Friday, November 18, 2011

Kids friendly recipes...

It is very difficult to make kids happy with any kind of meals specially home-made foods. They just love to have burgers , pizza and all kinds of food what you generally not preparing at home. My kid is very picky for his foods and he doesn't like to have normal Indian food dishes every time. As he grows , I have started to learn some preparations which kids just love it and take little effort and time to prepare at home in healthier way. Here I will share with you some good and delicious kid-friendly recipes which you will like to eat too.

Simply Macaroni N Cheese :::
This was my son's most favorite food whenever he goes to restaurant but then I bought a recipe book on macaroni and cheese and I started to prepare at home fresh and with less fat contents, homemade mac n cheese is the best for him. You can use diced or chopped vegetables with this simply delicious and stomach filling recipe. A great dish for snacks and dinner too. 

Ingredients ::
one cup of elbow macaroni ,
3-4 cups of water,
one cup of shredded cheddar cheese,
2 tbsp of all purpose flour,
2 cups of skim or 2% reduced milk,
1/4 tsp of black pepper powder,
2 tbsp of butter,
1/3 cup of bread crumb for topping.

1. Boil water and add macaroni stirring for 7-8 mins or until it becomes softer. Drain excess water and keep aside with little water.
2. Melt butter in the same pan and then add all purpose flour / maida and stir in until well blended. Add salt and pepper powder.
3. Now add cheese and then milk slowly and keep on stirring to heat through on medium flame.When everything well blended then add macaroni and mix thoroughly.
4. While serving, sprinkle bread crumbs as topping. and serve hot.
For oven finish, mix milk,melted butter and flour together until well blended into a casserole and then add boiled macaroni into it and then sprinkle extra cheese onto it and bake it at 400F for 5-9 mins. Once done, sprinkle bread crumbs on the top. For a change you can use Parmesan cheese too.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Spagetti, Pasta n Salad ..

We are here in USA for less than a decade now but somehow I never felt to cook any preparation with pasta or spaghetti. It is easily available in almost every neighborhood restaurant here in USA. But nowadays I have started experimenting like others. I will share my experiments with all my readers and followers in my simple ways.  

Macaroni fruit salad::::

I nowadays keep handful of boiled macaroni aside while preparing mac 'n' cheese and mixing with fresh summer fruits and lettuce gives a delicious cool pasta salad what goes very well with grilled fish or chicken. Though I love to have for my weekday lunch. 
Ingredients :::
half cup of boiled macaroni or any pasta,
one cup chopped lettuce,
4-5 nos. strawberries, chopped,
1/4 cup fresh or frozen corn,
1/2 cup chopped cucumber,
1/2 cup chopped green apple,
handful of chopped celery,
1/4 tsp olive / canola oil,
1 tsp white rice vinegar/ lemon juice,
1 tsp fat-free ranch / mayonnaise , 
rock salt to taste.

Mix everything together in a big bowl except ranch and lemon juice. While serving , mix ranch / mayonnaise and sprinkle lemon juice / vinegar. Add salt. You can keep it covered in refrigerator before serving.

Penne pasta with chicken n Alfredo sauce ::::

Pasta is always family favorite and complete dinner too. I felt tired of so many parties and Indian restaurant food every time. Pasta with lots of vegetables simmered in chicken Alfredo sauce was refreshing to set our taste buds. I have had this delicious dish made by Panchalee from my native place and tried with little modifications.
one packet penne pasta,
one small different color bell pepper/capsicum,
one small size onion,carrot n celery stalk,
6-7 nos. broccoli florets, medium size
one can boneless chicken pieces,cooked
one cup Alfredo sauce,
1/3 cup milk,
1/4 tbsp garlic powder, 
one cup shredded cheddar cheese,
fresh or dried parsley leaves and spring onions for garnishing,
salt and pepper to taste.

