Mini Peanut Butter Cupcakes

peanut butter cupcakesThe cupcakes are basic and light with chocolate beautifully complimenting the peanut butter flavour. 

And so, Nabeel is currently enjoying his summer break in full swing, ensuring I am on my toes 24 hours, or at least till he is awake. His constant needs to play, eat, read, and have fun sucks out all my energy and time. I am enjoying no doubt, but the everyday dilemma of “how to keep him busy? is tiring me completely. This year am adopting “no summer class” policy (hope to stick to it till the end) which means all me time will be converted to only mommy time..phew!

peanut butter cake

So, yesterday, we spent time in the kitchen baking cupcakes…something both of us thoroughly enjoy. We baked these cutsie mini cupcakes flavored with Peanut Butter and slathered with chocolate. Peanut butter gained entry into my kitchen for the first time and soon it was used in a baking recipe…something I generally do with all my new found ingredients :-).

We spent our evening snacking on these beauties while watching our 100th session (no exaggeration, really) of Kung Fu Panda.

cupcakes

Heading to the park now, please find this simple recipe of Mini Peanut Cupcakes, below. I adapted it from here.

Do try them with your kid..super fun and messy too 😉

chocolate frosting

Mini Peanut Butter Cupcakes
Makes 24 mini OR 12 regular sized cupcakes

Ingredients
Refined wheat flour – 1 cup
Baking powder – 1 teaspoon
Salt – a pinch
Creamy Peanut Butter – 1/2 cup
Butter – 1/3 cup
Castor Sugar – ½ cup
Eggs – 2 nos
Vanilla Essence – 2 drops
Milk – 3 tablespoons
Melted Dark Chocolate – ½ cup , for the frosting

Method
Step 1 – Sift flour, baking powder and salt together. Keep it aside.
Step 2 – In a bowl, put peanut butter, butter and sugar together using an electric beater till fluffy and white in colour.
Step 3 – Lightly mix in eggs, one by one. Add Vanilla essence.
Step 4 – Fold in the dry ingredients with a light hand.
Step 5 – Mix in milk to adjust the batter consistency.
Step 6 – Pour the cupcake batter in moulds and place in a pre-heated oven at 180 C for 25 minutes, to bake.
Step 7 – Once the cupcakes have risen, remove and cool before serving.
Step 8 – Top the cupcakes with melted dark chocolate.

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Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

cinnamon-rolls

Cinnamon is my favourite spice to use, when it comes to baking and these Cinnamon rolls have been on my to-do list since long. Having enjoyed them at many breakfast buffets during holidays the urge to bake them at home had just been growing. Finally, when I managed to get cream cheese I knew what it would be used for…to dress my homemade Cinnamon Rolls. More so, one of my favourite bloggers made these recently and I had to follow suit 🙂

Cinnamon Rolls are a favourite breakfast item in the US, equally enjoyed in Europe and other parts of the world, made famous mostly by the popular chain of cinnamon roll outlets, Cinnabon. Cinnabon is now in India and Indian’s sure love their cinnamon rolls.

breakfast-rolls

Cinnamon rolls are commonly baked and that is how I cooked them. But, they can also be cooked by deep-frying, similar to doughnuts, so if you are a doughnut and a cinnamon roll fan then you have a chance to enjoy the best of both at the same time.

cinnamon-rolls-with-cream-cheese-icingWe enjoyed the cinnamon rolls for breakfast (obviously) and my boy enjoyed licking off the sinful cream cheese icing the most.

If you are in love with Cinnamon Rolls and would like making them at home then follow this easy, from scratch recipe that yields melt in the mouth rolls. The icing can be prepared using only icing sugar and water in case cream cheese is not easily available.

