Sunday, December 25, 2011

It's Christmas!

May Lord God bless us all in health, wealth and wisdom and give us all peace and happiness..Cheers!

A Christmas Prayer by Robert Louis Stevenson

Loving Father, Help us remember the birth of Jesus,

that we may share in the song of the angels,

the gladness of the shepherds,

and worship of the wise men.

Close the door of hate and open the door of love all over the world.

Let kindness come with every gift and good desires with every greeting.

Deliver us from evil by the blessing which Christ brings, and teach us to be merry with clear hearts.

May the Christmas morning make us happy to be thy children, and Christmas evening bring us to our beds with grateful thoughts, forgiving and forgiven, for Jesus' sake. Amen.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Berry N Nut Chewies

2nd Sunday of December and yes, I remember my promise! I baked these lovely healthy chewies to take to work for the potluck breakfast. My co workers raved about it! When it was being baked, the entire house was filled with the aroma of butter and almonds and oatmeal. Hubby went outside when I started making this. As soon as he entered the house, he asked me if I have made sheero(Gujarati style sooji halwa)! Every 15 minutes, he was asking for the taste. I had to make him wait for over an hour as it was cooling down. Finally when I gave him a big piece, with the full mouth, he said,soooo good! Well, I hit another milestone! Here's how I made it.

Berry N Nut Chewies
1-1/2 cup each AP flour, quick cooking oats
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
A pinch of salt
3/4 cup cold butter
1-1/2 cup strawberry jam
1 cup chopped almonds

How to:
Preheat the oven to 375° F.
Mix all the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
Add cold butter, cut with pastry blender or pulse in food processor till the mixture resembles coarse meal.
Reserve 1 cup mix for topping.
Add 1 egg to the remaining mixture and press firmly into buttered and floured 9X9 baking dish.
Spread with warmed jam.
Sprinkle almonds on top.
Top with remaining mixture and bake for about 45 minutes.
Cool and cut into squares.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Fast N Easy Mexican Dinner

Taco Soup

Chicken Fajitas
This was one of the fastest, tastiest and easiest dinners I ever made! It was perfect to warm up the body and the soul in the chilly weather we have been experiencing these days. The soup hit a bit of spicy note with the addition of cayenne pepper. But the soup had it all and it was so comforting, we finished the bowlfuls of soup in no time. I had no idea I would be making this soup until I was asked by hubby 'what's for dinner tonight' on our way back home from work. Didn't feel like having oily, spice laden Indian food for supper, wasn't ready to make phulka rotis or rice, I thought for a minute or so, and replied, taco soup with chicken fajita. I had all the ingredients on hands to make both dishes. And it was really a cinch to make these two dishes for comforting supper.

Normally soup recipes call for pureed tomatoes and some kind of broth. I used canned diced tomato instead. I had a couple of cups of boiled black beans ready to go in my fridge. So it was just a matter of time to start simmering the soup, chop/shred all the add-ins, sauté already cooked chicken and pepper slices, wrap them up and voila, a great fiesta waiting for us at the dining table!

After I took the shot, I realized I forgot to sprinkle some cheddar cheese and the dollop of sour cream on soup, so that's missing from the picture.

Taco Soup
2 cans diced tomato in juice
2 cups tomato juice
1 medium onion, diced
3-4 cloves garlic, diced
1/4 cup oil
1 tsp crushed oregano
2 cups cooked black beans
2 cups frozen corn, thawed
1 tbsp cumin powder
1 tbsp cayenne powder
2 tbsp taco seasoning
Shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, sliced green onions, avocados for garnish, all optional
How to:
Sauté onion and garlic in oil till fragrant.
Add oregano and rest of the spice mix and stir for a couple of minutes on medium heat.
Now add diced tomatoes, tomato juice, beans, corn and simmer on low heat for about 20 minutes.
Serve hot soup with either tortilla chips or chicken fajita to dunk.

Chicken Fajitas
1-1/2 lb boneless chicken breast, sliced( I used rotisserie chicken breast)
1 each medium green and red peppers, sliced
1 big onion, sliced
1/4 cup oil
1 pack taco/fajita seasoning
8 small tortillas

How to:
Heat oil on medium high heat.
If using raw chicken, cook in oil till no longer pink.
Take out of the oil, add onions to the same oil and cook till translucent.
Add pepper slices, seasoning from the pack and follow the directions on the pack.
Fill up the tortillas with fajita mix, roll up and serve.

Please let your emails/comments keep coming! it's been great and thanks for your kindness and love!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Cinni Minis

Beware of these little cuties! They are dangerously delicious. Once you pop them in your mouth, you just can't stop! These babies are a cinch to make. 40 minutes from start to finish. This reminds me of donuts, only baked. I really don't remember how many I popped in my mouth before I actually brought the plate over to the dining table!

