Friday, 9 August 2013

Sangria for Summer (Non-Alcoholic)

I hate summers..... summer that's truly a season of hot days, humid climate and sweating bodies specially from May till late July in Pakistan where temperature often hit at the peak of 50C in some regions. Fortunately, the city where I live is not from those top warmest cities, but temperature here rises at 45C, that's still quite hot. Well whatever the temperature is thought of refreshing summer drinks in hot summer afternoon is something that makes it more bearable.
Sangrias are popular choice of drink especially during weekend, a sweet, tangy and chill drink gives a refreshing feelings under a simple running fan even. 
But ... But .. does anyone know what Sangria is ??? ..... Many of us are likely to read this word for the first time, or others might have not tried it yet.... well, no worries for both types folk ... I am here to describe it in simple friendly way, with a nice recipe below as well... must try it, I am sure you'll simply love the taste. Go ahead for the lovely drink...!! ;)

What is Sangria???

Sangria is a wine punch typical of Spain, Portugal and Argentina. It normally consists of wine, chopped fruit, a sweetener, and a small amount of added brandy. Chopped fruit can include orange, lemon, lime, apple, peach, melon, berries, pineapple, grape, kiwi and mango. A sweetener such as honey, sugar, syrup, or orange juice is added. Instead of brandy, other liquids such as Seltzer, Sprite or 7 Up may be added.
but as we are Muslims (not a Spirit or alcohol person) so I keep finding way to make cool drinks without any type of alcohol.


Ingredients:

2 Cups black tea
1 cup pomegranate juice
½ cup Orange juice
½ cup chopped fruits
10-12 Mint leaves
1 cinnamon sticks
1 tsp lemon juice
Ice cubes

Instructions:

One by one add everything in the pitcher and keep it refrigerated for sometime.
While serving add some ice cubes, garnish with mint leaves and serve chilled.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Fat Food Vs Fit Food

All of us see Heart healthy foods assembled on huge shelves while shopping at grocery stores, but we all prefer to pick food that looks delicious, yummy and tempting to eyes... I also often do so, but after reading an article about fat foods on a women health page WebMD , I started to prefer good healthy meals over fat foods. Those luring treats can be damaging to health, specially refined carbohydrates are must to avoid because these are the root cause of many dangerous diseases. I have extracted some key information from that article for you people to compare by yourself, check below the listed items and see where you are about to play with your health.

Popcorn Is a Perfect Healthy Snack

Low-fat popcorn is crunchy, delicious, and a source of whole grain fiber. Plus, you can enjoy a large, filling portion! Look for popcorn made with "94% Fat Free Butter" or air-popped popcorn.
Potato chips are high in fat and it's hard to eat just a few -- all that you get in a 1-ounce serving. If you love chips, go for the baked ones and watch your portion size.

One Bowl for Your Fiber Needs

For a nourishing start to your day, choose a whole-grain bran cereal packed with fiber, such as bran flakes. Add fruit and low-fat milk for the most nutritious beginning.
Granola may be natural but it's often high in fat. Use granola sparingly or as a topper on low-fat yogurt.


Shave the Fat, Not the Flavor

Choose sorbets, sherbets, light ice creams, or frozen yogurts for a fraction of the fat and calories.
Thanks to a new special churning technology, these frozen treats taste like rich and creamy premium ice cream. A ½ cup dessert can fit into everyone's diet.


Skip High-Fat Pizza Toppings

Enjoy thin-crust frozen pizza Margarita style, or with grilled chicken or veggies. By passing on the sausage, pepperoni, and extra cheese, you'll slash the fat, sodium, and calories in this favorite food.
Limit your portion to two slices (of a 12-inch pizza) and add a filling side salad to complete the meal.


Snack on Healthy Hummus

Hummus is a gratifying combination of nutrition when paired with fresh veggies like baby carrots or baked pita chips. Made from chick peas, hummus is a good source of iron, vitamin C, protein, and fiber.
So enjoy the pleasing taste of hummus and skip the cheese dip that can lead to diet sabotage.


