Monday, July 29, 2013

Nutty Summer Salad With Penn State Trail Mix

I am sure one snack that we all love and can munch any time are nuts. I mean who does not like nuts-right? That is why when Penn State asked me review their assorted trail mixes of nuts I just could not say no. We do get sweet and salty peanuts, almonds and cashews here, but Penn State trail mix are with some awesomeness included. My husband is allergic to nuts and that is why all the packs were only enjoyed by me *happy dance*.

I tried Hikin Sweet Trail Mix which is a mix of white chocolate coated raisins with yogurt flavour, almonds and, peanuts, cranberries and colourful sugar coated beans. I haven’t tasted anything like this before; the yogurt flavoured raisins are too good and unique. This snack can be used in so many ways, I mean use them in cake to make fruit and nut cake or simply drop them in whipped cream with some strawberries. This is truly a crunchy sweet delight.

Other one is Back Pack Classic Trail Mix. Such an attractive name isn’t it? I am just impressed how can they give different taste and flavour to simple nuts. This one as the name suggest is actually a perfect backpack snack. This gives you satisfying energy boost and refreshes you taste buds. The mixture of peanuts, cashews and jumbo flame raisins is a pleasant combination of taste and crunch. I was bored eating same roasted nuts and this mix is a good change.

Sweet & Salty Trail Mix is my favourite as a dash of salt does wonders to this pack. This is also a mix of peanuts; milk chocolate coated flakes and salted almonds. The grouping of sweet and salty is a just right and apt for any occasions. I just made a salad out of it and it turned out be tastier and better. You get tiny surprises in your mouth- sometime it is sweet chocolate flakes and other time you have salted almonds, for a moment it is a soft white chocolate coated cranberry where as other minute you get peanuts. Well on to the salad recipe now.

I prepared nutty salad with cucumber and carrot-Ah! a must have in summers. Coolness of cucumber, sweetness of carrot and a hint of lime juice when combines with these nuts proves out be a wow combo. Summer happiness is certain with this salad. Do try :-)

1 cup of sweet and salty nuts (I used Penn State)
½ cucumber sliced
Pinch Chaat Masala
½ carrot sliced
½ teaspoon lime juice
¼ teaspoon salt
A pinch black pepper crushed.

Mix cucumber, carrot and nuts in a bowl evenly.
Finally add in lime juice, salt and pepper. Mix well and serve.

If you don’t get sweet and salty nuts then just mix in some chocolate chips with roasted salty nuts and use.
Make this right just when you want to serve else it will get soggy.

Taste:Sweet, salty and crunchy.

Disclaimer: I was not paid or told to write positive review. The post is based on my experience and is unbiasedWith thanks to Penn State for sending snacks to review.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Tuesday's Tip- All About Tomatoes

Tuesday’s tip is here. I have been getting mails and comments mentioning that this section in my blog is very informative and useful and I must write Tuesday’s tip without fail :-) :-). So the wait is over!

Today it is all about tomatoes. Tomato is one such ingredient that is used in Indian cooking a lot and I can’t think of anything if there are no tomatoes in my kitchen. Summer is the time when tomatoes are available in abundance and one must take full advantage of this season.  By the way did you know that there are over 10,000 varieties of tomatoes? Tomato is a very healthy vegetable which has good water content, is rich in Vitamin C and have zero cholesterol level.  That is too much of gyan from my side :P Now let us see the tips.

How to select Tomatoes:
Buying and selecting is the real trick. Choose the one that is firm, full and deep bright red in colour. Avoid the one that is mushy and or even slightly green –both of them will lack in flavour. Don't worry about tomatoes with weird shapes. Even cracked skin is okay, but leaking juice and soft spots are not. Another test is the smell; prefer one that has strong earthy odour- stronger the smell means better tomato. Shun the ones with no smell- they are complete no no.

How to store Tomatoes:
Tomatoes are delicate and fragile and must be handled properly. Refrigerating tomatoes damages the membranes inside the fruit walls, causing the tomato to lose flavour, so the best place to store tomatoes is at room temperature. Take off their wine stems and keep them upside down, this will help tomatoes stay fresh for long.  If tomatoes are not quite ripe, leave them in a brown paper bag for a couple of days.

