Monday, February 28, 2011

Taco Seasoning

This seasoning mix is an alternative to the packaged kind which usually contains sugar.



makes almost 2 tablespoons

Ingredients
1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/2 teaspoon dried onion flakes
1/2 teaspoon dried garlic flakes
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or to taste)

Directions
Mix all the ingredients together and store in an airtight container until ready to use.

Tip: Mix this into a tomato based soup to turn it into taco soup! Or add it to chicken or ground beef to make taco filling. Use it as a rub for chicken or steak.

- taco seasoning -

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Iced Vanilla Coffee Milk

This recipe is adapted from The South Beach Diet's Taste of Summer cookbook. Adjust the Splenda to your taste.



1 serving

Ingredients
1 tablespoon boiling water
1 heaping teaspoon instant coffee
1-2 packets Splenda
3/4 cup cold water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup 1% milk
ice cubes
1-2 tablespoons fat free or light Cool Whip
ground cinnamon and cinnamon stick (optional)

Directions
In a measuring cup, mix water, coffee and Splenda to dissolve. Stir in cold water and vanilla. Stir in milk. Pour into a large glass over ice cubes. Garnish with Cool Whip, cinnamon (I forgot) and a cinnamon stick.




- Iced Vanilla Coffee Milk -

Buffalo Chicken Bites - South Beach Diet

This is my adaptation of a recipe from The South Beach Diet's Parties and Holidays cookbook. There was also a recipe for blue cheese dipping sauce but I just served this with the store bought blue cheese dressing. Renee's has a nice one with big chunks of cheese in it. I'll have to remember to pick up a jar of that next time I go shopping. The chicken was delicious!


You can serve left over chicken the next day on a salad.

5 servings

Ingredients
5 chicken breast halves, cut into chunks
salt
pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons trans fat free margarine (or butter if you prefer)
2-3 tablespoons Frank's Red Hot Buffalo Wing sauce, butter flavour

Directions
Season chicken breast chunks with salt and pepper. Add olive oil to a nonstick pan and fry chicken on medium heat until cooked through.

In the meantime, mix margarine and hot sauce together.

When chicken is cooked, toss it in the margarine until coated. Serve with celery sticks and blue cheese dip.

Tip: You can use any hot sauce you like. Add more or less depending on your tastes. Also, if you're not on South Beach phase 1, you can serve carrot sticks as well. You could also use the sauce with wings.



- buffalo chicken bites -

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Crustless Spinach Quiche with Swiss Cheese { south beach diet friendly }




8 servings

Ingredients
1 large onion, sliced
1 tablespoon butter
10 large eggs
1 can evaporated milk (regular or low fat)
salt
pepper
2 boxes frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed
5 slices swiss cheese (or 1/2 cup grated)

Directions
Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly butter a 9x13inch glass baking dish.

Sautee onion in butter until golden. Set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, beat eggs with milk, salt and pepper until well combined. Stir in spinach and onion. If using shredded cheese, stir it into the egg mixture now.

Pour the mixture into your prepared dish. If using sliced cheese, place the slices on top of the egg mixture.

Bake for about 40 minutes or until cooked through. Let cool for about 10 minutes before cutting into 8 slices.

Tip: You can make this with a crust if you wish. I think you could probably get 2 or 3 pie shaped quiches out of this egg mixture. Try it with ham or bacon and cheddar for a change.

- crustless spinach quiche -

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Ham and Cheddar Frolls

I had another go at the Frolls recipe. This time I went savoury with cheddar and ham. They are so good!




6 frolls

Ingredients
3 eggs, seperated
3 oz cream cheese
1 teaspoon butter, melted and cooled
1/2 packet Splenda
salt and pepper
2 slices cooked ham, diced
1/3 cup grated sharp cheddar
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar


Directions
Seperate the eggs into 2 seperate bowls. Make sure the bowl with the whites is either metal, glass or ceramic and free of any oils. Let both sit for about 20 minutes to come to room temperature.

To the yolks, add cream cheese, butter, splenda, salt and pepper. Beat with a fork and set aside.

With an electric mixer, whip the egg whites with cream of tartar for several minutes until stiff meringue peaks form. This will take awhile, don't give up, just keep beating.

