Monthly Archives: June 2009

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Sunday was eventful.Weekend in the wild,lovely..?..hmm before anyone gets me wrong,I was talking about my visit to the Zoo.Its been quite some time since I visited one. I was all the more excited when P mentioned that this place was more of a wild life sanctuary. He was indeed right and I was happy to see animals in vast open spaces amidst thick vegetation. I believe its cruel to put animals in cage and not giving them freedom to move around. It was a good five hour walk thru the vast area.I was able to spot the majestic Tiger,its agile cousin the leopard,fast and furious Puma,marathon winner Ostrich,wild wolf to name a few.It was also a treat to watch cute lil kids feed to Giraffes. The trip would have been memorable if I had spotted my fav animal the mighty Elephant.The highlight of the trip was the Monorail which runs across the entire place,giving us a panoramic view of the wild life and vegetation.Yet again the weather favored us.Last but not the least there was a festive mood in the Zoo,thanks to the wonderful musical orchestra.

I had picked up a box of Strawberries,Blueberries and Raspberries from Sams thinking I would make something.We kept munching some on our way to the Zoo and before we finish the entire box I decided to make Fruity Stacks.I guess this one is a perfect dessert when we end up with an unplanned dinner/party ,easy to make and great to relish!

FRUITY STACKS

Prep Time 30min
Baking 10min
Start to Finish – 40min

Ingredients:

Phyllo sheets – 3 (thawed)
Butter 2 tbsp( I used Butter spray,coz its easy to use)
Almonds and Pecans 2 tbsp (sliced or very finely chopped)
Whipped Cream 1 cup ( I used the fat free one)
Sugar 1/4 cup
Fruits- You may use any fruits available (Strawberries,raspberries,Blueberries,Mango,Kiwi fruit,Banana,Apple,Nectarines,Peaches etc)Chopped into small slices/pieces.

Method:

Place one Phyllo sheet on a baking tray.Spray/brush butter and sprinkle sugar,place another sheet on top and brush butter and sprinkle sugar,place the last sheet ,brush/spray butter and sprinkle the almonds pecan mixture.Cut the Phylo sheets horizontally into three strips,further cutting them into small squares.Bake at 350F for about ten minutes/until golden brown.Cool it completely.

In the meanwhile,beat the cream and a tbsp of sugar (this is optional,the cream had sweet so I avoided this).Just before serving,assemble the Phyllo square and fruits.Place one square,top it with Whipped Cream and fruits.Place another square and repeat the same.

This is off to “Strawberry Feast” hosted by Happy Cook,”Click” event hosted by Jugalbandhi and “Low Fat(Eggless) Baking event” hosted by Madhuram and Fruit n Nut hosted by Mansi

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Talk about Birthday parties,if it is ours its fun,if its our friends it all the more fun,what if its a small kido’s birthday
After moving here,I have been attending Kids Birthday Parties more than ever before.While P doesn’t miss any of it,more so for the free meal(as always):-D,I often wonder how much he actually enjoys being a part of it.Initially,I used to feel a li?l out of place during these parties as most people had kids leaving the newly weds as minorities.However over a period of time Ive started getting used to these, reminding myself that I wud be in the same boat sooner or later hosting my kids party.It also makes me realize the amount of patience and responsibility that I need to have before I become a parent.The birthday babies all decked up are blissfully unaware of the colorful surrounding ,clapping hands and multitude of new faces.They look extremely adorable and hog the limelight for the entire evening.Thanks to the technology – Digital Camera,Camcorders etc,these precious moments are captured and can be treasured lifelong.Shopping for gifts isnt easy either,with tons of cute options available .I wish I were a kid here celebrating birthdays and receiving gifts:). How I wish?

