Provençal Beans

Once in a while it happens to all of us. When you talk on the phone with your dear ones you forget about the time. Me and my sister love to talk for hours. Today, while talking to her(btw, she lives in India) I forgot that my girl was coming home early from school. In the midst of our juicy gossip I saw my daughter coming with all her stuff hanging around her. I told my sister,”Sis, now you need to sleep and I need to cook. Good night.”
It was one O’clock p.m. And in crisis my brain works more than usual. I remember when we were in France I had a very simple dish called Provençal Beans. It had minimal ingredients but was loaded with proteins and vitamins. The taste was exquisite. It’s very easy to make and in no time a very healthy wholesome meal will be on the table. Serve it with cooked quinoa or with bread or with both.

Vegan Provençal Beans

Vegan Provençal Beans quinoa

Ingredients:
1 can red kidney beans(washed and drained)
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, cut in cubes
1/2 cup mixed bell peppers(red/green or yellow), cut in cubes
2 small tomatoes cut in cubes
3-4 cloves garlic crushed
1/2 teaspoon dried basil or 4 fresh basil leaves
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried crushed rosemary
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/2 – 1 tsp red chili powder(to satisfy my Indian palate)😉
1/2 cup tomato purée + 1/4 cup water
1/4 tsp sugar
Salt to taste

Method:
In a sauté pan heat oil and sauté onion and garlic till onion becomes transparent.
Add peppers, tomatoes, beans, herbs, salt, sugar, purée and water. Cover with the lid and cook for 2-3 mins so that everything incorporates well and water is also absorbed.
Switch off the burner and serve hot with cooked quinoa or with bread slices.

 

 

Short Bread Cookies

This is one of the most easiest recipes I came across, easy to remember and very quick to cook. Simple ingredients but the result tastes awesome. When I was kid I was always eager to open my tiffin box during lunch time in school. My mother always used to pack some surprise goodies in my tiffin box (I have somewhat followed my mother’s tradition and kids love surprises in their lunch boxes). Shortbread cookies was one of them. There was a bakery shop near our house who used to make yummy treats like this. This shortbread recipe reminds me of that place.

Short Bread Cookies

Short Bread Cookies

I got this wonderful recipe from my fellow blogger Kenneth Goh:
http://kwgls.wordpress.com/2013/08/30/one-two-three-lets-start-making-traditional-short-bread-biscuits/

Wonderful recipe and easy step by step instructions. Thanks for the recipe!

My only change in this recipe is that I have used whole wheat flour instead of white flour. And it came out just as good and tasty. I might pack these in my daughter’s lunchbox tomorrow as a surprise 🙂

Ingredients:
50 gms sugar (I measured first and then ground it into fine powder)
100 gms unsalted melted butter (approx 1 stick)
150 gms whole wheat flour
1 tsp vanilla essence

Method:
Preheat oven at 350 degrees F.
Mix all the ingredients and make a soft dough.
Roll it to 1cm thick. Cut into the desired shapes. Pierce lightly with a fork.
Transfer cookies in the baking tray at bake them for 12 – 15 mins.

Home Made Bagels

When I came to US I first got the taste of bagels. No shame to admit that bagel was totally new to me. I just loved it and literally eating everyday. And with the veggie cream cheese…Yum. I was eating so frequently until I learnt that one bagel has 67gms of carbohydrates and with cream cheese. Wow…too many calories. OMG!!! is it like four slices of bread in one go? This is too much, I need to stop. But the taste wouldn’t leave me. With many trial and error now I make wonderful, tasty and healthy bagels in my own kitchen. And the approval stamp came from my kids.They just love them.

