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bowl of basmati rice

EASY ZEERA RICE (Cumin Rice)

Fluffy, perfectly cooked rice with all the flavor but super simple to make. Rice is flavored with cumin seeds, cumin powder, garam masala and salt. This is a great way to quickly elevate boring white rice. 

There are many different variations of zeera rice. Each time I make a side of rice I use a variety of different whole spices, powder spices and aromatics. The way I am showing here is very simple with few ingredients

RECIPE DETAILS

This recipe is very straight forward. Few things to keep in mind when cooking rice. 

  • Use good quality basmati rice. I used a brand called zebra basmati rice.
  • Always rinse basmati rice to get rid of excess starch. Rinse till water runs a little clear. This will ensure rice is not sticky. 
  • You can soak them for about 15-20 minutes. Each brand of rice is different, some have instructions on how long to soak that particular rice. When I am in a hurry, I have cooked rice without soaking. 
  • If you have stock or broth on hand, add instead of water. Just adjust the amount of salt. 
  • When steaming the rice, always cook on low flame. 
  • Always always check the rice towards the end of cooking time. 

MORE RICE RECIPES

CHICKEN PULAO

EASY ONE POT TEHRI

 

EASY ZEERA RICE (Cumin Rice)

Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings 4
Fluffy, perfectly cooked rice with all the flavor but super simple to make. Aromatic basmati rice is flavored with cumin seeds, cumin powder, garam masala and salt. This rice will surly replace boring white rice.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups basmati rice (rinsed, soaked and drained )
  • 6 tablespoons oil
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 2 water

Instructions 

  • Rinse the rice about 3 times until water runs clear. Soak the rice room temperature water for about 20 minutes or follow instructions on rice bag.
  • In a nonstick medium size pot heat oil over medium high heat. Once oil is hot add cumin seeds. Let these crackle for about 10 seconds. Careful not to burn the seeds.
  • Lower flame to medium and add cumin powder, garam masala and salt. Mix and let these spices sear for 5-7 seconds. Keep a close eye because these spices can burn easily.
  • Add the drained rice and 2 cups water. Let it come to a boil and continue cooking rice until some of the water has evaporated and you start to see the rice. Wrap the lid with foil or clean kitchen towel and cover the pot. Turn the heat to the lowest flame. Put on a timer for 25 minutes. Once cooking time is over let the rice sit for about 10 minutes before serving. Fluff the rice with a fork.

carrot cake with cream cheese frosting

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MY FAVORITE CARROT CAKE RECIPE

This recipe is perfect to try for a homemade carrot cake. It is so easy to make, perfectly spiced and topped with a delicious cream cheese frosting. 

Usually you tend to see carrot cakes making their appearance for Spring, Easter, baby or bridal shower celebrations. But this spiced cake should be enjoyed throughout the year. I have made this recipe many times for different special occasions for my family, and it’s a hit each time. 

RECIPE NOTES FOR CAKE

There are many different recipes for carrot cakes, but all are usually very straightforward. There can be some variations in some choice of ingredients. This is a very simple recipe but with depth of flavor and a great crumb that is soft. 

    • Cinnamon/nutmeg: I have had some carrot cakes that just lack flavor.  I love the addition of warm spices. If you really want more of the warm spice flavors, add ginger and cloves, ¼ teaspoon each. 
  • Vegetable oil: A cake such as this already has a lot of flavor so there is no need to use butter. Use a neutral flavorless cooking oil. 
  • Buttermilk: Buttermilk improves a cake’s texture and tenderizes the cake. It also helps leavening and the flavor. 
  • Carrots: Shred fresh carrots at home. The prepackaged shredded carrots can be very dry and large. For 2 cups shredded carrots you may need about 3-4 large carrots. 

RECIPE  NOTES FOR CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

This is a very basic delicious cream cheese frosting. I recommend you follow this recipe exactly to understand how this frosting is made. Once you are comfortable then you can adjust it to your liking. If you like a more buttery or cream cheese flavor, adjusting the quantities is very easy.  This type of frosting that has cream cheese is not for cake decorating, it will not hold the shape. Once you have made or frosted the cake with this, it’s best to keep it refrigerated. 

    •  Butter: Butter needs to be softened to room temperature for this type of frosting. Sit the butter out 1-2 hours before starting. It will be slightly cool to the touch. It should not be too soft or warm. If using unsalted butter, add a pinch of salt to the frosting while mixing. 
  • Cream Cheese: Please make sure this is full-fat cream cheese that comes in a block. Not the whipped cream cheese in a tub.  This also needs to sit out so it becomes soft. 
  • Confectioners Sugar: Also called icing or powdered sugar. Sift the sugar before or after measuring to get rid of any lumps. 

