Monday, 12 May 2014

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Hello People,

Red Velvet cupcakes with their distinct colour are most cake lovers' favourite. I got to know about red velvet cupcakes from my cousins, most times when there's a celebration in their house, red velvet cupcakes or cakes are present. One distinct feature I noticed, is they are always moist and "fluffy" as compared to other cakes.

So, i went around searching for red velvet cake recipes, one thing that surprised me, was that many of the recipes used vegetable oil instead of baking butter. From info gathered and my "small" experience, using vegetable oil gives the cake its fluffiness and the addition of vinegar and buttermilk keeps it moist and light. This bright red & lightly "chocolated" cake gets its colour from the addition of red food colouring or the juice of boiled beetroot (though people hardly use beetroots these days cos it tends to give the cake a different taste) added to the cake batter while mixing.

Red velvet cupcakes with butter cream frosting & coconut sprinkles

Now to how i make my red velvet cupcakes;
For Cupcakes
- 280g of baking flour
-180g of caster sugar
- 1.5 cup of vegetable oil
- 3 medium eggs
- 175 ml of evaporated milk (you can use buttermilk)
- 2 tbsps of unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 tsp of vanilla flavour
- 1 tbsp. of baking soda
- 3 tbspns of red food colouring (liquid) *if you are using the gel, a table spoon should be fine as the gel enhances the colour better
- 1 tsp of salt

For Frosting:
100g of baking butter
150g of icing (confectioners) sugar
Half tspn of vanilla flavour
1 tspn of red food colouring

This made 18 cupcakes

1. Preheat oven to 175°C. Place cupcake liners in cupcake tray
2. Sieve the flour, cocoa powder and salt together and set aside
3. In a bowl, whisk the vegetable oil and sugar together till perfectly blended, you can use a electric mixer or do it manually with a wooden or plastic spatula
4. Whisk the eggs, add vanilla flavor into it, then add this to the mix above in bits. Mix till fully incorporated. Stop the mixer occasionally to scrape the mixture off the bowl and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula so the mixture blends evenly. Then add the food colouring and mix on medium speed.
5. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients in batches, alternating with the milk.
Cupcake batter

6. In a small bowl mix vinegar and baking soda. This should form bubbles. Add this into your batter, mix for about 10 seconds on medium speed.
Baking soda and vinegar mix

7. Scoop the batter into your cupcake liners.
Batter ready to be placed in the oven

8. And bake for 18-20minutes or till a tooth pick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

For the Frosting
9. Cream Icing sugar and butter till light and fluffy
10. Add vanilla flavor & food colouring then mix
*Traditionally, red velvet cupcakes are frosted with cream cheese frosting, but couldn't get cream cheese so I made use of what was available. When making cupcakes again, will def, try out the cream cheese frosting.
11. Allow to the cake to cool on a wire rack, then frost using a piping bag and add your desired sprinkles.

Frosted Red Velvet Cupcakes (*still learning the art of piping)
*Enjoy as a dessert or snack. Great for parties too.
I will like to hear from you how you make yours. Kindly drop a comment

Kitchen Tips:
* You can use softened butter for this recipe instead of vegetable oil. When I made my first red velvet cupcakes I used softened butter i.e beat the butter alone until it becomes fluffy before creaming with the sugar. But if you ask me, I prefer the veg. oil recipe.
*Ensure you use an oil without a strong smell, else you ruin the taste of your cake.
* Allow cupcakes to cool before frosting, to avoid the frosting from melting.

*If you can't get Caster Sugar, you can make yours at home:
You will need Granulated Sugar and a food processor or blender
Pour the sugar into the food processor fitted with a metal blade (cover the processor with a kitchen napkin  before placing the lid as your kitchen can get messy cos of the sugar dust produced from making Caster Sugar), then process till it has little or no grains, this should take about 2-3 minutes depending on the quantity of sugar.
Allow to rest for 10 seconds before removing the lid, this is so the dust can settle.
Bakers prefer using caster sugar as it's easier to cream with than granulated sugar cos of its fine grains.



