Ultimate Chocolate Brownies

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I have a tried and tested recipe for brownies. Its the one I always rely on and it was from my Hershey’s baking book. I have never had a failure from that book and so naturally, its been one of my favorite cookbooks. Unfortunately that book is in Chennai and I am here in US. So when I chanced upon another Hershey’s book at the library sale, I picked it up immediately and decided to trust the same way I trusted my first book. I have been trying some recipes from this book too, all with good results.

My main reason for liking Hershey’s books is that the recipe is almost always simple. I didn’t even have to take out my hand mixer for this recipe. All it needed was a whisk and a mixing bowl. I had to use one more bowl for melting the butter, but even with that, the effort was less and clean up was a breeze. So when my son said he wanted to do something special for his teacher for Teacher Appreciation week, this is the recipe I zeroed on.

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The entire bake was done by the kid except for handling melted butter and hot water. He also helped heavily with sampling ;-). These brownies tasted excellent and I am just waiting for a reason to bake these again!

Read on for the recipe and step wise pictures.

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Recipe source: Hershey’s Make it Chocolate

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2/3 cup butter, melted and divided
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch salt
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Method:

Heat oven to 350F/180C. Grease and line a 9X13″ pan with parchment paper. In a bowl, sift cocoa and  baking soda together. Mix it well. Add 1/3 cup of melted butter and 1/2 cup boiling water. Stir until the mixture thickens.

Add 2 cups of sugar and mix it in. Now, add two eggs and the remaining 1/3 cup of melted butter. Stir until everything is well combined and smooth.

Add the flour, vanilla extract and salt. Whisk everything well. Add the chocolate chips and mix it in carefully.

Pour carefully into the prepared pan. Bake for about 35 minutes or so, until a skewer comes free of liquid when inserted in the middle of the brownies. Cool in the pan itself and cut into squares and eat!

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This goes to Cooking from Cookbook Challenge Group.
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Briam – Greek OveRoasted Veggies

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BM # 76: Week 3, Day 3
Theme : Flavors of Greece
Recipe:  Briam, Greek Oven roasted vegetables

I love oven roasted veggies, but the only thing I don’t like about it is the cooking time. It takes an hour at least for the veggies to be done, but then the oven does all the work and not me. So I guess its okay. Even then I don’t roast veggies as much as I would like to do. Same with bread. I would love to make more bread, if some one else can take care of the kneading :D.

Coming to the recipe here, its Greek style oven roasted vegetables, Briam. The recipe is is also from the book Cooking with Loula where the author, Alexandra Stratou, mentions that its a must to serve feta cheese with Briam. I haven’t changed anything at all from the recipe mentioned in the book except for lowering the amount of oil a little less.

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This recipe is more of a vegetable medley and I am guessing you can add other veggies too as long as the taste doesn’t clash too much with what’s already in there.

Spice is coming only from pepper and chili flakes, so that needs to be adjusted according to your taste.

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Ingredients:

  • 2 medium potatoes
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 2 green peppers
  • 1 large eggplant (I had Japanese eggplants)
  • one medium onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 bunch of parsley leaves
  • Salt, pepper and red chili flakes to taste
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup water

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 C/ 350 F.
  2. Wash and clean the veggies. Peel the potatoes and onions.
  3. Dice potatoes, peppers,tomatoes and eggplant. Slice the onions, peel the garlic and chop the parsley leaves.
  4. Add everything to a baking tray (9 X 13 inch pan here) and season with salt, peper and red chili flakes. Add olive oil. Mix well. Spread them out so that there isn’t too much of layering.
  5. Add half cup water to the vegetables and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes. The water should have evaporated and the liquid should be only oil.
  6. Serve with a block of feta cheese.

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Briam is a main dish that needs to be served with feta cheese and maybe bread, but I served it as a side to my toast with my Greek style scrambled eggs, Strapatsada. It was a very simple, but a delicious meal for me.

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Strapatsada – Greek Scrambled Eggs with tomato sauce

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BM # 76: Week 3, Day 2
Theme : Flavors of Greece
Recipe:  Strapatsada, Greek Scrambled eggs 

Like I mentioned yesterday, my well stocked Draft section was of no use when it came to this week’s Blogging Marathon theme. So what you see here is what got served for lunch today. I picked up the book Cooking with Loula from the library last week and was looking for ideas for my posts. Strapatsada, scrambled eggs cooked in a tomato sauce was the first one I zeroed upon. The pictures in the book are really nice, especially the one for this recipe.