MAKE IT AHEAD

I think this cake really develops its flavor so it’s perfect for making ahead.  Bake the cake, wrap the layers individually really well and keep refrigerated 1-2 days. Make frosting and keep in a covered container refrigerated. Once you are ready to frost the cake. Take out icing, let it come to room temperature and whisk and it’s ready. If the cake is frosted ahead, cover and keep refrigerated. Let it come to room temperature or serve cold. 

GENERAL BAKING TIPS

  • Always preheat the oven before placing the cakes to bake. 
  • Line your pans with parchment paper. Place the pans on the parchment sheet and trace the bottom of the pan, then cut out the circles. Grease the pan and parchment. 
  • All cold ingredients  need to be at room temperature. This will ensure all ingredients mix well and bake well together. 
  • Don’t overmix the batter, this can result in a cake that is tough. 
  • Don’t open the oven door in the middle of baking. 
  • Allow cakes to cool in the pan at least 30 minutes before taking them out to prevent cracking. 
  • Don’t frost or decorate a warm cake. The frosting will slip off. 

My Favorite Carrot Cake Recipe

Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Easy homemade carrot cake with warm spices and a luscious cream cheese frosting. This is truly one of my favorite cakes.

Ingredients

CAKE

  • 2 Cups All-purpose flour
  • 2 Teaspoons Baking soda
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  • 2 Teaspoons Cinnamon
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Nutmeg
  • 3 Eggs (room temperature )
  • 3/4 Cup Vegetable or Canola oil
  • 3/4 Cup Buttermilk (room temperature)
  • 2 Cups Granulated sugar
  • 2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract
  • 2 Cups Peeled and grated carrots (3-4 large carrots )
  • 1 Cup Coarsely chopped walnuts (optional. Also need some for garnish )

CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

  • 1 1/2 Block Full-fat cream cheese (softened at room temperature )
  • 1 1/2 sticks Butter (softened at room temperature)
  • 4 Cups sifted powered sugar
  • 2 Teaspoons Vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt

Instructions 

MAKE THE CAKE

  • Turn oven to 350°F. You can make this cake into 2 or 3, 8-inch layers, but baking times will vary. Prepare the pans by greasing the cake pans. Line with parchment paper and grease again. Parchment paper will help release the cake.
  • In a large bowl, mix together the eggs, oil, buttermilk, sugar and vanilla until combined. In another medium bowl whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg until combined. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Using a spatula fold the ingredients together until combined. Don't overmix. Add the carrots and walnuts and mix again.
  • Using a measuring cup, evenly pour the batter into the pans. If you are using 2 pans bake for about 35-40 minutes. If using 3 pans cake layers will be thinner so bake for about 20-25 minutes. Center of the cake will set and should spring back with gentle pressure. You can also insert a toothpick in the center. If it comes out clean with dry crumbs cake is done. Sides of cake will also pull away that is a sign it's done. Allow the cakes to cool on a wire rack in the pans. Let the cakes completely cook before frosting and decorating.

MAKE THE FROSTING

  • Make the frosting in a large bowl. Using a handheld mixer beat the cream cheese and butter on medium-high speed until smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes. Start adding the powdered sugar, vanilla and pinch of salt. Start beating on low speed to prevent a sugar mess. Once all sugar has been added turn speed to high and beat until frosting is creamy and smooth. If it's too thin add more powered sugar tablespoon at a time to get desired consistency. Keep the frosting refrigerated until ready to use.

ASSEMBLE AND FROST CAKE

  • If the cakes have a dome, using a serrated knife level the tops of the cake. This will give you a flatter surface. Take off the parchment paper from the bottom of the cake.
  • Place the 1st layer of cake on a serving plate and evenly cover the top with frosting. Place 2nd layer and frost again. Once you are done with layers, frost the top and sides of cake. Decorate sides or top with walnuts. Refrigerate the cake, this will help set the frosting and make it easier to cut the cake.
  • Carrot cake tastes delicious served cold. Leftovers of this cake should be covered to prevent drying and keep refrigerated.

 

glass of healthy juice

Homemade healthy juice not only tastes better but preserves all the nutritional value from fresh fruits and vegetables. Fresh juice has more fiber, vitamins and minerals and the possibilities of flavor combinations are endless. This juice is a simple combination of beets, carrots and apples. Addition of lemon, fresh ginger and turmeric roots makes this fresh juice highly nutritious with health promoting properties. 

HOW TO MAKE BEETROOT CARROT AND APPLE JUICE IN A BLENDER

I find beet juice to be very overwhelming on its own especially for the kids.  It has a very earthy flavor that can resemble dirt. I like to scrub, rinse and peel the beets. Mixing it with different fruits and vegetables like carrots and apples makes it more appetizing. Always think of juice recipes as a blank canvas, add more or less of any ingredients. 