*Always wash your hands before and after handling food items.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Babies: How to Make Potato and Carrot Purée

Hello People,
Today's recipe is for the special "bundles" in our lives, I mean babies. Babies are so sweet, lovable, tender, beautiful, cute... *add your own adjective(s). It is recommended at birth, that you exclusively breastfeed your new born for the first six (6) months of life as this is of great benefit to both child and mother, especially to the baby as it protects against illnesses and builds their immune system. Not every mother can go all the way, some supplement breastfeeding with formula (baby milk such as SMA, NAN etc) while others breast feed exclusively for the first six (6) months. Whichever method you choose, at the end of six (6) months you will be faced with "introduction of solid foods" to your baby.
At the 6 month mark, some first foods to try are creamy avocados, apple sauce, sweet potato puree, bananas and the like. Many mums (especially new ones) run out of ideas on what to give to their babies so they resort to buying canned baby foods. I'm not saying this is bad, cos I also did this till I realized that these baby foods can be made at home, so why spend so much when I can DIY and be sure of the ingredients used.
I know, caring for a baby isn't easy, not to talk of making their own "special foods", but cooking them in large portions and freezing them, saves you a lot of cash.

Disclaimer: I am not a Pediatrician, neither I'm I in the medical field, I have written this post based on my experience and information gathered from Pediatricians and Nutritionists, discuss with your Ped, before feeding your baby with any baby recipe(s) posted here. Babies can have allergic reactions to some foods, as generality may not apply.

To the business of the day: Potato and Carrot Purée.
I usually use sweet potatoes for this dish, I haven't tried it with Irish potato. Talking about Sweet Potatoes, close contacts of mine can relate to this cos I call my son "sweet poraro" hahahaha, hence the preference. Sweet potatoes are a good first foods for babies starting solids, they can be eaten mashed or puréed. They have a soft consistency and are easily digestible. Sweet potatoes are rich in vitamins A and betacarotene as well as potassium, they also contain a good amount of vitamin E, folate and calcium.
On the other hand, carrots are easy to digest and are packed with nutrients like beta-carotene, vitamin C and calcium.

A portion of Sweet potato & Carrot Purée

- 2 small sized sweet potatoes
- 1 medium sized carrot

Serving: 3-4 portions

Carrot and Sweet potatoes
 1. Peel sweet potatoes and scrape the carrots.

 2. Cut both into small chunks

 3. In a sauce pan, bring water to boil then add sweet potato chunks, cook till almost tender, add the carrots cook for 6-8 minutes.
4. Using a spoon, scoop them from the pan into a blender or food processor and purée, add some water as you blend to get your desired consistency. You can thin the mixture with breast milk or formula.
*don't use the liquid left from boiling
Allow to cool, then feed your baby.

Puréed Potatoes and Carrot (set to be freezed)

Baby Food Tips:
* Wash the foods thoroughly before cooking and your hands, if possible with an antibacterial soap under running water.
* When purchasing carrots for baby food, organic ones are the best, look for carrots with little or no sprouts at the top.
*If your baby rejects it at first, don't give up. Try again another day in small quantities and with time, s/he will get used to it.
*You can also try puréed sweet potatoes only first, then with time you mix with carrots or other veggies.
*Carrots contain a high level of nitrates. Nitrates are naturally occurring in water, leafy and root vegetables like cabbage, spinach, lettuce, broccoli etc. Babies who are below 3 months old should not be given foods high in nitrates as they have not developed the stomach acids necessary to fight the bacteria that helps nitrate conversion to nitrites.

Stay connected, more baby recipes coming!


*Always wash your hands before and after handling food items.