Home Made Bagels
My recipe is as follows…

Ingredients:
3 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup bread flour
1 Tblsp molasses/sugar( i use molasses)
1 Tblsp oil
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1 1/2 cup water ( 80-85 degree F)

For boiling bagels:
6 cups water
2 Tblsp molasses/sugar
1 tsp baking soda

For sprinkles:
2-3 Tblsp mixed seeds( caraway, sesame, dill, black poppy)

Method:
I use stand mixer to knead. It saves lots of time.
In a separate beaker mix yeast, sugar/ molasses and lukewarm water.Let it stand for 10 mins to ferment.
Mix all the dry ingredients in a stand mixer bowl. After 10 mins pour the fermented water into the bowl and knead for 3-4 mins. Make sure every bit of the flour has been incorporated. Cover the bowl with cling wrap and place it in a warm place for it to rise. After two hrs the dough will be double in amount. Pour the dough on floured surface. Start kneading it by turning into a ball from the edges. Do not put pressure. Just gently form into a ball. Divide the dough into 6-8 balls equally. Shape the balls and cover them with damp kitchen towel for another 20 mins for the second rise.
At the same time preheat the oven at 500 deg F for 25 mins. Place the baking sheet/ stone in the middle rack.
When you have about 10 mins left for the preheat, boil a pot of water for boiling bagels
When the water starts boiling turn the gas to medium heat. Add sugar and baking soda.
Punch 2 cm diameter holes in the middle of the bagels with your index finger stretching outwards. Drop bagels one at a time and cook one side for 1 minute and then flip the bagel and cook the other side for 30 secs. Repeat the same with the other bagels. Place all the cooked bagel on the floured parchment paper or towel. Sprinkle the seeds on the bagels.
When the oven is ready transfer the bagels to the baking stone or sheet with the help of the pizza peeler or wide mouth spatula. After 5 mins turn down the oven temperature to 480 degrees. Bake bagels for 20-25 mins till they are light golden brown.
Cool them for 15-20 mins before slicing. Serve with cream cheese/butter/jam.

Minty Mint Chutney

We Indians love all kinds of chutneys. Chutneys can be made with different herbs (like coriander or mint) or vegetables. It is an integral part of our meal. Back in India my grandmother and my mother used to grind herbs and vegetables on a flat stone mortar with a rolling pestle. And with all the spices added in the paste.Yum..an impeccable taste it used to be. The taste still lingers. 🙂 Chutneys are so versatile, you can use them in any cuisine. Use it boldly and freely on salads, subs, marination, tortillas, sandwiches even on pizza and quesadilla, etc. My husband LOVES to eat it on pizza.

There are many ways to make Mint Chutney.You can also mix some coriander leaves. Some recipe also calls for yogurt, but the shelf  life is not good. But when serving it, you can add some yogurt. Yogurt makes chutney creamy and shiny. In my recipe I have added some roasted Bengal gram lentils (from Indian store) but it can easily be replace by roasted peanuts.

Roasted Bengal gram lentils

Mint Chutney

Ingedients:
1 1/2 cup Mint leaves
2 Tblsp Roasted Bengal gram lentils OR Roasted peanuts
2-3 Small green chili(more or less)
1 tsp Sugar
1 inch Ginger
1 Tblsp lemon juice or more for more tanginess
2 tsp sunflower oil
1/4 cup cold water( more if needed to grind)
salt to taste

Method:

Mix all the ingredients and grind together to a fine paste. If needed adjust the seasoning with lemon, salt, or sugar.

I have used a mortar and pestle to grind it. It gives a coarse texture which I love a lot personally. It is great as a spread on sandwiches.

Roasted Bengal gram lentils

Roasted Bengal gram lentils

Mint Chutney

You can also grind it in a blender for a smooth texture. Both taste good.
Store it in an air tight glass jar or in a ceramic jar in a refrigerator. Do not store it in any metal or plastic containers or else the chutney will spoil. It will stay good for a week . And if stored in a freezer it will stay good for a month.

Fresh Mint Lemonade

Summer is here. And we need to keep ourselves hydrated all the time. How about a twist on our good old lemonade? A very simple addition which is very refreshing and yummy too.

mint lemonade

Ingredients:

3 cups Water
1/4 warm water
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup honey(can substitute with sugar)
1- 1 1/2 tsp Pink himalayan salt( accordingly your taste)
20-25 mint leaves
1/2 inch fresh ginger

Method:

In a pot add warm water and honey and stir till honey dissolves. Crush mint leaves and ginger in a mortar to a fine paste with pestle.
Then in a serving pitcher add all the ingredients and stir well to incorporate everything.

