Super Duper Delicious Sundried Tomato-Basil Dip

I genuinely love writing about food.  It doesn’t matter how many people I reach, it’s just therapeutic to put down what I feel about food and to share recipes that have worked fantastically for me! Over the last few months, I have been at a crossroads – my small social media and digital marketing agency has taken off really well and that leaves me with very little time to blog! I’m hoping I can change this by installing a WordPress app on my phone to let me blog whenever I have a few minutes! This post is the first using this new app as I head to Bombay. 

Chips and dip are a classic combination! I think it takes a lot of will power for someone to turn down this combo! Perhaps it’s more attractive and comforting because it is enjoyed best when shared with friends and family. Whenever I think of chips and dip, I think of happy faces, casual seating and lots of laughter!

It also reminds me of the time my mom came to visit me in Monterey, where I was studying. She had just come down from India and was rather jet lagged. At 4 AM, I hear a ‘crunch, crunch’ sound breaking the deafening silence of the town. I head to the kitchen to find my mom with a giant pack of chips and a tub of Artichoke-Cheese Dip, seemingly pleased and in a trance! It’s an incident that my brother and I often laugh about while my mom dishes out weak defences every time.. If I concentrate, I can still hear the crunching of the chips and her sheepish look that morning!

This Sundried Tomato-Basil Dip is fabulous!! It’s creamy, tangy and can be made spicy. Perfect for our Indian palates and goes really well with our packaged Salted Chips. I cut out all the mayo and sour cream from the original recipehttp://m.allrecipes.com/recipe/81396/sun-dried-tomato-dip/?page=0 and substituted it with some thick, hung curd. I did keep some of the cream cheese, but reduced the quantity to keep it lower in fat.

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Sundried Tomato-Basil Dip

Ingredients

3 TBSP Cream Cheese (I use Brittania), at room temperature
1/2 Cup Thick, hung curd
1/3 cup chopped, Sundried Tomatos
2 garlic cloves
1/4 TSP ground pepper
Few dashes of Tobasco sauce
1/4 cup fresh Basil, roughly chopped
1 TSP Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt, to taste

Method

1. Rehydrate the sundried tomatoes by letting them soak in a bowl of hot water for 15 minutes.
2. Once the tomatoes have rehydrated, strain the water, keeping 3 TBSP reserved, and let them cool slightly.
3. Add the garlic, pepper, salt, tomatoes in the blender, with a little of the reserved water, and blend till smooth.
4. Then add the cream cheese, curd and Tobasco to the mix and blend again.
5. Finally, add the chopped basil and blend till smooth. Taste the dip for seasoning and adjust to your preference.
6. Remove the dip in a bowl and drizzle the olive oil over the surface. Keep in the refrigerator until ready to serve!

Enjoy this dip with pita chips, potato chips or tortilla chips!

Notes:
I used completely dehydrated Sub Dried tomatoes rather than those preserved in oil to reduce the fat and calorie content.
This dip cannot be stored for too long (2 days, at most) and must be refrigerated!

Healthy, Low-Fat and Vegan Broccoli Almond Soup

If you live in India, there are very few times you truly enjoy the warmth that a rich, hearty soup provides. Fortunately, we are having some wonderfully chilly weather here in Baroda and a soup was just what we needed. Dinners are best served outdoors and piping hot! I love winter so much and wish it’s a little longer this time. I can then think of going about my herb garden.

Broccoli was one of those things I used to detest as a kid. The green color in any food triggers the response that its going to be bitter or bland and not really that yummy. I am ashamed to admit, I still carry some of those feelings! For that reason, I rarely enjoy any green soups and go straight for a tomato soup or a mushroom soup. But, the other day, I had some broccoli in my fridge and wanted to do something with it. I wanted something that wouldn’t taste very broccoli-like (Go figure!). I decided to try to make a broccoli-almond soup that seems to be on every menu in India. When I Googled it, the recipes all contained cream or a roux base (butter and flour base) which just didn’t sound healthy and just didn’t appeal to me. After a lot of searching, I found a recipe that worked perfectly for me! With a few changes, I made this into a healthy, low-fat, vegan soup. It is very lightly flavored and is very easy to make! Even the most inexperienced cannot fail at this!

Broccoli-Almond Soup

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cup broccoli florets

1 small onion, chopped

4 cloves of garlic, chopped

6-8 almonds

5 cups vegetable stock (Make your own!)

