May 28, 2010

Brunchin' on Fruit Pizza

Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem

On a moments notice, I was overcome with the idea to do a simple but fun girls brunch. I wanted it to be as fuss-free as possible, made most of the food the night before and kept it an intimate gathering of close sisters.Of course I included the usual muffin favorites but wanted to have something fresh and fruity. Sure, a fruit salad would do but thats so....regular. Thats when I came across a sweet idea: fruit pizzas.

This is so simple that it's almost embarrassing, but so cute that I just have to share it with you. Just take your favorite sugar cookie recipe (or a boxed sugar cookie mix) and top with a sweet cream cheese frosting and your favorite assortment of fruits (or, in my case, whatever needed to be used from the produce drawer ASAP!). Have fun with it, switch out the base for your favorite recipe, go crazy with some wacky fruit designs. Either way, it'll be delicious I'm sure!

Fruit Pizza

1  Sugar Cookie recipe or store bought dough or boxed mix
1/2 cup cream cheese frosting (below)
Assorted fruits, sliced

1. Press cookie dough into a 10 inch spring form pan. Bake until evenly golden but still slightly soft in the middle. Allow to fully cool before decorating ( I did this the night before).

2. Un-mold from pan and spread even layer of frosting. Arrange fruits on top and enjoy! Store leftovers in fridge.

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 powdered sugar as needed.

May 21, 2010

Spinach Bhajiya

Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem

These tasty snacks go by many different names: bhajiya, pakoras, or even fritters. In my house they're known as "The Things to Quickly Throw Together when Unexpected Company Drops By". My mom could whip up a batch of these in minutes, masha'allah.

It was under her watchful eye (as she ran around getting the tea cups and plates ready for those unexpected guests) that she taught me how to make these family favorites. "Not too many onions", "more red pepper", "thats too much water!" and so on. Sure, its an easy recipe that requires dumping ingredients in one bowl and giving it a good stire. But theres a lot more intuiution involved: ration of spinich to batter, consistency, how large to make each bhajiya, etc. But thats the case with any recipe and I promise it won't take long for you to figure out all those details, especially if you end up making them as often as we do!

Spinach Bhajiyah
1 cup besan (gram flour)
1/2 cup frozen spinach, defrosted (don't drain, use the liquid to thin your batter)
1/2 onion, sliced or chopped to your liking
3/4 tsp garlic & ginger paste
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp red chili powder (or as much heat as you can handle!)
1 tsp salt (more to your liking)

1. Mix everything in one bowl and slowly start adding water, mixing after each addition, until batter is thick but can easily drop from a spoon.

2. In a frying pan, heat oil over medium heat and drop batter by the tablespoon. Allow to cook on each side at least 2 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove on slotted spoon and drain. Serve with a sweet imli (tamarind) or spicy chili chutney.

May 20, 2010

Baked Koftah with Tahini Sauce

Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem

Rarely do I find a food blog that inspires me. Most of the ones I regularly visit are usually for the funny stories that accompany the gorgeous pictures, or when I'm looking for something that I can revamp and add some real flavor to. But then I found this one, and masha'Allah, I love it! It's authentic, its easy to understand, it's absolutely delicious! Tonight I auditioned the baked koftah and am so glad I did.

I love Arabic food but I'm used to a spicier palette, so I usually throw in a few extra hot peppers and some of my favorite spices. I halved the original recipe and found it quite filling. Though it didn't have a huge kick of flavor (I plan on adding cayenne next time), the baked tahini on top gave it a warm and nutty flavor that only tahini could do. Also, thanks to a couple crazy kids, I baked mine a bit longer than intended, but was not at all sorry after tasting it: the tahini crust was great!

