Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Marinara Sauce

We eat a lot of pasta in my house. When I say a lot, I mean A LOT. As I've said before I like every meal to have a protein, starch and vegetable. But it usually turns into protein, STARCH and vegetable. The starch (usually pasta and sometimes rice) is like the Justin Timberlake of N'sync, it steals the show. (Wow, isn't that reference a little dated? I should have said something like it being the Snooki of Jersey Shore.) Anyways, you get the gist. We eat a lot of pasta so I was in search of a sauce for the pasta. I was tired of always opening jars of marinara sauce. Like I've said before, I try to stay away processed foods. The reason why I never made a tomato sauce in the past was because I did not want to use canned tomatoes (making tomato puree can be very expensive. With tomatoes about $1.25 lb, the amount you would need to make the sauce would be...I don't want to burden you with the math, but a lot.) One day it just clicked, isn't jarred tomato sauce similar to using canned tomatoes except that I can add all fresh ingredients to the tomatoes? Duh.

So on I was for the search for marinara recipes. I did once try a Michael Chiarello recipe with fresh tomatoes, but it came out much too thin. (I had the urge to comment on Chiarello's recipe to tell him that you can't puree an entire tomato for the sauce, but should only use the pulp to make it thick. I thought maybe it would help take that chip off his shoulder. I know, he came across so friendly in Top Chef Masters, but on his show he's a little too consumed with the Napa Valley lifestyle... off I go again) I remember watching Giada (Now she I like, much more down to earth. Even though some of her dishes are ridiculously simple and I can't believe she's taking the time to show me how to boil water, I still like her) make a marinara sauce once upon a time, so out searching for it I was. The recipe is very simple with little work. The sauce simmers for longer time than it takes to prep!

What I like best about the recipe is that it has carrots, celery and tomatoes in the dish. I puree it when done so when I'm in a pinch I add the sauce (I make excess and freeze) to some pasta and I have a quick meal!

Click here for the original recipe

1/4 cup olive oil
1 medium size onion chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 stalks of celery, finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
1 teaspoon salt (or more based on taste)
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 cans (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes (Giada lists 2- 32 ounce cans, but I could not find this. All they have at H-E-B are 28 ounces)
2 dried bay leaves

1. In a large pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and garlic and saute until translucent.

2. Add carrots, celery, salt and pepper. Saute all vegetables until soft.

3. Add tomatoes and bay leaves and bring to a boil, then simmer uncovered over low heat for one hour.

4. Once sauce cools, blend in two parts in blender. (You don't have to do this, but I like to blend it all to make a smooth sauce. You can also sneak in some vegetables this way!)

Update (7/25/2011): I made this again and added 1/4 cup Italian parsley along with the tomatoes and it made such a difference in the taste! I highly recommend using the parsley!

Amateur cooking difficulty scale: 3
This one is another easy one. I double the recipe and save it in the freezer in numerous containers. I use it with a meat sauce, meatballs, eggplant parmesan, chicken parmesan, and the list goes on. I usually make it on a day we're having leftovers so I'm not having to make the sauce as well as cooking the main meal.

Obviously I've made this more than once, so I will be making it again!

Does this look easy enough to make? 

Pork Chops stuffed with Apples, Dried Cranberries and Goat Cheese

When it comes to cooking meat I am always looking for something new.  I regularly cook chicken and ground turkey meat and occasionally make a pork tenderloin. I've cooked pork chops in the past, but basically just marinaded them with dijon mustard and then breaded them. I wanted to make something a little more sophisticated, or gourmet. From watching numerous episodes of Giada's Everyday Italian and  Giada at Home I've noticed on many occasions that she stuffs pork chops. I was intrigued by the method and decided to try it out. I saw one of her recipes for pork chops stuffed with goat cheese, sundried tomatoes and spinach. I thought Hubby would love this, but I had no spinach (and I was not going to run to H-E-B just for spinach) so I searched for other recipes that could be stuffed into the pork chop.

When I stumbled upon this recipe I was hesitant if he would like this. He does claim that his favorite dish are the Pork Chop's from Perry's Steakhouse which come with applesauce or something apple. (I admit, I wasn't paying attention 100%. Come on, he was talking about meat to a vegetarian) I thought the stuffing was a bit odd, but since he likes Pork Chops with apples, I figured I would check it out.

