Naan (Flatbread)

 

 

Naan1

Everyone has at least one food obsession- something that you can’t say no to no matter how full you are. For me, it’s bread. Soft, fluffy, and fresh from the oven. While trying to think of words to describe the satisfaction that comes with making this bread, I suddenly had a craving for it. Considering all the ingredients are kitchen staples, making a decision has never been so easy. As I type away now, there is a bowl of dough rising  in the corner that will soon become steaming fresh naan.

This flatbread is versatile because you can eat it bare in its simplicity or pair it with some tikka masala or other saucy dish to scoop up the flavors as pictured above. You can also add a spread on it like za’atar (oregano thyme spice blend) with some olive oil and toast it for a few minutes for a fulfilling breakfast or midday snack as shown below.

Naan

Naan

  • Servings: 6
  • Print

Chicken Tikka

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup warm water (not hot)
  • 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 3 teaspoons sugar, divided
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons plain yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter

Directions

  1. Combine the warm water, yeast, and 1 teaspoon of sugar in a small bowl and leave undisturbed for 10 minutes. You will see a thin layer of foam develop.
  2. Meanwhile, mix the flour, salt, remaining 2 teaspoons of sugar together and set aside.
  3. Add the yogurt and olive oil to the yeast mixture and whisk to combine. Pour this into the dry ingredients. Mix with a fork initially till most of the flour is incorporated into the dough.
  4. Knead the dough with your hands for a minute or two forming it into a ball. The dough will be slightly sticky and soft. If you feel that it is too sticky, add flour as needed (I added about an extra 1/4 cup of flour).
  5. Lightly oil a medium sized bowl and place the dough inside. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel and let it rise in a warm area for 1-2 hours or until doubled in size.
  6. Warm a large cast iron pan or a nonstick skillet over medium heat until very hot. Dust a clean surface with flour and separate the dough into 6 pieces. Roll out each piece into an oval shape, taking care to dust the dough with flour so that it doesn’t stick to the rolling pin.
  7. Put the dough into the dry heated skillet and cook until you see the top bubble up, which should take a few minutes. Flip the dough and cook the other side for another minute or two until you see the browned spots.
  8. Remove the naan from the pan and brush generously with the melted butter on both sides. Place the naan in a towel lined basket or dish to keep it warm.

Adapted from OnceUponAChef

 

Step By Step Photos

Naan

Yeast mixed in with the warm water and sugar, notice how it is starting to foam up

Naan

Dough ready to rise in an oiled bowl

Naan

After dough is done rising, cut it up into 6 pieces

Naan

Roll each piece out into an oval shape to your desired thickness

Naan

Place the rolled dough into a heated cast iron or nonstick skillet and you’ll see it bubble up

 

Naan

Flip it over to cook the other side

Naan

After a minute or two, flip it and you’ll see these beautiful brown spots

Naan

Be creative, eat your naan in its simplicity or spread some za’atar on it

 

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Chicken Tikka Masala

Chicken Tikka Masala

I recently went to a local Indian restaurant that opened up in town where I ended up ordering Chicken Tikka Masala which came with some basmati rice and naan. It turned out to be a little on the sweet side and the naan was an embarrassment- a thin and small piece of pita bread that supposedly passed for naan. No pictures survived the incident haha. If I ever go back, I’ll have to order another dish to see if another menu item will be able to redeem themselves.

A few weeks later, I decided to recreate the meal and take a shot at making homemade naan too. The meal was a success. The Tikka Masala was rich and silky with an acceptable spice level. The creamy tomato sauce was perfect for scooping up with naan. Sooo the naan. The joy I felt was indescribable after seeing the naan rise on my cast iron pan and that first fluffy soft bite sealed the deal. The best part about it was that I was able to use it in other dishes even breakfast. The naan recipe will be coming soon so keep posted this weekend!

Chicken TikkaChicken Tikka Masala

Printable Recipe Here

Servings: 2

Ingredients

For the Marinade

  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces

For the Tikka Masala Sauce

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons freshly chopped cilantro

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, combine the first 8 ingredients: the yogurt, lemon juice, cumin, cinnamon, cayenne, black pepper, ginger, and salt. Mix in the chicken with the marinade and refrigerate for an hour. If you are patient or have some extra time, you can refrigerate it for 4 hours or overnight.
  2. Cook the chicken on a grill or in an oven or pan and set aside. I used an indoor grill and it took about 15-20 minutes to cook it because of the heavy marinade. Timing will vary based on the size of cuts and cooking method.
  3. To make the sauce, melt the butter in a large skillet. Saute the onions and garlic until softened and translucent, about 3 minutes over medium heat.
  4. Season with the  garam masala, turmeric, cumin, and paprika. Stir to combine and cook for about 30 seconds before adding the tomato sauce.
  5. Stir in the tomato sauce and heavy cream. Simmer for 20 minutes or until sauce thickens over low heat. Add cooked chicken and simmer for 5 minutes.
  6. Serve with rice and chopped cilantro.

