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Friday, May 27, 2011

Everything about Avocados for Infants, Babies and Toddler

Avocados are a great first food for your baby. They are excellent source of unsaturated fatty acids and have a higher proportion of this 'good' fat than any other fruit except the olive. Yes they are actually fruits, even though they are commonly thought of as vegetables. Try using mashed avocado as a "vegetable butter', a replacement for butter that can be spread on crackers and sandwiches.
Image source: msn.com
Info drafted from the book:"Super Baby Food" by Ruth Yaron



Equivalents: 1 medium avocado=1 C/1 cup.
Baby must be at least 4 months old.
Season: Available year round; peak December through May.

Choosing
: When selecting avocados, look carefully for damage, which shows up as soft dark spots in the skin. Tan-colored patches are OK. When picked up, an avocado should feel heavy for its size. If you're not going to eat the avocado for a few days, select an avocado that is firm but not rock hard, and ripen it at home. if you plan on eating it immediately, select a ripe avocado as described next.

Ripening: Firm avocados will never ripen in the refrigerator - let them sit at room temperature for up to 6 days. Place them in a brown bag to speed ripening. Avocados are ripe when they yield to gentle pressure and feel soft all over. Another way to test for ripeness is to gently squeeze the whole avocado with all five fingers. (using all five fingers prevents bruises.) If the flesh feels like it is separating from the seed, the avocado is ripe. As avocado ripen, the skin becomes a darker green. Still another way to test for ripeness is to insert a toothpick in the stem end. If it moves easily, the avocado is ripe. Avocados are easy to peel when they are ripe; the peel is hard to remove when avocados are underripe.

Storing: After ripened, store the whole avocado in the refrigerator in the vegetable crisper for up to two weeks. Your very young baby will certainly leave you with avocado leftovers. Store cut avocados by leaving the skins on and keeping the pit in the uneaten portion. You can brush the fruit part with lemon juice (if baby is old enough for citrus) to keep it from turning brown. It's OK to eat the brown part, but you can scrape it off with a knife. Wrap tightly in a plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator.

Freezing using the Food Cube Method: The easiest way I've found to freeze avocado in food cubes is this:
  • Take a sharp knife and cut avocado in half crosswise so that you have tow 'cups'.
  • remove the huge seed. Use a spoon to scoop out flesh from peel and place on a flat dish.
  • Use a fork to mash flesh on dish. Spoon into ice cube trays and pat flat with your clean fingers.
  • Freeze for up to 3 months. I suggest that you give your baby 1-2 tablespoons or 1/2 to 1 food cube every day for some of the fatty acids she needs for brain development.
Feeding Avocado to an infant: Mashed ripe avocado is an excellent first food for baby. They are so nutritious that some claim humans can live on them exclusively. Fork mash the avocado flesh and feed it directly to your infant /baby. Avocados are also an excellent source of unsaturated fatty acids that your baby needs for brain development

Grow an avocado plant? check the video link



My next post is Mashed Avocado with cottage cheese for babies and tots, stay tuned!!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Summer Soothing Smoothie

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Soothing smoothie which has strawberries, banana, flax seeds, honey and yogurt


Crowd pleasing, kids appealing smoothie is the one which has strawberries in it. This one smoothie is so soothing to your skin as well as stomach. Soothe your damaged summer skin with omega-3 fats (in flax seeds) that create a healthy glow, vitamin A (in yogurt) that heals damage, and vitamin C (in strawberries) that replaces the collagen the sun stole away. This quick, easy smoothie contains all three and tastes lip-smacking-ly great!

Summer_Smoothie2

Summer Soothing Smoothie

Source: Newspaper

Prep time:5 mins
Baking time: 5 mins
Yields: 2 servings
Ingredients:
1 C plain low-fat yogurt(homemade Indian curd)
1 whole, peeled banana
2 C frozen strawberries (if using fresh add some ice cubes too!)
1 T flaxseed (alsi)
½ t honey
½ t almond extract (optional)
few ice cubes

Method:
  • Combine all the above ingredients in blender and pulse.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Cheddar Chive Scones

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Last weekend we took our LO to the library and I got myself some books on baking, salads and healthy cooking. I took home "The Sono Baking company cookbook as the pictures in this book were so tempting and the narration was simple to the starters as well as regular bakers, in short; Simple and neat. This scones recipe caught my eyes as it was not sweet ones but savory scones. Cheddar Chive Scones are a delicious treat and when I was baking the whole house filled with the aroma of cheddar and chives. I was so eager to taste the freshly baked scones that I burnt my mouth....but it's all worth it!! The taste reminded me of the Khari biscuits we used to get from our Khariwala, (vendor) who came to our doorsteps with these fresh baked goodie.