With the same mixer, give the egg yolk mixture another beat until very well combined. Don't worry about cream cheese lumps. Stir in the ham and cheese.

Put one spatula full of beaten egg whites into yolks and gently fold until combined. Add yolk mixture to whites and fold gently with a spatula just until combined. Don't overmix or you'll deflate the whites.

Place 6 dollops of the mix onto a parchment lined baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake for 30 minutes. They should still be a bit soft. Cool completely on a wire rack.


Tip: I stored this batch in the fridge because of the ham and cheese. I didn't feel right about leaving it on the counter. I'll check in the morning to see how they kept. I'm looking forward to a nice breakfast of coffee and frolls.

- ham and cheddar frolls -

Mock Danish { cheesecake-like microwavable breakfast - south beach diet friendly }

The popular low carb mock danish. This is a really easy recipe that you can eat for breakfast or dessert. I used to make it all the time when I did Atkins years ago. Top it with sugar free (or regular) syrup or jam.


1 serving

Ingredients
1 large egg
2 oz cream cheese
splash vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1-2 packets Splenda

Directions
Heat the cream cheese in the microwave for 10 seconds to soften it. Remove the cream cheese from the microwave and stir in the rest of the ingredients until well combined. Don't worry about lumps.

Microwave for about 2 minutes or until cooked through. Top with something sweet.

Tip: I used sugar free syrup. Change it up depending on your dietary needs. You could also grate some lemon zest into this. You could add cocoa or anything else that you think would be tasty. It's a good base recipe. If you're on South Beach you'll need to use light cream cheese.

- mock danish -

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Pepperoni Chips

When I was on Atkins many years ago, I remember making these with regular pepperoni. This time I used Turkey Pepperoni by Butterball. It's low fat and low sodium.





Ingredients
Sliced Turkey Pepperoni
Cheddar Cheese
Sour Cream
Chives

Directions
Place your slices of pepperoni in a single layer on a plate lined with paper towel. Cover with more paper towel. Microwave on high for 2 to 2 1/2 minutes or until crispy. Let cook before handling. Top with little bits of cheese, sour cream and chives.

Tip: You can use these pepperoni chips for dipping or top them with whatever you like.

- pepperoni chips -

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Homemade Tartar Sauce

I love tartar sauce with my fish. This doesn't taste exactly like the store-bought kind, but it's still really yummy!



Ingredients
3/4 cup plain yogurt
1/3 cup mayonnaise
3 sweet gherkin pickles, minced
1 tablespoon capers, minced
1 teaspoon dried dill
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Directions
Mix all the ingredients together and serve. It's better left in the fridge for an hour or more but still okay to serve immediately.

Tip: I saw this recipe in one of the South Beach Diet books (or it could have been one of my other cookbooks), but I couldn't remember which one and I was too lazy to go look it up. I think these are the right ingredients except the amounts are probably wrong and I added lemon juice. It still turned out great! You could use all mayonnaise and it might taste more like the tartar sauce you get in the store.

- homemade tartar sauce -

Broiled Trout


6-8 servings

Ingredients
4 fresh trout fillets, skin on
1 lemon
salt
pepper
1 tablespoon dried dill

Directions
Preheat oven to broil.

Line a baking sheet with foil (parchment paper is optional depending if you want the skin to come off the pan or not).

Rinse fish in cold water to remove any scales then pat dry with paper towel. Place fish on baking sheet and sprinkle with spices.

Broil fish for 10 minutes or until it's cooked through (this will depend on the thickness of your fish).

While the fish is cooking prepare some homemade tartar sauce.

Serve with tartar sauce and lemon wedges.

Tip: To me the trout is similar to salmon in texture, but not as strong a fish flavour. You could use salmon in place of trout in this recipe.

- broiled trout -

Steamed Chicken Breast

This was so easy and REALLY juicy.



1-2 servings

Ingredients
1 chicken breast half
salt
pepper
1 teaspoon greek seasoning blend (plain oregano will do)
1/2 lemon sliced

Directions
Place your steamer basket in a pot filled with water just up to the bottom of the basket. Put the pot on high heat with the lid on. Bring to a simmer.

In the meantime, slice your chicken in half lengthwise so you have 2 thinner pieces. Sprinkle spices on both sides of the chicken.

