Baking tips · Expat Moms and Kids · Homemade · Homeschooling · Islamic Homeschooling · Kitchen tips · Muscat Moms and Kids · Muslim Mama · Natural alternatives · Recipes · Vegan

THE fudgy vegan brownie

I love potlucks!
Even before discovering my love for food(was quite late, surprisingly), I have always enjoyed a party where everyone brings in a dish to share. For that is what food means to me. Food is about family, friends and memories and what better way to enjoy all of that than by sharing different dishes together? 

It is quite easy to pick a dish when you know the crowd and are sure of preferences. 

It is less easy when you do not know the guests very well; different tastes,dietary needs and allergy issues are all factors.

When we were invited for a not-back-to-school beach bbq by our local homeschooling community, I went through my recipe book(yes, I write down my favourite recipes!) but could not settle on anything. A good friend would be attending with her family and I wanted to make sure that my dish was vegan to share it with them as well.  

When someone else picked salad, I decided to hunt for a brownie recipe because who does not love a good brownie?

I stumbled upon a wonderful blog full of healthy desserts; just reading some of them made me declare my intentions to eat healthy if healthy always looked like that!

http://chocolatecoveredkatie.com/ Visit her blog for more amazing recipes.

I adapted her vegan brownie recipe to fit whatever I had in my pantry and it turned out really well; did not miss the eggs and butter! 

I used hazelnut milk because it is a long established fact that hazelnut and chocolate has the best marriage, and opted for coconut oil because I hopped on to the coconut oil wagon quite a while ago and do not plan on getting off anytime soon. 

You may choose suitable substitutes. Maybe use wholemeal flour and make it a bit more healthy?

The recipe did not call for black beans or any ingredient that would require a run to the store- definitely my kind of recipe.

Give it a go and let me know if you liked it!

Just a heads up: although it is super fudgy, not too sweet, and just right with a cold glass of milk, it does stick to the roof of the mouth a bit. Nothing a good swig of milk can’t clean. 

Happy baking!

THE fudgy vegan brownie

  • Servings: 20 generous squares
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Ingredients

1 cup and 2 tbsp of hazelnut milk

1/2 cup and 3tbsp of virgin coconut oil

1 tbsp vanilla extract

1 cup all purpose flour,sifted

1 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder

1/4 tsp (heaped) salt

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup raw sugar 

2 tbsp corn flour


  • Whisk the milk, oil and vanilla in a bowl and set aside. 
  • Preheat oven to 165°C and prepare the baking pan.
  • In a large bowl, thoroughly combine all remaining ingredients. The original recipe emphasised on the “thoroughly”,and thoroughly is what I did.
  • Pour the whisked wet ingredients into the dry bowl and stir to combine. Do not be too vigorous or you’ll activate the gluten in the flour.
  • Transfer to baking pan, smooth down and bake for 18-20 minutes.
  • The brownie would look a little underdone but the recipe promised that it will set in the refrigerator.
  • Allow to cool a little, cut into squares and pop into the fridge to cool and set well.
  • You can store this there for 4 days but you would be lucky if you have any remaining!

Nom nom nom

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Homemade · Homemade condiments · How-to · Preservative free · Quick Cooking · Recipes

Homemade mayonnaise:whole egg

7 years ago, I had no idea mayonnaise could be made at home. 

Mayonnaise was something that came out of a jar and later on, in squeezy bottles. The first time I was introduced to fresh mayonnaise was at a diner when I was pregnant but that was only to learn that I could not eat my sandwich that was slathered with it since it contained raw egg. Since the bottled kind was not off limits, I managed to forget about this “novelty”.

Whilst binge watching 2 seasons of Masterchef after the birth of my second, I learnt mayo-making was a tedious task of trickling oil into a processor; I am more of a chuck-everything-in-one-go-and-hope-for-the-best kind.

