No Bake |Smoothies galore … and the difference between a food processor and blender #smoothies #healthy #seasonal #freshproduce

“I have more healthy cravings than my normal eating habits, like I crave fruit and cold things like smoothies.”
Kourtney Kardashian

SmooothiesSmoothies … you gotta love them. As the years pass by, the head wins over the heart. You know that it’s easier to gulp down a smoothie than chew through a buncha green leaves! And you also know that however good or bad it tastes, a well balanced, seasonal smoothie is going to do you a load of good. Headed for SmoothiesIt’s pointless waiting for the new year to come and make resolutions, so I just got the ball rolling and made them before! Post the Jaipur trip, what with all the over the top indulgence and pampering, I had but one thing on my mind, get FIT!OatsI have begun taking tiny steps. I’m eating healthier, I’m not eating out a lot, fewer food reviews, some form of exercise … and of course smoothies. I’ve also been invited to join the Fit Foodie panel on Saffola, which just gives me more reason to work towards my goal! I’ve put together a small graphic to make things easier. Play around with these three groups {not an exhaustive list} , add some yogurt, milk, buttermilk, almond milk, fruit juice or maybe water as required. I also throw in  spoon or two of oats at times.Food groups for smoothiesDo you smoothie? Here’s a bunch of recipes to set you off if you want to join in. You can find some here too. I basically go through the fridge to find what I can use and pair. Smoothies I made three versions yesterday, and surprisingly enough the persimmon one was the best. The spinach, cuke and tender coconut water was nice too. The banana smoothie we have everyday, so that was quite normal, but normal good. Such fun. The processor is such a magic machine!

Persimmon smoothieThe processor is a blessing in disguise for soups too, though the immersion blender works really well in most cases. A while ago however someone asked me what the difference was between a food processor and blender. I have both in the kitchen, and it set me thinking. Thought I’d try and answer the query here just in case you had similar questions. Hope it helps…

Food processors and blenders, what are the differences between them?

If you only have a small kitchen then you may be wondering if you really need both a blender and a food processor. The fact is that although both gadgets have blades, and a reputation for dicing and slicing, they actually have quite different uses.
If you are going to be able to do all of the jobs you need to in a kitchen the chances are you are going to want to use a blender and a food processor at some point; especially if you regularly make smoothies or soups.
When does a blender come into its own?
The shape and blades of a blender are designed to cater for soft fruit and liquids. The name really says it all; these gadgets are excellent for blending ingredients into such delights as tasty smoothies. Depending on what fittings your blender has it may be able to cope with slicing ice for use in the smoothies; this can make them into an extra special treat on a hot summer day.
These tasty additions to any menu are a great way of getting fruit into a child’s diet. You can use the pulp produced when you are juicing to create imaginative and colorful smoothies that most children will love. The shape of a blender is slender and designed to accommodate soft and liquid products, and not usually more solid produce.
What about a food processor?
If you are using liquids then it’s a good idea to stick to using your blender, but for anything more solid you should switch to a food processor. Food processors have blades that are designed for chopping and slicing.
They also have a bowl that is larger and can accommodate more solid produce. If you have vegetables that you want to reduce in to small pieces to use in a soup then a food processor is the perfect gadget to use. It can cope with all sorts of vegetables and nuts, and in no time you will have all of the ingredients you need to make as much delicious soup as you want.
Which is the best to have, a blender or a food processor?
The answer to this question is really going to depend on what you need to do most. Is it more important to you to be able to blend together liquids, making drinks and smoothies; or is it more important to you to be able to slice vegetables for soups or stews?
It may be that you need to do both. There are blenders that have blades which provide a certain amount of chopping capacity, and food processors can deal with a very small amount of liquid, but generally if you want to be able to blend and chop you are going to have to make room in your kitchen for both a blender and a food processor.

Headed for smoothiesSo I guess it’s time to SMOOTHIE! Come join me. Grab a bunch of fresh seasonal produce, pair it with a medium you like, throw in some nuts, seeds, herbs and get going. Once you’re done, what’s next? Soup maybe?

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Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India

Baking | Lime & Strawberry Cream Cake … a splash of pink in December!

