. But now whenever we take full-fat ice cream or frozen desserts, unfortunately we start thinking about how much calories it will add up.

Last few days I was looking for a recipe that an ice cream lover like me could polish off half a gallon with no guilty feelings. But it has to be creamy as well as addictive. Eventually I found the one I wanted. This Skinny Strawberry Ice cream gives you the same sweet and chilled satisfaction that full-fat regular ice cream does. It’s a healthy substitute to those late night ice cream cravings since it adds less than 100 calories per serving. It can become one of your staple snacks this summer!

The recipe is damn easy and needs only 3 ingredients. What you have to do to make this ice cream is just throw all of the ingredients in a blender and make it a puree. Then pour the mixture into freeze and wait until it is done. Last year I made Strawberry Cream cheese PopsiclesBut this simple, skinny, scrumptious dessert is more rich and delicious than the former without using any cream stuff. On the other hand, the recipe is extremely versatile. If you don’t like or get strawberries, can use other berries, banana or mango. If you like chunks of fruits in your ice cream, chop up a few extra strawberries and fold that into the mixture right before you put in the freezer. 

Whenever I think about making ice creaming at home, the very first question arises in my mind is if I would get same consistency that branded  ice creams have, without using ice cream maker. But finally I solved the problem. You have to mainly churn the ice cream base yourself while freezing and need to incorporate a sufficient amount of air bubbles into the mixture. Otherwise it will come out with an icy almost rock hard ice cream. The churning will also break down these unpleasant large ice crystals. 40 minutes after you first put your ice cream into the freezer, take it out and vigorously churn it with a fork or a spoon or electric hand mixer. Return the ice cream to the freezer again, wait for another 30 minutes and repeat the process. Do the same process 2 to 3 times more. You would get smoothcreamy ice cream like texture without using ice cream maker. So go aheadmake and enjoy your homemade skinny strawberry ice cream.

Recipe of Skinny Strawberry Ice Cream : Serves : 4 to 6 

prep time : 10 minutes, freezing time : maximum 2 hrs. 

Ingredients :
Fat free Greek yogurt / hung yogurt : 1 and 1/2 cup
Strawberries : 1 cup chopped ( you can use frozen too ) 
Honey : 2 tablespoons or to taste 

Method :

1. Add all ingredients to a food processor or a blender and pulse until the mixture becomes creamy.

2. Pour the mixture into a freezer safe air tight container and freeze it.  After 30 minutes take it out and vigorously churn it with a fork or a spoon or electric hand mixer. 

3. Do the same process 2 to 3 times more. If you like chunky ice cream, now add hand full of fresh strawberries ( chopped ). Mix it well and freeze for up to one hour. Don't let it freeze for longer than an hour. It will become hard like an ice block. 

4. Scoop the ice cream into individual dishes, add toppings ( if desired ) and serve immediately.

For the vegan version, use coconut milk yogurt in the place of non fat Greek yogurt. 

You can try the same recipe with other fruits too. 

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Thai Basil Chicken

So the long-awaited summer vacation is here. The morning first hour is more relaxing now because no rush to make my kid ready for school. But later part of the day becomes busier to keep him active, taking him for sports and other classes. I had very high expectation that I would be able to spend more time for my next posts in summer vacation. But the way things are going, not sure if I have to scale it down. Looking for recipes which will be easy to prepare and take the snaps without requiring much setup.

Every country in the world has its own food habits that reflect their culture, environment as well as their lifestyle. Thai food always shows the color, the freshness, flavor and the simplicity. They use many kinds of herbs and spices that have health benefits and add good flavor at the same time. Few of the common ingredients used in Thai dishes are Holy Basil, Thai Basil, cilantro, chilies lemongrass, kaffir lime, Galangal, shallots mint. Thai style pays attention on not only how the dish tastes, but also on how good the dish looks and smells. What I love about their dish is strong aromatic components and mix of different spicy tastes. 

You have guessed it right; today I will share the recipe of Thai basil Chicken, which is known as Gai Pad Krapow. It’s one of the most popular street food dishes in Thai land. Whoever loves Thai food knows how common we order this dish when we visit Thai restaurant. It was in my mind for some time, but haven't made this because didn’t realize how simple and easy to prepare this dish. Also didn’t think Thai dishes could be this amazing. From the chopping board to dinner table, it needs only 30 minutes to prepare this lovely meal. The recipe is very flexible. I have tried with Chicken but you can try with Tofu if you are a vegetarian. Other than chicken the same recipe is supposed to go very well if you love pork or Shrimp too. When you make your own food, there are lots of options to tweak them in healthier ways. You can adjust as per your dietary needs or preferences. For example I used low sodium soy sauce. Authentic Thai Basil Chicken is supposed to be made with Holy Basil, but those are not easily available here. So I used Thai Basil. If you don’t find either type of these two basil near your home, you can use ordinary fresh Basil. You may try with cilantro too but the flavor will be little different and the name too.