The recipe didn’t disappoint, I loved it on top of toast. There is a spoonful of sugar there, but that doesn’t sweeten up the dish. It just enhances the flavor of the tomatoes a bit. The next time I am making it, I would cut the water to half the quantity to reduce the cooking time. Feta is an acquired taste, so skip it if  you don’t like it. All in all, this is a simple recipe with basic ingredients and is quite filling when served with bread.

Read on for the step wise pictures and the recipe.

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Recipe source: Cooking with Loula book;  Serves : 2-3

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped fine
  • 3 medium tomatoes, grated or 3/4 cup canned tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 6 large eggs
  • 75 gms crumbled feta cheese (about half cup)

Method:

Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a thick pan. Saute one medium onion until turns pink. Add 3/4 cup canned tomatoes or grate three tomatoes and add it to the onions. Add salt and 1 teaspoon of sugar along with 1/2 cup water.

Bring it to a slow boil and let it cook for about 15-20 minutes until the liquid is evaporated and begins to caramelize.

Beat 6 eggs in a separate pan. Season with salt and pepper, keeping it in mind that Feta cheese also has salt in it. Add the beaten eggs to the tomatoes.

Cook, stirring continuously to distribute the egg evenly. When the egg is cooked completely, turn off the heat and add 1/2 cup of Feta cheese. Mix it in. Serve on top of toast.

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Greek Cabbage Rice – Lahanorizo

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BM # 76: Week 3, Day 1
Theme : Greek recipes
Recipe:  Lahanaorizo, Greek Cabbage and rice

Even when I am not blogging much, I do keep taking pictures of what I cook and as a result, I have a stocked up Draft folder. And yet, this morning that I was running around the kitchen, trying to prepare a recipe that fits this week’s Blogging Marathon theme – Greek Recipes. I haven’t been cooking Greek food during my blogging breaks, which is a shame. Not because my Drafts folder is of no use here, this recipe was so good that I was wondering why I have never given Greek food a try.

The Greek style cabbage and rice has a whole (small one, though) cabbage in it, so your veggie requirements are met. A bowl of yogurt is perfect as a side dish. The rice was so delicious that I keep sampling it through out the day. The spice level is a lot less than what we eat normally, so that’s one thing I will alter the next time I make it.

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The recipe is very slightly adapted from The Kitchen Chronicles. The only thing I changed is the quantity of olive oil. All the recipes online, including this one, had a lot more oil in the recipe. I couldn’t bring myself to use anymore than 1/4 cup oil. That itself is a lot more than what I usually use.

Read on for the recipe and pictorial and check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing this BM#76

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Ingredients:

  • 1 big onion, chopped fine
  • 4-5 stalks of celery, chopped into small pieces
  • 1 small cabbage, shredded using a food processor
  • 1.5 cup Basmati rice
  • 4 medium tomatoes, pureed to get 2 cups
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 green chillies, optional
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

Method:

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Heat 1/4 cup oil in a thick pot. I have used Instant Pot here so this portion was done in ‘Saute’ mode. Once the oil is hot, add one chopped red onion and 4-5 chopped celery stalks. Stir in between and let it cook until the onion turns pink.

Now, add one finely chopped small cabbage, it was about 4 cups. I used food processor to shred the cabbage. Mix that in well. Add 1.5 cup of washed rice (I used basmati) and mix it in.

Puree 4 big tomatoes along with 3 green chilies(optional) if you want some spice. The tomato puree should add upto 2 cups. Add the pureed tomatoes, salt, pepper and 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper to the pot. Mix well and change mode to Manual. Cover and set time for 3 minutes. If you are not using Instant Pot, cover the pot and cook until the rice absorbs all the water. Let the pressure release naturally. Serve hot with yogurt on the side.

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Cheesy corn Muffins

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Bakes are usually sweet and that’s my favorite kind! But the man loves everything savory and so once in a while I bake things that’s not sweet. Corn muffins is one of those recipes. 

Most corn muffin recipes have a tablespoon or two of sugar in it, but I just skip it to make it completely savory. The fresh or frozen corn in the muffin do lend a sweetness, but the effect is not same as adding sugar. 

Coming to the recipe here, it is very slightly adapted from King Arthur Flour’s book Whole grain baking. The book needs no introduction and I was lucky to stumble upon a brand new copy for $2 at the library sale. The book is a favorite of mine. 

I made this when we went for a long drive with two other families. This was our picnic food 😊 along with brownies and some apple sauce muffins. 

Read on for the recipe. 