How to preserve Tomatoes:
Whenever we think of preserving jellies and jams comes to our mind. But here is an easy way -just freeze the whole tomatoes. Yes! If you have space in the freezer just put tomatoes in a Ziploc bag and freeze them; it stays fresh for long.

Hope these tips help.  Please comment if you have any tip/s related to tomatoes. 

* Disclaimer :::: Not all the information mentioned above is my own and some of it are taken from various books and online sources like Google including the pics. My pics will have my logo on them , rest all are taken randomly from Google 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Corn Cheese Patties

It was my hubby’s birthday on last Friday and I wanted to make many starters for his birthday. My idea was to make 4-5 starters and no main course. He is very fond of patties and that is why you will find many recipes in my blog,- Til Tikkis, Mint Paneer Tikkis and Aloo badam patties are some of them. I find patties ideal for parties, tea time snacks and Sunday brunch. Love them :)

I made these patties with boiled mashed potatoes and sweet corn. They taste best when escorted with green spicy chutney. A little amount of green chilli brings the exact punch, corn adds in apt sweetens, lime juice balances the zing and mozzarella cheese oozes out spot on flavour and taste. So if you have ever imagined plain potato patties with some awesomeness included-Try Corn Cheese Patties :)

Boiled and mashed potatoes -1 cup
Boiled corn – 1/4 cup
Lime juice - 1 tsp
Green chilli chopped-2
Chat Masala - 1/2 tsp
Grated mozzarella cheese-1/8 cup
Green Coriander chopped- 2 tsp
Salt - to taste
Bread crumbs to coat
Oil to sprinkle

In a bowl combine sweet corn, mashed potatoes, salt, lime juice, green chilli, chat masala, cheese and coriander. Mix well.
Divide the dough in 6 equal parts and flatten the tikkis a bit to shape like patties.
Coat the tikkis in the breadcrumbs and keep in fridge for half an hour.
Heat a pan and add oil. Cook on medium-low heat until golden both the sides.

Notes: Adding cheese is optional. In fact you can add any other cheese also if you can get mozzarella.
Freezing the tikkis helps in holding the shape but if in hurry omit this step.
If you feel the mixture is not tight, consider adding corn flour or bread crumbs.
I wanted to make healthier one so I toasted on pan with little oil, however it can be shallow fried.

Spicy and cheesy.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Bloody Mary And Reviews

When I think of Pretzels one thought that pops up in my mind is it is an American snack. Well yes you do not need to be in America to enjoy authentic pretzels and I can say this with enough confidence because I recently tasted two flavours of pretzels from Penn State. The cute looking knot pretzels are healthy and better choice when compared to other snacks in the market. These pretzels are made from whole wheat flour and are baked- Yeah! You heard me- a perfect guilt free snack :-)

I tried Sour Cream And Chives pretzels and I was totally impressed. When I opened the pack I got the obvious and pleasant aroma of chives which watered my mouth:-P. Only when you toss down on the tongue the sourness taste becomes prominent. The balance of both the ingredients is so right and apt that no one can eat just one; in no time the packet finishes. Me?, I did not feel any urge to accompany this with any dip or chutney-it is better alone.

The second one that I tasted was Original Sea Salted. All I can say it is just nice; even though with distinguish taste of sea salt I quite find it blend and was just okay to be precise. All you need is some spicy dip like salsa, humus or schezwan chutney to balance the taste and flavour well. But the real cherry on the cake will be to have them with some chilled and mild spicy drink and that is what I did- Bloody Marry it is :). I find them just right when escorted with a drink- ah! a pair made in heaven.