Koftah with Tahini Sauce

- Kofta 
( I substituted cilantro for parsley and added 2 green chilies)
- 3/4 cup tahini paste
- 1/2 cup lemon juice
- 1/2 cup water
- Two large potatoes … sliced thinly
- 1 tb vegetable oil
- salt

1. Make kofta mixture and spread in a 10-inch pan and make indentation in it.

2. Make the tahini sauce: In a bowl add the tahini and then add the lemon juice to it. Lastly, add in water.

3. Place the sliced potatoes on top of the kofta and add 1/2 cup of water ,cover it with alluminuim foil and bake it at medium heat until the potatoes are done

4.Test the potatoes to make sure its done, dont over bake or the meat will dry out.

5.After the potatoes are fork tender add the tahini sauce and bake it again uncovered about 30 mins (this is to reduce the sauce).

May 18, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem

I always cringe when I hear "The BEST Chocolate Chip Cookies" or "The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe" or anything remotely similar. The fact is, there are dozens of varieties of chocolate chip cookies (thick, crispy, cakey, chewy, etc). and dozens of ways to make each variety and all it comes down to in the end is how you like them, its a deeply personal thing, really. So once you find the recipe that suits your tastes, then THAT becomes The Worlds Bestest Perfectest Greatest Chocolate Chip Cookie you, that is.

Now finding that One will take some time and you'll go through many a dozen cookies before finally finding it. But trust me, that search is so worth it because there are few things better than a warm batch of chocolate chip cookies and a glass of milk. I urge you all to test and weed through different recipes until you find what you want, and when you do, hold on to it and never let it go!

I found my perfect recipe on the back of a bag of flour, go figure! It has been my go-to recipe for a while now and I try to always keep some dough in the freezer for unexpected guests. Try it out and who knows, maybe my favorite will soon become yours also!

Gold' Medals Extraordinary Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 1/2cups butter or margarine, softened
1 1/4cups granulated sugar
1 1/4cups packed brown sugar
1tablespoon vanilla
4all-purpose flour
2teaspoons baking soda
1/2teaspoon salt
1bag (24 oz) semisweet chocolate chips (4 cups)  ( I use half this amount and its almost too

Print these coupons...

About Concordance™

1.Heat oven to 350°F. In large bowl, beat butter, sugars, vanilla and eggs with electric mixer on medium speed or with spoon until light and fluffy. Stir in flour, baking soda and salt (dough will be stiff). Stir in chocolate chips.
2.On ungreased cookie sheet, drop dough by tablespoonfuls or #40 cookie/ice cream scoop 2 inches apart. Flatten slightly.
3.Bake 11 to 13 minutes or until light brown (centers will be soft). Cool 1 to 2 minutes; remove from cookie sheet to cooling rack.

May 16, 2010

I'm Here and I Brought Breakfast!

Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem

After a whirl-wind two weeks of traveling and house guests, I'm back and sad to say, with very few food pictures to share! Really, the last thing you want to do when you're about to break bread with those nearest and dearest to your hearts is to bring everything to a halt just to snap a few, so I hope you all can understand!

I did, how ever, manage to snap some pics of a fun breakfast idea while working away in the kitchen. I was inspired by a magazine cover that showed a circle cut out of piece of toast and a whole sunny-side-up egg cooked in the middle of it. Thinking one egg per piece of toast was a bit too much, I scrambled them up and cooked a layer in each one.

There could be so many variations of this that it makes my head spin: cut out different shapes or letters, throw in veggies or spices to the eggs, ad a slice of cheese to the underside for a gooey effect, etc. The only thing I'd change next time is to make the egg layer a bit thicker. Other than that, these were so much fun to make and eat!

 Egg-Filled Toast

1. Cut out desired shapes from pieces of bread. Set aside cut-outs to east as toast.

2. In a bowl, scramble eggs and season as desired.

3. Melt butter in a griddle over medium-high heat, and place bread. Allow to toast about 30 seconds. Carefully pour in milk mixture into cut-out middle of bread.

4. Allow eggs to set up for about a minute and carefully but quickly flip over. Cook for a minute more on the other side (or until you think your eggs are cooked through) and remove.

