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.

Monday, September 22, 2014

September Bible Verse Chart

I know it is a little late, but I am finally getting around to posting the September Bible verse chart. I am back at my church teaching a new group of second graders. They have been working hard on their memory verse, Luke 16:10 "Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much.", and most of them have already memorized it. I have a smart bunch this year!

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Sunday, September 21, 2014

Cheesy Turkey Burgers

What is this mass of meaty, cheesy goodness that you see below? It is a cheese stuffed turkey burger, of course. I know it's a little lacking in the area of things that would make it identifiable as a burger (a bun, lettuce, tomato, pickle, ect.), but this precious chunk of meat and cheese is just too good to dilute with any other ingredients. The recipe makes two burgers or one giant one. Share at your own discretion...


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Cheesy Turkey Burgers
serves 1-2
¼ pound ground turkey
1 ounce parmesan cheese, diced (If you can dice cheese….)
1 egg white
1 slice of sandwich bread
1 tsp Italian seasonings
salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Toast the bread until it is very dry and run it through a blender to make bread crumbs. Mix all the ingredients together until everything is just mixed, being careful not to overwork it. Form into 2 patties and arrange them 2” apart on a stone or oiled baking pan. Bake for 10 minutes, or until a thermometer registers their internal temperature to be at least 165 degrees.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Strawberry Peach Overnight Oats

Tonight I have a really ugly picture of some really good food to share with you. Yep, this is another overnight oatmeal recipe that was too good for me not to share. I did not even plan on posting it, but after tasting a bite before leaving for work early one morning, I knew that it needed to be shared with the world. Overnight oats are the perfect make ahead breakfast for rushed mornings when you need something to get you going. With peaches, strawberries, and creamy yogurt, it really is one of the quickest 2 minute breakfasts that you can get.

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Strawberry Peach Overnight Oats
serves 1
1 cup Greek yogurt (I used plain.)
2 tbsp maple syrup/ honey
½ cup milk
1 tbsp chia seeds
½ cup quick or old fashioned oats
1 peach, peeled and diced
5 strawberries, diced
 
Whisk everything together except for the peaches and strawberries. Allow it to sit for 30 minutes before stirring everything up again. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Then next morning, stir in your fruit and enjoy!
 
 
 
 

Friday, September 19, 2014

Strawberry Sentiments

My roommate, Hannah, gave me these strawberry cut outs last year. She had used them on her door as decoration (Strawberries are one of the symbols of her sorority.), and I happily took them from her when she was done with them. I had been meaning to actually do something with them.

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Then I thought of this card. It can be used as a miss you card, get well soon, or just for any random day when you want to make someone feel loved. I sent it to my sick aunt who needed a word of encouragement.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

A Trip Down to South Africa

Last week we took a trip over to Tanzania. This week I invite you to travel 2,000 miles south with me to the country with 11 official names (one in each official language) and three capitals, none of which is the largest city. The Dutch arrived in South Africa in 1652, colonized it, and influenced the culture of the country for the past 3.5 centuries. What other African country is 10% white? This diversity has had a lot of problems in the past, but hopefully South Africans are past all their racism and has moved on to focusing more on the awesomeness of their country. You can find penguins, macadamia nuts, the second highest waterfall in the world, rhinos, and 75,000 year old artwork all wrapped up in the over 470,000 square miles that make up this amazing country. Oh yeah, and you will come across some really good food too.

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This beautiful plate is not just the rice and meatloaf that it seems to be. This meal is completely South African. (And completely delicious!)
 
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This rice is not overly spiced, but it has the perfect amount of sweetness and flavor to make it shine. Plus, it's yellow. You can't beat that.
 
Geelrys
serves 4
1 ½  cups basmati rice
2 ½ cups water
1 ½ tsp turmeric
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
6 tbsp raisins
1 tbsp sugar (optional)
salt, to taste
 
Mix all the ingredients together in a por. Bring to a boil over high heat, and then reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook for 30 minutes until the water has all absorbed. Let the rice sit for 5 minutes covered before fluffing with a fork and serving.
 

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The first recipe for bobotie appeared a Dutch cookbook in 1609. It was brought over by the Dutch East India Company from Indonesia and then taken down to South Africa where its popularity has flourished. I don't have trouble seeing why. This spiced meat based dish with a custard topping. The bay leaves on top not only make it pretty, but also add a nice flavor. Bobotie is traditionally served beside geelrys and a bit of chutney.

 

Bobotie
serves 4
For the meat:
1 pound ground sirloin
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp oil
1 slice of bread, cubed
1 egg
¼ cup raisins
1 tbsp apricot preserves
½ tsp turmeric
1 ½ tsp curry powder
1 tbsp sugar (optional)
salt and pepper, to tase
3 bay leaves
 
For the custard:
1 egg
½ cup milk
 
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees and oil a 6X6” baking dish. In a large pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, cooking until translucent. Add the beef and crumble it up until lightly browned.
 
