January 31, 2010

Dinner Party

Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem

Last night we entertained a very sweet family, masha'allah. I knew they weren't traditionally used to spicy food, I dialed back the amount of heat I usually use but still ended up with very flavorful dishes, alhamdulillah. No pictures again as it was a bit crazy getting food from the dishes before things were sent to the mens side, but here's a run down:

Bagara Khana (spiced rice- mostly used garam masala and ground cumin), chicken khorma (chicken and potato curry), lentils and beef curry, spinach and feta stuffed puff pastry and homemade naan. Everything was a hit, masha'allah! I thought I made enough to have leftover for tonight but everyone took seconds (thirds?) so I'm happier with that!

January 29, 2010

Morning Goodies

Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem

 Edited 1/6/11: Updated with a better and almost fool proof recipe found here: Muslim Wife Cinnamon Rolls

We finished up last nights pizza for dinner tonight, along with a big salad and homemade vinaigrette, alhamdulillah. Since I don't have a new dinner recipe for you, I thought I'd just share what I made for breakfast instead.

Cinnamon Buns
* 1 cup warm milk
* 2 eggs, room temp
* 1/3 cup margarine, melted
* 4 1/2 cups bread flour (I used all-purpose)
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 cup white sugar
* 2 1/2 teaspoons yeast

* 1 cup brown sugar, packed
* 2 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
* 1/3 cup butter, softened

Frosting (personally, I like to double this because we like a lot of frosting on ours):
* 1 (3 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
* 1/4 cup butter, softened
* 1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
* 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 1/8 teaspoon salt

1. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm milk. Mix in sugar, margarine, salt, and eggs. Add flour and mix well. Knead the dough into a large ball, using your hands dusted lightly with flour. Put in a bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place about 1 hour, or until doubled in size.

2. In a small bowl, combine brown sugar and cinnamon. Set aside.

3. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into a 16x21 inch rectangle. Spread dough with 1/3 cup butter and sprinkle evenly with sugar/cinnamon mixture. Roll up dough and cut into 12 rolls. Place rolls in a lightly greased 9x13 inch (preferably glass) baking pan. Cover and let rise until nearly doubled, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).

4. Bake rolls in preheated oven until golden brown, about 15 minutes. (Keep a very close eye and decrease heat and increase the time cooking if you feel it is too hot). While rolls are baking, beat together cream cheese, 1/4 cup butter, confectioners' sugar, vanilla extract and salt. Spread frosting on warm rolls before serving.

January 28, 2010

Leftovers' Leftovers

Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem

I still had leftovers from my leftovers and wanted to try something different, thus, the Fajita Pizza was born. I used my usual pizza crust recipe and topped it off with my usual fajita mix. Masha'allah, turned out a lot better than I thought!

Chicken Fajita Pizza

pizza dough
chicken fajita mixture (chopped up a bit)
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup salsa
favorite pizza toppings

1. Preheat oven to 400. Combine sour cream and salsa and spread evenly over pizza dough.

2. Top with chopped up chicken and bell peppers (left over fajita mix). Add favorite pizza toppings and top with cheese. Bake 30 minutes or until crust is golden and cheese is bubbling.

January 27, 2010

Making Up!

Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem

I know, I know, I'm supposed to be posting my nightly meals but I have good reason for missing a night: hunger. Pure, simple, raw hunger. Sometimes we're scarf down the meal so fast I completely forget to take a picture and then I try to make up for it by writing paragraphs about seemingly boring yet highly valuable information. But just to recap, last night we had a slow-cooked spicy rice, chappali kabobs and steamed vegetables dressed in a homemade vinaigrette. Tonight we finished the leftovers, alhamdulillah.

So in the spirit of making ammends I offer you not one, but two recipes - one savory and one sweet. Insha'allah we can call it even now!

Chicken Kabab

This is based on my aunts recipe who makes the meanest chicken kabobs (love you, R. Aunty!). Of course, hers are much better but I'd like to think my version isn't too shabby)

2 lbs boneless, skinless ground chicken breast (I run cubed breast through my food processor, be careful not to over process of you'll end up with chicken paste - ew)
1/2 - 1 cup finely chopped cilantro (based on your liking)
2 tsp garlic/giner paste
2 tsp olive oil
squirt of lemon juice
salt to taste
(add 1 tsp chopped green chillis if you like some heat)

1. Blend all ingredients together in small bowl. Allow to marinate together for 1 hour.

2. Lightly oil hands and shape chicken mixture into 3" logs; arrange on a lined and oiled baking sheet.

3. Place under broiler for about 7 minutes on each side. Keep a watchful eye on these, chicken breast can dry out very quickly.

