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Chocolate -Orange Skillet Brownies & 7th blog anniversary

Happy birthday blog! 

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It is my blog’s 7th anniversary today and funny enough I almost forgot about it. Like relationships that we take for granted as time passes by, I have started to take my blog for granted. Hardly giving it the attention and care it deserves. How easily I forgot that this was where it all started – my creative life, the food journey, the writing and ultimately the digital business. In all the years that I wrote my blog regularly, I never suffered a writers’ block or never felt the lack of creative ideas. Now that I am doing it lesser and lesser, pool of ideas is growing shallower and for the first time since my birth as a writer ( or atleast I would like to think so about myself) I am struggling to form sentences. Feelings that are trapped inside have difficulty finding expression in words. 

I don’t know if I am in a position right now to make any blog related resolutions but I hope to be more regular at blogging and baking ( another joy of my life).

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The skillet orange & chocolate brownies were supposed to be a Valentine’s special post but as usual, I couldn’t blog about it then. So I take this chance to share with you recipe of the Skillet Orange and Chocolate brownies which are fudgey and is child’s play to whip up. Literally.

Mimi made this on-the-go with little guidance from me. I couldn’t be prouder. 

 Recipe is as follows-

Ingredients –

100 gms butter
100 gm dark chocolate, broken into pieces
2 large eggs at room temperature
175 gm sugar
1 large orange, zested
50 gm all purpose flour
25 gm cocoa powder
half cup chocolate chips ( milk or dark chocolate)
 
Procedure-
Beat the egg and sugar till the mixture is pale and doubles its volume
Heat the oven at 180 C
Warm the chocolate, butter and orange zest in a non-stick sauce pan and gently melt the contents. Do not over heat it else the chocolate will burn and give a bitter taste. Let it cool.
Once the chocolate mixture is cool, add it to the egg and sugar mixture by folding it in gently. 
Sift the all purpose flour and the cocoa powder to the mixture and mix well with gentle hands.
Pour it in a greased iron skillet  and generously add chocolate chips on it. 
Bake for 30 mins at 180 C and 10-15 min at 160 C
Serve it hot with some vanilla ice cream or it is deliciously gooey just by itself 

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Happy 6th Blog Anniversary with a baked Mango Cheesecake

This is my 414th post.

Never realized that taking baby steps can take you so far. 6 years don’t seem so long but statistics on my blog tell me that it has been quite a while. There have been times I have celebrated this space and more than often I have neglected it too. But this space of mine has never really been out of my conscious. This blog gave me an identity in a foreign land and allowed me to express my thoughts in the way I wanted. Sometimes I  cared who read my blog and most times, I wrote only for myself. It has been in sync with my life objectives and most times a complete paradox. This blog is an extension of me. 

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This space has challenged me to attempt things I never thought I would do. I have baked a pavlova, kneaded dough to make bread, used ingredients in recipes I couldn’t really pronounce and written food stories my memories. This space which I call my blog, made me think about myself in a life that was always about what others wanted, it allowed to me hone my skills as a cook, a writer, a baker, a photographer and a food stylist. 

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It made me a social person, who was unafraid to meet people and face unknown situations. This blog gave me that confidence. It took care of me like I took care of it. It gave even when I didn’t- like the numerous opportunities to work with creative people of words and pictures. 

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Six years of all this wonderful moments can’t be encapsulated in one blog post and that is why I have several blog posts after this one where I collaborate with some wonderful brands to reward my readers for being with me for so long. Last year I had a world wide giveaway but this time I am going to restrict it to Bahrain as a way of saying thank you for all the wonderful opportunities you sent my way; whether it was restaurant reviews or connecting with my other blogger friends, recipe development, food styling assignments and so much more. Thank you, Bahrain.

So readers in Bahrain, over the course of the next few weeks, 3 of you would have would have won a generous hamper each from Lulu Hypermarket’s “good life” products and another 3 of you would have have an Italian buffet for two from Marriott Executive Apartments.  Thank you Lulu Hypermarket and Marriott Executive Apartments for collaborating with my blog and being so generous. More details to follow in individual posts.

Meanwhile, in this post, I would like to share a beautiful, flavourful, Mango cheese cake recipe. I believe a cheese cake is for all seasons and perhaps that is why I selected it to showcase on my anniversary post. My blog has been wonderful to me through seasons and only something as evergreen as a cheese cake would do to celebrate the 6th anniversary.

