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!