Friday, December 30, 2016

Sparkling Cranberry Pineapple Punch

A sparkling drink made from Cranberries and Pineapple. This delicious and easy to make New Years' Eve drink should be on everyone's menu!



2016 has almost come to an end with just ONE day to go! It has been such a wonderful year for my blog. Now that we are closing the year, I wanted to end it with a sparkling drink that is perfect for the New Years' Eve! 

As I mentioned in my last post Chocolate Cranberry Cake, 75 bloggers were sent packets of Cape Cod Select Premium Frozen Cranberries. Using them I first made a chocolate cake. Next, I made this sparkling drink. To see many more creative ideas of using these berries, check out the Instagram and Pinterest board from Cape Cod!

New Years' Eve call for some easy to make and yet yummy drinks. And because most parties have a few people who do not consume alcohol, it is always a good idea to have a couple of non-alcoholic drinks on the menu. That was my exact thought the day I made this amazing drink.

Cranberries, a tart and colorful fruit will work really great with another ingredient that is sweet and flavorful. For the longest time I made cranberry with orange and lemons. But this time I wanted to make something new, so I chose Pineapple. 



Pineapple has the exact taste and flavor to complement the cranberries. Together, they make a winning combination. Plus, to add some festive cheer, I dunked a couple of rosemary sprigs to the glasses. Together with sparkling water, the drink was perfect and we totally LOVED it!

Parties generally need something that can be prepared before the guests arrive and this one is perfect for that. One can make the cranberry jam and the crushed pineapple before time. So when it is time to serve the drinks, just pour in sparkling water, add pieces of the fruit and a sprig of rosemary. The drink is ready to serve right away!

The color of the drink is amazingly cute because of the cranberries. I had a great time shooting these beauties. The colors in the drink are festive, the flavors bold and the taste is perfect. I did not add any sugar as the pineapple I used was sweet. If you want a sweeter version, either substitute sparkling water with sprite or likewise!! Or add some sugar syrup in the drink. 

This post will be the last one for this year, hope you all have a great New Years'. See you all in 2017!




Ingredients

For the Cranberry Jam
Water 2-3 tbsp

Other Ingredients
Pineapple Chunks, fresh or frozen 1 1/2 cup
Sparkling water 2 cups
Rosemary twigs 2-3


Method

Heat sugar and water in a pan. Add the cranberries and cook on medium flame. Keep pressing the berries to break them and mix them together. In about 5-6 minutes, you should get a thick puree. Bring down the flame and cool to room temperature.

Blend 1 cup of pineapple chunks to a puree. When ready to make the drink, Add the cranberry puree, then the pineapple puree. 

Add the sparkling water and mix well. Add ice cubes if desired. Top with Cape Cod Select Premium Frozen Cranberries, pineapple chunks and rosemary. Serve immediately.





Monday, December 26, 2016

Chocolate Cranberry Cake

A chocolate cake studded with cranberries and interleaved with cranberry flavored cream cheese. Yes this is all you need to make the Holidays yummy!


Christmas is over and we are all looking forward to the New Year's Celebration and waiting to welcome 2017. The Holiday season was exceptionally busy for us, between parties, blogging and moving houses. Finally it is all over and I finally have the time to write down this and a couple of other recipes for the Cape Cod Select Holiday Blogger Recipe Contest. 

Yes, Cape Cod actually sent a bunch of us two packets of their fresh and delicious cranberries and we were to make recipes using them that was perfect for one of the categories: beverage, entree or baking. So I baked a cake that was FULL of Cranberries for this contest.  




I made an eggless cake as it was for a party and I had to make something that would suit all the guests. The cake was a rich chocolate flavored one, but to add some holiday cheer I mixed in a whole cup of cranberries. 

The cranberries in the cake worked beautifully as they tasted awesome with chocolate. Plus, they helped to get two different flavors in the same cake. I used the frozen ones instead of the dried ones so that they would not make the cake dry. It worked just as I had expected. 

Further, instead of the heavy whipping cream frosting, I decided to top it with cream cheese. So I made a 10 minute Cranberry jam that was super delicious. I think I could finish a bowl full of that jam without any bread to accompany. 

The jam in the cream cheese gave a really beautiful light pink color. Plus, it was perfectly sweet, tangy and flavorful. Adding some orange zest to the cream cheese is optional, but I would highly recommend it. It helps balance out the cranberry's tart flavor. 