The recipe called for apples and dried cranberries. All I had were blueberry flavored craisins, so that's what I used. I also decided to add goat cheese. Hubby loves creamy dishes, so I thought I'd throw in a little pizzazz with the goat cheese. (Yes, I got the idea from Giada's stuffed pork chop recipe. I won't act like it's an original idea.) Additionally, upon reading the reviews that the pork was a bit bland, I decided to bread the chops with Shake 'n Bake seasoning. (Yes, old school Shake 'n Bake. I find that when I use bread crumbs alone they just don't stick as well as the Shake 'n Bake seasoning)

So the result was....mixed? Hubby said that it was really good, different, but good. Is it the apple? Maybe apple doesn't go with goat cheese? It just has a different taste, but it's good. I'll eat it. And eat it he did. He finished the whole tray in three servings. So I assume it received mixed reviews? I'm still confused on if he liked it, but he did eat it all. If he didn't like it he wouldn't have eaten it.

Click here for the original recipe

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 onion, chopped (Increase if you like. Hubby doesn't like a lot of onion, so I reduced it from 1/2 onion)
1 large Granny Smith apple- peeled, cored and chopped
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup dried cranberries (Craisins!)
salt and pepper to taste
1 package shake and bake pork chops (or bread crumbs)
Box of toothpicks
3 butterflied pork chops each divided into two pieces (This may sound odd, but I have little pork chop experience, so this is what I did.)

1. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Stir in the onion and apple; cook and stir for 5-6 minutes. Stir in the cranberries and balsamic vinegar, and continue cooking until the apples and onions have softened. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Then scrape the mixture on a plate and refrigerate until cold. (I'm not sure why this step is necessary, but I did it. It may be in order to make it easier to stuff the chops?)

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a small baking dish with PAM.

3. Cut butterflied chops into two pieces. (I also cut off the fat, but many people leave on for flavor) Sprinkle with salt and pepper on both sides. Cut a large pocket in the pork chops using a sharp, thin bladed knife.

4. Set up your assembly line. The filling, toothpicks and then bowl with Shake 'n Bake crumbs. Stuff the apple mixture into chops. Close with a toothpick. Then place into the bowl of Shake 'n Bake on both sides and place in baking dish. Place remaining apple mixture in baking dish to the side of the chops. Cover dish with aluminum foil.

5. Bake in preheated oven for approximately 40 minutes, until no longer pink in the middle. I turned it over midway through. When I turned them over I took out the toothpicks. Be careful! The toothpicks were hot!

Amateur cooking difficulty scale: 5
There are many steps to the recipe. It's not overly difficult, but to make this along with a veggie and starch (I like every meal to have a protein, veggie and starch) may be a bit cumbersome, but doable. Hubby ate this with the Couscous Chickpea Salad .

I will definitely be making stuffed, breaded pork chops again, but not sure if I will make this filling. I think I may try the Giada recipe with spinach and sun dried tomatoes. Unless Hubby requests this, he does often surprise me with his food requests!

What do you think, does this look appetizing? 

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Ciabatta bread

People tend to fear the thought of baking bread themselves. There is a misconception that making dough is an arduous task which is just not true, especially if you own a bread maker!

I inherited my bread maker from my mother. I remember eating fresh bread out of the machine as a child. It was warm and fresh, but the shape of each slice was much larger than that of loafed bread from the store and if you used it on a sandwich it was like you had asked to get your sandwich Super Sized.

When my mother gave me her bread maker I was anxious to make fresh bread right away. I was looking through the recipe book and I noticed that all the breads that were made in the actual bread maker required powdered milk (This still baffles me. I've never used powdered milk for anything, and I bake quite often). French bread was the only recipe that did not need it, so I decided to make it. As I was reading through the recipe I noticed it was not baked in the bread maker, but in the oven. Doesn't that defeat the purpose of the bread maker, you may ask? Well, the bread maker also has a setting to make/knead dough (Who knew?). For the french bread I placed all the incredients in the bread maker and two hours later the dough was made. (Not sure why it takes so long to mix flour and water?). The dough is then put in the oven and baked fresh. It was so, so good. Similar to the french bread that I get from my favorite place, H-E-B (Texas grocery store).

I decided to try a different bread instead of french bread and fell upon ciabatta bread. This bread is amazing! And, when I make it for guests or take it to someone's house, people are always impressed that I made bread from scratch. My best kept secret is just how simple it is to make!