Blend all ingredients with water till it’s a fine puree consistency. Depending on how concentrated or diluted you like the flavor of juice, adjust the water. Strain the blended produce through a filtration bag, cheesecloth or fine mesh strainer.  You don’t have to strain all the pulp. 

healthy beet juicing

healthy beet juicing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

healthy beet juicing

healthy beet juicing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CARROTS: Scrub and rinse the carrots well. I don’t peel carrots.  Cut into small chunks.

RAW BEETS: I used red beets. Scrub well and peel. 

APPLES: Apples add a slight sweetness to the earthy flavor of beets without adding too much sugar. Scrub, rinse, core and cut the apples with skin on. 

LEMON: This adds a natural preservative to the juice

GINGER: Scrub, rinse and peel if you would like. 

TURMERIC ROOT: This is optional for juicing. I always have some on hand and like to use it in juices and smoothies. Looks similar to ginger. 

JUICER OR BLENDER?

JUICER

I had an inexpensive juicer while back that I never used much and ended up selling it at a YardSale. It had too many pieces to wash and just took up extra counter space. There are different options of juices to fit your space and budget. Juicers usually extract most of the fiber from fruits and vegetables so the juice can lack dietary fiber and produce more waste. If you were using a juicer for this recipe, you would not add the extra water, so juice will be in less quantity. 

BLENDER

I love using my Vitamix blender to make different combinations of fresh juice for the kids. A powerful blender will blend and juice making it easier, healthier and ecofriendly. For juice all you have to do is blend all the ingredients then run the mixture through a filtration bag, cheesecloth or mesh strainer. This will separate the juice from the pulp. By using the blender, you have the option to extract as much fiber as you like in the juice. Blenders also have multipurpose use in the kitchen. So having a small appliance that does so much is more economical for me. 

DIFFERENCE BETWEEN JUICE & SMOOTHIE

JUICE:

  • Pulp of juice is separated from fruits and vegetables
  • Usually requires a juicer appliance 

SMOOTHIE: 

  • Made in a blender
  • Thick and creamy consistency
  • Has whole fruits & vegetables, fiber keeps you full longer
  • Addition of yogurt, milk or juice as the base
  • Addition of grains and nuts 

WHEN HAS JUICE GONE BAD?

It’s best practice to consume fresh juice right away. Because the juice has not gone through a pasteurization process, it does not have a long shelf life. If you have to store it, store it in a glass container in the refrigerator and consume within 1-2 days. Also check for signs of spoiling before consuming. Try adding some citrus like lemons, lime or orange as a preservative. 

There are different ways to tell if your juice has spoiled. Check by smelling and checking for discoloration and mold on the juice. If you see any of these signs it’s best to throw it away. 

TIPS FOR JUICING

  • Wash your produce well to avoid dirt, pesticides and bacteria in your juice. Spraying with distilled vinegar, soaking produce in vinegar and baking soda works very well. 
  • Consume fresh juice right away. Because the juice is raw and is not pasteurized 
  • Make juices with more vegetables to provide nutrients and leave some fiber.
  • Add some citrus like lemon, lime or orange to prevent some oxidation. 
  • Try out different combination of fruits and vegetables.

In addition to eating fruits and vegetables adding some fresh juice is a great way to add fresh fruits and vegetables to your diet. Juicing: What are the health benefits? – Mayo Clinic

BEET CARROT APPLE JUICE

Prep Time 10 minutes
BLENDING AND STRAINING 10 minutes
Servings 4
Homemade healthy juice not only tastes better but preserves all the nutritional value from fresh fruits and vegetables. Fresh juice has more fiber, vitamins and minerals and the possibilities of flavor combinations are endless. This juice is a simple combination of beets, carrots and apples. Addition of lemon, fresh ginger and turmeric roots makes this fresh juice highly nutritious with health promoting properties. 

Equipment

  • High powdered blender I use Vitamix

Ingredients

  • 4 small red beets, chopped (rinsed, peeled and quartered)
  • 3 medium carrots, chopped (rinsed, chopped into small chunks)
  • 2 apples, chopped (rinsed, cored and quartered )
  • 1 tablespoon size fresh ginger (rinsed)
  • small piece of turmeric root (rinsed )
  • 2-3 cups cold water

Instructions 

  • Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
  • Then place a fine mesh strainer over a large bowl and pour the juice over. Use a large spoon or spatula to press the pulp and squeeze all of the juice out. Leave the strainer for a few more minutes to make sure you get most of juice out.
  • Disregard the pulp. Pour the juice in a glass container or served in individual glasses and serve immediately. Store in fridge for 1-2 days.

 

 

 

close-up of a bowl of vegetable soup with a slice of sour dough bread.

EASY HOMEMADE VEGETABLE SOUP

This garden vegetable soup is perfect for a cold-weather dinner.  If you are craving something warm and need to use up veggies sitting in the fridge, then you got to learn how to make a basic soup. Using some aromatics, spices, kid friendly vegetables, tomatoes and stock gives you the best homemade soup.  It’s hearty, full of vegetables, flavor and you just can’t go wrong with a soup recipe.

