Gulkhand Banana Shake

Rose Petal Preserve and Banana Shake

In my perfect world, children would eat anything and everything the mom makes at home. No whining, no fussing over foods, no hatred for vegetables or fruits and always an appetite for good food. How nicer can it be, right?

Only, for me, it happens in my day dreams!

This is where I did not get lucky, where that castle in the air comes crumbling down and my day dreams crash into harsh reality. Whatever I’ve done, somehow my little girl’s and my intentions are at logger heads with each other when it comes to eating, especially when spelled as FRUITS..

She does not cry for anything, except when I ask her to eat, u guessed it – fruits!

Recently, after a hand blender came as an addition to my kitchen gadgets, in yet another plan to sneak in fruits into her diet, I started churning out smoothies and milk shakes. And, the first fruit of choice for milk shakes was none other than the humble yet mighty Banana.

I would still want her to relish her fruits the right way, but until then…

Rose – a name for beauty, fragrance and color all put in one wonderful nature’s package. Hats off to that someone who thought of immortalizing its deliciousness in a jar!

Gulkhand [Gul – flower; Gulab – Rose in Hindi; khand – sweet] is rose petals preserved in sugar and honey. A health tonic as per Ayurveda, it can be easily made at home if you have access to organic roses non-sprayed by pesticides or other chemicals.

I love relishing Gulkhand just as is, by the spoonful. Ever since I paired it with bananas and milk for my little girl, I’ve become a guzzler of this soothing drink myself!

A few everyday uses of Gulkhand:

Add a spoon to breakfast oats for a special breakfast treat.

Mix it with greek yogurt for a snack with a twist

Include in fruit salads to add a romantic nuance

Replace jaggery with Gulkhand in Rasayana

If you have the habit of unwinding with a warm glass of milk before hitting bed, stir in a spoon of Gulkhand for a relaxing drink. Just don’t make it too hot.

Spread it on whole wheat toast along with Peanut butter or almond butter instead of the same old PBJ sandwich

Of course, because it is sweetened, eating in moderation is always the key.

Owing to its incredibly delicious taste and Gulkhand’s cooling and revitalizing properties, it makes for an excellent summer drink.

Gulkand Banana Shake goes to #IndianFoodPalooza, an event Prerna of Indian SimmerKathy Gori of The Colors of Indian Cooking and Barbara of The Creative Culinary are hosting this month to celebrate Indian food.

How do you like to enjoy your dose of Gulkhand?

Gulkhand Banana Shake Recipe

Printable Recipe
Things you’ll need:
1 ripe banana

1 tsp Gulkhand or Rose Petal jam

1 cup Milk Almond Milk / Coconut Milk / any Non Dairy Milk or a half-half mix of your choice

1 or 2  drops of rose water ~ optional

crushed pistachios or almonds for garnish ~ optional

How it’s done:

Blend everything together. Serve chilled garnished with crushed pistachios or almonds

Note:

  • Alter the milk/non dairy milk ratio to suit your taste as well as the desired thickness
  • Gulkhand has enough sweetness, so no other sweetener is essentially needed
  • I bought my Gulkhand from the local BAPS store. It can also be found in middle-eastern or persian food stores.

Read more about benefits of adding Gulkhand to your diet here

Gulkand Ice Cream by IndianSimmer is an interesting take on ice cream with Gulkhand stirred in.

Treat yourself to more:

 