Click here for the original recipe.

1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon white sugar
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 1/4 cup BREAD flour (Make sure you use bread flour and not all purpose flour, it tastes much better)
1 1/2 teaspoons yeast (keep jar in the freezer for freshness)

1. Place all ingredients into the pan of the bread machine. Select Dough Cycle and start.

2. Dough will be quite sticky and wet once completed.Don't add more flour!

3. Take out a baking pan and spray with PAM cooking spray. Place dough on pan and shape into a loaf. Take saran wrap. Spray the saran wrap with PAM and place the PAM side on the bread and cover pan completely. Place in a draft free place for approximately 45 minutes. (I always place in the pantry and try to remember to close the door)

4. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

5. Take saran wrap off and place pan in oven and bake for 25-30 minutes.

6. Indulge when warm!

Amateur cooking difficulty scale: 1
This recipe is so, so easy. Again, don't be scared to work with dough. You really aren't working with it at all, simply transferring it from the machine to a pan. And, you can impress everyone with your baking abilities!

I make this regularly, safe to say I will make it again.

Because there are no preservatives in this bread, it won't last too long. After 24 hours place in the fridge. I hate throwing away food, so when it gets old I like to spread margarine on both sides and place it in a nonstick pan (sprayed with PAM!) and cook on both sides on medium to medium high until margarine has melted. It tastes great along with dinner or in a sandwich!

Are you now less intimidated about making bread?

Eggplant Lasagna

I know what you're thinking, "Lasagna with no noodles? What? Whatchoo talking 'bout?" This actually is a great recipe sans the pasta. Now this is coming from a carboholic, so trust me on this one. Whether you're a vegetarian, going carb free or looking for a side dish to go along with your protein, this is it! (Except if you don't like eggplant, like hubby, then this one isn't for you)

I found this recipe in the library book I checked out this weekend, REAL SIMPLE dinner tonight: done! I must say, the recipes in the book are really holding true to it's title. I was a little skeptical since many recipes claim to be easy, but they are not. Take Rachael Ray for instance. She claims on her show that her recipes only take 30 minutes. 30 minute meals they are not. There are numerous steps that take awhile for the beginner cook and some of the dishes she makes are not a good blend of flavors. It's obvious she's been making new recipes for over ten years now and as she tries to concoct new ideas, they make no sense. Like when she made chutney with spinach instead of cilantro. That just tasted odd. Ok, I'm going on a tangent, and getting too critical a la Tony Bourdain. (If Padma Lakshmi and Tom Colicchio call him Tony, why can't I?) Ok, ok back to the recipe

I changed the sauce to the recipe a bit. I also omitted the egg. I never use egg in lasagna, I find that the ricotta and shredded cheese stick together well and I don't like having an eggy taste in my food. Additionally, I changed the tomato/garlic recipe. I also halved the recipe since it served four and only me and Bambino were going to consume the dish.

Click here for the original recipe

4 Roma tomatoes
2 cloves garlic (The dish was very garlicy, so reduce if you don't care for an abundance of garlic. The garlic is not sauteed in a pan, but cooked in the sauce in the oven. I found it to have somewhat of a raw garlic taste after cooked)
1 cup ricotta cheese (I used fat free and thought it came out well)
1 cup shredded mozzarella plus an extra sprinkle for the top (I used low fat, 2% milk cheese)
1/2 cup fresh basil (I did not use because I have not been to my mother's garden recently and I forgot to buy some at the store)
salt and black pepper

1. Heat broiler (mine had a Hi-yes it is spelled like this- and Low setting. I put it at Hi)

2. In a food processor, puree the tomatoes, garlic, 1 tablespoon of oil and 1/4 teaspoon of salt and pepper.

3. Slice the eggplant LENGTHWISE (I capitalize this because I did not pay attention to the directions and cut circles of eggplant. I was confused on how this was supposed to mirror lasagna noodles, now I understand!) Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper on both sides. Broil until charred and tender. It took about 6-7 minutes per side. Keep an eye on the oven. It took twice the time than said in the original recipe.

