5 Super-Quick Summer Dessert Recipes for Kids

Want to put together a filling sweet treat for your little one but have no time or patience to bake a cake? I have five no-fuss dessert recipes to satisfy those unstoppable cravings.

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Satisfying your kid’s sweet tooth can be a challenge at times. Especially when you are famished after a long work-week or decluttering the home. Instead of reaching out for the chocolate bar or candy, try some of these easy recipes that you can whip up in a jiffy. With a little bit of pre-planning, you will be able to put these together in a few minutes. Most of the recipes are nutrient-rich for guilt-free indulgence.

Fresh Mango Sorbet
A quick recipe, especially for the upcoming mango season. Avoid adding sugar by selecting the sweetest variety of mango available in your local market.

Ingredients
3 cups chopped mango
½ cup pineapple juice
½ cup milk
1 tbsp sugar or honey (optional)

Method
Freeze mango chunks overnight in the freezer. Place the frozen mango pieces and pineapple juice into the blender. If the mango pieces aren’t sweet enough, add a bit of sugar or honey. Halfway through the blending add milk. You can use almond milk instead of regular milk. Scoop into your children’s favourite ice-cream bowls. Top up with freshly chopped mango.

Lemon Strawberry Chia Pudding
Surprise your kids with this bright coloured dessert after a long day at school. Packed with nutrients from chia seeds and dates, this is a delicious pudding for both you and children to enjoy together.

Ingredients
1 cup fresh strawberries
1 cup milk
2 tbsp chia seeds
2 dates
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest

Method
Blend the strawberries, milk, and dates until smooth. You can replace dates with sugar or honey. You can substitute the regular milk with yoghurt, almond or coconut milk. Whisk in the chia seeds, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Pour into individual serving cups and refrigerate overnight or at least for six hours before serving. If your kids do not prefer the texture of chia seeds, blend the seeds along with the strawberries in the first step.

Instant Choco Mousse
This recipe is especially for your impatient chocolate-loving munchkins. It can be whipped up in minutes and served at room temperature.

Ingredients
1 cup marshmallows
1 ½ cups dark chocolate
3 tbsp butter
3 tbsp hot water
1 cup whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla extract

Method
In a double boiler put the marshmallows and let them melt. Add the butter, dark chocolate and water. After the chocolate and butter liquify, stir everything together. Keep aside to cool. Whip the chilled cream and vanilla extract together, till the mixture forms stiff peaks. Gently fold the cooled chocolate mixture into the cream and set in individual glasses. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

Crunchy banana-chocolate pops
Who doesn’t love banana? Prepare these pops as a healthy birthday party treat or to fuel the kids up after a swim or dance class.

Ingredients
2 bananas
4 ice-candy sticks
2 tbsp chopped nuts (peanuts, almonds, cashews)
½ cup dark chocolate

Method
Melt the dark chocolate in the microwave or double boiler and pour it into a tall glass. Dry roast and spread the chopped nuts on a plate. If your child is allergic to nuts, replace it with sprinkles or granola. Cut the banana into two halves. Insert the popsicle sticks to the wider end. Dip the banana into the chocolate mixture and shake off the excess. Roll the chocolate covered banana around the nuts. Refrigerate for 15-20 minutes till the chocolate hardens and serve.

Apple Coconut Barfi
Make barfis healthier by using fruits, fresh coconut, and homemade ghee. It can be packed into your kid’s lunch box or given as a snack with her glass of milk.

Ingredients
3 cups grated apple
1½ cup grated coconut
1 cup milk powder
½ cup sugar
3 tbsp ghee
2 tbsp chopped nuts
A pinch of cardamom powder
A pinch of salt

Method
Grease a baking tray or plate with ghee and keep aside Dry roast the grated coconut on low flame till it gives out a nutty aroma. Heat ghee in another pan and cook the grated apple till most of the moisture evaporates. Toss in the coconut, milk powder, sugar, cardamom powder, and salt. Mix well. Stir the mixture continuously for around 10 minutes till ghee starts oozing out from the sides, and the mix comes together to form a fudgy mass. Set this mix in the greased tray and smoothen it out with a spoon. Sprinkle the chopped nuts and let it come down to room temperature. Cut into squares and store in an airtight container.