Just Home Made turns One! Celebrating with Raspberry Pear Tart and a Giveaway

**This GIVEAWAY is now closed (29th Sep 2011 midnight). Winner will be announced in my next post**

Can you believe it is a whole year already? You won’t believe me if I say I had almost forgotten about the milestone, almost. Luckily, my amnesia broke its spell before the month passed! I really didn’t know where or how to begin, it took me a better part of the day to get over my writer’s block. So here’s my inadequate attempt:
A food blog that I started on a lazy afternoon as a way to keep my sanity in check (letting go of an almost decade long career to care for your firstborn baby is natural right?) means so much more to me now. If there is something that I think of non-stop (other than my little girl and my husband or my family) and even just before I fall asleep, it is none other than this blog. Sometimes or most of the times my eyes and my mind are filled to the brim with dreams for this blog that I just can’t fall asleep!
Just Home Made has consumed the creative better of me and keeps my soul alive..
From an inconsequential beginning with my first post, from the first few hither-tither comments on the blog or the first few extra hits, subscribers, Twitter follows and Facebook likes, from knowing that somebody’s ‘search results’ landed them on my page to getting to know so many of you lovely bloggers – sweet, helpful and kind, to meet Helene in person at her photography workshop it has been an amazing roller coaster ride with butterflies in my stomach when I check the site stats, heart beating faster on reading your comments, adrenaline rush when phone buzzes over a tweet mention or message, a contended smile on my face when blog photos get featured on various sites and everything in between I failed to express here..
And undoubtedly it is with your love and sweet words of appreciation that I have been able to see my humble blog take this beautiful journey. Blessed are my mornings when I wake up eyes still closed but hands busy scrambling for the phone eager as a two-year old waiting to unfold a chocolate wrapper, only to see your comments lined up in the inbox…
For all those beautiful moments of joy and whatever Just Home Made is today, I owe it to you from the bottom of my heart, Thank You!
Don’t underestimate the power of your words, they bring a million dollar smile to my face (ask my husband)! So anytime you are here, don’t forget to say hello or you dropped by, I’d love to hear from you!
There, I got it off my chest..
So, in my sheer excitement, I bring you in this post a GIVEAWAY and an elegant fruit tart while still trying to bid summer a grass-fire good-bye here in Texas.
Baking was completely alien to me all my life until I started blogging. Much like a bewitched window shopper on Rodeo drive, gaping (with almost mouth wide open!) at all the luscious desserts and baked goodies on food blogs luring with drop dead gorgeous photographs or mouth-watering recipes, sparked an inextinguishable fire in me to turn on the oven. From being a baking lay person who couldn’t make out a thing between why baking soda and why not baking powder to brave it all and try a hand at baking a pie and this tart from scratch, all brownie points must go to blogging!
Among all things baked, I must say that I am not just a wee bit but totally and completely partial to fruit desserts . So, little surprise to see this fruit tart making it for my blog’s birthday celebrations. My love for summer fruits like cherries, berries and stone fruits is timeless and I have left it to be no secret either on many of my posts earlier. Pears however come a close second and amongst the different pear varieties, I particularly enjoy snacking on Seckel and Red Anjou pears. When I was on the lookout for a good fruit dessert, I realized that Pears were a neglected lot in comparison to the lion’s share of baking limelight berries and stone fruits devour. And that’s quite the reason I chose a shy and silent but full of character Pear and paired it with the beautifully ruby pink and sublimely flavorful raspberries, just for the fun of walking the less trodden path or so I think!
The original recipe called for Macadamia nuts and a 11 inch fluted pan. I had bought a 10 inch pan with great enthusiasm, so I stuck to it even though the recipe quantity is more for the size of the pan. Just pat an extra cookie or two with extra flour mix like I did.

Verdict? The tart was delicious with a mild raspberry and pear flavor burst in between. But I also see why these are a rare sight compared to the stone fruits. Unless I knew Pear was in there, I am left with just an indistinct sweet juicy fruit flavor. Nonetheless, it made for a lovely fruit dessert for the first try.

GIVEAWAY:
(see giveaway rules below)
Now, let me come to the part that interests you most – the giveaway!
One of my friends and neighbor PG started out as a Tupperware Consultant recently. After attending her Tupperware party and a preview of some cool products, I got the perfect idea for the giveaway. I get to give some business to my friend and also give away something nice to you lovely readers as my token of appreciation for all the boundless love and support you have given me so far.
So, to celebrate this milestone, I am giving away a TUPPERWARE Best Seller – One Classic Sheer® Midgets® Set of 6 storage containers (2 oz)
If you are like me who loves to organize (rather organization obsessed!), then you will surely like to own these cute storage containers. Cute and utilitarian, they come in handy to store anything from spices in the kitchen to buttons, thumbtacks or tiny knickknacks around the house or to go in a lunch box.
*If you need more information on TUPPERWARE, go to tupperware.com
TUPPERWARE products are not sold in stores, only through consultants and online.

