Ricotta Lemon mini cupcakes

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BM # 73: Week 1, Day 3
Theme : Mini baked treats 
Recipe: ricotta lemon mini cupcakes

When I am at the supermarket, my impulse wins over my common sense. I almost always buy things that I don’t need and then I would spend time and effort to finish up things I didn’t need in the first place. One of the regular culprits is Ricotta cheese. I just can’t resist it. The soft cheese always seem to be calling me when I pass that aisle.

After making a batch of instant rabdi using it, I still had some left over cheese that needed to be used up. A Google search led me to this recipe for soft, Madeline like cookies at Food.com. I didn’t realize that these cookies would have cake like texture when I started baking them. I should have guessed it when I made the batter itself since it was just like cake batter. After a couple of batch of making cookies, I used the same batter for making a batch of mini cupcakes.

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I liked the cupcakes better because some of the cookies stuck to each other when stored inside a container. It wasn’t bad, but cupcakes with their wrappers has its own charm.

I liked these cookies for their lightness and lemony taste. Each cookie felt like a mini cake. This may not be my go to ricotta bake recipe, but still it deserves a mention in the blog for tempting me day after day until it all got over!

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Recipe source: Food.com

Makes about 50 small cookies/ mini cupcakes

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1  teaspoons baking powder
  • one pinch salt
  • 1 stick butter (113 gms) at room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1  container ricotta cheese (15oz)
  • 3 tablespoon lemon juice
  • zest from one lemon
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract

Method:

  1. Heat oven to 375F.
  2. Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.
  3. Beat butter and sugar until its light and fluffy using a hand or a stand mixer. Add the eggs, one at a time and beat it in. Add the ricotta cheese next and beat using the mixer. Follow the cheese with lemon juice, extract and zest.
  4. Bring the mixer to low speed and fold in the flour mix carefully. You can use a spatula as well to do this. The batter will be similar to that of cakes than cookies.
  5. Take 1 tablespoon of batter and bake for about 15 -20 minutes as mini cupcakes or cookies in a lined baking pan. Remove from the oven and let the cookies or cupcakes sit undisturbed in the pan for ten minutes at least before moving them to a cooling rack.

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Mini Pizza and Coca cola cake

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BM # 73: Week 1, Day 2
Theme : Mini baked treats 
Recipe: Mini Pizza cake

Three days before my husband turned 40, my son turned 10. Their birthdays fall right after Christmas and three days apart from each other. So that means, the oven is quite busy during that time. I am either baking or decorating the cakes for their big days.

I am yet to upload my son’s 9th birthday cake. It was a Lego cake, but I wasn’t happy with the outcome. He doesn’t like fondant and I couldn’t get a finish I liked with buttercream. This year he wanted his favorite food – coke and pizza. It was my idea actually :D, but he agreed wholeheartedly.

The coke cake seems intimidating, but its actually not. I followed this particular video by How to Cook That for it. I used a different recipe for the cake, for everything else, I followed the video as such.

I didn’t want to put the candle on the coke cake, so I made a mini pizza cake to keep the candle. On hindsight, I should have made a much thinner cake for the pizza, but at that point, I wasn’t thinking much. The pizza cake is pretty straight forward to make. Fill and frost your cake layers and cover it with fondant. You need to color the fondant with a teeny bit of copper or brown color. Use bits of black, green and red fondants to use as toppings, teeny bit of red buttercream for tomato sauce and grated white chocolate (chips here) for the cheese.

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You have to use a 2L coke bottle as a mold for the coke cake. Cut the bottle into two carefully at the middle. Save the label, you will need it for masking the joint and to give an authentic look. Melt chocolate and coat the bottom and top half. I followed the video and used white chocolate near the bottle cap to give the illusion of bubbles. Now refrigerate this to harden a bit and its ready to be filled and layered with cake.

The layers inside are as follows:

  • Whipped cream infused with coke that is boiled down to the consistency of honey
  • Chocolate cake
  • A jelly layer made with coke and plain gelatine
  • Vanilla cake made with coca cola

If I make this again, I would skip the jelly and use whipped cream as such without any coke flavoring. The cake won’t suffer at all because of these deductions.