Serve with crushed ice.

Delectable Alcoholic-free Jelly Shots

One day my daughter came from school and announced, “Mom, starting today I won’t be eating jello anymore because it comes from animals.” I respected her decision. But soon, days passed by I forgot all about it! One day, I thought of surprising her with her favorite jello pudding. But, when I served it, she reminded me that she can’t have it. How forgetful I’d been! I was feeling so guilty- but like all other Super Moms I thought of a quick fix. I searched my pantry and I found pectin. I had oranges too and I knew that pectin acts as a food thickener. Can I make a jello out of it? Absolutely! The end result was different but very tasty. It was not jiggly like jello but more like jelly in consistency. But hey, who cares? It was outstandingly tasty and this simple dessert brought a million dollar smile on my baby’s face. She hugged me so tight. The little things really do matter in our life.

Here is my recipe:

shot jello

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cup Fresh Orange juice
1 Tblsp Lemon juice
1 tsp chia seeds
1/4 cup sugar ( add more for more sweet)
1 Tblsp Ball Low sugar pectin

Method:
Soak chia seeds in 1/2 cup water for 30 mins. Drain chia seeds after 30 mins.
Mix orange juice, chia seeds lemon juice and pectin and boil for 2 mins. Add sugar and boil to a rolling boil for another two minutes.
Pour into shot glasses. Refrigerate until it’s firm. Serve with whipped cream.
It sets faster than jello.

*Vegans can serve with whipped coconut cream.

Aside

Easy Cinnamon Raisin Bread

I love baking breads and its smell all over my home. It is so satisfying when I feed my hungry kids fresh bread when they come from school. Cinnamon raisin is one of their favorite. I am sharing a very easy and hassle free recipe. It tastes equally yummy, soft and moist.

raisin bread toast
raisin bread

Ingredients:

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup bread flour
2 Tblsp oil
1 tsp active dry yeast
1 1/2 Tblsp molasses/sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon powder( add a tsp more for extra flavor)
1 tsp white vinegar
1 1/4 cup lukewarm water(80-95 degree F)

Method:
If you have a Bread machine, follow the machine instructions and bake accordingly. The recipe makes one medium size bread.

By Hand:
Microwave raisins in 2 Tbls of water for 30-45 secs. The raisins will be plump and soft. Drain the water.
Mix all the dry ingredient except yeast.
Pour the water in a stand mixer bowl and sprinkle yeast and keep it stand for 10- 15 mins until the yeast has dissolved. Add oil, vinegar and molasses and stir.
Add all the dry ingredients to the water and stir them to combine. It will be a soggy dough but no worries. The flour will absorb water eventually. Let stand for 20-25 minutes.
After 25 mins use the dough hook to a mixer. Add raisins and knead the dough for at least 9-10 mins. If the dough is too sticky you can add lillte bit of extra flour. When the dough is ready it will be smooth and not soggy.

Alternatively, if kneading by hand, oil your hand. Push the dough forward and then fold the sides and tuck below.Knead like this for 5 mins. The dough will be sticky so extra flour will be needed.When it is smooth and not sticking dough will be ready.
Make a ball of dough and coat with oil. Also oil the bowl and keep the dough into a bowl. Cover the bowl and rest in a warm place until the dough doubles for about 90 mins.
Sprinkle little flour on counter and knead again slowly by pushing inwards from the sides. Roll it into a loaf. Oil the baking pan. Transfer the loaf into the pan.
Rest it for 40 mins for second time. When 20 mins of resting time passed , turn on the oven for 400 degrees to preheat. Brush lightly with oil. When the oven is ready turn down the temperature to 375 degrees. Bake for 30-35 mins in the middle rack. When the loaf sounds hollow when knocked, it’s done.

Let it cool in pan for 2 mins and then remove. It must be cooled completely before slicing.