Blueberry Banana Bread

I have been making banana bread for years and it was and still is my go to when i need a quick snack to be made for the kids especially the days when i had to pack snacks for school. I add nuts (walnuts or cashew nuts- depending on what i had) and chocolate chips to it. Here is the recipe https://chaiwithpreethi.com/2016/11/02/banana-bread/ It made the banana bread sweeter and could pass as a dessert. You could drizzle some melted chocolate on it and serve it warm with ice cream and it becomes a dessert.

I had some blueberries in the fridge and frozen bananas(I sometimes freeze bananas if they are too ripe and that way I have ripe bananas when i want to make banana bread). I decided to try add blueberries to the banana bread instead of nuts and chocolate. I really liked it but will not pass it off as dessert. It was perfect for breakfast or as a snack. It was not as sweet as there were no chocolates and i made it with whole wheat to make a healthier option.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup mashed bananas (approx 2 large bananas)
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil (I used canola oil)
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

Directions:

  • Heat oven to 350º F or 180º C. Grease the loaf tin with oil.
  • In a large bowl, beat the eggs, oil and sugar together.
  • Add mashed bananas to it and mix.
  • Sift the flour, salt and baking soda.
  • Fold in the flour mixture to the banana mixture. Mix well.
  • Add blueberries and mix
  • Pour into the greased loaf pan.
  • Bake for 50- 60 minutes . Check if it is done by inserting a toothpick, if it comes out clean, then it is done. If not let it bake for some more time.

Walnut Basil Pesto

The fresh smell of basil, some garlic, olive oil and roasted nuts, ground to a paste with some parmesan cheese. The aroma from these blended simple ingredients can draw everyone into the kitchen. In the summer I usually have a bowl of pesto in the fridge. It is so versatile; can be added to pasta or vegetables/meat to make a sauce, it can be used on pizza as a topping and as a spread for sandwiches.

While I was making pesto, I was reminiscing my days in India when I made pesto. Pushpa, my helper, would ask me what this was and i would tell her it was a type of chutney. She would taste it, make a wry face and say in kannada, ‘I have no idea how you eat these things; they have no ‘uppu kaara’ (they have no spices- chutneys are supposed to b spicy)’. So I suppose this is an acquired taste but in our house, we love it.

Usually pesto is made with pine nuts. In this recipe I have used walnuts. Since we love pesto I have in my garden a variety of basils.I used a mix of basils including sweet basil and a Chef’s trio basil (one plant with Genovese, Purple, and Serrated basil). I also used a lot more walnuts and got a creamier version.

For a sundried tomato pesto check this out: https://chaiwithpreethi.com/2019/10/17/sun-dried-tomato-pesto/ and for a pesto with pinenuts check https://chaiwithpreethi.com/2018/10/09/thin-crust-home-made-pizza/

Ingredients:

3 cups Italian basil

3-4 garlic cloves

1 cup walnuts

1/4 cup parmesan cheese (optional for vegan option: 2 tbsp nutritional yeast for cheese flavour )

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Method:

Toast nuts in a pan. Add the garlic while the nuts are toasting (I do not like to add raw garlic)

In a food processor or blender, add the basil, garlic, nuts and blend coarsely. Drizzle olive oil and continue pulsing until smooth. Add more oil if required (to make it healthier, you can add a few teaspoons of water instead). Add salt and pepper to taste.

Transfer pesto to a bowl and mix cheese (leave out for a non dairy or vegan option) or add cheese (or nutritional yeast) to the blender and give it a whizz. Cover with saran wrap or drizzle a layer of oil on it to avoid discoloration.

WATERMELON MINT cooler

Summer is here and there is a lot of watermelons in the market. I miss the watermelon seller in India who had a cart outside my apartment. I would walk out with the biggest bowl i had and he would cut the watermelon into pieces for me. Also, if the watermelon was bad than he would pick another. I have no idea how to buy the perfect watermelon. It ty to do what I read on google. Sometimes it is a hit and sometimes a miss.

This time I bought 2 seedless watermelons; they are the smaller variety; one was rotten and one was good. I removed the rind and chopped the watermelon in pieces. By the way, I have seen recipes for watermelon rind, I have not tried any; maybe another day!

This is easy to make and very refreshing on a hot summer day. I sometimes freeze them in an ice cube tray. Take out what you need and use.

Ingredients

  • 5 cups chopped watermelon
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 3 tbsp mint leaves plus more for garnish
  • 2 tbsp sugar (optional)
  • If making mocktails- club soda
  • if making a cocktail- bacardi

Directions

You can do this two ways.

  1. Blend the watermelon with all the ingredients except for the soda and the bacardi. Freeze for two hours. Blend again in blender to make a slushie
  2. Freeze watermelon pieces. Then blend with sugar and mint
  3. Serve extras in an ice cube tray for later use.