4. Meanwhile, mix together ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese and basil.

5. Spray the bottom of an 8 inch square baking dish with PAM cooking spray. Pour 1/3 of sauce on bottom of dish. Layer with eggplant to cover. Spread cheese mixture on top of eggplant. Pour sauce. Repeat with another layer of egg plant, ricotta and sauce. Top with remaining eggplant and sauce. Sprinkle extra mozzarella on top. (The amount of layers you have may vary, depending on how many slices you get out of your eggplant.

6. Reduce oven to 400 degrees. Bake 15-20 minutes until cheese is melted and sauce is bubbling.

Amateur Cooking Difficulty Scale: 4
The most difficult part of cooking this was Bambino wanting to be a part of the process. So if I were alone when making this it would probably get a 3, or maybe even a 2!

I will definitely make this dish again. Bambino ate with baby bowties. I mashed the sauce, cheese and eggplant together so it made a sauce like mixture for her pasta. I'm not sure what she liked more, the end result or sitting on the counter eating shredded cheese while I was layering the eggplant!

Update (9/7/11): I made this dish again, but cut the eggplant lengthwise, it's so much prettier! And it still tastes as good the second time around!

What do you think, would you eat this as a full meal, add pasta to the side or make it as a side dish to a protein?

Monday, August 29, 2011

Cherry Chocolate Pecan Bread

When cherries were on sale a week ago, I bought a big bag and placed it in the fridge and forgot about it. I found the bag this past weekend and knew that Bambino and I wouldn't be able to finish it before it goes bad. (Hubby isn't the biggest fan of eating fresh fruit on its own) Often times when I have an excess of fruit I will search recipes to make either a cake, bread or cookies with the fruit. After much searching, I found a recipe for cherry cake. (It was surprisingly hard to find a recipe that was for fresh cherries and not maraschino cherries)

Upon reading the recipe, I decided to alter it a bit to make it more healthy. By reducing the eggs and oil, and using fat free milk, it thickened the batter turning it more into a bread rather than a cake. I also added chocolate chips and pecans to it to make it a tad more tasty.

The bread was a big hit! Bambino didn't want any dinner, only the bread. That can be blamed on me. I gave her a bite of the bread fresh out of the oven right before dinner, so of course that's all she wanted!

1 cup fresh cherries pitted and cut into small pieces (yes, this takes some time to do!)
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
3/4 cup granulated white sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil (I never use butter when I bake, always vegetable oil. It's a little healthier)
1/3 cup milk (I used fat-free Lactaid milk)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
zest of one lemon (Use a grater to grate the skin. You only want the yellow part, the white part is very bitter, stay away!)
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/4 crushed pecans 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 

Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In a separate bowl mix together egg and sugar until thick and lemon colored. Add the oil, milk, vanilla, lemon zest and mix. (You can use a mixer for this, but I did not) Add the flour mixture and stir. At this point the batter will be very thick. Fold in cherries, chocolate chips and pecans. (I mixed in each one before adding the next).

Grease your baking dish (I always use PAM cooking spray). I used a loaf pan, but you can easily use a bundt pan or even make muffins out of this. Just know that the type of pan used will vary your baking time. 

The recipe states to bake for a total of 35 minutes. I baked the bread for 35 minutes at 400 degrees and saw that the outside was deep brown, but it was still batter on the inside. I decreased the temperature to 350 degrees and baked for another ten minutes. Keep an eye on it while baking. You should be able to stick a knife into the bread and it come out clean. If there is batter on the knife, it needs to bake longer. 

Amateur cooking difficulty scale: 5
This is a pretty straightforward dish, but when you make a dessert, when you change the ingredients, it can greatly alter the end result (as seen with my bread as oppose to cake) and you cannot go back and change it like you can with a savory dish. This is what gives it a higher ranking. 

Good stuff, will definitely make again! 

Spaghetti with Shrimp, Feta and Dill

Over the weekend my husband and I were trying to entertain our daughter in this sweltering heat. We decided to take a trip to the library since Bambino loves books and open places to run around. After Bambino made her rounds around the library yelling the sounds "thika thika" at the top of her lungs, I stumbled upon the cookbook area.I was perusing the books and picked up REAL SIMPLE dinner tonight: done! It is a collection of recipes from the magazine REAL SIMPLE. I've read the magazine once before and was impressed with the recipes, so I thought I'd check it out.

I gave the recipe book to Hubby and told him to pick out a recipe for dinner, and this is what he chose. He likes seafood, but I've rarely cooked it because I don't have much experience in it. Well, the only way to get experience is by starting somewhere! This recipe looked easy enough so I thought I would give it a try. I was nervous about cooking shrimp, but it was surprisingly pretty simple!

