Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Chicken Broccoli and Rice Casserole


This amazingly tasty recipe has been in our family for at least 25 years. My mom learned it from a friend. I haven't met a kid who doesn't love it and ask for seconds. Enjoy!

1 lb broccoli
1 cup rice (you can use white or brown)
1 lb. chicken breast cutlets
1 small onion, chopped into large chunks
1 bay leaf
4 peppercorns, optional
1/4 cup butter
5 TBs flour
1 tsp salt
3 cups chicken broth
3/4, 8 oz. container sour cream
1 tsp lemon juice
freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp. curry powder
1 cup of shredded Mexican or cheddar cheese, or 6 slices American cheese
1/2 cup bread crumbs

-Cook the rice according to package directions.
-Clean and cut broccoli into 1 inch pieces. Bring water to a boil in a large pot and drop in the broccoli for 2 minutes then drain.
-Next you will boil the chicken and make a broth to be used in the next step.
-Place chicken breast cutlets in sauce pan, cover with water until it's an inch above the chicken. Bring to a boil then remove any white foam that comes on top. Add a small chopped onion, a bay leaf, some peppercorns, and a dash of salt. Let simmer for half an hour, covered.
-Place a medium sized colander in a bowl and drain chicken as you save the broth into the bowl.
-Leave chicken to cool.
-Place a medium sized sauce pan over medium heat. Melt butter in pan, then add the flour and saute for about 3 minutes. Using a wire whisk slowly start to pour in 3 cups of chicken broth one at a time while constantly whisking. Cook for 10 minutes while whisking, or until the sauce thickens. Remove from heat, whisk in salt and curry powder. Set aside for a couple of minutes.
-Cut cooled chicken into 1 inch cubes then sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper.
-Whisk sour cream into sauce, then mix the cheese in.
-Begin layering your casserole.

-Lightly oil a 9x13 pyrex baking dish, place rice in bottom as your first layer. Place boiled broccoli on top, then the chicken. Next add the sauce, and lastly top with bread crumbs.
-Bake at 350 for half an hour or until golden brown and delicious.
-Let cool for 15 minutes before serving.
-Enjoy! :)

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Quinoa Patties with Feta Cheese & Spinach

Quinoa is nutritious, easy to make, and so versatile. I usually add it to my salads to add more texture, or eat it as a side in place of rice. This was my first time making it like this, and I'm not sure why it's taken me this long to discover these scrumptious patties. 


They came out so yummy! They're crispy and browned on the outside, delicate and full of flavor on the inside. Best of all, the possibilities are endless. I added fresh spinach and feta into my patties, and I can't wait to try other variations using different cheeses and veggies. You could play around with the spices, or add in other components like olives, zucchini, peas, corn, and black beans.

You'll need:

4 eggs
1 cup of uncooked quinoa
1 cup of fresh spinach, chopped
3/4 cup of crumbled feta cheese
1/2 medium red onion, finely chopped and sautéed
1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon of thyme
1/4 teaspoon of cumin powder
1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper (optional)
salt & pepper to taste
olive oil, butter, or ghee for cooking (your healthy fat of choice ;)) 

  1. Cook the quinoa. Let it cool. 
  2. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs. Then add the quinoa, chopped spinach, feta cheese, sautéed red onion, & spices.
  3. Mix all the ingredients together well. Let the mixture set in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.
  4. Form the patties. 
  5. Heat a non-stick pan with olive oil, butter or ghee. Cook the patties for 6-8 minutes or until the patties are golden brown. Flip and cook for another 2-3 minutes until the other side has browned.

Makes 9-12 patties depending on the size you make them.

Yogurt mint sauce

You could serve them over greens, in pita bread with yogurt sauce, with a warm tomato sauce, next to a soft boiled egg (because everything tastes better with eggs), with beans, with fish/chicken/beef, or on their own. Like I said, the possibilities are endless! Enjoy :)

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Stuffed Collard Greens

If you love grape leaves you'll love this dish. I find it difficult to find fresh grape leaves where I live, and the ones that come in a jar just don't taste the same. I found fresh collard greens to be a great alternative. This is a VEGETARIAN/VEGAN recipe. However, if you're feeling meaty please feel free to add half a pound of cooked ground beef to the filling mixture described below!