“Cake is happiness! If you know the way of the cake, you know the way of happiness! If you have a cake in front of you, you should not look any further for joy!”
C. JoyBell C

Lime & Strawberry Cream CakeLime & Strawberry Cream Cake … a very simple cake made in the Philips AirFryer a few days ago. 15 minutes was all I could manage that day. There have been no desserts of late and the kids were beginning to make strange unhappy sounds. There’s been barely any ‘free time’ what with final exams on for both teens which are well underway. The cake came out surprisingly nice. Lime & Strawberry Cream CakeDidn’t take pictures of it once made as it was slightly domed and I didn’t have time to pretty it up. One bite down and I thought it was really nice. Lime and strawberries pair well. The second round of the strawberry season has finally begun here in North India. Can’t have too much of this delicious fruit.

Lime & Strawberry Cream Cake The sponge was soft but not moist as always because I whisked in the flour instead of folding it in G E N T L Y. So I didn’t get a ‘light as air’ sponge. Still it was quite soft. Interesting!

Lime & Strawberry Cream Cake The easiest way to get cake moist is to give it a good soaking with a simple sugar syrup. Love doing that when I make my pineapple cream cake. If you are doing a black forest cake, you can always reduce the syrup the cherries are canned in, and add a dash of Kirsch or lime juice to it to moisten the sponge.

Lime & Strawberry Cream Cake I thought the Lime & Strawberry Cream Cake was nice enough to share, a quick easy cake, make ahead, light and delicious. A slice was hidden away for a picture opportunity while the rest of the cake was devoured by the happy family. Lime & Strawberry Cream Cake Then late that evening the bell rang. It was the courier with the Samsung Netbook that I had won at the Del Monte recipe contest hosted at Indiblogger.  My entry was the Tropical Cream Pie. Much excitement followed and we found a candy pink gizmo. Even though I’m not a pink person, the netbook is really pretty and very handy! I ♥ it!!

Seems to be an early Christmas over and over again. I am feeling quite pampered … maybe too pampered! First the Philips AirFryer, then Finla spoilt me silly, next Mr PAB got me a Samsung S3. My sister sent me more stuff as her better half was visiting … and just when I thought I had everything and more I could ever ask for, PINK came into my life!

Lime & Strawberry Cream Cake December’s here already. A clutch of days to fly through, a year that’s been packed to the gills. So much happening in this foodie world. Oh, I forgot to tell you that I was pleasantly surprised with some fabulous tea from a beautiful tea company in China. Yes China! And yes tea! Teavirve Blurberry TeaIt’s funny because I am a 100% coffee addict and never drink tea. My first foray into tea was at the Aussie MasterChefs breakfast meet where Sangeeta talked me into sipping some lavender tea. It was wonderful. Then she got me some beautiful green tea from Darjeeling from a recent visit. Teavirve TeaThis herbal and green tea from Teavirve was a nice coincidence. In the bag were samples for green tea, and for Blueberry Fruit Tea and Apple Awakening Fruit Tea. The green tea was similar to others that I have recently sampled, but it was the Blueberry Fruit Tea that was amazing, and stole my heart. Beautiful aromas and subtle flavours of blueberry, black currant, roselle and grapes. The teen is in love with this tea!

Lime & Strawberry Cream Cake The Apple Awakening Fruit Tea is really refreshing too … teasing the palette with an intriguing combination of apple and lemon.  With such an extensive selection which can be shipped across the world, Teavirve is a great gifting option. Green, white, black, Oolong, Pu-erh, herbal, fruit, ice, organic, flavoured … the variety is endless.Teavirve Blurberry TeaTo make the range complete, Teavirve offer a stunning range of teaware too. {They offers worldwide free shipping for orders over $30 … you should check out there collection.}

Don’t miss a post Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India

Baking| Quarkauflauf – Quark Casserole with Balsamic Strawberries

“My second favorite household chore is ironing. My first being hitting my head on the top bunk bed until I faint.”
Erma Bombeck