Cinnamon Rolls

Ingredients 

For the dough
Flour – 140gms
Egg – 1 nos, beaten
Sugar – 1 tbsp
Melted Butter – 2 tbsp
Yoghurt – 2 tbsp
Active Dry Yeast – 1 tsp (5 grams) mixed with 2 tbsp luke warm water
Salt – a pinch

For the cinnamon layer
2 tbsp melted butter
4 tbsp brown sugar
½ to 1 tbsp cinnamon powder (depending upon how mush cinnamon you can take)

For cream cheese icing
2 tbsp powdered sugar
2 tbsp cream cheese
1 tbsp milk
Few drops of vanilla essence

Melted butter, for greasing and brushing

Method
Step 1 – To prepare the dough, activate yeast in luke warm water. Cover and keep aside till the mixture turns frothy.
Step 2 – Sieve the flour in a bowl, add in salt and mix well.
Step 3 – Mix in the remaining dough ingredients, including yeast mixture and knead to form pliable soft dough.
Step 4 – Cover the bowl with a muslin cloth and let the dough double in size. It will take approximately 1 hour for the dough to proof and rise.
Step 5 – Once the dough has risen, remove it on the kitchen platform and punch out the air.
Step 6 – Roll the dough into a rectangle, roughly about 7 x 4 inches.
Step 7 – For the cinnamon layer, mix the brown sugar and cinnamon powder well. Apply melted butter over the dough and spread the cinnamon mixture evenly, over it.

cinnamon-roll-layering
Step 8 – Roll the rectangle tightly, lengthwise. Using a sharp knife, cut the dough into 6 equal cinnamon rolls.

cutting-rolls
Step 9 – Take an 8 inch round cake tin and grease it with butter. Place the cinnamon rolls in it with cut side up. Cover the rolls with a damp muslin cloth and let them double in size.

proofing-the-rolls
Step 10 – While the rolls proof, pre-heat the oven to 200 C.
Step 11 – Once ready, pop the rolls into the oven. Rolls should take about 40 to 50 minutes to bake. If you notice the top of the rolls browning then cover with a piece of foil to prevent further darkening.
Step 12 – Remove the cinnamon rolls from the oven and brush with melted butter, if you like. Keep aside to cool before pouring the cream cheese icing.
Step 13 – To prepare the icing, mix all the ingredients vigorously to a smooth mixture. Pour over warm cinnamon rolls and serve immediately.

cinnabon

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Halloween Finger Cookies

Last weekend, as a part of the #WeekendCookingProject Nabeel and I baked some cookies..real creepy Halloween cookies.

spooky-fingers

Halloween is few days away and the buzz created by the infinite Halloween events organised across the city encouraged me to have a little celebration of our own. It was also a good way of introducing this spooky festival, of witches and ghosts, to Nabeel.

halloween-finger-cookies

We picked up the Basic Sugar Cookie Dough from here and set off! This cookie dough has eggs but I have also shared (below) a tried and tested recipe of Eggless Cookie Dough, in case someone is not in mood for eggs or probably has run out of them.

Shaping and giving the final touches to the finger cookies was what Nabeel enjoyed the most and of course, serving them to his frightened friends. He introduced the cookies to them as “my mom’s fingers” and the terrified beings came running to me in order to cross check. How innocent! 🙂

fingers

Making Halloween Finger Cookies is pretty simple and the end results looks like a real work of painstaking art. They make a wonderful decor too if you don’t find them appetizing enough to eat 🙂

So, get set for Halloween by trying out these simple finger shaped cookies.

Halloween Finger Cookies
Makes 15 to 20 finger cookies

Ingredients
½ cup powdered sugar
½ cup butter, cold
1 cup flour
½ teaspoon Vanilla essence
½ teaspoon baking powder
Milk, if required
10 to 12 Almonds cut into half
Any Red colored, Jam or sweet sauce

