Salted Caramel Popcorn

Salted Caramel Popcorn is the sole reason we visit shopping malls frequently….yes such is the craze and love for popcorn that Nabeel and I share. Seems like our trips to the mall are going to end soon, for we tried out an incredibly satisfying, no-frills, melt-in the mouth kinda Homemade Salted Caramel Popcorn Recipe over the weekend as part of our #WeekendCookingProject.

homemade-salted-caramel-popcorn

It’s a fairly simple recipe divided in two parts; the first part calls for making the popcorn and the second one for caramel sauce. Kids can actively participate in making Caramel Popcorn but take care they don’t dip their fingers in hot caramel. This is a no-bake caramel popcorn recipe which is quick and hassle free and best suited for immediate consumption. The popcorn turns out very crunchy and flavourful. If you prefer a complete caramel flavour then just omit the salt.

Let’s get popping now!

salted-caramel-popcorn

Salted Caramel Popcorn Recipe
(Makes enough to last one round of KungFu Panda…we soo love Po!)

Ingredients
½ cup popcorn kernels
3 tablespoon unsalted butter

For the Caramel Sauce
1 tablespoon salted butter
¾ cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking powder

Method
Step 1 – Heat the butter in a pan, add one or two corn kernels to check if the butter is hot enough and they pop instantly.
Step 2 – Once popped, remove the kernels and add in the remaining corn kernels. Mix them well with the butter. Cover the pan with a lid while the corn kernels pop.
Step 3 – After all the kernels have popped, uncover the pan and let the popcorn cool.
Step 4 – To make the caramel sauce; heat butter in a pan, add in the sugar and let it melt completely. Avoid stirring while the sugar melts, if required just swirl the pan contents by tilting the pan with its handle.
Step 5 – Let the sugar achieve a light brown colour. Switch off the flame, the sugar will quickly turn a shade darker to caramel.
Step 6 – Quickly mix in salt followed by the baking powder. Baking powder will cause the caramel to froth a bit and give it a luscious consistency.
Step 7 – Pour the caramel sauce over the popcorn and mix quickly. Ensure all popcorn is coated evenly; some might even cling together which is ok because they can be separated later on.
Step 8 – Let the corn stand for 5 minutes to allow the caramel to harden. Serve immediately.

Tips: If you have left over popcorn which has turned soggy just place it in a hot oven for 5 minutes till its crunchy again.

homemade-toffee-popcorn

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Till then, Love Being a Mommy!

3 Easy Kids Recipe Videos

Being mom to a dynamic kid sure has it’s share of worries and concerns, one of them being what food to make for him that will ensure a good flow of energy to meet up his activity requirements.

I am often left in this dilemma and so are most moms, many of whom have written to me. They are constantly on the look out for recipes which are easy to prepare, energy giving and at the same time relished by kids, without much coaxing and drama.

So, here are some easy to make, healthy yet yummy recipes for kids, in form of videos, that I did for BabyChakra. The recipes are versatile enough to work as snacks, tiffin treats, on the go food or even mini meals. Above all, they for sure ensure a good supply of energy that will help keep your child active and going any time of the day.

 

VEGETABLE QUESADILLAS

 

POTATO WEDGES

 

KIDS ENERGY BARS

I have been associated with Babychakra for good 2 years now and this new assignment was really fun to work on. Do leave a feedback and let me know what kind of recipes / content would you like to see in future videos.

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Till then, Love Being a Mommy!

 

 

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 🙂

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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.

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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.

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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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Till then, Love Being a Mommy!

Easy 3 Ingredient Energy Bar for Kids

Energy Bars as the name suggests are packaged snacks loaded with whole lot of goodness that impart instant energy. These bars are a popular product in the US, enjoyed by kids and adults alike. They are a convenient food on the go and sometimes also work as a meal replacement (although I would never recommend that). While off- the- shelf energy bars rely on processed sugars for energy and other synthetic flavours to make them more palatable, I am here talking about the homemade ones, something I have been wanting to try out for Nabeel for a while now.

energy bar for kids

I see kids and mums rushing back and forth to various classes, summer camps, sports centers and what not…a scene indicating THE summer vacations are here. Kids display a range of emotions and moods during vacations from being busy to lazy to hyper active and very passive. If kids are not out for a tour or visit to their grandparents then at home their schedule tends to be busier than school days.

