August 31, 2009

Presentation Is Everything

Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem

Presentation is everything. Well...almost everything. Especially when it comes to dessert, presentation is key. Dessert is the anticipated moment of a meal, its the last thing you eat and like a sweet afterthought, it will be what lingers in your mind long after the meal is finished. Make it look good, and you can be sure it'll taste good.

At my last dinner party I was out of ideas and ingredients for a fancy shmancy dessert. A quick peak into my pantry and my dilemma was solved. But would a box of 89¢ pistachio pudding wow my guests? With a few scoops of frozen whip cream and my everyday drinking glasses, my doubts were put to rest. Its my new favorite way to serve desserts and can't wait to try out different sizes and shape glasses. Fruit parfait next? Slices of cake and fruit maybe?

Start looking at your everyday kitchen tools in a different light and you'll be pleasantly surprised. A pretty bowl inverted with a plate on top is now a new cake stand or a wooden salad bowl is now a rice platter. Experimenting with what you already have in your home is cheap and fun way to showcase your yummy creations!

August 30, 2009

Pasta Pie

Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem

Lasagna is quick. Lasagna is yummy. Lasagna is simple. Lasagna can get boring. Almost as boring as this paragraph.

Boiling up pasta and throwing in sauce and veggies is a quick and easy iftaar any night. The only problem is, it can start to get very boring. But thats the great thing about pasta, you can change things up and get endless varieties of delicious meals. Lasagna has the best stage presence: its layered, colorful and stays together in compact pieces. Try swapping out pasta shapes and fillings. I made this dish with macaroni, broccoli and a traditional lasagna Ricotta filling. But the kicker is to bake it in a spring form pan and allowing it cool for at least 15 minutes before unmolding and ta dah! Its a whole new dish that can feed a load of people, masha'allah!

Pasta Pie
I must stress that this dish can be personalized to your taste, like most pasta dishes. On this particular day, these are just the things I had on hand. Use whatever pasta and vegetables you have. The beauty of this dish lies in using the spring form pan which helps keeps the shape.

1 box elbow pasta
2 jars red sauce (marinara, spaghetti, etc)
1 container ricotta cheese
2 eggs
1/2 lb cooked ground beef
frozen broccoli
Italian seasoning to taste
salt & pepper to taste

1. Boil pasta according to box directions. Drain when tender but do not rinse. Add in desired sauce and veggies.

2. In a separate bowl, mix the ricotta cheese,eggs, salt, pepper and Italian seasoning.

3. Spread half the pasta mixture in the bottom of a lightly greased spring form pan. Next, spead ground beef in even layer followed by ricotta mixture and last, the other half of the pasta. Sprinkle mozzarella in top.

4. Covered with greased foil (so the cheese doesn't stick) and bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Remove foil and keep under broiler for a couple minutes until cheese is brown and bubbly. Serve with biscuits and salad, enjoy!

August 29, 2009

Cinnamon Muffins

Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem

These are a Suhoor Staple at our house. I make a double batch about once a week so that there are always some in the morning (ok, so some mornings we just settle for cereal but I try!). They are super easy and taste great at room temperature. Add more cinnamon if you like a stronger cinnamon flavor and experiment with different extracts if you like. PLEASE let me know if you
tried them and how you liked it..!

Cinnamon Muffins
Yields: about 12

1 1/2 cups All Purpose Flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar (either light or dark works fine)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract (I use imitation and its great!)
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil (I use canola and it turns out fine)

1. Pre-heat oven at 400 F

2. Stir together dry ingredients with a wisk

3. Add wet ingredients and stir together with spatula until just combined. Its a thick batter and will get stuck in a wisk, so make sure to use a spatula or wooden spoon.

4. Using an ice cream scoop, fill muffin tin lined with paper 2/3 full.

5. Bake 10 - 12 minutes. Keep an eye on them. Bake until just lightly golden and puffed up.

6. Let cool completely before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting

3 oz softened cream cheese
1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

1. Blend ingredients together until smooth, spreadable consistency.

2. Add more powedered sugar as needed.

Ramadan Cooking

Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem

How has Ramadan cooking been going for you all? Hard, easy? Everything turning out over salted or under seasoned?

One of the best Ramadan cooking tips I can give you is to take full advantage of your week off (you know, when Aunt Flow makes a visit) and cook up a storm. I know some people get started before Ramadan starts but I have never been that organized. Rather, I find it easier when I don't have to worry about getting dinner ready until much later than usual and can take my time cooking double batches of that nights meal. By the time your cycle is done, you should have a week's worth of leftovers to rotate through the month.

Also, leftovers pile up fast this month. Since it takes very little to feel full once you break your fast and there is not mid-day meal, take advantage of revamping leftovers into new meals (examples to come soon, insha'allah).


Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem

Welcome to my kitchen! Based on overwhelmingly positive feedback, I've decided to go ahead and try out my little idea. Now I'm not promising you anything; I'm bad enough with just one blog so lets see how this Tw0-Blog-Idea holds up, insha'allah khair.

So why a food blog, you ask? Well, as a wife and mother, most of my time is dedicated to food: planning, prepping, cooking, feeding and cleaning up food. It's not necessarily how I want it, but thats just how it is, alhamdulillah. I've always enjoyed cooking but wasn't always so great at it. As a child I was always in my moms feet trying to chop the veggies and stir the pot of yummy stuff on the stove. Only when I was moving away to get married did I start to take serious note of what she was actually cooking. Over the years I've had to develop my own brand of quick, homemade cooking and am kinda pleased with the results. I now feel confident enough in my cooking skills to share them with other Muslimahs. Insha'allah, I am eagerly looking forward to your feedback and am begging you all to please share your ideas/tips/tricks/techniques with us here. I will give you full credit if your ideas get posted, so consider this a very interactive blog insha'allah.

Can't wait to get cooking with y'all!