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Also, if you are wondering about this beautiful cake plate, I must tell you where I got it from. It was a gift from Silsal Design House – which is leading producer of home accessories, furnishings and light furnishings. Silsal Design House’s USP lies in its contemporary yet Middle Eastern touch in all its designs. They are based out of Kuwait, UAE, Jordan, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. I love this green cake plate for its elegant design and unique patterns. You can check out all the other beautiful creations from Silsal Design House and even order it online! 

Now for the recipe of the Mango Cheese cake. This is the first time I attempted a baked cheesecake and might I add that I was nervous about how it would turn out. Thankfully, it turned out wonderful and I feel excited about baking more baked cheese cakes in the future. 

Mango Cheese Cake
Serves 12
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Prep Time
45 min
Cook Time
1 hr 25 min
Prep Time
45 min
Cook Time
1 hr 25 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 1/2 cups digestive biscuits, crushed into crumbs
  2. 1/2 cup sugar
  3. 6 tablespoons butter, melted
  4. 4 large ripe mangoes, cubed and pureed
  5. 685 gm packages cream cheese, softened
  6. 1 1/4 cups sugar
  7. 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  8. 4 large eggs
Instructions
  1. 1. Stir together the digestive biscuits crumbs, sugar and butter in a bowl; press into bottom of a 9-inch springform pan. Bake at 325º/ 162.7 C for 12 minutes. Remove from oven, and set aside to cool
  2. Puree the mangoes in a blender. With an electric mixer, beat cream cheese, 1 1/4 cups sugar, and vanilla essence until fluffy. Beat in eggs 1 at a time, mixing it well and finally stir in the mango puree.
  3. Pour batter into prepared crust. Bake at 325º / 165 C for 1 hour and 25 minutes. After the alloted time, test if the cheese cake is cooked in the center. If find it is still a bit raw, allow the cheese cake to continue baking in the heat of the oven after you switched off the oven for atleast another 10-15 minutes.
  4. Cool in pan on a wire rack 1 hour.
  5. Cover and refrigerate for 8 hours.
Sliceofmylyfe - a Food blog based in Bahrain http://www.sliceofmylyfe.com/

 All photographs courtesy : Sushil S

The Diabetes -Friendly Dessert Series with Aster Medical Centre – Baked Apple fries

Apple baked fries

With so many Indian diabetes-friendly dessert at one go, I began to miss baking. The mad baker in me started to get restless and I knew I needed to do a diabetes friendly bake for sure. I was  certain that the recipe that I would develop will also use something seasonal. The weather in Bahrain is just perfect now with the winters setting in slowly bringing with it mesmerizing sunsets and great vegetable and fruit produce. Apples are my absolute favourite when it comes to fruit baking and I wanted to create a dessert that was very simple, delicious yet low calorie. 

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If you  are anything like me,  you must be someone who loves to munch stuff on the go. I need to eating something or the other while I am working, reading or even doing household chores. I try and steer clear from processed foods as much as possible and prefer munching on nuts, seeds and fruits. But sometimes even that gets boring, so I try and bake something that ticks all the boxes for taste, effort and makes for guilt-free munching. These baked apple fries definitely fall in that category.

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Before I get into the recipe, I would like to introduce you to a very special ingredient –

Coconut nectar

It comes from the sweet sap that results from tapping the thick flowering stems of the coconut blossom.  This sap is further evaporated at low temperatures, producing a raw, low glycemic and nutrient-rich pourable syrup. Low glycemic sweeteners are better choices for most people, but they are especially good for diabetics and those wanting to lose excess body weight.  This is because they don’t create blood sugar spikes and don’t cause addictive eating behaviors and cravings soon afterwards. (source)

I bought my coconut nectar from Al Jazeera supermarket in Bahrain. I am sure all the other leading super markets may have it too. I add it to my oatmeal ( but sparingly), use it in my bakes and sweeten my yogurt when I am craving desserts at night. Even if you are not diabetic, I would highly recommend that you use this alternate sweetener.

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This post is a part of the 7 , diabetes-friendly dessert series for Aster Medical Center. I have joined their campaign to halt the diabetes epidemic that seems to be striking anyone and everyone, regardless of age or lifestyle. To view my previous posts, click on the links. I created diabetes-friendly shrikhand, dates peda and protein burfi for Aster Medical Center to show my support. You can show your support too by following their campaign – #AsterAgainstDiabetes on Facebook, Twitter , Instagram

There is also a FREE diabetes check up happening at Lulu Hypermarket in Dana Mall on the Nov 19/20/21 Thu/Fri/Sat between 6 pm to 9 pm. Make sure you do not miss this opportunity and get a check up done by the experts at Aster Medical Center.