Place lemon slices all around the bottom of the steamer basket. Place chicken pieces on top. Put the lid on the pot and steam for about 15 minutes or just until chicken is cooked through. Let it rest for 5 minutes or so.

Tip: Try making this with other seasonings. I served mine with South Beach friendly sides but you could serve it with rice if you wanted.

- steamed chicken breast -

Monday, February 21, 2011

Parmesan Crusted Pork Chops

I'm not sure where I went wrong here but somehow, instead of browning, my chops let off too much juice as they were cooking and they didn't turn out crispy. When they were almost cooked I transferred them to a wire rack over the baking sheet and broiled them (flipping once) to see if I could crisp them up a bit. They were tasty but a bit chewy in the end.



6 servings

Ingredients
3/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1/4 tsp leaves dried basil
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp leaves dried oregano
1 dash black pepper
1/4 tsp leaves thyme
1/4 cup dijon mustard
2 tbsps olive oil
6 pork chops (top loin, lean, boneless)


Directions
Preheat oven to 400 °F (200 °C).


Line baking sheet with parchment or wax paper and set aside.

In a small bowl whisk together mustard, oil, and spices.

Season the 4 pork chops with pepper, then brush both sides of the chops with the mustard mixture.

Press the grated parmesan cheese into both sides of the chops. (I am pretty liberal with the cheese. I like a thick coating but I'm sure a thin one will work too.)

Place the chops on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for about 15 to 20 minutes. The coating should be browned and slightly crispy and the pork should be cooked all the way through.

Tip: Use the same coating recipe using chicken breast. I might try frying them in a little olive oil next time.

Original Recipe: http://www.fatsecret.com/recipes/parmesan-crusted-pork-chops/Default.aspx

- parmesan crusted pork chops -

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Persian Style Spaghetti / Pasta (version 2)

8 servings

Ingredients
8 cups cooked pasta (any shape)
1 lb lean ground beef
1 large onion diced
1 red pepper diced
2 celery stalks diced
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
salt
pepper


Directions
Sautee the beef in a nonstick pot on medium high heat breaking it up with a wooden spoon (or a potato masher works better). Add the vegetables and keep cooking until meat is done. Add spices and stir well. Add tomato paste stirring well and cook another 2 minutes. Toss the meat mixture with the pasta in a nonstick pot. Cover with a clean towel and a lid and cook on medium low for 1/2 hour.

Tip: Make sure the edges of the towel are tied on top of the pot lid so they don't fall on the burner and catch fire. If you're not comfortable using a towel, leave it off. Your pasta will still be good. As you can see in the picture, I had 1/2 box each of 2 different kinds of pasta left so I mixed them. I let one cook for a few minutes before I added the smaller pasta so they'd be done at the same time.

- persian style spaghetti / pasta (version 2) -

Stuffed Peppers

I made Persian Style Spaghetti for my family tonight and since I'm not eating starches, I decided that stuffing the meat mixture into a pepper might be a yummy idea. It actually worked out very well. I just sprinkled some grated parmesan on top and it tasted just as good as pasta!




6-8 servings

Ingredients
6-8 sweet bell peppers (any colour)
1 lb lean ground beef
1 large onion diced
1 red pepper diced
2 celery stalks diced
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
salt
pepper

Directions
Slice the top off the peppers (keeping the tops). Slice a very sall amount off the bottom just so that the peppers stand up. Remove seeds. Rinse inside and out and set aside to dry.

Sautee the beef in a nonstick pot on medium high heat breaking it up with a wooden spoon (or a potato masher works better). Add the vegetables and keep cooking until meat is done. Add spices and stir well. Add tomato paste stirring well and cook another 2 minutes. Let cool slightly then stuff into dry peppers. Put the pepper tops back on (it's optional of course) and wrap each pepper in a double layer of foil or, line a glass baking dish in a double layer of foil and cover with more foil. Bake at 400F for 45 minutes or until the peppers are tender. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Tip: You could probably stuff this meat mixture into other vegetables like eggplant or tomatoes. I didn't have any mushrooms but if you do, they're also good to add to this recipe.