Check out my post on Parent Circle.com
https://www.parentcircle.com/article/5-superquick-summer-dessert-recipes-for-kids/

Christmas Pudding

While we enjoy gorging on plum and fruit cakes during Christmas, the steamed pudding has its own charm. Served with some custard, it becomes a wonderful dessert after a hearty Christmas lunch. Here is an eggless and non-alcoholic version for everyone to enjoy. Check out my Christmas specials feature on Parent Circle.com https://www.parentcircle.com/article/supereasy-christmas-dessert-recipes/

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Ingredients

All-purpose flour- ⅓ cup
Breadcrumbs – ¼ cup
Muscovado / Dark Brown sugar- ⅓ cup
Curd – 2 tbsp
Unsalted Butter- ⅓ cup
Baking Powder – 1 tsp
Grape Juice – ½ cup
Black Raisins – ½ cup
Chopped Dates – ½ cup
Chopped Dried Prunes- ½ cup
Tutti-Frutti- ½ cup
Cinnamon powder- two pinches
Clove powder – one pinch
Grated Apple –  ½
Zest of one orange
Zest of one Lemon
Juice of 1 lemon
Honey – 1 tsp
Salt – a pinch

Method:

  • Soak the raisins, dates and prunes in grape juice for 24 hours in the refrigerator.
  • Grease and line a pudding mould or a deep bowl with parchment paper.
  • Powder the muscovado or dark brown sugar in the blender.
  • Beat the butter and sugar until creamy. Add the curd and mix well.
  • Now incorporate the steeped dried fruits with the grape juice, tutti-frutti, cinnamon powder, clove powder, grated apple, honey, sugar, lemon juice, orange and lemon zest into the mix. Stir in breadcrumbs.
  • Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into the wet mixture. Mix well.
  • Press it into the mould and steam it for three hours on low-medium heat.
  • On Christmas day, steam again for an hour. De-mould it and serve with some custard.

Holiday Biscotti

Biscottis are perfect make-ahead Christmas treats. Make a large batch for a festive tea or coffee-time accompaniment over the holiday season. Check out my Christmas specials feature on Parent Circle.com https://www.parentcircle.com/article/supereasy-christmas-dessert-recipes/

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Ingredients
All-purpose flour- 2½ cups
Sugar – 1 cup
Eggs – 2
Unsalted Butter- 6 tbsp
Dried Cranberries – 1 cup
Chopped Pistachios – 1 cup
Tutti-Frutti – 1 cup
Whole Fennel seeds – 1 tbsp
Vanilla Extract – 1 tbsp
Zest of one orange
Baking Powder – 1 ½ tsp
Salt – a pinch

Method

  • Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease and line a large baking tray.
  • Beat butter and sugar until creamy. Add one egg at a time and beat again.
  • Mix in orange zest, vanilla, and fennel seeds.
  • Sift flour, baking powder and salt.
  • Throw in the cranberries, pistachio and tutti-frutti and mix well.
  • Transfer the sticky dough to a well-floured work surface.
  • Gather it together and form two logs and place them on the tray next to each other keeping enough space to let them flatten out while baking
  • Bake them for 30 minutes. Let them cool for around 8-10 minutes.
  • Now take a sharp knife and cut diagonally into ½ inch slices and re-bake them for 15 minutes.
  • Place the biscottis on a cooling rack. Store in airtight containers.

Puffed Rice Reindeers

Involve your kids while making these cuties. Adding marshmallows keeps the treats chewable, yet crunchy. You can replace puffed rice ( charmuri, murmura or pori) with Rice Krispie cereal for even more crunch. Once you prepare the base of this recipe you can create a lot of fun shapes and decorate it your way. Best way to keep your kids engaged is to let them get creative with the shapes. This is a fun recipe. Make sure having lots of fun is your main focus. Don’t worry about perfect shapes or patterns 🙂 

Check out my Christmas specials feature on Parent Circle.com https://www.parentcircle.com/article/supereasy-christmas-dessert-recipes/

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Ingredients
Puffed rice or Rice Krispie cereal – 2 cups
Marshmallows – 2 cups
Unsalted butter- 2 tbsp
Vanilla Essence – 1 tsp
Candy Eyes
Cadbury Gems
Milk Chocolate – ½ cup
White chocolate – small piece
Lollipop sticks