Tips

-If you do not have garam masala I suggest checking the ethnic foods aisle at your grocery store or going to your local Indian grocery store. I ended up making my own garam masala and I found it to be a good substitute for me. Recipe can be found here. You can click on the serving size and change it to 5  otherwise you will have some extra garam masala.

-One of the key parts to making a sauce is taste, taste, taste! Always taste it after adding spices and adjust it to your own liking.

-Double the recipe for a larger serving size since this recipe is only for two. Be careful with spices though because the ratio does not apply to them. Best option would be to add spices slowly and taste as you go.

Chicken Tikka

Asian Shrimp Salad

Asian Shrimp SaladThe new dish of this week is: Asian Shrimp Salad with a Creamy Peanut Dressing! On the side is a Japanese Hokkaido Milk Roll (recipe coming soon for those). I decided to cook with seafood this week and got a bag of jumbo frozen shrimp and some ahi tuna steaks. I used the jumbo shrimp first and made a delicious salad with them. I was a little doubtful about how the peanut sauce would turn out because I’ve never made a dressing like that but I actually loved it and look forward to making it again in the future. The peanut taste is not too strong due to the variety of sauces and honey that you add to it. This dish would also look great in a mason jar- if you wanted a quick to-go lunch for work or school.

I first added the chopsticks as a prop just for the picture, but I ended up eating with them and it made for a complete experience. You’d think that lettuce leaves would be hard to pick up with chopsticks, but it was easy and worked out nicely. The cilantro-lime shrimp balances out the peanut dressing and the lime juice drizzled over the salad adds the perfect hint of acidity. Enjoy this dish and add your own special twist to it!

Asian Shrimp Salad w/ Creamy Peanut Dressing

Serves: 2

Printable Recipe Here

Ingredients

-For The Cilantro-Lime Shrimp

  • 1 lb tail-on jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice

-For The Peanut Dressing

  • 2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil

-For the Salad

  • 3 cups mixed leafy greens
  • 1 mango, sliced
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Other optional additions: sesame seeds, cashews, bean sprouts, sliced onion

Directions

  1. If frozen, place the shrimp in a colander or sieve and thaw by running cold water over them for about 5 minutes. Season the shrimp with salt, black pepper, and chili powder and set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a cast-iron skillet and add in the garlic. Sauté the garlic for a few minutes and then stir in the shrimp.
  3. After 2 minutes, add in the cilantro, butter, and lime juice. The shrimp will be done when they turn pink and opaque and you no longer see any grey. Keep in mind that if using smaller shrimp, they will cook faster.
  4. Remove the shrimp from heat and prepare the creamy peanut butter dressing.
  5. To make the dressing, mix together all the ingredients until smooth and incorporated.
  6. Add the leafy greens to a bowl and top with the shrimp and optional sliced mango and diced avocado. Drizzle the dressing and lime juice over the salad and serve.

Adapted from Rasamalaysia and FoodsofOurLives

Tips

-Jumbo shrimp means that a 1 pound bag will have 16-20 shrimp. Choose another size based on your preference but keep in mind that the cooking time will change. Be sure not to overcook the shrimp as they cook rather quickly, 4-5 minutes for the jumbo shrimp and less if they are smaller.

-If you don’t live near water, I would suggest not to buy “fresh” shrimp because it would have already been frozen and thawed at least once. In this case, it’s better to buy frozen shrimp and thaw it yourself.

-What type of shrimp to buy? Wild is better than farmed as majority (94%) of our farmed shrimp supply comes from India, Indonesia, and Thailand and these suppliers are not regulated in the antibiotics/harmful chemicals that they add (prohibited in the US). If buying farmed US shrimp, make sure it says no antibiotics on the package.

-Have fun with the salad. I made it with mango/avocado because that’s what I had on hand at the time. Other nice additions could be red bell peppers for that nice pop of color or even bean sprouts for that slight crunch.

-You can also blend the peanut dressing instead of mixing it with a fork. Mix it quickly and you will notice the texture of the dressing change as it all starts to combine and take on a smooth texture.

Nutritional Content of Shrimp

-low in fat and carbohydrates

-low in calories (7 calories per shrimp) and high in protein (3 grams per shrimp)

-contain selenium, B12, and phosphorus

-have antioxidants- selenium (fights damaging particles) and astaxanthin (color pigment in shrimp that reduces inflammation)

Asian Shrimp Salad

 

What twists on the everyday salad have you made?

French Macarons

Macarons

I recently bought some edible rose buds from Chinatown and love using them every chance I get. We had a Valentine’s Day bake sale coming up and I figured, why not make some macarons? It was a good opportunity to make them considering we just had an exam aka post exam stress-relief. Macarons themselves are not difficult to make. It definitely takes practice though to become familiar with all of the steps required and getting used to using the scale for measurements. With practice you’ll be on your way to success. Bake these macarons whether it’s for Valentine’s or even just to treat yourself (because you know you deserve it).

For ideas on other flavors of macarons to make check out my previous posts on Chocolate, Green Tea, Lemon, Pineapple, or Pistachio macarons. You can also go the extra step and make a Macaron Tree if you’re having any special events!

