Aug 28, 2014

Watermelon Mint Lemonade

Summer is slowly winding down and you can just see the changes. The supermarkets have started putting up Fall clothes and accessories, lot of Fall sale going on and Pumpkin recipes are already doing the rounds. But I still have so many more summer recipes to share. I too late?

I always take a bunch of pics of almost everything that I cook, specially if making it the first time in the hope that if they come out tasting good then to save the recipe I’ll share it on the blog. But most often than not, they just stay in a folder designated just for my food pics on my laptop, either due to lack of time or because I forgot the recipe or the changing seasons doesn't fit for my particular recipe ;-) Imagine an icecream recipe in deep winters!! But don't be amazed if I do that....

Btw do you want to know the name of that folder where I keep all my food pics… goes…...drum rolls.....'Culinary Skills' :-P And its literally a pictorial collection of all my kitchen experiments ever since I started cooking and that would precisely be from December of 2011, the month and year that I got married…Lol! 
I’ve changed from a desktop to laptop and that too two laptops and still I copy this folder and every single pic in it from desktop to laptop to laptop…hehe! More than my family pics I treasure these as it shows exactly how I have grown as a home-cook and shows exactly what all dishes I have tried to make till now. Not all the pics are blog worthy but some of the recipes definitely are, so if I make any of them again, I’ll surely share it here.

Coming back to my summer recipes, here’s another cool and chilled drink that we enjoyed for a small get-together with our friends. We had a bbq potluck party in the middle of a working week…yeah! Thankfully I had planned ahead and did some prep work so that I wouldn't have to run around after coming home from work. I made Margherita Pizza (all from scratch), tandoori chicken and Watermelon Lemonade. My friends brought some veggie burgers and zucchini and we grilled and ate and drank and had fun inspite of having to go to office the next day! All the recipes will be shared soon, which is why I said I have so many more summer recipes to share….

Lemonade being our favorite drink of choice, I decided to make a watermelon lemonade as I had a whole watermelon that I wanted to finish. I flavored the lemonade with mint flavored sugar syrup so it had a very mild yet wonderful mint flavor as well.

My measurements for the lemonade are approximate. I had a medium sized watermelon and used the juice from 3 ripe Meyer lemons. I do not usually add a lot of sugar to my fruit based lemonades as the fruit itself will add sweetness, but again, adjust as per preference. And watermelon being juicy enough I did not add any extra water, so this lemonade’s all pure watermelon juice and lemon juice with the fresh flavor of mint! ;-) This is also a perfect make ahead recipe and drink.

I used up all the mint so had nothing left for garnish :-P

Watermelon Mint Lemonade

You’ll need
1 medium sized Watermelon
3 Meyer lemons
1 cup Mint flavored Sugar-syrup (recipe below)

Mint flavored sugar syrup
1 cup water
1 cups sugar
½ cup or handful bunch of fresh mint leaves
1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)

Make sugar syrup
Boil together water, sugar and mint leaves until the sugar dissolves. Turn off the heat and add 1 tsp vanilla extract if preferred and let the sugar syrup cool down completely. Strain out the mint leaves before using the sugar syrup.

For watermelon lemonade
1. Cut the watermelon into cubes and blend/grind them in a blender. Use a strainer to strain out the juice and discard the pulp. (I strained the watermelon juice twice for a smooth juice)
2. Squeeze out the juice from the lemons and add it to the watermelon juice.
3. Add mint-flavored sugar syrup - as much as preferred. 
(If you prefer more lemon flavor add juice from more lemons)
4. Keep the watermelon lemonade refrigerated until used and serve in a glass filled with ice-cubes for a refreshing, chilled drink!

1.The taste of any drink is as per taste preference , so feel free to add or reduce the amount of lemon juice or sugar.
2. You can just add plain sugar instead of making the sugar syrup if you prefer. But make sure to stir the drink until the sugar crystals dissolve.

I'll make sure to post all the other 'summer' recipes shortly, but seriously it doesn't have to be summer to make those anyways! 

So just for fun, do you have any kitchen pics or souvenirs that you treasure and shows your kitchen journey till now? Lets chat about it. My comment section is all yours :)


Aug 10, 2014

Mango Lemonade

A good refreshing and chilled summer drink is what I love best about summers. I love trying out the new summer drinks that the local coffee shops and juice shops comes up with during summer and I try them all. Manish loves chilled drinks, specially with lots of crushed ice in them. I prefer with less ice, but whichever way it's served, my lil'Appu can gulp them all down ;-) We are a bunch of juice lovers in the house.