1. Heat enough water in a vessel with salt and little oil. Add broccoli florets in boiling water for 5-7 mins. Then take out all the florets and put it in cold water. This process helps to retain color and stop over-cooking.
2. Add pasta to the same boiling water and cook as directed
3. Chop finely all the vegetables and onions. Wash canned chicken pieces nicely and drain out extra water.
4. Heat oil in a pan or wok, add chopped onion and garlic powder and saute for 2-3 mins. Then add other vegetables sprinkling salt and pepper. Saute for 5 mins or until vegetables are almost done. Add cooked chicken and saute for another 5 mins.
5. Now add Alfredo sauce and mix everything slowly. If needed, add half cup more. While mixing , add milk and pepper and saute for sometime. Add cooked pasta and broccoli and mix nicely. Adjust salt here.
6. Sprinkle enough shredded cheese and slightly mix and then shift pasta to a flatten baking bowl or vessel.Preheat oven to 275F and then place the vessel or bowl inside the oven for 10 mins or until cheese melts.
7. Sprinkle finely chopped spring onions and serve hot.
You can use vegetables of you choice and leftover chicken pieces also. Instead of Alfredo sauce, you can use mayonnaise and white cheese sauce. You can toss everything with shredded cheese too and serve cold with lettuce too.
Penne pasta stir-fry :::
Pasta is always kids' favorite and I like to prepare for my son lunch box. With lots of vegetables and nice aroma of garlic gives awesome taste and nutrition too. I followed the recipe what was written on the back of whole wheat pasta packet. 
One packet of whole wheat penne pasta,
one medium size bell pepper, sliced
10 nos. broccoli florets,
one small carrot, thinly sliced
2 tbsp tomato puree,
1 tsp black pepper powder, 
1 tsp red chilli flakes,
1 tbsp finely chopped garlic,
2 tbsp butter or oil,
one cup shredded cheddar or Parmesan cheese,
one can boneless chicken cubes, drained and washed
salt to taste. 

1. Heat enough water in a large pan adding salt and few drops of oil. While water starts boiling , add broccoli florets and wait for 5 min and then take out and put all the florets in ice water. In that way, broccoli floret will retain its color and crispiness. 
2. Now add pasta to the same boiling water and cook until done. Then strain all the water and keep aside. Or use the instructions written on the pasta packet.
3. Heat butter or oil in a pan, add chopped garlic and fry on low flame for a minute. Add tomato puree and salt. Cook for 2 more minutes. And then add chicken pieces and cook for 3-4 mins and then add all the vegetables and saute on high-medium flame stirring continuously until done. Add boiled pasta and sprinkle pepper powder and red chilli flakes. Toss nicely and once done, sprinkle shredded cheese and if needed more chilli flakes and pepper powder. Serve hot.
If use canned chicken cubes then wash nicely and then add to the pan. Adjust your spice level and cheese too. You can use boiled sliced eggs too.

Easy Chicken fajita :::: 

A Fajita or Fa'hita is one of delicious and mouth watering dish in Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisine. Here grilled chicken or any kind of meat on a flour or corn tortilla along with your choice of salad and sour cream where meat usually cooked with bell peppers and onion with dashing of taco seasoning. Nowadays fajitas are very good for low-carb meals and delicious too. I prepared for the first time at home with less efforts and in my way.

3-4 wheat or corn tortillas,
1/2 lb or one medium bowl of chicken pieces,
one green bell pepper, cut into medium pieces,
one medium size onion, cut into medium pieces,
1 tbsp of taco seasoning,
1/3 tsp of pepper powder,
one small cup of shredded lettuce,
one small cup of shredded sour cream,
one medium cup of shredded cucumber,tomato, avocado and corn kernels,
a few drops of lemon juice,
a few chopped coriander leaves,
salt to taste.

Method :::
1. Take a pan and sprinkle little oil adding boneless chicken pieces and salt. Cover the pan for 2-4 mins.
2. Then sprinkle pepper powder and little water and let it cook again. Once chicken cooked or turns it white then add green bell pepper and onions and fry for 5 mins. Now sprinkle taco seasoning and lemon juice and mix thoroughly. Keep aside.
3. Now wrap all the tortillas into an aluminum foil and put into an oven for 10mins at 300F to make soft. Once done, place one tortilla onto a plate and put one tbsp of chicken and then cucumber,tomato,avocado and corn kernels and then shredded lettuce and at last sour cream and coriander leaves and sprinkle lemon juice again. Serve hot.