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup whole yellow cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup wheat flour 
  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder 
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder 
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1 cup frozen corn, thawed
  • 2-3 jalapeño, diced small (or 1 can diced green chilies)
  • 3/4 cup grated cheddar cheese

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 400F. Line a muffin pan with papers. 
  2. Whisk the cornmeal, wheat flour, all purpose flour, salt, chili powder and baking powder in a medium bowl. 
  3. In another bowl, beat the egg with milk and oil. Add the thawed corn and most of the jalapeños. Keep aside a little to sprinkle on top of the muffins. 
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir to combine well. Stir in 1/2 cup of the cheese. 
  5. Add 3-4 tablespoons of the batter to the prepared muffin pan and top each muffin with a little cheese and reserved jalapeños. Bake for about 20 minutes or until a skewer comes free of crumbs when inserted in the middle of the muffin. 
  6. Take off the oven when it’s baked and let it cool for ten minutes in the pan itself. 

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Butterscotch Pudding

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The past few recipes I have tried for the blog are all from books. This is a little surprising for me since I depend more on the internet than on books for ideas. But now, I am beginning to pay a little extra attention to the books that I already own or the ones I bring in from the library. I feel like I should look first at my collections and try to cover a little more of it before I look for recipes from the net. Not sure how long the feeling is going to last, but I am determined to enjoy it while it lasts.

So, here I am, with a recipe from a very favorite book of mine. Another pudding recipe from Clio Goodman’s book, Puddin’. I have been making way too many puddings and though I am a big fan of the book, it might be taking the back seat for a little while.

This recipe covers three bases for me. Its perfect for this week’s Blogging Marathon where the chosen theme is Kid’s Delight – Family favorites. It also fits the bill for Cooking from Cookbook Challenge  event. Enjoy the dessert and read on for the recipe.

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Ingredients:

Butterscotch sauce: 

  • 100 gms butter (1 stick)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Pudding:

  • 2.5 cups milk
  • 2.5 cups heavy cream
  • 6 tablespoons cornstarch (cornflour)
  • 2 tablespoon brown sugar
  • pinch salt
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Butterscotch pudding from above

Method:

  1. Make sauce: Melt butter in a thick bottom pan until its golden brown, about 3 minutes. Add cream, sugar and salt. Bring it to a boil, stirring till the sugar is dissolved and the mixture thickens, about 5 minutes. Take off the heat and stir the vanilla in. Set aside.
  2. Make Pudding: In a thick pan, whisk everything except vanilla extract and the butterscotch sauce, until no dry lumps remain. Cook, whisking all the time for about 8-10 minutes, until the pudding starts to thicken or when the whisk leaves a shadow when you lift it from the surface). Take off the heat and whisk in the vanilla extract and the warm butterscotch sauce in 2-3 batches. Cool for 10 minutes and chill for at least 2-3 hours before serving.
  3. The recipe serves about 10 people.

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This post is a part of the Kid’s Delight – Family Recipes, guest hosted by Sandhya this month.
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Chocolate Mousse

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I like chocolate cakes. And chocolate cookies. And chocolate bars. And of course, chocolate chips. Chocolate pleases me. In all forms. But it pleases me the most when its in the silky, creamy form of mousse or puddings. That luscious, airy, light and smooth feeling is something that need to be experienced and not explained.

I was looking for a chocolate mousse cake recipe and came across this one in All recipes. Not only did I try this recipe for the chocolate checker board cake, but I started preparing the mousse by itself as a dessert. How can you go wrong with a combination of condensed milk, chocolate and whipped cream?! This recipe uses instant chocolate pudding mix with half cup of water, but I have a feeling this can be skipped as such. But its a version I haven’t tried yet.

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The mousse feels light in your mouth, but calorie wise, its not. But lets not dwell on calories when we are talking about dessert, because its dessert and not a meal in itself. The recipe below serves to fill and frost a 9 inch layer cake. I used it for a 6 inch four layer cake.

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Ingredients:

Melt the chocolate chips using microwave (short 10 second bursts) or over double boiler. Add the condensed milk to the melted chocolate and mix well.

Now add the chocolate pudding mix and the cold water to it. Mix well to incorporate everything and refrigerate for at least half an hour. After half an hour, whip the cream until stiff peaks form.

Carefully fold the chocolate mix to the whipped cream until no streaks remain. Refrigerate again for at least an hour before using. You can use this to fill and frost a 9″ layer cake or serve as a dessert to about 10 people.

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This post is a part of the Kid’s Delight – Family Recipes, guest hosted by Sandhya this month.
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Mixed Berry Smoothie

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For most part, its the parents who introduce new foods and palates to kids. But when it came to smoothie bowls, the role kind of reversed at my house. It was the kid who got us hooked onto this trend. Almost every night, he prefers a fruit smoothie in a bowl topped with a bunch of fruits and treats for dinner. After a few days, my husband also joined the kid. So every now and then, smoothie bowl is the dinner for the whole family. I like it a lot because its a no effort meal and its healthy.

