Melt in your mouth bites of perfection

 Cakes, cupcakes, muffins, cookies, brownies- chunks of chocolate heaven is what these are to me, or at least what I like these to be when I bake them! So I try to search ‘high and low’ (a term my little boy has recently started using when looking for something seriously) when hunting for recipes for these choco-delights and recently came across fudge brownies from “cafedelites.com” which are melt-in-your-mouth-bites-of-perfection. Since coming across this recipe, I have already made a couple of batches and these have surely been a hit with my little guy and even my parents who are visiting us for a few months. With the sweet sunshine outside, the rustling of gold and rust leaves and temperature dipping to the 40s, these brownies are a happy addition to this season.

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(Not a good picture by any means…since I remembered to take one only after we had eaten a few bites!)

 

   Here is the prefect recipe from https://cafedelites.com/worlds-best-fudgiest-brownies/… go ahead and try these. Thanks Karina for these flawless brownies:)

Ingredients (Serving size 16)
  • 1 cup 8oz/240g butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 tablespoons (30ml) vegetable oil
  • 1 1/4 cups (9oz/260g) white sugar
  • 1 cup (7oz/200g) packed light brown sugar
  • 4 (2oz/57g each) large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon (15ml) pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (3.5oz/130g) all purpose flour
  • 1 cup (3.5oz/100g) good quality, unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 7 oz (200g) roughly chopped chocolate or large chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 175°C | 350°F.
  2. Lightly grease an 8×12-inch square baking pan* with cooking oil spray. Line with parchment paper (or baking paper); set aside.
  3. Combine melted butter, oil and sugars together in a medium-sized bowl. Whisk well to combine. Add the eggs and vanilla; beat until lighter in colour (another minute).

  4. Sift in flour, cocoa powder and salt. Gently fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until JUST combined (do NOT over beat as doing so well affect the texture of your brownies).
  5. Fold in 3/4 of the chocolate pieces.
  6. Pour batter into prepared pan, smoothing the top out evenly, and top with remaining chocolate pieces.
  7. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the centre of the brownies in the pan no longer jiggles and is just set to the touch (the brownies will keep baking in the hot pan out of the oven). If testing with a toothpick, the toothpick should come out dirty for fudge-textured brownies.
  8. After 10 minutes, carefully remove them out of the pan and allow to cool to room temperature before slicing into 16 brownies.

Recipe Notes (Author’s)

*For thicker brownies, bake in a 7×11-inch pan for 40-45 minutes. For thinner brownies, bake in a 9×13-inch pan for 18-20 minutes.

PLEASE NOTE: An 8×12-inch pan bakes the most perfect brownies — thickness and texture.

TIPS AND TRICKS: (Author’s)

  1. Do NOT over beat your batter once the flour and cocoa powder are added. That creates air pockets in the batter which will give you cake-like textured brownies.
  2. Please try not to over bake them. Set a timer if you need too. I like mine at exactly 23 minutes in an 8×12-inch pan. You can go a little bit over if you like them set a bit more, but I don’t recommend it if you’re looking for the fudgiest brownies in the world. Remember, they will continue to bake slightly in the hot pan once pulled out of the oven,
  3. I bake my brownies on the top shelf in the oven. I find the middle shelf cooks them a lot faster, slightly burns them on the top and dries them out.

 

When your tummy wants what it wants…Spicy Baked Chicken

   We all have heard stories of cravings and have had many ourselves! They range from rainy day cravings to a bad hair day cravings, from lazing -on-the- couch -mesmerized -by- the -snowfall -outside cravings to just-like-that cravings, from pregnancy related cravings to you-are-far-away-from-your-mother’s- kitchen-but-you-want-something-that-reminds-you-of -her- cooking craving…cravings have reigned supreme in all of our lives at some point in time! And we have done our best to satisfy or ignore that depending on a hundred variables at play at that particular moment:)