My 4 year old also attends summer classes and this time they are rigorous, meaning I have enrolled him for sports training which is quite exhausting compared to classroom activities. While his food intake has increased many folds I see the need for something handy which can be with me always that I can feed him whenever his battery is about to die 🙂

3 ingredient energy bar

Kids lose out double the amount of energy during vacations; some sort of super food that gratifies and instantly tops up their energy is highly required. Thus, I have been toying with the idea of making him an energy bar using dates since he loves eating them plus we know dates is a super food which gives instant energy. Being a natural sweetener it also eliminates the need of any processed sugars. There are plenty of energy bars that you can make with various wholesome ingredients and amazing flavour combinations. I narrowed down to the one below which is easy as a breeze calling for just 3 ingredients that lend some amazing benefits.

collage

The Easy 3 ingredient Energy Bar for Kids is made using Dates, Oats and Almonds. Iron and instant energy from dates, fiber from oats and vitamins from almonds is a powerful combination which will energize your child right away.  Feel free to replace almonds with any nut your child prefers, add in seeds like sesame and peanuts for additional benefits. A spoon or two of honey can also be added. Enhance the flavour of these energy bars by mixing some cocoa powder or chocolate chips, bits of dried fruit like cranberries, cherries, etc.

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Easy Energy Bar for Kids Recipe 

Makes 10 (1 inch x 1.5 inch) bars

Ingredients

1 cup tightly packed seedless Dates

½ cup Instant Oats

½ cup Almonds

Method

Step 1 – Lightly toast oats in an oven or on a tawa (griddle). Keep aside.

Step 2 – Lightly toast almonds in an oven or on a tawa (griddle). Keep aside.

Step 3 – In a dry bowl mix all 3 ingredients together, then roughly divide in half.

Step 4 – Whizz half of the mixture in a grinder till everything grinds well and you get sand like texture. On pressing the mixture, it should come together and bind well.

Step 5 – Whizz the remaining mixture in a similar manner.

Step 6 – Mix both parts together and let it all come together as a big bowl.

Step 7 – Spread the mixture in a baking tray which has been lined with butter paper. Spread till desired thickness is achieved.

Step 8 – Refrigerate for 1 hour and then cut into bars. Store in an airtight container.

Notes:

  • The bars keep well for a month at room temperature but considering Mumbai summers it’s wise to refrigerate them since the dates tend to get sticky, especially ground dates.
  • Dates are the binding agents for energy bars, except them feel free to add subtract ingredients of your choice as I have recommended in the article.
  • If your dates are hard you may soften them by soaking in just enough water. Discard water before grinding.
  • Honey can also be added to the bar in that case use dry dates as the moisture level of the bars will increase resulting in a sticky mixture.

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Banana Walnut Bread

banana walnut loaf_lr

I have been baking Banana Walnut Bread for years now and it’s one of our breakfast favourites. The method involved is very simple, so I often whip it up in the mornings to treat everyone with freshly baked Banana Bread for breakfast. Although, it’s possible to feast on this “fresh out of the oven” indulgence only on weekends, on few exceptional weekdays I bake the bread so that Nabeel can carry it in his Tiffin.

Bananas are so lovely and hassle free to cook with; they are available anywhere, anytime of the year and in abundance. Unlike other ingredients, where you procure them first and then decide what to make using them; for Bananas and especially this recipe it’s the other way round.

banana walnut cake

What I also love about Banana Walnut Bread is the fact that most of the sweetness is lent by the fruit which cuts down the requirement of processed sugar, something I avoid in my cooking as far as possible. Walnuts, as we know are the healthy nuts that are recommended for daily intake so there goes one more reason to consume this bread for breakfast. The bread has a very low shelf life say about 2 days from when it’s baked. But, honestly it doesn’t last more than a few hours in my house.

This is actually a tea time bread recipe but works equally good for breakfast. The reason it’s called bread is because unlike cakes it’s not very dry and spongy but moist with a compact texture and can be enjoyed on its own without any icing or frosting.