I want to bake for Christmas dearly but my schedule just doesn't allow it. I only have weekends and we all know how busy December weekends can be. So this time I decided to bake something for Sundays. This is the 1st Sunday of December 2011 baking! I am hoping to bake for 3 Sundays(Christmas Sunday inclusive) and will try to post those recipes during the week.

These were the easiest to make as the law in the muffin world says, you need to have to lumpy batter! So no need to bring out the hand mixers, food processors or anything like that. An age old beater and you are done! Now that's my kind of recipe.

Cinni Minis
1/2 cup granulated white sugar
1/4 cup margarine, softened
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1-1/4 cup AP flour

For dipping
1/4 cup margarine
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tsp cinnamon powder

How to:
Preheat oven to 400° F.
Butter and flour 2 mini muffin trays(12 muffins each).
In a small bowl, mix all the dry ingredients.
In another small bowl, mix and softened margarine.
Add wet mix to dry mix.
Mix loosely till the batter is lumpy.
Pour into prepared mini muffin trays.
Bake for about 15 minutes.
Once baked, cool for 5 minutes on a rack.
Melt the margarine in microwave.
Dip the minis in margarine and place in the bowl contains sugar-cinnamon mix , roll completely to cover with cinnamon sugar.
Proceed till all the minis are sugar coated.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Lahmajoun --Pizza of the Month! and award time!

The reason I wanted to make this flat bread is because of this Iraqi co-worker who brought a container-full of Lahmajoun for our Christmas Potluck luncheon a couple of years back. This bread is prominently made and sold in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Israel, Gaza, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Turkey where there are restaurants that specialize in lahmacun or lahmajoun. Lahmacun is Turkish and Lahmajoun is Arabic which means dough with meat, is a traditional eastern item of prepared food consisting of a round, thin soft piece of dough topped with spicy sauce and minced meat (most commonly beef and lamb) and straight leaf parsley. Lahmajoun is often served sprinkled with lemon juice and wrapped around vegetables, including pickles, tomatoes, peppers, onions, lettuce, and parsley, cabbage salad or cilantro.

OK, back to my story. Since she brought them, it's been on my mind. I asked her, searched the web and finally decided to make this for my monthly Pizza club! It is really very very simple and easy. It used our regular pizza dough and takes the toppings of ground meat cooked with spices. I bet you can make it with soy crumbles, grated paneer or tofu for vegetarian version. To me, meat is just the vehicle to carry all the flavourful spices on the bread. I have also made this using pita breads! Just to make my life easy. Simply slice the pita bread so that you can have 2 full breads and proceed with the meat spread and bake. Isn't that simple? These pictures show other variations that I made with same dough as I was playing with recipe.

Pizza dough/pita bread as required
1 lb. minced chicken/lamb( I used lamb)
1 medium onion, diced
1 medium cinnamon stick
4-5 pepper corns
2-3 cloves
1 tbsp cumin powder
1 tbsp or to taste cayenne powder
1 each medium red and green peppers, diced
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 cup diced tomatoes
3-4 garlic cloves, chopped
Salt to taste
2 tbsp oil

How to:
If using pizza dough, roll out small flatbreads, place them on parchment lined cookie sheet. Keep covered.
On medium heat, heat oil, add cinnamon stick, cloves and pepper corns.
Once they are fragrant, fish them out of oil, discard.
Now add onion and sauté till translucent.
Add tomato paste and peppers and cook till oil separates.
Now add minced meat and diced tomatoes, cumin powder, salt and cook till meat is done. Sprinkle some water and stir often if sticks to the bottom of the pan.
Once the meat is cooked, take off the heat, add parsley and cool down.
Now, preheat the oven to 400° F.
Spread the meat mixture on top of the flat breads and bake till the breads are nice and crispy, for about 15 minutes.
Note: You can make this mixture a day or so ahead so that you only need to make the flatbreads, spread the mixture and bake.

Onion & Feta flats

Rosemary Garlic Flats

 Please let your emails/comments keep coming! it's been great and thanks for your kindness and love!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Stuffed Jalapeño

my first try about a year ago!
These are the poppers, you can buy it frozen in the grocery store. They are expensive and with much less cheese in them. It's very easy to make these poppers at home. Jalapeño poppers are jalapeno peppers that have been hollowed out, stuffed with the mixture of cheese, spices, sometimes ground meat etc. They are then breaded and deep fried or prepared unbreaded, wrapped in bacon and then baked or grilled. Normally they are served with some sort of dip. 
latest attempt
Jalapeño are very hot and fiery peppers as we all know. But when seeds and ribs are taken out, they lose all their fieriness. Good for us eh?! I've made changes in the classic version of the poppers. The classic version asks for blanching the peppers, then stuffed with cheeses, breading and frying. I made a few tweaks to get the healthier poppers and believe you me, they were devoured in no time! And they left us crave for more.

healthified stuffed peppers!