The results were a success! Hubby loved it! He devoured a huge plate full of the spaghetti. I figured it was because of all the feta cheese, but he said that the fresh dill was what made the dish.

The only thing I changed was that I added some frozen peas. I didn't like that it had no vegetables. Since I didn't make a salad, I wanted to ensure it had protein, starch and vegetables. (No, dill does not count as a vegetable, it's an herb!)

Click here for the original recipe
(The directions on this link are a bit confusing compared to the book. Not sure why the step by step directions are different.)

12 oz spaghetti (3/4 box)
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 pound peeled and deveined shrimp (I bought the raw, frozen shrimp that was already peeled and deveined, because I did not want to take the time to do all that work)
salt and pepper
juice and zest of one lemon
3/4 cup crumbled feta (The recipe book recommends getting a block of feta and crumble yourself because the block cheese keeps it's flavor better than the pre-crumbled cheese which tends to be dry. I buy the block cheese because it's cheaper. Lucky me!)
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh dill
1/4 cup frozen peas

1. Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain the pasta and return to the pot. (I recently saw on Debi Mazar's show on the Cooking Channel that you should never let your pasta sit while you're making the sauce, but since the shrimp cooks so quickly and you don't want to overcook it, you want your pasta ready to add immediately.) Additionally, I wanted to ensure that the peas were cooked without overcooking the shrimp, so when the pasta was almost cooked through, I added frozen peas to the boiling water, and then drained it with the pasta.

2. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.

3. Season the shrimp with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and cook, tossing occasionally, until pink , 4-5 minutes. (Since the shrimp were frozen, it produced a lot of water when cooked, so I drained it out and then quickly returned it to the pan) Stir in the lemon juice and zest.

4. Add the shrimp mixture to the pasta, along with the Feta, dill the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil and 1/4 teaspoon of salt and pepper. Toss to combine.

Amateur Cooking Difficulty Scale: 3 
This was a very easy dish to make and was done in about 30 minutes. There was not much preparation other than cutting the dill and crumbling the feta. I will definitely be making this one again!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Fried Egg with Tomatoes and Cheese

This morning I was trying to decide on something different to give Bambino for breakfast. She normally eats sheera (an Indian dish made of cream of wheat, I'll share it soon) with bananas and raisins, but I decided to stray from the norm and make eggs. Bambino is very fickle when it comes to eggs. Some days she loves an egg sandwich and on other days she purses her lips and blinks her eyes at the very sight of an egg.I thought maybe today would be an egg day with some cheese and tomatoes. Now cheese and tomatoes she loves.

Well, after three bites that properly went down, bite four was spit out into a bowl with such anger and then she tossed the bowl on the floor where the spit out egg spilled onto the floor. This then led to a one minute time out where Bambino was attempting to use her cuteness to get out of the time out, but I did not give in. Breakfast then concluded with vanilla yogurt mixed with fresh cherries that was forced down while watching Sid the Science Kid. And of course, two hours later she was hungry.

Since I don't like eggs, I chose not to eat the breakfast, so I can't tell you how it tasted, but I often make this for Hubby sans the tomatoes and he loves it.

No actual recipe for this one, just made it up on the spot.

1 egg
1 slice of cheese (I used sharp cheddar)
2 slices of tomato (I used roma)
1/2 teaspoon olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Using a non stick pan (which I always spray with PAM cooking spray), place olive oil in pan and turn heat to medium high. Crack egg into pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Once egg appears cooked, using a spatula flip over. Place both slices of tomato on egg and then place cheese on top. Cook for another 5-6 minutes, until cheese is completely melted.

You can also place this on bread or an English muffin and make a sandwich out of it.

Amateur difficulty cooking scale: 1
This was extremely easy to make! Not much time or effort at all. Too bad Bambino didn't like it, but at least it's something easy to make for Hubby!

Couscous-chickpea Salad with Ginger-Lime Dressing

I found this recipe last Thanksgiving when I was cooking for my meat eating husband, sometimes meat eating father, my vegetarian mother and myself. (My daughter was too young to partake in much of the Thanksgiving meal) You're probably thinking, what? Couscous salad for Thanksgiving? Well, I wanted something that would please everyone so I went a different route, neither American nor Indian, but Middle Eastern!