To Serve

Serve this three ways

  1. Pour the slush into a glass and serve with a lime and some mint
  2. Pour watermelon slush into a tall glass (1/2 the glass) or add a 7-8 frozen cubes of watermelon juice . Top with club soda and serve
  3. Pour the slush into a glass. Add 2 – 3 tablespoons of bacardi and serve with a lime and some mint
Watermelon Mint Cooler
Watermelon Slushie

Muhamammara (Roasted Red pepper and Walnut Spread)

Many years ago, my friend Devika introduced me to a dish called Muhammara which her sister made. I had never heard or tasted it before. The ingredients were interesting and tasted scrumptious, sweet, spicy and slightly sour. I came home and looked up the recipe. This was a middle eastern dish using pomegranate molasses. In India, I could not find pomegranate molasses but it was easy to find pomegranate. So I tried it with the fruit, added some sugar and lime juice.

Recently I found pomegranate molasses and was excited. This is a really quick and easy spread to make. I usually have roasted peppers in the freezer, which I roast when it is in season. Of course you can roast it when you need it or buy roasted peppers in a jar. I usually have some breadcrumbs in the freezer. I toast and powder leftover bread and store. This recipe has been adapted from NY times cooking, Epicurious and my friend’s recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 large (or 2 small) red pepper, roasted and skin removed (roast, place under cold water and peel the skin)
  • 1 garlic clove (optional)
  • 3/4 cup walnuts, toasted
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 small red onion, chopped (1/4 cup)
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes plus extra for garnish
  • 4 + 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 +1 tsp pomegranate molasses
  • 3/4 cup breadcrumbs

Directions

  • Roast pepper and remove skin (either on gas flame or in an oven (425F for 30 minutes). Run under cold water and peel and remove seeds. Place in food processor
  • Add garlic, toasted walnuts, cumin, lemon juice, salt, pepper flakes, onion, 4 tbsp olive oil and 2 tsp pomegranate molasses and puree.
  • Add bread crumbs and pulse again. Taste and season
  • Transfer to a bowl. Make a well and add 1 tbsp olive oil, pepper flakes and a few walnuts and serve with bread or pita chips

Crispy Oven Baked Potato Wedges

We were having burgers for dinner and we had to have fries. This took 10 minutes to prep and then in the oven for 40 minutes. Easy and healthier than fries and much tastier than your restaurant fries, trust me on this!

Ingredients

  • 4 large potatoes, peeled
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp chilli powder/ flakes
  • 1/2 tsp paprika powder
  • 1-2 tsp garlic powder ( or 1 tsp fresh minced garlic)
  • 1 tsp onion salt
  • 1/2 tsp dried parsley
  • 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese (optional) – leave out for vegan or lactose free option
  • salt to taste
  • 1/2 tsp cilantro or parsley for garnish

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 425ºF (220ºC)
  • Cut potatoes into wedges and let it sit in cold water (with some ice cubes). I left it in for 15 minutes
  • Drain and remove excess water using towel or paper towels
  • In a bowl combine all ingredients except the garnish
  • Toss potatoes with the oil mixture. Pour on pan
  • Make sure the potatoes are in a single layer
  • Bake for 40 minutes. Flip after 20 minutes
  • You can increase the temperature to 450ºF for the last 10 minutes
  • Garnish with cilantro

CRISPY SMASHED POTATOES – INDIAN STYLE WITH HERB SAUCE AND FRIED ONIONS

Potatoes are always a hit in my family, especially the baby potatoes. I usually marinate it and make a dry curry which can be eaten with rice or rotis. My mom makes it often and I have adapted the recipe. Today I decided to use similar spices but roast it and serve it as a side.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound baby potatoes (1/2 kg potatoes)
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 large red onion finely sliced
  • Marinade:
  • 1 tsp ginger paste
  • 1 tsp garlic paste
  • 1 tbsp cumin powder
  • 1 tbsp coriander powder
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • salt to taste
  • Herb Sauce:
  • 4 tbsp cilantro/ coriander leaves
  • 4 tbsp fresh mint
  • 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

Directions

  • Wash and cook baby potatoes for 8-10 minutes
  • Drain and peel
  • Mix all the ingredients for the marinade
  • Add to potatoes and mix
  • Put all ingredients for herb sauce in a food processor and blend
  • Add 2 tbsp of the herb sauce to the potatoes and mix
  • Let it sit for 30 minutes to 3 hours
  • Heat oven to 450ºF (230ºC)
  • Add a tbsp oil on a sheet pan
  • Add potatoes to the pan. With a bottom of a measuring cup, gently smash each potato to 1/2 inch thick
  • Drizzle 1 tbsp of olive oil on the potatoes
  • Roast for 40-50 minutes. Flip them after 20 minutes
  • Heat 1 tbsp oil
  • Fry onions till golden brown and crisp. Sprinkle some salt when frying to crisp it up faster
  • Once potatoes are crisp, remove and place on serving dish. Garnish with herb sauce and fried onions
  • Serve hot