Lemonade tops the chart of all our favorite summer drinks. Who doesn't love Lemonade?
I love sweet lemonade, Manish doesn't mind the salty version either. Lemonade brings back so many memories of my college days when on hot and humid days after class, my friends and I would go down to the college canteen and drinks glass after glass of sweetened cold lemonade. It was bliss and we could literally feel the cool drink pass down our throat! 
The first time when Manish and I met also we had a lemonade, so you see it brings back romantic memories as well...have I shared too much? Lol!! ;-) 

Another summer item I'm crazy about are mangoes. I've lots count of how many mangoes we've eaten this summer and I love to see my lil'Appu literally relish it. I have been wanting to try a Mango Lemonade from long and finally decided to make it for lil'Appu's 3 rd birthday party. I made a small batch just enough for myself and Manish and we loved it.

It's so vividly beautiful with that bright sunshine yellow color that the mango pulp imparts to the lemonade and it's sweet yet still very mildly lemony and tart. This lemonade will literally make your tastebuds flow and is so refreshing. It's a perfect summer drink and a pretty one too ;-) 

I don't really measure when I  make lemonade, I just keep adding lemon juice, water and sugar syrup until the taste is just right for me. But I've tried to approximate it to the best I can for this recipe. Feel free to adjust it as per taste.
I like to make a simple sugar syrup while making any fruit drinks. It makes sure there are no undissolved sugar crystals in your drink and any leftovers can be refrigerated and used later on for another drink. 
I often flavor the sugar syrup with either vanilla, mint or orange/lemon rinds for a mild yet pleasant flavor which is imparted to the main drink.

Mango Lemonade

You'll need
2 cups  fresh Lemon juice 
2 cups Mango pulp
6 cups Water
2 cups simple Sugar syrup
Plenty of Ice
Raspberries and Mint leaves for garnish

For sugar syrup
2 cups sugar
2 cups water
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Make simple sugar syrup
In a saucepan, add sugar and water and heat it until sugar completely dissolves. Add vanilla extract and turn off the heat. Allow the sugar syrup to cool.

Mango Lemonade
In a large pitcher, pour the fresh squeezed lemon juice, mango pulp and water.
Add 1 cup sugar syrup and mix well. Stir well and refrigerate for few hours. 
(Taste and add more sugar syrup if needed else more lemon juice/water)
Before serving add ice, garnish with raspberries and mint leaves and serve chilled!

1.  I've used store-bought sweetened Mango pulp (Swad brand), so I didn't have to use too much sugar syrup as the drink was sweet enough to my taste.
2.  If using fresh mangoes, then peel the mango, scoop out the flesh, grind it into a pulp along with the lemon juice. Strain and add the remaining ingredients. In this case you may need more sugar syrup to balance the sweetness depending upon how sweet the mango is.
3. Try adding sparkling water or club soda for a fizzy drink ;-)
4. You can also add mango cubes in the lemonade along with raspberries. 

I have also made mango lemonade with mint flavored sugar syrup and that tastes awesome too. Add handful of fresh mint leaves while making the sugar syrup and remove the leaves . Use this syrup while making the lemonade.  The aroma and subtle flavor of mint definitely adds a boost of flavor to the lemonade.

For Appu's 3rd b'day party I made a punch  topping the lemonade with some raspberries and ice in a punch bowl. And to go along with the Dino theme, I named it Active Volcano Punch! It was a crowd pleaser and got over so fast, I had to make it again twice during the course of the party. It looked pretty and tasted refreshing and both kids and adults enjoyed it!

I'm sure you'll love this Mango Lemonade as mush as how we do. Try it out and let me also know how you liked it :-)


Aug 3, 2014

Chicken Salad Pinwheels

We love Chicken Salad sandwiches at home, including my little 3 yr old. My younger sister, Maya is an ardent fan of chicken salad sandwiches and I must say she's the gal who introduced my family to this creamy and yumm sandwich when we were kids :-) 
I had absolutely no interest at all in cooking when I was a teenager….hehe.  Maya used to be the food experimenter at home, I preferred to be the taste-tester and mummy used to reluctantly agree to her wishes of trying something new now and then. She happened to eat a chicken salad sandwich from a friend’s house one day, got the recipe from the friend’s mom and instantly wanted to try it at home as it seemed very easy. She must have been in 6th grade then.