Fat-Free Frozen Shrimp & Prawns

Shrimp are a tastier and healthier alternative to breaded fish sticks.
You can buy them already cooked and shelled. Eat them cold with cocktail sauce, grill them, or sauté with veggies in a stir-fry.

Spaghetti – A Healthy Favorite

Try the new whole-wheat pasta blends. Even the kids will like it if you top the spaghetti with your favorite tomato sauce. Voila! You’ve turned a childhood favorite into a high-fiber and nutrient-rich dish.
Macaroni and cheese may be an old-standby, but it’s low in fiber and loaded with fat and calories.


Frozen Meals Can Be Healthy, Too!

Look for frozen meals that feature lean protein, plenty of vegetables, whole grains, and a low-fat or simple sauce. Avoid fried frozen food, or creamy casseroles. Frozen meals that are baked, grilled, steamed, or sautéed are healthier and lower in calories.


Go for Real Juice

100% fruit juices are naturally rich in vitamins, minerals, and disease-fighting antioxidants. In fact, they're the next best thing to eating whole fruit. "Fruit juice drinks," however, are usually packed with sugar and empty calorie.

Monday, 5 August 2013

Yummy History of DoughNut "Donut"

As we all know one of the most beloved foods is the doughnut or as it is popularly spelled, donut.
Ever wounder what is History of the Doughnut or Doughnut Hole ..?? Who invented the doughnut? Where did it come from? What is it made of? Why is it called a donut or doughnut..??? ---- Nooo..!! o_O?? 
Then no worries, lemme give you some high lights of its sparkling history ;)

To begin with, there are a number of conflicting statements about the origin of the doughnut; It may be Chinese in origin. But Germany, France, the Netherlands and Latin America also have valid claims.


When did the word, doughnut, become a part of our language?
The earliest occurrence could be find was in Washington Irving’s book, “History of New York (1809). He defined the word, so it probably wasn’t well known at the time, as “balls of sweetened dough fried in hog’s fat.” Ugh! The exclamation is mine, not Irving’s.


What about the Doughnut Hole?
You may well ask how did the doughnut, originally a solid round cake, develop a doughnut hole? There are conflicting theories about this, too. Here is the famous one:
Back in1847, Elizabeth Gregory, the mother of a ship captain, who lived in New England whipped up a batch of deep-fried dough using spices her son had given her from his cargo of nutmeg, cinnamon, and lemon rind. She made these deep-fried cakes for her son, Hanson, and his crew so they could store the pastry on long voyages. She believed it would help to ward off scurvy and colds, unaware of the benefits of citrus fruit. Mrs. Gregory inserted hazel nuts or walnuts in the center of the fried cakes where the dough often did not cook thoroughly. She called the pastry (aha!) dough-nuts.

 
Here is where the story gets curiouser and curiouser. Capt. Hanson Gregory always took credit for creating the hole in the doughnut. It is said that he gave the doughnut its first hole when, in the middle of a terrible storm and in order to get both hands on the ship’s wheel, he crammed one of his mother’s fried dough-nuts that he was holding onto one of the wood spokes of the wheel for safekeeping. Voila! A doughnut was born with a hold in the center.

He ordered the ship’s cook to henceforth prepare all dough-nuts with holes in the center, and shared his creation with the crew who swore It was the most delicious, delectable food they had ever tasted. Another variation of the story has Capt. Hanson poking holes in his mother’s dough-nuts because he did not like the soggy center where the dough was under-cooked. A third variation has our inventive captain using the tin cover of a pepper box to punch out a center hole – maybe he didn’t like nuts taking up space in his mother’s doughnuts.