Perfect for any occasion, these basic savory scones can be served for breakfast, lunch, brunch or with tea. I like to use yellow Cheddar cheese for the color contrast, but you can white Cheddar as well as any other favorite cheese, including Gruyere or fontina. For more variation, try substituting thyme or another favorite fresh herb for the chives. I did very little changes to the original recipe by adding paprika powder and black pepper to it.

Cheddar-Chive-Scones_Potrai

Cheddar Chive Scones
Source: adapted from The Sono baking company cookbook by John Barricelli
Prep time:20 mins
Baking time: 15-20 mins
Makes: 8 scones

Ingredients:
2 C all-purpose flour
1 T baking powder
1 t coarse salt
½ t paprika powder
¼ t freshly ground black pepper
¼ C finely grated extra-sharp Cheddar cheese,
plus about 1 T for sprinkling
1¼ C heavy cream, chilled,
plus ¼ C for brushing

Method:
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick silicone baking mat; set aside.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, paprika powder, freshly ground black pepper, salt and chives. Stir in the cheese with a fork
  • Add 1 cup of the cream and fold with a rubber scraper or your hands just until the cream has been completely absorbed. Then continue adding cream, 1 tablespoon at a time, just until the dough comes together and there are no dry patches.
  • Meanwhile preheat the oven to 400°F [205°C].
  • Turn the dough onto a heavily floured work surface like your counter top or such. Lightly flour your hands, pat the dough to an a circle almost ¾ to 1-inch thick; or you can shape it into a rectangle(¾ to 1 inch thick), which ever works best for you.
  • Using a sharp knife cut the circle or rectangle into equal size triangles. Place it on the prepared baking sheet. Brush the scones with the remaining heavy cream (or milk) and sprinkle each with a pinch of grated cheese.
  • Bake, rotating the baking sheet about two-thirds of the way through, until the scones are golden brown and puffed and the bottom are lightly browned when you lift the scones with a metal spatula, 16-20 minutes. Using a metal spatula transfer to a wire rack to cool.
  • Enjoy it for breakfast, brunch or with tea.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Quinoa with Roasted Chicken and Veggies

Quinoa-Dinner1

It came , it conquered !! and now I am in love with this wonderful seed called "Quinoa'. At first I was apprehensive, little but no interest to buy this grain err! seed (many mistaken like me!). But these days I see Quinoa recipes popping up like the corn everywhere. So many are blogging /cooking with Quinoa and many nutritionists are banking on its health benefits, How can I resist? Here is my first take on Quinoa. As many health websites suggested that just replace the 'Rice' with 'Quinoa' I religiously followed that task and wow, what a sumptuous meal we had the other day, yeah you got it right.... I am posting this recipe after 2 days ;) , we had it on friday night for our dinner!! My 22mo 'Anshika' also loved it coz it had her favorite green peas in it.

Quinoa (pronounced as keen-wah)

Although not a common item in most kitchens today, quinoa is an amino acid-rich (protein) seed that has a fluffy, creamy, slightly crunchy texture and a somewhat nutty flavor when cooked. Quinoa is available in your local health food stores throughout the year. Most commonly considered a grain, quinoa is actually a relative of leafy green vegetables like spinach and Swiss chard. It is a recently rediscovered ancient "grain" once considered "the gold of the Incas."

How to cook Quinoa?
Go as per the instructions on the pack, it's dat simple! Add 1 cup of quinoa plus 2 cups water to a pot that is approx. 1 1/2 quarts. Bring to a boil Reduce heat to simmer. Cover and cook 10-15 minutes. I like to cook it a little less than suggested on the box, or with a little less water, to make sure the Quinoa does not get a "mushy" consistency when cooked. I would suggest doing what it says on your package the first time, and see how it comes out, then adjust accordingly in the future. You can turn heat off early and allow it to finish absorbing water to save energy. If it is too soft, use less water the next time.

To read more info on Quinoa click here

Quinoa-Dinner2

The above dinner plate had little bit of everything, pan roasted chicken, sauted veggies, cucmber yogurt salad and Quinoa. And the preparation is also very simple, you see why I am tagging this under easy cooking because it took me less than 30 minutes to fix our friday dinner.