Giveaway Rules:
Giveaway is open to residents of USA. If you live outside of US, but can provide an US shipping address, you are eligible to participate too.
To Enter:
Leave a comment on this post telling me what you like or dislike about Just Home Made or what you would like to see here in future or any other suggestions for improvement.
For an extra chance to win:
  • Follow Just Home Made on twitter and tweet about this giveaway including my twitter handle and tell me you did or if you already do:
@justhomemade Just Home Made turns One! GIVEAWAY-Win a Tupperware – Classic Sheer® Midgets® Set of 6 storage containers http://wp.me/p17ciF-Gp
  • Like Just Home Made on Facebook and tell me you did or if you already do
  • Subscribe to Just Home Made via Email and tell me you did or if you already do
  • Link to this giveaway on Facebook, then leave a comment telling me and including a link to the post
 Hurry! Last date to enter this giveaway is 29th Sep 2011 11:59 CST 
One winner will be chosen based on a random draw. Will contact the winner for the shipping address once announced.

Raspberry Pear Tart with Hazelnut Crust Recipe

recipe adapted from tasteofhome.com
Yield: 16 servings
Printable Recipe
Things you’ll need:
For the Crust:
  • 1-2/3 cups half and half mix of whole wheat flour and all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup cane sugar
  • 2/3 cup or 10 ⅔ tbsp cold butter
  • 1/3 cup hazelnuts
  • ¼ tsp salt
For the Filling:
  • 4 small-medium pears (I’ve used Seckel pears)
  • 1/2 cup cane sugar
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch (corn flour)
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp lemon extract / lemon zest
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 2 cups fresh raspberries (6 oz or ½ dry pint, more will also do)
For the Topping:
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup cold butter or 4 tbsp
  • 1/3 cup almonds
Other:
  • 10″ fluted Tart pan with removable bottom
  • Baking or lining tray
  • Cooling rack
 How it’s done:
Read the full recipe before starting.
To start with, roast hazelnuts and almonds. To roast the hazelnuts, microwave for about 2 minutes in 30 sec intervals until fragrant. When cooled, pulse it in a food processor or coffee grinder or mixer until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Pulse more and you will end up with hazelnut butter.
Roast almonds the same way. Chop into bits when cooled and keep aside.
Wash the pears, pat dry, peel, core and slice into thin rounds about 1/8th of an inch. Squeeze lemon juice over the pear slices (to keep them from browning), mix well and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 425° F
In a large bowl, combine flour and sugar; cut in cold butter and either mix well with your fingers or process in a food processor (I did the former) until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. If you see pea sized butter blobs here and there, it is fine. Stir in hazelnut meal.
Gently press this flour mixture onto the bottom and up the sides of an ungreased 10 inch fluted tart pan with removable bottom.
In a large bowl, combine the pears, sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon and lemon zest/extract. Add raspberries and toss gently. Carefully lay out the fruit mix on to crust filling empty spots with raspberries.
Bake at 425° for 25 minutes.
In the meanwhile, for the topping, in a small bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar and lemon zest; cut in butter and mix until crumbly. Stir in chopped roasted almonds. Sprinkle over filling.
Bake 15-20 minutes longer or until filling is bubbly and topping is golden brown. Cool on a wire rack. Refrigerate leftovers.
Tastes best served warm by itself or served with honey yogurt or even an indulging rich vanilla ice cream with some raspberries on top.

Don’ts:
  • Do not overly press the four mixture onto the tart pan or it will result in a hard tart crust instead of crumbly.
  • Instead of washing the raspberries as they become soggy, just wipe them with a soft wet cloth or tissue.
Notes:
  • You can core the fruit even if you don’t have a corer. Insert a (vertical) peeler at the bottom end of the pear and rotate clockwise and anti-clockwise once each or until the core comes out. 
  • If you happen to make the flour mixture for the tart crust before slicing up the fruit, do not fret! “Carefully” place the tart pan (remember the pan bottom can move) on a baking tray and put it in the refrigerator until the filling is ready. Since the flour mix is dry and crumbly, tart crust can shatter easily at this point.
  • Be very careful when taking the baked tart out of the removable pan to place on the cooling rack or it might break.
  • Add a few drops of water to cane sugar if you do not have brown sugar
  • If you can’t find Hazelnuts, they can be safely substituted with almonds without much damage to the recipe or taste.
  • Microwave leftover slices for about 30 secs before serving.

