Saffron Vanilla Cookies

The more i resolve to blog regularly, the more irregular i become. For those who sent emails to check on me, thank you. I am still here, enjoying the hot Seattle summer, just busy with this and that.  My preschooler has gotten into the habit of wanting to bake something every weekend with me. These saffron vanilla cookies caught my attention on Instagram few weeks ago and I knew this would be great for our weekend baking project.

vanilla saffron cookies

I have never baked with saffron and I can’t believe I haven’t thought of it before. The color, smell, the delicate flavor, what’s not to love about this spice! Saffron infused milk is mixed with other cookie ingredients to bake this delicious goodness. Slightly crispy around the edges, with soft cakey centers, this is totally my kind of cookie. The cookies store well at room temperature for 3 days and then for a week in the refrigerator. I got about 24 cookies for the measurements given below, quite frankly I wish I had made a bigger batch, they were gone in minutes.

vanilla cookies

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 packed light brown sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon ground saffron

1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 vanilla bean

2 tablespoons milk

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 egg, at room temperature

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Method

1. Split the vanilla bean in half and scrape the caviar into a small saucepan.

2. Add vanilla pod, saffron and milk, cook on very low flame until bubbles begin to form at the edges.

3. Remove from heat and steep for 10 minutes. Remove vanilla pod from milk after 10 minutes and set aside.

4. Sift the flour and baking soda into a large bowl.

5. Cream butter  and sugars along with salt with a hand or stand mixer until smooth and fluffy.

6. Combine egg, vanilla-saffron milk and vanilla extract in a separate bowl until well blended.

7. Add the egg mixture slowly to to the butter mixture and mix on medium speed for a minute.

8. Add flour mixture and mix until just combined.

9. Transfer the dough to a plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. At this stage, you can leave it in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

10. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

11. Roll up 1 tablespoon portions of the dough into balls and place on the baking sheet.

12. Bake for 15-16 minutes. Let the cookies cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Store in refrigerator for up to 5 days.

 

 

Vegan Raw Coconut Cream Pie Energy Bites

Home made energy bites or bars are so much more healthier than the store bought ones. You can control what goes in and play around with toppings and its easy on the wallet too. You’d be surprised how many Lara bars you can make at home for less than $10. These coconut cream pie bites is a Lara bar inspired recipe. The nicest thing about these bites are that you can use any kind of nuts and if you want to make it nut free, use sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds and they would still be delicious. A money saving tip on buying nuts, hit the bulk bin section at your local grocery store, sometimes even the organic ones are cheaper than you’d imagine. I coated some of these bites with unsweetened cocoa powder, some in toasted coconut flakes and the coconut flakes got a double thumbs up from everyone who ate them. They make a great mid morning snack or in my case even dessert.

coconut cream pie

Ingredients

1 cup pitted dates

1 cup cashews or pecans or any nut of your choice ( I used toasted pecans)

2 tablespoons coconut oil

1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes or shredded coconut

Method

1. Soak cashews and dates in warm water for at least one hour if you don’t have a powerful blender.

2. Blend all the ingredients until the mixture is well blended and begins to stick together.

3. Transfer the mixture on to a cutting board and use your hands to form a big ball.

3. Using 1 tablespoon measurement, scoop the mixture and roll them into balls. Alternatively, you can cut them into rectangles or squares and wrap individual portions in plastic wrap.

4. Coat the balls with unsweetened cocoa or toasted coconut (optional)

5. The balls store well at room temperature for 2 days and in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.

 

Vegan Sweet Corn Pilaf

Sweet corn is always a hit among adults and kids. Apart from corn on the cob, there are several ways to spice up this humble corn. Try the corn sundal or this pilaf and you will start appreciating corn with a whole new level of respect. This pilaf is not heavy on spices, but is very flavorful and versatile. It makes for a great picnic or lunchbox recipe and will make a tasty and delicious dinner paired with paneer masala. Add colorful peppers, green peas and carrot and make it a wholesome meal. I love the crunch and subtle sweetness of corn and mixed with spices and fragrant basmati rice, it makes a great one pot meal.

corn pulao

Ingredients

1 cup basmati rice, washed and soaked in water for at least 30 minutes.

1/2 cup fresh or frozen organic corn

1/2 medium onion, finely chopped

1 Thai green chili, chopped

5-6 cashewnuts

1/2 teaspoon whole peppercorns

1 one-inch piece ginger, minced

5 cloves garlic, minced

1 small stick cinnamon

2 cloves

2 green cardamom

1 bay leaf

1 tablespoon oil

2 tablespoons finely chopped mint

2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro

Method

1. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large pot and when its hot, add cloves and cinnamon, cook for a minute.