Monday, 21 April 2014

How to Make Banga Soup

Hello People,

Hope y'all are doing great.
This post shows how I make my Banga Soup. Banga soup is a popular soup of  the people of Delta State, Nigeria particularly people from the Urhobo tribe. It is made from boiled Palm Kernel nuts, which are then beat in a mortar in order to extract the palm juice.
Married to an Urhobo man, I had to familiarize myself with their dishes, and learn how to make them too. My hubs was sweet enough to teach me how to make it, and yes he beat the palm kernel nuts by himself that day, it was a funny site *hahahahaha, I was so surprised he could do it. Funny enough, when I finally made the Banga Soup, my sister in-law came home, ate it and was like, "who thought you?", when I said it was my hubs, she couldn't believe cos growing up, he disliked kitchen duties. She gave me some "banga soup tips" that I have added to my cooking over time.
Ofe Akwu (ibo banga stew) is similar in preparation to Banga (Urhobo Amiedi) soup but they taste differently. Ofe Akwu is cooked using uziza or scent leaves, while Banga is cooked with dried banga leaves (obeletientien) and this is used sparingly. Also, Ofe Akwu is lighter in consistency and eaten most often with rice unlike Banga soup that's thicker and eaten with Starch, Eba, Pounded yam and other varieties of swallow.

Banga Soup served in Native/Clay Pot (Evwere)
The typical Urhobo person will prefer to eat Banga soup in this Native pot (Evwere) as this gives the soup a unique taste, you know how some people prefer eating Jollof Rice cooked with firewood than those cooked using a gas cooker, the difference is always clear.
This clay pot can be found in Naija markets, ask traders who deal on local spices.

Here are the Ingredients used.

- 1.5kg of Palm Kernel Nuts *(mixed:native and agric)
- Banga soup mixed spices (you can buy the diff spices separately then pound to make your own mix)
- Banga leaves (Obeletientien)
- 2.5kg of Meat (Cow tail)
- Stock fish
- Dry fish
- 2 Cksps of ground crayfish
- 3 Tbsp of ground chili pepper
- 2 Stock cubes
- Salt to taste

1. Wash, season and boil meat and set aside.
2. Wash palm kernels thoroughly (with plenty of water) to get rid of sand and dirts. Pour into a pot, add water to cover the nuts and boil for 20-25mins or till the flesh is soft

2. In a clean mortar, pour in the boiled kernels in batches and beat till the skin goes off (be careful not to crack the kernel.)
 3. Pour in 3 litres of hot water into the mortar containing the "beat" kernels. This is done to extract the "juice" from the palm nuts. Stir properly to ensure you get all the juice.
4. Strain the liquid into a pot and set on high heat to cook down the liquid. After about 20 mins, the liquid begins to thicken.
5. Add the mixed spice, don't add so much, I used 1 teaspoon of spice for this quantity, adding too much will make the soup taste bitter. Add all other ingredients including the boiled cowleg, stock fish and dry fish, stir properly. Simmer for about 8-10 mins, then turn off heat

Serve hot with starch, eba or any other swallow of choice.

Kitchen Tips:
*Do not close the pot while boiling the banga liquid as this will cause spills on your cooker
*I used both native and agric palm nuts. Native palm nuts are smaller in size and have a better taste but do not produce enough liquid unlike the agric ones that are bigger, contain more liquid but do not taste as good.



*Always wash your hands before and after handling food items.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

How to Make Corn and Chicken Salad

Hello People,

Been a minute. Hope you all are doing great. For me, I'm awesome and busy with a lot of stuff hence my absence *covers face.
Today's recipe is pretty simple and easy to make.
I was inspired to make this salad after watching a programme on Food Network (DSTV), one of my favorite channels. I'm on a weight loss diet (can't watch), so I eat a lot of salads these days.
This salad was so delicious, I could eat it all through the day.
Caution: Corn is high in  carbohydrates, so if you are on a low carb diet, consume this salad in little portions. 
Corns are also high in potassium, dietary fiber, iron, low in saturated fat and contain no cholesterol.
Corns come in different colors; white, yellow and even purple, depending on the area where they are grown. I prefer the yellow ones cos they contain more nutritive value. 
Corn and Chicken Salad

