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Thursday, December 9, 2010

Tomato Pomegranate Soup

I was having a craving for soup AND pasta, so I decided to rummage around my pantry and fridge and see what I could come up with.  The result was pretty good and passed the child taste test, which is a mark of a truly good recipe :)

I liked this soup because of the unique sour taste of the pomegranate molasses and pasta.  Best of all, prep time is only 5 minutes and it comes together very fast! Feel free to substitute another small pasta in place of the penne, in fact I think next time I make it I will use elbow macaroni because the penne was a bit long and I cut them in half in my bowl.

Serves 4

-1 tablespoon olive oil
-1 small white onion, chopped into thin strips
-1 large Italian squash, diced into small cubes
-1 cup small pasta (penne or elbow)
-1 can tomato paste
-6 cups broth (or 1 bouillon cube and water)
-2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
-salt to taste
-1/4 cup diced fresh cilantro

To make
-Heat olive oil on high heat in a pot and saute onions until semi soft, about 3-5 minutes.
-Add the water, pomegranate molasses, salt and tomato paste and stir until blended.
-When the mixture boils, add the pasta and squash. Cover and let soup simmer for 10-15 minutes or until pasta is cooked. If the pasta absorbs too much water, add a little more water and tomato paste.
-Stir in diced cilantro and enjoy :)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Cookies and Cream Brownies

I made these recently for a Eid party I attended, and it got rave reviews. In fact, my husband's nephew said these are "brownies from heaven" and "I'm abdicating my throne as brownie king." This was actually a problematic comment because he makes the BEST brownies but decided to hand over the torch to me, so his mother asked me to post this recipe so he can make it on his own.

These are rich and fudgy, with a smooth frosting and crispy cookies. Don't be surprised if the plate is licked clean :) Since the base is a brownie mix, it takes all of 5 minutes to whip these together and throw in the oven!

-1 brownie mix, prepared as directed on box (9x13 pan size)
-4 cups crushed oreos (about 1/2 of a package)
-1/2 tub vanilla frosting (about 1 cup)
-1/2 tub chocolate frosting (about 1 cup)

To make
-Prepare brownie mix as directed on package, and stir in 2 cups crushed oreos.  Bake as directed (minimum baking time) and remove from oven to cool.
-Spread chocolate frosting evenly over cooled brownies. Spread vanilla frosting and sprinkle remaining 2 cups crushed oreos.
-Cut into 24 squares and serve.
-Enjoy :)

Monday, December 6, 2010

Sticky Balsamic Chicken

This is one of Giada's recipes, but be warned: It tastes NOTHING like Italian. Having said that, it is "smack your lips and lick you fingers" GOOOOD! Everyone that tried it thought it was something Asian, and it does taste that way...

Giada makes this with chicken drummettes, but I'm not a fan of skin or bones so I replaced the drummettes with chicken thighs and it worked out so much better. I also added fresh basil on top, and it went great with the balsamic glaze.

 The final look is just beautiful with the glistening sauce and the sesame seeds, and the nice green from the basil.

Serves 6


-1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
-1/2 cup honey
-1/2 cup brown sugar
-1/4 cup soy sauce
-5 sprigs of rosemary
-5 garlic cloves, cut in half

-2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
-2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
-1/2 cup fresh minced basil

To make
-Combine all the sauce ingredients in a large resealable bag. Shake until the honey and brown sugar are incorporated into the sauce. Add the chicken thighs, seal the bag and squeeze contents around until the chicken is well coated. Place in the refrigerator for 2 hours to marinade.
-Preheat oven to 450 degrees and line a baking sheet (13x18 inch) with foil. Remove chicken from the bag, lay on the foiled sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes, until chicken the sauce has caramelized on the chicken.
-Meanwhile, pour the marinade from the resealable bag into a small saucepan and bring the sauce to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes until the sauce has reduced and thickened.
-Remove the cooked chicken from the oven and brush the sauce onto the chicken. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and basil.
-Enjoy :)

Friday, December 3, 2010

Chocoflan Cake

This looks very nice on a serving platter. I was a bit hesitant the whole time I was making it, because this method of baking was a bit new to me, but if you follow the directions (as you should in baking, because it is all about the precision of the method) then you will be just fine. And extremely impressed with the results. The cake is SO moist and the flan has a smooth consistency that almost makes it like a cheesecake.

This is one of those desserts that when you present to your guests they won't be able to help but exclaim "WOOOW!!!"  Feel free to soak up the praise as you smile to yourself because you know how simple it was to prepare :)

This cake is kind of like doing a science project because as the mixtures bake, the flan and cake mix will switch places...meaning, when you layer the cake in the pan, the cake mixture goes first and then the flan is laddled on top. After it finishes baking (because of the water bath pulling the denser mixture to the bottom) the flan and cake will switch and the flan will end up on the bottom and the cake will be on top.

Interestingly, this dessert is found both in Hispanic and Middle Eastern cultures, so take your pick for who you'd like to give credit for it!

Makes 16 servings

-1/2 cup of caramel sauce

-chocolate cake mix
-3 eggs
-1 cup water
-1/3 cup oil
-1/2 cup sour cream 

-1 can evaporated milk
-8 ounces cream cheese, softenend
-1 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
-4 eggs

-Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
-Spray a bundt pan with non-stick cooking spray and pour the caramel sauce on the bottom of the pan.
--In a bowl, mix the cake mix, water, 3 eggs, oil and sour cream until well blended.
-In a blender, combine the cream cheese, 4 eggs, evaporated milk, sugar and vanilla. Mix until well blended.
-Pour the cake mix on top of the caramel sauce into the bundt pan. Carefully laddle the milk and egg mixture on top. Spray a piece of foil with non-stick cooking spray and cover the bundt pan. This is important to to do so the cake mix and flan do not stick to the foil as they bake.
-Fill a round cake pan with water and place the bundt pan into the water mixture. This creates a water bath to help the cake and flan bake properly. The water must come up about halfway to the bundt pan.
-Bake the cake in the water bath for 1 hour and 20 minutes to 1 1/2 hours. Remove when a fork comes out clean from the center.
-Cool the cake and then place in the refrigerator for 2 hours. Remove from fridge and flip onto a serving dish.
-Enjoy :)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Mushroom Chicken and Rice

The unique blend of spices are what make this dish. It's a hearty rice mixture that comes together in one pot, so clean up is a breeze! The toasted nuts on top add a delightful crunch, they're my favorite part :)

-3 tablespoons olive oil
-1 white onion, diced into small cubes
-2 cups fresh mushrooms, diced
-2 cups cooked chicken (shredded or cubed chicken breast)
-1 1/2 cups calrose rice (soaked in water for 2 hours)
-2 cups chicken broth
-salt and pepper to taste
-1 heaping tablespoon ground cardamom
-1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
-1 teaspoon ground coriander

-1/2 cup toasted sliced almonds

To make
-Heat olive oil in a pot on high heat and cook onions until they are browned. Add mushrooms, ground cardamom, cinnamon, pepper and coriander and cook an additional few minutes.
-Drain rice in a colander and wash with cold water to remove the starches. Add to the pot and saute for several minutes until half cooked.  Add cooked chicken and chicken broth, reduce heat to low, place lid on pot and cook for 15-20 minutes (I usually cook for 18).
-Uncover and mix rice lightly, then cover and let sit for another 15 minutes.
-To serve, place rice on platter and sprinkle nuts on top. Serve with plain yogurt.
-Enjoy :)