Recipe of Thai Basil Chicken : serves 3 

Total time : 30 minutes, cook time : 20 minutes, prep time : 10 minutes 

Ingredients :

Chicken : 1 lb boneless, skinless thigh or breast, cut into 1/2 inch to 1 inch cubes 
Shallot : 3-4 thinly sliced ( if you don't get shallot, use half of one small red onion )
Garlic : 3-4 cloves, finely chopped
Red bell pepper : 1/2 of a small one, cut into thin 1 inch pieces
Thai chili peppers / Bird's eye chili / green chili peppers :  3 - 4, seeded and thinly sliced 
Thai Basil / Thai Holy Basil : 2/3 cup 

For Sauce :

Fish sauce : 2 tablespoons 
Soy sauce : 1 1/2 teaspoon 
Brown sugar : 1 teaspoon ( optional ) 
Black pepper powder : 1/4 teaspoon 
Oil : 2-3 tablespoons 

 Method :

1. Make the sauce, take a small bowl and add the fish sauce, soy sauce, brown sugar and black pepper. Stir it and mix well together. Set the bowl aside.

2. Take a large cast iron skillet or wok or a heavy bottomed pan heat it up and add the oil. Once oil becomes hot, add shallots to the pan and saute it. Add garlic and the chili, stir it over medium-high heat until onion is translucent. 

2. Add chicken to the pan, saute for couple of minutes until the color changes and chicken is almost cooked. Add the chopped red bell pepper pieces and keep stirring till everything is well cooked.

3. Add the sauce to the pan. Mix well till the chicken pieces are well coated with sauce. Add the basil and stir it well together. Turn off the heat. Sprinkle some extra basil leaves. Serve with steamed rice. 

Note :

You can use chili pepper flakes in the place of Thai chili.
I know, it's called Thai Basil Chicken, but you can make it with regular basil or cilantro.

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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Chocolate Mocha Cupcakes with Espresso Buttercream Frosting

I am not very pleased with the pictures that I have taken for today’s post. The decoration was not perfect as I made them in hurry for a party in my friend’s house. It could have been done much better. But since I won’t make them again anytime soon, thought of posting it anyway in the blog. Hope you would still like it.

 I know some of you may avoid cupcakes for its high calories, but I would suggest trying this out in moderate quantity. You will love it for sure. For me, who loves cupcakes and smell of coffee, would be very hard to resist from having it. Today I will share the recipe of Chocolate Mocha Cupcakes with Espresso Buttercream Frosting. You can call it the recipe of popular Starbucks beverage in the form of cupcakes.

 I love to make cupcakes because they always come out beautiful just like a piece of artwork. You can decorate as your heart wants and make them adorable, pretty and delicious. Though this time I knew I won’t get enough time for decorating it, still it was in my mind since I had a delicious mocha cupcake at a local cupcake shop a couple of months ago and decided to whip up my own version. The base cake is a rich coffee infused chocolate cake and is topped off with a creamy, sweet espresso butter cream. As they were not decadent enough, I had to finish them off with a sprinkle of chocolate dust. Obviously this cake has two delicious flavors, chocolate and espresso, heavenly combination for them who love chocolate and coffee both!  And what we can say about buttercream frosting which is always smooth, melt in mouth texture and dreamy in every sense. It makes the overall taste sinful, decadent and irresistible. The making of these cupcakes are as simple as making the same with any box-mix. Just few minutes of effort but totally worth it.

Chocolate Mocha Cupcakes with Espresso ButterCream Frosting : 12 cupcakes

Ingredients :

For Mocha cupcakes :

All-purpose flour : 11/2 cups
Unsweetened Cocoa powder : 1/3 cup
Baking Soda : 1/2 teaspoon 
Baking powder : 1/2 teaspoon 
Salt : 1/4 teaspoon
Sugar : 1 cup 
Oil : 1/4 cup
Eggs : 2 
Vanilla extract : 1 tsp 
Coffee Powder : 2 tablespoons instant coffee powder 
water : 3/4 cup

For Espresso Buttercream Frosting :

Unsalted Butter ( at room temperature ) : 2 sticks or 1 cup
Powdered sugar : 13/4 cups
Pure vanilla extract : 11/2 teaspoons
Instant Espresso coffee powder : 2 teaspoons

Method : 

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F or 180 degrees C. Line a standard-size muffin tin with paper liners. 