- stuffed peppers -

Frolls - Fake Rolls

I found this recipe on Facebook. You can also find them online as oopsie rolls. This recipe a good replacement for buns or other baked goods when you're cutting out starch and sugar. This is good for all phases of the South Beach Diet. I wanted to use the recipe to try and make something sweet so I changed it up a bit. I also used 2/3 of the original recipe because I only had 2oz of cream cheese left. I put some Cool Whip on them and they were good. Next time I'll make them savoury and use them as burger buns.




6 servings

Ingredients
2oz cream cheese
2 eggs divided
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 packets of Splenda
2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch chili powder
pinch salt

Directions
Seperate the eggs into 2 seperate bowls. Make sure the bowl with the whites is either metal, glass or ceramic and free of any oils. Let both sit for about 20 minutes to come to room temperature.

To the yolks, add all other ingredients except cream of tartar. Beat with a fork and set aside.

With an electric mixer, whip the egg whites with cream of tartar for several minutes until stiff meringue peaks form. This will take awhile, don't give up, just keep beating.

With the same mixer, give the egg yolk mixture a beat until very well combined. Don't worry about cream cheese lumps.

Put one spatula full of beaten egg whites into yolks and gently fold until combined. Add yolk mixture to whites and fold gently with a spatula just until combined.

Place 6 dollops of the mix onto a parchment lined baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake for 30 minutes. They should still be a bit soft. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Tip: You could serve these warm with butter and jam (sugar free or regular depending) for breakfast. If you're making savoury Frolls, try using different cheeses and spices. How about ham and cheddar? Yum! Sundried tomato? You could spread on some cream cheese. Use these as buns for burgers or sandwiches.

Original Recipe: http://www.facebook.com/topic.php?uid=14919570794&topic=15551

Added Note - February 23rd, 2011: I just found out these are also called Atkins Revolution Rolls. Here's a video on YouTube of a guy making them. His look nice and puffy. I think I'll make it for breakfast tomorrow with ham and cheddar (no splenda). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w6lXjl1wWwc

- frolls - fake rolls -

Monday, February 14, 2011

Harira - Moroccan Tomato, Lentil and Chickpea Soup

I had some leftover chickpeas that I wanted to use up in a soup. Morocco came to mind so I looked through some cookbooks and online for a recipe. Harira came up in both my books and online. This soup is usually made with meat but I didn't want to make a soup with meat in it today, so I came up with my own version of Harira.



8 servings

Ingredients
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup onion, diced
1/2 cup carrot, diced
1/3 cup celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch of saffron threads, crushed
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
28oz can diced tomatoes, with juice
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
2 cups water
1 cup canned chickpeas, rinsed, drained
1/4 cup dried lentils
1/5 cup fresh cilantro or parsley, chopped
45g (1/2 cup) broken up whole wheat spaghetti


Directions
In a large nonstick pot, sautee onion, carrot and celery in olive oil until lightly brown. Add garlic and continue to cook for another 2 minutes. Add spices and stir well. Add tomatoes with juice, broth, water, chickpeas and lentils. Simmer on medium heat partially covered until lentils are almost cooked through. About 30 minutes. Stir in parsley and pasta and cook another 10 minutes or until noodles are cooked.

Tip: 110 calories per serving.

- harira - moroccan tomato, lentil and chickpea soup -

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Sensory Boxes

The first thing you should know is that these kept my 3 year old busy for 2 hours straight! It's hard to do that without using a TV as entertainment so I was very happy with this project. My goal is to try and get her to watch less TV.

Yesterday I put together sensory boxes. I got the ideas from an online search and added a few touches of my own. I made 6 boxes. Rice, cornmeal (aka sand), cotton balls, water with floral beads, paper cutting and beans. Emelia's favourites were rice and cornmeal. I added little plastic animals and some construction vehicles. I picked up some measuring scoops and spoons, funnels and a few other items. I got a pair of tweezers thinking it would be a great idea if she could use them to pick out certain colours of the rice and sort them into a mini muffin tin. She wasn't very interested, but I will try again another day. We also made play dough. I got most of the items at a dollar store. The rice and beans I got at the grocery store. Use whatever's on sale. You can use pom poms instead of cotton balls if you want to get colourful. Have your kids sort them by colour or size. Use whatever little toys your child likes. Maybe they like cars or farm equipment and animals, or maybe trains.