Macarons

Printable Recipe

Makes: 35 macarons (1 ½″)

Ingredients:

  • 110 grams almonds or almond flour (~ 1 cup)
  • 200 grams confectioner’s sugar (~ 1 2/3 cup)
  • 100 grams egg whites (3-3 1/2 eggs- no need to age)
  • 50 grams granulated sugar (~1/4 cup)
  • pinch salt
  • food coloring (optional)

**Highly recommend to invest in a scale (cheap on Amazon) and measure out the ingredients in grams- I have used both methods and my success rate is always higher using grams**

Directions:

  1. Prep two baking sheets with parchment paper and draw your desired circle size. You can use a bottle cap or print out a template and trace it.
  2. If you don’t have almond flour, blend the almonds in a food processor until very fine. Add in the confectioner’s sugar and pulse until incorporated. Sift the mixture using a sieve into a medium bowl and set aside. Add any large pieces that don’t go through the sieve back to the food processor and pulse until smooth.
  3. Place egg whites in a large bowl and whip at medium speed, until foamy.
  4. Mix in the granulated sugar and salt and whip for 3-6 minutes until stiff peaks form. If you lift the whisk, the peaks should remain standing and will look shiny and smooth.
  5. Add any food coloring at this point (I took a toothpick, dipped it in the pink gel food coloring, and wiped it into the mix). Blend until the color is distributed.
  6. Use a rubber spatula to fold your almond-sugar mixture into the stiffened egg whites. You won’t expect it to come together at first but after 40-50 strokes (it’s really important to keep track!), the macaron mixture should look like the consistency of lava. If you spoon up the batter and drop it back into the bowl, it will take about 10 seconds to incorporate itself back in. Watch this 1-minute video here if you are unsure of how to complete this step; it will be well worth it.
  7. Spoon your batter into a large piping bag (18″) fitted with a large circle tip (1/2″). Don’t overfill your bag or it will be harder when piping the macarons.
  8. Pipe the macarons onto your templates. Don’t fill the whole circle because the macaron batter will spread by a small amount.
  9. Pick up the pan and drop it onto the counter about 2-3 times to get rid of any air bubbles which can cause your macarons to crack.
  10. Preheat the oven to 300 F°. Let the macarons dry for about 30 minutes to 1 hour in an undisturbed area before baking them. You will know when they are ready when you touch the top of the macaron and it doesn’t stick to your finger.
  11. Bake the macarons for about 12 minutes. Remove and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.

Tips:

-I use a macaron silicon mat that I place underneath the parchment paper and use as a template when piping. After I pipe one sheet of macarons, I quickly slide the silicon mat out so I can use it for the next sheet.

-Sprinkle some crushed edible rose on top and color the batter with pink gel food coloring to make the macarons pictured.

-For more tips check out the Ten Commandments on Macarons here

Macarons

Chocolate Ganache

Printable Recipe

Ingredients

  • 4 ounces finely chopped semi-sweet chocolate
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions

  1. Fill a saucepan with 1 inch of water and bring to a simmer. Combine the chopped chocolate and butter in a heat proof bowl and set over the saucepan (should not be touching the water).
  2. Stir until melted and smooth. Remove from heat and add in the heavy cream, vanilla extract, and salt.
  3. Set aside until cooled and thickened while mixing occasionally.

Tips:

-The ganache can take about 30 minutes to thicken at room temperature. It is important to stir it frequently so that no clumps form. You can refrigerate it for a few minutes so that it can thicken faster.

Macarons

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mango Coconut Smoothie

Mango Coconut Smoothie

“Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple, learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen” -John Steinbeck

After reading this quote in a cookbook earlier, it just stuck. I love the versatility of it in that it can apply to any realm that you are inquisitive about. Well, I’ll have to assume you’re at least passionate about food-related subjects if you’re reading my blog post. Whatever it is that you are craving and cooking now or even experimenting with, it takes a few tries to know the ins and outs of your dish before you are comfortable enough to help others with troubleshooting. If ideas really were like rabbits, then I’m sure many of us would be hoarders haha.

Anyways, for the past few weeks, I was on a smoothie roll. I kept it to the basics- frozen fruit, milk, honey- and it was satisfying for both breakfasts and study snacks. It got a little boring though and I figured I would change it up, while still keeping it simple. No one wants to make a 20 ingredient smoothie in the morning.

The mango in this smoothie is complimented by the creaminess of the coconut milk and the slight acidity of the lemon juice. It’s a guilt-free smoothie and perfect for those who are dairy free or vegans. Of course, you can adjust it to your like. If you like smoothies that are thicker, add more frozen mango chunks or if you like it on the watery side, you can reduce the amount of mango. This is a great base for any smoothie and if you want to highlight a distinct fruit then simply switch out the mangos for something like pomegranate or raspberries.