Overall both the snacks have their own taste and flavour and are apt for summer picnic nibble. I am sure I will pick them up when I see them in the supermarket, after all they are healthy, baked and tasty-that’s everyone’s desire-Right? So like me, make Bloody Marry and enjoy this in summers :-)

Bloody Mary is the first alcoholic drink that I tried (of course after beer). I very much liked the drink because I love tomatoes a lot. Bloody Mary is a popular cocktail which contains vodka, celery and tomato juice; some people add olives, jalapenos, tobacco sauce and what not; thus it is known as ‘the world’s most complex’ cocktail. I kept it very simple and easy.

Tomato juice- 3 cups
Lemon sliced-1/2
Vodka (I used Smirnoff 21)- 1 cup
Salt-1/2 teaspoon
Black pepper powder-1 pinch
Tabasco sauce-1 tablespoon
Ice cubes crushed-8-10

Take old fashioned (whiskey glasses) and rub the rim with lemon slice and dip in the salt. Set aside.
In blender blend together tomato juice, salt, black pepper powder and Tabasco sauce till smooth.
Add crushed ice and vodka and blend again. Strain into the salt-rimmed glasses and serve chilled with Penn State Sea Salt Pretzels.

To make it less spicy decrease the quantity of tobacco sauce and vice versa.
Increase or decrease the quantity of vodka depending on how alcoholic you want.
If you can get celery salt use it instead of normal salt- it increases the flavour.

Disclaimer: I was not paid or told to write positive review. The post is based on my experience and is unbiasedWith thanks to Penn State for sending snacks to review.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Moong Beans Sprouts Dosa and Disneyland Paris

Hi you all. I hope you all are doing fine. Well I am totally enjoying summers here and my weekend was super fun because I went to Disneyland Paris. I must say what a place it is. The park is loaded with cute little Disney things as well as big thrill rides. I just can’t get over the Disney sleeping beauty castle. Do scroll down for some Disneyland pictures :-)

Entrance to fantasy world
Me at Sleeping Beauty Castle
Childhood memories-The Mickey Mouse
Us with mouse-mini balloons 

Coming on today's post- it is a simple and very healthy dosa (pancake) made from green moong sprouts.  I do not make dosa often and it is not because I don’t like dosa, it is just that I like having it hot, right from pan to my mouth. Anyways, lately I found some spouted moong beans at a grocery store and I picked it up. I wasn't sure what to do with it as having it in form of a salad is a big no no for me. After some thoughts I decided to grind the beans sprouts with some green chillies, ginger and garlic and use it as a dosa batter.

I must mention this was the healthiest and quickest dosa ever (yummier too). We totally enjoyed the crisp pancakes with some spicy tomato chutney. Mr. Husband loved these dosas so much that he was ready to have it in breakfast, lunch and even dinner. A healthy choice is what he always wishes for. *Grin*.

1 cup sprouted green moong
2 cloves garlic/lehsun
1 small peice of ginger/adrak
5 tablespoons semolina/rava/sooji
5 tablespoon gram flour/besan
3-4 green chillies/hari mirch
Salt to taste
1/8 cup oil/tel

In a mixer grind sprouts, ginger, garlic and green chillies coarsely. Use water only to reach at a dosa/pancake batter consistency.
Mix in salt, semolina and gram flour. 
Heat a pan/tava on high-meduim heat and spread one ladle-full of batter into a dosa.
Drizzle some oil and let it cook on one side. Flip over the other side and drizzle some oil again. Cook both the sides well.
Remove from tava and serve with chutney of your choice.

Use stuffing such as paneer, onions or potatoes for more filling dosas.
Do not grind to fine paste. The coarse texture is better and tastier.

Crisp, spicy and healthy

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Pistachio Almond Cake - Guest Post By Kitchen Serenity

I asked one fellow blogger to do a guests post for me and I am so glad that she agreed to do it. Nilu, blogs at Kitchen Serenity is a very passionate blogger and she blogs almost every day. She has been born and brought up in Mumbai and is now in Coimbatore and that is why you will see many western and south Indian inspired recipes in her blog. Her blog is only 3 months old but within that time she has achieved a lot of following and loyal readers. Some of my favourite recipes from her blog are-Home made pav bhaji masala, Pina colada cupcakes and Corn and capsicum quiche. She made AlmondPictachio Cake for my blog and I am so happy announce that Merry Tummy loves KitchenSerenity.

