Sunday, July 31, 2011

Ramadan Mubarak!

Congratulations to everyone on Ramadan! May we think of this Ramadan as our last so as to do our best and pray that we have many more to come! May God accept our fasting, prayers, charity and hard work!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Mocha Chocolate Marble Sheet Cake

Today is the kids last day of summer day camp, they had a blast! For my 16 year old I sent this cake and for my 7 year old I sent a banana bread, same one I made yesterday for us.

1 cup butter, softened
1-3/4 cups sugar, divided
2 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2-3/4 cup flour
1 tbs baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup unsweetened natural cocoa
3 tbs hot water

Chocolate Frosting:
2-1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup ricotta cheese
2 ts pure vanilla extract
3 tbs coffee

Make the frosting first by whisking the ricotta until there are no lumps. Add the butter and mix it until it's Incorporated.

Add the vanilla and coffee and blend then add the sugar and whisk until it's a smooth frosting.

Scrape it all together with a spatula and set it in the fridge.

Let's make cake! Heat oven to 325 and spray or butter and flour a sheet pan.
Beat the butter and 1-1/2 cups sugar until creamy.

Add eggs, one at a time, beating just until blended after each. Beat in vanilla extract.

Whisk together the flour, salt and baking powder. Starting with the dry add 1/2 to the butter, then add the sour cream, then the rest of the dry.

Spoon 1-1/4 cups batter into a 2-quart bowl, and stir in cocoa, 3 tbs hot water and remaining 1/4 cup sugar until well blended.

Spread remaining vanilla batter into your cake pan. Dollop the chocolate batter onto vanilla batter.
Gently swirl with a knife or small spatula.  Bake 20 minutes, or till a toothpick inserted in center returns with just a few crumbs. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack (about 1 hour).  Frost, cut and serve.


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Banana Oatmeal Bread

1 1/2 cups flour
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 ts salt
1 cup oats
1/2-1 cup raisins
1 ts cinnamon
1/2 ts nutmeg
1 cup mashed banana
1/3 cup sour cream
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs, beaten

Preheat oven to 350 and spray or butter and flour a loaf pan.
Mash the bananas, I used mt two most ripe ones.

Combine bananas, sour cream, oil, vanilla, and eggs in a small bowl or measuring cup. Using a fork or whisk combine them well. And guess what? Again something has frozen... the sour cream. Here is a shot of it after defrosting. Maybe my fridge is on the fritz?

I make my own brown sugar now, not sometimes or just when I run out, I do it always. It's cheaper and tastes better even.

Not quite yet, see the lumps?

Done, in under 2 minutes.

Stir together the dry ingredients then add the wet ingredients and stir gently just until the dry ingredients are moistened.

Pour batter into the loaf pan and bake for 55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. We always cut into it hot/warm but if you wait it won't fall apart as much and actually does taste better. =D


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Fig Jam

2 cups roughly chopped figs
1/2 to 1 cup sugar, use more or less depending on your taste and the sweetness of the figs
1 1/2 - 2 cups water
1/8 cup orange flower water, optional
1 tbs vanilla, optional
This works great for breakfast in crepes, on pancakes, bagels, english muffins, a broken off piece of a rustic loaf slathered with butter, spoon it onto vanilla ice cream use your imagination! =D
Add the figs, sugar, vanilla if using and water to a heavy saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer until everything is soft and mushy and you have a nice sauce. Add the orange flower water if you are using it and put into a jar. It should keep for a month or more, but ours has never lasted that long!


Monday, July 25, 2011

Chicken Pot Pie

This is a favorite dish around these parts, and pretty healthy so nobody feels too bad for eating it. Sometimes we do it vegetarian style and other times with chicken or turkey leftovers. It's really easy to throw together and can make a great lunch or dinner.

