Category: Summer

Skinny Zesty Salad

Skinny Zesty Sala1

 

After hogging lots and lots of sweets and fried stuff during 5 days of festivities in the past week, believe it or not, but my digestive system needed a break. So I am doing a cleanse/detox for few days.

I made this skinny salad for lunch one day and have fallen in love with it since then. It is so versatile, protein-packed and healthy even for people with diet restrictions. Yes! It is suitable for all the vegetarians and vegans out there! A complete meal in itself.

Add any or all of the ingredients mentioned below or whatever you have in your refrigerator. Don’t like uncooked Paneer/tofu? Don’t worry! You can grill it with a bit of olive oil and some seasoning before adding it to your salad or skip it. I once made this with just apple, pear, pomegranate and it was still lip-smacking!

So do your body a favor, give yourself a break from cooking and make this hearty salad! 🙂

Skinny Zesty Sala2

Skinny Zesty Salad

Serves: 2 as a side and 1 as a main-course

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 cup broccoli florets
  • 200 gm Paneer/extra-firm tofu, cut into 2 inch-long thin strips
  • 1 small red bell pepper, chopped into thin strips
  • 1 small yellow zucchini, cut into semicircles
  • 1 small apple, thin slices
  • 4 Tbsp black olives
  • Bunch of lettuce
  • few sprigs of parsley, finely chopped

For dressing:

  • 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp white wine vinegar
  • Juice from 1 lemon, or more to taste
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Heat a small pan on stove and add 1/2 Tbsp oil to it. Add garlic and broccoli florets. Stir fry till cooked, approximately for 4-5 minutes. Be careful not to burn garlic. Set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, mix all the ingredients for dressing.
  3. In a medium bowl, add stir-fried garlic and broccoli florets. To this, add prepared paneer/tofu, bell pepper, zucchini, apple and black olives. Pour dressing over it and toss nicely.
  4. In a salad serving bowl, arrange lettuce at the bottom. Add salad on top. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve immediately*.

*If serving later, refrigerate the salad and add apple just before serving.

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Cucumber Dill Refrigerator Pickles

Cucumber Refrigerator Dill Pickles2

This post was supposed to happen last weekend. But life happened, I fell sick and it took me a week to recover so here I am again with the list of never-ending excuses! But I’m sure you guys understand. Anyways… Let’s get on with the post. You’ve waited long enough!

You would think that I am a little late with this particular post.. Summer is the time for pickling. But don’t you worry… I’ve got this covered for ya! This refrigerator pickle can be made any time of the year. As long as you get cucumbers and fresh dill! And if you’re in super-cold parts of the world, then dill seeds would work perfectly too! Don’t like cucumbers? (As if it’s even possible!!), use jalapeno peppers, beetroots*, carrots* or red peppers. They would be equally delicious if not more!

*These vegetables will need 30-60 seconds of quick blanching in boiling water before they can be pickled for better flavor-absorption.

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This was my first time making pickles. Little veggies in jars with vinegar. So much happiness!! I was quite nervous and excited at the same time, so I started reading a lot on the subject (In short, I Googled a lot!) before taking the plunge. I suggest you do the same. It’s a whole new world! Thankfully I was not canning. Made just a small batch considering small size of my refrigerator. It turned out to be pretty easy! Nothing to be afraid of.. So rinse away some glass jars and ease our way in this new world of quick pickles.

The only place you’ll struggle is waiting before digging in. Yes, 48 crucial hours before you can munch on these. Have patience and this too shall pass! 🙂

I short-listed 2 recipes online. Both seemed easy and great but different in terms of the usage of vinegar. I like my pickles tart hence I used the recipe calling for more vinegar. The changes I made are, I used fresh dill instead of dill seeds and added some sugar to the brine and that is how I liked it. You can click on the link below to check the original recipe. I would try the second recipe next time around. It will please those who thinks there is ridiculous amount of vinegar used in my recipe below. 😉 The link for less vinegary recipe is at the end of the post.

Enjoy! Happy Weekend!

Cucumber Refrigerator Dill Pickles1

Cucumber Dill Refrigerator Pickles

Recipe adapted from The Kitchn

Yields: 2 pints

Ingredients:

  • 600 gm / 1.5 pounds cucumbers (Around 3 medium sized)
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 Tbsp pickling salt (I used sea salt)
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled (2 per jar)
  • 1/4 tsp red chili flakes per jar
  • 10-12 sprigs of fresh dill per jar
  • 1/2 tsp black peppercorns per jar

Directions:

  1. Wash and cut the cucumbers. Leave the skin on but wash thoroughly to ensure that there’s no dirt on them. Cut them in either slices or spears.
  2. In a medium saucepan, bring vinegar, water, pickling salt and sugar to a simmer. Once simmering, remove from heat.
  3. Divide the spices and dill sprigs among 2 or 3 clean glass jars. The number of jars depend upon the size of the jar you’re using.
  4. Add the sliced cucumbers and pack tightly. Do not pack very hard to bruise the cucumbers. Pour warm brine in each jar, leaving approximately 1/2-inch headspace.
  5. Tap jars gently on countertop to dislodge any trapped air-bubbles. Apply lids and let jars cool to room temperature. Place jars in refrigerator and let them sit for at least 48-hours before eating. Pickles will last for up to 1 month at least.

