Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Guess What Today Is!

Can you guess why today (October 1st) is such a very important day? Yes, it is the first day of October. The leaves are changing, the weather is cooling off (in theory), and sooner than later we will start singing Christmas tunes. That is all true, but none of those reasons are the real factor that plays into making today so special.

Today is National Homemade Cookie Day! What other excuse do you need for heading to the kitchen and whipping up a batch of fresh, hot, gooey cookies right now? Homemade cookies are way better than store bought, and they are easy to make. I have a decadent single serving cookie recipe for you tonight that is sure to cut your cookie cravings (it's HUGE) while letting you keep National Homemade Cookie Day a special one day event.

Peanutty Double Carob Cookies (6)




Giant Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie
serves 1-2
1/3 cup instant oatmeal
2 tbsp peanut flour
¼ tsp baking soda
dash of cinnamon
pinch of salt
½ tbsp. egg yolk
2 tbsp coconut oil
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp peanut butter
1 tbsp chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and spray a giant cookie skillet pan (6”) with oil. Mix the oats, peanut flour, salt, cinnamon, and baking soda together. In a separate bowl, beat the egg, coconut oil, peanut butter, and honey. Combine the wet and dry ingredients, mixing in the chocolate chips. Bake for 12-15 minutes.





If you happen to want a dozen or so cookies, or are inclined to share, I have plenty of other homemade cookie recipes you should try out. They range from intricate, to simple, to healthy, to not-so-healthy, and everything in between. Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Some Island Curry

Tonight's meal comes from the Melanesian island country of Fiji. I know that I just cooked another South Pacific island last week, but I let my roommate pick which country I did next. She chose Fiji because she thought I had done enough countries from Europe already, and she claims to not know of many countries from Asia or Africa. Naturally Fiji should be the first place that comes to mind with those qualifications. :)



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I learned that Fiji has a lot of Indian influence from all the Indian laborers that the British brought to the islands when it used to be a colony back when I cooked Fiji for breakfast. Today they make up over a third of the total population of Fiji Islanders. The native Fijians constitute a little less than the remaining to thirds of the people. In today's meal of Rourou and Chana Dhal and Squash Curry, you see the mixture of the two distinct yet connected culture groups that live across the 110 inhabited islands of Fiji. 
 
 
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Rourou is a typical Fijian soup made from daro leaves that are boiled, pounded out, and then cooked with coconut milk, onion, and garlic. I simplified and Americanized the recipe a bit by subbing spinach for the daro, but feel free to go the traditional route if you can find daro leaves in your area. I have cooked several leafy green dishes with coconut milk so far. I don't have trouble seeing why it is such a popular trend across cultures.
 
 
Rourou
1-12 ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed
¼ onion, chopped
2 cups coconut milk
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tbsp oil
dash of salt
 
Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat. Cook the garlic and onion for about 8 minutes until the onion is golden brown. Add the spinach and cook until it is completely wilted, another 8 to 10 minutes. Pour in the coconut milk, bring the mixture to a boil, and simmer for 5 minutes.
 
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Curry is an important staple to the Indian diet, so they definitely brought it over with them to the tropical paradise where they were forced into labor. (I don't think getting to live on an island makes up for being an indentured servant.) Experience the Indian side of Fiji with this slightly spicy curry and marvel at how small and connected our world really is.
 
Squash and Dhal Curry
1 cup vegetable or chicken broth
2 cups water
½ cup chana dhal
1 onion, chopped
1 yellow squash, sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tbsp oil
¼ tsp fenugreek
¼ tsp ground turmeric
¼ tsp ground cumin
¼ tsp curry powder
½ tsp ground mustard
dash of cayenne pepper powder
 
Wash the chana dhal off well. Bring the water and dhal to a boil and cook uncovered for 20 minutes. Add in the squash and broth, bring back to a boil, and cook for another 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, sauté the onion and garlic in the oil over medium heat in a skillet. Once the onion is golden brown (about 8 minutes), add in the spices. Mix this into the dhal and squash. Cook for another 5 minutes.
 
 
 
 
To sum up my Fijian experience, I found it to be very flavorful and tasty. It was not my favorite meal so far, but I did enjoy both the soup and curry. A good accompaniment to this meal is roti, a simple unleavened flatbread. Enjoy your Indo- Fijian meal!
 

