Mom de Cuisine


No Bake Hot Cocoa Creme Brûlée
December 23, 2014, 11:00 am
Filed under: Main Course

Picture this: me at the checkout getting craft supplies for a Girl Scout meeting
Older cashier who always remembers me: Baby? (Pointing army belly)
Me: no
cashier: oh, I thought I saw a….(uncomfortable silence)
Me: grabs purchases and leaves store, leaving behind some of my pride.
But alas, that nice Cashier’s hadn’t fully deceived him. He had seen a baby. A food baby.
Yes I’ve been in denial that the black leggings and leggings were simply a fashion choice, nothing more. It’s not that my jeans were getting a little tight (I’m still blaming the Spanish dryer for that) or I just enjoy a baggy sweater now and then. Nope, I’m carrying a serious food baby. A food baby that will need to be birthed. After the holidays. After I’ve eaten Mac and cheese for three straight meals in three varieties. After.
So until then you can find me eating Mac and cheese for breakfast, wearing boots, black leggings, leg Warner’s and that cozy and forgiving sweater because after all the best fashions are both stylish and functional. And leave room for food babies.

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Make Ahead Monday: Breakfast Taquitos
January 16, 2012, 6:25 am
Filed under: Breakfast, Snacks | Tags: , , ,

I owe my marriage to the UFC. Yes, you read that right. My husband and I met one night after I was getting off of work and decided to join some of my co-workers for drinks at a small bar around the corner. My husband was already seated at the bar, which was the only one in the area showing the fight that night. I sat down next to him, we started chatting and now, five years later here we are.

The fights come on at 4am here because of the time difference, and at 4:01 I can find him, sitting on the couch with coffee  screaming quietly talking to the TV. After the last fight I got to thinking that it might be nice for him to have something to snack on while he watched. However, I know I’m not a morning person so getting out of bed at 3:30 in the morning to make him a “fight morning” snack just wasn’t going to happen.

I spent a few weeks mulling over what kind of snack I could make that would be reminiscent of game day food, but breakfasty* since he would be enjoying it with coffee; that could also be a “make ahead.”  These breakfast taquitos are what I came up with. I’m pretty sure some fast food place or convenience store back in the States does something like this, but I’m not sure which ones. Either way, they were good when I baked them right after assembling them and they were equally good straight from the freezer into the oven on “fight morning.”

Breakfast Taquitos

Ingredients:

1 potato, diced

1 onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, diced

1 can green chili’s, drained

2 tablespoons cumin

1 teaspoon chipotle hot sauce

2 tablespoons butter, divided

4 rashers turkey bacon

4 eggs

2 cups cheese (you can do more or less, but we like a lot of cheese)

12 small flour tortillas

Salt/pepper to taste

 Preparation:

 Heat oven to 400 degrees. Place turkey bacon on a tin foil lined baking sheet and bake until crispy, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and drain on paper towels. Chop into small pieces and set aside.

While the bacon cooks, make the potato hash. Melt butter in a large sauce pan over medium high heat. Toss in potatoes, onion and chilis. Season with cumin and hot sauce. Brown the potatoes and onions and then toss in garlic. Reduce heat to medium, cover and cook until the potatoes are just fork tender, about 5 minutes. When the hash is done, remove from the pan and set aside.

 Whisk the eggs (add a bit of water or milk, depending on how you like your scrambled eggs.) Melt the rest of the butter in the sauce pan over medium heat. Pour in eggs and scramble. Remove from heat when they reach your preferred doneness keeping in mind that the eggs will continue to cook when the taquitos bake (we prefer our eggs scrambled hard, aswith the local eggs, anything less makes us sick.)

 To assemble the taquitos: Line a baking tray with foil and spray with cooking spray. Warm the tortillas in a microwave for 10 seconds to soften them. Keep a moist towel over them while you work. Place cheese, then hash, bacon and eggs along the center of the tortilla. Roll tortilla up and place seam side down on the baking sheet. Continue with the remaining tortillas and ingredients.

At this point, the taquitos can be baked or frozen*. If you are baking them, spray the tops with cooking spray and sprinkle with salt. Bake in a 400 degree oven until they are browned and crispy and the filling is warm, about 10 minutes. Serve with salsa

*If you are freezing them, cover the baking sheet and place into the freezer for 30 minutes or until the taquitos are firm. Then they can be placed in a storage bag or container. To bake, place them on a baking sheet, spray with cooking spray and salt the tops. Bake at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes.