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Mango Strawberry Yogurt Granola Parfait

I know, I know, I have been away for a while now. Did you guess I was busy? Well, you are right in doing so. It seems, “Busy” is not quite an excuse for a mom, rather a state of life and more so if one has school going kids. No, I get it, let’s just say a mom is busy no matter what and everything else has to somehow fit in.
I sound dramatic, don’t I? Indeed! It was a big milestone for my little one as she started pre-school last week . My life is busier than before with my new job as the resident chauffeur and yet, I will get to have “my” time while she is away. So it is a win-win for both of us and hopefully it means many more frequent posts for you too..
Anyhow, I am glad to be back and this time, with a beautiful fruit combo in a healthy dessert and a guest post for a special friend.
A personification of her blog’s namesake, she is bubbly, she is enthusiastic and is the sweetest blogger I know of. Our friendship sparked off over a weekend of web photography session by Penny De Los Santos, virtually of course. And as we were learning together miles apart, it didn’t take too long before we started bonding over tweets. This to me (and many bloggers might probably agree) is one of the most beautiful gifts of blogging. There are some really lovely people to befriend and help you in the food blogging world.
And I am so thankful to blogging for having found me this wonderful friend. I only hope we can meet in person too someday.
So when she asked me if I could guest post, my instant reply was “Of course, I’d love to!
She is none other than the girl with bright eyes and a big smile, my good friend Kanakana Saxena of Sunshine and Smile
Blogging from the sunshine state of California, Kankana, a Bengali and a newly wed showcases recipes that she’s tried to woo her doting husband, though she claims he is a better cook! She comforts you with her laid back easy-going conversational style and stories from everyday life. Paapri Chaat, Whole wheat carom seed crackers, Gobi Manchurian, Watermelon cooler are some of my favorites among her vegetarian food fare.
So be sure to head over to her lovely blog for some sunshine, a smile, lot of interesting recipes and my guest post.
You can also find Kankana on twitter and facebook.

Here’s a quick link to the Printable Recipe as well.

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Meyer Lemon Paanaka

Saffron and Cardamom infused Indian Lemonade

[Paa nuh kuh] (Sanskrit, Kannada)

How can one mention summer without lemonade in the same sentence, right? Lemonade is such a part and parcel of the season, to beat the heat and refreshingly so. Lemonade being so ubiquitous, recipes are limited only by one’s imagination. This recipe is simple yet ranks very high on looks, flavor and taste. There, you have the three musketeers of the culinary world in one tall glass of sunshine yellow lemonade!
You must be wondering where on earth did I find Meyer Lemons now! I must be misplaced talking about the Dec-April season citrus fruit in the middle of nowhere in July. Well, I could find them here in TX even till end of May or early June. Only I couldn’t get this post out much earlier.
You know why? I was indulging in a good summer break, letting my hair down and putting my feet up in Long Beach, California followed by meeting close friends in sunny San Diego after years and then a day of wonderful photography workshop by Helene of Tartelette in Salt Lake City. I have a lot more to say about that, perhaps in my next post. Now that I’ve gotten it out-of-the-way, let me get back to telling you a little about Paanaka.

Paanaka is a sanskrit word for a ‘drink’ or ‘drinkable’ usually a juice or similar. Where I am originally from, lemonade season starts as early as March, especially to mark the birth of Lord Rama, the popular Hindu deity and epitome of virtue, piety and simplicity. For those reasons, a festival by name Ramanavami is celebrated by offering Paanaka coupled with Kosambari, a kind of soaked lentils salad. Tradition aside, Paanaka is never reserved only for festivals, it is highly sought after to cool parched throats on any scorching sunny afternoon!
This recipe comes from my grand dad’s house, the way it has always been made for as long as I can remember except for the pinch of salt, which I learnt from my mom. You might think what a pinch of salt can add? World peace, may be not; taste, of course yes. However weird or counter-intuitive it sounds, salt opens up the sweetness of lemonade in its inconsequential existence. In my grand dad’s house, Paanaka would be (and still is) made in a huge steel vessel with a copper bottom, one that could hold at least 10 litres. Don’t even bother imagining leftovers. With a large joint family to cater to, a glass here and a glass there always resulted in an empty vessel before our thirsty throats realized.