You may also want to try: Refrigerator Dill Pickle from Annie’s eats

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Guest Post on The Vanilla Bean: Pineapple~Coconut Breakfast Loaf

Pineapple-Coconut Breakfast Loaf1

 

 

When Roshni from The Vanilla Bean asked me to do a guest-post on her blog, I wanted to bake something simple and quick for her readers. Yet something which look and taste like you’ve spent the whole morning working on it but in fact was just left in the oven to work its own magic.

Roshni has a special soft corner for cakes hence I decided to rustle up this breakfast loaf which is moist and crunchy at the same time. Each bite is filled with pineapple and coconut bits. It’s a tropical heaven! Perfect for the rushed up mornings. Just plonk it in the oven right before you had for the bath and it would be ready when you’re back!

The loaf is actually quite healthy with whole wheat flour, olive oil and brown sugar. Feel free to substitute the sugar in the recipe with date syrup, honey or liquid jaggery.

Drop by here to get my recipe of pineapple-coconut breakfast loaf and don’t forget to check out The Vanilla Bean blog for some delicious recipes. Thank you again, Roshni, for having me over!

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Cinnamon Stovetop Oatmeal ~ For One

cinnamon stovetop oatmeal -1

You don’t need me tell you how to make an oatmeal. I’m sure, you can handle that on your own.

Maybe I need to remind myself how to make oatmeal. Maybe I need to remind myself to make oatmeal at all… and eat it.. for breakfast. Staring at my laptop first thing in the morning, burning my mouth sipping hot coffee does not make breakfast.

I thought if I needed a reminder, you might need it too. So let’s make this healthy stovetop oatmeal with cinnamon and any seasonal or even frozen fruits of your choice. A treat for that special person, YOU!

Cinnamon Stovetop Oatmeal-2

This oatmeal is perfect for the weather… so comforting and so healthy! The addition of cinnamon is mandatory. You may throw in some nutmeg too. Addition of nuts or seeds not so much but if you do add them, you’ll not regret it. This makes for such a wholesome breakfast in such a short time and hardly demands a ton of ingredients. Water, milk, quick cooking oats and cinnamon – you could manage these everyday, isn’t it? Total no-brainer. Oh, you could also double the recipe to serve two. 😉

Have an exciting weekend peeps!

Cinnamon Stovetop Oatmeal – For One

Serves: 1 | Ready under 10 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup milk – soy, almond, coconut or cow milk
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp cane sugar/honey/maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup quick cooking oats
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • Optional toppings: chopped walnuts, sliced almonds, raisins, cranberries, chia seeds, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds

Directions:

  1. In a medium saucepan, add water, milk, cinnamon and cane sugar. If using honey/maple syrup read the last step. Turn the heat up to high and bring to a boil. Add the oats and salt and reduce the heat to low. Let simmer stirring occasionally for a minute.
  2. Turn the heat off. Stir in vanilla and honey/maple syrup (if not using cane sugar). Top with fruits or other toppings (mentioned above) of your choice. Serve immediately.

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Here are some items I used to make today’s recipe.

                    

 

Some of the links above are affiliate links, which pay me a small commission for my referral at no extra cost to you! Thank you for supporting Cook By Book.

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Sweet~Lime Layer Cake with Cream Cheese Filling & Vanilla Bean Frosting