*The first batch I baked right after assembling and didn’t use cooking spray or salt the tops and they didn’t brown as nicely. Then over the weekend I came across this on pintrest and saw that they used cooking spray and salt on top, so I tried it on game day and that was definitely better.

*Yes, breakfasty is a word….look it up 🙂 :

 

p.s. Hop on over to Make Ahead Meals for Busy Mom’s blog hop here to see my link or link up yourself!

 



Blackened Chicken Caesar Salad
January 14, 2012, 2:44 pm
Filed under: Chicken, Salads | Tags: , , ,

 

When I made my blackening spice blend I had this salad in mind.  I wanted to make a light and healthy salad for dinner that was still tasty and satisfying.  While one might think that I was doing this because it’s just after the New Year when everyone has a diet resolution, but that’s not the case.  I don’t do resolutions, remember?

I wanted a light salad for dinner because my husband and I had plans to go to Friday brunch (without the kids.)  While brunch may seem like no big deal, it is a big to-do here.  There is a list of things you must see or do while in Bahrain:  Visit the Tree of Life (we’ve tried four times but have yet to find it,) go to the souq, see the historical forts, and do  brunch. 

All of the hotels and many restaurants host a Friday brunch, but it isn’t what I would really consider brunch to be.  Every brunch here starts after 12:30, there are no breakfast foods and it’s an all-you-can-eat-and-drink smorgasbord.  My husband and I ended up deciding on Muju for their jazz brunch.  And although there were no eggs or pancakes to be found, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.  The drinks were flowing and the desserts were amazing.  To be honest, their food wasn’t the best, but it did have a phenomenal view to make up for it. 

With hindsight being 20/20, I can definitely say that this salad was the perfect light week night meal before a weekend of indulgence 🙂

 

 

 

Blackened Chicken Caesar Salad

*dressing adapted from Caesar Salad with Sourdough Croutons on epicurious.com

 

Ingredients:

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts

¼ cup blackening seasoning

1 loaf of French bread (stale bread is best)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon salt

½ tablespoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon anchovy paste

2 garlic cloves, minced

 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

 1 tablespoonDijonmustard

 11/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

 1 head of iceberg lettuce, chopped

 Parmesan cheese for serving

 

 

Preparation:

 

Divide the seasoning among the chicken breasts and rub in.  Set aside.

 To make the croutons:  cut the French bread into cubes.  Toss with olive oil, salt and garlic powder and toast in a 400 degree oven until golden brown, about 10 minutes.  Croutons can be made one day a head of time and stored in an airtight container.

 Heat a vegetable oil in a skillet over medium high heat.  Cook the chicken breasts 5 minutes per side or until the outside is browned and it is cooked through. 

While the chicken is cooking, combine the anchovy paste, garlic cloves, lemon juice,Dijon, and Worchershire sauce in a bowl.  Slowly whisk in the EVOO. 

 To assemble the salad, toss dressing with the lettuce top with croutons and parmesan cheese. Serve the warm chicken on the side.

 

 

 



Blackening Spice Blend
January 11, 2012, 11:06 am
Filed under: and Sauces

After I made pasta last week, I’ve been thinking about trying to make more of our food completely from scratch.  My husband and I don’t really believe in New Years resolutions.  If we want to change something, we think we just do it. 

So in the spirit of a non-resolution, I’ve resolved to make more things from scratch 🙂

After all, homemade is usually healthier and tastes better.  I think that is true with my blackening spice blend.  I used lemon salt to cut down on the amount of sodium that is typical in store bought spice mixtures and then I could control the amount of each spice so that the blend was to our liking. 

I just went into the pantry and grabbed all the spices I thought ought to be in a blackening blend and started playing with proportions of each until it was just the right amount of salt, flavor and heat. 

Of course, this was just the blend that I thought would suit our tastes best, but feel free to add/subtract/change any of the spices 🙂

Blackening Spice Blend

Ingredients:

½ tablespoon sea salt

1 tablespoon lemon salt*

3 tablespoons black pepper

3 tablespoons paprika

2 tablespoons cayenne

1 ½ tablespoon thyme

3 tablespoons garlic powder

3 tablespoons onion powder

Preparation:

Blend all of the ingredients and adjust for taste.  Store in an airtight container.