Method
Step 1 – In a dry bowl, place butter and sugar together. Cream them using a whisk.
Step 2 – Beat the mixture, till light and fluffy.
Step 3 – Add in the vanilla essence, mix.
Step 4 – Carefully fold in the flour and baking powder, mix gently to make dough. Use a spoon or two of milk, if required.
Step 5 – Rest the dough in fridge for 10 mins before shaping into fingers.
Step 6 – Divide the dough into approx 15 to 20 parts and shape into cylinders, they should be unevenly thick.
Step 7 – Place the shaped cookies on a greased baking tray and then stick a almond halve (skin side down) on the top end, to work as nails. Make wrinkled skin marks using a knife, look at your fingers for inspiration 🙂

unbaked-finger-cookies
Step 8 – Place the cookies in a hot oven which has been pre-heating for 10 minutes at 160 C. The cookies should bake in about 15 minutes.
Step 9 – Remove from oven and cool the cookies.
Step 10 – To give the final look, carefully pull out the almond and put a blob of the red jam or sauce in the cavity. Place the almond back, pressing it gently so that the blood oozes out. You can also paint some blood over the other areas of the finger to make them look bloodied and creepy.

halloween-treats

Happy Halloween!

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Garlic Breadsticks – Dominos Style

The popular Garlic Breadsticks from Dominos are a favourite of Nabeel. We always end up ordering their dry, chewy, zero topping pizzas for the greed of breadsticks (because they don’t deliver unless you order pizzas). So, one fine Saturday afternoon when Nabeel yearned to dig into some hot breadsticks from Dominos and they refused to deliver (just) the breadsticks, we decided to bake our own breadsticks. With time in hand and internet to the rescue I read through a few Dominos Garlic Breadstick recipes, and then finally devised my own recipe to try. In sometime we were relishing freshly homemade garlic bread sticks – Dominos style while watching Po do some Kung Fu 🙂

img_20161015_154549

The breadsticks are usually enjoyed along with a cheesy dip but since we were in no mood to make one, we decided to stuff the breadsticks with some cheese and make up for the absent dip. It was wonderful biting into homemade cheese burst breadsticks. If you prefer plain breadsticks then do not fold the dough sheet as suggested (step 9), in that case you will end up with 2 sets of 8 breadsticks. We used garlic cloves but garlic powder works wonders too, that is what is used by Dominos.

img_20161015_155331

Nabeel baked bread for the very first time and looking at Nabeel’s cooking interest, I have now decided to dedicate Saturday’s for cooking with him. It’s going to be our own #WeekendCookingProject .

Stay tuned for more real mommy and child cooking sessions on the blog.

img_20161018_152122

Dominos style Garlic Breadsticks
Makes 1 breadstick loaf (as shown in the image) Approx. 8 stuffed breadsticks

Ingredients
3/4th cup – flour / maida
1.5 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup water
1 tablespoon oil
2 teaspoons chopped garlic
Mixed Herbs or Pizza seasoning, as required
Pepper powder, as required
Cheese (of your choice) – cheese spread, parmesan, processed, etc, as required
Melted butter, to brush
Method
Step 1 – In a bowl, mix yeast, sugar and water together. Keep it aside and allow the mixture to froth.


Step 2 – Once the yeast is all frothy, add the flour, salt and oil to the bowl and mix well. Let all the ingredients come together to form dough.


Step 3 – Remove the mixture on a clean working counter and knead well to form soft, pliable dough. Place the dough back into the bowl, cover and keep it aside till it doubles in size. This would take approximately 25 minutes on a hot day.


Step 4 – Once the dough has doubled up, remove on the working counter and punch it to remove all the trapped air. Knead for 5 minutes to get back to normal size.


Step 5 – Take a baking tray and grease it with oil.
Step 6 – Roll the dough into rectangular shape, to fit into the tray.


Step 7 – Place the rolled dough on the tray and try to even it out.
Step 8 – Brush some melted butter over the dough. Spread chopped garlic, herbs, salt and cheese on one half of the dough.


Step 9 – Fold the dough, seal and tuck the edges well so that they don’t open up during baking.
Step 10 – Make deep marks using knife to get the breadstick shape.