You will need a cutter of some sorts to cut the baked 4″ cakes and the jelly into smaller circles that can get inside the bottle. So layer the bottom half of the bottle with fresh cream, followed by chocolate cake cut to fit inside correctly, a jelly layer, some fresh cream again and then the vanilla cake. Once the layers are done till the top, refrigerate the cake. So now  you will have top and bottom of a Coca Cola shaped chocolate mold with cake layers inside it. The last step is to carefully cut the plastic off the cake. After that join the two parts using melting chocolate as a glue. Keep the label back to cover the joint. Make a small cap using fondant.

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The best part of this was the vanilla cake. I had already baked the chocolate cake and wanted a vanilla cake for the color contrast. I also wanted some coke to be infused somehow in the cake.An internet search led me to this space and please check it out for some excellent food photography. I really loved those. The cake was very soft and tasted absolutely delicious. I couldn’t taste the soda in the final cake. I used the recipe below, which makes two 9″ cakes, to bake 2 tall 4″ cakes and 24 mini cupcakes. This recipe is a keeper.

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Recipe source: Local Milk Blog

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups flour
  • 2.5 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 sticks (226 gms) butter at room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups coca cola

Method:

  1. Heat oven to 180 C/ 350F. Grease and line two 9″ pans or in my case, two 4″ pans and line a mini cupcake pan with baking cups.
  2. Whisk the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg) in a medium sized bowl.
  3. Beat butter for 3-4 minutes using a hand or stand mixer. Add the sugar carefully and beat it in until light and fluffy.
  4. Add eggs, one at a time and beat it in. Add vanilla extract and let it combine well.
  5. In three batches, add the coca cola and the flour mix in, alternating between the two. So first add 1/2 cup coke and once its incorporated, add 1/3rd of the flour mix. Add the 2nd batch of coke only after the flour is mixed in well. Another half cup of coke, beat it in well. Next 1/3rd of the flour mix. One more round of alternate mixing like this and take the bowl out of the mixer and fold everything well with a silicone spatula to ensure that there aren’t any dry lumps.
  6. Pour the batter until its a little over half way  into the prepared pans. Bake until a skewer comes free when inserted in the middle of the cake, about 35- 40 minutes. For mini cupcakes, the time was around 20 minutes.
  7. Take the cake off the oven and let it rest for about ten minutes undisturbed. Carefully remove from the pan and frost and use once its completely cool.

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Emoji Mini cupcakes

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BM # 73: Week 1, Day 1
Theme : Mini baked treats 
Dish: Emoji mini cupcakes

This post is about expressing emotions. 13 kind of emotions, to be exact. Some expressions were ‘swallowed’ in the process of making these.

I made two batches of mini cup cakes for my husband’s 40th birthday. One batch was an eggless mango cake and the other was a coke based vanilla cake. I will be sharing the recipe tomorrow.

The theme I had in my mind was ‘range of emotions’ for turning 40. Happiness, love, tears, kiss, wink, astonishment…My friend put it in a nutshell for me, she said that’s quite an emotional baggage there ;-D.

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Of the 48 mini cupcakes, 8 cakes were sacrificed for the delicate art of taste testing. The rest 40 formed the number 40 to greet my husband and his friend who shares his birthday. So 40 mini cakes for 40th birthday, in shape of the number 40.

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I looked at the internet for making these. A google search for emoji cupcakes gave a lot of ideas. Yellow fondant with a bit of red, white, blue and black fondant is what you need here. I used an edible black marker for the emoji eyes. That made the work a lot lighter than it would have been otherwise. The emoji has to be made separately and then kept on top of a frosted cupcake.

To make the work easier, I made three cupcakes for each emoji. Forty different emojis would have been extremely tough otherwise. I used a piping tip for cutting out the mouth for most part. The smaller end of writing tip for making the eyes. I also used a flower mold and used the petal as eyes for the winking emojis.

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This goes to Blogging Marathon #73 under the theme mini bakes. Check out the link to know more about the event and to see the other participants posts. 