   Living in New Jersey we see a lot of rain, sometimes more than we can take and that along with grumpiness also gives rise to these cravings more often than I would ideally like! And given the fact that we are expecting a baby in less than two months now, I find myself craving for very specific food that surprises even me at times:) When I was pregnant with our son, I never had ‘pregnancy cravings’ and this time around too I was doing fine till about a month back! And then it hit me one day and has been making surprise visits often. As someone trying to tackle gestational diabetes, let me tell you it is not a whole lot of fun when you cannot indulge in those cravings that somehow take total over the mind, heart and tummy for a few unsettling hours:( Anyways, I have found my tummy rumbling for some spicy chicken of late and after some reasonable exploration of the recipes online, I stumbled upon this really lip smacking recipe from fifteenspatulas.com (Crispy Spice Rubbed Chicken Thighs) that totally hit the sweet spot and I went to bed with a satisfied tummy. So if you craving some spicy (and it is SPICY) chicken that does not take up a lot of your busy night, go ahead and give this a try and keep a glass of cold lemonade handy, just in case 😉

I am posting the original recipe below with my minor additions and alterations (according to my taste) in red. You can try both and I hope you like them!

Ingredients

  • 2 or 3 lb package skin-on bone-in chicken thighs (about 5 pieces) (I did not have this so I used skinless and boneless)
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground chipotle pepper
  • 2 tsp yellow curry powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp garlic powder (I used freshly grated garlic…it is one of my favorite marinade ingredients)
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves (I did not use this)
  • 1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1.5 tsp sea salt (I used regular salt)
  •  olive oil

In addition to the above ingredients, I added these extra ones too:

  • 1 tsp of chipotle mustard
  • 1/2 tsp lemon pepper powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp of Mayonnaise (I generally add this when baking chicken taking a friend’s suggestion..it keeps the chicken very moist)

Direction

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Stir to combine the ginger, chipotle pepper, curry powder, paprika, garlic powder, coriander, cardamom, cloves, cayenne, cumin, and salt.
  3. Trim the excess fat from the chicken thighs (any part that overhangs the main piece). Rub the chicken thighs all over with the spice rub.
  4. Heat an ovenproof skillet over medium heat and add enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan (about 2 tbsp). Cook the chicken thighs skin side down (in a single layer) for 10 minutes, until the skin gets crispy (and if the skin isn’t golden brown and crispy after 10 minutes, cook it for a few minutes longer). Flip the chicken and cook for another 5 minutes, then transfer the skillet to the oven to cook for additional 10-15 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and has reached an internal temperature of 180 degrees F. Serve and enjoy!

The way I did it since it was boneless and skinless

I preheated the oven to 350 degrees F and lined a baking sheet with parchment paper. And then arranged the chicken pieces and put them into the oven for about 20 minutes and voila!! it was done:) I hope you enjoy this as much as we did!

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Thank you fifteenspatulas.com!

Comfort food is spelled L-O-V-E: Chicken&Quinoa Casserole

   Who doesn’t like comfort food and we surely have our favorites when it comes to this! Different cultures and even different regions of the same country have their own notion of comfort food and as we know they bring back memories from growing up, memories of someone who made it with all the love in the whole world:)

   Where I come from in India (Kolkata), I think we have a couple of things that check the ‘comfort food’ box- ‘Khichuri‘ (or as it is known in other parts of India – ‘Khichdi‘) and the good old ‘Shedhdho Bhaat‘! Khichuri or Khichdi is made from rice and lentils, vegetables are often added to it and it is seasoned with butter or ghee (clarified butter). It tastes good everyday, but is blissful on a rainy day! Sheddho Bhaat is basically good old white rice, with some boiled lentils, mashed potatoes, some ghee and often a hard boiled egg! For the no so faint hearted, a side of the green chilli  adds a much loved kick to the whole dish:) We often make these here in our home, especially on days that either of us are too tired to cook or we feel festive (Khichudi is a staple of most festivals for where we come from!) or just want to feel good.

   However, Neel and I both love to try out food from all around the world and comfort food has been no exception! From pot pies to miso soup, quesadillas to haleems, casseroles to ramens, chilis to puddings…we like to eat anything that makes our hearts and tummies happy! And these are all the more satisfying during the cold winter months, which are a good five months on the East Coast:(

   Casseroles and ramens are my personal favorite. Both can be prepared with so many or just a handful of ingredients and you can almost never go wrong! Recently, I stumbled upon this casserole recipe which is my current favorite. Many recipes (all of which are awesome!) call for the ingredients to be cooked separately before being thrown in together into the oven but when you feel lazy or are tired and don’t have time for that extra preparation, it is good to have a recipe that doesn’t require a lot of your time or energy! This quinoa and chicken casserole recipe from pinchofyum.com is one such recipe that is sure to make your heart and tummy happy:) And when I saw the author, Lindsay was from a place so close to my heart- Minnesota, I knew I had to give this a try and I am so glad I did! I hope you will be too.