Step 11 – Brush the top of breadsticks with butter, sprinkle herbs and some pepper powder. Keep the dough aside to rise, for about 10 to 15 minutes.
Step 12 – Meanwhile, set the oven temperature to 200C and let it preheat.
Step 13 – Place the breadsticks in the hot oven and bake for 25 minutes or till the top turns light brown.


Step 14 – Remove the bread sticks from oven and brush with butter. Serve hot.

img_20161015_154604

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Demystifying the basics of bread making & WHOLE WHEAT BREAD LOAF recipe

basic of bread making

** Long post alert! Prolonged scrolling time 🙂 **

I am back after a 4 month long hiatus. Not that I was happy to be away but the situation had me tied up completely, leaving no time to blog. However, in these 4 months I have had a whale of a time thinking of, and sometimes whipping up few new recipes, draft posts of which are waiting to be published that I promise to share asap.

Today’s post is all about breads and the technique behind them. Also sharing, a lovely Whole Wheat Bread Load recipe, which has taken up a lot of my R&D time, but has been worth it, in the end.

Nabeel and I love white sliced bread and it used to make up for our quick breakfast every other day, hmm..well, till a few months ago. The day I learnt about the zero nutrition and negative health effects processed factory made breads have I decided to slowly discontinue them in my routine. It was not easy to eliminate bread completely from our lives and therefore I was constantly looking for recipes and inspiration to bake my own healthy bread loaf. Finally, after lot of reading and some unsuccessful kitchen attempts I found the formula to make the perfect Bread Loaf.

whole wheat breakfast bread

Baking is more science than art! And within it baking, bread is one of the most difficult things to create if you don’t know the science behind it. Once you understand the theory then there is no stopping. Based on my understanding of this science, I am sharing with you a few bread basics that you need to keep in mind before you attempt making any breads. Hope it gives you an idea of what is added when and why.

whole wheat bread slice

Demystifying Bread Making

1) Good bread is the result of good gluten formation. Gluten is nothing but the stringy texture of dough you achieve when wheat flour is mixed with proportionate quantity of water and kneaded well. So the bottom line is knead well to reap well 🙂
2) Refined flour or Maida produces better gluten in comparison to Whole wheat flour. That explains why most bread products use refined flour. This however, is changing thanks to bread improvers, additives, gluten flour, etc that is used by bread manufacturers. They help give a good texture to the product but are totally zero on nutrition.
3) It is possible to bake bread using whole wheat flour, just DON’T compare the end result with a refined wheat flour product. A whole wheat bread is denser and heavy on the stomach but much nutritious than any other bread.
4) Yeast, fresh or dry plays an important role in bread making. It helps in fermentation which gives the airy texture to the bread. Active dry yeast is easily available and much stronger then fresh yeast. Both are interchangeable in a recipe, fresh yeast is always double of active dry yeast and similarly dry yeast is half of fresh yeast quantity.
5) Sugar is the food for yeast, it helps yeast grow. While salt is the birth control measure of yeast :-), it helps keep the yeast from over multiplying which might cause the bread to crack and collapse while baking. Thus, salt is added only after first fermentation so that sugar can help the yeast grow during the first round and then salt controls it during the second.
6) Yeast requires warmth to grow but it dies at 60 C so always use luke warm water (NO hot water) to make the solution.
7) Yeast products to be baked at 200 C and over only. Since, the yeast dies at a low temperature the high temperature helps cook the bread fast retaining the air pockets even though the yeast has stopped producing them. This gives the texture to the product.
8) Always cool down freshly baked bread before slicing it.
9) Remember the more you practice the better you get at baking breads. Initial attempts might be unsatisfactory but they will help you understand the techniques well.

whole wheat bread loaf

Whole Wheat Bread Loaf Recipe
Makes 1 (6×3.5×3.5 inch) loaf

Ingredients
320 grams Whole Wheat flour
15 grams or 1 tablespoon Active Dry Yeast
10 grams or 2 teaspoon Honey or Sugar
150 ml lukewarm water
15 grams or 1 tablespoon homemade ghee or Butter
5 grams or 1 teaspoon Salt
2 teaspoons (approx) Sesame Seeds
Melted ghee or Butter

Method
Step 1: First make the yeast solution by dissolving yeast and honey in the lukewarm water. Set it aside for 15 to 20 minutes or till the solution froths.