2. In a medium sized bowl, whisk flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt together and set it aside.

3. Take a large mixing bowl, add oil and sugar to it and whisk it. Add eggs and vanilla extract and coffee powder and mix well until they are well combined. 

4. Add the flour-cocoa mixture in 3 additions and alternately add water. Mix it well and scrape down the sides if needed. 

5. Divide the batter evenly into the prepared muffin tin.

6. Bake for 17 to 20 minutes or or until a tooth pick inserted into the center of a cupcake, comes out clean.

7. Let them cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.

To make Frosting : 

8. Whip the butter on a medium-high speed for 5 minutes. (You can use a stand mixer or electric hand-mixer.) Scrape the sides of the bowl. 

9. Add the powdered sugar a little at a time and mix it well on low speed. Wait till sugar is mostly incorporated before adding more. Once the sugar has been added, increase the speed to medium-high and mix it well for 1 to 2 minutes, until it becomes fluffy. 

10. Add vanilla extract and coffee powder and mix it until it becomes well-combined and smooth. 

11. Frost the cupcakes with butter Knife or pipe the cupcakes with espresso buttercream frosting. Sprinkle some chocolate dust. 

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Monday, June 2, 2014

Baked Rasgulla / Baked Rassogolla

My today’s recipe is not for those friends who keep track of their calories intake every day; rather this one is dedicated to my friends who wait for the desserts and ready to skip even the main dishes. This delicious dessert has power to break determination of the first category though J. It originates from the land of sweets, our own Bengal. Though Bengal is known for its traditional sweets, in recent years, renowned sweet shops in Kolkata have innovated different fusion sweets. These still may be made of Chhena and Sugar but taste completely different from one to another. Sometimes they add new flavors to the traditional sweets and give them new dimensions. They are making fusions using western desserts like Ice-cream, cake, tart and mixing them to Indian stuff. Ice-cream Sondesh, Sondesh cake, Mihi Dana Tart or Nolen Gur-r ice-cream are common in Kolkata nowadays and are very highly appreciated too. If you haven’t tasted yet, visit these reputed shops of Kolkata whenever you get a chance next time - Balaram Mullick & Radharaman Mullick, Bancharam, Gupta Brothers or Sen Mashai.

Today I am going to share one of these fusion sweets called Baked Rasogolla that is new form of traditional Rasogolla or Ras Malai. I made this first time and never tasted this sweet before. But I discussed about this new sweet many times with friends who already had or made it. It is nothing but traditional Rasogolla that is baked in conventional oven with spread of Malai. It has got the touch burnt flavor but tastes delicious at the same time. You can use ready-made canned Rasogolla to start with. I have reused the Rasogollas which I made last month and some remained in the freeze. After I made my mind to prepare this dessert, I started checking recipes everywhere on net. Went through all the versions and got an overall idea. But at the end, couldn’t follow any specific one, instead made my own. So here is my humble attempt of making a fusion Bengali sweets called Baked Rasogolla. Hope you would love it.

Recipe of Baked Rasgulla : Serves 5 to 6

Ingredients :

Rasgullas : 10 pieces
Milk : 1 liter 
Condensed milk : 1 can 
Indian Cottage Cheese /  Paneer : 1/2 cup 
Saffron : few strands 
Cardamom Powder : 1/4 teaspoon 

Method :

1. Gently squeeze out the sugar syrup from Rasgullas . Now soak the rasgullas in bowl of water for few minutes. Again carefully squeeze them and keep it aside. 

2. Take a heavy bottomed pan, add the milk and let it boil over low flame until it becomes thick and the quantity becomes half of it. Stir it occasionally to prevent burning at bottom. 

3. Take a small bowl add the saffron strands and 2-3 tablespoons warm milk to it. Set it aside. 

4. Switch off the gas and let it cool down. Add the condensed milk and stir it. Add the paneer, cardamom powder to the milk and mix it well. 

5. Now take this mixture in a blender and make it a smooth paste. 

6. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees For 200 degrees C. Take a baking dish, arrange the Rasgullas and spread the mixture over it. Spread the saffron soaked milk over the mixture. Bake it until the top starts to brown. 

7. Baked Rasgullas are ready serve warm or cold. 


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