We did not even know this sandwich was called chicken salad sandwich back then. Maya’s sandwich recipe was simple, it had chicken pieces that was boiled in water with ginger-garlic paste, salt n pepper and pulled apart, grated carrots, mayonnaise, salt and pepper, but it was the tastiest sandwich we had ever eaten. 
Creamy, chunky and really good.  Every time daddy brought home chicken to make chicken curry we would reserve a few pieces to make our favorite chicken sandwich and I happily helped her while she made it ;-)

I learnt how to make chicken salad sandwich the way it's made here in the US after watching it on some show on Food Network. Along with cubed chicken and mayonnaise, celery, cranberries, walnuts or even grapes, herbs like dill or cilantro or parsley, sometimes even a dash of hot sauce is added in the mix and it's usually served cold.  I've tried it several times at home and must say Manish & I very much enjoy it every time and of-late our lilAppu too.

These sandwich pinwheels were just a fun idea of mine one day after I came back home from work. It was a long day and I needed to rejuvenate myself. My favorite way to de-stress is try out something new in the! I decided to make chicken salad sandwiches as that would keep me busy for a while, but then while taking out the bread I thought why not roll out the bread with a rolling pin, add the chicken salad and cut them into 1” sized pieces.

Turned out to be a fun dinner and lil’Appu and Manish totally enjoyed it and had no clue how many sandwiches they actually ate that night in the form of pinwheels  ;-) I did not trim out the crust of the bread, but you can for a better presentation and I've used whole wheat bread.

This is a fun idea for a tea-party or as an appetizer for any gathering.  Serve it cold or at room temperature. I love adding walnuts and dried cranberries for extra crunch and flavor but was out of those the day I made these, but I’ve included that in the recipe below which is how I usually always make.

You can even use tortilla or chapatis for filling the chicken salad in and roll them up and cut into pinwheels. Stick a toothpick at the end to hold it together and serve as appetizers. Bread easily sticks together at the end.

Chicken Salad Sandwich
Makes 2-3 regular sandwiches or 3 pinwheels per slice of bread ;-)

You’ll Need
2 cups boiled and diced or shredded Chicken
2 celery stalks (chopped)
½ of a Red Onion or White Onion (minced into small pieces)
¼ cup walnuts
¼ cup dried cranberries
1 Tblsp of finely chopped Cilantro or Dill leaves
1 cup Mayonnaise
½ cup thick Yogurt or Sour cream
2 Tblsp Lemon juice
Salt – to taste
Fresh ground black pepper – to taste
Red chilli powder or Paprika or Cayenne Pepper or Hot sauce – a pinch or a dash for flavor
Sandwich Bread – toasted or not as needed

1. Boil the chicken pieces (leg, thigh or breast pieces) in  water enough to immerse the pieces. Add salt and pepper and cook until the chicken is bone tender and pulls apart easily. (Occasionally I also add fresh grated ginger-garlic while boiling for more flavor)
2. In a large bowl, mix together all the other ingredients : celery, onion, walnuts, dried cranberries, cilantro/dill, mayonnaise, yogurt/sour cream, chilli powder/hot sauce and lemon juice.
3. Toss in the chicken pieces once cooled and mix everything together, add more salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste and refrigerate until the flavor sets, about 2 hrs.

For the pinwheels
1. Take a slice of bread, roll it out with a rolling pin to become thinner.
2. Spread the chicken salad on top, roll the bread slice, trim off the ends (or not) and cut into 1” thick pieces. Enjoy!

For a basic chicken salad sandwich
Serve on artisan bread or regular sandwich bread  with some lettuce and sliced tomatoes with the chicken salad spread on top, make a sandwich and enjoy with some chips and a pickle.

1. The Chicken can be boiled in chicken broth if preferred.
2. I like to use bone-in chicken as it has more flavor and pulls apart easily. If using only chicken breasts cut into small cubes.
3. Some recipes include adding Dijon mustard paste either in the chicken salad or on the bread slice , but that's your choice.
4. You can even use Rotisserie chicken.

It's a super easy recipe and trust me kids will love it as it is creamy and not spicy. I had included chicken salad sandwiches as appetizer for Appu's Dino b'day party in the shape of dinosaurs ;-) The kids loved it and it was all gone... For more flavor I spread a little ketchup on one slice, chicken salad on the other and sandwiched them up and cut into dino shapes :)