The topping of the cake was simple. Just a few sugar coated cranberries and a couple of rosemary stalks completed the look. And the ladyfingers on the side helped to get something crunchy with the otherwise smooth and soft cake. If you cannot find them, just serve the cake with the cream cheese frosting on the sides. It will work perfectly too. 


So do not forget to grab your share of Cape Cod Select Premium Frozen Cranberries while they are still in season. Stock them up and bake something beautiful for the coming months!! To see many more creative ideas of using these berries, check out the Instagram and Pinterest board from Cape Cod!



Ingredients


For the cake


Allpurpose flour 1 1/2 cups
White/ Brown Sugar 1 cup
Cape Cod Select Premium Frozen Cranberries 1 cup
Milk 1 cup
Vinegar 1 tbsp
Any Neutral Vegetable Oil 1/2 cup
Unsweetened cocoa powder 1/2 cup
Baking soda 1 tsp
Salt a pinch 

Pure Vanilla Extract 1 tsp

For the Frosting

Cream Cheese 2 cups room temperature

Sugar 1/2 cup
Orange Zest 1 tsp

Ladyfingers as required




Method


In a bowl mix together milk and vinegar. Let it stand for 5-6 minutes. In a bowl sieve together the flour, sugar, unsweetened cocoa powder, salt and baking soda. Set aside. 

Preheat oven to 350 F/ 180 C. Line two 6 inches baking molds with parchment paper and keep ready. In a bowl beat together the milk vinegar mixture and oil. Once combined, add vanilla extract and mix. Slowly add the dry ingredients and keep mixing. Do not overmix. Once the entire dough is mixed, add the cranberries and mix one final time. 

Divide the mixture between the two molds and bake for 18-20 minutes. Test using a skewer for doneness. Once it comes out clean, remove the cakes from the oven and cool completely on a cooling rack. 




While the cakes are cooling, start making the frosting. To do so, heat sugar and 2-3 tbsp water in a pan. Add the cranberries and cook on medium flame. Keep pressing the berries to break them and mix them together. In about 5-6 minutes, you should get a thick jam. Bring down the flame and add the orange zest. Mix well and cool to room temperature. 

Beat the cream cheese to a creamy mixture. Add the cooled cranberry jam and mix well. Add more sugar if need be. Mix to a bright pink color and set aside. 

To assemble the cake, slice the two cakes into half along the width. Place one slice, spread about 1/5th cream cheese and place the next slice. Repeat the same for the remaining slices. Spread the cream cheese evenly on top using an offset spatula. 

Add the remaining cream on the sides and spread evenly using an offset spatula. Next, place the ladyfingers along the sides of the cake. Decorate using sugared Cape Cod Select Premium Frozen Cranberries and rosemary twigs.





Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Falafel and Pita Pizza



Adding sauteed vegetables, falafels, hummus and feta cheese takes this pita based pizza to the next level!!


Pizzas, a family favorite is such a wonderful meal when you want something filling, warm and tasty but do not care too much about calories. But when you want a pizza that is low on calories but yummy, you have to reinvent the classic. 

That was exactly my thought when I first made this pizza. Substitute the pizza base with wheat pita, sauce with hummus, toppings with baked falafels and mozzarella cheese with feta cheese. What you get is a yummy Greek inspired pizza that is easy to make and pretty low on calories. 


I made this pizza a few months back with regular baked falafels and freshly made pita breads. But I never took any pictures and the dish was forgotten quickly. A few days back I bought myself a few containers of Boar's Head Hummus from Safeway.  


Plus, I made some Pita Breads and Beetroot Falafels for a mezze platter. I had some leftovers and wanted to enjoy my hummus till I lick it off the bowl. So I made this pizza the next day for lunch and finally got a chance to shoot it too. 

Coming to the hummus in this recipe, these pretty boxes are Boar's Head. This brand has NINE flavors; Fire Roasted Artichoke and SpinachRoasted GarlicTraditionalRoasted Red Pepper,  Kalamata Olive TapenadeRoasted Pine NutFiery Chipotle PepperSouthwest Style Black Bean and Tuscan Style White Bean. I bought three of these and now I HAVE to try the rest too. They are super awesome in taste, non GMO and Gluten Free. Do get yours quickly. 