Stuffed Jalapeño
24 medium sized peppers
12 1" cubes of sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup cream cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
2 eggs
2 cups bread crumbs
1 cup flour
Oil for spraying

How to:
Slice the peppers in two. Make sure to keep the two halves together. Deseed and core the peppers. Place them on a baking sheet in the 400° F oven for about 10 minutes or until they are a bit soft to touch. You don't want mushy peppers. Pull them out of the oven and let them cool down.

Mix cream cheese with salt and pepper.

Whisk eggs in a bowl.

Now take the one half of the peppers, stuff it with one spoonful of cream cheese mixture, place the 2nd half on the top and keep it aside. Repeat with 11 more peppers.

Again, take one half of the pepper, place the cheddar cheese cube in it and cover it up with the 2nd half. Repeat for 11 more peppers. This way, you will have 2 different cheese filled peppers.
Now, roll the peppers gently in flour, dip them in egg, coat with bread crumbs. Again, dip them in the egg and coat with bread crumbs. Place them on the baking sheet.

Spray Pam or any cooking oil liberally on the peppers and bake them in the very hot oven for about 5-6 minutes till they are golden brown. Be careful as the filling will be very hot. Serve warm with your favourite dip.

Please let your emails/comments keep coming! it's been great and thanks for your kindness and love!

Monday, November 21, 2011

One Grilled Chicken-Two Simple Dinners

What more should I say? The title says it all. We love grilled chicken. Mostly, during the weekends, I grill about a couple of lbs.of chicken which we use for dinners and lunches. I use them for sandwiches for lunch and throw in some steamed veggies with garlic bread for quick and easy weeknights' dinners. Saturdays, I marinate boneless chicken breasts with Italian seasonings, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, Olive oil and balsamic vinegar. This is my go to marinade. Always, always have used this one. Leave the chicken overnight in the fridge, grill them on my trusty George Foreman Grill( which I bought from a garage sale for only $2, yay!) Sunday afternoon. They are all done in under 30 minutes. And I am ready to face half of the week's lunch and dinner challenge. I do the same in summer time but grill it on my outdoor bbq. Life's been pretty hectic as we leave for work at 6 am every morning and come home at around 5 PM. Inclement weather which is very normal in Canada could make us get stuck in traffic and come home very late. We have our supper at 6 pm and then I start cleaning up the kitchen, getting ready for next day and so on and so forth. If I have a main dish ready to go, sides I can throw in in no time!

The rolls in these two dishes were made out of Pillsbury crosssaint dough. The first one, I simply use the same cheese and tomato mixture on top of the chicken inside of the crosssaint dough, with some more seasonings and bake them. The 2nd one, is rolled up in a ball, with sprinkles of garlic and parmesan.

First dish has a simple sauce of tomatoes with salt and pepper. 2nd dish has the cream sauce with saffron and garlic.

Again, for all the foodies, who cares about the recipes?!

This is my entry for Julie's Christmas Delicacy event!

Please let your emails/comments keep coming! it's been great and thanks for your kindness and love!


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Individual Lasagna

Lasagne Individuali! Now I really love the sound of this! You call it Individual Lasagna, eh, nothing! No bells ringing, no goose bumps. Isn't it like a song to your ear to speak something in Italian?! Mark is the best at mimicking the languages and accents and the way he speaks English with Italian accent, it amazes me all the time.

I love the idea of these little personal lasagnas - it's fun to create, to serve and most of all, you can personalize it your way. It's such a playful way to throw in whatever fillings that strikes your fancy. The sauce and the filling I used for these are the same as my Lasagna Rollata-Al-Forno. It smells heavenly while baking and tastes oh-so-out-of-this-world when you eat it.

I've made these with only 6 lasagna noodles. I was running out of the noodles and was craving for homemade lasagna, hence this dish. I think this is a great appetizer dish which can be made ahead for the dinner party. This dish has made those 6 noodles the star of the show! You need very little sauce, filling and cheese for each layer and when you dive your fork into it, the tines come out with strings of cheese pulling behind. Now that's a great visual while having pasta or pizza.