Weekend’s approaching and you could consider baking this for breakfast or tea time. Variations like Banana-Raisins, Banana-Chocolate chips, Banana-Almonds are possible.

banana walnut bread_lr
Banana Walnut Bread Recipe
Makes 1 loaf (as seen in the images)

Ingredients
3 Ripe Bananas
180grams Powdered Sugar / Icing Sugar
2 eggs
30 grams curds, whisked
75grams walnuts, chopped
200grams refined flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
60ml oil

Method
Step 1 – Mix curd and soda in a bowl and keep aside.
Step 2 – Peel bananas. In a bowl, mash the bananas using a fork; if possible, keep a few lumps. Add in icing sugar and mix well.
Step 3 – Add in an egg, curd-soda mixture. Mix well.
Step 4 – Immediately, fold in the flour.
Step 5 – Add walnuts, oil and mix well.
Step 6 – Pour the batter in a greased loaf tin and bake at 180C for 45 minutes. If you do not have a loaf tin, then pour the batter into a muffin tray to make muffins.
Step 7 – Cool the bread completely before cutting and serving.

Till then, Love Being a Mommy!

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Green Pea Parathas

This year’s extended winter is a boon; not only do we get to enjoy the lovely weather but also the endless supply of fresh fruits and vegetables it brings along. Carrot and Peas are the top 2 ingredients of the season that always come home with me after every trip to the market. I pick up nearly a kilo each, every week. The family munches on carrots as a snack, salad and for me, a bowl of carrot easily works as a dinner replacement, select few days of the week. Besides, carrot soup and gajar halwa are the other hot favourites.

Peas are low in fat high in Vitamin C & Vitamin K and a very good source of dietary fiber. 

As for Green Peas, I make stuffed parathas using them. Green Pea Paratha, along with fresh curds and pickle, is the current favourite breakfast of the family. Green Pea Paratha or Matar Paratha, in my opinion, is a healthier and easier alternative to the famous Matar Pooris that are relished for breakfast across India. Plus, if feel, one can taste the green peas better as a stuffing in parathas than pooris.

indian pea bread

It is a known fact that Nabeel loves parathas of any kind and, happily, Green Pea stuffing has also found its way on his approved stuffing list. Cheese tops it by the way. Although, he rarely eats them as breakfast the parathas are always welcome for his snack box. Thrice a week, to be precise.

Peas are high in starch which means they do not need any external binding ingredients; this stuffing uses the binding power of peas and lets their actual flavour come out.

The sweet and mild flavour of peas is such that the vegetable can be easily transformed and adapt to any dish. I have come across many Green Pea Paratha recipes that use a list of ingredients which overpower the humble pea, defeating the entire idea of a green pea recipe; this recipe, however, uses few basic ingredients and is easy to make comparatively. The outer covering is made using whole wheat or refined flour while the stuffing has 100% green peas and no other filler ingredients. Peas are high in starch which means they do not need any external binding ingredients; this stuffing uses the binding power of peas and lets their actual flavour come out. Try this recipe of Green Peas Paratha to know what peas taste like and how they can be delicious on their own.

green pea paratha

Green Peas Paratha Recipe
Makes 10 to 12 parathas

Ingredients
For paratha dough
2 cups whole wheat or refined wheat flour
2 tablespoons oil
2 pinches of salt

For the paratha filling
2 cups – freshly shelled Green Peas
2-3 nos – Green chillies
1 teaspoon chopped ginger
½ teaspoon jeera /cumin powder
2 tablespoons oil or butter
Salt to taste

Ghee / Clarified Butter – as required to cook the parathas
Fresh curds / yougurt & tangy mango pickle to serve with parathas

Method
Step 1 – First prepare stiff dough using the given ingredients and water. Cover the dough and keep it aside or refrigerate while the filling is being made.
Step 2 – For the filling, put green peas, green chillies, ginger, cumin powder and salt in a mixer jar and coarsely churn it.
Step 3 – In a wide (wider the better) non-stick pan, heat the oil. Once hot add in the green pea mixture and sauté for 5 minutes.
Step 4 – Spread out the mixture as thinly as possible on the pan, lower the flame and let it cook. This will take about 10 to 15 minutes, cook till the raw smell of the peas vanishes and you get sweet smelling cooked pea aroma. The mixture is also ready when you are able to mould it easily.
Step 5 – Take off flame, check for taste and let it cool for 15 minutes.
Step 6 – Take the prepared dough and portion it into small balls.
Step 7 – Heat a griddle on medium flame, roll each portion into a thick disc and place about a tablespoon of green pea mixture in the center, bring the dough from the sides together and seal the filling.
Step 8 – Roll carefully into medium thick or ½ centimeter thick parathas.
Step 9 – Place paratha on the hot griddle and roast on both sides using oil / ghee.
Step 10 – Repeat the same with remaining dough balls, one at a time.
Step 11 – Serve parathas hot off the tawa with fresh curds and tangy mango pickle.

matar paratha

Till then, Love Being a Mommy!