- 1 Can of Sweet Corn (Maize)
- 200g of Shredded Chicken breast
- 2 Red Scotch Bonnet Pepper
- 3 Table spoons of Vegetable Oil
- 1 Small Green Pepper
- A teaspoon of ginger (grated)
- Spring onions (about a handful)
- A table spoon of Onion powder (optional)
1. Wash chicken breast, add seasoning and cook till tender. Allow to cool, then shred. (I used my hands to shred, you can use a knife if you prefer).
N/B:I used chicken breasts, cos they are the healthiest part of chicken, contain little or no fat so good for my weight loss. *winks
2. Chop the pepper, spring onions and green pepper and set aside.
Ingredients: Top L-R: Onion Powder, Corn.
Down L-R: Green pepper, Ginger, Red pepper, Spring onions, shredded chicken
3. In a sauce pan add 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil, heat up slightly then add the chopped veggies in "2" above, stir fry for 2 minutes, then add ginger and  chicken stir for a minute.
Lastly, add corn, stir and turn off heat.
Enjoy warm or cold (refrigerate, then eat later). This can be served as a side dish with Jollof, Fried, Coconut or White Rice. I ate mine alone and it was filling.
There are many variations to this salad, you can add other veggies and  protein like carrots, green beans, mushrooms, shrimps, fish, shredded beef etc.
Corn and Mushroom Salad
I added Carrots to this
Kitchen Tips:
*If you prefer using fresh corn, wash the corn, boil with water only, do not add salt else it will take forever to get tender. Once tender, allow to cool, then remove the corn kernels from the cob and use.
*Always wash the top of canned foods before opening.
*When using canned foods, if you don't finish the content, pour out the remainder into a bowl with a lid and refrigerate. Do not leave canned foods in their cans once opened.
*Wash your vegetables with clean water and salt


*Always wash your hands before and after handling food items.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

How to Make Beef Stock

Hello People,

Today, I will sharing with you "how to make beef stock". This method can also be used in making any other stock such as Chicken, Turkey or Fish.
Two things that I always have in my freezer are Tomato/pepper puree and meat stock, cos they are often times part of my cooking. Stocks are also known as Broths and are used as a base or added in cooking many dishes as  rice, sauces, soups, stews and the like. Stocks are made using edible animal bones or flesh with herbs and other seasonings to enhance their flavor.
Though they can be bought in markets and supermarkets, nothing tastes like homemade stock.
Here is how I make my Beef Stock.
Beef Stock

1.5 kg of Beef
1 Large Onions
6 Red Scotch Bonnet Pepper
Spices (Thyme, Rosemary, Garlic, Ginger)
3 Stock Cubes

1. Wash beef with salt and hot water, to eliminate germs.
2. In a clean pot, put the beef, chopped onions, pepper, spices and stock cubes. Crush the stock cubes, don't throw them into the pot like that, cos not all dissolve in water.
Pot containing all ingredients
3. Place pot on cooker, and  cook on medium heat, you will notice the beef generating its own liquid once it starts to boil.  Allow the beef to generate its own liquid and natural flavor before you add water to it. Do not add too much water, so it doesn't lose taste.
Beef and stock

4. Once your beef is tender, turn off heat, drain the Stock (liquid) into a container, allow to cool, then freeze.

Beef stock (ready for freezing)

Use in making your sauces, rice dishes, soups, stews etc.

Kitchen Tip:
*Do not add salt cos the stock cubes already contain salt, if you must add, then put salt when the beef is already tender. Also note that salt tends to toughen the beef thereby prolonging cooking time.
*For chicken stock, the type of chicken will determine the cooking time and amount of water to use. Broiler (soft chicken) will need little water in cooking as compared to native or "old layers" which are tougher.



*Always wash your hands before and after handling food items.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