And then one day, my interest was piqued again after watching mayo being made with an immersion or stick blender. The blender was lowered into liquids and when lifted out, it became creamy and spreadable; the moment was as magic would be to a completely naive person (or a “godayata magic wagey” moment, in Sinhala).

As easy as it seemed now, the raw egg still put me off, till I found free range eggs from hens that were vaccinated against salmonella. I did not do much of research into it after finding this; when has my incessant googling ever failed to increase my state of panic?

The stamp on the egg box spelt it out for me and that was enough for the moment.

After reading oh-so-many recipes, I was concerned about the wasted whites because almost all of them called for just the yolk. The whites could be stored and used later but I am very aware of a shelf in my fridge where good intentions go to die and end up in the bin, after weeks of sorry chilling.

Then I was concerned by the amount of oil used and fell off the healthy wagon and right into the waiting arms of the bottled kind.

Eventually, gave it a go with olive oil and sunflower oil but was not too convinced.

And then I tried this version and lo behold, it looks and tastes much better than any of the store-bought kind. I have now made a vow to never buy a bottle again and if you ever see me pick a bottle off the shelf in haste, do remind me of all the harmful additives I’ll be adding to my sandwich along with the taste.

I used a mix of good quality coconut and sesame oils; the coconut oil is what gives the creaminess that is hard to replicate with other oils. Mustard is the usual stabiliser but in this recipe, I have used a mix of lime and raw, unpasteurized apple cider vinegar (preferably one with the “Mother” floating around) to act as the stabiliser.

Garlic crushed with pink salt was used to flavour it but plain salt would do.
I like to add the things in the same order every time because I am not sure how it would turn out and used eggs both at room temperature and straight out of the fridge too; same texture either way.

Add the salt with crushed garlic
Spoon in the lime juice and vinegar
Add the egg and the oil. Wait for the yolk to settle in the bottom
Notice the used measuring jug and spatula? Although the immersion blender fit into the jar, I had failed to think of the result of trying to whisk a nearly filled jar. Measuring jug to the rescue!

Although people claim to store this for over a week, I would advise to use within 4-5 days and to ensure that utensils are cleaned before use and kept well chilled to prevent contamination. Sterilising the jar is a good idea too. Check out: how to sterilise glass jars

Most recipes call for a cup of oil but using 3/4 cup of mild flavoured oil works with this. I have only used it as a spread but assume it would work well with salads too.

Give it a whir and leave your suggestions below or feel free to send me a message.

Homemade mayonnaise:whole egg

  • Servings: Fills a 7375g jam jar
  • Difficulty: Surprisingly Easy
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Ingredients

1 whole free-range egg

1 tbsp lime juice(fresh,preferably)

1 tbsp raw, unpasteurized apple cider vinegar (you can use a regular kind if you can’t find this)

1/4 cup sesame oil

1/2 cup of coconut oil

Salt

1 clove of garlic, crushed  (optional)

Immersion blender

Measuring jug or deep dish to make it in

Sterilised jar for storing  

Directions

If your immersion blender can reach the bottom of the jar you plan on storing it in,you are good to go. Otherwise, use a measuring jug or any deep dish.

1. Spoon in the lime juice and vinegar, add the salt (and crushed garlic, if using), add the egg and then the oil. The order does not really matter but for some reason, this is how I like to do it. 

2. Wait till the yolk settles at the bottom (takes few seconds) and lower in the blender till it covers the yolk. 

3. Switch it on and just hold it in place. In few seconds, you will be able to see it start emulsifying. Give it 30 more seconds or till its completely emulsified but has a layer of oil on top. 

4. Without switching it off, slowly start lifting the blender with a slight swirling motion. Do this slowly till all the oil is blended in. And that’s it!

5. If you made it in the storage jar, you are done as soon as you pop the lid on. If you made it in another container, use a spatula to transfer it to your storage jar.

6. Keep refrigerated and use within a week.
PS: Homemade mayonnaise is NOT advised during pregnancy.

Baking tips · How-to · Kitchen tips · Recipes · Sterilising · Tips and Tricks

How to sterilise glass jars

It is always a good idea to use sterilised jars to store your homemade goodies. Give the jars and lids a good wash with warm soapy water and rinse well.