   I am posting the original recipe here for you to try. I have made it this way and also with some minor alterations (which are in red) and they have tasted good every time:)

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups reduced sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 cups water, divided
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
  • 1/4 cup cooked, crumbled bacon (optional… sort of)
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts (I marinated the chicken breasts for about 20-30 mins with some salt, lemon pepper, garlic, smoked paprika, a bit of olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon Mayonnaise…it adds a wonderful flavor to the chicken)
  • 2 teaspoons seasoning (like Emeril’s Essence or any basic blend you like)
  • 1/4 cup shredded Gruyere cheese (any kind will work) (I have used Mexican blend or Pepper Jack or simply good old Cheddar)
  • 3 cups fresh broccoli florets (Instead of Broccoli, I have used sliced red peppers about 1 cup and 1 cup sliced mushrooms and 1 cup sliced onions and it has tasted wonderful!)

Instructions:

  1. Sauce: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and generously grease a 9×13 baking dish (seriously, be generous because it really really sticks to the sides). Bring the chicken broth and 1/2 cup milk to a low boil in a saucepan. Whisk the other 1/2 cup milk with the poultry seasoning and flour; add the mixture to the boiling liquid and whisk until a smooth creamy sauce forms.
  2. Assembly: In a large bowl, mix the sauce from step one, one cup water, quinoa, and bacon and stir to combine. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish. Slice the chicken breasts into thin strips and lay the chicken breasts strips over the top of the quinoa mixture. Sprinkle with the seasoning. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes. (If you are not using broccoli and are going with the red peppers, onions and mushrooms instead, add all of these now. It makes the dish very flavorful but not an over-the-top types. You can then skip  step 3 and part of step 4 where you would have needed to add the broccoli))
  3. Broccoli: While the casserole is in the oven, place the broccoli in boiling water for 1 minute until it turns bright green and then run under cold water. Set aside.
  4. Bake: Remove the casserole from the oven, check the mixture by stirring it around in the pan, and if needed, bake for an additional 10-15 minutes to get the right consistency. When the quinoa and chicken are cooked and the sauce is thickened, add the broccoli and a little bit of water (up to one cup) until the consistency is creamy and smooth and you can stir it up easily in the pan. Top with the cheese and bake for 5 minutes, or just long enough to melt the cheese.

You will not be disappointed any which way you try the dish. I am so happy that I stumbled upon this recipe:) I wish I had this during our freezing Minnesota nights!

Thank you Lindsay!

 

 

 

 

Banana Bread- tenth time is a charm!

   The saying goes that the third time’s a charm but in some cases it is much more! For example baking a banana bread:)

   I am a big fan of homemade cakes, cookies, pies…anything that is sweet and try to get something going on in the oven whenever I can. Which, now that I think, is actually not that often since Neel is not crazy about all the unhealthy savory stuff I just mentioned (good for him!) and our little guy likes dark chocolate cakes only. So, it’s me who ends up eating the larger share of whatever I bake and that, in spite of my undying love for all things sweet, is far from ideal!

   Anyways, as is the case generally in our home, a couple of bananas from the bunch always get ‘lost’ in the fruit basket on top of the fridge (!!) and are discovered only after the whole kitchen starts to smell of invisible bananas;) And when they are retrieved they are of a color that is far removed from the typical yellow..they are closer to black! And the options at that point are tossing them in the trash can or making delicious banana breads, which, needless to say, I love:)

   And I have tried what it would seem countless recipes to get that perfect (for me) banana bread but have generally ended up with a less- than- desired result. And then one day, I stumbled upon this recipe from allrecipes.com- Janet’s Rich Banana Bread and it was the best one I had tasted. It was moist and delicious and the best part was, our son, who hates even the sight of bananas, asked for a third helping!

Here is the recipe, in case you have not tried it already:)

Ingredients:

How to:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together the melted butter and sugar. Add the eggs and vanilla, mix well. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt, stir into the butter mixture until smooth. Finally, fold in the sour cream, walnuts (if using) and bananas. If you are using raisins like I did, add them at this point as well. Spread evenly into the prepared pan.  
  3. Bake at 350 degrees F  for 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. Cool loaf in the pan for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

I hope you enjoy this as much as we do! If you have other recipes, do share those too:)

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