Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Whole Wheat Chocolate Coffee Cake

Who does not love chocolate cake? Of course we all do but since long I have been thinking of making one with coffee. My first attempt was a disappointment since I followed a recipe that asked me to soak the cake in coffee syrup. Probably I went wrong somewhere and the coffee tasted pretty bitter in that form.

This time round I simply tried to play around with my chocolate cake recipe. And the results is rather good.  Like most of my cake recipes this one too contains whole wheat flour and vegetable oil. I have started using whole wheat ever since I decided to bake for Aseem. Children do love cakes and I could not see him have refined flour cakes all the time.

The reason I use vegetable oil in place of butter is that oil keeps the cake soft and moist, even when kept in the fridge. Unlike butter it does not become hard and retains its springy texture.
The sweetness of the cake may be bothersome for some as I use sugar less than regular cake recipes. In most cases a recipe calls for almost the same amount of sugar as flour. I keep it to half. Here I have made a small cake with half a cup of flour and one fourth cup of sugar. If you have a very sweet tooth you can easily increase the sugar quantity and get the desired sweetness.

Whole wheat flour – ½ cup
Baking powder – ½ tsp
Cinnamon powder -  a generous pinch (optional)
Unsweetened cocoa powder – 1 tbsp
Brown sugar – ¼ cup
Vegetable oil – 1/3 cup
Coffee granules – 1 heaped tsp
Eggs – 2 nos.
Walnuts crushed- 1 tablespoon (optional)

Prepare your cake tin. Either grease it or line it with parchment paper.
Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees centigrade.
Dissolve the coffee granules in 2 tablespoons of hot water and set aside to cool.
Sieve the flour with the cocoa, baking powder and cinnamon powder.
Separate the eggs. Place egg whites in a large bowl. Add sugar and oil and whip well, for approximately 3 – 5 minutes.
Add the yolks one by one and continue whipping. Now set your mixer aside and grab a wooden spoon. Gradually add the flour-cocoa mixture to the egg mix. Do not bother to beat it well as we only need to fold it into the egg mix.
Once mixed, pour the batter into a prepared cake tin. Sprinkle the walnuts over the cake top. A cake of this size usually goes in to a six inch diameter tin.  Accordingly you can choose one for yourself.
Bake the cake in the pre-heated oven for around 40 minutes or till a skewer comes out clean. 

Relish this soft, yummy and guilt-free cake with a steaming hot cup of coffee!

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Fabric envelopes

We need them for carrying important papers.

We need them to store those valuable hard copy data.

We need them to collect bills in one place.

If we look around our house or office we will find numerous items calling out to us to be stacked in an organized manner. These essential documents deserve folders and organizers. Allotting a folder to each one or each category of them will not only make things look neat and tidy but will also save us a lot of trouble hunting through stuff.

Now that the need for folders in established why not make these folders attractive? Let us move away from the store bought plastic ones and graduate to a fabric folder. A super simple DIY fabric folder!

You could use jute or burlap as I have done or go for any other thick material. Or you could use an interfacing to give a rather thin material some stiffness.

The folder that I have made is 15x10.5 inches in size. You can always make alterations as per your need. I needed it to carry some A4 size documents so this size. I may soon be making some in different sizes as well.
As I said this was an extremely easy DIY craft piece which hardly takes time to take shape. For the one mentioned here (the green polka dot folder) this is what you need:

Burlap or jute – 15 x 23
Fabric of choice for embellishment (for front) – 15 x 4
Piping fabric – you will need to measure the raw edges that require piping and prepare accordingly. Alternately you can use fabric tape which is bound to be a lot easier. Since I did not get that I went ahead and made the piping.
Self-adhesive Velcro – 2 pcs
Thread matching the fabric or burlap
A pair of scissors
And last but not the least a sewing machine.

How to make:

We have all made envelopes when we were kids and this is one of the simplest ways to do it. Take the burlap lengthwise and 9 inches from ones side fold it towards the middle.

Now take the other end and make a 4.5 inches fold towards the middle so that it overlaps the other folded end. Press well to make distinct fold marks. These overlapping parts form the back of the folder. Turn over to get the front portion.