Soak the bread in the custard milk for 10 minutes. Squeeze the milk out of the bread, reserving it in a bowl. Add the bread to the meat mixture along with the turmeric, sugar, curry powder, salt and pepper, apricot preserves, raisins, and one egg. Mix well and spread evenly into the baking dish. Arrange the bay leaves on top and bake for 25 minutes.
 
Meanwhile, beat the milk and remaining egg together. Pour the milk mixture evenly over the bobotie and cook for another 15 minutes, or until the egg has set. Allow it to sit for 10 minutes before serving.

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Wow. What can I say to describe the amazing flavors brought to me by South Africa. As always, I had my doubts and reservations. Sweet meatloaf with raisins and apricot preserves? More raisins in the rice along with a ton of turmeric? And as always, I learned to trust the recipes passed down through the generations and enjoy a meal from a country miles and miles and miles away. It is so cool how food can bridge the gaps between cultures. It's also so cool that a little bit of apricot preserves, curry powder, and a custard topping can make meatloaf go from bleh to SCRUMOTIOUS.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Belgian Waffles for All!

I shared a Belgian waffle recipe for one the other day. I got to thinking of how selfish that is. Making a delicious, crispy, buttery waffle just to hog it all to yourself should be illegal. I want to make amends to everyone out there who has been waffle deprived by sharing this just as awesome multiple serving Belgian waffle recipe.

And if there are any of you out there still too selfish to share, you can just freeze these and heat them up whenever you want a quick waffle treat. (But make sure you at least share one because eating all of them might just be too evil.)

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Belgian Waffles
makes 5 full waffles (20 triangles)
3 cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup cornmeal
3 tbsp sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3 egg yolks
2 eggs
2 ½ cups milk
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
 
Combine the vinegar and milk. Set aside for 10 minutes. Whisk together the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla together. Combine the wet and dry ingredients, stirring until just mixed. Let the batter sit for 10 minutes. Preheat your waffle iron, and pour 1 cup of the mixture onto the hot iron. Cook according to your preference. Serve with butter and hot maple syrup.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Chicken Hummus Couscous Bowls

If cheesy, hummusy, Greeky bowls of goodness do not sound good to you, I don't know what does. I made this for my roommate tonight for dinner, and she loved it. I was a little leery since she is not a chickpea fan, but she loved it. Who wins best roomy award? (Me!)

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Chicken Hummus Couscous Bowls
serves 4
1 cup dry chickpeas, rinsed
4 chicken breasts
1 1/2 cups dry Israeli couscous
1- 7 ounce container of Athenos Greek style hummus
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 tbsp. minced garlic
2 tbsp. plus 1 tsp olive oil
1 medium zucchini, thinly sliced
1 bell pepper, seeded and sliced into strips
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

In a crockpot, cover the chicken and chickpeas with at least 5 cups of water. Cook on high for 4-5 hours. Strain out the chicken and cooked chickpeas, reserving 2 cups of the broth.

Bring the reserved chicken broth to a boil with 1 tsp of oil. Add the couscous, reduce to a simmer, and cook for 8-10 minutes until all the moisture has absorbed. Stir in the cheese and 1/2 cup of the hummus.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 tbsp. of oil over medium high heat in a large pan. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Toss the zucchini and bell pepper into the pan and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the cherry tomatoes and cook until the zucchini is golden brown.

In a bowl, shred up the chicken and mix it with the remaining hummus. Stir in the chickpeas. Mix this with the vegetables and couscous to serve.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Peanut Butter Bread Pudding

I made this bread pudding the other day with no real intention of posting it. After one bite, I knew it was too good not to share. The texture of it is not quite that of your usual bread pudding, but the intense peanut flavor and deliciousness is irresistible.

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Peanut Butter Bread Pudding
10 slices of sandwich bread
5 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
2 cups peanut flour
1/2 cup peanut butter (optional, but recommended)
4 ripe bananas
1 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt

Spray a 9X13" baking dish with cooking spray. Blend together all the ingredients except for the bread until well mixed. Cut the bread up into cubes and scatter it around the bottom of the pan. Evenly pour on the peanut mixture, coating each bread cube in it. Cover and refrigerate overnight. The next morning, allow the pan to sit out for an hour on the counter to allow it to come to room temperature. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Bake  for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Slice and serve.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Fallish Muffins

Today was another cold day. I think I might give up on my hopes of summer coming back and embrace the oncoming fall. One nice thing about the colder weather is being able to crank up the oven and get baking!

sweet potato cornmeal muffins (6)
 
 
These muffins have a deep flavor with the sweet potatoes and cornmeal. The cornmeal gives them a nice bit of texture, and the sweet potatoes give them the perfect density. They are perfect to face any fall day with the courage that summer will return.
 

sweet potato cornmeal muffins (3)
 
Sweet Potato Cornmeal Muffins
makes 15
1 cup flour
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup rolled oats
½ tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1 cup sugar
1 cup mashed sweet potatoes
½ cup milk
1 ½ cup plain Greek yogurt
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
2 eggs
1/3 cup butter
 
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and oil a muffin pan. Using a high speed blender, blend the oats into a flour. Stir the oats, baking powder, baking soda, flour, salt, and cornmeal together in a large bowl. Use the blender again to blend together all the remaining ingredients. Add the wet and dry ingredients, stirring until just mixed. Divide the batter between the prepared muffin pan. Bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let the muffins cool for 5 minutes before removing to a cooling rack.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Bring Back the Sunshine!