*lemon salt is pretty easy to find here and usually sold by the kilo, but I had never seen it before coming toBahrain.  I’m sure it could be found at a specialty store like whole foods or maybe an ethnic market.



Make-Ahead Monday: Four Cheese Spinach Ravioli
January 9, 2012, 9:52 am
Filed under: Main Course, Pasta & Rice | Tags: , ,

My husband and I are old fuddy duddies.  We prefer to stay in on New Years Eve, put the kids to bed, make a nice meal and try desperately to stay up until midnight.  This year, we decided to have another cook-off to bring in the New Year and the challenge was pasta.  My husband thinks he makes the best spaghetti around, and I will admit it is good, but he cheats.  He uses premade meatballs, jarred pasta sauce and dried noodles (sorry to give away your secrets honey, but it’s true.)  I thought I wanted to do ravioli and since he says he hates ravioli (not true) I knew the only way to get him to admit that my pasta was better was to make everything from scratch.

As always, his dish did turn out pretty good (see honey, I can give credit where credit is due) but mine was better.  I mean, I did make everything from scratch.  But I realized the recipe for the dough made a lot of raviolis and I knew I wasn’t going to eat them all that night-after all I had no chance to stay up to midnight if I was totally stuffed.  So I froze half of the batch just to see if it was any good. 

Well it worked.  A few nights later I wanted something quick to make, filled with carbs and loaded with cheese and this hit the spot.  Fresh pasta only takes a few minutes to cook, and even freezing the fresh stuff only added about another 30 seconds to the cooking time.  I actually really loved this, because after all the prep work was done, fresh pasta on the table in less than 15 minutes is a winner in my book-plus it just looked so pretty!

Spinach Ravioli Stuffed with Four Cheeses

Adapted from Pasta Dough on Epiciurious.com

Ingredients:

1 bunch of fresh spinach, finely chopped (in the end, I probably had about 2 tablespoons after I chopped it all down)

1 cup cake flour (not self-rising)

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 large egg yolks

1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup water

 ½ cup ricotta cheese

¼ cup shredded Italian cheese blend (I used parmesan, Asiago, Romano)

1 egg

2-3 basil leaves, finely chopped

Tomato sauce for serving (I added some ground beef because I knew my husband wouldn’t “like” it without meat)

 

Preparation:

Combine the first seven ingredients in a food processor.  Process until dough just forms into a ball.

Knead dough on a lightly floured surface, until smooth and elastic, 6 to 8 minutes, adding more flour if needed to keep it from sticking. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature 1 hour.

While the dough is resting, combine the cheeses, egg, basil, salt and pepper in a bowl and refrigerate until ready to use.

Follow directions on your pasta roller to roll out sheets of dough for ravioli.  I used my Kitchen Aid pasta roller attachment and found that the fourth setting was the perfect thickness for the ravioli.

With your sheet of pasta dough laid out on a floured surface, place a teaspoon of filling across the dough, a few inches apart.  Use a pastry brush to brush the other half of the dough with water and fold over the filling.  Press around the filling to seal the edges.  Using a ravioli cutter cut out the ravioli and place on a lined baking sheet. 

At this point, you can freeze the ravioli for 30 minutes on the baking sheet or until it’s set, then place them in an airtight container in the freezer.  I froze mine for a week and they tasted fresh, but I think they may keep for up to a month. 

Alternately, if you are cooking the pasta right away, place individual ravioli into a pot of salted, boiling water, and being careful not to over crowd the pot.  When the ravioli float to the surface, remove with a slotted spoon.

Serve with tomato sauce and extra cheese.

p.s. check out my link on this blog hop!



Curried Fish in Banana Leaves
January 7, 2012, 8:39 am
Filed under: Fish, Main Course | Tags: , , ,

 

I actually made this curried fish a while ago, but I’m just now getting around to posting it, because I was thinking I may make it again tonight for dinner.  When Lulu’s Hypermarket first opened almost two months ago, I was immediately enamored with their produce section.  There is so much exotic produce, sometimes I just walk around in circles trying to decide what I would like to try next.  One of my first “exotic” purchases was these banana leaves.   