The captain’s homestead no longer remains, but a plaque describing his achievement can be seen in a church yard in the township of Camden, Maine

Madras Chicken Curry

This dish is named for the city of Madras, now called Chennai which is the capital of South Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Chicken madras is a very spicy tangy & full of flavor. As with all spiced dishes, chicken madras is best made with fresh madras chicken spices to get the complexity and freshness of colours, unique scent and traditional flavor. There fore the most import ingredient of Madras chicken is its powder spice blend of different whole spices, each having specific smell.
I have given the basic recipe for this unique spice mix but you can substitute a bought Madras curry paste for the spices here if you are out of any spice but personally, I prefer to use freshly made it would give the real freshness to food. Because, Mot of us not even bother it to use real ingredients, we just put in what we are available with, and at the end we likely to blame the food like "awww...I did a lot of effort to cook it, but the taste isn't coming to my buds like I wanted it to be, there must be problem in recipe for sure" .... right??
Now, its not a big deal to make your food worth of your effort but it just need little more attention, a peak to recipe deeply and to do some tries, before actually evaluating your work. So... for your help, and to get best output below is recipe for basic spice as well.
Finally, time to eat You can served it with poppadoms, naan bread, rice and raita it makes a satisfying meal for anyone in need of spicing up your palate.

Ingredients:

1 kg chicken or 4 chicken breasts cut into bite-sized pieces
1 onions sliced thickly
1 small tin tomatoes
1 small tin coconut milk
juice of ½ lemon
vegetable oil
fresh coriander leaves to garnish

Madras Curry Powder:

8 tablespoons coriander seeds
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
6 tablespoons cumin seeds
1 tablespoon mustard seeds
1 tablespoon fennel seed
4 tablespoons ground cinnamon
8 tablespoons peppercorns
1 tablespoon fenugreek seeds or ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon whole cloves
2 tablespoons ground cardamom
2 tablespoons turmeric
2 tablespoons ground ginger
1 tablespoon cayenne (or less if less heat is desired)

Instructions:
In a dry skillet over very low heat, place the coriander, cumin, mustard, fenugreek, poppy seeds and fennel seeds. Roast the seeds gently, shaking the pan occasionally, until they begin to pop. When about half the seeds have popped, add the cinnamon, peppercorns, nutmeg, cloves, cardamom, turmeric, ginger and cayenne. Continue to heat and stir gently until the mixture is quite hot but not burnt. Pour into a dry blender or food processor, or use a mortar and pestle. Grind into a fine powder. Pour into a clean, dry jar, seal, and let it cool before using.


Method:

-Brown the chicken pieces in a few tablespoons of oil, then remove them to a warm plate.
-Cook the sliced onion in the same pan until softened and translucent.
-Add all the spices and cook stirring for two minutes until the fragrance rises.
-Return the chicken to the pan and add the lemon juice and coconut milk.
-Stir in the tomatoes and bring to the boil then simmer for about 45 minutes.
-Serve with rice, poppadoms or naan garnished with chopped fresh coriander.


Note

-If using a ready made Madras curry paste use 1-2 tablespoons for a mild flavor, 3 for medium hot and 4 -5 for a hot curry. Add it at the same stage as the ground spices in the recipe above.
-You can use home made tomatoes puree of 4-5 tomatoes instead of 1 small tin of tomatoes.

Creamy Potato Salad

This easy potato salad has great flavor. Goes well with a summer barbeque, or anytime!
For a tangy twist, try using plain fat-free yogurt in place of some or all of the sour cream. Garnish with additional sliced hard-boiled eggs, if desired.

Ingredients:

2-3 large Potatoes, boiled cube
 3-4 tbsp Spring onions finely chop
1/2 Onions, finely chopped
1/2 cup Mayonnaise
1/4 tsp White Pepper
1/4 tsp Salt
2 tbsp Lemon Juice
1/4 tsp Mustard Powder/ or paste
1/2 cup Cream
2-3 tbsp Milk

Method:

-Place the potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with plenty of cold water. -Bring to the boil over high heat and cook for 15-20 minutes or until tender. -Drain and set aside for 15 minutes to cool slightly. Cut into cubes.
-Take a clean, dry bowl and whisk together mayonnaise, cream and milk.
-Add in seasonings along with mustard paste and lemon juice.
-Now throw in potatoes along with the rest of the vegetables and give everything a good mix.
-Serve Chilled.