Pop them on a baking sheet into an oven preheated at 140C and let it dry out.

Make sure the lid and all parts are not made from any material that CANNOT withstand dry heat. 

Note to self: remind people that a glass jar that has been heated in the oven will be hot to the touch and not to attempt grabbing it  with bare hands, but I’ll take the liberty of assuming my readers are saner than yours truly.

Easy Dinner · One Pot Recipe · Quick Cooking · Recipes · Undomestic goddess · vegetarian

Cream of tomato soup: fresh and quick

When the clock strikes 5pm, the only cuckoo bird rushing out will be me because it means that I need to have dinner ready in an hour. The temperamental little beings I am nurturing like seeing their hot dinner ready by 6, complain about it till 6:30, pick at it till 7 and start eating it once I turn from Mary Poppins to Professor Snape (I promised them to control my yelling but didn’t make any promises about toning down the glare). This cream of tomato soup is a nourishing but quick recipe that saved one such evening.

Despite their eccentrics, they are kind souls and never fail to give their honest opinions, albeit kindly.

Soup is always a reason for moaning because my eldest does not like certain textures but I knew I was on to a winner when she drank it without a peep. She did tell me not to make it everyday but I’ll take my compliments wherever I can.

Cream of tomato soup with fresh tomatoes

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

• 8 medium size ripe tomatoes (I used Roma but the vine ripened ones will be even delicious),chopped

• 1 medium onion, sliced

• 4 cloves of garlic, minced

• 2 carrots, roughly chopped

• Handful of corriander leaves with stalks, chopped

• 1litre of vegetable or chicken stock (use homemade or  organic stock)

• 250ml thick cream (you can reduce this according to your palate and dietary requirements)

• Salt to taste

• 2 tbsp regular olive oil

Directions

Heat a saucepan with the oil. Add the onions and garlic and let it cook till the onions are golden brown. I let it caramelise a bit because it adds more depth to the flavour.

Throw in the carrots, toss it around for a minute, add the tomatoes and corriander leaves, and pour in the stock. Season it and let it simmer uncovered for 30 minutes.

Take it off the heat and blitz it with an immersion blender, stir in the cream, correct seasoning and heat it slightly before serving.

You can serve it with a dollop of sour cream or regular thick cream on top but we just had it with a side of toasted bread because this mommy was exhausted to even consider garlic bread or croutons.


Bon appetit!

Capsicum · Mushrooms · One Pot Recipe · Pasta · Quick Cooking · Quick pasta · Recipes · vegetarian

One pot Mushroom and capsicum pasta

A love for eating does not necessarily lead to a love for cooking. In that context,a love for cooking does not necessarily result in a love for cleaning up.
My averison to cleaning up is such that I would go to extremes to find recipes that call out for the least number of utensils and pots.
Pasta is a staple in our house for its relatively versatile options that could be covered with just the right amount of bechamel if an experiment of flavours goes awry.
The process of boiling and draining the steaming pot by my clumsy self would be the only drawback, if nitpicking for problems in my current pasta cooking methods.
Keeping an eye out for a solution in the videos flooding the social networking pages brought me to one particular video that seemed to be the answer. Having heard a success story from my lovely aunt who was quick to test it out, here is my version of the one pot pasta wonder.

Do not exclude the capsicum in this recipe because it is necessary to accentuate the flavour. If you are not a fan, I implore you to give this quite overlooked green capsicum a try.