The Birthday cakes again are so colorful and fascinating.Having a cake in the shape of Garfields,Barbie or Dora is so common these days.Its jes not the taste of the cake,the presentation and decoration makes it even more appealing to the taste buds.I realized after coming back from my vacation,I havent baked a cake/a pie/tart.Since I wanted to make something different,some thing simple and low on calories I made this yummy looking dessert.The recipe was from the book Smoothies and desserts,but I have tweaked it to suit my taste buds and yes it is a Low Cal Dessert,aint that good enuf to indulge on:-P

LOW CAL YOGURT AND BANANA FROZEN DESSERT

Prep Time 20min
Start to Finish 3.5 hrs(including freezing time)
Servings 10-12

Ingredients:

Graham Cracker Crumbs – 1 cup
Butter – 2 tbsp (Melted)
Pecans – 2 tbsp (very small pieces)
Sugar – 2 tbsp

For the topping:

White Chocolate/Vanilla Instant Pudding & Pie filing mix – 1 pkt
Fat Free Vanilla Yogurt – 2 cups
Milk 1/2 cup( I used 1% milk)
Low Fat Whipped topping 1 cups Frozen(thawed)
Bananas 2 ripe and firm (chopped into cubes)
1 tbsp chocolate syrup

Method:

Grease an 8 inch square baking tray,with fork mix crumbs,melted butter,Pecans and sugar until crumbs are evenly moistened.With hands,press the mixture evenly onto the bottom of the plate.Bake at 375F for 10mins.Cool it well.This is the usual recipe I follow to make the crust.
In a bowl,mix the pudding mix,yogurt and milk,whisk for a minute until smooth(I used an electric blender for a min in low speed).Fold in the whipped topping,dont try beating it.Drop the Bananas and stir in slowly.Spread this mixture onto the crust(Crust should be at room temperature or cold).Cover and freeze at least for 3 hours or until firm.

Remove from the freezer , let it stand for 10min and then cut into squares and top each squares with chocolate syrup. Always store the remaining covered in the freezer.

The second time I tried this,I didn?t bake the crust.I went by the original recipe – I spread the crumbs and placed it in the freezer for 10mins,did the topping and it was jes perfect.

Verdict:

Looks can kill,don?t they?During each bite, I could feel the banana chunks,it was very well coated with the cream and yogurt.In between l’il pecans made it crunchy.I could eat this guilt free not thinking much of calories.230 cals per serving for this wonderful dessert?.ain?t that great?:P

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Train rides have always fascinated me since childhood.Journey through the lush green agricultural lands,deep dense woods,the feel of wind gushing thru my face,the sound of the engine horn, the rumbling noise of the wheels,etc.I have enjoyed Mother Natures beauty most while travelling by train.Thanks to the numerous trips during Summer Vacations in India. Well this is how I spent my weekend.a nature lover would surely enjoy these.Indian Railways is the largest railway network in the world, one of the most profitable ones too and not to mention one of the largest employers in the world.I had expressed my interest to travel in train here several times to P and my request finally fructified this weekend.Well it was a pleasant surprise trip to Iowa.We took the scenic Rail ride across the Iowa valley in an Open top train.This reminded me of the Chaiya chaiya song from the movie Dil Se.The weather was beautiful making the trip even more pleasant.It was a good two hours journey through the woods and rivers.We saw pretty homes,wild life and some breath taking views.It was a good break from the usual grind.We have made sure to make the best use of Summer,Road trips,biking, canoeing,rafting and the list goes on.I hope atleast a few of them materialize in the next few months.

Coming to the recipe,few days back I came across Rachels blog filled with wonderful recipes.I am sending across the Apple-Pear Crisp which I made from her recipe to Coconut & Limes Annual Recipe Contest that she is hosting this month.

APPLE – PEAR CRISP

Preparation Time 10mins
Start to finish 40mins(Including Baking time of 30mins)

Ingredients:

Apples  3 Large (cubed)
Pears 3 large (cubed)
Light Brown Sugar a cup
Cinnamon powder  1  tsp
Corn Starch tsp

For the topping :

Old fashioned rolled oats 1/2 cup
All Purpose Flour 1/4 cup
Light Brown Sugar 1/4 cup
Butter  3 tbsp(melted)
Cinnamon 1 tsp

Mix the first set of ingredients and place it on a greased baking dish.Mix the toppings separately and sprinkle evenly over the fruit mixture.Bake at 350F until the fruit is soft or the top turns brown and crispy.