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Multi grain orange pancakes

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We are cereal for breakfast kind of people and we like it that way. Earlier, I used to make pancakes for my son’s lunch box at least once a week. On those days, me and my husband would have it for breakfast with syrup. Its been quite a while since I made pancakes. But I don’t think I will wait that long to make it again. 

These pancakes are easy to make. There is a hint of orange and cardamom now and then. Next time I might try to add some juice also to increase the flavor. The recipe is adapted from Pam Anderson’s  The Perfect recipe for losing weight and eating right. I have already tried the basic pancake recipe before, now I am planning to give the different flavor options a try.

This recipe goes to this week’s Cooking from Cook Book Challenge. Please follow the link to know more about the event.

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Recipe adapted from: The Perfect recipe for losing weight and eating right

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 cup old fashioned oats
  • 5 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons grated orange zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 1/2 cups butter milk
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 teaspoon  vanilla

Method:

  1. Mix all the dry ingredients from flour to ground cardamom in a big bowl.
  2. Microwave milk and buttermilk for about 30 seconds to stop it from being really cold. If you are using them at room temperature, you can skip this.
  3. Whisk the eggs with oil and vanilla. Add it to the milk and buttermilk.
  4. Pour wet ingredients into the dry flour mix. Use a whisk to mix everything until you don’t see any dry lumps.
  5. Heat a skillet and brush it lightly with oil. Add 3 tablespoons or even 1/4 cup batter and let it cook, about 2-3 minutes. Flip it and cook until it turns golden brown. Cook in batches or one at a time. Serve with syrup.

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Sorry about too many pictures in the post, I know that most of them look alike. Yet I seem to be incapable to restricting it to just three. I am trying to curb my enthusiasm, so please bear with me. I promise, I will improve.

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Peanut butter smoothie

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BM # 72; Week 4, Day 1
Theme : So many smoothies, so little time
Dish: Mango smoothie bowl

While me and my son like smoothies in a bowl, my husband likes it direct from a glass.The man likes it fuss free, but I love to fuss over it and ‘dress it up’. Anytime I am serving him smoothies, I pour it straight out of a blender to a cup or glass. Its easier for him to keep sipping while working or taking a call.

One of our most repeated smoothies is the basic peanut butter banana smoothie. I almost always add some source of chocolate as well, some cocoa powder, hot cocoa packet or nutella. But today I didn’t…today I took it back to the basics.

Smoothies are filling by themselves but after about an hour or so, my stomach starts crying for food again. That hunger pang stopped when I started adding some peanut butter  also to it. A tablespoon or two can go a long way to keeping the hunger in check till lunch. The calories maybe higher, but hey..it stops you from reaching out for that packet of cookies.

So here is a simple smoothie which can be modified in so many ways to fit your mood and your pantry contents.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon peanut butter
  • honey as needed
  • 1 banana, peeled and chopped
  • 2/3 cup milk

Method:

  1. Blend everything together. Pour into a glass or bowl. Use toppings of your choice. I added some granola, banana slices and strawberry.

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Kiwi Strawberry Smoothie Bowl

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BM # 72; Week 4, Day 2
Theme : So many smoothies, so little time
Dish: Kiwi Strawberry smoothie bowl
There is a farmer’s market nearby our place where you get really good fruits and vegetables at really reasonable prices. I don’t go there often, but whenever I go, I always pick up kiwis from there. And pears. And oranges. And apples. Grapes too. Strawberries are a given. Oh well…you get the picture.

My fridge would be overflowing for many days after my trip. My son, who is fine with fruits in general, is not a fan of kiwi or pears. Now, kiwis are sold a dollar for 5 pieces at that place. How can I resist buying it?! So I buy a big bunch of it and then make smoothies to erase the evidence of the forbidden fruits. I have always felt that pear lends a wonderful flavor to smoothies. I am a fan of fruits, so I might be biased.

So here is what went into the smoothie today, kiwis, pears, strawberries and bananas. I spared the apples and oranges and grapes this time. Read on for the recipe, which is more of a guide than a fixed recipe.