Over to our chit chat session!

Shweta-You are a busy mom and kids generally choose junk food. How do you manage to cook food for his taste also keeping in mind the needs for nutrients? Is there any tip that you will like to share with other mothers?
Nilu-Luckily, my son is not a fussy eater. He eats all types of foods. Although, I've seen some of the parents asking kids what do they prefer for lunch or dinner. But I don’t think that’s a good idea. As moms we are the best ones to decide what will be good for them at this age. Indeed, he has home-made food at all times, but I do make his favourite foods like pizzas or pastas with lots of vegetables and cookies or cakes with fresh fruits or nuts to balance his diet. I also allow occasional treats in form of outside food but very rarely. I believe that instead of munching on chips/wafers while watching a movie, try giving your kid an apple or a handful of almonds. Variety is the spice of life, so try to re-create your old dishes with a slight twist each time you make them again. Trust me the possibilities are endless. You should say yes to a cupcake, but not every day!

Shweta- I am sure many mothers will agree with you. Anyway  what made you start blogging? How long have you been blogging? Is there any particular etiquette that you like to maintain while blogging?
Nilu-The main reason I started blogging is that I simply wanted to share my passion for cooking & baking. I also wanted to connect with other people who share the same interests in cooking and make new friends along the way. Blogging to me seemed like a close knit group of people who really support and uplift each other.  I wanted to be part of that. I’ll never forget the feeling when I received my first comment on my first post and since I’ve gradually been building up a small group of friends of which I appreciate every single one of them. I’m motivated each day by my fellow blogger’s comments and now I love blogging. Regarding etiquette, I always reply to each and every comment on my blog, even if it's a simple 'Thanks a lot'. I try to apply the same rules I follow in life; being polite and regard people with respect.

Shweta- That is so sweet of you, now tell us which is your favourite ingredient in the kitchen and why?
Nilu-It is so difficult to pick just one ingredient. I don’t actually have a favourite ingredient but I love cooking with Eggs! There are number of ways to use them while cooking or baking – be it in a savoy or a sweet dish.

Shweta- Hmmmm, now which ingredient scares you the most and why?
Nilu-Mushrooms. I hate everything about them - the look, taste, texture and smell. Even though I make it for my son, I just can never eat it.

Shweta- That’s like a good mother! How do you spend your time other than cooking and blogging? 
Nilu-Whenever I'm not cooking or blogging, I love spending time with my family, talking about each and everything with my hubby, playing with my son, talking on phone with my mom and sisters and hanging out with my friends. I also like a relaxed evening with a good book or a movie.

Shweta- Hey I too love reading books :-) Well, like any other profession, I am sure cooking also has its share of difficult instances. Any such awkward moment?
Nilu-Yes, I did have my share of awkward moments during my early days of cooking.  Once I was making French toast for breakfast. My Mom instructed me how to make it and she said you can add little orange red colour. I added a teaspoon of the colour and made the toast. My family was really sceptical to have that blood-red coloured French toast.(LOL)

Shweta- That must have been so funny! Okay, So after blogging for 3 months and being so successful, is there anything you do not like about blogging?
Nilu- Yes, it’s been 3 months of blogging and I'm loving every bit of it.. It's only after I started blogging, I realized how much hard work all my co-bloggers and friends put in to reach out to us in everyday life.. It's incredible.. Kudos to all the bloggers… If I really had to mention one thing I do not like about blogging is ‘spam comments on my blog.’  Kinds of frustrates me whenever I see them in my blog!

Shweta- I too hate that spams, but which is your most proud moment in the blogging? 
Nilu-Whenever someone tries my recipe and then leave a note saying that they liked it. It makes me really proud and very happy too.

With warm welcome over to Nilu.

Today is a very special day for me; as it is my first ever guest post. When Shweta asked me for the guest post I agreed immediately. I was so excited and kept thinking what to make for her. I wanted to bake something special as Shweta loves baked goodies. At last, I decided to go with Pistachio Almond Cake” This cake seemed to be apt for the very sweet and special Shweta.  She has a great blog with so many delectable recipes.