One pot Mushroom & capsicum pasta

Ingredients (serves 4, comfortably)

Half packet of pasta, uncooked(around 2 and half cups)
1/2 cup of cooking cream
Box of fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 large capsicum, chopped
1 onion, chopped
3 or 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
Water
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp. butter

1. Melt the butter in a large pan with a splash of regular cooking oil to stop it from burning.
2. Brown and cook the mushrooms with a pinch of salt.
3. Toss in the onions, garlic and capsicum. Pour in the cream and add the uncooked pasta.
4. Mix well and check seasoning. Add water till it just about covers the contents of the pot. Leave to cook covered for few minutes.
5.  Once the pasta is softened, turn up the heat and cook uncovered till the liquid is fully absorbed.

Tada!
image

You could gobble it up as a meal or accompany it with a juicy lamb chop or any protein you fancy. A tangy salad would work too.

Happy Eating!

Craft · DIY · Parenting · Recipes

Homemade Play dough(Basic)

Mothers are creatures with strange fetishes; they creep across the dark dungeons of “expected milestones” and do the dark deeds of comparing them with their progeny. If they exceed expectation, all’s well. If they do not, they immediately swerve down the guilt-wrecked road till the milestone has been hit.

The cycle continues with every popular infant-based newsletter that ends up in their inbox.

Picture an agitated, wild haired mother surrounded by different brands of play dough, coaxing a very reluctant 9 month old to dabble in the complex art of play dough model creation. The mother fears the day she would have to make something more sophisticated than a ball (and tiny balls) or hastily rolled out geometric shapes as she never stepped into the said realm and was actually clueless about how such magical creations came about.

When the child refuses to do anything but throw the lump of (kind of expensive) dough, the hassled brain of the mother immediately points towards sensory issues.

Could my child have a sensory problem?

Or could it be something more sinister?

Was this what the anti-vaccination squad warned me of?

Or maybe she hurt her fingers when I held them too tight by accident?

This must be my fault.

Was this because of the cold mocha I gulped down the day before she was born, despite the refusal of the sweet barista to serve coffee to a pregnant woman (this was the one and only cup of caffeine I had in my entire pregnancy!)?

After many sleepless nights coupled with weary mornings filled with some subtle and downright tricky methods of getting the child to play with play dough (failed methods, obviously), the mother eventually gives up.

Pauses

Then one afternoon, after receiving THE handbook on being a domestic goddess from the best aunt in the world, the mother decides to make bread. Being too lazy to set up the Kitchen Aid (also belongs to said aunt; some may call it stealing but she calls it safe-keeping), sleeves were rolled up and the kneading began. Since this was before the era of 2 under 3 years, the level of anxiety when attempting some actual cooking was quite low. As the mother’s height prevented her from using the kitchen counter to knead, she decided to sit on the floor with a bowl of flour.

The patter of tiny footsteps later, a tiny fist bumps a piece of dough. With bated breath, the mother hands the child a ball of dough. The child squashes it. Eureka!

The child just did not like the texture of store-bought play dough!

The joy was short lived due to a failed and extremely oily attempt at making play dough. After sifting through a dozen or so recipes and reading up on the science behind it, the mother came up with the following fool-proof recipe meant for mothers with short-lived patience and extra-large ambitions.

This play dough lasts up to 3 months if stored well in airtight containers; it also survives uncovered nights behind the couch and sometimes, under the pillow of the mother. It does develop a salty crust once in awhile; a good kneading is all it requires.

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Homemade Play dough

Ingredients:

  1. 1 cup water
  2. 1 cup all purpose flour
  3. 1 tbsp oil
  4. 1 tbsp cream of tartar
  5. ½ cup salt
  6. 1 tsp of vanilla extract
  7. Food colouring

 

Use a whisk to combine all the dry ingredients in a heavy-bottom pan. Add the water, oil and cook on medium heat. Stir constantly till the mix resembles mashed potatoes. Take it off the heat and add in the vanilla. Give it a good stir. Do not be alarmed and start the cussing if the dough is still quite sticky.

Tip the contents on to a clean counter space, add in the colouring and knead till cool. You could split the dough into portions and colour each one differently too.

You would be kneading quite warm dough and it would be best not to let the kids get involved in the making process. My asbestos hands do not mind the heat but do be careful.