The recipe has a few components and most of them can be modified to suit your preferences and availability. For the hummus, pick any one or two out of the nine flavors; for falafels, make them from any ingredient of your choice and for the vegetables; I used whatever I could grab from my refrigerator. If you like or dislike any vegetable, modify them accordingly. The pita breads can be store bought or home-made. 

Finally, the recipe comes together within minutes. The flavors are inspired from Greek cuisine and the colors on the pizza are super vibrant. All together, the entire pizza is really yummy and healthy too! 


Ingredients

Pita Breads 2 (Homemade or store bought)
Pink Onion 1 medium, diced
Green Pepper 1 medium, diced
Carrots 1/4 cup, diced
Red Cabbage 1/4 cup, diced
Mushrooms 4-5, diced
Cherry tomatoes a few
Chickpeas 1/4 cup, soaked and cooked
Olive Oil 2 tsp
Dried Oregano 1 tsp
Salt 1 tsp
Pepper Powder 1/2 tsp
Cilantro to top
Feta Cheese as needed


Method

In a pan heat olive oil. Once hot, add onions and peppers. Saute for a couple of minutes, then add mushrooms and carrots. Cook for 3-4 minutes, season with salt, pepper and oregano. Turn down the heat, add the cabbage and boiled chickpeas. Mix well. Set aside to cool. 

Place a pita bread on  a plate. Spread Traditional Hummus and Roasted Red Pepper Hummus on it. Break 2-3 Beetroot Falafels into quarters and place them on the bread. Also add the salad on it, some cut cherry tomatoes and sprinkle cilantro and cheese. 

Bake the pita in a preheated oven for 5-7 minutes at 350 F/ 180 C. Alternatively, place them on a tava and cook for 3-4 minutes till the pita base is crisp. Serve immediately with a side of hummus. 



Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Rose and Pistachios Braid Wreath

A wreath bread filled with rose jam, dried rose petals and pistachios. An Indian inspired bread that is perfect for Christmas!





We have stepped into Christmas week and it is time to bake something yummy and perfect for the week. The festival is made up of wreaths, gingerbread men, cranberry delights and all kinds of cookies. 

For this Holiday, I bakes a wreath bread that is FULL of Indian flavors. The bread dough is just like other breads. However, the filling is a super festive combination of Rose Jam (Gulkand), dried rose petals and crushed pistachios. Together, these ingredients are perfect to make a sweet bread apt for Christmas. 

This recipe was originally made for this month's BreadBakers, where the theme was sweetened yeast breads. However, given my jetlag and commitments once back home from a vacation I could not post the recipe in time for the round-up. So it is now up just in time for Christmas!



I have seen a lot of Xmas breads that were generally filled with Cranberry Jam, dried fruits, nuts and cherries. However, I wanted to make something different that was Indian inspired. So instead of the traditional jams, I used an Indian Rose Jam. Gulkand, as it is popularly known; is a combination of rose petals and sugar left to combine in a covered container under sunlight. Slowly the sugar melts and with the rose extract from the petals, it forms a yummy jam. 

Along with this delicious jam I used powdered pistachios for crunch and tutti frutti to add a pop of color and flavor. The bread came out really well and we finished the whole thing in just two days!! Now that I am typing out this recipe, I am craving it all over again. I should make another batch of this super flavorful bread for Christmas Eve. 



If you cannot find any of the ingredients mentioned below, either replace it with something similar or leave it out all together. If you cannot find the gulkand, add some rose syrup mixed with dry rose petals. Adding some rose water also help to enhance the flavor of the bread. While it tastes really good a day or two after it is made, this bread is best enjoyed when fresh out of the oven. Hope you all have a great Holiday season!!



Ingredients

For the dough

All purpose Flour 3 cups
Instant Yeast 1 sachet (2 1/4 tsp)
Unsalted Butter 3 tbsp
Salt 1 tsp
Sugar 1 tsp

For the filling

Gulkand (Rose jam) 1/4 cup
Tutti Frutti (Candied Papaya) 3 tbsp
Crushed Pistachios 2 tbsp
Dried Rose Petals a few
Milk 1 tbsp



Method

In a cup of warm water (105-110 F) add 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp sugar. Mix well and add yeast. Mix well and rest in a warm place for 10 minutes. Once the yeast bloom, start with the dough.


In a mixing bowl add the flour, unsalted butter and bloomed yeast. Bring it all together and make a soft dough. Knead the dough for 10-12 minutes. Lightly brush with oil/butter and place the dough in the bowl to rise. Keep the dough in a warm place ( about 90 F) for an hour till the it doubles in size. 