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Now the recipe-

The Diabetes -Friendly Dessert Series with Aster Medical Centre – Date Peda

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As per the recent statistics published by the Ministry of Health, in Bahrain, 70% of the population is overweight or obese out of which 25% are school children. This kind of information really stresses me out because obesity is the first trigger for type 2 diabetes.  Both my husband and my daughter are extremely fond of sweets and desserts and during festival season it is difficult to limit consumption of these sugar -laden goodies. With the promise of going sugar -free this Diwali, I developed several delicious Indian sweets that can be enjoyed guilt -free. I have to thank Aster Medical Center for the opportunity.  Aster Medical Center is devoting the entire month of November towards their campaign called #AsterAgainstDiabetes. 

To take a look at my previous diabetes -friendly recipe, go here.

To follow Aster Medical on social media and their campaign against diabetes, you can follow them – #AsterAgainstDiabetes – Facebook, Twitter , Instagram

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There is so much information on the internet about Diabetes and how to counter it but the only way to make sure you are taking the right kind of precautions is to get regular check ups done – the blood glucose test. 

So why take a blood glucose test?

A blood glucose test measures the amount of a type of sugar, called glucose, in your blood. Glucose comes from carbohydrate foods. It is the main source of energy used by the body. Insulin is a hormone that helps your body’s cells use the glucose. Insulin is produced in the pancreas and released into the blood when the amount of glucose in the blood rises. Normally, the blood glucose levels increase slightly after we eat. This increase causes your pancreas to release insulin so that your blood glucose levels do not get too high. Blood glucose levels that remain high over time can damage your eyes, kidneys, nerves, and blood vessels.

In our sedentary lives, where processed foods are so easily available and consumed, this explanation should serve us as a reminder always that each one of us, regardless of our genetic disposition and age is equally susceptible to Diabetes.

(Information courtesy: Aster Medical Center)

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 For this 7- recipe diabetes -friendly dessert recipe series for Aster Medical Center, I tried and developed recipes around using natural alternatives to processed sugar which are not only healthy but also quite great to taste. Perhaps even better than their original versions with sugar.

Dates peda uses the natural sweetness from the dates and takes no time at all to come together. It is a microwave -based recipe which makes life so so easy.

The recipe is as follows

Dates Peda
Yields 12
It is sugar-free and ghee-free Indian sweet and hence makes it a low -calorie dessert
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Prep Time
17 min
Cook Time
8 min
Total Time
25 min
Prep Time
17 min
Cook Time
8 min
Total Time
25 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 cup paneer/ cottage cheese ( I used the frozen variety from the market)
  2. 3/4th cup dates paste ( I used the ready made with no sugar)
  3. Alternately, you can soak a cup and a half of dates overnight and drain water to make a fine paste the next day
  4. 1/2 cup warm milk
  5. sprinkling of cinnamon and nutmeg
  6. Crushed nuts to decorate
Instructions
  1. Crumble the paneer as finely as possible in a microwave safe bowl
  2. Take the date paste and mix it well with the paneer. I used my hands to knead it well.
  3. If you are using whole dates to make a paste, you can simply toss the paneer and dates into the food processor and grind it together into a fine paste.
  4. With the ready made dates paste recipe, you need to add warm milk little by little to get a dough with loose consistency.
  5. Now microwave it on high in spurts of 2.5 minutes. Every 2.5 minutes take the bowl out, mix the ingredients well with a spatula and add cinnamon and nutmeg.
  6. Get it back into the microwave for another 2.5, get it out, stir.
  7. Then put it back for another 3 minutes and remove it. The dough should be of a pliable consistency.
  8. It will be very hot, so be careful. But do not allow it to be cool because you will not be able to shape them otherwise.
  9. Finally, shape them into peda -shapes ( oval/round) and decorate with crushed nuts.
  10. The dates peda stays well and there is no need to refrigerate it.
Sliceofmylyfe - a Food blog based in Bahrain http://www.sliceofmylyfe.com/
 Aster Medical Center has a free diabetes health check up camp at Lulu Hypermarket today and tomorrow (14th and 15th of Nov) between 6 pm to 9 pm. Make sure do not miss this opportunity and get yourself checked. 

Check back on my blog in two days time for my next diabetes -friendly recipe, until then, take care!

Rant & a soya mince – peas stir fry

Rant alert! 

You know that feeling when everything is spinning out of control despite your best effort? We all go through our fair share of troubles in our personal and professional lives. Then you try harder to control it by switching gears, changing direction and honking constantly, yet the derailment is imminent. What do you do, when it is all flailing arms, despair and utter confusion? 