Open up the fabric and align the embellishing fabric on the front portion. Stitch it in place. I have attached it towards the bottom.

Since edges look ragged attach the piping. Begin with the both breadth sides – the 15 inch sides.
Fold it back and stitch both the open sides so as to give it the shape of the folder or envelope. You basic product it ready. Now stitch or stick the fabric tape on the edges. Since you have already stitched the sides they will not open so sticking will be just fine.

All that remains to do is ensure that the folder keeps papers secured - so place the Velcro patches. One good way to do it would be to attach both sides to each other. Now peel off the patch and stick to one side. When well secured peel of the patch from the other piece and close the flap of the folder. The Velcro will stick to the other side in just the right place.

And in no time your DIY fabric folder is ready!!!

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Whole Wheat Chocolate Almond Muffins

Almonds, we all know are a storehouse of nutrition. But which child likes to have them willingly? Not many that I know of. Yet all of us as mums always make efforts to include the wonder nut in our children’s diet. Trying to list down the benefits before them does not have much effect, especially if the child is a very picky and fussy eater. Besides, with tempting junk food all over the place who would want to go for ‘almonds’ of all things?

Let us recap the benefits of almonds which will once again rekindle our efforts to sneak in almonds in the diet in different forms.

Almonds contain vitamin E, vitamin B12, manganese, copper, magnesium, phosphorus and lots of fibre.

With almonds in one’s diet the risk of cardiovascular diseases are greatly reduced. They help lower ‘bad’ cholesterol LDL and the flavonoids in them protect the arteries from damage.

The presence of phosphorus helps build strong bones and teeth.

According to Ayurveda almond consumption can also be linked to better brain functioning and longevity.

Research is also on to check the benefits of almond consumption and reduced cancer risks.

These are just some of the advantages of consuming almonds but they are proof enough to include them in the family diet. Given here is a muffin recipe that not only uses almonds but is also made with whole wheat. The addition of chocolate overpowers the almond taste to a great extent and children may never know that they are having almonds.  

Whole wheat flour – ½ cup
Roasted Almond meal – 2 level tbsp
Brown Sugar – ½ cup (can use less as sweetness is a matter of personal choice. I used a little less than ½ cup)
Egg – 2 large
Vegetable oil – ¼ cup
Unsweetened cocoa – 1 heaped tbsp
Baking powder – ½ tsp
Vanilla extract or essence – 1 tsp
Whole almonds – 3 slit in to 6 halves (optional)

Sieve the wheat flour, baking powder and cocoa. Set aside.

Line six muffin moulds with muffin liners.

Pre-heat oven to 180 degree Celsius.

Separate the eggs. Place the egg whites, sugar and vanilla in a large bowl. Beat well until soft peaks form.
Add the oil to the egg mix and beat again until well mixed and peaks formed. A good whipping here ensures that air has been well trapped to give a well risen muffin.

Add the egg yolk and beat again for about a minute.

Pour in half of the dry ingredients and mix with a wooden spoon. When mixed well pour in the other half and mix again. At this stage all you need to do is fold in the flours. No beating is required else the trapped air will escape.

Spoon the batter in to the lined muffin moulds filling just a little more than half full.

If you wish you can place a half of an almond on each muffin at this stage just before putting the tray in the oven.

Bake in a pre-heated oven for 30-35 minutes or till the top is dry and a skewer comes out clean.
Enjoy it hot or cold. It could be with a beverage of your choice – milk or coffee and once again hot or cold.

These muffins make excellent snacks both at home as well as a carry along one. Place them in your child’s lunch box and rejoice at his beaming face.

Monday, 24 March 2014

Whole Wheat Banana Almond Choco Chip Muffins

Muffins! Did you say they are unhealthy? It’s time to give it a fresh thought; time to take control and turn these so called unhealthy foods into healthy ones. They make excellent snacks and can also serve as a good breakfast, both for adults and children alike. Pack in some healthy accompaniments and they can double up as good school lunches. Very filling, satisfying and healthy.