WHY I LOVE MAKING HOMEMADE SOUP

Honestly, I love soups but don’t often find myself ordering soup from a menu. I find premade soups usually very salty and not fresh. Not to mention kids always end up picking out ingredients that they complain about.  Homemade soup is so versatile, you pick what you want to add. Great way to use up any vegetables or ingredients. If you have fresh stock, this will elevate the soup’s flavor. 

WHAT VEGETABLES TO ADD TO A VEGETABLE SOUP

Vegetable soup is so versatile you can add any vegetable you like. I would keep the combination to 2 or 3 vegetables. But if you have picky kids, start off with just adding 1 vegetable, you really can’t go wrong. 

I used onions, garlic, carrots and celery as aromatics to start a flavor profile. If you want to disguise these for a picky eater, just blend these up before sauteing.

Other vegetables I used

  • Frozen corn 
  • Potatoes
  • Green beans
  • Handful of spinach 

It will depend on what type of soup you are making and how many vegetables you would like to add.  If you have roasted vegetables those can be added to the soup. A soup that has starchy vegetables like potatoes and corn will continue to thicken.

Chopping all the vegetables for your soup will really enhance your knife skills. You can buy precut vegetables from the grocery store. Using a food processor to chop the vegetables will work great. Make sure to chop or dice the vegetables to the same size. This will ensure everything cooks at the same time and will also look pleasing to the eye. I use fresh and frozen vegetables; it really depends on what I have on hand. 

STOCK

I had chicken stock on hand. If you want this to be a complete vegetarian soup, then you can use vegetable stock. Adjust the salt depending on if you’re using salted or low-sodium stock. Canned tomatoes also have added salt. Start off with less salt and taste and adjust. If you like more of the tomato flavor from the canned crushed tomatoes and fire roasted tomatoes, you can use less stock. 

CANNED CRUSHED TOMATOES AND FIRE ROASTED TOMATOES 

The soup liquid in this soup also came from the tomatoes. I like the body the crushed tomatoes give to this soup and the roasted tomato flavor. This in combination with the chili flakes there is a slight kick to the soup but not spicy. Canned tomatoes also come pre seasoned. I look for canned tomatoes that have no added salt. So just think about if you will need additional seasoning. You don’t have to add the same amount of tomatoes I added if you don’t like the strong tomato flavor to come through. If you would like you can use fresh tomatoes.

ADDITIONAL FLAVORINGS

This soup has plenty of flavor. But if you like your soup heavily seasoned you can always add more of the same seasoning. If you have some fresh herbs like parsley, basil or cilantro on hand they would make a great addition. Also, a fresh squeeze of some lemon juice would be delicious. 

HOW TO SERVE SOUP

Soup can be a meal on its own, especially if it has a combination of protein, grain and some vegetables. We like to enjoy soup with salads, sandwiches or bread. 

WHAT TO DO WITH LEFTOVERS

Soups make great leftovers because the flavors have enough time to develop.  Soups can be stored in the fridge in airtight containers for about 3-4 days. But always smell and taste stored food to check for spoiling. 

If you would like to freeze the soup, you can divide the soup in smaller freezer safe containers. Once the soup has come to room temperature, place it in the freezer. Soup can last about 3 months in the freezer, depending on the ingredients and how it was stored. You can defrost it in the refrigerator or the microwave. 

FEW MORE GREAT SOUP OPTIONS TO TRY

HOMEMADE CHICKEN TORTILLA SOUP

EASY HOMEMADE CHICKEN RAMEN

EASY HOMEMADE VEGETABLE SOUP

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Servings 6
This garden vegetable soup is perfect for a cold-weather dinner. It’s hearty, full of vegetables, flavor and you just can’t go wrong with a soup recipe.

Equipment

  • a heavy soup pot or Dutch oven

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 celery ribs, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced or grated
  • 1 teaspoon red chili flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon dried basil
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt (adjust depending on how salty the stock is )
  • 1 14.5 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 14.5 oz can fired roasted tomatoes
  • 8 cups stock (I used chicken stock)
  • 2 cups frozen corn
  • 2 medium potatoes, diced
  • 1 cup frozen green beans
  • handful spinach

Instructions 

  • Before you start cooking, make sure to have all ingredients ready and prepped.
  • Preheat a heavy soup pot or a Dutch oven over medium heat with oil. Add onions, garlic, carrots, celery and about ½ teaspoon of salt. Sauté for about 8-10 minutes or until light golden.
  • Add garlic and the rest of the spices, continuing to sauté for about 40 seconds. Stirring frequently, just until the rawness of the garlic cooks out and becomes fragrant
  • Add both cans of tomatoes, stock, corn, potatoes and green beans. Raise the heat and bring it to a boil. Then partially cover the pot and keep the heat to medium low and keep a gentle simmer. Let it simmer for about 35-45 minutes. Cook until the ingredients are cooked through and to your liking.
  • Add spinach towards the end and let it wilt. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper. Serve warm.
Author: Shazia

platter of banana muffins

BANANA MUFFINS RECIPE

These muffins are soft, moist and buttery. Only sweetened with the bananas and honey and some chocolate chips. These are the perfect snack I bake the kids whenever we need to use up those bananas. Adding some flaxseed meal really makes them a healthy breakfast or snack. 