Once the dough has doubled, punch down and knead for a couple of minutes. Roll out the dough to a rectangle of 1/4 inch thickness. Brush with milk and spread the gulkand leaving an inch on all sides. Sprinkle tutti frutti, pistachios and rose petals on it. 



Roll the rectangle into a tight roll along the longer side. Using a sharp knife, slice the roll along its length completely to get two equal sizes halves. Lightly braid the pieces to expose the filling in parts. 


Line a 9 inch round baking tray with parchment paper. Place the braid in the pan and seal the ends of the braid. Let it rise for an hour. 

At the end of the rising time, preheat oven to 400 F/ 200 C. Brush the risen buns with oil or milk. Bake the bread for 15-18 minutes, till the crust is golden brown. Remove and cool. Then transfer to a cooling rack and cool completely.

Serve topped with remaining pistachios, dried rose petals, tutti frutti and some silver toppers.  






Monday, December 19, 2016

Hasselback Apples

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #SingWithPost #CerealAnytime #CollectiveBias

How about a warm dessert that is perfect for winters? Filled with the flavors of cinnamon and butter, this grape nut cereal in a Hasselback Apple is perfect for all your family gatherings!



The days are getting shorter and the weather is getting gloomy and cold. And yes, the Holiday season filled with shopping, cooking and eating is here. To keep up with all this and more, it is time to make some yummy dessert using Post Grape-Nuts cereal. Yes, you read it right; we are making an interesting dessert using a morning cereal! 

A few days back I got this box of Post Grape-Nuts from Walmart. I was only hoping to have something delicious and healthy from the store, but to my delight this box came with code that can be entered on their National Sweepstakes website for a chance to win $100,000 or free movie tickets. Don't forget to grab your box from your nearest Walmart and enter the sweepstakes at the earliest!


Coming to the recipe, this one is a slight variation from a classic to make something that is yummy and healthy all at once. I started off taking a cue from Hasselback Potatoes, a famous appetizer. I replaced the potato with apple to make it a quick dessert. Further, I seasoned the apple with a simple sauce made from unsalted butter, brown sugar and cinnamon. And the topping on the apple is a handful of Post Grape-Nuts! Together, the dish is a complete dessert that is perfect for every party.



I started off with a HUGE apple, just because I wanted to make sure one half is enough for one hungry person. If you are serving the cereal based dessert to kids, use the small sized beauties. Choose a firm fruit to ensure it does not give away while baking. The other ingredients like Cinnamon and Grape-Nuts add to the taste and flavor of the dish. 

What started as a simple dessert some time back, has now become a family favorite recipe. The beauty of this dish is that it does not need any ingredients that are not easily available in any pantry. The method is straightforward, such that your kids can also help in to add the ingredients in the sliced apple. Plus, the first part of the recipe can be made before any party and the final round of baking can be done just before serving. This makes it PERFECT for the upcoming Holiday!

What is best in this recipe is that you can easily use a morning cereal to make a yummy dessert. Filled with warm spices and everything that is perfect for the cold winter, make this Hasselback Apples for your next party. And yes, do not forget the Sing movie's Sweepstakes that comes with the specially marked packages of the cereal. They have a range of cereals from Honey bunches of Oats and Honey Combs to Golden Crisps and Grape Nuts. They are all tasty and perfect for everyone in the family! For more inspiration using these yummy cereals, head to this page. It is filled with lovely recipes.



Ingredients


Apple 1 large (Pink Lady, Red delicious or Honeycrisp)
Unsalted Butter 4 tbsp
Brown Sugar 2 tbsp
Ground Cinnamon 1/2 tsp
All Purpose Flour 1 tsp
Salt a pinch
Ice Cream or Creme Fraiche to serve





Method

In a small bowl mix together melted butter, sugar and cinnamon powder. Keep ready. Preheat oven to 400 F/ 210 C. 

Using the large apple, peel it and cut it vertically into two hales. Core the halves. Lay one on the chopping board, place two chopsticks or spoons on either side. Using a sharp knife make cuts at 1/8" intervals. Ensure you do not slice through the apple. 



In a baking pan spray some non-stick spray and lay the apples on the wide sides. Now brush the sugar butter and cinnamon mixture onto them and bake for 20-25 minutes, till they soften. Remove, brush some more butter and bake for another 10 minutes. 