Sweet-Lime Layer Cake with Vanilla Bean Frosting1
I mentioned in my previous posts that I’m surrounded by family from past few weeks. Last Friday, the 13th was husband’s birthday. His folks were in town for the celebration. Yaay! So as you must have already guessed, I was going to bake the birthday cake myself. I asked him what flavour he would like this year and without thinking much he said I want lemon… And I was like, lemon cake?! Really?!!
I was thinking more like my favorite chocolate cake layered in a fancy tier-cake, filled with chocolate ganache and slathered with mocha frosting and he says he wants lemon this year?! Hmm… Even though I was a lil disappointed, I obliged to his wishes! I knoooww *best wife of the year* isn’t it! I had to add my own twist to the cake of course and hence this awesomeness happened. Less tart but tangy, zesty and supremely moist.. win-win for all! Of course, I didn’t tell him that it is sweet-lime until he ate a giant piece at midnight! He was indeed surprised and super-happy which made my whole-day’s effort totally worth it! 😀
Sweet-Lime Layer Cake with Vanilla Bean Frosting2
I had made sort of a similar cake with lemons few months ago for my dear friend’s baby girl. It marked her 1st month on the earth. That cake was egg-less, used buttermilk and everyone loved it! So I just had to tweak my old recipe a bit and came up with this soft, springy and moist cake. Layered with cream cheese filling which is out-of-the-world but the hero here guys is, vanilla bean frosting… It is AWESOME! Trust me 🙂
Sweet-Lime Layer Cake with Vanilla Bean Frosting5
Sweet-Lime Layer Cake with Vanilla Bean Frosting4
I made every single element on this cake on same day. If you do not have such a luxury of time then I suggest you make cakes a day before and refrigerate them individually covered in clingfilm until you’re ready for assembly. Make filling and frosting just before assembling the layers. This will certainly cut down on waiting time as the cakes would be cool and ready for the assembly the next day. So let’s get on with the recipe!
*Please pardon the pictures as the only chance I got was couple minutes before the celebration!
Sweet~Lime Layer Cake with Cream Cheese Filling & Vanilla Bean Frosting
Makes: 1 6-inch 3-layered cake
Ingredients:
For the cake:
  • 2 and 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 14 1-inch cubes of unsalted butter
  • Zest of 3 sweet-limes
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup yogurt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup sweet-lime juice, freshly squeezed (Around 3 sweet-limes needed)

For the filling:

  • 100 gm/4 oz. cream cheese, cold
  • Zest of 1 sweet-lime
  • 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup icing sugar, sifted
  • 1/2 cup medium-fat cream
For the frosting:
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup icing sugar, sifted
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 Tbsp medium-fat cream, whipped
For the garnish:
  • Yellow and green colored sparkling sugar
  • 1 sweet-lime slices

Directions:

To make Cake:

  • Preheat the oven to 180°C / 350° F. Butter and flour the edges of 3 6-inch round cake pans and shake out the excess. Set aside. Line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper.
  • In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  • Add the butter to the large bowl and prepare electric hand-mixer or electric stand-mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Add the lime zest to the bowl with the butter.  Beat on medium-high speed for 3 minutes, until light and creamy in color.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat for another minute.
  • Add the sugar to the butter mixture, ¼ cup at a time, beating 1 minute after each addition.  Add eggs, one at a time until incorporated.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl after each addition.
  • Combine yogurt, sweet-lime juice and vanilla extract in a liquid measuring cup.  With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients alternately with the wet ingredients, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients and mixing just until incorporated.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix for 15 seconds longer.
  • Divide the batter between the prepared baking pans.  Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 20-22 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking. Let cool in the pans about 10 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack and let cool completely.

To make Cream Cheese Filling:

  • Combine the cream cheese and butter in a bowl of an electric mixer. Beat on medium-high speed until smooth and well combined.
  • Mix in icing sugar and beat on low speed until incorporated.
  • Blend in lemon juice and sweet-lime zest. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl and set aside.
  • Wipe out the mixer bowl and fit with the whisk attachment. Add cream to the bowl and whip on high speed until stiff peaks form, being careful not to overbeat. Mix about a third of the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture to lighten. Gently fold in the remaining whipped cream until no streaks remain and the mixture is evenly blended.

To make Vanilla Bean Frosting:

  • Add butter to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whip on medium-high speed until smooth, about 1 minute.
  • Add icing sugar to the bowl and mix on medium-low speed just until incorporated.
  • Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean pod into the bowl and add in the salt.  Continue to beat on medium-high speed until smooth, about 1-2 minutes.
  • Mix in the vanilla extract and whipped cream on low speed just until incorporated. Increase the mixer speed and whip on high speed until light and fluffy, scraping down the bowl as needed, about 4 minutes.
Assembly:
  • Level cake layers if necessary. To assemble the cake, place one of the layers on a serving platter. Top with half of the cream cheese filling and smooth in an even layer.  Place a second cake layer on top of the filling and top with the remaining filling. Place the final cake layer on top.
  • Frost the top and sides of the assembled cake with the vanilla bean frosting.
  • Sprinkle some yellow and green colored sparkling sugar around the 1-inch border of the cake. Garnish the centre with the sweet-lime slices.

Notes: 

  • To make the frosting look whiter, use white unsalted butter and clear vanilla extract.
  • If you wish to decorate the top of the cake with piped frosting instead of fruit, double the frosting recipe. Use a pastry bag with a decorative tip to pipe accents on the cake. You may have some extra frosting which is always a good thing in my book! 😉
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