3 cups chicken or turkey leftovers or fresh cut into chunks
2 cups peas frozen or fresh
1 cup chopped carrots
3 celery stalks roughly chopped
1 onion roughly chopped
1 head of garlic roughly chopped
2 small potatoes roughly diced
salt to taste
pepper to taste
1 ts cumin
1 ts paprika
1 ts coriander
2 tbs dried parsley
3 tbs flour mix with 1/2 cup milk or water
3 cups water or stock
1/8 cup olive oil

2 cups flour
2 tbs baking powder
2 ts salt or to taste
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup cold butter

Throw all the veggies, meat if using fresh, spices and olive oil in a heated over medium high 12 inch skillet. Cook until it's all browned then add the water/stock and stir it together and cover. Cook on medium until everything is well done and could be eaten as is. In a cup or small bowl using a fork or spoon stir together the flour and water, breaking up all the lumps and add it to the chicken and vegetables. Make sure to stir everything together well and add more water if you like your pot pie soupy, again, taste for salt. Turn it off and make your biscuit dough.

Preheat the oven to 400.
Add the dry ingredients to your food process or a large bowl and mix it together. Cut in the butter or pulse until the butter is small pieces throughout. Add the milk and stir or pulse just until it comes together. Turn it out onto the counter and add a tbs or two of flour if it's too sticky. Knead once or twice and break off baseballs size chunks, round them out and place on top of the chicken. Put the skillet into the oven and bake until the biscuits are browned, 25-30 minutes.


Sunday, July 24, 2011

Stuffed Peppers

Stuffed Peppers in a garlic mushroom sauce. This is my go to with or without the mushrooms when I have leftover rice. It gets eaten up pretty quick, every adult eats a whole one and the kids usually eat half of one.

5-6 peppers
1 lb ground beef, lamb, turkey or chicken
1-2 cups cooked brown rice, we don't eat white here and my rice has mixed vegetables in it
5 tbs tomato paste
salt to taste
pepper to taste
1/8 cup dried onions
2 tbs garlic powder
1/8 cup olive oil
1 tbs harrisa if you like it to have some kick

2 cups sliced mushrooms
1 large red onion diced
1 head of garlic minced
1 tomato roughly chopped
4 tbs tomato paste
salt to taste
pepper to taste
1 ts cumin
1 ts  paprika
1 ts coriander
2 tbs harrisa if you like heat in your sauce
3 tbs chopped fresh cilantro for a garnish
olive oil

Make the stuffing while you have the onions, garlic, mushrooms, tomatoes, and spices sauteing. Just toss all the stuffing in a bowl and mix it together, don't get grossed out be tasting a pinch for salt and pepper. I don't add eggs to my filling, but you can if you like it, I find it makes the filling kinda hard which I don't like much. Stuff the cleaned peppers.
Add 2 cups of water, tomato paste and taste for salt/pepper to the onions. Stir it well. Place the stuffed peppers on top. Make little meat balls with ant leftover stuffing and add to the pot. Place in a preheated 375 oven for an hour to a hour in a half. Garnish with cilantro.


Saturday, July 23, 2011

Plum & Almond Cake

This came out kinda weird this time around. I mean, it was really good to eat, extra yummy! It didn't however rise as much as it should have and I'm pretty sure that is due to making it with frozen plums. The cake ended up with pools of juice/water at the bottom, which didn't make it taste bad but like I said it was kinda flat and a bit juicy. It can't be a bad thing but not what I expected!

You don't have to use olive oil either, you can use any other oil or melted butter and it will be great!

4-5 plums cut in half and pitted
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/3 cup ricotta cheese
1 ts vanilla extract
1 ts almond extract
1 cup flour
1/2 ts baking powder
1 ts salt
Preheat the oven to 350. Spray or butter and flour a cake pan.
Whisk together the flour, salt and baking powder, set aside.
Whisk together the oil, eggs, extracts and cheese.Add the sugar and whisk until well combined.

Add the flour mixture and whisk until well combined. This is a pretty thick batter, it's supposed to be like this so don't add anything else to it.

Spread the batter evenly into your cake pan, arrange plums on top, skin side down. My plums got stuck in the back of the fridge (absented minded husband? delusional brother? attitude riddled 16 yr old son? oblivious 7 yr old?) so they were frozen, no matter I still used them but they were not as pretty on the cake. It was kinda hard to split frozen plums and the skins slide off.

Bake about 40 minutes or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.