Once the yummy scented play dough is cool, you can pop it into airtight containers or use large zip lock bags like I did; just make sure to get all the air out before sealing.

 

Enjoy and do comment with results, if you do try it!

 

 

Recipes

Homemade Lollipops(hard candy)

Growing up with 2 different movie versions of Willie Wonka’s magical confectionery and a craving for sugar has led me down many nights of experimenting with recipes and concoctions. This has often resulted in decadent chocolate delights and sometimes, a burnt beyond recognisable bakeware. Despite the showers of blessings I would receive every morning after my mother witnesses the aftermath in her usually spotless kitchen, I ploughed on in my quest for the perfect version of every sweet.

Lollipop a day replaced an apple in my diet for a few months during high school. Whether it was the spine-tingling tartness or the bright red colour it provided  (parents do not approve of cosmetics and hence, coloured candy to the rescue), it became a staple.

I vividly remember my highschool English teacher telling me that although my 15 year old frame stayed slim despite the handful of lollipops that went through me everyday, I would pay for it dearly later on; her words turned true far too starkly.

Being the typical hypocritical parent, I watched my daughter’s diet like a hawk. After successfully keeping any form of candy or processed sugar away (except in the form of biscuits- I am a concerned mother, not a sadist!) for her first 3 years, managed to remove any craving the poor little girl would have had for candy. The lollipops she got from her paediatrician were used for drumming and occasionally ended up in my pumpkin tummy.

Overcome by a feeling of guilt that I might be stealing a part of her childhood away, I started researching on homemade candy. As much as I want to let her have a bit of treat now and then, the preservatives and abominable amount of food colouring  in store bought candy puts me off. Google to the rescue.

There are over tons of recipes and after sifting through most of them, came up with these two. These may not be your conventional hard candy recipes but they do the job well enough. Sicilian lemon essence sounded fancy but did not result in candy as good as the American Peppermint flavour. You could also incorporate citric acid for sour lollies but I have yet to attempt that.

Cleaning up is my one deterrent when wanting to unleash my experimenting desires. Surprisingly, the only cleanup after this recipe was letting all the candy coated utensils soak in the steaming hot water in the sink. No elbow grease was required for the final scrubbing either. Hurray! Just do not forget the temperature of the water before you decide to wash your hands. It is perfectly acceptable to not inform another being of the same, if you hold a dark sense of humour like yours truly. *evil cackling

After the positive reviews and requests from fellow candy-stealing parents, here are my lollipop recipes.

Peppermint flavoured Homemade Lollipop with corn syrup

Ingredients

  1. 1 cup corn syrup (light)
  2. 2 cups sugar
  3. 1/2 cup water
  4. few drops gel food colour
  5. 1 and 1/2 tsp Peppermint essence

Combine all the ingredients except for the essence and colouring into a heavy bottomed pan with a spout edge for ease while pouring. On medium heat, stir till everything dissolves, and then, turn up the heat and stop stirring. Bring the mixture to boil till it reaches the hard crack stage on a candy thermometer. If you do not have a thermometer, drop in some of the hot liquid into cold water and if it turns hard, you are good to go. Remove from heat and add in the essence and colouring and stir well. Remember to turn your head away while adding the essence as peppermint essence can make your eyes run. Pour liquid on prepared moulds. Let it cool and lick away.

Note that since I am no perfectionist, the lollipop making method does not hold instructions for washing down the sides of the pan while it boils (chose to skip over those instructions).

Peppermint flavoured Homemade Lollipop without corn syrup

Ingredients

  1. 2 cups sugar
  2. 2/3 cup water
  3. 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
  4. few drops of gel food colour
  5. 1 tsp  Peppermint essence

The method is the same as for the one with corn syrup.

12463605_10207023589102663_1173530605_nTada! The end results, all packed and ready to be gobbled. Do excuse my poor cropping skills- will upload a better picture if I come across any

Enjoy!