Everyone loved this recipe and I still make it often. Sometimes I saute chicken marinaded with lemon juice, olive oil and fresh mint and add it to the salad for my husband to make it a full meal.

Click here for the original recipe I used.

Surprisingly, I don't change a thing when I make the recipe myself. But I do have to split it up into two versions, one with tomatoes and no feta cheese for me, and the other without tomatoes and lots of feta cheese for the hubby. Bambino eats my version since she likes tomatoes. I usually mix a little hummus into the  salad for her as well.

Dressing Ingredients:
1/3 cup fresh lime juice (approximately 5 limes)
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons grated peeled fresh ginger (Store the rest of your ginger in your freezer, it will last very long!)
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 garlic clove, minced

2 cups water
1 1/2 cups uncooked couscous
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 teaspoon ground tumeric
1 cup chopped tomato (I use 2 roma tomatoes)
1 cup chopped peeled cucumber
1 cup (4 ounces) feta cheese
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onion
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint
1 1/2 cups of freshly cooked garbanzo beans or 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

To prepare dressing, combine first 8 ingredients and stir with a whisk

To prepare salad , bring 2 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan, and gradually stir in couscous, raisins and tumeric. Remove from heat, cover and let stand 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork. Place couscous mixture in a large bowl  Add tomato and remaining ingredients. Drizzle with dressing, stir well to coat.

The recipe says to cover and chill for one hour, but I like to eat it at room temperature. When I eat the leftovers I usually warm it up for about a minute.

Amateur cooking difficulty scale: 6 
There are many steps and components, so it does take time to chop all the vegetables and measure everything out exactly, but if you have the time, it's worth it!

Since it's a lot of work for just a salad, I like to turn it into a main dish by adding the chicken for my hubby. For a vegetarian, I think it's enough for a meal and I also like to eat some fresh bread and hummus on the side.

Saturday, August 27, 2011


I love, love, love hummus and apparently I've passed this on to my daughter (She ate it dipped with fresh baked potato wedges today and she also likes to dip her macaroni and cheese in it!). So I decided one day that I wanted to make hummus from scratch, I mean, how hard could it be? Surprisingly, it's not that hard!

Click here to view the original recipe I used.

Now here is my version:
2 cups of freshly cooked garbanzo beans or 1 16 oz can of chickpeas drained
1/4 cup plain fat free yogurt
Juice of 1 lemon
1 1/2 tablespoons tahini
3 cloves of garlic (more or less depending on preference)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon cumin

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend 3-5 minutes until mixed and smooth.

Serve with fresh vegetables, pita chips, fresh bread or even wheat thins. It's also great on sandwiches, or dipped in mac and cheese like my daughter!

This is a great dish for parties or to take to a potluck. Not much work at all.

On my amateur cooking difficulty scale, I rank this a 2. Reason being, I have to remember to soak the raw garbanzo beans the night before and then I have to wash the pressure cooker which is big and bulky. This is what loses it's 1 ranking status.  

Friday, August 26, 2011

Opening the Tiffin

Attempt number 256 at a new project. Blogging. Despite spending an entire day simply centering the header on this page, I think this may be a success! Despite the fact that I'm not technologically savvy, I have not gone to cooking school and I do not profess myself to be a writer, I still think this may be a success!  Why all the positive hoopla?   Ever since becoming a stay at home mom I've found that I love to cook. I'm constantly scouring the web to find new recipes, and then I tend to curtail them to the likes/dislikes of my family. I've also found that other mothers are constantly talking about their need to find new recipes. So I figured, why not share my new love for cooking through a new project? (Trust me, it would be much better than sharing my love for all things Bravo. Which I must say is starting to diminish with the direction the Housewives series is heading, but I digress.)

My goal in cooking is to cook as healthy as possible and from scratch. I stay away from canned foods and items with preservatives as much as possible, but at the same time I don't want to spend hours in the kitchen cooking. The curve ball in my attempt to cook is that my husband is a Midwestern meat and potatoes bred man while I am an Indian American vegetarian. While I try to please my husband's palate and that of myself, I'm also trying to expose our child to cuisines from around the world in hopes of her not being as picky of an eater as myself.

Please share with me your thoughts, critiques, praises (I love praise!) and recommendations for new recipes.

Let the journey begin!