How to make White (Nsala) Soup

Hello People,
Thanks to all you beautiful people who read my posts, keep reading and be sure to get new twists to your regular dishes.
White soup is called Nsala Soup by the Ibos and Afia Efere by the Efiks. It is one of the simplest Naija soups in terms of time taken in preparation and ingredients used. It also doesn't contain palm oil, hence the name. It is basically made with the stock gotten from boiling your animal protein like beef, chicken etc.
I got to know about this soup during my Uni days. There was this Restaurant that students usually patronized mostly for their White Soup, theirs was the best then. I remember asking one of the waiters for thé recipe, he was kind enough to give me but I never tried it till recently. 
Nsala soup is usually made with uziza leaves, but for this recipe, I used scent leaves I forgot to buy at the market (can't watch), but since I had scent leaves at home, I used it, still came out well.
A plate of White Soup
1kg of Beef
1/2kg of Assorted meat (shaki, liver, kidney, cow intestine)
4 Red scotch bonnet pepper (optional) (alternatively, use ground dry chili pepper) *I used both. 
2 Cooking spoons of ground crayfish
Stock Fish
2 Stock cubes
A handful of Scent leaves (Uziza leaves)
Yam Paste: Pounded yam or yam flour (thickener)
Salt to taste
1. A) Wash, season, boil beef & assorted meat till almost tender.
B) If you choose to use pounded yam, boil the yam in a separate pot till tender, pound using mortar and pestle or a food processor and set aside.
2. Add about 2 cups of water to the stock gotten from "1" above, then add pepper, stock fish, crayfish, stock cubes bring to boil.

L-R: Water has been added to stock. Yam paste (Pounded yam )added to soup 
3. Add yam paste (pounded yam/yam flour) in lumps into the soup, close pot and allow to simmer for 10mins then stir. The yams would have dissolved by now. Add your scent leaves, stir, leave for another 3minutes on medium heat. Turn off heat and voilà! 
L-R: Scent leave, Stock fish and chopped liver
Enjoy white soup hot with Pounded Yam, Eba, Semo,Wheat and any other swallow of choice.
This recipe was requested by a reader. You too can make a request and I will "deliver" *winks.
Kitchen Tips:
*If you use Shaki(Tripe) boil for a while before adding other beef cos its tough and takes longer time to cook.
*For the purpose of this soup, I boil my beef with only onions, red scotch bonnet peppers, and stock cubes.
*If you use yam flour, mix the flour with little water to form a paste, then add to the soup (in "3" above). 
*When using uziza leaves, be careful not to add so much pepper, cos the leave is hot. Also, put uziza same time as yam paste. 
*White soup could get sour quickly, this is cos of the pounded yam added as a thickner, so store in the freezer preferably.



*Always wash your hands before and after handling food items

Monday, 17 March 2014

How to make Steamed Eggs

Hello People,
It's been a while. Sorry I have been MIA. I must say blogging ain't beans man. For me that blogs about food recipes, I have to take pics at every stage of my cooking and this can be very tiring, but for you my dear readers, I will do my best.
At this point, I'd like to shout out to bloggers like Linda Ikeji and co who post daily. I'm new to the blogosphere so with time I will "catch up" *winks

A plate of steamed egg
To the business of the day.
If you are tired of eating boiled eggs, and you don't wan go close to fried eggs, then this post will put a smile on your face cos you will have the opportunity to eat eggs.
Last Christmas, I made this for the family, and everyone loved it. When I was preparing it, my sis was like "which one is steamed egg again", I winked and kept sealed lips, then she added, "will one egg be sufficient for each person?" I'm like wait and see. When I was done, she kept "wowing" lol.
Steamed eggs fall between boiled and fried eggs. I call them steamed eggs cos they are cooked via steaming just like moimoi (bean pudding).
Eggs are a rich source of protein. Egg whites contain about half the protein while the rest are contained in the yolk. Egg whites are rich in riboflavin and selenium which are useful in energy production and elimination of toxins. The yolk contains some vitamins such as A, B12, D, E, K, minerals like calcium, phosphorus, iron and zinc. Egg yolk is wonderful for brain development, it improves your memory and cognitive skills.
-1 Egg
- Pepper
- Onion
- Seasoning (optional)
- Salt to taste
1. In a bowl, break the egg, add chopped pepper and onions, seasoning & salt, then whisk together.
2. Get a small transparent bowl (with a lid), grease it very lightly with vegetable oil or butter. Pour in the egg mix (from 1 above) into this bowl.
3. Pour a cup of water into a pot, bring to boil. Place the bowl containing the egg in the pot and cover the pot. Allow to cook for 6-8minutes.
 Turn off heat, your steamed egg is ready to be" munched". You can eat it alone or with noodles or bread.
It's perfect for breakfast, kids will love it.

*Always wash your hands before and after handling food items.