Recipe for Cooking Quinoa:
1 Cup of Quinoa
2 C water
½ C chopped red onions
1 garlic, crushed
a pinch of salt
1 T olive oil
cilantro for garnish

Method:

  • Heat oil in a medium size sauce pan. Add the onions and fry till they are translucent for about 2 mins or so. Then add crushed garlic and fry for 30 secs.
  • Add quinoa and mix well with onions and garlic. Add 2 cups of water, salt and bring it to boil.Once the water is boiling turn down the heat a little bit and let it simmer for 15-20 mins.
  • Slowly the water evaporates and quinoa starts looking plumpy. At this point you can see the water is almost vanishing, turn off the stove and cover it with a lid. That will help quinoa to cook even further.
  • Fluff it with fork and sprinkle with some chopped cilantro.
  • Serve it with roasted chicken, veggies and yogurt cucumber as seen in this picture.
Quinoa-Dinner3

Recipe for Roasted Chicken:
4 pieces of boneless chicken thighs
paprika powder
salt and pepper for seasoning
A wide saute pan or kadai
Extra virgin olive oil (or any cooking oil)

Method:
  • First and foremost clean, wash and pat dry the chicken with a paper towel to remove extra moisture in it. Cut into your desired size, I cut into 3 inches pieces.
  • Sprinkle some freshly crushed black pepper, salt and paprika powder and turn the pieces and season again on this side too!
  • Heat oil on a medium flame and add these seasoned chicken pieces and let it cook on medium high for about 10 mins on each side. You will k now when the chicken is cooked by seeing at the meat, if it turns opaque and whittish, that means the chicken is cooked.
For Sauteing Veggies:
1/2 cup Broccoli florets
1/2 cup sugar snap peas, cut into 1 inch
frozen veggie mix (corn, green beans, green peas and carrot and they come chopped).
Method:
  • After removing the chicken pieces from the pan, saute the above veggies in the remaining oil+fat from chicken and add little salt if needed. saute on medium high flame till the broccoli and carrots are softened little bit.
Enjoy this wholesome meal which is packed with protein, fiber and all the good nutrients from the veggies. Vegans can totally skip the chicken part and still have a protein rich Quinoa meal.


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Bombay Sukka Mutton

BombaySukkaMutton1-

One of the favorite Mutton entree to order in Mumbai (Bombay) restaurants is Sukka Mutton. This recipe is from the coastal Mumbai community popularly called as "Koli" alias fishermen. 'Mutton" in India is predominantly referred to Goat meat and Lamb meat in some parts. This wickedly hot Mutton Sukka or popularly called as Bombay Sukka Mutton is so yummy that you want to stuff yourself till your completely choke!!! I love to have this with hot steamy basmati rice..

You will find many different recipes on Sukka Mutton in the foodie blogosphere. But this one I grabbed it from local television channel showcasing the Koli food. I immediately fell in love with this recipe and cooking almost every Sunday. The recipe is very simple and easy to make. I bet you will keep licking your fingers in the end.
marinatedMutton1_550
Simple procedure to follow while cooking: (1) Firstly cut the goat meat into bite size with the bones too! Marinate with onions, turmeric powder, red chilli powder, salt, lime juice for about 30-40 mins ahead.

Cooking-Mutton1
(2) Cook it in a deep botton kadai/pan, with green chillies, 1/2 cup of oil. You can see oil on the sides
WaterCover1

(3) Cover with a steel plate, pour water on the lid plate and let it cook.
Included photos for step by step photo demo to clearly understand the procedure.



Sukka-Mutton2

Soul food ~ Mutton Sukka


Bombay Sukka Mutton Recipe

Source: TV Show
Prep time:40 mins
Cooking time:30 mins
Serves: 4

Ingredients:
for marinating the mutton
1.5 pounds goat meat/lamb meat with bone
2 C diced red onions
2 t ginger garlic paste
1 T red chilli powder
½ t turmeric powder
1 T lime juice
1 T salt
for cooking
4 green chillies, chopped
7-8 curry leaves
2 tsps Prabhu Sambhar Masala
1 t paprika powder for color
½ C cooking oil (olive/canola/corn)
for garnish
onion rings and chopped cilantro