Method

  • Grease a square-shaped baking tray or dish.
  • Melt the butter on low flame. Add marshmallows and let them melt completely.
  • Turn off the flame and add puffed rice or Rice Krispie cereal into it and mix well
  • Immediately transfer the mixture to the square tray and press well using a greased spoon.
  • Use a sharp knife and cut into squares.
  • Melt milk chocolate carefully in the microwave or double boiler and put into a small plastic piping bag. Follow the same process with the white chocolate. Snip a small hole at the end of both the bags.
  • Put a little white chocolate on the end of the lollipop stick carefully push it into a puffed rice square while still a little warm. Similarly, prepare the other squares.
  • Using the white chocolate as glue, stick on the candy eyes and gems making sure you have a few red nosed ones to indicate they are Rudolph – Santa’s favourite reindeer.
  • Pipe on the antlers using melted milk chocolate.
  • Let the chocolate harden completely before packing it away in airtight containers.

A Muslim wedding in London

While a wedding in London sounds all glitzy and glamorous this wasn’t a typical London wedding we are talking about. A small quiet Muslim family wedding in the suburbs of London. Farah’s requirements were very specific and the end results of her wedding were gorgeous pictures of her and Rizwan at the City Hall. Loved shooting her getting ready pictures but i only wish she had smiled more. Maybe I should have directed more?

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Farah-Rizwan Farah-Rizwan

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Farah-Rizwan

Diwali 2015 – Besan Laddoo

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Diwali prepping is one of those things that never seems to end. The biggest festival of the year for us Indians. After Dusshera, it has just been busy, busy, busy. Deep cleaning, organizing and giving away old stuff to charity. Today I finally started preparing the sweets. Last evening the electrican Bharat and I put up the twinkling lights up and the house looked so festive. There is something about Diwali. 🙂

Always start good things on a sweet note. I bought the ingredients required to make our family favourite – Besan Laddoo. Had posted a recipe for the same earlier, but this one’s even more delicious and a melt-in-the-mouth version of the same. I have skipped the semolina completely and replaced it with roasted almonds for the crunch. To make around 40 big laddoos you will need the following:

Ingredients

Besan – 1kg
Powdered Sugar (or Bhura) – 750 gms
Ghee – 500 gms
Cardamom powder – 3 tbsp
Slivered Almonds – 4 tbsp (optional)
Raisins for garnish

Method:

Heat around 3/4th portion of the ghee in a large heavy bottomed pan and let it melt. You can use the remaining ghee to moisten the mix later while forming the laddoo.

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Keep the flame on medium high and add in the pre-sieved besan and start folding it in gently.

Now roll up your sleeves and be ready to get some serious arm workout while roasting the besan, till a sweet nutty aroma fills the kitchen.

There are three stages to this roasting process. The first stage is the one where you will need a lotttttt of patience as you struggle to roast the dense, heavy gooeyness. You will know when you reach stage 2 as the mix suddenly starts feeling lighter on the spatula. It gets easier to keep going to stage 3 when the colour changes to golden brown and a little ghee starts leaving the edges of the pan.

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When the besan is almost ready, add in the slivered almonds and let them fry in the mixture making them deliciously crunchy. I have left the skin on. You can blanch and skin the almonds if you prefer.

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Now transfer the contents into a big mixing bowl and add the cardamom powder. Let the besan mixture cool down till its just warm enough to touch.

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Once it reaches to this stage, add in the powdered sugar and mix well. Use your hands for best results 🙂

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If you use ‘Bhura’ sugar it is even better. Gives it a yummier texture and taste.

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Anyway, once the sugar is well incorporated, you can start shaping the laddoos. A medium-sized ice cream scoop comes in handy to pick the right amount for similar-looking laddoos. Top each laddoo with a raisin for garnish. You can replace the raisins with pistachios. If your mix is dry add some of the remaining ghee. On the other hand, if you have added a little too much ghee in the beginning  it could make the laddoos collapse slightly into a peda-ish shape when you keep it down to set. The warmth of your hand is constantly melting the ghee while shaping. Fret not. Don’t over-shape. It will only make it less manageable. Form into rough roundels and let it set.  After 20-30 minutes of resting phase you can re-shape them into round laddoos. An indication of the right time is when the shine on the laddoos are replaced by dullness. Don’t let it set completely before re-shaping.