Mango Coconut Smoothie

Serves: 2

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups coconut milk
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen mango chunks
  • juice of one lemon
  • 1 teaspoon agave nectar

Directions

  1. Blend all the ingredients together until smooth. Pour in a glass and enjoy.

Adapted from KitchenConfidante

 

 

 

Sea Salt Chocolate Chip Cookies

HolidayCookies6

I’ve been on the search for a satisfying chocolate chip cookie that is irresistibly chewy, soft, and complete with a large glass of cold milk. A glass of milk with cookies is like eating cake with icing, so much so that I might as well include milk in my list of ingredients haha. I’ve made this recipe twice during Thanksgiving because it was that good and found myself making it again yesterday, despite having to study for an exam. I froze a few to stave off any cravings I may have during the next few weeks for these cookies, who I know will be calling my name.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

If you need to destress or procrastibake to avoid that monster of a exam that you’ll be facing in a week, then take a break. Give these cookies a chance, you’ll be delighted.

Sea Salt Chocolate Chip Cookies

Printable Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 ½ cups dark brown sugar, packed
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg and 1 egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon greek yogurt (or sour cream)
  • 1 ½ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat: 350 Fº

Directions

  1. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl. Set aside.
  3. Cut the butter into slices and place in a medium skillet over medium heat. As the butter begins to melt, whisk constantly for several minutes until it starts to smell nutty and you see brown bits forming on the bottom. You now have browned butter. It will add a different dimension to the cookies with it’s nutty aroma.
  4. Remove from heat immediately and set aside in a separate bowl to cool.
  5. Beat together the cooled butter with the brown sugar and granulated sugar.
  6. Beat in the egg, egg yolk, vanilla extract, and greek yogurt on low speed, until incorporated for about 10-15 seconds. Gradually beat in the dry ingredients by hand with a rubber spatula. This will prevent you from over mixing the dough, which will cause a stiff cookie.
  7. Fold in the chocolate chips. Chill for an hour in the refrigerator. Don’t skip the chilling step, you’ve already made it this far.
  8. Roll the cookie dough in balls about 3 tablespoons of dough each and place on the prepped baking sheet.
  9. Sprinkle as much or as little sea salt as you like on the cookies before placing in the oven. Bake for 9-11 minutes at 350 Fº.
  10. Remove the cookies and place on a wire rack to finishing cooling.

Adapted from the Ambitious Kitchen

Tips

-For more variation, you can use both milk and semi-sweet chocolate chips, adding ¾ cup of each. Even better, you can use chunks, mini chips, or whatever type of chocolate you desire.

-The longer you refrigerate the dough, the better the flavor of the cookies.

-This recipe can be made without a mixer or electric beater for ease and convenience as well.

-Underbaked cookies are the secret to having soft and chewy cookies the next day so be careful not to go over the 9-11 minutes.

-You can freeze this dough for up to 3 months. Roll into balls and place into freezer friendly bags. To bake, simply place on a baking sheet and bake as directed adding a minute to the bake time.Chocolate Chip Cookies

Bacon Wrapped Green Beans

Green Bean Bacon Bundles

With a 2 ingredient recipe, it’s hard to turn this one down (assuming you have olive oil and the salt & pepper of course). This was a pretty spontaneous side dish that I prepared for Thanksgiving. It makes for a delicious substitute for a green bean casserole if you’re looking for a dish that’s out of the ordinary. It may even tempt little ones who are finicky with their foods to try a healthy green!

Bacon Wrapped Green Beans

Printable Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 pound fresh green beans
  • 10 turkey bacon strips
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preheat: 350 F

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to boiling. Prepare an ice bath by filling a large bowl with ice and water.
  3. Blanch the green beans by placing them into the boiling water for 3 minutes. Remove them and immediately place into the ice water. This will preserve the color and stop the cooking process.
  4. Dry the green beans and place aside.
  5. In a large nonstick pan over medium heat, cook the turkey bacon until cooked but not crisp, about 3 minutes.
  6. Remove cooked bacon to paper towels.
  7. Toss the green beans in olive oil, salt, and pepper.
  8. Use about 8-10 green beans to assemble each bundle. Wrap the bacon around the green beans and place in a baking dish with the loose end of the bacon facing down.
  9. Bake in the oven until cooked through, about 20 minutes.

Green Bean Bacon Bundles

For a sweet bacon inspired dish, check out my Maple Bacon Brittle Icecream!

 

Lavender Honey Shortbread Cookies

Lavender cookies

Just recently, I was at a farmer’s market that had everything from local honey to farm fresh eggs. It was a local event held on someone’s farm where they invited other farmers to come and share their produce. One of the highlights was getting to see the miniature ponies and even a 3 day old calf on the property (animals not for sale though)!

We passed by a lavender stand that had everything lavender themed- essential oils, laundry spray, hand cream, you name it. The last product that the vendor showed me was culinary lavender. Once I heard the word “culinary”, a lightbulb turned on in my head and I started brainstorming of recipes to use it with.  A quick Google search revealed that lavender can be used in both sweet and savory dishes, such as shortbread cookies or even a lavender rub for a pot roast. I decided to make the lavender shortbread cookies and loved them!

These lavender cookies are simple and fragrant delicious bites. Dangerously addicting.