Monday, September 29, 2014

Dessert for Breakfast?!? (PS- No Sharing Allowed)

Here's another single serving waffle recipe because I just cannot get enough. Muffins, waffles, pancakes... I just love breakfast carbs. They are so fun to make, and there are an unlimited amount of toppings, fillings, stuffings, and other ideas to make them even more amazing. These waffles take chocolaty goodness to the max, allowing you to have your favorite decadent flavor for breakfast.

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Single Serving Chocolate Belgian Waffle
½ cup all-purpose flour
¼ tsp baking powder
2 tsp sugar
1/8 tsp salt
½ tsp vanilla extract
1 egg white
2 tbsp milk
6 tbsp applesauce
1 tbsp coconut oil, melted (optional)
1 ounce chocolate chips

Heat the oil (if using), chocolate chips, and milk in a small bowl for 30 seconds. Stir it all up, making sure the chocolate is thoroughly melted and mixed through. Add in the applesauce, vanilla, and egg white. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Combine the wet and dry mixtures, stirring until just combined. Preheat your waffle iron to your desired temperature and setting. Pour in the batter, spread out, and cook.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Not Your Average Pilaf

I have had Afghanistan's meal planned since I first started my Meals Around the World project back in June. I had contemplated going through the countries alphabetically, but thought better of it. When I did Breakfasts of the World, I found that going out of order was easier. That way, I could do recipes with similar spices/ ingredients closer together, buy produce while it was in season, save exotic recipes for times I could go to special markets, and have a choice in what I was making. All this being said, I am a little sad I did not try Afghanistan earlier.

Kabuli Pilau is simply divine.

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I always have had a thing for middle eastern food, but I never have had much of an affinity towards rice. I guess I have just never had it cooked correctly before. The Afghans have perfected the art of perfect rice baking. That's right, I said baking. Instead of boiling the rice for half an hour, to make kabuli pilau, you boil it for 8 minutes, and then bake it for the rest of the time along with your meat filling and a spicy onion puree. Afterwards, you throw on your toppings (no matter how weird they sound), and dig in.


Although Afghanistan has had a pretty rough past with invasions, communist revolutions, civil wars, and now terrorism, they really have a rich culture that dates back over two millennia. The culinary sphere is no less interesting. Rice is a staple along with Noni Afghani, and one of them is served at every meal. The Afghans are very hospitable people. They pride themselves at cooking up a feast for any visitor who walks through their door. Any meal as good as their national dish of kabuli pilau would not make me think twice at accepting. I can just imagine being invited into an Afghan home, sitting down on one of their beautiful carpets, and eating the meal of my life. As always, my homemade copy of the food will have to suffice for now. At least until I make some Afghan friends.

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Kabuli Pilau
1 ½ cups basmati rice
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs
3 cups chicken broth
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2 tsp garam masala
1 carrot, cut into matchsticks
½ cup raisins
¼ cup pistachios
¼ cup slivered almonds, toasted
¼ cup water
3 tbsp oil

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a pot over medium heat. Add the chicken and garlic, browning each side for about a minute. Pour in the broth, cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes. Once the chicken has finished cooking, remove it from the pot and cut into pieces.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Bring 4 cups of water to a boil with the rice. Cook for 8 minutes and then drain the rice. Add it to the pot of hot broth and cover.

Heat another tablespoon of oil over medium heat in a skillet. Add the onion and sauté until golden brown. Take ½ cup of the chicken broth from your pot and blend it with the onion and garam masala. Pour the mixture into your pan, and simmer for 8 minutes.

Mix the rice and broth, onion paste, and chicken together. Pour into a large dish and bake for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining tablespoon of oil over medium heat. Cook the carrots until soft and golden brown. Add the raisins in for a minute and then add in the water to plump up the raisins. Cook until all the water evaporates. Top the rice with the raisins, carrots, almonds, ad pistachios.