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 Disclaimer: This article was originally written for Babychakra and published here

Easy & Creative ways to serve milk to kids

I am one blessed mom, why? Because milk time for me is not as harrowing as for most moms…Nabeel looks forward to his milk cuppa daily and drinks up the same without creating any fuss.  How? All because of a few simple and practical tips that I follow to make his cup of milk interesting and inviting.

Won’t you be bored if someone gave you the same glass of milk mixed with sugar every day that too more than once? As we know Variety is Spice of Life, serving a variety of flavours and textures to kids is a way of exploring and developing their taste. Get creative and see how that doodh ka glass is khalaas in no time. Read on…

child drinking milk

Milk Slush: Freeze milk and then crush/shave iced milk to get milk slush. Put the snow white slush in a tall glass, pour a spoon or two of rose syrup and top with colourful sprinkles or chocolate chips. Serve with a spoon and straw. Kids can eat and drink milk at the same time which is quite a thrilling experience for them.

Cookie Dunking Sessions: Evening milk time can be converted into fun cookie dunking competition with friends. Gather a few of your child’s friends serve them a glass of milk each and handful of cookies, ask the children to compete to finish the cookies (read milk 😉 ) see how the milk and cookies vanish in no time…I bet the excited kids will ask for more milk never realising how they have been tricked.

cookie dunked in milk

Healthy & Fun competitions like Cookie Dunking OR Who has the thickest milk Mustache? between kids will make the milk vanish in no-time 

 

Flavoured Straws: Yes, you heard it right, straws that are flavoured and are an amazing way to serve milk to your child. Recently, at a food expo I came across a milk bar set up by Unistraw Ltd. that have come up with this witty concept of flavoured straws called Sipahh. As the milk is sipped through the straw tiny tapioca bubbles release flavours giving you a flavoursome kick with every sip. Available in an array of flavours and attractive packaging Sipahh straws are definitely a unique way to serve milk to fussy kids.

Sipahh_straws

Sipahh_flavored straws

Sipahh straws come in a variety of flavours and are an instant hit with kids!

 

Homemade Chocolate Milk Mix: Introduce your kids to hot chocolate for those cosy winter morning milk sessions. And even better is to make the mix at home with them. Involving kids to make anything is the first step to making them like it, they will never say yuck to anything they prepare since it’s a matter of pride, which means a win-win situation for moms. Mix 1.5 cups sifted cocoa powder with 2 cups icing sugar and 1/4th teaspoon of salt. Store the mixture in an airtight jar and when required mix 2 tablespoons of the mix with 1 cup of hot milk and serve topped with marshmallows.

Milk Shakes & Smoothies: Desired quantity of milk can be blended with a favourite ingredient of the child to create shakes that they will never say no to. Pick their favourite bar of chocolate or dry fruit or fresh fruit and just whip with milk and ice cubes. Serve in a glass with dollop of the child’s beloved ice-cream.

 

milk

Kids relish milkshakes made with their favorite Fruit or Chocolate

 

Replace milk with Lassi: I often interchange Nabeel’s evening glass of milk with a glass of lassi. In the morning, I set curds with the same amount of milk he drinks and by evening the milk is transformed into luscious homemade curds that can be blended into a lassi with some sugar. The nutrients and goodness remains the same while the taste and experience is different and yummy for a change. You can also serve the homemade curds during meal times and skip the milk routine altogether for a few days.

lassi-in-glass-

In summers, one of the milk glasses should be replaced by Lassi, for kids. 

 

Cereals & Milk: Kids love cereals and I believe the main reason cereals were invented is to make milk a lot more fun and healthier. Pour hot/cold milk over child’s favourite ready to eat cereal mix and serve with a spoon and straw so that kids can use the straw to drink up the remaining milk after the cereal has been eaten. Cereals & Milk as an after school or evening snack is a good idea instead of a plain glass of milk.

cereals n milk

Kids enjoy sipping the flavoured milk after all the cereal has been eaten

 

Lunchbox Treat:  Once in a while, milk packs or bottles can be packed for lunchbox. Kids love packaged stuff and there is no harm in giving them what they like, for a change.

Milk in Lunchbox

Packaged milk as a Lunchbox Treat is a good way of giving milk to kids

 

Till then, Love Being a Mommy!

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