This project cost me about $25 including plastic storage boxes (with lids), all the contents and accessories. If you don't have $25 then all you need to do is take a walk outside! There are all kinds of things to see, feel, smell, hear and .... well probably not much to taste out there unless you're stealing fruit from your neighbour's tree, but that gives us an excuse to come home and make cupcakes! Just think of all the senses you'll use for that!

Here's a good article on why sensory play is important http://notjustcute.com/2010/03/24/a-handful-of-fun-why-sensory-play-is-important-for-preschoolers/ .





It's fun for them if you hide things in the boxes.
They can use their hands or spoons to dig for them
.

To make the rice, I took 1 1/2 cups of regular long grain rice and put it in a clean mayonnaise container with liquid food colouring and a teaspoon of vinegar. Put the lid on and shake it up. You can dry it out in the sun but to speed things up I put the rice on cookie sheets in a 200F oven for about 10 minutes. You can make and mix any colours you want. Try mixing the food colourings to come up with your own combination. It smells a bit like vinegar, but that's okay. We're supposed to be using our senses here!

Cornmeal all over the place.



Beans and split peas. Use any combo you like.
Better yet, use whatever's on sale!

Scissors and scrap papers for cutting.

Cotton balls. I got a pair of tongs to pick them up with.
For older kids, make a fishing rod with a string and magnet on the end.
Hide other magnets in the box and let the kids go fishing.
Someone reminded me that younger children may swallow small magnets
so don't go fishing if there's a chance of that happening in your house.


These are for vases. They start as little plastic beads and grow in water.
Be careful with these too. Make sure nobody tries to eat them.
  
For the play dough. Use 3/4 cup flour, 1/2 cup salt, 1/2 cup water and 1/2 tablespoon cream of tartar. I added 1 single serving packet of Kool-Aid to each. One cherry and one grape. You can also use food colouring or Jello. Mix the dry ingredients together then add water. You may need more flour if it's too sticky. Store in an airtight container. Use rolling pins and cookie cutters or other plastic utensils to play or shape into balls, snakes or other shapes. This play dough will also use your sense of smell. They smell like the Kool-Aid.

And one final word. Don't worry about the mess! You can always clean it up. It's totally worth it when you see how much fun your child will have playing with these boxes. Another friend gave me a tip. Put down a sheet to catch the mess, then take it outside and shake it. I'm sure that's much easier than vacuuming and I will try that next time we play!

Here are some other websites with ideas!
http://domesticsimplicity.com/2010/03/30/playingwithbeansandric/
http://www.lekotek.org/pdfs/packets/Messy_Play.pdf

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Jilla's Gheymeh Nesar - Persian Stew (Khoresh) Recipe

I'm very excited about this recipe! And it's a long one. My sister-in-law Aida told me this recipe originates in a city in Iran called Qazvin which is probably why, after doing several internet searches for the recipe, I came up with nothing. Outside of Qazvin, my mother-in-law Jilla must be the only person who knows how to make this. When I heard mom Jilla was going to make this today, I grabbed my pen and notebook and watched every step of this beautiful dish as it was being prepared. Don't let the number of ingredients in this recipe intimidate you. It seems complicated but it's worth taking the time to make because it's just SO delicious. I wrote this recipe very detailed because I didn't want to miss a step.





Ingredients
For the stew:
3 lbs stewing beef or veal, cut into chunks
1 large onion, diced
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads, ground
1/3 cup tomato paste
2 cups water
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/3 cup dried (not candied) orange peel
1/2 cup raw slivered almonds
1/2 cup raw slivered pistachios
1 1/2 cup barberries

For the rice:
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads, ground
1/4 cup hot water
6 cups uncooked basmati rice
12 cups water
1/3 cup butter
1 cup barberries
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 medium potatoes, peeled (or 1 pita bread)
2 tablespoons canola oil
salt

Directions
Put 1/2 a teaspoon saffron in a glass and cover with 1/4 cup boiling water. Set aside.

Put uncooked rice in a large bowl and cover with cold water. Add 2 tablespoons of salt and stir. Let it sit for an hour on the counter.

In a nonstick pot, fry the onions in oil on medium high heat until golden. Add the turmeric and give it a stir. Add the meat, salt and pepper to the pot and cook for about 10 minutes until the meat is cooked through. Sprinkle the saffron over the beef and stir. Mix tomato paste with 2 cups of water and add to the pot. Stir well. Liquid should just cover the meat. If needed, add a bit more water until the meat is covered by liquid. Simmer on medium heat for 1 hour checking occasionally to make sure the liquid doesn't run out or the stew will burn.