Quarkauflauf, Quark Cassarole with Balsamic StrawberriesHappy Easter!! Sorry things have been a bit slow here on PAB. It’s been a trying past few days, with new and unwelcome terms like ‘CPU throttling‘ denting my otherwise settled life.  H E L P !! Blogging brought new technical insights for me, things I could do well without, especially throttling and WP plug-ins that mess up the database!! I am eternally grateful to my wonderful designer Katie, who is ever willing to help! Sometimes, I feel like I need a 24 X 7 helpline with all this technical mess!QuarkAs I continue to struggle with technical glitches, of course life isn’t going full throttle otherwise as we try to bring up the teens, sometimes unsuccessful even though our intentions are good. As the teen says … w h a t e v a h !!  For times like this, this dessert was comforting, like a ray of sunshine on an otherwise bleak day, a splash of colour to lift the spirits!Quarkauflauf, Quark Cassarole with Balsamic StrawberriesEver since I discovered making curd cheese or QUARK at home,  food has never been the same again. Soft cheeses like ricotta, mascarpone, quark, cottage cheese are easily made at home, and at a fraction of the cost. I did a post a while ago on making soft cheese at home. The one  I tend to make most often is quark as I love how versatile it is. It’s also very simple to make, and offers great pairing with fruit. I used it to make a Quark Cheesecake with Fresh Cherry Pie Filling , and in these no bake Cherry & Matcha Cheesecake Pots here. This no bake  Strawberry and Quark Cheesecake {eggless} is a great one for summer too. QuarkI use quark O F T E N as you see above, and in May 2010 I ‘metMagdalena over this Finish Chai Spice Pulla. On her blog I found a Polish cheesecake recipe, that used a Polish curd cheese, twaróg, and this was what I wanted to make - Kraków Style Cheesecake. My fascination with soft curd cheese continued; I had found a new one to obsess about, and I had found a sweet new food blogger! Quarkauflauf, Quark Cassarole with Balsamic StrawberriesThis is the other rewarding outcome of experimenting with quark & food blogging – ‘food talk‘. It’s wholly satisfying to blog about something I loved to make, and ever more exhilirating to make contact with another food blogger who is large hearted and equally enamoured by the ingredient! We continued to discuss culinary traditions and then one day she sent me a recipe she grew up with as quark is readily available in Germany. My mother would make it once a week and we never grew tired of it, she said.

I’ll share a little background that she sent me: When my mother had finished highschool in Germany, she went on to a school to learn more about housework, including cooking. That’s back in the day, so it does not exist anymore. She had this cookbook that explained every recipe in detail, from the simplest puddings to the most complicated meals. This is where this recipe comes from. My mother has never been a happy cook, so-to-say, but this recipe and roast chicken is definitely something that made all of us happy. That’s what she would make. Quarkauflauf, Quark Cassarole with Balsamic StrawberriesMy grandmother lived on the first floor as this was the house she also grew up in. So, she would cook the rest of the time and I would watch her happily work away in the kitchen. This is all in the small city of Mönchengladbach-Rheydt, right between Düsseldorf and the Dutch borderline, hometown of Joseph Pilates (the Pilates fitness guru). My mom still lives in the same house and when she came to visit us last year here in the US, I had just made Quarkauflauf. She very much enjoyed the leftovers and loves that I now make it for my family … as a special treat every now and then.

Quarkauflauf, Quark Cassarole with Balsamic StrawberriesIt’s been just under a year she sent the recipe to me, and then one day I had fresh quark and wanted to bake with it, and this Quarkauflauf was just the thing . Quark offers a relatively inexpensive and lower calorie option to cream cheese and there’s nothing like  making cheese freshwhen you need it! The original recipe uses cream of wheat, an ingredient not available here, so I googled and the closest I came to was semolina. It worked!!Quarkauflauf, Quark Cassarole with Balsamic Strawberries This is a lovely casserole, like a firm cheesecake. “My girls love taking it to school for lunch … it’s like having cheese cake for lunch ;-) Can it get any better than that?”, Magdalena said, and suggests that it can be eaten hot/warm as well. I wasn’t sure mine was set, so I chilled it for a couple of hours before slicing it. It was nicely set, so will be great warm too. I used seasonal strawberries softened over low heat with brown sugar and balsamic vinegar {some of which I used in Barbara’s Eggless Old fashioned Layered Chocolate Cake}.


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Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India

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