Printable Recipe

Lavender Honey Shortbread Cookies

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 ½ teaspoons lavender buds, roughly chopped
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

Preheat: 350º F

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, cream together the sugar, honey, and butter until light and fluffy. Mix in the lavender, egg yolk, and vanilla.
  2. Add in the flour and salt and mix until well combined, taking care not to over mix.
  3. Refrigerate the dough for about 30 minutes or until firm. Roll out to about ¼ inch thickness and cut into shapes with cookie cutters. If you don’t have cookie cutters, you can also place the dough on parchment paper and shape it into a log, about 2 inches in diameter. Freeze for 30 minutes and the remove the dough and cut into slices.
  4. Place the cookies on a sheet and bake at 350º F for 7-8 minutes.
  5. Allow to cool on the baking sheet for about 10 minutes then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Adapted from My Fancy Pantry

Tips:

-If you used cookie cutters for this recipe, you can place the baking sheet of cookies in the freezer for 5 minutes so that they firm up and maintain their structure when baked.

-To get your butter to room temperature faster if in a rush, you can slice the stick of butter and spread it out on a plate. The greater surface area will allow the butter to soften quicker.

What recipes have you used lavender in?

 

Farmer’s Market Haul #1

Farmer's Market Haul

Some people get excited about makeup hauls or drugstore hauls, but one of my weekend delights is a Saturday morning farmer’s market haul. It’s always exciting to see what new goods are out. Some of my favorites thus far have been the farm fresh feta cheese and the white grapes (not pictured). The feta cheese was a lot more creamy and not as tangy as the ones you find at the grocery store and the grapes were very sweet with a nice crunch from the little seed inside. Fruits and vegetables from farmer’s markets have that special local feel and that is probably the only place where you will get to meet the direct people who picked them that morning or last night. Depending on what you get, some foods are cheaper than what you can find in the grocery store or very comparable at the least. Featured today is a haul containing mushrooms, cucumbers, squash, and bell peppers. Here is a little of what I have planned for these ingredients:

Button Mushrooms– cream of mushroom soup & marinated mushrooms (great for adding to salads)

Zucchini/Yellow Squash– zucchini chips, vegetable tian (dish with spiraled veggies including potatoes, onions, and tomatoes)

Bell Peppers– roasted vegetables mix with pasta

Cucumbers– spring mix salads, cucumber yogurt dip

I hope this inspires you to check out your local farmer’s market and get creative with what ingredients you find! Farmer's Market Haul

Farmer's Market Haul

What are you making with your farmer’s market finds?

Long Grain Rice with Chickpeas & Meat

Chickpeasandrice

I will be experimenting with a new style that I’ll be featuring on my blog more frequently in addition to all of the baking recipes that I have up, which will include meal planning along with portion sizing to vary recipes to your liking. You really appreciate something once it is gone from you and for me that has been: time. We always think about how wonderful our day would be if we only had that one extra hour, minute, etc. In reality, we can earn that time back with effective time management and that is where cooking comes in. Anything as simple as using one pot to create a dish translates to a few more minutes saved from scrubbing dishes.

Long Grain Rice with Chickpeas & Meat

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 1 cup of canned chickpeas
  • 1 cup long grain rice
  • 1 & 1/4 cups of water
  • 1 chicken bouillon cube

Directions

  1. Mince the garlic and add it to a medium saucepan along with the olive oil. Cook it over medium-low heat for 1-2 minutes.
  2. Toss in the cumin, cinnamon, and coriander and stir for about a minute.
  3. Add the diced onion and sauté it for about 5 minutes to blend the flavors.
  4. Stir in the ground beef until it is evenly browned and no longer pink. Add in the chickpeas to the meat.
  5. Add the rice to the saucepan and stir for about a minute.
  6. Dissolve the bouillon cube in hot water and pour  the water into the saucepan
  7. Cover the saucepan with a lid and turn up the heat to medium-high until the water is boiling.
  8. Once it starts to boil, put the heat on low and simmer for about 15-20 minutes.
  9. Turn the heat off and let it rest for about 5 minutes before removing the lid and fluffing it with a fork.

Tips:

  • You can also use 1 pound of meat with the whole can of chickpeas and save half of that for another dish (possibly mixing it with pasta) or even freeze that half and use the remaining meat mixture for the rice
  • This recipe can be modified to your liking- if you do not like chickpeas then that can be taken out easily
  • Check out this link for some more ideas of what to do with leftover chickpeas

Chickpeasandrice

Any quick meal ideas that you recommend?