After one hour stir the stew and have a taste. Add more salt if needed. If the liquid is getting thick add a cup of cold water and stir will. Continue to simmer over medium heat for another 1/2 hour.

While meat is cooking, bring a small pot of water to a boil and cook the orange peel for 3 minutes. Drain and rinse the peel in a collander then boil, drain and rinse 2 more times. Set aside on paper towel.

In a collander, rinse the barberries in cold water a few times to remove any sand or dust. Pick them over for any stems, then place on a paper towel. Set aside. Rinse the nuts in cold water and set those aside on another piece of paper towel.

After 1 1/2 hours of cooking, the meat should be tender. The best way to tell is to taste it. If it's still chewy cook it a bit longer until it becomes soft. Add more water if needed. When the meat is ready, taste it again to see if it needs more salt.

In a nonstick pan on medium heat, fry the orange peel and nuts in oil just until the nuts start to brown. Add the barberries and cook for another minute. When the meat is tender, stir the nut mixture into the stew. Taste it. If it's slightly sour from the tomato paste, add 1 teaspoon of granulated sugar and stir it well. Taste it again. It shouldn't taste sweet. Reduce heat to medium low and continue cooking until your rice is ready.

When the stew's been cooking (and the rice has been soaking) for an hour, you can start your rice. Bring 12 cups of water to a boil in a large wide pot. Add 1 tablespoon of salt. Drain rice and add it to the pot. Boil on high heat for 10 minutes. Rice should still have a bite to it. Drain the rice in a large collander and wipe the pot dry with paper towel. Place the pot back on the stove on medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of oil. If using potatoes for the tah dig, cut them into 1/4inch slices. Sprinkle a bit of salt in the oil and place the potato slices in a single layer on the bottom of the pot. Sprinkle a bit more salt over the potatoes. If using pita, simply break the pita into large pieces and place on top of the oil. No salt needed for the pita. Place the rice on top of the potatoes or pita in the shape of a mountain. Place your glass with the saffron water inside the pot to the side. Reduce the heat to medium low and cover the pot with a tight fitting lid. If your lid isn't tight fitting, put a clean kitchen towel between the pot and the lid. Tie the ends over the top of the lid so they don't touch the burner and catch fire. Let the rice cook for 30 minutes and don't be tempted to lift the lid.

Melt 1/3 cup of butter in the microwave for a few seconds at a time just until melted. Lift the lid on your rice pot and drizzle the butter over the rice. Use a fork to fluff it up. Cover and cook for 10 more minutes.

Meanwhile, rinse 1 cup of barberries a few times in cold water to remove dust. Check for stems. Place on paper towel to dry. On medium heat, cook the berries in 1 tablespoon oil just for a minute. Set aside.

Time to assemble the dish.

Remove 2-3 cups of rice from the pot and place in a bowl. Add the saffron water and toss with a fork.

On a large serving platter, place some of the rice followed by a layer of the meat mixture. Keep layering rice and meat mixture ending with a thin layer of rice. Place your reserved saffron rice on top in a nice design as well as your reserved barberries.

Remove the tah dig from the bottom of the pot and serve on a seperate serving dish.

Serve with plain yogurt and an assortment of pickles.

Tip: You can save a scoop of the nut mixture that we put into the stew and use it as a garnish on top of the dish at the end. Simply mix it in with the barberries we cooked for topping the rice. *Some of the specialty ingredients can be found in middle eastern stores and probably online. The barberries are sour little things that look almost like goji and we usually buy them dried. The almonds and pistachios are also available at specialty stores although I've seen slivered almonds at regular grocery stores, slivered pistachios may be harder to find. *It's important that the pot be nonstick or your tah dig may not come free from the pot.

- jilla's gheymeh nesar -

Monday, February 7, 2011

Black Bean Brownies

I was really surprised to find that this did NOT taste like beans. It was super fudgy and yummy. I made 1/2 the recipe below just to test it out (and because I'm on a calorie restricted diet). Make the whole recipe for a thicker brownie. Just over 100 calories per square if you only make 1/2 the recipe.