Recipes

Eggcoli sandwhich

Do excuse the title for sounding far from edible and more like an invented would-be pandemic disease; continue reading for more insight into the acute lameness of said sandwich.

When you have spent the whole day arranging and rearranging your family meal plan, pantry cupboards, closets and the children’s room in the latest DIY fad, one does get exhausted. After all, doing the said organising on Pinterest is the first step towards all the tasks/ideas one never gets around to.

An entire day of obsessive browsing later, you are faced with the daunting task of feeding the young. The realisation of the lateness of the hour followed by the guilt-wrecked dawning of a vegetables-less day is enough to set the mind on overdrive and come up with combinations that would probably would not have been together minus a limit on time before the whining begins and a very loud rumbling tummy. Necessity may be the mother of inventions but hunger follows right after.

Unfortunately, there are no pictures of the hastily put together sandwich due to the obvious rush of the situation, but also because I have forgotten to make space in the camera for the 3rd month going. My phone cannot be swiped without the aid of a wet wipe.

This Eggcoli sandwich is good for a quick snack ,or a meal along with a bowl of yoghurt or fruit.

Eggcoli sandwich ingredients:

Tortilla wrap (wholemeal/regular)

Blanched broccoli florets-handful

Hard boiled egg

Squirt of garlic mayonnaise (yes, store bought- the risk of salmonella from incorrectly making and storing mayonnaise trumps my obsession with homemade goodies. In other words, one just cannot be bothered.)

Updated: I have finally gotten over my fear of homemade mayonnaise and attempted it. Check Homemade mayonnaise:whole egg

Assemble them as you please, wrap, toast and enjoy!

Bon appetit!

Easy Dinner · Homemade · Homemade condiments · One Pot Recipe · Preservative free · Quick Cooking · Recipes · vegetarian

Fondue. The glorious bubbling concoction of white goodness scooped up with bits of vegetables and bread. Delicately cut ripe fruits dipped in rich chocolate warmth.

Countless cooking shows and articles later,  I had yet to try it myself.

When I did get to try the chocolate version at a lovely restaurant that I would review about another time, I was not disappointed. This just elevated my yearning for the cheese version.

Remembering that I had a fondue set that was yet to be used, coupled with extreme exhaustion at the thought of cooking up an edible yet nutritious dinner, tonight would be the night.

This recipe might not constitute as an authentic fondue blend but assuming there is no fondue-police on the watch, I can safely say that this would satisfy a craving.

Lazy Daisy Fondue

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Do excuse the hastily chopped condition of the poor vegetables and the lack of any form of skill in photography. The most I can do and have the patience to check is to ensure that everything fits into a frame, which I sadly managed to forget in this photograph.

Heat a cup of cooking cream with a tablespoon of garlic butter.

Once it starts to bubble, add 1 cup of grated mild German cheddar cheese mixed with a tablespoon of all-purpose flour. You could use any kind of cheddar or any other cheese that would melt easily, but I found that the mild German cheddar was less salty and had a more subtle taste to suit the delicate palate of my tiny connoisseur who has taken a slight dislike towards cheese.

The moment you start stirring the cheese into the cream, it comes together almost immediately into a gloriously thick cheese sauce that you can pour into a fondue pot and begin spearing away.

Any vegetable or bread would be fine as I live with the strong belief that even chalk would be edible with copious amounts of good quality cheese coating it. We made do with carrots, cucumbers, blanched broccoli florets and boiled baby potatoes. Since there was no bread and it was obviously too late to make some, I told myself the potatoes would provide the quota of carbohydrates.

Although we used a fondue set, I personally felt that it was not a vital aspect since we had to blow out the candle within minutes to avoid scorching our tongues. A heat proof bowl and couple of forks would do the trick.

However, if like me, you are prone to insisting on all the trimmings to simply feel as if you accomplished a good meal/cuisine, go ahead and get yourself a fondue set. You could always use it to burn incense if you ever happen to start disliking cheese or chocolate.

Happy fonduing!