 

 

 

Floral Inspired Bridal Shower Cake

Floral Bridal Shower Cake

What a long break! Only back with an innocent looking floral cake filled with sinful chocolatey indulgence on the inside. A devil’s food cake with a rich chocolate buttercream fills the interior. A Hershey’s Perfectly Chocolate cake recipe would also be a nice option or any of your favorite go-to cake recipes. I made it for my best friend’s bridal shower and so can you! This design is easy to make and would even work wonderfully for an anniversary cake. Read the tips below for some inspiration:

-Use black edible paper (found at Michaels/Hobby Lobby) to cut out the large stripe going around the whole cake as well as for the ring shape on top

-I used a ring cookie cutter for the ring on top & hit the cookie cutter firmly a few times while it was on top of the edible paper in order for it to cut through

-A few dabs of water will get the edible paper to stick to the fondant. Be careful as once it goes on the fondant, you can’t take it off or you’ll risk having to remove all the fondant and start over… (yes that happened to me and I definitely learned from that)

-Look for the brightest bunch of flowers at your local shop or grocery store and cut the stems so that you have about an inch remaining to poke through the fondant

For any remaining unanswered questions, please comment below!Floral Bridal Shower Cake

Have you made any floral inspired cakes?

Eclairs (Pâte à Choux)

Eclairs

Hurray for the 100th post of SimplyDelicious! For this post, I chose a dessert that can be served at any occasion or celebration. Pierre Herme’s eclairs are something else. After seeing so many pins of them on Pinterest, I was inspired to make my own version of sophisticated and modern eclairs. The key I found was to use a different type of topping on each eclair so that the finished picture has a lot of variety and complexity to it. You can use whatever you have handy. I had a few blueberries and strawberries so I used those. I also had some green tea chocolate chips I had made and stored so I chopped a few and added those along with some chopped walnuts and chocolate for a complete colorful look overall. The first time I made these I was so surprised at how easy it was! Do not let the long recipe fool you, I just put detailed directions so that the first try is a success. The same eclair recipe can also be used for making cream puffs and filling them with whipped cream. The dough is one of the most versatile as other options include making gnocchi, churros, funnel cakes, or profiteroles.

Eclairs

Eclairs

Full Printable Recipe Here

Pate a Choux

Ratio: 2 parts water, 1 part butter, 1 part flour, and 2 parts egg

Preheat: 425 Fº

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces water (1 cup)
  • 4 ounces butter (1 stick)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 ounces flour (a scant cup)
  • 8 ounces eggs (4 large eggs)

Directions

  1. Add the butter, water, and salt to a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over high heat.
  2. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the flour. Stir quickly until the flour absorbs the water and begins to gel turning into a paste. The dough formed will start to pull away from the sides of the saucepan.
  3. Take the pan off the stove and allow to cool for 1-2 minutes. The dough has to be warm but not too hot.
  4. Add the eggs, one at a time, stirring until completely incorporated. It is better to transfer it to a standing mixer and use an electric beater, but they can also be mixed in using a wooden spoon.
  5. The dough will incorporate with the eggs and turn into a paste once the eggs are fully in.
  6. Using a large round tip, pipe out the eclairs, about 4 to 5 inches long.
  7. Bake at 425 F for 10 minutes. Reduce the oven heat to 350 F for about 15-20 minutes. To test if they are done, remove one from the oven and wait for a few minutes. If it collapses, it still needs more time.
  8. Set aside to cool and prepare the pastry cream.

Adapted from Ratio (book)

Eclairs

Pastry Cream (will need half of this cream for the eclairs recipe)

Makes: 3 pounds

Ingredients

  • 1 quart milk (4 cups)
  • 1 vanilla bean (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
  • 7.5 ounces granulated sugar (1 cup)
  • 6 ounces egg yolks (10 yolks)
  • 2.5 ounces cornstarch (½ cup)
  • 2 ounces unsalted butter (½ stick)

Directions

  1. Bring the milk, vanilla bean, and 3 ounces (.40 cups) of sugar to a boil in a large saucepan.
  2. Whisk the egg yolks in a mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the remaining sugar and the cornstarch. Whisk the sugar mixture into the egg yolks.
  3. Add ¼ of the boiling milk to the egg yolks and stir. Return this mixture to the pan and whisk rapidly until it starts to boil. Keep on whisking it for 2 minutes as it starts to thicken.
  4. Remove the pan from the stove and transfer the pastry cream to a clean mixing bowl.
  5. Fold in the butter until it is just melted taking care not to over mix.
  6. Place plastic wrap directly on the pastry cream so a skin does not form and place the bowl into an ice bath.

Eclairs

Chocolate Glaze 

Makes: 13 oz

Ingredients

  • 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • 4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
  • 4 ounces butter (1 stick)
  • 1 ounces light corn syrup (4 tsp)

Directions

  1. Melt all the ingredients using the double boiler (bain-marie method).
  2. Remove from heat and stir the glaze until it is slightly thickened.
  3. Use instantly, before it starts to dry.

Assembly

Take the cooled eclair shells and pipe in the pastry cream from one end using a piping bag fitted with a circle tip. Make sure the cream fills the whole shell. In a single, smooth stroke, drag the top of the eclair through the warm chocolate glaze. Refrigerate the eclairs and serve within 8-12 hours.

Eclairs

Be creative in your mix of toppings for the eclairs!

Eclairs

Simple eclairs in their purest form.

Eclairs

Finished product with the right pop of color!

 

 

What is the most unique twist on eclairs that you have made/tasted?

(could be flavor, filling, toppings, etc.)

