Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Hunky Chunky Cookies And Halloween Fun

Halloween decorations have crept up (literally) in my neighborhood over the past week. Our orange and purple lights are hanging on the palm tree, finally. Better late than never. The one thing that we did have out in time, our carved pumpkins, didn't survive to see the Halloween day though. Husband was quite methodical in his approach - he bought a pumpkin carving stencil book and all the fancy tools for carving. He even made a chlorine solution to prevent pumpkins from rotting. Unfortunately, the solution dried out the pumpkin a bit too much, shriveling and cracking through some of the design. The mold didn't seem to care about chlorine either. Anyhow, our haunted house and headless man managed to spook others for almost a week.

I picked up a Halloween special magazine while waiting at the grocery check-out counter a couple of weeks back - yes, I can shop all the way to the check-out line :D. I promptly tried one of the appetizers - Potatoes stuffed with herb & garlic cheese. Tell me how you can go wrong with cheese and potatoes! I am planning to make them again for my office Halloween potluck. Recipe should follow soon.

Now, what's Halloween without some lots of chocolate? Another recipe I tried for chocolate chip cookies, with a couple of modifications, was a winner! I made a fresh batch for my friends on Sunday, and also shared some with my colleagues yesterday. Everyone was all praises for the cookies, genuinely :D. The original recipe used a combination of milk, bittersweet, and white chocolate chips. I went with what was available in the pantry - bittersweet chips only. We're bigger fans of dark chocolate anyway. The cookies came out nice and big - the kind that make kids happy. So I called them Hunky Chunky cookies!

**Note: This recipe makes about 22-24 cookies

Hunky Chunky Chocolate Chip Cookies

Wet Ingredients:
1 Cup unsalted butter
2 Cups sugar (all white or half brown and half white)
1 Extra large egg
1 Teaspoon vanilla extract

Dry Ingredients:
1 Cup APF
3/4 Cup whole wheat flour
1/2 Cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 Tsp baking powder
1 Tsp salt
1 Cup bittersweet chocolate chips

Prep: Line two baking sheets with parchment paper/aluminum file. Preheat oven to 350F.

  • In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar with until smooth.
  • Beat in egg until the mixture if fluffy. Stir in vanilla extract.
  • In a separate bowl, sift all the dry ingredients except chocolate chips. Beat the flour into the butter-sugar mixture slowly, and fold in the chocolate chips.
  • Drop big spoonfuls of the batter on the lined sheets. I used a small ice-cream scoop to ensure the same size. Each drop was approximately the size of a golf ball.
  • Bake for 10-12 minutes. Then let the cookies cool on a rack.

I kept one of the baking sheets right at the center of the oven, and the other closer to the bottom. The center sheet cookies turned perfectly chewy. The bottom ones were more on the crispy side. Still delicious, but I wouldn't put the sheet right by the heating coils. I would like to add macadamia nuts next time - that'll make these cookies just perrrfect!

Hope you have a spooktacular, sugar-filled Halloween!!!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Laddu Love

I find it challenging to plan for late afternoon-early evening snacks, especially when I'm ready to chomp down anything after getting home from work. But then, I don't like to kill my appetite for dinner either. It's not too much work to whip up guacamole or make veg cutlets or something else. Still, it would be nice not having to think about it every day. For quick energy boost between meals, I liked all sorts of khau (snack/treat) grandma used to keep ready - bhadang or healthy chivda to eat with yogurt, or one of her wholesome laddus made with moong, haliv (aserio) or whole wheat. How easy life used to be when mom or grandma had to worry about such things...*sigh*!

Now that I'm working up an appetite with the cooling Fall weather (and in preparation for the holiday season ;), I wanted to have something ready in the house for the occasional hunger pangs. Kanakeche Ladu (Whole Wheat Laddus) seemed to suit my mood, and the lack of enthusiasm for making anything elaborate, the other day. These laddus are quite nutritious, with golden roasted whole wheat flour, dry fruits, and a good dose of ghee. They are made with my favorite sweetener jaggery - always happy to forgo refined sugar. Most importantly, unlike besan or rava laddus, there's very little that can go wrong in the preparation. And you don't have to fret if you can't roll laddus, because the churma, or the coarse mixture, tastes fantastic by itself. Just don't tell anyone you attempted to make laddus :D.

Ladies, these laddus will be great to break your Karwa Chauth fast. Sweet, and energy packed when you are ready to faint after a long day of fasting =).