12 brownies

Ingredients
2 cups canned black beans, rinsed and drained
2 eggs
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 pinch salt
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon instant coffee (optional)
1/4 cup milk chocolate chips (optional)
1/4 cup dried cranberries (optional)

Directions
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease an 8x8" glass baking dish with a little oil.

Put all ingredients except chocolate and cranberries in a blender or food processor and puree until combined. Pour into prepared baking dish and sprinkle on the chocolate chips and cranberries. Bake for about 30 minutes or until the centre is firm. You'll need to touch it with your finger. If it feels jiggly leave it in for a few more minutes. The toothpick test will not work on this recipe. It's too fudgy. Let it cool completely before cutting into 12 squares.

Tip: Nuts would be good in this recipe too! Or try it with different flavours of chocolate chips. I saw a commercial for mini peanut butter cups yesterday. That would be tasty! Mmmm!!! You could possibly swirl in some peanut butter. If anyone tries that, let me know. I love peanut butter and chocolate!

Original Recipe: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Black-Bean-Brownies/Detail.aspx

- black bean brownies -

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Ranch Sour Cream Dip



Ingredients
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried onion flakes
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon curry powder

Directions
Mix all ingredients together and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Serve with sliced vegetables or chips.

Tip: You can make a large quantity of the spice mix and keep it in your spice rack for emergency dips.

- ranch sour cream dip -

Spicy Vegan Potato Curry

This tastes almost like the inside of a samosa. Yummy!

4 servings

Ingredients
2 potatoes, peeled and cubed
3/4 cup unsalted almonds
3/4 cup water
1 teaspoon canola oil
1/2 yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
pinch of cayenne pepper or to taste
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh ginger root
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup canned or fresh diced tomatoes
1 cup garbanzo beans (chickpeas), rinsed and drained
3/4 cup frozen peas, thawed

Directions
Boil potatoes in salted water for 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.

In a blender, puree almonds and water. If there are a few chunks of nut left it's okay.

In a nonstick pan, sautee onions and garlic in oil until lightly browned. Stir in ginger and spices and cook just for a few seconds. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until a thick sauce forms. Serve with plain yogurt and pita or naan.

Tip: The original recipe called for 1 can of coconut milk and I was going to make some using flaked coconut blended with water, but when I went to make it I found that I was out of coconut. My next option was to blend nuts with water to make a nut milk. I had almonds so I used them. You could use other nuts. Cashews would be nice. If you have a can of coconut milk, feel free to use it. I also changed some of the measurement of spices to suit my tastes and used frozen instead of canned peas because that's what I had on hand.

Original Recipe: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Spicy-Vegan-Potato-Curry/Detail.aspx

- spicy vegan potato curry -

Lemon Garlic Shrimp


2 servings

Ingredients
2 teaspoon butter or olive oil
2-4 cloves garlic, minced
20-30 medium raw shrimp, peeled
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
salt and pepper
pinch of red pepper flakes
juice of 1/2 a lemon
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Directions
In a nonstick pan, fry the garlic in butter over medium high heat for 30-60 seconds.

Add the spices and cook for another minute. Add the shrimp and cook until they're mostly pink and just slightly raw in the centre. Toss them occasionally.

When the shrimp are almost done, add the lemon juice and parsley and continue to simmer until shrimp are just cooked through. Be careful not to overcook or the shrimp will be chewy. Serve with rice.

Tip: I also like to add paprika to this dish. Sometimes I even add a splash of white wine.

- lemon garlic shrimp -

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

White Pizza Tortillas


1 tortilla

Ingredients
1 whole wheat tortilla
1/2 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon granulated garlic, divided
1 teaspoon dried oregano, divided
1/3 cup grated mozzarella cheese
pizza toppings of choice, sliced, diced or chopped
1 teaspoon grated parmesan cheese

Directons
Brush the tortilla with olive oil and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic and 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano. Sprinkle on the mozzarella then add your favourite toppings followed by the remaining granulated garlic and oregano and a dusting of grated parmesan cheese.

Bake in a preheated 475F oven until the cheese is brown and bubbly or the tortilla starts to get crisp. Watch carefully or the tortilla may burn.

Tip: If you're like me, you'll add extra cheese!

- white pizza tortillas -