Tips:

-For a slightly sweet potato salad, add 1/3 to 1/2 cup sweet pickle relish.
-Trim fat grams by using fat-free mayonnaise and just 2 eggs.
-Round red and white potatoes are waxy and work best for potato salad because the pieces stay firm when fully cooked. Baking potatoes, which are starchy, tend to break apart and become mushy in salads.
-You can prepare this recipe 1 day ahead. Make the mixture expect adding potatoes.Place the sauce in separate bowls, cover with plastic wrap and store in the fridge. Continue the recipe, 1 hour by mixing with potatoes before serving the main.

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Mac Cheese Balls

Macaroni is ever favorite food for young and old side by side, it is equally tempting to all of us. I remember the time, when I was a child, me and my sibling loved to eat macaroni, and to fulfill our hunger of this yummiest food my mother liked to cook it in bulk for us; simply made with minced meat and few veggies especially potatoes and green peas, - potatoes, peas and mince with soft warm macaroni topped with ketchup, giving a tasteful yummiest texture to the mouth - that was the best treat at that time on weekends.

Even after having full day meal of it, we still wanted that for next day, well those were childhood tactics to have desirable food for at least two days. But now, often we are left with last platter of it in fridge, that of no use except to eat it the same way again.

Few day back, it was a mirror day of old days, in the evening my amma jaan - I like to call Amma Jaan to my mother - went for some shopping. She got late, so I though to cook something for whole family and honestly, I was feeling hungry also. I just went to fridge and started exploring it – don’t be strange, its my funny hobby, to explore fridge for edible whenever I feel butterflies in my stomach no matter for what reason... lol :D – well the only good cooked thing I found was MACARONI… yeaaayy.. but that was too little for whole family.

I again stumbled upon that cool place and found a tin of cheese - Kraft cheddar and mozzarella cheese bar we brought from Saudi Arabia - it was like to find a treasure on earth. I hurriedly went to kitchen and started brain storming, “what can be the best use of this leftover with just little bit effort” suddenly my mind hit an idea "Mac Cheese balls..!! ….yes, yes that can be made from it easily, I had saw that on web, that’s a new fast food introduced by junk food outlets" then I cooked mac cheese balls with leftover macaroni with quite variation to mac cheese nuggets available in market , and served those with French fries to my family, everyone appreciated that specially my mother who didn’t had to cook dinner after coming back home.

Here is the easy recipe for it;

Ingredients:

For Mac Balls:
2 Cups Macaroni - Leftover cooked
1 Medium Potato - boiled and mashed
1 Cup Mozzarella and Cheddar - Cheese Grated
1 Tbsp. Black pepper – Freshly Crushed
1 Tbsp. Soy sauce

For Batter:
1 Egg white – Whisk
3 Tbsp. White Floor (Maida)
1 Cup Breadcrumbs

Instructions:


-Mix all ingredients in the list “For Mac Balls” in left over macaroni.
-Mix well, that the macaroni binds because of boiled potato.
-Make small balls of the mixture and set aside.
-Meanwhile, mix egg white, white floor together, add water as required to make a flowing paste to coat the mac balls.
-Now pick mac balls coat it in batter then coat with breadcrumbs, and place them in clean plate.
-Fry a batch of 5-6 mac balls at one time.
-Fry till the outer coating is transformed in to crispy brown cover.
-Serve hot with Yogurt dip, Ketchup or Garlic sauce.


Tips:

For better test, the left over macaroni should be cooked in meat and veggies.
Add pinch of black pepper to the breadcrumbs for more taste full covering.