Have fun with this recipe - you can do just about anything with it. I'd love to hear what variations you all try!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Simple Dips

Oregano Feta Dip

Roasted Red Pepper Dip
 I have finally pulled out last of the oregano, rosemary and basil from my garden before the thanksgiving(ours was on October 10th!). I didn't want to dry them as I still have bottles full of dried herbs. Made pesto out of basil, froze the pieces. Used up rosemary for turkey, roasted potatoes and as garnish for my thanksgiving table. Oregano was the only problem herb left . I don't like to use fresh oregano in my dishes as it overpowers almost everything. I love the aroma of this herb but I like to use it dry in my cooking. I also happened to have lots of red peppers which I finally roasted and threw them in the leftover dill pickle bottle! Both red peppers and oregano were used in the dips for my crudités like this grilled chicken, shrimps, grilled paneer and peppers. The colors of the dips were very inviting and fresh. They were good also as spreads on our sandwiches with leftover grilled chicken and paneer.

Oregano Feta Dip
1 cup fresh oregano leaves
1/4 cup feta crumbles
Pepper to taste
1 tbsp olive oil

Blend everything together.

Roasted Red Pepper Dip
2 medium red peppers, roasted, peeled, cubed (or use 1 jar of storebought roasted red pepper)
Salt and pepper to taste
2-3 tbsp red wine vinegar

Blend all the ingredients together, adjust the thinness of the dips to your liking.

went oh-so-well with all my grilled dishes!
grilled lamb
grilled shrimps, paneer, peppers

Friday, November 4, 2011

Pizza of the Month - Nacho Cheese Pizza

Another crowd pleaser and family favorite. Who doesn't like nachos and cheese AND pizza? Combine both and be prepared to get ooh's and aah's from whoever sets an eye on it, Let alone eat it! This pizza was so delish and it is only available in your kitchen if you decide to make it. I haven't come across any menu as yet which has this particular pizza on it. So my friends, it is totally up to you to decide to make one for you and family or just drool over by looking at the pictures! Choice is yours.

I actually decided to make enchiladas with the sauce I had on hand. Didn't have the tortillas in my fridge. So I ended up making this flavorful pizza for us. Leftover sauce, I froze it which I used just 2 weeks before when my parents were with me. Gotta have them to taste this pizza too.

Everything is very simple and quick to put together. You make the pizza dough and while it's doing it's thing(rising I mean!), you make the sauce,shred the cheese. Once baked, enjoy and bask in the glory of having been able to make pizzeria style pizza right in your kitchen.
Nacho Cheese Pizza
For crust: please find out the basic pizza dough recipe from my blog! It's somewhere.

For Sauce: 
1 lb. ground chicken
1 can crushed tomatoes
1 envelope taco seasoning
1 medium onion, diced
Garlic cloves to taste, diced
1 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp sugar
1/4 cup oil
1 tsp red pepper flakes, optional
2 spring onions, sliced(optional)
2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded

How to:
Make sauce by sautéing onion, garlic and red pepper flakes in oil.
Add chicken and cook till no long pink.
Add crushed tomatoes, oregano, sugar, salt and taco seasoning and simmer for about an hour.
Pre heat oven to 450° F.
Roll out the pizza base from the dough.
Spread the sauce on top of the base.
Sprinkle with cheese and bake for about 20 minutes or till the cheese browns up and gets bubbly.
Sprinkle spring onions, slice and enjoy.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Lemon Blueberry Loaf

Lemon loaf cake itself is very refreshing and good. Add a handful of fresh blueberries to it and it is robust with flavours and much better! I made this on hubby dear's birthday. Made it a couple of days ahead and then poured the freshly made tartalicious glaze on top. All that was leftover were the crumbs.

This is one of THE easiest recipe one could ever find. We all have these ingredients on hand. And the fruit is interchangeable. You don't have blueberries, throw in any berries or any fruit that can withstand the heat of the oven and you will have a fantastic cake to go with your tea, coffee or even better, brunch with friends and family.

Lemon Blueberry Loaf
1-1/2 cups AP flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
6 tbsp butter
1-1/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp grated lemon zest
1/3 cup milk
1-1/2 cup fresh blueberries coated in about 1/4 cup flour
How to:
Preheat the oven to 375°F. mix all the dry ingredients in one bowl.
Cream butter and sugar together with hand mixer.
Add eggs one by one and mix till thoroughly incorporated.
Now add milk, vanilla extract and mix well.
Lastly, add blueberries coated with flour, fold into the batter.
Pour in the loaf pan and bake for about 55 minutes or till the tooth pick comes out clean once inserted in cake.
Lemon glaze:
1/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp lemon juice

How to:
Disslove sugar in lemon juice.
Once the cake is cooled, pour glaze on top.