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And of course, make sure you have turned on your favourite music before sitting down to shape the ladoos. It will take a while to get the job done if you made a big batch like me. Sing along, be in a good mood and think of nice things. You will be distributing those ladoos to a whole lot of family members and friends. Let your positive vibes get into each ‘golden globe’ 🙂

Have a happy happy Diwali 🙂 🙂

Fried Modak for Ganesh Chaturti / Chauti

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Ganapati or Ganesha is one of the most loved Hindu gods.  My childhood stories often involved him and his funny adventures. Stories passed down generations talk about his love for food. Chaturti or his birthday is therefore a celebration of food in all its glory. Sweets, savoury, cripsy, various kinds of culinary delights are prepared to please him and his ravenous appetite. Every state in India has their version of his favorite birthday food.  Being a Mumbaikar no Chaturti is complete for me without preparing the famous Modak. Modaks are sweet coconut and jaggery filled dumplings that can be steamed or fried. The steamed version is made with a cover of rice flour, while the fried one is made of whole wheat flour. Whichever version is made, the offering is generally given in odd numbers.

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I have made 21 this time. 11 large ones and 11 tiny ones for the tiny tot in the family, Daivik.

I struggled for the last 5 years with the rice flour version. It becomes yummy, but the shape was never quite right 😦 If you struggle with them too,  I would highly recommend you to try this version. So simple and pretty to look at.

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To begin, first prepare the dough, as it needs around 15-20 minutes of resting.  Knead 3 cups of flour, salt and warm water to a stiff dough. Once the dough is almost ready , add around 2 thsps of ghee and knead further to a shiny finish. Cover and leave it to rest.

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To prepare the filling freshly grate an entire coconut or use a cup and half of frozen coconut (thawed). In a saucepan roast around a tsp of poppy seeds and sesame seeds. Add around 1.5 cups of grated or chopped organic jaggery. I chose the darker colored jaggery. Once the jaggery melts, add the coconut and turn off the flame. Finish with a pinch of ground cardamom. Let this filling cool down a bit but not completely.

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To assemble, roll out little discs or puris. I used a cookie cutter for uniform modak sizes. Place the filling in the center. Pinch the ends of the puri like the pictures below and gather all the ends forming a dumpling.

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Deep fry the prepared dumplings in medium hot oil. Offer them to ganesha and enjoy with family after his puja. Happy Birthday Ganapti 🙂

 

Merry Berry Cobbler

A new friend we met via Leo (Yes dogs can be a reason to make new friends) from one of his  off-leash parks date was visiting me over the weekend for coffee. I wanted to bake something simple with three things in my mind.

  • Bake under one hour
  • Cool off just enough so that it is still warm and gooey
  • Eggless as my friend doesn’t consume eggs.

Food Network is basically food porn for me. I generally don’t note any recipes. Just look at all saliva-inducing food and wish I was eating that instead of a bowl of leftover dinner. But there are times when a recipe hits the spot and you remember every single ingredient, such as this cobbler recipe. This easy version of a fruit cobbler was something I have been meaning to try for a while. So this was the perfect occasion.

As the rules with baking go measurements are the most important aspect. Just remember equal portions of everything. Since it was just for the two of us, I used 1/2 a cup of all ingredients. I started off melting 1/2 cup of unsalted butter, in a mixing bowl, then put in 1/2 cup of sugar, 1/2 cup of self-raising flour and 1/2 cup of milk. Whisked it well and poured it into a greased baking tray.

I then topped it with the frozen berries we had in the freezer. Before topping them, I rinsed and patted the berries dry. After that, I sprinkled on some more granulated sugar before putting it into a pre-heated oven at 375 degrees F for 40 minutes.

Bake for longer if you are using more than 1/2 cup measurements. And sprinkle more sugar if you want a nice top crust. Don’t overcrowd the berries.

This is a perfect sweet fix to chat over coffee. A dollop of whipped cream would have added more yumminess but also the calories which we both didn’t need. It is one of those easy breezy recipes that can go in the oven while you quickly hide the scattered books, tea cups from last night and random wires before your friend pops over.

Easy Canapés

Had spotted cute little toasties in Fred Meyer last weekend. They are bite-sized (with almost the Indian rusk kind of texture) that can be topped with almost anything you have in your kitchen and still look fancy. The other one I picked up was a loaf of mini Pumpernickel bread which is a slightly sweeter version of Rye bread.
Here is what the Curried Chickpeas on Mini White Toasts looked like and if you scroll down you shall spot the Cream Cheese with Chives on Mini Pumpernickel bread. Looks nice?