Broccoli Chicken with Thin Spaghetti..

This is my first experiment with spaghetti at home after going through lots of recipes in different websites. I tried to keep this preparation very simple yet delicious and complete dish for three of us. My house was full of beautiful aroma while cooking this spaghetti dish with lots of thyme and rosemary leaves in marination and fresh broccoli. It is very healthy preparation but if you are calorie conscious then restrict yourself on cheese garnishing. Kids are going to love it and adults too.

Ingredients ::::
One medium size thin spaghetti packet,
1 boneless chicken breast, 
1/4 tsp thyme ,crushed
1/3 tsp rosemary crushed
5-6 tsp of lemon juice,
1 tsp of black pepper powder,
one medium size of onion, finely sliced
1 tsp garlic powder,
one big cup pasta sauce of your choice,
10 small pieces of fresh broccoli florets,
one cup shredded mixed cheese,
1 tbsp olive / canola oil,
salt to taste.

Method :::
1. Cook thin spaghetti according to the packet instructions adding salt and little oil and keep aside. Cut chicken breasts into 1/2" or bite size pieces and marinate with thyme, rosemary, pepper powder, lemon juice and salt and keep it for at least 5 hrs.
2. Heat oil in a wok or pan , add sliced onion and marinated chicken pieces and fry for 5-7 minutes or until chicken pieces half-cooked. Add broccoli florets and fry for another 5 minutes. Add pasta sauce and mix everything nicely and sprinkle garlic powder and let it simmer for 10 minutes on medium flame.
3. Now add shredded mixed cheese to chicken and stir slowly on slow flame. Add cooked spaghetti to the pan and carefully mix everything together on low flame. Take a fork in one hand and spatula on the other hand and then mix spaghetti upside down with chicken mixture. Now allow it to cook on slow flame for 5 minutes sprinkling extra shredded cheese on it or you can keep before serving for 300F inside conventional oven. Serve hot with any good quality wine or simple drinks.
I have made thin spaghetti into 3 pieces while cooking at step1 and that helps me while mixing with chicken and broccoli.If you need more spice then sprinkle black pepper powder while cooking chicken.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Cakes n Bakes etc..

Cakes are the set of food which are rich in sugar, all purpose flour, egg and sometime rice in chocolate too. In this section I will share some sweet baked recipes of around the world. I always try to make this recipe with less sugar and less fat yet simple delicious. Baking though looks simple but needs proper measurement, proper timing in oven and of-course mixing too.

Carrot Cupcake...easter special :::
Kids are always excited for Easter weekend. Egg-hunting, hot cookies, cakes and the start of spring break, all give a feeling of celebration for kids. Carrot cake never goes old-fashioned and with small bite of this cake with goodness of carrot, spiciness and nice aroma of cinnamon tells you about its popularity. I followed this recipe for the wonderful website of joyofbaking and added two ingredients as per my choice.
for 18 cupcakes..
3 cups finely grated carrots,
3 eggs, 
1 cup oil,  
1 1/2 cups sugar, 
2 cups of all purpose flour,
2 tsp cinnamon powder,
2 tsp baking powder,
1 cup warm milk,
half cup coarsely chopped almonds and hazelnuts,
one can store brought vanilla flavored icing.

1. Take a big mixing bowl, add sugar,oil and eggs and beat slowly with hand or electric mixer for one minute or until the mixture becomes fluffy without any lumps.
2. Add all-purpose flour, baking powder, cinnamon powder, vanilla essence and salt to the egg mixture now and beat for 2 minutes slowly. Now add chopped nuts and grated carrots to the mixture. Mix thoroughly without any lumps.
3. Pre-heat oven for 350F and place the cupcape liners to the cupcake pan and then pour 2/3th part of the cupcake liners.  
4. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the toothpick inserted into cupcakes comes out clean. Let it cool for 10 minutes and then take out the cupcakes with liners from the pan.
5. Now mix the frosting with a knife or spoon to make fluffy and then apply on the top of the cupcakes and serve.
I dint use any home-made frosting as this is my first time cupcake baking and it was little tight batter so I mixed a little more milk too. You can adjust sugar with honey also. 