Smoothie Bowl Basics

Smoothie Bowl

A drink that is so easy to blend that you don’t even have to think about it twice. Got milk? Got bananas? Got strawberries? You already have all the ingredients for a basic smoothie bowl and you don’t even know it. It’s so much funner eating a smoothie from a bowl than drinking it! Drinking them from straws or even just a cup, every single time, gets boring quickly.There’s just something about using a spoon that makes it seem more like a solid breakfast to me, not to mention the loads of fruit that its covered with. It may be hard to eat such a good-looking smoothie, when all we do is eat with our eyes. But… Once your spoon goes in for the first bite, it will disappear as quick as a popped bubble. Read on to make your own antioxidant-rich, creamy smoothie topped with a sweet crunchy granola and some soft, fresh fruit.

Smoothie Bowl

One of the simplest pleasures in life is finding a recipe that you want to make and realizing that you have every single ingredient listed. No grocery stores needed. The beauty of the smoothie bowl is that one can customize it based on their own personal preferences or even whatever is in the fridge/freezer. If you plan on making smoothies regularly, it is convenient to buy frozen fruit in bulk to always have it on hand.

Smoothie Bowl Basics

  • Liquid
    • Base of the smoothie bowl
    • Fruity: Orange Juice, Apple Juice; can be freshly squeezed or packaged
    • Tropical: Coconut Water, Pineapple Juice
    • Creamy: Milk (whole, 2%, skim, soy, coconut, almond)
    • Water: adds no flavor to the drink
  • Fruit/Veggies
    • Best if frozen to keep your smoothie cold without having to use ice
    • Strawberries, Bananas, Kiwi, Mangoes, Raspberries, Blueberries, Blackberries, Dragonfruit, etc
    • Kale, Cucumbers, Spinach
  • Thickener
    • Greek Yogurt, Xantham Gum, Bananas, Frozen Fruit, Ice
    • Try to use ice as a last resort so that you can have a more flavorful drink
  • Flavorings
    • Vanilla Extract , Honey, Sugar, Agave Nectar, Maple Syrup
  • Toppings
    • Best to have a fusion of different colors
    • Fruits, fresh preferred: chopped, sliced, halved (be careful when adding too much dried fruit because it is concentrated in sugar due to no water content)
    • Granola: fun flavors such as chocolate chip, cranberry apple, maple peanut butter, cinnamon raisin spice
    • Nuts/Seeds: slivered almonds, flaxseed, whole oats, hazelnuts, pecans, pumpkin seeds
    • Superfoods: cocoa nibs, unsweetened shredded coconut, chia seeds, hemp seeds, avocado

 Tips

  • When making your own smoothie bowl, have all the fruit cut and ready to place on top before you start assembling it so that you can eat it right after
  • If the smoothie is too thick, stop blending, shake the mixer, and add small amounts of the chosen liquid at a time
  • Make sure the smoothie is thick so that your fruit don’t sink to the bottom
  • Check out some fun inspiration for smoothie bowls on this Buzzfeed article

Smoothie Bowl

These are only various combinations to inspire a smoothie bowl, so do not feel limited as there is a lot more that I have not included. Now it’s your turn to have fun with all the different combinations to make the perfect personalized smoothie bowl!

Smoothie Bowl

What unique combinations have you used in smoothie bowls?

 

Comfort Classics: Bread Bowls

Bread Bowl

I’ve always been used to going to the grocery store to get a fresh, steaming loaf of bread. If I wanted to fancy it up, then a trip to Panera Bread would have to suffice for my bread bowl fix (with broccoli cheddar soup of course). A world where I made my own bread seemed unfathomable, yet I soon learned it was a reality after my success with french bread. Yeast works wonders. While my bread was rising, I would lift the corner of the damp towel to impatiently check on its progress. As the minutes passed, it rose, puffed, and swelled up as if it was a water balloon slowly filling with water. Not till it made its way out of the oven about an hour later was I finally at peace with myself and satisfied. Overall, this bread was relatively quick to make and did not consist of the 4+ hours of rising that other recipes use. The actual time spent making the recipe was far less compared to the waiting period, which is manageable. A few burnt fingers were irrelevant compared to the joy from sampling a tender, fluffy hunk of steaming bread right from the depths of the bottomless bread bowl. And that was only the start of it. Wait for the Broccoli Cheddar Soup that fills it, which will make its appearance on the blog during this week!