Step 2: Meanwhile, measure the flour and empty it over your working counter. Grease your loaf tin with oil and keep aside.
Step 3: Make a well in the flour pile and pour the frothed yeast solution in it, carefully.

flour well
Step 4: Bring the flour together and mix. Once the yeast solution has been mixed take some water and start kneading. You might need approx. 150 ml to 200 ml of water to make the dough.

mixing dough
Step 5: Knead the dough well by stretching and pulling it. The secret to well baked bread lies in the kneading of its dough. Refer image to understand how to knead properly.

how to knead bread dough
Step 6: Once you achieve smooth yet firm dough, round it up neatly and place aside covered with a moist cotton cloth or muslin. Let the dough rest till it doubles in size (first fermentation). The time here varies depending upon the temperature but it should be anywhere between 20 to 50 minutes.

bread dough texture
Step 7: To check whether the dough is ready lightly press it with fingers, the feeling is same like when one touches sponge. Turn the dough and look for web like formation at the bottom (refer image).


Step 8: Using your palm, cream ghee or butter and salt together on the counter.

salt and fat mixture
Step 9: Literally, throw the fermented dough over the mixture and punch it to release all the air trapped within it. Lightly knead and shape into a rectangular log with the sides neatly tucked in. The log should be slightly smaller than the loaf tin.

punching bread dough
Step 10: Place the dough inside the loaf tin and gently press using fingers to cover the corners. Cover the loaf tin with a cloth or muslin and set it aside to double in size (second fermentation). This fermentation will take anywhere between 40 to 60 minutes, depending upon the room temperature. The hotter it is faster the fermentation.


Step 11: Switch on the oven and set it at 220 C. Once the loaf has doubled in size, uncover it and brush it very gently with some water. Sprinkle sesame seeds and press them lightly on the loaf so that they stick to it. Let the dough remain for 5 minutes.

second fermentation
Step 12: Once the oven is hot, place the loaf tin on its center rack. The loaf will take around 40 to 50 minutes to bake.

Step 13: Remove the loaf and immediately brush it with melted ghee or butter. Take the loaf off the tin and keep it on a rack to cool. It is important that the loaf is removed from the tin and then cooled.

freshly baked bread loaf
Step 14: Slice and serve the bread only after cooling it completely.

whole wheat sandwich bread

Nabeel enjoying the bread

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Healthy Brown Rice and Vegetable Bake

I had participated in a Chef competition hosted by Burgundy Box and judged by Masterchef Ajay Chopra. The complete write up can be read here. Below is the recipe for the dish I whipped up for the event.

Brown rice n vegetable bake

Healthy Brown Rice n Vegetable Bake

Serves – 2 Preparation time – 15minutes Cooking Time – 25minutes

Ingredients
Brown Rice – ¾ cup, raw
Cottage Cheese / Paneer – ½ cup, crushed
Cooked Lima Beans – 1/3 cup
Chopped Garlic – 1.5 teaspoon + 1 teaspoon
Milk – 1/4th cup + 1/4th cup
Baby corn – ½ cup, diced
Mixed Colored Peppers – ½ cup, diced
Broccoli – 1/4th cup, diced
Sundried Tomatoes – 1 tablespoon, diced
Italian Tomato Sauce – 3 tablespoons
Thyme – ½ teaspoon
Oregano – ½ teaspoon
Chilli Flakes – ½ teaspoon
Salt – as per taste
Cooking Oil – as required