1 tbsp olive oil

Salt and Pepper, to taste

Method

  • Heat the oil in a non-stick pot on a medium-low flame. Once the oil is hot, add the garlic and the onions.
  • Fry until fragrant and the onions have become translucent, about 6 minutes.
  • Next, add the almonds into the oil and stir them around for 30 seconds.
  • Finally add the broccoli florets and stir them with the oil for about one and a half minutes or until they take on a beautiful green shade.
  • Add the 5 cups of vegetable stock to the broccoli mix and cover the pot with the lid. Allow it to come to a boil and leave on a medium-low flame for 8-10 minutes or until the broccoli is tender.
  • Turn the flame off and allow the mix to cool.
  • Once cooled, add the mix, in batches, in a blender and blend until smooth
  • Return the smooth mixture back to the heat. Season with salt and plenty of fresh pepper.
  • Once the soup has heated, ladle into bowls and serve.

Note: If the soup is too thick for your liking, simply add some more vegetable stock. If you don’t seem to have more vegetable stock on hand, heat 1 cup of water and add 1/2 tsp of mixed herbs like dried garlic powder, rosemary, parsley, mint, oregano or Italian Seasoning. Allow the water to come to a boil and turn the flame off. Cover with a lid and let it sit for about 5 minutes for the herbs to flavor the water. Drain the water and use the flavored water to thin the soup out.

Happy Cooking everyone!

 

 

My absolute favorite: Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

We all have those one absolute favorite dessert that we eat even when we know we shouldn’t. I don’t think I can think of a combination more addictive and tastier than chocolate and peanut butter. Oh wait! Add some Nutella to it and it will drive me crazy!

I love cookies. I love chocolate. And I love peanut butter. What happens when you combine all of them? You get the most amazing, the most sinful and the most addictive things of all! I came across this recipe in 2010. We were young kids excited to be baking and wanted to make something sweet. All our previous attempts had resulted in something burnt or something spread out or something half-baked. But we weren’t disheartened. We were happy to scrape off the burnt bits and eat whatever little is edible or scoop it all up with a spoon. It was another ‘baking day’ and we found a jar of peanut butter in the fridge. Now, I LOOOVEE peanut butter! Give me a jar and some jelly and Nutella and I’ll be the happiest person on this planet. Anyway, we decided to try making these cookies and they turned out so good we gobbled up the first batch just out of the oven. Of course we had to make more and were more patient the second time around. From then on, when we bake these cookies, we always double the recipe and it has never lasted more than 48 hours.
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Fast-forward to a couple of years later, I still love the simplicity of this recipe and they are my comfort cookies. I stopped making them with all-purpose flour and make them now with whole-wheat flour. The texture does change, they aren’t as chewy, but I’m willing to make that little bit of a compromise to eat a little healthier. The ingredients are easy to stock and I began using brown sugar in baking only after discovering this recipe. I sometimes add a little Nutella and cut back a little bit on the peanut butter for an extra flavor kick. I also tend to sometimes add creamy peanut butter and other times, add chunky peanut butter. Either ways, they taste good.
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These are super rich cookies and very indulgent so they’re excellent as a treat. I would bake these and take them as a gift for someone who loves peanut butter. I can’t praise this cookie recipe enough and I don’t want to experiment with it at all! If you do try making it, please let me know what you think!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Adapted from a recipe by Canary Girl

Ingredients:
• ½ cup of butter (Use unsalted to control the saltiness in the cookies)
• ½ cup sugar
• ½ cup brown sugar
• 1 egg
• 1 teaspoon vanilla
• ¾ cup Peanut Butter (creamy gives a better texture)
• 1 cup flour (I used whole-wheat)
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• a pinch on salt
• 1 cup chocolate chunks
Method:
• Pre-heat oven t o 375 Fahrenheit or 175 Celsius. Line a cookie sheet with grease-proof paper and set aside
• Cream the butter and both the sugars until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes, with an electric beater if possible. Make sure the butter is at room temperature to speed up the process.
• Add the egg and vanilla and beat them in the mixture.
• Using a wooden spoon beat in the peanut butter until well incorporated in the butter-sugar mixture.
• Next, add the flour, salt, baking powder and stir to combine.
• Add the chocolate chunks and mix them in the dough.
• Drop spoonfuls of the dough on to the cookie sheet, leaving some space between each cookie because they will spread.
• Bake for 12 minutes or until slightly golden.
• Remove them from the oven and allow them to rest on the cookie sheet for 1 minute before transferring to a wire rack to cool.