2 bunches of collard greens, approximately 20 leaves, washed

For the filling:
2 cups Egyptian rice or medium grain rice, rinsed
1 bunch parsley, finely chopped
1 large clove garlic, finely grated
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 pound vine ripe tomatoes, finely chopped
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
2 Tablespoons pomegranate molasses (optional)
1 Tablespoon dried mint leaves or 1 small fresh bunch, finely chopped
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For cooking together in pot:
2 TBs olive oil

-Fill a large pot with water (halfway), bring water to boil. Drop 4-6 collard leaves at a time and boil for 2 minutes. Remove with tongs and place in strainer, continue until you've boiled all the leaves.
-While the leaves cool, prepare your filling.
-Mix all the filling ingredients together in a large bowl. You'll end up with a mixture that looks like this:

-After the leaves cool, grab your kitchen sheers and start prepping the leaves to be stuffed. First step is to cut out the stem, then cut this way: 
If it's a smaller leaf you won't need to cut the top part just the two sides.
-Fill each leaf and roll it like so:

 -After you finish rolling all the leaves place some of the stems in the bottom of a large pot and line up your leaves like so:

-Cover the leaves with a small plate to weigh them down then add enough water to cover the leaves by half an inch or so. 

-Add olive oil, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Bring it to a boil on high heat, let boil for 5 minutes on high. Then cover and simmer for about an hour or until all the liquid is gone.

-You'll also know they're done by taking one out and tasting it! :) It should be easy to pierce a fork through it. 

-Serve with a squeeze of lemon juice, some salad or plain yogurt on the side. Enjoy!

P.S: It's easier to flip the pot over unto a large dish when you're ready to serve, they'll stay in tact a bit better ;)

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Creamy Pasta with Veggies and BBQ Chicken

I usually take a break from cooking on the weekends, but this past Sunday was different. The weather was nice and cool for a picnic, so I whipped this up and off we went! It's not your typical picnic food but it worked for us and the kids loved it!

12 oz pasta of your choice (I used Vegetable Radiatore) 
1 Pint Heavy Cream
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese 
1/2 lb fresh broccoli, cleaned, cut into small pieces, and steamed
3 oz sun dried tomatoes (I used the packaged/dry one)
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups reserved pasta water (from boiling pasta)
1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 pounds chicken breast cutlets, thinly sliced
BBQ Sauce

-Start off by marinating your chicken with BBQ sauce. Crush some black pepper and mix well. You can either grill your chicken right away or let is marinate in the fridge until you're ready. After grilling my chicken in my cast iron griddle pan I cut it into small pieces using my kitchen sheers.

-To prepare pasta:
-Boil your pasta according to package directions and save some of the water as you drain it.
-Heat olive oil and butter in a large pot, add garlic and sauce til fragrant and golden. Add sun dried tomatoes and saute for 30 seconds then add heavy cream and parmesan cheese. Heat sauce then add broccoli and pasta.
-Add 1 cup of pasta water at this point and gently mix in. If you want your sauce to be lighter you can add more water. I suggest adding it gradually until your sauce reaches a consistency you enjoy.
-Over medium heat bring to a boil then reduce heat and let it simmer for a few minutes. Now it's time to taste it. Feel free to add a bit of salt or pepper if needed.
-Top with grilled chicken and enjoy.

P.S: If you're trying to cut down on carbs you can make the sauce and instead os pasta add cooked spaghetti squash. I've tried it before and it's delicious!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Homemade Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Larabars

When I first discovered Larabars, I was amazed at how short the ingredient list was.  Not only that, but I could actually understand what the ingredients were. My personal rule with any packaged food is that if I don't know what an ingredient listed on the label is, I don't eat it. 