These muffins contain the much energising bananas. Whole wheat replaces refined flour and the addition of almond meal packs in the much required nutrition. In powdered form it is a good way to sneak in almonds for fussy children.

You will need:
Whole wheat flour – ½ cup
Roasted Almond meal – 1 tbsp
Brown Sugar – ½ cup (can use less as sweetness is a matter of personal choice. I used a little less than ½ cup)
Bananas – 2
Egg – 1 large
Vegetable oil – ¼ cup
Chocolate chips – ¼ cup
Baking powder – ½ tsp
Salt – a pinch
Vanilla extract or essence – 1 tsp

Make it:
Pre-heat oven to 180 degree Celsius.
Line six muffin moulds with muffin cups.
Sieve the wheat flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

Separate the egg. Place the egg white, sugar and vanilla in a large bowl. Beat well until soft peaks form.
Add the oil to the egg mix and beat some more till the oil is well incorporated. The beating at this stage is very important. The more air you trap in it the frothier your mix and fluffier your muffin.
Add the egg yolk and beat for a minute.

Now set your beater aside and pick up a wooden spoon. Pour in half of the wheat flour and half of the almond meal. Mix well. Add the remaining flours and mix again. You only need to fold in the flours so that they are mixed well. No beating is required here and make sure not to over mix.

Now it’s time to peel your bananas and mash them. You could do this at the preparation stage also but by the time you have to mix it in the batter they will change colour. If you wish to have the freshly mashed colour then do it now. Mash and mix it in the batter.

All that remains is the chocolate chips. Pour them into the batter and mix once again.

Spoon the batter in to the lined muffin moulds filling just a little more than half full.

Bake in the pre-heated oven for 30-35 minutes or till the top is dry and a skewer comes out clean.

Enjoy it hot or cold.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Tongue Tingling Mint Chutney (Pudina Chutney)

Mint or pudina and raw mangoes bring with them the whiff of the summer air up north in India. The smell of the spicy and sour pudina chutney brings back memories of those long and lazy summer holidays. The hot and dry loo winds blowing outside and the noisy air coolers blowing full blast to keep the indoor temperatures as cool as possible. 

Pudina or Mint
Pudina is a very common herb in Indian kitchens and is long known for its innumerable health benefits. Pudina helps relieve indigestion, gives comfort in aches and pains, fights oral infections and cancer, brings about a glow to the skin, acts as a blood cleanser, eliminates toxins from the body, and combats bad breath. These were some of the most important and known benefits of pudina.

The other main ingredient in this mint chutney is raw mango which has its own set of benefits. Compared to its ripened form it has a richer quantity of antioxidants and vitamin C thereby improving the immunity and stamina of the body and protecting against cardiovascular diseases. Along with salt raw mangoes aid in preventing excess body water loss in the dry summer days.

The addition of jaggery as opposed to sugar not only enhances its taste but also adds on to its nutrition factor. It also brings about a good consistency to the whole mix and gives a good rich colour to the chutney.

Mint Chutney
The two spices, cumin and fenugreek, are in a rather insignificant amount but their taste can be well distinguished and cannot be done away with.

Chutneys are that little addition to every meal that instantly perk up the entire menu. They not only taste great but also enhance the entire food ensemble. They are rather easy to prepare and have a finger licking taste. Let us prepare the very spicy mint chutney.

  • Mint leaves –  ½ cup
  • Green or Raw mango – 1 medium sized
  • Jaggery – ¼ cup
  • Cumin seeds (jeera) – 1 tsp
  • Fenugreek seeds – one pinch
  • Chilli (dry red or fresh green) – as per taste
  • Salt – as per taste

Ready for grinding

- Wash the mint leaves.

- Peel and chop the raw mango.

- Cut jaggery in small pieces.
- Dry roast cumin, fenugreek and dry chilli (if using the red dry one).

- Add all ingredients to the mixer jar and grind to a smooth consistency. You should be able to grind the chutney without any extra water. However, if you need to, add a very small amount – a teaspoon or two.

Your fragrant and delectable chutney is ready in a jiffy!