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Ingredients:
  • 1 kiwi, peeled and chopped
  • 1 pear, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 8-10 strawberries, hulled and chopped
  • 1 banana, peeled and chopped
  • honey to taste
  • 1/2 cup yogurt or milk to blend
  • Toppings of your choice
Method:
  1. Wash and clean all the fruits. Peel and cut them into smaller pieces. Reserve 2 strawberries and a small portion each from kiwi and banana. Blend the rest with milk or yogurt, adding honey per your taste.
  2. Pour into a bowl and decorate from the pieces set aside before blending.
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Mango smoothie bowl

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BM # 72; Week 4, Day 1
Theme : So many smoothies, so little time
Dish: Mango smoothie bowl

If smoothies were the rage a while back, smoothie bowls are the rage now. The minute I saw smoothie bowls, I stopped pouring smoothies into glasses. Why? Because smoothies are thick and I don’t like having to suck them in through a straw. Its almost like my mouth and cheeks are getting a work out to get that smoothie from the glass to my throat!

I hate it even more drinking directly from the glass. The same reason again, smoothies are thick. You drink it one small sip at a time and an entire morning passes by the time the you work your way through a big glass. So when I saw this brilliant pictures of serving smoothies in a bowl with some beautiful toppings, I was smitten. Smitten bad.

It also makes it easy with my kid. He has a heavy traditional Indian meal when he comes home from school. In other words, I feed him a heavy dinner at 4:30 PM. So a couple of hours later, when he is hungry, but not too hungry, I give him a salad or a smoothie bowl. Like this one here. Since its made of ready made mango puree served with a good dose of chocolate chips, I can’t tell you that its exactly healthy. But I can tell you this…it sure was tasty. Oh, yeah!

Read on for this simple recipe.

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Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup ready made mango puree
  • 1 cup ready made flavored yogurt
  • milk/ water to bring it to the right consistency
  • Toppings of your choice.

Method:

  1. Blend the puree with yogurt. If you prefer a runnier consistency, add some milk or water as needed and blend again.
  2. Pour into a bowl and decorate with toppings of your choice. Here it is clementines, chocolate chips, chia seeds, canned cherries, cashews.

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Ginger pachadi and Coconut rice

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There are some books that just travel all over the world with you. Even if the book belongs to someone else :D.

Well, I am talking about ‘The Vegetarian Menu Cookbook‘ which was a wedding gift to my sister in law. I have borrowed it from her multiple times. The last time I borrowed it, I sneaked it with me when I came to US :D. This book is not available in the market to purchase. To me, it is more like Meenakshi Ammal’s classic book -Samaithu Paar. You don’t hog the book for beautiful pictures, for there are hardly any. The recipes and the recipe combinations are the attraction.

I always refer to this book when I am short of lunch/dinner ideas or when we have guests coming over. It gives me a good idea to put a menu together which is a good start. I have been planning to explore more of this book for a long time now. Probably this year’s Cooking from Cookbook event will be a trigger for that :-).

Coming to the recipe here, its a simple pachadi made with ginger. She recommends serving this with coconut rice as a part of a bigger menu. I make only the rice and the pachadi from that menu, but I have made it multiple times.

Enjoy the recipe as it goes to the Cooking from Cookbook Challenge. Please check out this page for more details about the event. 

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Wash and clean 1″ piece of ginger and grind it with 2 green chillies (or per taste), salt as needed and 2 tablespoon coconut. If you need it, add a spoon or two of curd instead of water to make the paste. Once you have the paste, add 1 cup curd and pulse the mixer once or twice to get the curd well beaten. Do not grind, just pulse once or twice.

Chop one tomato finely and add it to the pachadi(I didn’t take a picture of this). This step is optional. Heat one teaspoon oil in a small pan and add 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds and some curry leaves. Once the mustard splutters, add it to the pachadi. Refrigerate it until the time of serving.

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Recipe source : Cooking 4 all seasons

Heat 2 teaspoons oil and roast 2-3 tablespoon raw peanuts and some cashews (I didn’t have cashews with me). Take out the peanuts and set aside. In the same pan, add 1 teaspoon mustard seeds, a good pinch of asafoetida, 5-6 curry leaves, 4-5 red or green chillies. Once the mustard pops out, add 1 teaspoon chana dal.