2. Add onions and sauté till they begin to brown.

3. Add minced ginger, garlic, green chili, peppercorns and cashews. Cook for couple of minutes.

4. Remove from heat and it let it cool. Grind to a smooth paste with little water when completely cooled.

5. Heat remaining oil in the pot and add bay leaf and cardamom. Cook for a minute.

6. Add ground paste, corn, cilantro and mint. Cook for 3 minutes over medium heat.

7. Add drained rice and sauté for couple of minute, without breaking the grains.

8. Add 2 cups of water and salt, bring it to a boil.

9. Cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and let it simmer for 20 minutes or until the all the water is absorbed and rice is cooked.

10.Gently fluff with a fork and serve hot.

Writing Process Blog Tour

When Sonal from simplyvegetarian777 contacted me last week about the writing process blog tour, I was excited to be part of this and accepted it. Sonal has written guest posts on ELB and her blog is simply amazing with a ton of vegetarian recipes, most of them made with just a tablespoon of oil. As part of the blog tour, I was asked to answer a few questions and tag 2 other bloggers to continue this journey.

Writing Process Blog Tour Questions

1. What am i working on at the moment?  I usually don’t work on anything particular for the blog, I don’t follow any themes or trending topics. I just cook/bake by what catches my fancy and try to incorporate nutirition and fun in the process

2. How does my work differed from others of its genre? I don’t know if mine stands apart from other fabulous blogs out there. But all i can say what started as an Indian vegetarian blog has definitely diversified to explore other cuisines.

3. Why do i write what i do?  There are so many excellent recipes out there on the internet, books and magazines that are difficult to keep track of. The primary purpose of this blog was to be a digital recipe source of all my finds and my new creations, so I don’t have to keep track of my endless bookmarks.

4. How does my writing process work? I go with the flow and write about what comes to my mind. If i have an interesting story to share, i never miss it. Otherwise I like to keep it short and simple.

Now its time to introduce 2 other brilliant bloggers who will carry on the writing tour next week

Catherine from VegCharlotte- I’d be surprised if there’s anyone in Charlotte who doesn’t know this fabulous vegan blogger. Catherine is so versatile with her recipes and I bet there’s nothing that she can’t veganize. She always shares interesting stories with her recipes and I am excited for you all to check out her blog.

Priya from Sugarfreesweetheart- Priya is the sweet, charming girl behind her diabetic-friendly blog, sugarfreesweetheart. When she’s not cooking, you can find her working on her novel and writing recipes for magazines, how awesome is that?

Thank you Sonal for the lovely opportunity.

 

 

 

 

 

Brown Butter Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

Fridays deserve something special and if its a long weekend, it totally deserves something extra special like this brown butter chocolate oatmeal cookie. We are not talking about any ordinary chocolate here, it is Milky Way and I’m yet to meet someone who doesn’t like this ooey- gooey caramel chocolate goodness. Milky way is comparable to Mars in the UK and Five Star in India. So if you can’t find Milky Way where you live, use Mars or Five Star and you will enjoy the same results. This recipe uses brown butter, which is nutty and fragrant. Brown butter is made by melting butter on stove top until nutty and fragrant, the process is almost similar to making clarified butter, but less time consuming. These not so vegan cookies from Sally’s baking addiction are chewy and ooze with chocolate and caramel in every bite and because it has oats, you can even have it for breakfast;)

milk way cookies

Ingredients

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup old fashioned oats

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup brown sugar (dark or light)

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup unsalted butter

1 large egg

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1.5 cups chopped milky way ( I used dark chocolate milky way)

Method

1. Freeze the chopped milky way pieces for at least 30 minutes.

2. Melt butter in a saucepan and stir constantly till the butter begins to brown. This process may take about 10 minutes on medium heat. Transfer brown butter into a bowl and let it solidify at room temperature.

3. Cream the brown butter and sugars with an electric mixer on medium speed.

4. Add the egg and vanilla, mix well.

5. Mix in the flour, baking powder and salt.

6. Stir in the oats with a wooden spatula until the dough comes together. Chill the dough for about 30 minutes.

7. Preheat oven to 375F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

8. Roll the dough into 1 tablespoon measurement balls. Stick 2-3 pieces of frozen chocolate on top of each cookie.

9. Bake for 9-10 minutes or till the cookies are lightly brown on the edges.

10. Cool cookies in baking sheet for 5 minutes and then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.

 

 

 

 

 

Restaurant Review- Silence-Heart-Nest

Silence-Heart-Nest

Website: http://www.silenceheartnest.com/

Address: 3508 Fremont Place N, Seattle, WA 98103

Telephone: +1(206) 633-5169

Price: $ (Less than USD 10)