My kids never say no to anything that looks like a cupcake or muffin. These banana muffins are so much quicker and convenient to bake.  Homemade banana muffins are a lot healthier and very easy to bake with simple ingredients. 

BANANA MUFFIN INGREDIENTS  

The ingredients that you need to bake these muffins are pretty simple. I’m going to go over some details for some of the ingredients below. Make sure the eggs and buttermilk are at room temperature. The melted butter should not be too hot. 

  • Flour: I have used all-purpose flour. Just make sure you give the flour a good sift before measuring out. Usually the flour is compacted, so you don’t want more than needed. 
  • Salt, cinnamon, vanilla: These add flavor. We don’t like the strong cinnamon flavor. You can add up to 1 teaspoon of cinnamon.
  • Flaxseed meal: This ground seed is a great source of fiber and omega-3 fatty acids. I really like to add to kids’ oatmeal, cupcakes or muffins and yogurts. It does not have a flavor; you just see some brown specks in the baked goods. Make sure it’s ground flaxseed. 
  • Bananas: Overripe bananas are perfect for banana bread or muffins. These will be sweet, and you don’t have to add extra sugar. I usually add 3-4 medium bananas. 
  • Buttermilk: Whenever I have buttermilk, I like to use it in baked goods. I have also made this recipe with milk and kefir. Just depends on what you have on hand. 
  • Honey: ⅓ cup of honey and ripe bananas are the perfect amount of sweetness. If you spray the measuring cup with some spray oil, the honey will just slide off.  

HOW TO STORE MUFFINS

We enjoy these fresh muffins within 2-3 days at room temperature. I keep them covered in an airtight container with a paper towel, to prevent sogginess. Storing them under some sort of dome works well also. 

Best way to enjoy these muffins is with a spread of butter or cream cheese! 

BANANA MUFFINS

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 23 minutes
Servings 12 Muffins
These muffins are soft, moist and buttery. Only sweetened with the bananas and honey and some chocolate chips. These are the perfect snack I bake the kids whenever we need to use up those bananas. Adding some flaxseed meal really makes them a healthy breakfast or snack.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoon flaxseed meal (ground flaxseed)
  • 3-4 ripe bananas
  • 2 eggs (at room temperature )
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk (at room temperature)
  • 1/4 cup butter (melted & slightly cooled )
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Instructions 

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 12-count muffin pan with cupcake liners.
  • In a small bowl, melt butter in the microwave. Set aside to cool for a bit.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and flaxseed meal. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl mash, the bananas with a fork, add eggs, melted butter, buttermilk, honey and vanilla. Using a whisk, mix well. Slowly add the flour mixture to the wet mixture and whisk until incorporated. Fold in the chocolate chips.
  • Divide the batter evenly into the muffin pan. Add extra chocolate chips on top if you would like.
  • Bake on the center rack for about 23-25 minutes. Muffins will be golden on top, and a toothpick inserted into the center will come out clean.

Video

These chocolate chip cookie bars are soft and chewy and so easy to make. This is such a great way to enjoy chocolate chip cookies without rolling and baking multiple batches. 

WHAT IS A BAR COOKIE?

Bar cookies are the ultimate potluck staple, but perfect if you are not into baking individual cookies. They are made from a batter or stiff dough, poured or pressed in a baking pan. These cookies can be single or multi-layered. 

INGREDIENTS FOR CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE BARS

This cookie bar recipe is pretty straight forward with simple baking ingredients.

  • Make sure your ingredients are at room temperature, especially the eggs and butter. This ensures that all ingredients mix well together and are baked evenly with the perfect texture. 
  • You can use dark brown sugar if you don’t have light brown. Cookie bars will be darker brown.  If they are getting too brown you can cover them with foil towards the end of baking time. 
  • Butter is at room temperature which means just let it sit out and you should be able to make an imprint with your finger easily. 
  • You can also add in some variations. Add peanut butter chips, sprinkles or Nutella swirls.

HOW TO STORE THESE COOKIE BARS

These cookie bars can easily be stored at room temperature in an airtight container. I have personally not ever frozen these. Warm and serve. 