Most energy/health bars are highly processed, filled with added sugar, high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, food dyes, and so much more. These bars on the other hand, are made with just a few, wholesome ingredients. 

These bars are so simple, you can make them at home. Making them at home is more economical, and in my husband's opinion, much tastier. 

I'd have to agree, these taste SO much better than the packaged ones! All you'll need is a food processor, and these 3 ingredients:

  • 1 cup of dates
  • 1/2 cup of peanuts (mine were salted, but if you use unsalted peanuts, add a pinch of salt to the mix)
  • 1/3 cup of dark chocolate chips (or chopped dark chocolate)
  • Put all of the ingredients in a food processor.

  • Pulse for 1-2 minutes, or until the ingredients form into a dough ball.
  • Press the mixture into cling wrap (or parchment paper) lined pan. 

  • Chill in the freezer for an hour.
  • Cut into bars, and wrap them individually in cling wrap.

That's it! These bars taste SO good, and make a perfect snack to take on the go. They're also a much healthier substitute for dessert. Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Middle Eastern Chicken Wraps (Msakhan wraps مسخن رول )

The delicious filling

Msakhan/Musakhan is a famous Palestinian dish. It traditionally consists of whole chicken, fried onions seasoned with sumac, lots of olive oil, and bread. This recipe is for the quick version, it's made with chicken breast cutlets instead of whole chicken. You can prepare the filling in advance as well. You can use marqooq bread (a paper thin bread found in Middle Eastern stores), lavash bread, or any kind of wrap bread you like!

2 pounds boneless chicken breast cutlets, cut into small pieces (see photo below)
2-3 tablespoons sumac spice (found in Middle Eastern stores)
1/4 tsp ground cardamom 
1/4 cup olive oil
1-2 Tablespoons toasted pine nuts
4 large onions, thinly sliced
salt and pepper to taste
10 wraps

-Start off by rinsing the chicken and drying it with a paper towel. Then cut into small pieces like shown below. I use my kitchen sheers for this task, they make the job alot easier and quicker.

-In a non-stick pan, add a 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil on medium heat. Add chicken and saute until lightly browned and fully cooked. Season with salt and pepper.

-Remove chicken from pan, now add remainder of olive oil and saute onions until wilted on medium-high heat.
-Once onions start to brown add the chicken back to the pan with the remainder of the spices and cook for a few minutes or until it looks like this:
-Preheat oven to 450 degrees (or if you have a panini press and prefer to use it instead then just press your wraps in it after assembly.
-Assemble wraps then line them in a cookie sheet that's been brushed with olive oil. Brush tops of wraps with olive as well.

I used marqooq/markouk bread.

Wraps are ready to go in the oven.
-Bake for 5-7 minutes or until golden and delicious.

Ready to eat!

They make a yummy addition to a potluck picnic. 
- To enhance your experience I recommend dipping your wrap in whole milk yogurt as you eat it. Or better yet, try making your own yogurt salad (it consists or finely chopped cucumbers, ground dried mint, a tiny bit of fresh grated garlic, a bit of salt and greek yogurt). Another option for dipping would be hummus. Please comment below if you have questions or if you try it and like it! Enjoy :)

Friday, May 8, 2015

Baked Wild Salmon

This is a great dish to make when you have company and are too busy/tired to cook. It's effortless yet at the end you have a gourmet meal. The trick to making delicious wild salmon is to marinate it overnight or at least for several hours.

