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Roasted bell pepper pasta

When it comes to pasta, penne and macaroni are favorites. And I count them in my comfort food list as they are quick and guilt free (I use wholewheat penne rigate pasta). Penne makes an excellent and versatile pasta for many sauces because of its shape. The hollow center allows it to hold sauce, the angular ends act as scoops and penne rigate’s ridges allow it to hold still more sauce!!

I always like my pasta spicy and chatpata, with an indian spice to it.After all what’s a comfort food…that’s not spicy and hot!! The roasted bell pepper gives a wild spicy flavor and a lovely texture to the sauce. This one must try recipe for all the pasta lovers out there, so here we go!! 🙂

Ingredients:

  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 1 small onion,chopped
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup sour cream (you can use soy yogurt for a vegan recipe)
  • 1/2 cup packed fresh parsley, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp red chili powder / cayenne pepper
  • Penne rigate (I used whole wheat pasta)

Directions:

  • Roast red peppers over gas flame, under the broiler, or on the grill. I manage to roast the peppers on my electric stove. Wash the peppers thoroughly.I thread the peppers on a long fork to make roasting easier over the electric burner.Turn on the electric stove burner to high heat. Hold the peppers as close as you can to the heating element without touching it and without risking burning yourself.
  • Watch the peppers closely and turn them as soon as one side begins to blacken. Continue turning until all sides of the peppers are dark. Each side will take between one and five minutes to roast, depending upon temperature and proximity to the heating element.
  • Place the roasted peppers in a paper bag and fold the top of the bag down to seal in most of the steam that the peppers release. Allow the peppers to sweat, let them rest for 10 minutes.
  • Remove the peppers from the paper bag and peel the charred skins from the peppers and remove the skins.For skin that doesn’t come off easily in your hands, use a small knife.
  • Remove the seeds and chop the peppers and set aside.
  • In a large saucepan, heat the 2 tspn olive oil over medium heat. Add onion  and garlic and sauté for 4-5 minutes, or until softened. Blend the chopped roasted peppers with 1 tspn oil to a smooth texture. Now add the red pepper to the pan and cook for 5 minutes over medium-low heat.
  • Add freshly chopped parsley and sour cream (if using soy yogurt, beat the yogurt lightly with a fork and take the pan off the heat and mix it well with the red pepper sauce) then season with salt and red chili to taste. I also add 1/2 tspn of store bought chili-garlic sauce to make it hot.
  • Add the cooked pasta and mix well. Let the pasta simmer on low-med heat for 5 mins.
  • Garnish with Parmesan cheese , if desired.

Spicy Omelette

An Omelette is an easy and healthy way to serve my morning hunger pangs. I’ve grown up in a family where my mum prepares savory and spicy breakfasts every morning, and hence a bland breakfast satisfies my stomach but not my tongue!  So I’ve ended up with adding a spicy zing to my simple omelette… and yes it actually takes just 10 mins… 🙂

Ingredients:

  • Eggs – 2 large
  • Tomato- 1 small
  • Onion- 1 small
  • Green chilies – 2
  • Galic – 1 clove
  • Salt- 1/2 tspn
  • Red chilli powder/ Cayenne pepper – 1/4 tspn
  • Milk – 2 tspn
  • Olive oil/ butter- 1 tspn

Directions:

  • Chop the chilies very finely and cut the garlic clove into thin slices.
  • Chop the tomato and onion into round thin slices and set aside.
  • Beat the eggs gradually in a bowl (if u do not have an egg beater,use a fork), add salt, chopped chili and milk and beat lightly for a fluffy omelette. Beating the eggs excessively results in a hard omelette.
  • When the oil/butter on the pan is heated, layer the garlic, tomato and onion slices on the pan.
  • While the tomato and onion slices saute, sprinkle red pepper powder on them.
  • After 2 mins when the tomatoes and onions are browned, pour the eggs on the veggies and cook for another 2 mins.
  • And your omelette is ready to serve.

Quick fix birthday cake

The smell of fresh baked breads and cakes when I visit bakeries is just tempting. My eyes wander across the glass shelves lined with baked goodies.