 

HOMEMADE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE BARS

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Servings 32 cookie bars
These chocolate chip cookie bars are soft and chewy and so easy to make. This is such a great way to enjoy chocolate chip cookies without rolling and baking multiple batches.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup butter (at room temperature)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup light brown sugar (packed )
  • 2 eggs (at room temperature )
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Instructions 

  • Preheat oven to 350F. Line 9X13 baking pan with parchment paper. You can spray the pan to help the parchment stick.
  • In medium bowl add flour, salt and baking soda. Using a whisk mix well and set aside.
  • In another large bowl add butter and sugars. Cream together until well combined. Scrape down the sides as needed.
  • Add in the eggs and vanilla extract. Mix until well combined.
  • Add in the dry mixture and mix until all ingredients are thoroughly combined.
  • Add in the chocolate chips, give it a quick mix until evenly distributed.
  • Using a spatula press the cookie dough into the bottom of the prepared pan as evenly as possible.
  • Add some extra chocolate chips on top.
  • Bake for about 30-35 minutes. Cookies are done when edges are golden brown, and center is set. Toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean or with dry crumbs. Place pan on cooling rack. Once cool enough to handle, using parchment paper lift the cookie bars out. Cut into squares and serve.
Author: Shazia

 

 

GARLIC BUTTER STEAK & POTATOES SKILLET 

This skillet steak and potatoes is a gourmet meal yet simple for every day. It’s a one-pan family style, quick and easy recipe that just doesn’t get any better. Juicy and tender ribeye steak, pan seared potato wedges with a side of bread and salad gives you a complete meal in no time! My kids absolutely love having steak like this.

Why should you try this skillet Steak Bites & Potatoes?

  • Build confidence making steak at home
  • Cheaper steak night at home
  • Great way to get more servings out of few steaks
  • No special prep, literally cooks under 30 minutes
  • Fulfilling home cooked meal

BEST STEAK TO USE FOR THIS RECIPE?

It’s best to use tender cuts of meat for this type of recipe, because the steak is meant to cook quickly. Cuts of meat like sirloin, tenderloin, New York strip or stir fry cuts will work great. I used ribeye steaks because this cut of meat has the perfect amount of fat for flavor. For this cut, fast cooking methods using high heat produce the most delectable results. Try to avoid using flank and skirt steak for this recipe.

HOW TO MAKE STEAK TENDER?

I let the steak marinade with the seasoning but it’s not a requirement. Once you are ready to cook the steak make sure it’s not cold.  Cold cuts of meat that are added to a hot pan will get tough. Keep it covered on the counter to take the chill off. Keep the heat high to get a good sear on the meat.

USING A CAST IRON PAN 

For this dish I used my cast iron skillet. This is a heavy bottom pan and it doesn’t get ruined on high heat. If seasoned properly it’s a great non-stick, allowing the steak to sear and release easily. You can also use a heavy-bottom stainless-steel. Keep in mind stainless-steel pans are more prone to sticking, additional oil may be needed. These types of pans will give the steak a great sear. 

EGG SALAD SANDWICHES 

The best Egg Salad Sandwiches that are made with simple ingredients and very customizable. When I think of these sandwiches I’m thinking spring, summer, picnics, tea parties, bridal and baby showers. All you need are hard boiled eggs, mayonnaise, mustard, onions, celery, fresh dill/chives, and your favorite sandwich bread. I promise you will make these again and again!

LET’S TALK ABOUT THE SIMPLE INGREDIENTS 

EGGS: For hard boiled eggs, I bring the water to a boil then add the eggs and boil for about 10-12 minutes. Soon as the timer goes off, I drain the hot water and run cold water on the eggs, stopping the cooking. I find it easier to peel the eggs while hot. Then I cut the eggs in half separating the yolk from the white. I like to mash the yolks separately for a creamy texture. The whites I like to dice. You can definitely just mash them together. 

FRESH HERBS:

Adding some fresh herbs to the type of salad can really elevate the flavor. I used dill and chives, but some parsley would also be fine. 

MUSTARD: I like to use spicy brown mustard for a little intense flavor and country dijon mustard. You can use any mustard you have on hand. Just remember 1-2 tablespoons are usually needed. Add little, taste it and adjust.

BREAD:  I used croissants because that’s what my kids enjoy. But use whatever sandwich bread you have on hand or enjoy. Rolls, buns, brioche, sourdough are all delicious.

OTHER COMBINATIONS

Avocado

Olives

Diced pickles

Scallions

HOW TO SERVE & STORE THIS EGG SALAD?

This salad is best served cold. Serve with salad greens like lettuce, watercress or arugula. You can also serve with crackers. These would also be great to make into mini sandwiches for any event. 

You can make this salad ahead and keep it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-5 days. 

ALOO GOSHT (PAKISTANI BEEF & POTATO STEW)

A delicious staple dish in every Pakistani South Asian house. Tender chunks of Sirloin roast that have been simmered in aromatics, whole and powdered spices with potatoes. It’s a flavor-packed main course perfect for any day, any occasion. Enjoy served with roti, fluffy naan or basmati rice, believe me you want to give this recipe a try!