Wild Alaskan Salmon Fillets (found in Costco's freezer section)

2 TBs fresh grated ginger
1-2 TBs freshly grated garlic
salt and pepper to taste
red pepper flakes
Juice of 1 lemon
2 TBs honey
1 TBs soy sauce

1/2 cup almond flour or finely chopped pecans
1/4 parmesan cheese
1 TBs parsley flakes

-Wash and dry thawed salmon fillets.
-Combine marinate ingredients then place in glass container with salmon fillets and coat generously.
-Place in fridge for several hours or over night.
-Preheat oven to 425
-When read to cook, take salmon fillets and dip top side (without skin) into crust batter then place in baking dish.
-Bake in middle rack for 15 minutes or until salmon is cooked. Do not overcook! you'll end up with dry salmon.
-Serve with salad, or steamed asparagus and maybe some oven roasted or mashed potatoes. Enjoy! :)

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Cauliflower Crust Pizza

Fully loaded Cauliflower Crust Pizza!
Mushrooms, peppers, jalapenos, ground beef, kalamata olives, and cheese.

I'm reposting this recipe and deleting the old one. This technique is much better than what I used to do. The difference here is that you're cooking the cauliflower for a few minutes in a pan and you're baking the crust on both sides. The inspiration for the new recipe came from the awesome Chef John. Please watch his video here, it's very entertaining.

Cauliflower Pizza crust:

1 medium sized head of cauliflower (will yield about 2 cups once processed)
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1/4 cup mozzarella cheese
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1 egg

-Preheat oven to 400
-To prepare crust, cut cauliflower into florets then finely chop it in food processor.
-Steam cauliflower in a pan with a splash of water for 6 minutes.
-Place in one of these or in tea towel and squeeze all the liquid out of it. I got at least 1 cup of liquid, 2 cups of finely ground cauliflower. Squeeeeeeeeze with all your might! :)
-Place cauliflower in a bowl. Add rest of ingredients and mix well with your hands.
-Spread mixture onto parchment paper like this:
It's about 8 inches in diameter

-Bake in 400 degree oven for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown:

-Increase oven temperature to 450 while you top your pizza.
-FLIP THE CRUST OVER BEFORE ADDING TOPPINGS! Add toppings then bake for an additional 7 minutes or until the cheese starts to brown.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Egyptian Kushari

This famous Egyptian dish takes a few easy steps and the result is a hearty meal that is a sure crowd pleaser!

Kushari has a rice and lentil base and is then topped with pasta, tomato sauce and fried onions.

This recipe serves 4-6 adults:

Ingredients for rice and lentil base:
1 cup green/brown lentils
1 cup basmati rice*
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp salt

*Traditionally kushari is made with Egyptian rice but trust me this rice has alot more flavor and will offer a much better texture in the end ;)

Ingredients for sauce:
1 15 oz can tomato sauce
1/4 cup water
1 tsp white vinegar
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 clove garlic, finely grated
olive oil
1 tsp ground cumin

Pasta layer:
1/2 lb boiled elbow pasta

Onion layer:
2 large onions thinly sliced
1 TBs flour
1/2 or 1 cup oil for frying (I used coconut oil mixed with olive oil)

How to make rice and lentils:
-Place washed lentils in small pot, add water water (til water is 2 inches above lentils), add cumin. Bring to boil then cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until lentils are soft to the bite but not mushy.
-After lentils are cooked, strain water from lentils while reserving the water. You'll need it again in the next step.
cooked lentils should look like this and not be too mushy!
Don't forget to save the water when straining lentils.
-add a tablespoon of olive oil to the pot. Combine rice and lentils then add 2 cups of reserved lentil water. If you need more just add regular water. Add 1 tsp salt, bring mixture to a boil then cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until cooked through.

To prepare sauce:
-In a small sauce pan, heat 1 TBs olive oil then saute garlic until it starts to brown. Add the sauce and rest of ingredients. Bring to a boil and let simmer uncovered for 10 minutes.

To prepare onions:
-After slicing your onions pat dry them with a paper towel or napkin then combine with flour. 
-Heat oil and start to fry the onions in small batches until they are golden brown and crispy.

What the onions look like after mixing with flour.
Fry the onions in small batches for best results.

The end result is golden brown, crispy and delicious onions.

Finally, assemble your plate like so:

This dish is fun for guests to assemble, it's very filling, and did I mention how delicious it is? :) Enjoy!