Saturday, January 29, 2011

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

It's pumpkin again! Get used to it! You all know how much I love pumpkin. Maybe I should create another category here on this blog, dedicated to pumpkins, squashes etc. only!!!

I love smoothie so much. So pumpkin in a smoothie form is a perfect marriage! I've made this so many times now, and to tell you the truth, have fallen in love with it. In my smoothies, pureed pumpkin has become a staple just like banana. Other fruits come and go but pumpkin and banana are here to stay. And again, these ingredients are so healthy. I can't stop raving about their goodness. They are loaded with vitamins and minerals our bodies require to function properly and keep us healthy. Add berries and you're all set for the healthy, nutritious yet delicious breakfast or snack that's so waist-friendly! And I love the fact that it's made in a jiffy. No fancy ingredients to buy, no slaving on a hot stove is required.

The first time I made this smoothie, I made a mistake. I didn't put the spices and it tasted really yucky! Right away, I blended it again with some cinnamon and cardamom which were readily available in my pantry that time, and the drink transformed from yucky to yummy! Then I started adding more spices and finally landed this recipe which is such a hit with friends. Go ahead, give it a try.
Pumpkin Pie Smoothie
1/2 cup regular milk
1 cup pumpkin, pureed
cinnamon powder, ginger powder, cinnamon powder, nutmeg powder, anise powder- all to taste
1 teaspoon honey(or to taste)
1 teaspoon vanilla
8-10 ice cubes

How to:

Blend the milk, pumpkin, spice powders, honey and vanilla until completely smooth. Add the ice and blend again. Serves 1-2.

You can also use cashew, almonds, walnuts, dates etc in this smoothie also. It requires a bit more milk to thin it out.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Blueberry Muffins

These Blueberry Muffins are always quick to disappear. They are low in saturated fat yet still moist and flavorful. The surprise ingredient in these muffins is yogurt. Yogurt, as we all know, is good for our bodies plus it has the ability to make muffins tender and moist with an almost bread-like texture.

I love how quickly these Blueberry Muffins can be put together. Like most muffin batters, dry ingredients are placed in one bowl, wet ingredients in another. Mix the two together and you are done. When folding in the blueberries, especially if you are using frozen blueberries,(do not thaw the frozen blueberries), have a light hand as you do not want the blueberries to crush and stain the batter blue. Other berries could be used in the place of blueberries. Blackberries, raspberries, or even chopped cranberries would be very nice. If you would like a citrus flavor, add a teaspoon of lemon or orange zest (rind) to the batter. Now, the muffin tins need to be either lightly buttered (can spray with a non stick vegetable spray) or lined with paper liners. My preference is to use paper liners since it makes cleanup a snap and I also like how pretty they look. When you pull these muffins from the oven, their golden brown crust is delightfully crisp while inside they are moist and tender and bursting with blueberries. I think this is when they are at their best. But still, even though their crusts may soften once they are covered and stored, their wonderful moist texture and delicious flavor remain intact.

Blueberry Muffins
1 cup plain yogurt (regular or low fat)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup canola or corn oil
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated white sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

How To:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Position rack in center of oven. Butter or line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.
In a large measuring cup or bowl whisk together the yogurt, lightly beaten egg, oil, and vanilla extract.
In another large bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Remove 1 tablespoon of the dry ingredients and toss it with the blueberries. With a rubber spatula fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir only until the ingredients are combined. Gently stir in the blueberries. Do not over mix the batter or tough muffins will result.
Evenly fill the muffin cups with the batter, using two spoons or an ice cream scoop. Place in the oven and bake for about 15 - 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for about 5 minutes before removing from pan.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Butternut Squash Casserole

I am all nuts for butternut! You all know this by now.....I absolutely love it. And we all know it is so healthy for us. Especially for us ladies! It has loads of Vitamin A which is very much essential for good hair and skin. Remember Retinol in pricey skin care lotions?!! That's Vitamin A! See, now you believe I am nuts, correct?! I love all kinds of squash though. I make sure we have at least one squash a week, be it butter nut, butter cup, A-cone or plain ol' sweet potatoes. I normally bake the squash till tender, drizzle with lots of extra virgin olive oil and parmesan shreds and eat just like that. This time, I wanted to make something different and equally healthy. And I know how to make the basic 'rue' for the casseroles! And this dish was generated. Somewhere, someone must have made this dish, but to me, this is indigenous to me! My family loved the dish and thus, it ended here as a post.

Butternut Squash Casserole
3 cups butternut squash cubes, steamed till fork tender
1 cup skim milk
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp all purpose flour
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

How to:
Heat the oven to 400°F.
Heat up the oil, add onion and garlic and cook till onion is translucent and fragrant.
Add flour and cook till light brown in color.
Now add the rest of ingredients with seasonings and cook till the mixture thickens. It will take about 3-4 minutes.
Transfer into oven proof bowl and bake until golden and bubbly.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Bread Pudding-Indianized!

Let's start the new year with a sweet note!!

My dad's favorite dessert! I remember growing up, mom used to make this all the time for dad. I never liked it though! It was deep-fried bread, dipped in sweet milk/cream, garnished with lots of nuts! I love milk and nuts part but deep fried bread always turned me off! And that was when I was a child. Now that I have my own child and especially dessert lover hubby, I've had no choice but to reinvent this dessert! Last Christmas, after the church service, we all were enjoying a good lunch together and hubby was waiting for the dessert! I got him this dessert in a bowl, he loved it. Then I filled up a container with the dessert from the leftover to bring home. Next day, while enjoying it, he asked me, why didn't you pick up the whole pot of it?! I was like are you kidding me, this thing is so devilish! We all know how 'unhealthy' deep fried bread is. I for all can't just let my family eat this more! That's how the need arose to reinvent this dessert and boy! I was so happy with the final outcome. Now all fried food taste so good but to enjoy this dessert often, I've got to stick to the recipe I came up with. Here's how I did it.

Bread Pudding
1 week old bread slices(the older the better!), about 8
1 can Carnation evaporated milk,1%
1/2 can Nestle condensed milk
1 can low fat milk(fill up the can of evaporated milk)
Pam spray
A pinch of cardamom powder
Chopped pistachios for garnish

How to:
Heat oven to 400° F. Spray bread slices with Pam, arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake till both the sides are golden brown. You need to flip the sides once the bottom is golden. Cut them in pieces and let them cool down.

In a large, shallow dish, pour all the milks and add cardamom powder. Mix. Dip cooled bread pieces in the milk mixture. Leave overnight in a fridge. Garnish with nuts and serve chilled.