These taste best when they’re warm with a glass of cold milk on the side. Happy baking everyone!
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Chocolate Covered Oreos

With some White chocolate drizzled over the oreos to look pretty!

Holiday seasons are the best for two reasons:

  1. You get to meet your family and friends
  2. You get to make/eat ridiculously yummy things!

Diwali is one of the biggest festivals for Hindus. On this day, it is said, the Lord Rama returned back to Ayodhya from his 14-year exile in the forest. To celebrate his return, the people of Ayodhya lit the entire city with lamps. To this day, the tradition of lighting house with oil lamps or diyas continues. It is one of the most beautiful sights in any city. There are so many lights and lamps and colors all around. All the shops are lit up, houses are beautifully decorated and there is a festive spirit in the air. Firecrackers burst every few seconds and in some cities, it is almost impossible to carry out a conversation because the noise of the firecrackers refuses to let you! Nevertheless, this is the time when family and close friends surround everyone. It is the perfect season to get dressed up – its not too hot nor is it too cold. I love wearing my brightest colored Indian wear and accessorizing with big earrings.

This is also the time when people visit each other and give each other gifts and wishes to celebrate the New Year. Sending something sweet – either Indian sweets, chocolates, dry fruits along with candles or diyas is the norm. I decided to make some chocolate covered Oreos to send across to some friends.

This recipe is easy and perfect to make with children. There is very little ‘cooking’ involved and you can change the basic recipe to suit your tastes. It hardly took me 30 minutes from start to finish these. After two hours in the fridge, these were ready to be eaten! I love the combination of peppermint and chocolate so I added some peppermint flavoring to the chocolate. I loved the flavors and will probably experiment with a few more flavorings soon! These are perfect to gift for any season, including Christmas.

All ready to spread the joy!

 Chocolate Covered Oreos 

(Adapted from a recipe from The Sunday Paper)

Ingredients:
  • 12 oz (340 grams) of semi-sweet chocolate
  • A package of biscuits (This much chocolate can coat about 40 cookies)
  • 1 tablespoon of Vegetable shortening
  • 50 grams of white chocolate chips, to drizzle on the finished biscuits
Method:
  • Mix the chocolate and 1 tablespoon of vegetable shortening and set over a double broiler.
  • Allow the entire chocolate to melt evenly.
  • In the meanwhile, prep a baking pan or cookie sheet with Aluminium foil or parchment paper
  • Remove the chocolate from the heat. Drop a cookie into the chocolate mixture and turn it in the chocolate using a fork.
  • Once the cookie is covered in chocolate, lift it from the mixture using a fork and tap it against the side of the bowl to get rid of excess chocolate.
  • Place the cookie on the prepared sheet.
  • Repeat for all other cookies.

Just out of the bowl – chocolate covered Oreos

  • Once the cookies are all covered in chocolate, refrigerate them for about 10 minutes.
  • While the chocolate-covered cookies are setting, melt some white chocolate with 1/2 teaspoon of shortening, if desired.
  • Pull the chocolate covered cookies out of the fridge. Using a cone or a fork, drizzle the white chocolate over the cookies and put the trays back in the fridge.

With some White chocolate drizzled over the oreos to look pretty!

  • The cookies should be set in about an hour in the fridge!

I never knew the difference between extract, essence and flavorings till I made this recipe.

  1. Extract: Real spices (like vanilla, chocolate) are infused in alcohol or a liquid base.
  2. Essence: Completely artificially created flavors meant to imitate extract.
  3. Flavoring: Spices infused in vegetable oils, made from natural or artificial substances. These are free from alcohol or water hence, perfect to use with melted chocolate.

If you want to know more about the difference between the three I recommend reading this article.

I had a great time making these. I tried most with peppermint flavoring and I am waiting to get my hands on some more flavorings so I can experiment making these with all kinds of flavors!

The chocolate covered oreos lightly drizzled with white chocolate.

Here’s wishing everyone a wonderful time making these with the family and sharing them with the ones you love!

Happy No-baking!

 

A family pleaser! Apple Cinnamon Upside Down Cake

  I’ve always loved spices. I love the way a small pinch fills the house with this absolutely delicious aroma that makes you feel hungry even though you really aren’t. It’s almost magical and for me, the most ‘magical’ of … Continue reading