May 3, 2010

Jalapeno Poppers

Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem

Back in high school, I used to love stopping by the local grease-joint, aka, fast food restaurant, for an order of jalapeno poppers. I got so hooked on those things that I set out to making my own. So when nobody was home, I took some little green chili's, filled it with cheddar cheese and dropped them in hot oil. That's exactly how you don't make jalapeno poppers. A good start would be to use jalapenos, of course, but what did I know? That was probably my first expiremental cooking adventure. It would be another 8 years until I was married and perfecting this hot and spicy snack for family and friends.

After much research, tweaking and accidental eye-rubs (ouch!), I think I've got, alhamdulillah. At least the brothers who cleaned off a tray of them in a matter of minutes seem to think so.

Jalapeno Poppers

Jalapenos, washed and cut in half length-wise

Filling: (amounts vary according to how many peppers you need to fill, plan for about 1tsp filling for each half pepper; alternatively you can use a vegetable dip or flavored cream cheese)
cream cheese
salt to taste
garlic powder
dry oregano
dry basil
sprinkle of grated cheddar cheese

seasoned bread crumbs
oil for frying

1. Blanch peppers for 1 minute, immediatly remove and drain on paper towels (blanching too long will give you limp, floppy peppers that are hard to fill).

2. Mix filling ingredients in small bowl. Using teaspoon, fill pepper halves, slightly mounding filling. Lightly roll in flour. Refrigerate for 10 minutes.

3. Dip the chilled peppers in egg and roll in bread crumbs. Place back in fridge for another 10 minutes. Repeat this process three times, making sure to chill for 10 minutes in between each coat.

4. Shallow fry in medium low oil until evenly golden brown; drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with salt and enjoy!

May 2, 2010

Chocolate Peanut Butter Crispy Bars

Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem

According to some people, chocolate and peanut butter were made for each other. Though I'm not a huge peanut butter fan myself, trust me when I say, you don't have to twist my arm too hard to get me to try a peanut buttery sweet treat And these babies were no different. I'll warn you, like I always try to do, these are sweet and rich and the best thing is to do what I did and immediately cut up and portion out plates to be given away. Or don't blame me when you've eaten a whole pan yourself ;)


Peanut Butter Crispy Bars
Adapted from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking

For the crispy crust
1 3/4 cups crisped rice cereal
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the milk chocolate peanut butter layer
5 ounces good-quality milk coarsely chopped
1 cup creamy peanut butter

For the chocolate icing
3 ounces dark chocolate (60 to 72 percent cocoa), coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon light corn syrup
4 tablespoons butter, melted

Make the crispy crust:
Lightly spray a paper towel with nonstick cooking spray and use it to rub the bottom and sides of an 8-inch square baking pan.

Put the cereal in a large bowl and set aside.

Pour 1/4 cup water into a small saucepan. Gently add the sugar and corn syrup (do not let any sugar or syrup get on the sides of the pan) and use a small wooden spoon to stir the mixture until just combined. Put a candy thermometer in the saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat and bring to a boil; cook until the mixture reaches the soft ball stage, 235 degrees F.

Remove from the heat, stir in the butter, and pour the mixture over the cereal. Working quickly, stir until the cereal is thoroughly coated, then pour it into the prepared pan. Using your hands, press the mixture into the bottom of the pan (do not press up the sides). Let the crust cool to room temperature while you make the next layer.

Make the milk chocolate peanut butter layer: In a large nonreactive metal bowl, stir together the chocolate and the peanut butter. Set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and cook, stirring with a rubber spatula, until the mixture is smooth. Remove the bowl from the pan and stir for about 30 seconds to cool slightly. Pour the mixture over the cooled crust. Put the pan in the refridgerator for 1 hour, or until the top layer hardens.

Make the chocolate icing: In a large nonreactive metal bowl, combine the chocolate, corn syrup, and butter.
Set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and cook, stirring with a rubber spatula, until the mixture is completely smooth. Remove the bowl from the pan and stir for 30 seconds to cool slightly. Pour the mixture over the chilled milk chocolate peanut butter layer and spread into an even layer. Put the pan into the refrigerator for 1 hour, or until the topping hardens.