There is no fixed recipe that I follow for this one. Bananas along with flavored yogurt make this really easy. It really fills you up and you are not hungry ten minutes after your meal! But its not banana all the time, its mostly a mix of whatever fruits we have in the fridge at that point of time. Sometimes I add oats to give it some body. I started using flavored yogurt instead of milk initially to finish off the tiny yogurt containers that were slowly taking over most of my fridge space! But now I feel yogurt is a better choice since it fills you up really well. Plus the flavor factor is better, of course.

I still have a lot more smoothie bowl recipes in my drafts, but I have no idea when I will get around posting those! But right now, lets enjoy this mixed berry bowl that is being served here today.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup frozen mixed berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries)
  • 1 cup milk or flavored yogurt
  • 1 banana, sliced
  • honey to flavor
  • Your choice of toppings

Method:

  1. Thaw the berries. Blend along with milk/yogurt, banana and honey.
  2. Pour into a bowl and decorate with toppings of your choice. Here I have used chocolate chips, granola, strawberries and sliced kiwi.

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This post is a part of the Kid’s Delight – Family Recipes, guest hosted by Sandhya this month.
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Cabbage payasam

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Sometimes we explore the resources we already have only in times of need. That’s how I stumbled on this recipe. A friend of mine asked me an idea for an innovative or fusion payasam for a small cooking contest she was participating in. I immediately turned to my Blogging Marathon friends and the suggestions poured in. They suggested boondi kheer, chocolate payasam, cake payasam, gnocchi payasam (potato dumplings), gulab jamun payasam, cauliflower payasam, paneer payasam and many more. These ideas are really worth exploring if you are innovative enough.

I browsed through my reliable Vasantha Moorthy’s Vegetarian Menu Book. and found this recipe for Cabbage rabdi there. So along with my friends suggestions, I mentioned the Cabbage payasam as well to my friend. A bit of online search told me that this recipe was already tried by Aparna from My Diverse Kitchen. So with two sources to fall on, my friend zeroed in on the cabbage payasam. We did a trial run and our families loved it…..until we told them that there was cabbage in it (rolling my eyes here!). There was exclamations and facial expression changes when we mentioned the cabbage part :D.

But the thing is, her payasam won the contest !! My friend had mentioned the presence of cabbage to only one of the judges to rule out any allergies, but otherwise kept it low key. So everyone tried it with an open mind I guess. The judges were very impressed and surprised when they learnt about the cabbage factor :-).

The only beast about this recipe is cleaning the vessel in which milk was cooking for such a long time. It needs a lot of soaking and scrubbing, but hey, I am not complaining. We got a winner here, you see :-).

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Ingredients:

  • 4 cups milk (1 litre)
  • 1 cup chopped cabbage
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • handful of skinned and chopped almonds
  • handful of chopped cashew nuts
  • 1/2 cup cream, optional
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • a few chopped pistachios for garnishing

Method:

  1. This serves 4 people. Use fresh cabbage for this payasam. Boil the milk in a thick pan and add the cabbage. Cook over a slow flame stirring in between until the mixture reduces to 2/3rd the original quantity and thickens well.
  2. Add the chopped almonds and cashews along with sugar. Continue to cook until the mixture is very thick and creamy. The process took more than an hour for me.
  3. Take off the heat and add ground cardamom. Once its cool, you can add the cream, if desired. Garnish with pistachios for some bright color. This tastes best when chilled and served.

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This goes to Cooking from Cookbook Challenge Group.
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Kerala Green Peas Masala

My Kitchen Trials

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Day two of Blogging Marathon 24 and we dine at Balaji Bhavan today. I choose one dish each from their Rice/Noodles section (easy peasy Jeera Pulao), Tandoori Kadai (Side dish- Green Peas Masala) section, Fruit extracts (Lemon Juice & ready made pomegranite juice) and Any timers (Chapati, no kurma – though!).

Now, isn’t this is a hearty meal?

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Jeera Pulao

Makes : 2 servings

Ingredients:

  • Basmati rice           :       1 cup
  • Ghee                         :       2 tsp
  • Jeera                         :       2 tsp
  • Salt

Method:

  1. Wash and soak the rice for 15-20 minutes. Drain and keep aside.
  2. Heat ghee in a pan, add the jeera seeds. Once it cracks, add the rice, saute for a couple of minutes. Take off the heat.
  3. I usually cook this in a rice cooker. So at this stage, I move the rice to the rice cooker, add salt, two cups of water and cook…

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