Friday, September 26, 2014

Almond Date Mini Muffins

As you all know, I am a big muffin fan. (I actually made some peanut butter banana muffins today.) I wanted to share the love of some muffin goodness with my sister's soccer team over the summer, so I crated these babies. Mini muffins are just so much cuter than full sized ones, especially when they are of the almond- date variety. Plus, they make enough individual little muffins to feed an entire soccer team and all their adoring fans. (Mostly parents, but adoring nonetheless.) Enjoy!

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Almond Date Mini Muffins
makes about 6 dozen
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 ½ cups sugar
1 cup butter, softened
½ cup sour cream
½ cup milk
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup chopped dates
½ cup sliced almonds

Preheat your oven and oil a muffin pan. In an electric mixture, cream the butter and sugar. Add in the eggs, egg yolks, sour cream, milk, and vanilla extract. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, salt, sugar, baking powder, and baking soda. Slowly add the flour mixture into the mixing bowl with the mixer on low speed. Finally, add in the dates and almonds. Mix until there are no more lumps and everything is combined, but do not over mix. Scoop 1 tablespoon of batter into each muffin hole. Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, about 10 minutes. Let the muffins sit for 5 minutes before removing from the pan to cooling racks to cool completely.

 
 
Almond Date Mini Muffins
makes about 6 dozen
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 ½ cups sugar
1 cup butter, softened
½ cup sour cream
½ cup milk
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup chopped dates
½ cup sliced almonds
 
Preheat your oven and oil a muffin pan. In an electric mixture, cream the butter and sugar. Add in the eggs, egg yolks, sour cream, milk, and vanilla extract. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, salt, sugar, baking powder, and baking soda. Slowly add the flour mixture into the mixing bowl with the mixer on low speed. Finally, add in the dates and almonds. Mix until there are no more lumps and everything is combined, but do not over mix. Scoop 1 tablespoon of batter into each muffin hole. Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, about 10 minutes. Let the muffins sit for 5 minutes before removing from the pan to cooling racks to cool completely.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Shutter Hidden Message Thank You Card

I am loving the shutter opening cards that open up to reveal a hidden message that disappears when you close the card. I made this musically themed thank you card using the shutter opening method. It is a little complicated to figure out at first, but once you get the hang of it, you can make just about any card have a secret greeting inside.


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My card for tonight is wrapped up in a music not belt that easily slides off to reveal the front of the card.
 
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When you open the card up, the panels slide away to reveal the message. Isn't that fun!
 
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If only I had time to make cards all day.... Too bad for classes and work. Sometimes I consider just dropping everything and going to work for Hallmark or going to culinary school. Then I remember how awesome my major is (Spanish and Teaching English as a Second Language) and how many opportunities await me after graduation. Cooking and crafting will just have to remain a hobby because God has bigger plans for me. :)

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Chicken Tahitian Style

French Polynesia is an overseas country of France in the South Pacific. It's made up of 118 islands with 5 main island groups. Do not think that French Polynesia is some enormous place, though. The total area of land is about a third of the size of Connecticut, and 67 of its islands are too small to be inhabited. The nation is spread out over 1,245 miles, and its largest island is Tahiti. The largest city is called Faaa with almost 30,000 people. There are only about 270,000 people total, so Faaa has a good percent of them. Another cool fact is that the word tattoo originated from the French Polynesians, and the tattoo has a very important cultural value.

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I made poulet fafa for my meal tonight, a chicken dish cooked in the French Polynesian underground oven, or Ahima'a. It is part of a big Sunday meal, and is a cultural norm in the islands. Traditionally this dish is made with taro leaves instead of spinach, but taro leaves are pretty hard to come by in Tennessee, so spinach is the best substitute that I could find.


Poulet Fafa
1 cup canned coconut milk
1- 12 ounce package frozen spinach, thawed
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs
¼ cup onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp oil
1-2 cups water
rice, to serve

Heat the oil in a pan with a lid over medium high heat. Add the onion and garlic, and cook until golden brown. Put the chicken in the pan and brown both sides (about 1 minute per side). Add the water to cover the chicken, cover, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes. Pour in the spinach and cook uncovered for another 15 minutes until tender. Drain of any excess water. Stir in the coconut milk ad serve over plain rice.


I enjoyed my French Polynesian meal. I just loved how you can see the blending of the Polynesian culture and French language (the official language of the islands) in the name poulet fafa.