Method:
  • Cut and clean 1.5 pounds of goat meat(alternatively you can use Lamb meat) into bite size pieces along with the bones. Rinse once in running tap water, drain any extra water by rinsing it in a colander. Transfer the meat into big bowl and add 1.5 to 2 cups of diced red onions as seen in the above picture. To this add the rest of the ingredients listed under marinating the mutton. Keep it aside for 30-40 minutes.
  • Upon marination take half cup of oil, yeah you read it correctly its half cup only. This adds flavor to the dish so leave aside your calorie counting for one day. Since we are not adding water the meat cooked in the oil only. Heat on a medium flame.
  • When the oil is hot add curry leaves, green chillies and the marinated mutton and mix well. Now cover it with a steel plate and pour enough water into it. Keep the flame to medium and let the mutton cook undisturbed for 15 mins or so.
  • After 15 mins check for water on the lid, it must be evaporated!! check the mutton, you can see the water on sides its normal, now check for salt and add paprika powder. Cover the lid and add more water, cook for another 15 mins.
  • If you check now the water in the meat is dried up little bit, check to see if mutton is cooked, not a chewy bite but the meat should fall off the bone, if not cook for another 10 mins and you are done.
  • If you have a thin gravy like curry then fry the mutton on high flame till all the liquid evaporates.
  • Garnish with onion rings and some cilantro and serve it with hot steamed rice or freshly made rotis (indian flat bread)
  • Enjoy and have fun with your food!!
P.S: If you are in Mumbai and want to taste this Mutton Sukka then you can go to Sachin.
Corner View Building, Gokhale Road (North), Dadar, Mumbai 400028. Tel: +91 (22) 24466625. Open: 11.30 am – 3.30 pm, 7 pm – 10.30 pm. Thursday closed. No Credit Cards. I bet you will be drooling over the hearty homemade seafood menu too!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Famous Indian treat ~ Pav Bhaji

PavBhaji2_550

This is one of my favorite fast food, love eating on the streets of Mumbai, opposite to VT (now CST) Railway Station during my teenage days. I do even now when we go out for shopping. The flavor, the aroma fills the air around when we walk by any Pav Bhaji stall and surely makes your tummy start grumbling and urging you to munch on! any Indian blog without this recipe is like incomplete. Pav Bhaji was more popular in Northern India, esp Gujarat and Maharashtra and its metropolitan cities. Souther India did not have much hang of it until the last two decades. I remember I once ordered it at some 3 star restaurant in Vizag and it was so aweful! But now things have changed with people moving to all different places they are bringing the food from where they traveled and thus Pav bhaji is southern favorite too!

This is a very scrumptious meal, as it has the bread (carbs), the veggies and butter. All in all a healthy meal and kids wont complain if you cook this daily. To make bhaji, potatoes are mashed on a flat pan called a tava, and made into a thick gravy after adding diced tomatoes, finely grilled onions, green peas, capsicums (green pepper) and other vegetables like cauliflower and carrots. A special blend of spices simply called the pav bhaji masala similar to garam masala is added to this thick gravy. The gravy is then allowed to simmer on the pan for a few minutes and is served hot in a flat dish with a tablespoon of butter on top.

The pav (bread) is roasted on the same pan with an ample amount of butter and a masala (usually chilli powder and salt). The Bhaji is garnished with diced onions and a slice of lemon and served with the pav. We used to make it especially on new Year's eve party along with our neighbours in Kalyan. I know this is frequently made in India and Indians around the world by and no one needs a recipe for this... but still I am blogging about this fabulous meal for my satisfaction and the urge to share this with the world. So if you think this is just another recipe! not my problem!!!


PavBhaji3_550P

PavBhajiIngre_550


Pav Bhaji

Source: My Own
Prep time:20 mins
Cooking time:20 mins
Serves: 4

Ingredients:
1 C of boiled potatoes, mashed
½ C cauliflower heads, small
1 C tomatoes, chopped
½ C red onions, chopped finely
½ C green pepper, chopped medium ( I used long green chillies, instead)
½ C green peas, fresh or frozen
2 t Pav Bhaji Masala ( I used Everest brand)
1 tsp paprika powder
6 Bombay Pav or Bread rolls
salt as per taste
oil or butter for cooking
for garnish
1 T cilantro, chopped

¼ C red onions, finely chopped
Lime quarters and Papad

Method
  • Boil and mash 4 big potatoes, chop all the veggies and keep aside.
  • Heat 2tablespoons of oil in a wide saute preferably non-stick one, add chopped onions, pinch of salt and let it fry for 3 mins or till they turn soft and pink. Then add tomatoes, green chillies and fry till the tomatoes are mushy mushy or turning into gravy.
  • Add the rest of the veggies, cauliflower florets, green peas, green peppers etc(you can use carrots too!) Mix well add 1 cup water and let the cauliflower cook. Cover with a lid and let the Bhaji cook for 10 mins approx on medium high flame.
  • By now allthe veggies must have cooked well and will turn into gravy like consistency. Quickly add the Pav bhaji masala, paprika powder and salt and mix well till the powders blend into the veggies. If the Bhaji is too dry add little more water and mix well.
  • Lastly add 1 tablespoon butter to make it creamy. Meanwhile cut the Pav (bread rolls) into halves and roast it on a pan/griddle with little butter.
  • Serve the Bhaji hot, garnish with chopped onions, cilantro and a dash of butter. Serve with fresh butter roasted Pavs and lime quaters.
  • Enjoy the celebrations or whatever thats special to you with this sumptuous wholesome meal.
PavBhaji4_550P

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