* I throw in some vegetables under the broiler alongside the chicken to round out the meal.

Chocolate Chip/Cinnamon Sour Cream Cake
(I half the recipe and bake in a loaf pan, the reculting butter crust is delicious and perfect with a hot cup of tea!)

1 stick unsalted butter (4 ounces or 8 tablespoons) at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs, separated
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
16 ounces sour cream
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
12 ounces chocolate chips
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350°F.
In a large bowl, cream butter and 1 1/2 cups sugar, then mix in the egg yolks and vanilla. Sift flour, baking soda and baking powder together into a separate bowl. Alternately add sour cream and then dry ingredients into butter mixture. Beat eggs whites until stiff, then fold into batter. Mix last 1/2 cup sugar and cinnamon together in a separate, small dish.
In a greased 9″x13″ pan, pour in half of the cake batter. Sprinkle the top with half of the cinnamon-sugar mixture and half of the chocolate chips. Pour remaining batter on top, sprinkling the top with the remaining cinnamon-sugar and chocolate chips.
Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean.

January 26, 2010


Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem

Where I come from, you haven't eaten until you've had your rice. Put out bread for us and we'll nibble down a piece as an appetizer, but rice, that's real people food. In our family, we just can't eat rice everyday. In fact, usually about once a week...twice at best. But when I eat, somewhere deep inside me I feel a contentment knowing that now, now I'm eating real food.

That being said, rice can be tricky to make, or maybe it was just tricky for me. When I first got married I refused to use a rice cooker as my crutch. But after throwing out many, many shameful pots of blackened and burned rice I had to temporarily resort to a rice cooker and it did us well, alhamdulillah. After I got comfortable with cooking in general I took another stab at it and can now say that, masha'Allah, I think I've got it and would love to pass on my time-tested tips with you all.

First, make sure to rinse and soak your rice for about 15 minutes. Over time you'll find some rice needs more and some are fine without it. But to start off with, it never hurts to give a good washing to your rice. Don't let it soak too long as it'll become too sticky while it cooks.

Next you'll need to make sure to use a heavy bottomed pot to ensure even cooking and that the bottom layer doesn't burn or cook before the rest of the rice is done cooking. Before adding your rice to the pot, head up a little oil in it and swish around. This is also your chance to add any speasonings to your rice: minced onion, garlic, garam masala, turmeric, ground cumin, tomato paste, etc. Add your drained rice and allow everythign to cook together for about a minute, constantly stirring the rice. You'll notice the rice turn a bit chalky in color, at this point add your cooking liquid. I usually use water but stock is a great way to add another layer of flavor to your rice. Use 2 parts liquid to 1 part rice (example: 2 cups rice and 4 cups liqud. Cover pot and turn heat on high. Wait until liquid reches a boil and allow to boil for about a minute. After a minute turn your heat down on a very low heat, less than a simmer, and let cook until rice3 is cooked through. Depending on how much rice you're cooking this will take anywhere from 20 minutes to 40 minutes. Rice cooked on low heat for a longer time results in softer, tender grains.

The important thing here is to keep a tight lid on your pot. What I do to ensure this is invert a metal bowl (or any other heat proof bowl) on top of the lid and then stack a heavy object on top. Usually a huge jar of spaghetti sauce or another pot filled with canned beans, etc. It may sound funny (and looks even funnier!) but trust me, this creats a very tight seal and ensures very little steam will escape.

If your rice is too soft in the end, remove from heat and uncover. It'll loose some moisture and "dry up" as it cools down. If it's too hard and not cooked through, add more water and continue to cook until tender.

Rice is one of those things that becomes very personal and in time you'll develop your own unique tips to making it perfect for you and your family, insha'allah.

January 25, 2010

Leftovers, Oh How I Love Thee....

Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem

Alhamdulillah, we had plenty of fajita leftovers from last nights impromptu dinner so I didn't have to do much else than reheat and assemble. These fajitas are my attempt at recreating my mother-in-laws fajitas, so she really get all credit for this one. It was her suggestion to me on how to use up leftover chicken or meat, but they're so good I defrost fresh meat just for it! Besides being incredibly delicious, they're come together very easy and is my go-to meal for those hectic days when I can't spend much time in the kitchen.

Chicken Fajitas
1 chicken breast (boneless/skinless) small dice
1 green pepper, cut into 1/2 " strips (or half a green pepper and half a red pepper)
1 small onion , cut into 1/2" strips
2 garlic cloves
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tbsp cajun seasoning (I love Tones over anyother brand,use what you like)

1. In a little oil over medium high heat, sweat out the onions and peppers (for a charred effect, add less oil and keep them moving as they get black spots). As they start to get soft, create a well in the middle of the pan and chicken. Sprinkle with salt to taste, minced garlic and cajun seasoning.

2. When chicken is no longer pink on all sides, stir peppers and chicken together (add more oil to the pan as needed). Add in lemon juice and keep things moving. Reduce heat and continute cooking until chicken is cooked through. If you find things drying up too much and burning, add small amounts of water, but make to sure cook off any liquid at the end. Excess liquid creates soggy fajitas, thats a no-no!

Toppings: sour cream, lettuce, tomatoes, guacamole

1 cup all purpose flour (or half allpurpose and half whole wheat)
1/2 tsp yeast
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp oil
1/2 cup very warm water (add in small amounts as needed)

1. In a large bowl combine flour, salt, yeast and oil. Mix with hands.

2. Slowly add water (1/4 cup at a time) until dough comes together in a ball. Add more flour if its too sticky, more water if too dry. Once the dough forms one smooth ball, knead for a 2 minutes.

3. Lightly oil bowl and turn dough to coat, cover with kitchen towel and leave it alone. You don't want your rotis too "puffy" for fajitas, so I wouldn't suggest letting the dough double. Instead, leave it to reast about 20 minutes and the yeast will create a soft dough that will give you soft and tender rotis to roll you fajitas in.

4. Break off pieces of dough into egg-size balls (for bigger or thicker rotis, break-off bigger pieces). Gently pat into flattened circle and lightly dip into bowl of reserved flour; shake-off excess.

5. On a clean surface (you shouldn't need to flour the surface as the dough has been dusted with flour already) roll flattened circle into 6" circle. With a rolling pin, start rolling from center of circle outward with continue long rolls (don't start and stop in the middle of the circle).

6. Drizzle a little oil on a hot skillet (I use a tavvah, but a large frying pan or skillet does the same job). Make sure your skillet is hot to begin with. Carefully lay roti in hot oil. Let it cook on one side without disturbing, until you see little bubble appear on the surface. Using a large spatula, flip roti and cook second side.

7. Arrange cooked and hot rotis on a plate and cover loosely with foil. Best eaten hot.

Oven Fries
1. Pre-heat oven to 420.

2. Peel large russet potoates (I leave the skin on and give it a good scrub). Slice length wise into thirds. Slice each third into rought 1/2" strips. Oil a baking sheet (or cover with oiled sheed of foil) and spread out fries in a single layer.

3. Drizzle fries with enough to oil to light cover each piece. You can add more during the cooking process if they are beggining to burn. Sprinjle with garlic powder, cajun seasoning or Italian seasoning. Using hands, toss to ensure fries are evenly coated with seasoning. Spread back into single layer.

4. Bake in oven until cooked through (keep testing at around 15 minutes). Sprinkle salt over fries AFTER they have been removed from oven.

January 24, 2010

Sunday Night Football

Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem

We had some last minute company for dinner and I took a laid-back approach with pizza, a fajita bar and some home fries (fries baked in the oven). No pics of the food as it was all sent over to the guys side before I could take any. But don't worry, I did snap a few of the most important part of the meal:

Viking's Purple Frosted Cupcakes with Chocolate Footballs (yes, I'm aware it's not quite as purple as it should be, but it did the job! And yes, we're also equally aware the Vikings lost, but at least the cupcakes were good!)

January 23, 2010

Slow Saturday

Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem

It was just me and the kids tonight, so we did a small pizza. I snuck in some kale and ground beef under the cheesy layer but it didn't work, the kids caught me.

Two bites into it we switched to good ol' PBJ. It was a laid back Saturday night dinner over here, alhamdulillah.