Today was one of those cold, yucky days that make you dread the coming winter. (Especially when you are used to it being in the 90s and then you are suddenly hit with a 60 degree day like today.) I am definitely not ready for summer to be over, so I am going to hold on to it with all my might. What better way to will the summer weather to come back than by enjoying popsicles?

Granted, a frozen popsicle is not exactly what I want to keep me warm on a cool day, but strawberries and bananas were calling my name. Any popsicle this good deserves to be eaten no matter the season. So here's to bringing the summer back for at least a little longer and enjoying the last of the strawberries this season!
 
 
Strawberry- Banana Popsicles (3)
 

 
Strawberry- Banana Popsicles
4 cups strawberries
3 large ripe bananas
½ cup honey
1 cup Greek yogurt
1 cup milk
Blend the ingredients together until there are no chunks. Pour the mixture into a Zoku Pop maker, and freeze for 8 minutes. Pull out your pops and enjoy!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Double the Birthday Bash!

I don't remember the last time that I posted a craft that was not Minnie Mouse thing. I love Minnie Mouse, but I'm ready to move on to something more sophisticated. (Not a 2 year old party idea, if you know what I mean.)


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Who said that more sophisticated had to be less fun?


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And just because two fronts are better than one, the card opens up again for an additional cover. (Just an extra birthday wish!)
 
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I left the inside good and empty to allow for a nice, long message. In my opinion, anyone receiving a card this cool deserves a 3 part message. Happy crafting!
 
 
 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

A Plateful of Tanzania

You would think that by now after having cooked breakfast from every country on earth and supper from quite a few I would not be quite such a chicken. I mean, if tens or hundreds of thousands of people eat a dish on a daily basis, how bad can it be? I tell myself this for every meal that I prepare, and then I am always happily surprised with a whole new world of flavors that get introduced to my mouth.

My life of pasta and broccoli for every meal will never be the same again.

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Tonight's adventure took me to Tanzania. My family sponsors a little girl in Tanzania through Compassion, so I was excited to get a glimpse of her culture. One neat fact that I learned was that Tanzania was called United Republic of Tanganyika and Zanzibar after it was first formed. That's a mouthful, isn't it?

Tanzania is well known for being the home of Mount Kilimanjaro and the northern part of the Serengeti. What more could you ask for? Huge mountains, amazing wildlife, and some delicious food. Book the next plane ticket to Dodoma (the capital) for me!

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My Tanzanian meal consisted of ugali, the national dish and staple; maharagwe, a bean stew; and this creamy spinach dish called mchicha. I was a little leery about all the spinach (I'm normally not much of a fan.), but I scarfed this stuff down. The coconut milk makes the dish thick and creamy. and the peanuts give it a nice crunch. A kick of hot pepper spices it up, a nice addition in my opinion.


Mchicha
serves 4
1-12 package frozen chopped spinach, thawed
½ onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp hot chili pepper, finely chopped
dash of cayenne pepper powder
¼ cup peanuts, chopped
1 tbsp butter or oil
½ cup coconut milk
salt and pepper, to taste

Heat the oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add the onion, chili pepper, and peanuts. Cook until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the spinach and seasonings, cooking for another 3 minutes. Stir often. Finally, pour in the coconut milk. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for another 3 minutes.

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The bean stew was a beautiful contrast of yellow from the turmeric and red from the kidney beans. It's a little spicy, be warned, but the coconut milk helps to calm it down. I chose to make mine a little dry, but feel free to leave yours a little soupier by not cooking it quite so long.

Maharagwe
serves 3-4
1-15 ounce can red kidney beans
1 ½ cups coconut milk
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1-2 hot chili peppers, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp oil or butter
1 tsp ground turmeric
salt and pepper, to taste

Heat the oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add the onion, chili pepper, and garlic. Cook until the onion and chili peppers are golden, about 8 minutes. Stir in the seasonings, coconut milk, and beans. Bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes, stirring often. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for another 15 minutes until the stew has reached your desired consistency.


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Last of all comes the only part of the meal that I thought I would enjoy. (Thankfully I was very wrong.) Ugali is Tanzania's national dish and an important staple food. It is basically grits formed into a ball and pinched off to eat with stews and soups. If you think the maharagwe is a bit spicy, a pinch of ugali does a good job to cut the heat.
 
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Ugali
serves 4
1 ½ cups white cornmeal
3 cups water
dash of salt

Bring the water to a boil in a small pot. Quickly whisk in the cornmeal until there are no more lumps. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once the ugali has a thick consistency and pulls away from the sides of the pot, form it into a ball with wet hands to serve.

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Overall, I loved everything about the Tanzanian meal. I had made ugali before and thought it would be my favorite part of the meal. I was taken by surprise when the ugali was good, but actually my least favorite component. Tonight was a clean plate night!