Pumpkin Cheesecake :::
I had a plan to make this cheesecake on Thanksgiving weekend and as this is my first time to prepare I wanted a easy recipe and I have got this recipe from food network. Paula Dean is one of my favorite cook in recent times. I don't like store-brought ones for artificial flavor and texture. I never had pumpkin cheesecake also. But when I tried this recipe it came out extremely delicious with beautiful aroma of nutmeg and cinnamon that fills your house with festive mood. I followed the same recipe from food-network channel but didn't use cloves and very less sugar.

Ingredients :::
For Crust :::
1 3/4 graham cracker biscuit crumbs,
3 tbsp light brown sugar,
1/5 tsp ground cinnamon,
1 stick / 1" cube salted butter, melted
For fillings :::
3 medium size cream cheese, 
1 small can pumpkin puree,
3 eggs and one egg yolk,
2 tbsp sour cream,
4 tbsp sugar,
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon,
a pinch of ground nutmeg powder,
2 tbsp all purpose flour / moida,
1 tsp vanilla extract.

Method :::
1. Bring cream cheese at room temperature. In a deep bowl, mix graham cracker biscuit crumbs, sugar and cinnamon and add melted butter nicely.
Take a flat spatula to press down flat into a deep bottomed baking pan. Here she used spring-form pan. Keep aside.
2. Now take another big bowl, blend cream cheese until smooth and then add pumpkin puree,eggs,egg yolk , sour cream, sugar and dry spices one by one while blending until smooth. Add vanilla extract and all purpose flour and mix until well combined. 
3. Preheat oven to 350F .Pour slowly into the crust spreading the cake mixture evenly and place in oven for one hour. Once done, let it set for 15 minutes and then refrigerate for 4-5 hours covering with a plastic wrap. Serve chilled or at room temperature.
You can buy pie crust and use it for crust and do filling. You can add more sugar up to one and half cup but I used as less as possible and I didn't use clove powder too. Keep exact measurement for this preparation except sugar otherwise you wont get soft and creamy touch.

Plain Apple Cake :::

This is my first cake preparation and with little care with measurement and baking instructions this cake is so delicious and everybody loves to have hot fresh cake with evening tea or coffee. I have learned from my sweet Assamese friend Manashi when I was in st.Louis. She used to prepare for our potluck party as dessert and one time she made it for my birthday. You can use other fruits instead of apple too.

Ingredients :::
two cup self raising flour,
2 eggs, beaten
6 tsp of oil,
one and half cup of milk,
half cup sugar,
one juicy fresh apple, finely chopped or paste
a handful of finely grated apple.

1. Take a deep bowl, add all the ingredients except grated apple pieces and mix with a blender or whisk everything until lumps disappear and froth starts coming out of the mixture. You will need minimum 10-12 minutes for this process.
2. Let the mixture stand for sometime. Now sprinkle over all purpose flour / moida at the bottom of the pan and then pour slowly all the mixture in the pan. Now sprinkle grated apple all over the mixture nicely.Only half of the pan should be filled. Otherwise cake mixture will come out of the pan while baking.
3. Preheat oven at 300F and place the pan inside oven for 1 hour. Take one toothpick or fork and poke the middle of the cake and if it is coming out clean that means your cake is done. Otherwise keep it for another 30mins. When done, let it cool for sometime on the plate putting the cake upside done or on a rack and then have it with coffee or tea.
Every oven has its own settings and temperature control so I will suggest you to keep an eye while baking your cake for the first time and don't open the oven door a lot that will not help your cake to rise properly and you can add more sugar if you want too. If you want to use normal maida or all purpose flour then add 1/4 tsp of baking powder while mixing. I sometimes add raisins in this case and that gives extra aroma and taste. You can substitute with other fruit too.