Cuisine type: Vegetarian/Vegan breakfast/brunch

silence heart nest

I was quite intrigued by the name when I read about this place somewhere. Turns out this is a spiritual guru Sri Chinmoy inspired restaurant and they have been in business for about 19 years, 9 of which is in their current Fremont location. We went for brunch on a Sunday with some friends and I was quite surprised by the long line outside(never seen such lines for a vegetarian place). Despite the long lines, we got our table within 10 minutes and a sari-clad waitress came to offer us water and take our order.

carrot ginger juice

I ordered an apple-ginger-carrot juice and my friends ordered carrot and kale juice. Yumjay settled for organic café Vita coffee which he said was very good. My apple ginger carrot juice arrived within 5minutes and it was absolutely divine. Judging by how fast it arrived, I doubt it was freshly made. Anyway it tasted great. I looked at the menu and was quite surprised by the number of egg-based items given that this was a guru-inspired place.Indian gurus are generally not big advocates of eggs which is said to cause hyperactivity and therefore not favorable for inner peace and meditation.

silence heart

They were willing to veganize many dishes and have a few vegan choices on the menu, so I settled for the seasonal tofu scramble with marinated vegetables which came with a huge side of seasoned potatoes and a slice of multigrain toast. The tofu scramble was delicious and the marinated seasonable vegetables which included asparagus was a delightful change. My plate was dominated by potatoes and it almost looked like potatoes were the main dish and the tofu scramble was a side which was a bit disappointing.

silence heart

Yumjay loved his huevos rancheros which also came with a pile of seasoned potatoes, 2 eggs on warm corn tortillas, black beans, home made salsa, sour cream, cheese and avocado. Our friends ordered eggs benedict and waffles which came with a side of eggs, soy bacon and of course potatoes. They gave a double thumbs down for the soy bacon which apparently was very salty and rubbery. They loved the eggs benedict smothered in hollandaise sauce.

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I noticed many people ordering sweet potato biscuits with gravy, which is what I would probably get if I were to go here again. The place is very kid friendly and they offer a variety of toys to play with which is a welcome change than just coloring sheets and crayons. Parking can be a hassle if you go late, we found a spot to park on the street at 10am on a Sunday after driving around for 10 minutes. Service was very slow, the drinks came on time and I had to walk over to the waitress and remind her that we placed our order 25 minute ago. All she had to say was they were  busy and that they will bring the food over as soon as possible.  Overall this place is a nice change from regular brunch spots but I don’t think we’d ever drive 12 miles to dine at this place, if we happen to be in the area, maybe yes.

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P.S: Yumjay insisted that I give credit to his Nokia Lumia 925 for the pictures, my iPhone was out of battery charge and had to borrow his phone for the pictures:)

10 Favorite Mother’s Day Brunch Recipes Round-up

Mother’s day is on Sunday. Brunch is a popular meal for this occasion and rightly so, who wouldn’t enjoy a big, lazy mid-morning meal with or without mimosas right? If you plan to ditch the restaurants and make a special surprise meal, here’s a list of my favorite brunch recipes which can be put together without breaking a sweat.

Source: Google Images

Source: Google Images

Chilaquiles with salsa verde- This traditional Mexican breakfast/brunch dish from Lisa Dupar’s cookbook, Fried Chicken and Champagne is one of my all-time favorites. This dish is simple, flavorful, delicious and filling.

chilaquiles

Breakfast Strata- Make-ahead casseroles are the ultimate lazy brunch treat and this recipe loaded with veggies is always a big hit.

Breakfast strata

Starbucks Chocolate Cinnamon bread- If you are going to cook for a mom who’s a big Starbucks fan, I’ve got you covered with this amazing chocolate cinnamon bread. This seasonal offering from Starbucks will definitely make your mom swoon.

chocolate cinnamon bread

Lavender Shortbread cookies- These classy, fragrant cookies would make a great addition to your brunch dessert.

Lavender shortbread cookies

Chipotle Style Vegan Tofu Sofritas- Taco/burrito bars is an easy and healthy brunch option. Sofritas can be made a day ahead and reheated just before serving.

tofu sofritas

Quinoa Carrot Cake Cookies- If you are cooking for a mom who is a health-nut, these cookies are just perfect. It is loaded with good stuff, vegan and gluten-free too.

quinoa cookie

Vegan Baked Parsnip Fries with Finger-Lime Ginger Aioli- Give the hash browns a break and make these baked parsnip fries. P.S. the vegan aioli is to die-for.

parsnip fries

Orange Chocolate Chip Muffins- If your mom is a citrus fan like me, she is sure to love these buttery, fragrant muffins.

ORANGE muffins

Vegan Savory Aebleskiver – This Indian version of the popular Danish breakfast treat paired with tomato-cilantro chutney is a scrumptious, gluten-free brunch option.

kuzhi paniyaram

Vanilla Chai Cupcakes- Cupcakes can be part of brunch, especially for a special occasion like this. This cupcake is not overly sweet and bursts with chai spices in every bite.

vanilla chai cupcakes