Chocolate Muffins

Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem

So you know I have a thing for chocolate cupcakes and a little something with muffins, so it'd only make sense to combine the two: chocolate muffins. How are they different from a cupcake, you ask? All the sturdiness and subtle-sweetness of a muffin with the specks of rich chocolate and deep flavors of cocoa from a cupcake. A perfect balance to me!

Chocolate-Chocolate Chunk Muffins

  • 3/4 of a stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (I used chips and it worked fine)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk (regular 2% did the job for me!)
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter or spray the 12 molds in a regular-size muffin pan or fit the molds with paper muffin cups. Alternatively, use a silicone muffin pan, which needs neither greasing nor paper cups. Place the muffin pan on a baking sheet.
Melt the butter and half the chopped chocolate together in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water; or do this in a microwave. Remove from the heat.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a large glass measuring cup or another bowl, whisk the buttermilk, egg and vanilla extract together until well combined. Pour the liquid ingredients and the melted butter and chocolate over the dry ingredients and, with the whisk or a rubber spatula, gently but quickly stir to blend. Don't worry about being thorough—a few lumps are better than overmixing the batter. Stir in the remaining chopped chocolate. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin molds.
Bake for 20 minutes, or until a thin knife inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool 5 minutes before carefully removing each muffin from its mold.

January 22, 2010

Friday Night Dinner - Black Bean Burgers

Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem

It's not quite midnight over here, so technically I'm still making my "one post a day" deadline! Tonight we had black bean burgers, left over ziti and a salad. You only get one picture because black bean burgers aren't the prettiest things. It's basically mashed-up black beans and seasoning.

It was our first time making and eating them and they weren't bad at all! Great for vegetarians or if you're just trying to eat less meat in general. My main intention was trying to sneak in some protein to the kids without them really noticing. It was a success, alhamdulillah!

Black Bean Burgers

1 celery stalk, chopped
1/2 onion, finely minced
1/2 bell pepper (green or red)
2 garlic cloves finely minced
1 tbsp cumin
1 can of black beans
1 tbsp chilli seasoning
1/2 -1 cup bread crumbs
1 egg
salt to taste

1. Preheat oven to 375. Saute onions, celery, bell peppers and garlic until softened.

2. Meanwhile, drain and rinse beans. Mash them with a fork or a potato masher until it becomes a thick paste. I left it a little chunky for texture.

3. Add in sauteed vegetables, seasoning, egg and bread crumbs. Shape into patties and place on baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes on each side (mine were ready before 10 minutes, but I also made them thin and small).

* yes, I made my hamburgers with sandwich bread. It's all the same...kinda!

January 21, 2010

Baked Ziti

Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem

Day 2 of my Dinner Diary! Thank you so much for all the readers coming out of the woodwork and offering up their support. I'm truely flattered! Ok, on with the food...after looking up several different Baked Ziti recipes online, I basically surmised it was ziti, sauce and cheese. Baked together. So that's what I did. With the hopes of jazzing it up, I added in a layer of garlic-flavored bechamel and spinach. Not too shabby, alhamdulillah. We rounded this off with yet some more pretzels and some banana-peanut butter cookies for the kids.

January 20, 2010

Salmon & Pretzels

Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem

Tonights dinner is the product of fasting and trying to use-up leftovers (ie, velveeta). Salmon and pretzels may not sound like a great pairing, but it worked!

Tandoori Salmon, dill rice and roasted potato:

Tandoori Salmon
- yogurt/sour cream
- lemon juice
- garlic powder
-olive oil
- cilantro
- tandoori seasoning (your favorite brand, or you can easily find recipes for a Tandoori spice blend online)

1. In a small bowl combine garlic powder, yogurt/sour cream, lemon juice and tandoori seasoning. Set aside.

2. Bone and fillet your fish, or take the easy road like me and buy it clean and ready to go! Wild caught, of course. Spread a layer of yogurt and spice mix on one side salmon. Drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice. Cover and marinate at least 2 hours.

3. Cook on medium high heat, spiced side down for 5 minutes per side or until fish flakes easily wit fork. Remove from pan and drizzle with lemon juice and chopped cilantro.