WHAT IS ALOO GOSHT

This is a meat dish that is very popular in Pakistani, North Indian and Bangladeshi cuisine. Main components are meat that can be beef, mutton or goat. The meat is simmered in onions, garlic, ginger, tomatoes, whole spices, powder spices and oil. The choice of meat, the cut, bone in or boneless is your preference. Once the meat is tender then potatoes are added. Best way to describe it is that it’s similar to making a stew. The ultimate flavor of this dish comes from the long simmer time. You have to give it enough time for the meat to get tender. The long cook time will give you the deep flavor from the bones if you use bone in meat. I would say this dish is perfect with roti or naan but it’s amazing served over rice also.

It’s perfect for daily comfort meals but it’s also the perfect choice for any special menu. 

ALOO GOSHT INGREDIENTS 

There are many different versions to this traditional recipe. Every family and their kitchen will have a personalized touch to it. These variations may be in the choice of ingredients or cooking methods.  Once you try a simple recipe you can adjust to your liking and make it your own. My family prefers to make this with beef. I also like to keep more gravy because my kids always enjoy the extra gravy over rice. We also prefer the gravy to be of a thicker consistency. This recipe is easy with ingredients that are staple in South Asian cooking.

This is one of the methods on how I prepare this dish. You can also start off by heating the oil, add the whole spices, browning the onions, adding garlic/ginger then sear the meat, add tomatoes and powder spices. Let it all the sear then add water, let it cook until meat is tender and finally add the potatoes. The way I’m showing today is a very hands-off method and is great for beginner cooks. In this recipe you will basically add all the ingredients and let it cook, adding the potatoes towards the end of cooking time.

MEAT: You can use 1-1 1/2 lb. of meat. I used sirloin roast that I cut into medium size chunks, just like you would cut for beef kebabs. Now depending on the cut of meat you use; time will vary how long it takes the meat to get tender. Bone in meat will also have amazing flavor. Always make sure you are not cooking cold meat. Take the meat out of the fridge, keeping it covered on the counter to take the chill off. If you have any extra broth bones, I recommend you use it. 

TOMATOES/ONIONS/GREEN CHILI: In this dish you want the gravy to have a very smooth texture. I puree the tomatoes, onion and the green chili. You can also boil the tomatoes then take the skin off and puree. I used 2 medium size tomatoes because I don’t like the gravy to have a watery consistency.

POTATOES: I have used yellow potatoes that are cut into wedges. These potatoes cook much faster than red and rustic potatoes.

WHOLE & POWDERED SPICES: I have used a combination of whole warm spices and powder spices in this recipe. Whole spices like cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, bay leaf and peppercorns pair very well with meat. If you enjoy curries that are heavily spiced, you can add more of the same spices. Adjust the salt and chili. This recipe is mildly spiced.

EXTRA NOTES

When you boil the meat, you will notice some foam also called scum that will float to the top skim that off. Some even disregard that water after the 1st boil then add fresh water and proceed with next steps. This is your preference.

Once the meat starts to get tender and you think there is too much gravy you can continue cooking to reduce the gravy to your liking.

As you are cooking make sure the pot is covered with a lid. If it’s not covered, you will have to continue to add water.  You want to try to make sure the gravy is made with the water that was added in the beginning, this will ensure your gravy has a concentrated flavor.

 

ALOO GOSHT (PAKISTANI BEEF & POTATO STEW)

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 25 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 40 minutes
Servings 5
A delicious staple dish in every Pakistani South Asian house. Tender chunks of Sirloin roast that have been simmered in aromatics, whole and powdered spices with potatoes. It's a flavor-packed main course perfect for any day, any occasion. Enjoy served with roti, fluffy naan or basmati rice, believe me you want to give this recipe a try!

Ingredients

  • 1-1 1/2 lb. sirloin roast (cut into medium size chunks)
  • 1 small onion (roughly chopped)
  • 2 medium tomatoes (roughly chopped)
  • 1 green chili
  • 4 garlic cloves (finely minced or grated)
  • 1 inch piece of ginger (finely minced or grated)

Whole Spices

  • 4 cloves
  • 4 peppercorns
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 brown cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds

Powder Spices

  • 1 teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon red chili powder (adjust to taste)
  • 2 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 2 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon Kashmiri red chili powder (optional great for color but not spicy)
  • 1/2 cup neutral cooking oil
  • 3 small potatoes (peeled and cut into 4 wedges each. Set aside in water)

Garnish

  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • fresh cilantro (small bunch washed and chopped)
  • Water