But when it comes to surprising your dear ones, nothing’s better than a self baked cake!
One main advantage of baking your own goods is the fact that you know and control the ingredients that go into it, so as to customize it for your dear ones.

Most people find baking strenuous because the outcome flops. I’ve had a lot of friends ask me for cake recipes and all they emphasize on is “easy”. Here’s a no fail recipe, which I used to make a simple birthday cake for my husband. You can use this cake batter to make cup cakes too. The key to making a good cake is to follow the recipe exactly!

Ingredients for the Cake:

  • Butter( at room temperature) – 1 stick( 115 gms)
  • Sugar – 3/4 cup
  • Eggs(large) – 2
  • Pure vanilla extract – 1 tspn
  • All purpose flour – 1 cup
  • Baking powder – 1 tspn
  • Salt – 1/8 tspn(optional)
  • Milk – 1/3 cup

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F( 177 C)
  • Butter an 8″ round cake pan or line it with parchment paper.Set aside
  • Sift together flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.
  • In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar for about 5 minutes, until light and fluffy.
  • Add eggs one at a time and beat well after each addition.
  • Add vanilla extract and mix well.
  • Now add the flour mixture and mix
    Stir in the milk until batter is smooth. (Do not over beat the cake batter as it will result in a hard cake)
  • Pour batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes in the preheated oven.Do the toothpick test to see if the cake is done.
  • If the cake is not done, bake for 5-10 more mins.Repeat tooth pick test.
  • When the cake is done, take it out of the oven and let it rest in the cake pan for 10 mins.Then remove the cake from the cake pan gradually by making resting it upside down on a flat .
  • Never allow the batter to sit for a long time as this will make the cake hard.

Toothpick test:  Take a tooth pick or a knife or a bamboo skewer and poke it till the bottom of the cake.If it comes out clean the cake is ready.If it comes out with wet cake batter, it needs additional time to bake.

"Vanilla sponge cake"

Cake frosting:

There are many variations of butter-cream frosting. There is the American butter-cream which uses powdered (confectioners’) sugar and becomes stiff when dried. French butter-cream combines egg yolks, sugar syrup and butter into a deliciously smooth and rich frosting (that must be refrigerated). Butter-cream icing can also be tinted or flavored. I have made the simple American butter-cream frosting for this cake.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened (but not melted!) Ideal texture should be like ice cream.
  • 3-4 cups confectioners (powdered) sugar, SIFTED
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • up to 4 tablespoons milk or heavy cream
Instructions:
  1. Beat butter for a few minutes with a mixer or a hand blender on medium speed. Add 3 cups of powdered sugar and turn your mixer on the lowest speed (so the sugar doesn’t blow everywhere) until the sugar has been incorporated with the butter. Increase mixer speed to medium and add vanilla extract and 2 tablespoons of milk/cream and beat for 3 minutes. If your frosting needs a more stiff consistency, add remaining sugar. If your frosting needs to be thinned out, add remaining milk 1 tablespoons at a time.
  2. Frost the sponge cake with the butter-cream frosting and give it a smooth finish.
  3. As this was a quick fix cake, I ended up with topping my cake with fresh strawberries. And yes this was a delight for my hubby, thankfully he loves fruits…infact everything with fruits !!

And tada! You are a great baker 🙂

Milk n cookies vanilla smoothie

Its summer and you constantly look for a chiller to ease the heat waves. This milk and cookies vanilla smoothie is one such magic trick because its filling, yummy and chilled! Blend it up for breakfast or an afternoon snack… the slight coffee tint leaves you feeling refreshed and energetic!

Milk n Cookies Vanilla smoothie 

Ingredients:

  • 1 glass milk (whole milk preferably)
  • 2 milk cookies
  • 1 scoop vanilla ice cream ( I used French vanilla )
  • 1/2 tsp instant coffee powder
  • 2 tsp sugar

Add all the above ingredients and ice cubes in a blender and blend untill smooth . Serve the fresh and creamy smoothie immediately, add ice if desired.