I understood two simple things-Wait for the storm to pass and life goes on. 

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Come to think of it, there are so many struggles and choices we face everyday. The struggle of striking that work-life balance, of finding that balance between finding time for yourself versus rest of the world, choices relating to eating healthy etc.

Life of an entrepreneur is extremely demanding and I always find myself struggling to balance my time for everything. I feel I am rushing all the time and sometimes ( well, most of the time) it is quite overwhelming. Food choices suffer because of this rushed state of mind. Not to mention all the food tastings and restaurant reviews I have to do. I keep making resolutions about cutting down sugar, exercising and I find myself steering away from it quickly. I fall for what is convenient and NOT what is beneficial. The most worrying part is, I do not feel guilty anymore. I find some excuse or the other to justify my indulgence and complete lack of discipline. Eating at odd hours has become a norm and desserts are an every day affair. I have sort of developed an addiction to sugar which is very, very disturbing. When I do not get my fair share of sugar each day, I grow irritable and cranky. An immediate infusion of sugar in any form quickly transforms me from a maniac witch to a fairy godmother. The transformation post sugar, is remarkable.

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One of my recent pictures was an eye-opener for me. I rarely spend time in front of the mirror to assess my deteriorating state. But it caught me off-guard when I saw a random picture of mine clicked my someone else. I could see how different I was in my head vis-a-vis for real. Hence, I knew I have to act fast before it was too late. Plus coming from a family with all kinds of medical history, doesn’t help.

So I have decided to officially end my hedonistic food lifestyle and really take a closer look at how I am going to transform it. I believe I need to do this not just for my sake but also for my daughter who is absorbing everything that she sees. 

I have started  gym schedule with a trainer that is more endurance focused. I also have a diet plan. Mind you, it is not for the weak of heart – this diet plan. It is quite extreme and I need to be on it for 6 weeks. Usually I don’t write about my exercise or diet here because I am insecure in my head about not keeping up with it. But this time, I am going to be confident about it and I have no qualms in sharing this diet with anyone who reads my blog. 

My diet for each day shall be as follows:

Starting 15th of July, up until 30th of August, 2015 ( 6 weeks) with 6 small meals

Only 1 liter of water through out the day.

Meal 1 

100 g chicken + 100 g rice + 50 g almonds

Meal 2 

100 g chicken + a portion of vegetables 

Meal 3

2 whole eggs + 50 g quinoa

Meal 4

2 whole eggs+vegetables

Meal 5 

100 g chicken + 3 rice flakes + 50 g almond

Meal 6 

100 g chicken + a portion of vegetables.

Work out – 1 hour 15 minutes with the trainer in the evening

After one of this diet, I will try and including some cardio in the morning along with training in the evening with the trainer.

I really, really hope to stick with this plan and see it through. It is a matter of 6 weeks and it will be huge test of my will power especially because I am so addicted to sugar. 

Before I sign off on a healthy note, here’s the recipe of a delicious soya mince- peas stir fry which is wonderful with chappatis and even just by itself.

Bread Poha
Serves 4
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
45 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
45 min
Ingredients
  1. Bread slices, torn into small pieces ( atleast 8-10 slices- older the better)
  2. 2 large onions, chopped
  3. 5 green chilles, chopped fine,
  4. peanuts - half cup( boiled)
  5. salt as per taste
  6. chilli powder - 1 tsp
  7. coriander powder - 2 tsp
  8. tumeric powder - 2 tsp
  9. sugar - 1 tbsp or less
  10. lemon juice - a dash
  11. sprinkle of water
  12. mustard seeds,- 1 tsp
  13. cumin seeds - 1 tsp
  14. dash of asafoetida
  15. curry leaves - 8 -10 leaves
Instructions
  1. Tear all the bread slices into bite sized pieces, keep aside
  2. Take some oil in a flat frying pan, splutter mustard seeds, cumin seeds and add asafoetida
  3. Add chopped onions and fry until light & translucent
  4. Add green chillies and curry leaves and fry.
  5. To this add, all the spice powders including salt and sugar and mix well.
  6. Add boiled peanuts and fry well
  7. Add bread pieces and let the spices coat the bread pieces very well.
  8. Once the bread is mixed well, sprinkle water to soften the bread.
  9. Take the pan off the heat and add a dash of lemon juice and serve hot
Sliceofmylyfe - a Food blog based in Bahrain http://www.sliceofmylyfe.com/