Meanwhile, mix the grape nut cereal and flour into the remaining butter mixture. Add the salt as well. If it feels too dry, add some more butter and mix well. 



Remove the apple and fan the slices. Add the crumbled cereal mixture in the cracks generously. Return to the oven and bake for 10-12 minutes. Remove and serve with a side of ice-cream or creme fraiche. 





Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Beetroot Falafel


Adding beetroot to falafels makes them super pretty and add a great flavor and taste to the chickpea balls!



Hello folks! I have been off and on the blog since a few weeks given my vacation to India and Dubai. Now I am back home and I couldn't wait to start cooking and shooting again. On my brief visit to Dubai I had hummus for all my meals; breakfast, lunch and dinner. And I was craving more of it post the trip. That is when I happened to find Boar's Head Hummus at my local Safeway store. 





While I had just the Traditional Hummus on my trip, this brand has NINE flavors; Fire Roasted Artichoke and SpinachRoasted GarlicTraditionalRoasted Red Pepper,  Kalamata Olive TapenadeRoasted Pine NutFiery Chipotle PepperSouthwest Style Black Bean and Tuscan Style White Bean. I bought three of these and now I HAVE to try the rest too. They are super awesome in taste, non GMO and Gluten Free. Do get yours quickly. 

Coming to today's recipe, this one has been on my mind for a while. I made a beetroot hummus and baked falafels for a Greek dinner a few months ago. Since then I wanted to use the pink color in my falafels. So finally I made them to go with my Hummus



Because I am still a little jet lagged, I decided to buy some pita breads from my local farmer's market. And while my cut pink falafels baked , I cut some carrots and cucumber to complete a simple mezze platter. Oh yes, I BAKED the falafels to cut some calories. Plus, I think by frying you tend to lose some of the pink color and the falafels have to be cut to expose the color.  

A lot of recipes for beetroot hummus call for roasted beets. However, I used grated beet without baking them and the result was not very different. You can go ahead and bake the beets before using them if you like. Plus, I used the cilantro stalks in my falafels, parsley is perfect too. And if your mixture becomes very moist and you are unable to make balls out of it, add some cornstarch, bread crumbs or plain flour as binding. That will help bind the balls easily. 



Once the falafels are baked, you can enjoy them as an appetizer or snack. If you like a pita roll like us; just lay a pita bread, spread your favorite Hummus and add some olives and onion tomato salad. Then place a few falafels and enjoy. If you are making a mezze platter for the upcoming Holidays; arrange the falafels along with Pita breads, two or three HummusChopped Tomato and Onion salad and Logs of Cucumber and Carrots. Hope you have a great Holiday season and this post serves as a great Holiday season starter kit!




Ingredients

For the Falafels

Chickpeas 1 cup, soaked overnight

Beetroot 2 medium, shredded
Pink Onion 1/2 medium, chopped
Sesame seeds 4-5 tsp
Garlic 2-3 cloves
Cumin Seeds 1 tsp
Green Chilli 1 medium
Cilantro a few stalks
Salt 1 tsp
Olive Oil 1 tsp
Lemon Juice 1/2 tsp




To Serve

Pita Breads
Traditional Hummus 
Fire Roasted Artichoke and Spinach Hummus 
Roasted Red Pepper Hummus
Chopped Tomato and Onion salad
Chopped Olives 
Logs of Cucumber and Carrots


Method

Soak the chickpeas overnight or atleast for 4-6 hours. Drain and set aside. 


In a food processor add shredded beetroot, chopped garlic, onion, green chilli and  2 tsp of sesame seeds. Process till it is lightly crushed.

Next, add chickpeas, cumin seeds, cilantro, salt and lemon juice. Process to a mixture that is not very smooth. If it does not process easily, add some water and olive oil. But do not add too much else the falafels will fall apart on baking. 



Preheat the oven to 400 F/ 210 C. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.


Drop equal sized rounds of the mixture on the parchment paper. Brush some olive oil on them. Sprinkle some sesame seeds on them. 

Place the tray in the oven and bake for 18-20 minutes till golden brown. Flip them over once, somewhere at 9-10 minutes. 

Remove from oven once baked well. Serve warm with your favorite hummus. I served it with Boar's Head hummus. I chose Traditional Hummus, Fire Roasted Artichoke and Spinach Hummus and Roasted Red Pepper Hummus. They were perfect to pair with the beet falafels!