Homemade soft pretzels and a jalapeno-cheddar dipping sauce:

Soft Pretzels
(taken from Smitten Kitchen)

(how to twist)

Makes 16 full-sized or 32 miniature
2 cups warm water (100°F to 110°F)
1 tablespoon + 2 tablespoons sugar
1 packet active dry yeast
5 to 6 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons canola or other neutral oil
1/4 cup baking soda
1 large egg
Coarse or pretzel salt
Vegetable-oil cooking spray
1. Pour warm water and 1 tablespoon sugar into bowl of electric mixer fitted with a dough hook* and stir to combine. Sprinkle with yeast, and let sit 10 minutes; yeast should be foamy.
2. Add 1 cup flour to yeast, and mix on low until combined. Add salt and 4 cups more flour, and mix until combined, about 30 seconds. Beat on medium-low until dough pulls away from sides of bowl, about 1 1/2 minutes. Add another 1/2 cup flour, and knead on low 1 minute more. If dough is still wet and sticky, add 1/2 cup more flour (this will depend on weather conditions); knead until combined, about 30 seconds. Transfer to a lightly floured board, and knead about ten times, or until smooth.
3. Pour oil into a large bowl; swirl to coat sides. Transfer dough to bowl, turning dough to completely cover all sides. Cover with a kitchen towel, and leave in a warm spot for 1 hour, or until dough has doubled in size.
4. Heat oven to 450°F. Lightly spray two baking sheets with cooking spray (parchment paper, ungreased, also works). Set aside. Punch down dough to remove bubbles. Transfer to a lightly floured board. Knead once or twice, divide into 16 pieces (about 2 1/2 ounces each) or 32 if making miniature pretzels, and wrap in plastic.
5. Roll one piece of dough at a time into an 18-inch-long strip. [I find the pretzels much easier to roll on an unfloured board, oddly enough, but see what works for you.] Twist into pretzel shape; transfer to prepared baking sheet. Cover with a kitchen towel. Continue to form pretzels; eight will fit on each sheet (you may need a third sheet if making miniatures). Let pretzels rest until they rise slightly, about 15 minutes.
6. Meanwhile, fill large, shallow pot with 2 inches of water. Bring to a boil. Add baking soda (and step back, it foams up quickly) and remaining 2 tablespoons sugar. Reduce to a simmer; transfer three to four pretzels to water. Poach 1 minute on each side. Use slotted spoon to transfer pretzels to baking sheet. Continue until all pretzels are poached.
7. Beat egg with 1 tablespoon water. Brush pretzels with egg glaze. Sprinkle with salt. Bake until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool on wire rack, or eat warm. Pretzels are best when eaten the same day, but will keep at room temperature, uncovered, for two days. Do not store in covered container or they will become soggy.

Cheese Sauce
1. Melt processed cheese, like Velveeta, on medium low heat until just melted. Mix in cream cheese (one part cream cheese to two parts Velveeta). Stir to combine. Once melted, stir in chopped pickled jalapenos and a dash of tabasco sauce. Adjust to your desired heat level.

Dinner Diary

Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem

My good ol' buddy Umm Dawood, who I suspect is the only reader of this blog, gave me a great idea the other day: to blog about my dinner everynight. I initially laughed it off, but somewhere deep in my cluttered, frantic mind, some creative seeds were sown. As I threw together dinner the other night I thought more about it. Why not snap a picture of what we eat everynight and let everyone see it. Some night you may not get more than a picture of an empty Dominoes box (tip: the new pizzas are nothing to write home about, save yourself $12), but at the very least it'll keep my posting regularly.

So here I go, insha'allah! Let see if I can keep this up for one month. After that, we'll see what happens! Anyone else want to try it out with me?

January 4, 2010


Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem

I whipped these babies up when I had a last minute invitation to a sister house and wanted to take some dessert, only to realize I had no eggs! A homemade dessert with no eggs, is it possible? Make a batch, eat one (or two) and then you'll be convinced I'm sure.

Coconut Macaroons

14 oz sweetened shredded coconut
14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
2 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup flour
pinch of salt

1. Preheat oven to 350

2. Mix all ingredients together.

3. Using a small cookie scoop, or a tablespoon, place rounded mounds of mixture 2" apart on a cookie sheet. Bake until firm and lightly browned.

I went ahead and made it extra fabulous by dipping in some melted semi-sweet chocolate ;)