May 23, 2011

Blueberry Crumb Bars

Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem

One time, while traveling overseas, I got the biggest hankering for a blueberry muffin. It was one of those cases where you've been out of your comfort zone for too long and you start craving the most "regular" of things, which of course you can't get at that very moment you want it. There I was, surrounded by some of the best (and halal!) food the world has to offer and I was craving an ordinary blueberry muffin.

It got so bad that I ended up making my husband buy me one of those gourmet, froo-froo muffins from some airport cafe nook. Don't ask me how much we paid, its too painful to remember. But the point is, it did hit the spot. It wasn't some extraordinary muffin or something (see above: airport cafe) but just the taste of those juicy jems bursting with flavor with each bite and that comforting aroma of a baked blueberry was enough to fill that craving I'd been having those months prior. And then we came back state side and I didn't anything else blueberry-ish for years. Insaan is funny like that, huh?

That is, until I met these beauties and that all-too familiar feeling of blueberries! now! must! have! came over me. This time it was much easier this time to fulfill that desire, and fulfill it I did, alhamdulillah! These came together in no time and shared every good thing that can come in the form of a blueberry muffin but cuter and more bite-sized.

I'll admit, sometimes I skip over things like zest and juice because I don't have the actual fruit to zest or, who am I kidding, am too lazy to actually zest it. I've never missed it from a recipe, to tell you the truth. But this time I did it, and WOW, could you actually tell a difference. Nothing screamed lemon but there was a bright undertone to the sweet berries that would most definitely be missed if left out. And with berry picking season around the corner, you'll have no excuse not to try these yourself.

note: I've made these with both fresh and frozen blueberries and they turned out just fine.

Blueberry Crumb Bars

1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup cold unsalted butter (2 sticks or 8 ounces)
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon salt
Zest and juice of one lemon
4 cups fresh blueberries
1/2 cup white sugar
4 teaspoons cornstarch

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease a 9×13 inch pan.

2. In a medium bowl, stir together 1 cup sugar, 3 cups flour, and baking powder. Mix in salt and lemon zest. Use a fork or pastry cutter to blend in the butter and egg. Dough will be crumbly. Pat half of dough into the prepared pan.

3. In another bowl, stir together the sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice. Gently mix in the blueberries. Sprinkle the blueberry mixture evenly over the crust. Crumble remaining dough over the berry layer.

4. Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes, or until top is slightly brown. (This took an extra 10 to 15 minutes in my oven.) Cool completely before cutting into squares.

May 20, 2011

Halal Pina Colada

Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem

Though the weather lately may seem to the contrary, spring has officially started. And what better way to celebrate the green grass and sunny skies with an equally sunny drink? Though I love to serve appetizers (basically, a miniature form of my favorite foods), sometimes I'm in a crunch for time to actually prepare any. In those cases espcially, I find a fun drink is more than enough to keep company entertained until the real meal comes out.

Or this drink can stand alone as a dessert, because yes, it is that sweet. Of course, I have no idea if this anywhere close to a "real pina colada" alhamdulillah, but I do know that the coconut and pineapple flavors just sing together. Adjust each amount according to your preference (sweet vs. sour). But you MUST use cream of coconut and NOT coconut milk, they are two very different things, the former being a thick cream and the latter the water from the coconut.

Halal Pina Colada 
(I found this recipe from a sisters forum, wish I knew the name of the sister who posted it to give her the credit! Also, sorry for the very "rustic" directions, this is one of those recipes that you can really personalize to your taste)

1/2 can of Cream of Coconut
large can of pineapple chunks, reserve the juice
half cup of ice cubes
extra fruit for garnish

1. Add everything to a blender and blend until smooth. Taste; add more cream of coconut to make sweeter, more pineapple juice to make more. Garnish with extra fruit.

May 13, 2011

Spicy Popcorn Chicken

Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem

So there's very little doubt that these 40 minute buns are a super hit (they even made it into the top 10!) but did you know they were a replacement recipe for a previous hamburger bun recipe? Since the updated recipe is my go-to one and seems to be for others as well, then most y'all may not know about a recipe buried within the older bun recipe for spicy chicken sandwiches. Have I confused you yet? Let's make it simple: there's a great recipe for spicy chicken sandwiches that doesn't get any attention so how about we shine some light on it?

Except, that I'm not going to make the exact same thing (so much for losing the original recipe, AGAIN). I was looking for a side accompaniment to our dinner the other night and decided to do some chicken nuggets for the kids but wanted to kick it up for the grown-ups. Using the spicy chicken sandwich as my guide, I whipped up a batch of these spicy nuggets.

Of course you can stick to the classic and just do the recipe with larger pieces of chicken. This recipe as written is not spicy enough for us  (the heat seems to get lost in the flour, I guess) so if you prefer thinks really spicy then follow my advice and quadruple (yes, that means 4 times!) the cayenne pepper amount like I did and you'll start to notice some heat ;)

Spicy Popcorn Chicken

Enough vegetable oil to deep fry
1/3 cup frank's original red hot pepper sauce
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons cayenne pepper (I quadruple this amount, please don't think I'm crazy!)
1 teaspoon fresh coarse ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1 chicken breast, cut into 1" pieces (season with salt and pepper to taste)
4 plain hamburger buns

1.Heat-up oil for deep frying

2. Pour the hot sauce in a shallow bowl. In a seperate bowl, mix the flour cayenne pepper, blackpepper,garlic powder. Divide this mixture into two seperate bowls.

3. Dredge each chicken piece in one bowl of the dry mixture, then dip into the hot sauce and back into a second bowl of the dry mixture.
Repeat until you've coated all the pieces.

4. Carefully lower pieces into hot oil using a slotted spoon and fry until evenly golden brown. Be careful not to over-crowd your pan or the chicken will not have a crispy crust. Serve hot with your favorite dipping sauce or make one yourself by mixing low-fat mayo and hot sauce.

May 3, 2011

Top Ten

Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem

Looking through my stats today, I found the top ten recipes with the highest hits and thought y'all might be interested too, so here goes:

The Muslim Wife's Kitchen Top Ten Recipes

1. Grape Leaves:  They're my favorite food, and apparently yours too!

2. Cheesecake Brownies  I was surprised to see this come in second place, but I don't blame you!

3. Fasolia Khadra bi Banadora (Green Beans and Beef : My favorite (and only!) way to eat green beans. 

4. Soft Pretzels: The easiest and almost fool-proof pretzel recipe out there!

5. Hamburger Buns:: You'll never buy a pre-packaged bun again.

6. Aloo Gobi (Potatoes and Cauliflower): Classic Indian dish that every non-Indian should know how to make.

7. Pioneer Woman's Cinnamon Rolls: OMG why did it take me years to try these?!

8. "Hamburger" Cupcakes: These are perfect to take along to your next barbeque

9. Homemade Samosa Dough and Filling: No more spring-roll-samosas for me.

10. Pasta Pie: An oldie but a good that could feed an army!