For curried chickpeas on toast, take one can or a cup of cooked chickpeas and crush it roughly with a masher or a spoon. Add 1/4 cup of plain yogurt, a little olive oil, cumin powder, coriander powder, curry powder, minced garlic, salt and pepper. Squeeze in the juice of half a lemon and add finely chopped coriander. Combine the mixture and set aside till your guests are about to arrive.

Spoon in tiny portions of this into the toasts and add a disc of any salady vegetable to give a fresh bite. I used slices of a mini radish. You can use celery or cucumbers instead. A tiny coriander leaf completes the look.

For the cream cheese and chives version, mix light cream cheese with freshly chopped chives. Spread it on the slices. Add a slice of cucumber and place some chives on top.

 

If there were enough seafood lovers in the party, I would have loved to add some smoked salmon on top of the cucumber. Also, if you dont find fresh chives you can replace it with equally complementing fresh dill.
The good part about both these party snacks are they are easy on your waist and are fairly budget-friendly. So go on and try these for your next party.
The cucumber and chive add a zing to the cream cheese base
Make sure you line them up properly unlike me!!
Ignore the messy arrangement. I should have lined them properly!

Homemade Strawberry-Rhubarb jam

Homemade Strawberry-Rhubarb jam

Homemade Strawberry-Rhubarb jam

Last weekend I organized a baby shower for my dear friend in Seattle, Tina. When Tina broke the news about their baby and shared her first trimester ultrasound picture, I knew I have to throw her the best shower.

Tina has always reminded me of my sister Akki. They are so similar in nature. Very very caring, nurturing, looking out for you and at the same time super-intelligent and practical. I missed out on putting together a shower for my sister being so far away. So doing this for Tina, was almost like arranging one for Akki.

As return favors, I wanted to put together a DIY project. Canning procedures have always fascinated me. I would sit for hours in my grandma’s kitchen during our school holidays and watch her painstakingly canning spicy mango pickles in the hot summers of Mangalore. Amma would store some in large barnis for the home and the rest in sterilized jars for us and my cousins to take back home. We would eat these amazing pickles – Moodi Uppad (whole raw baby mangoes in a spicy mix) and Kochhidina Uppad (finely chopped raw mango in the yummiest spice mix) with watery Ganji (Rice served with the water it is cooked in) in the monsoon season where our staple fish diet would be affected by the lack of fishing activities.

Although making jams and pickles are often considered as a ‘Grandma’ activity for its lengthy procedures and patience required, I often enjoy them when I have some ‘me time’ on Saturdays. It is very relaxing. So the Saturday before the shower, I turned on some music, put all the ingredients together and made this jam.

Strawberries were the primary ingredient as they were the safest bet for a first time experiment. To make it a little more special, I added two cups of chopped Rhubarb as well.

To make a dozen of 1/2 pint jars of jam, I took around 6 cups of chopped fruit. 2 cups of rhubarb and 4 cups of strawberry. You must measure the fruits as you need equal amounts of sugar. So 6 cups of sugar in my case. In a pot, put the chopped fruit and half the sugar. No water is required.

The fruit breaks down in the pot and releases enough water of its own. Keep stirring it occasionally and let it come to rolling boil and let it boil for 5 minutes. Remove the white scum that forms on top. This is very crucial or else you might get white streaks in your jam. It is very simple to do it. Just scoop it out with a clean ladle.

After 5 minutes of the rolling boil and scum removal,  add around 2 thsps of freshly squeezed lemon juice and the rest of the sugar. Many add an ingredient called Pectin at this stage. But I wanted  this batch chemical free. Just pure jam. The lemon juice helps the jam set well, so you don’t really need the Pectin. Now let it come to a rolling boil again. Once it is on the roll ;), let it boil for 10 more minutes on the timer. Turn off the stove. Remove the remaining scum. The jam is ready.

Let it cool in the pot for ten minutes before pouring it in sterilized jars.

Sterilizing the jars:
This step is very important to store the jam for upto a year. You need to sterilize every single jar and tools including the ladle to pour in the jam for 10 minutes in hot water. An easier option is put them in the dishwasher and let the heated dry procedure do the magic. Canning jars are easily available online. I ordered mine from Amazon of course 😉