Tip in 2 teaspoons of urad dal. Fry until the dals are slightly golden in color. Add one cup of grated coconut and saute until it turns light brown. Mix in the salt in the salt. Turn off the heat.

Add 1 cup cooked and cooled rice. Carefully mix everything until everything is uniform. Sprinkle the roasted peanuts and cashews on top. Serve with ginger pachadi.

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Zucchini carrot soup

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I chanced upon this book The Perfect recipe for losing weight and eating right at the library and I decided to buy the book pretty soon after. The main reason for the purchase was the options which the book gives for making your own salad and soup. There is a section, ‘Create your own soup(or salad) combos’ in the book which had me hooked.

The author has divided the soup as a combination of herbs, meat, vegetables, starch and other flavorings. She lists out 10-12 items under each of these. So you can pick 1 or 2 herbs from the list, pick couple of veggies so that it adds up to 1 pound (1/2 kg), 1 or 2 starches  like black beans, rice or pasta and then flavor it the way you want. Its very similar to the ‘build your own’ salad my friend Swapna taught me to make, so that’s another reason I like the book :-).

True, I haven’t tried a lot of dishes from this book, but I have repeated the couple of recipes many times. So read for this version of Mexican Chicken and Black Bean soup,made in Instant Pot.

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Recipe adapted from: The Perfect recipe for losing weight and eating right

Ingredients:

  • 2 teaspoons oil
  • 1 large onion, finely sliced
  • 2 teaspoons chilli powder, or per taste
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • salt
  • 2 medium carrots, cut into circles
  • 2 medium zucchini, diced
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 cup cooked black beans or rajma
  • 1/2 cup elbow macaroni
  • 1 quart/liter vegetable broth (I used water)
  • 1 14.5 can diced tomatoes (or 5-6 tomatoes, pulsed in the mixer)
  • 2 handfuls of coriander leaves
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice

Method:

  1. Heat oil in a pan. I used the electric pressure cooker here (Instant pot). Saute the onions and once it changes color, add the chillli powder, salt and oregano. Saute for a few moments, then add carrots and zucchini.
  2. Saute that for a couple of minutes and add everything else except the lemon juice.
  3. Cook in soup mode for 10 minutes. Let the pressure release naturally and add the lemon juice, if preferred and serve hot.

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This recipe goes to this week’s Cooking from Cook Book Challenge. Please follow the link to know more about the event.

Ulli-Mulagu Chammanthi

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BM # 72; Week 1, Day 3

Theme : Dips, spreads and chutneys

Dish: onions crushed coarsely with chillieso

It’s funny when you look at your blog at times. I mean, there are so many recipes here that I am proud of, but a lot of them are not everyday dishes. The more I dig into it, the less I find everyday stuff. 

Take this onion chammanthi for example,this was one of the regular dishes back at home. My mom would take some onions and some chilies, pulse it a couple of times in the mixer with salt, add a bit of coconut oil to it and serve with Dosa for my younger brother. It was, and is still, his favorite. I add a tomato too while pulsing and eat as a salad with rice. It’s heavenly for me. 

Food is always an acquired taste and the dish might be a turn off for many people out there (raw onions with chilies, really!?), but I like it…a lot. It was simple food at its best. Traditionally, this chutney is served with boiled tapioca (kappa puzhingiyathu). The onions are a little more crushed in my mom’s version, but i stopped mine here way before that. 

Anyway, I have to make an extra effort to get the everyday dishes in here. Until then, read on for the recipe for ulli chathachathu(crushed onions). 

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Ingredients:

  • 10-12 pearl onions or 1 red onion, chopped
  • 3-4 green chillies, or per taste
  • salt
  • 2-3 teaspoons coconut oil

Method:

  1. Pulse the chillies and onion with salt as needed in the mixer jar a couple of times. You shouldn’t grind it. The aim is to crush the onions and chillies together a bit, not to puree it. I used a mortar and pestle for this step instead of the mixie. 
  2. Remove the chammanthi to a small bowl, add in 2 teaspoons of coconut oil and mixing it in. Taste test and if you feel like it, add one more teaspoon of oil.
  3. Serve with kappa puzhingiathu(boiled tapioca), dosa or even with rice.

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