Verdict:

Surely a wonderful recipe,best when served hot with a scoop of Vanilla Icecream. I made this for breakfast and thoroughly enjoyed it.This tastes best only when made with brown sugar.

Note : I used Granny Smith Apples.While making it for the second time I reduced the quantity of all the ingredients as it was made only for the two of us.I had also added pecans and raisins for the topping.

This is also off to Shanthi‘s Sweet Time event and Divya of Dil Se’s Show me your breakfast event.

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And it is so Cold..so very Cold. Its time for Summer and here am still feeling cold.The temperature is about 52 F and doesn?t seem to get any better. I am irritated to get back to the same old warm clothes..poor me! It was drizzling thru out the weekend too.Oh god, I wish I had a magic wand and change the weather the way I want it to be:)

In spite of the weather being bad,we didn?t compromise on our plans,especially on the Saturday. Weekends can be really quixotic and inspiring .P & I had a lovely day, ?we? being formally dressed had a quiet and romantic Dinner at a classic American Restaurant, actually this is one of the finest restaurants here. Being a foodie I have been to all the kind of restaurants,have tried most of the cuisines and tasted best of the best foods, I guess very soon I should start blogging about my food and travel experiences too:-P.The restaurant pretty much had limited veggie entr?e,but we were able to adapt a pasta dish (which was made veggie for us) called Linguini with fresh tomatoes (the original one had shrimp),we were happy to manage very well with the little that we could order.We also had Creamed Spinach which was served with Asiago cheese & some hand cut Idaho Potato fries,Bruschetta(grilled crostini rubbed with garlic and Virgin Olive oil topped with Roma Tomatoes,fresh Basil and Herbs).The dessert section was to die for – I had a Chocolate Lust cake ie., sinful layers of Devils food,Chocolate cheesecake and Rice Chocolate Truffle cake topped with Fudge Icing and Chocolate cookie crumbles?ummmm it was SINFUL!.

Well coming to the recipe, this is something I tried baking this weekend (Recipe taken from – the book ?Taste of Home Desserts? along with my li?l variation) for something special?a celebration. I love cheesecakes and here is my endeavor with Apples and Cinnamon!

CINNAMON APPLE CHEESECAKE


Preparation time 15mins
Start to Finish 1 hour(excluding the refrigerating time)
Yield 12 Servings

Ingredients:

Butter ? 1 stick/1/2 cup(softened)
Brown Sugar ? ? cup
All Purpose flour ? ? cup
Wheat flour ? ? cup
Quick Cooking Oats ? ? cup
Pecans ? ? cup(finely chopped)
Ground Cinnamon ? ? tsp

Filling:

Cream cheese 2 packages( 8 ounces each)
Condensed Milk 1 can (14 ounces)
Apple juice concentrate ? ? cup
Eggs 3 (lightly beaten)

Topping:

Apples 2 medium( peeled and sliced,I used Pink Lady Apples)
Butter 1 tbsp
Cornstarch 1 tsp
Ground Cinnamon ? tsp
Apple Juice concentrate ? ? cup

Method :

In a small mixing bowl,cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy.Gradually add Flour,Oats,Cinnamon and Pecans until well blended.Press onto the botton of a greased baking sheet(1 in. up the sides).Bake at 325F for tem minutes or until set.Cool on a wire rack.
In a large mixing bowl,beat cream cheese until fluffy.Beat in Condensed milk and Apple concentrate until smooth.Add eggs beat on low speed just until combined( the batter will be thin).Pour into crust.Bake at 325F for 40-45min or until centre is almost set.Cool and carefully run a knife on the edges to loosen.Refrigerate over night.
In a pan cook and stir in apples in butter over medium heat until crisp and tender.Cool and arrange over cheesecake.In a small sauce pan,combine cornstarch,cinnamon and apple juice concentrate until smooth.Bring to a boil.Reduce heat;cook and stir for a minute or until thickened.Immediately brush over Apples.Refrigerate for an hour or until chilled.

These cakes have to be consumed at the earliest(I mean it cannot be stored for long),else they turn a li?l harder. The original recipe doesn?t call for wheat flour,I wanted to reduce the intake of A.P Flour,hence used wheat flour .

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