I thought they were a great and healthy way to steam fish.  Their flavor is subtle, and to be honest, the curry covered most of it, but it kept the hamour moist and tender. 

Curried Hamour in Banana Leaves

Ingredients:

1 kg Fresh firm white fish, such as hamour (that’s about 2lbs)

1 banana leaf for each piece of fish

3 garlic cloves, chopped

1 tablespoons lemongrass, chopped

1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger

1 tablespoons red curry paste*

1 cups unsweetened coconut milk

2 cups chicken stock

1 tablespoons fish sauce

1/2 teaspoons sugar

Cilantro for garnish

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Sautee garlic, lemon grass and ginger in a pot.  Add curry paste and sauté one more minute.  Whisk in coconut milk, chicken stock and fish sauce.  Add sugar and cook 5 minutes.  Divide the sauce.

Place a piece of fish on each banana leaf; pour half of the sauce over the filets.  Wrap up the banana leaf around the fish and place in a baking dish, seam side down. 

Bake 10-15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish.  Serve the fish with the remaining sauce, sprinkle with cilantro and white rice.



Sweet Potato Cookies
January 4, 2012, 12:47 pm
Filed under: Dessert, Just for Fun | Tags: , ,

 

Sometimes I swear I need a holiday from the holidays. It’s not that it wasn’t a great holiday season, because it was (this was the first year since my husband and I have been married that we’ve been able to spend every holiday together.) It’s just all the fun trips to restaurants, staying in pj’s all day catching up on Top Chef and exploring the island have made it hard to get back into our weekly routines. But we must.

 

Well, my husband has gone back to work and I feel like I was thrown back into our routine, in that almost right away it was our turn to host our playschool group. A while ago I asked “M” what topic she would like to learn about when it was our turn to host. She promptly told me, “Cooking! I want to learn cooking!” I’m sure it had something to do with the fact that when I asked her we were in the kitchen peeling garlic, but none the less, I had to figure out how to turn cooking into a lesson plan for preschoolers. I started brainstorming about teaching the kids the difference between whisking and folding; how to deglaze a pan; and of course, the wonders of a mandolin. I quickly came to my senses and thought I better keep to the basics: fruits and vegetables.

I think the basics were the way to go. We talked about different kinds of fruits and vegetables, pretended to make vegetable soup, and used poster paint to make fruit/veggie prints. But of course, restraint is not my strong suit. I had to do a little something extra for snacks. A fruit and cheese plate, vegetable crudites with hummus, banana chips, and sweet potato cookies. My mom sent me a recipe for sweet potato cookies not too long ago, so I thought it would be fun to show the kids that veggies don’t always have to be those mushy green things you push to the side of the plate.

 Everything that could go wrong making cookies did. First, I go to gather all the ingredients and realize I have no eggs. Ok, fixable. Then I roast the sweet potatoes and when they cool, I peel them and discover that half are rotten. Frustrating, but workable. Finally when I have the first batch in the oven, I see that they are spreading too much and I realize I forgot to add all of the flour. Forget it, unforgivable.

But hubby reassures me and tells me to just add flour to the remaining batter. I did and they turned out thinner and chewier than I would have like, but still pretty good. I would make these again, but next time, make sure I add the flour and have enough sweet potatoes. But I can’t complain too much as “M” is still running around talking about all of the vegetables she’d put in her soup…including sweet potatoes!

Sweet Potato Cookies

Adapted from my Mom and We Are Not Martha

Ingredients:

2 cups flour

1 cup oatmeal

 1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. cinnamon

½ tsp. salt

1 cup butter (2 sticks) (softened)

1 cup white sugar

1 cup brown sugar (packed)

1 egg

1 tsp. vanilla

2/3 cup sweet potatoes, mashed

1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce

1 cup white chocolate chips

1 cup dried cranberries

Preparation:

Combine the flour, oatmeal, baking soda, cinnamon, salt in a bowl. Cream butter; add sugars and beat until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla, mix well. Alternate additions of dry ingredients and sweet potatoes, mixing well after each addition. Stir in morsels. Bake on lightly greased cookie sheet 5-7 minutes at 350°.