150 grams all-purpose flour/maida
2 eggs
¾ cup sugar grounded
½ cup milk
½ cup butter
½ cup pistachios (skinned & sliced)
3 tbsp almonds (powdered)
2 ¼ tsp baking powder
2 tsp vanilla essence
¼ tsp salt
Few drops of green food coloring

Grease and dust an 8" round pan and set aside. Preheat oven to 170 degrees Celsius.
Sift the flour thrice along with baking powder and salt. Keep aside.
Beat the butter with the sugar powder until light and creamy.
Then add the eggs one at a time. Beat well.
Now add one-third of the flour and beat until combined.
Then add half of the milk and beat the batter again until milk is mixed well.
Add one-third of the flour again and beat till well combined.
Then add the remaining milk. Beat the batter till mixed well.
Finally add the last portion of the flour along with vanilla essence and color. Beat till well combined.
Then add the powdered almonds and beat the mixture again.
Pour into prepared cake tin.
 Spread the pistachio slices all over the top of the cake.
Pat them down very gently so that they stick well.
Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until done.
Keep on a wire rack and let it cool completely before removing from tin or slicing.

Thank you from Merry Tummy

Monday, July 1, 2013

Palak Mutter Paneer With A Review

It happened a month back, when I was sent Hudson Canola Oil to review. I was very excited to use it because I never heard about Canola oil before; Canola oil is supposed to be a healthier option when compared to other oils. In India most of the houses uses peanut oil for cooking but  in my case it is never an option as my husband is allergic to nuts, which of course was the second reason why I wanted to use the canola oil.

Indian cooking involves the use of oil a lot which in turn makes our health worse, hence Canola oil is a better choice. Hudson’s canola oil looks like melted ghee and I am totally in love with this oil- it heats fast, has no particular smell and is very light in texture. I have made parthas, fried puri and even used this oil in baking (because of no prominent smell) and it impresses me every time. Why not buy your own batch of Husdon Canola Oil from  here.

Talking about today’s dish- Palak Mutter Paneer is also made using Hudson canola oil. Palak paneer and mutter paneer are the classic Paneer dishes that I am sure are made in every Indian house (ok, at least once!). Well! My attempt with this dish, was to turn two famous recipes into one curry and voila! I succeeded. Palak mutter paneer is the new delight and is just perfect in colour, taste and texture. What a makeover of two dishes-Right??

2 cups chopped ,boiled spinach/palak
1 length wise chopped onions/pyaz
1 cup boiled peas/mutter
1 ½ cups grated cottage cheese/paneer
2 length wise chopped tomatoes/tamatar
5 cloves of garlic chrushed/lehsun
1 teaspoon of ginger paste/adrak
½ teaspoon turmeric powder/haldi
3 green chilles chopped/hari mirchi
1 teaspoon cumin seeds/jeera
1 tablespoon coriander powder/dhainya
¼ teaspoon garam masala powder
1 clove/laung
1 bayleaf/tej patta
Salt to taste
1 tablespoon oil (I used Hudson canola oil)

Heat oil in a pan/kadai and add cumin seeds. When cumin seeds crackle, add bayleaf and clove. Leave for 10 seconds.
Add ginger paste, crushed garlic, green chillies and onions. Saute till raw smells of garlic fades and onions turns pink in colour.
Then add boiled peas, paneer, spinach and tomatoes and mix well. To it add all the spices and stir well.
Cover and let it cook on medium flame for 5-8 minutes or till tomatoes are soft and mushy.
Serve hot with parathas or rice.

I like it the burji style, but if you want you can add cubes of paneer too.
I prefer chunks of cooked tomatoes; those who wish can blend tomatoes in mixer and then use it.

Spicy, green and of new taste.

Disclaimer: I was not paid or told to write positive review. The post is based on my experience and is unbiasedWith thanks to Hudson for sending me canola oil to review