{Twin Meyer Lemons}
Meyer lemons have a delicate aroma and are less pungent than their regular commercial counterparts. Their color and flavor falls in between that of lemons and tangerines with a subtle floral note. You guessed it, they are hybrids, a cross between regular lemons and oranges or tangerines. Fruitier than they are acidic or zesty lemony, they come in spherical shapes with a thin, soft and smooth aromatic rind. Hadn’t I been blogging (rather tweeting), I doubt if I would have ever discovered these lovely rich orange-yellow beautieson my own.
Never mind if you can’t find them anywhere in the farmer’s market or your favorite whole foods store now. There is always the next season.
And, if you ever get to see them anywhere, don’t shy away from buying. They are an experience in themselves. Oh, if you said you have a Meyer lemon tree in your backyard, I’d call you lucky, can’t stop wishing I had one too!

A combination of different aromatic notes of the floral Meyer lemonindescribable saffron and almost camphor cardamom make this lemonade exquisite. If you have never tasted lemonade through saffron and cardamom spectacles, this summer is the best time I’d say..
I know there must be a gazillion lemonade recipes, but which one is your favorite? And what is it that makes it special?

Panaka Recipe 

Printable Recipe
Things you’ll need:
makes about 3 8 oz glasses
  • 2 Meyer lemons (or regular lemon)
  • 3-4 tbsp organic cane sugar (approx)
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 cardamom pods, freshly crushed
  • 5-6 strands saffron
  • 2 cups (500 ml) cold water
How it’s done:
Infuse Saffron Heat or warm half a cup of water on the stove top or microwave. Crush the saffron strands between your finger tips into the hot water, cover and let infuse.
Grind Cardamom Gently pound on the cardamom pods either with a rolling-pin or with a pestle and pry open the seeds with your fingers. Either grind the seeds fine in a mortar and pestle or on the counter with the rolling-pin.
Juice lemons If the lemons are refrigerated, let them come to room temperature before juicing for maximum juice or just sit them in warm water for 10 mins.
*in case you’re using regular lemons: If you still find them hard after thawing, wrap them in a tissue or plastic bag and place on the floor. Roll them gently back and forth with your foot for about 10 secs. Why not with your palm? palm doesn’t deliver the right amount of pressure that foot does I guess. I’ve always done this way (this is how it was done at home), it makes sure all of the juice is well extracted*. Unwrap and wash lemons well. Squeeze juice using a citrus juicer or just by hand.
Paanaka Pour juice into a glass and add salt. Add enough sugar to fill the juice completely. Add saffron water, stir well or let sit for a bit until the sugar dissolves. Add some cold water and transfer to a large glass jug, pour remaining water, sprinkle ground cardamom as per your taste and stir well.
Serve Taste and adjust water, sugar and cardamom before serving chilled. Sprinkle cardamom just before serving as otherwise it loses its flavor soon.
Note:
Select lemons that have a thin, smooth skin and are bright, shiny and heavy for their size which indicates juiciness. Because it is fruity, it requires lesser sugar compared to regular lemons.
Sugar substitutes Sub honey, half and half of cane sugar and honey, brown sugar, even jaggery or sucanat for interesting tastes.
Enjoy a few other interesting coolers and beautiful photography from some of my favorite bloggers:
Spiked Blueberry Lemonade by Sala Kannan of Veggiebelly
Watermelon Cooler by Kankana of Sunshine and Smile
Honey Ginger Lemonade by Sylvie of Gourmande in the Kitchen
 Grapefruit and Mint Cooler by Sukaina of Sips and Spoonfuls
Homemade Strawberry Lemonade by My Baking Addiction

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