**The recipe below makes approximately 12 laddus.

Kanakeche Ladu/Whole Wheat Laddu

2 Cups whole wheat flour
1/2 Cup ghee
3/4 Cup grated jaggery
Chopped dry fruits per your liking - almonds, cashews, raisins
1/2 Teaspoon cardamom powder

  • Heat 3 tablespoons of ghee in a kadhai on low flame. Add whole wheat flour and roast until golden and aromatic (~10 mins). Keep the stove on low and stir the flour so it doesn't burn. Once done, keep aside.
  • Add the remaining ghee and grated jaggery to the kadhai and heat just until the jaggery melts completely. Don't overcook. Be very careful -jaggery can really burn once hot!
  • Pour this ghee-jaggery mixture in roasted whole wheat flour. Add chopped dry fruits and cardamom powder. Mix everything well with a spatula.
  • Once the mixture cools enough to touch, break all the lumps with your hands and make golf-ball size laddus. If you find it difficult to roll laddus, add a little bit of ghee (although 1/2 cup should enough really).

If the laddus harden (because ghee can solidify in cold weather), just pop them in the microwave for a few seconds and they'll be as good as fresh. 

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Hello Again!

First of all, a big HELLO to you all! I've been away so long, I don't even know where to begin this post. Let me start by wishing a very happy Dashera! What did you do this Navratri season?

I've been neck deep in work lately. I don't want to whine, but it's been an uninspiring couple of months. We finally caught a much needed break last weekend and escaped to a beautiful mountain log cabin. After recuperating, this weekend was all about cleaning, reorganizing, and decorating the house for the holiday season. We're ready to celebrate fall, Halloween, Diwali, and whatever other holiday that's coming up :). Doing something festive cheered me up to finally write a post. A bright wreath with fall hues adorns our front door now, carved pumpkins are ready to spook passersby, and a big star shaped lantern will be hung up soon. Fun times are here again!

I asked husband what he wanted for Dashera today, and he sounded pretty unenthusiastic about any sweets. There was no time to make a big feast among all the chores either. So I kept the menu simple yet special - a fragrant pulao, daal fry, with papad and pickle on the side. I often make peas pulao to add a touch of  'special'. Today, I tried my mom's favorite khada masala pulao (whole spices pulao) topped with decadent ghee fried potatoes and onions. I certainly care more about the topping than the rice itself :D. This pulao is all the fancy without much work. And it's a big crowd pleaser, loved by kids and adults alike. It'll be a great addition to your Diwali party menu.

Whole Spices Pulao with Fried Potatoes & Onions

4 Small red potatoes - peeled and cut into 8 wedges each
1/2 Red onion thinly sliced
1 1/2 Cups Basmati rice
2 Green chillies (slit in the center)
1 Teaspoon cumin seeds
2 Bay leaves
1 Cinnamon stick (~ 2 in)
5-6 Cardamom pods
4-5 Cloves
1/2 Teaspoon whole black peppercorns
2-3 Tablespoons ghee
Salt to taste

**Use a cast iron pot for making pulao. If not, use any thick bottom cooking pot.
  • Wash and drain rice and keep aside. 
  • Heat the cooking pot on medium-high and add 2 tablespoons ghee to it. Fry potatoes in ghee until golden brown (2-3 minutes) on each side. The potatoes should get crispy on the outside. Make sure they are tender when poked. Take them out and keep aside. 
  • Fry thinly sliced red onion (enough to garnish pulao) until brown in the remaining ghee. Keep aside.
  • You should still have enough ghee left in the pot for pulao. If not, add some more. If the ghee you fried potatoes and onions in smells burnt, replace it with a tablespoon of fresh ghee. 
  • Add all the whole spices, and green chilies to the pot and roast for a few seconds. Once the spices are fragrant, add washed rice and roast for another minute. 
  • Add 2 cups of water, salt to taste, and let the rice cook. It should cook fairly quickly after soaking, and cooking in ghee. You can cover it for some time, but take the lid off once it is half way done so that it doesn't get clumpy. Add a little bit of water if needed. 
  • Take out the rice in a serving bowl/dish and layer with fried potatoes and onion. 
**You can add peas, carrots, or green beans to the pulao if you like.

Serve with raita, daal fry, or your favorite curry. It tastes quite great by itself too. I prefer it this way.

Now that I'm back, stay tuned for more updates!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...