Method
Step 1 – Wash and soak brown rice for 10 minutes.
Step 2 – Boil enough water and cook the brown rice in it. Drain and keep aside.
Step 3 – Blend cottage cheese/paneer with 1.5 teaspoon garlic and 1/4th cup milk to make healthy white sauce.
Step 4 – Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a wide pan and sauté remaining garlic for a minute. Add the thyme and salt and toss the brown rice in it.
Step 5 – Remove rice in a bowl and mix the white sauce in it. Lightly mix the remaining milk with the rice and put it in a baking dish
Step 6 – Spread the tomato sauce evenly over the rice.
Step 7 – Heat another pan and add 2 teaspoons oil in it. Sauté the vegetables in the order they appear on the ingredient list. Season the vegetables with chilli flakes, oregano and salt.
Step 8 – Layer the lima beans and vegetables over the tomato sauce. Cover the dish and bake @200C for 10minutes.

Serve hot with a salad.

Till then, Love Being a Mommy!

Spiced Potato Stuffed Sesame Buns

It’s that time of the year when I am scratching my head to figure out new flavours and food items to pack in Nabeel’s lunch box. I know it’s been only a month since school re-opened yet the regular Tiffin making activity has already started to get boring for me. So recently, during one of my blog-hop session when I came across this cool lunch box recipe for kids – Spiced Potato Stuffed Sesame Buns, I jumped to try it the very next day. And boy, it was magical!

Spiced Potato stuffed Sesame Buns
Prepared with very basic everyday ingredients available in our kitchen these stuffed buns are a great option for kids as a snack, picnic food and for school lunchboxes too.
Do give them a try, they just look fancy but are easy to make. They are best baked fresh in the mornings. Cool them and wrap with cling film and pack in the Tiffin, the freshness will remain intact.
Once you have mastered the bun part then the stuffing options are unlimited from chicken to mince to mixed vegetables..just create what you enjoy.

Potato filled Sesame buns
Spiced Potato Stuffed Sesame Buns Recipe
Makes 4 buns (as pictured)

Ingredients

For the spiced potato stuffing
½ cup boiled and mashed potato
2 tablespoons chopped coriander
1 teaspoon finely chopped green chilli
Salt as per taste

For the sesame buns
250grams flour
12grams dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
½ cup tepid water
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon oil
Some milk or beaten egg yolk to brush the buns with
White sesame seeds – to sprinkle
Flour – for dusting

Method
Step 1 – Start by preparing the stuffing, mix all the ingredients in a bowl. Check for salt, cover and keep aside.
Step 2 – Start with the dough, add yeast and sugar to the lukewarm water and let it rise (you will see froth on the surface of the mixture after a minute or so)
Step 3 – In a bowl, add flour, salt and the yeast mixture. Mix and knead everything well to form soft pliable dough. Use some more water, if required.
Step 4 – Add the oil and knead well. Cover the dough with a damp muslin cloth and keep in a warm part of the kitchen counter for the dough to rise (ferment). This should take approx 20minutes. After fermentation, the dough will double in size and will be spongy to touch.
Step 5 – Dust a clean and dry section of the kitchen counter with some flour and punch the fermented dough on it. Literally, punch to remove all the air and flatten the dough to its original size and texture.
Step 6 – Dived the dough into 4 parts, make smooth round balls and leave again to ferment for 10 minutes.
Step 7 – Repeat step 5 for each ball.
Step 8 – Take each ball and stuff it with some potato filling. Make balls again and place on a greased baking tray.
Step 9 – Brush each bun with some milk or egg yolk, sprinkle with sesame seeds (press them lightly to stick) and let the dough rise for 10 minutes before baking them in a pre-heated oven for 25 minutes at 200C.
Step 10 – Once out of the oven, brush the buns lightly with melted fat.

Potato Stuffed Bread
Notes: The buns, ideally, should be consumed the same day. If needed, refrigerate them and consume within 2 days. Buns can also be frozen for a week and re-heated in an oven.

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