Bread Bowls (makes 6-7 large bowls or 12-13 small bowls)

Time Prep: 20 minutes, Rising: 70 minutes, Baking: 30 minutes

Ingredients

  •  4 ½ teaspoons instant yeast (2 packets)
  • 2 ½ cups of warm water
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar OR honey
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cups (18 ounces or 510 grams) bread flour
  • 3 cups (13.5 ounces or 383 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 egg white

Directions

  1. Combine the instant yeast, warm water, and sugar and leave undisturbed for 10 minutes. You will notice it starting to bubble up slightly and foam.
  2. Add the yeast mixture to a large bowl and mix in the olive oil, bread flour, all-purpose flour, and salt using the dough hook on a mixer at a low-medium speed. Add in the flours gradually, about 2 cups at a time.
  3. Knead the dough for about 5-7 minutes until it is smooth. I prefer kneading it by hand for this part, because it is a large amount of dough and I don’t want the mixer to overheat.
  4. Place in a lightly oiled bowl and cover the bowl with a damp towel. Leave it undisturbed for about 40 minutes or until it has doubled in size.
  5. Divide the dough into 6-7 portions. Stretch each ball into a tight shape, pinch the end to seal it, and roll it around for a nice round shape.
  6. Put the dough balls on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Brush the balls with the egg white and use a knife to make an X on the top.
  7. Cover with a damp towel and let them rise for 30 minutes or until doubled in size. Brush them again with the egg white before placing them in the oven.
  8. Preheat the oven to 400 F°. Place the baking sheet into the center of the oven and bake for about 30 minutes or until golden. If baking one tray on the top and the second tray on the bottom shelf, switch them halfway through so that they are both evenly baked.
  9. Cool for 10 minutes before cutting the tops out and hollowing out the bowls. Using a knife, make a circular cut in the bread bowl and scoop out the bread. The outside should be crusty so do not worry about whether you are scooping out too much bread or not.
  10. Fill with a creamy soup of your choice and eat immediately.

Tips

-You can use a scale to make sure each bread bowl is similar in size.

-These are large-sized bowls so if you want more of a snack-sized one, you can make more bowls from the same recipe although they will be smaller. The bowls from this recipe will be very filling and if you plan on them being a side dish, then make 12-13 bowls from the same recipe (each bowl is about 140 grams if you are weighing them)

-The leftover bread scooped from inside the bowls can be dipped in your choice of soup. You can also make some bread pudding with it as well.

Adapted from HandletheHeat

Bread BowlBread Bowl Bread Bowl

Up next, Broccoli Cheddar Soup to pair up with these fluffy bread bowls!

 

What are some soups that you have tried with bread bowls?

Divergent Cake

Divergent Cake

Birthdays are so special. Birthdays are also a reason to bake up a cake. What celebration doesn’t call for that? It was time to finally put an end to the cake drought we’ve been suffering (last one I baked was an Little Black Dress cake for my friend’s party). With a little fondant of course. Fondant’s hard to ignore and it somehow makes it way to every celebration. It just adds the right amount of pizzazz to any cake like a glossy top coat to your nail polish. So fondant it was. Now the challenging part: what theme should the cake be centered around?

Divergent Cake

Well, after many brainstorming and Pinterest sessions to find a cake for my sister’s birthday, we suddenly agreed on a theme. We had just seen Divergent at home and Insurgent the next day at the movies, which really inspired us. In case you haven’t seen either of these, they are based on a bestselling novel by Veronica Roth (she has a role in the first movie so keep an eye out for her!). Her dystopia novel comes to life along with its society-divided factions which are defined by traits. Each child goes to a Choosing Ceremony where they pick the faction they will join for the rest of their lives. An action packed mix of rebellion, deception, and upright honesty where the main character, Tris, leaves her selfless Abnegation faction to join the adventurous, fearless Dauntless faction brings excitement tying the whole story together. The main character is Divergent, meaning that she has 3 or more of the traits these factions have which poses a threat to the government who dislike the rebellious Divergent. The best way I found to integrate the movie into the cake was to focus on the five factions and so that’s what I topped the cake with. I put fire and coals (crushed oreos) to surround the cake, because that was the symbol of the Dauntless faction that Tris chose.

Birthday Cakes Across the Years 

Batman Cake

https://simply-delicious.org/2014/05/11/batman-fondant-cake/

Chinese Takeout Cake

https://simply-delicious.org/2013/05/05/chinese-takeout-anyone/

Rainbow Cake

https://simply-delicious.org/2012/04/24/surprises-abound/

Divergent Themed Cake 

Divergent Cake

I used Sweetapolita’s Fluffy Vanilla Cake which you can find here and paired that with a light, creamy Vanilla Bean frosting. The combination was great, because the icing did not have that generic overly sweet taste and the cake itself was light and fluffy. The secret to this frosting was whipping the butter for 8 minutes until it was as smooth as a ribbon of silk before mixing it with the powdered sugar. I don’t usually eat the fondant part of the cake as it is has a sickly sweet flavor that just throws you off even before you get to the cake and icing inside. It definitely is worth the magical effect that it gives your cake though.

Divergent Cake

Each circle represents one of the five factions. Starting from the top yellow symbol, clockwise, are Dauntless, Abnegation, Amity, Candor, & Erudite.

Dauntless: brave, fearless, take risks

Abnegation: selfless, always help others hence the hands

Amity: kind, optimistic, earth-friendly

Candor: truthful, see everything as black or white

Erudite: curious about the world, intelligent

Divergent (no symbol): three or more of the above, rebellious, immune to control

Factionless (no symbol): the ones who don’t fit in

Divergent Cake

 

What movie-themed cakes have you made?