Instructions 

  • Make sure you have all your ingredients prepped before you start cooking. Using a small food processor blend together the tomatoes, onions and green chili. Finely grate the garlic/ginger. Cut the meat into medium size chunks. Peel potatoes, cut into wedges and set aside in water.
  • Use a medium size heavy pot. Place meat and about 5 cups of water. Bring to a slow boil. Any foam/scum that rises to top skim off.
  • Now lower the heat to a slow simmer, add the tomato, onion, green chili puree, garlic, ginger, whole spices, powder spices and oil. Cover and let it cook for about 1 hour. This time will vary depending on your cut of meat. Check the meat and it should be tender. You should be able to cut thru the meat with a fork.
  • Add the drained potatoes, continue cooking covered for another 15-20 minutes. You don't want to overcook the potatoes. You also should not have to add additional water. That's why cooking with lid on is important. So you are not having to add additional water. At this point you can reduce the gravy or add little more water for more gravy.
  • After the potatoes are tender, turn heat even lower and at this point the oil in the curry should rise to the top. This may not be as visible if you added less oil.
  • Garnish with a sprinkle of garam masala and cilantro. Serve with roti, naan or rice.
Author: Shazia
Cuisine: Bangladeshi, North Indian, Pakistani

 

 

 

 

 

CHICKEN TORTILLA SOUP RECIPE 

Homemade chicken tortilla soup made from scratch is the best! Bowl of soft shredded chicken breast, bold smoky flavors from spicy chipotle peppers with fire-roasted tomatoes and crispy corn tortillas is a satisfying meal and the best leftovers! There are many variations to make chicken tortilla soup, but like many delicious recipes this starts with homemade chicken stock and has amazing Mexican flavors.

RECIPE NOTES

This type of soup is very versatile. Here are some notes to help you through this recipe.

CHICKEN STOCK: Soups that are made with homemade stock just have an amazing fresh flavor. If you use store bought stock, rotisserie chicken, canned tomatoes and corn, you will have to adjust the salt in the recipe. 

CHILI POWDER: If you don’t have Mexican chili powder you can just use cayenne chili powder. Depending on how spicy you like, adjust how many chipotle peppers to use. If you like heavier spice flavor you can double up on the spices as well.

TOMATOES: Using canned fire-roasted tomatoes adds a delicious smoky flavor to this soup.

CHICKEN: I used the shredded chicken from the stock. You can use rotisserie chicken, or boil or bake 2 or 3 chicken breasts then cut up or shred.

TORTILLA STRIPS: If you don’t want to fry the tortilla strips you can spray them with some oil then bake them until they are golden brown and crispy. Do keep a close eye because they can burn quickly. Sometimes I end up using crushed tortilla chips or tostadas.

HOMEMADE CHICKEN TORTILLA SOUP

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 4 -6
This soup is flavorful and filling, homemade chicken stock, shredded chicken, fire roasted tomatoes, chipotle peppers in adobo sauce along with other delicious ingredients. Serve with your favorite toppings like corn tortilla strips, fresh avocado, cilantro and lime juice!

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoon oil
  • 1 small onion (diced)
  • 2 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 1 can 14.5 oz. fire roasted tomatoes
  • 2-3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon Mexican chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 8 cups chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen corn
  • 2 cups shredded chicken
  • 10 corn tortillas
  • Oil for frying tortilla strips

Garnish

  • Tortilla strips
  • fresh cilantro
  • lime juice

Instructions 

  • In a medium pot, heat oil over medium heat. Sauté the diced onion until lightly golden brown and translucent. Add the garlic and sauté for about 20 seconds, just until the rawness is cooked out.
  • Add tomatoes, chipotle peppers, chili powder, cumin powder, tomato paste and salt. Mix well. Cover and let it continue to cook on medium until most of the water has evaporated and the mixture becomes a little thick in consistency, this will take about 7 minutes.
  • Add chicken stock, corn, shredded chicken, add some cilantro. Mix well. Turn up the heat so it can heat thru. Taste to see if you need to adjust the salt. Bring the heat down again to medium-low so it's not boiling, let it simmer for 15 minutes covered.

FRY TORTILLA STRIPS

  • Cut the tortillas in half than into strips. In a frying pan heat few tablespoons oil over medium heat. In batches add the strips to the hot oil in single layer. Fry until light golden brown and crispy, about 2 minutes. You can do this in batches. Consistently move the strips around so they don't burn. Take out on a paper towel. Sprinkle with salt.
  • Ladle soup into bowls. Top with tortilla strips, lime juice and cilantro. Serve immediately.

Notes

In a small food processor I blended the tomatoes & the chipotle peppers. This gives the soup some thickness. This is optional.
This type of soup is very versatile. Here are some notes to help you through this recipe.
Chicken stock/broth-I think any soup that is made with homemade stock/broth will be very good. If you use store bought stock/broth, rotisserie chicken, canned tomatoes/corn, you will have to adjust the salt it will just vary. Here is how I make chicken stock. If you have the time I really recommend making your own, it freezes very well.
If you don't have Mexican chili powder you can just use cayenne chili powder. Depending on how spicy you like adjust how many chipotle peppers to use. If you like heavier spice flavor you can double up on the spices as well.
I used the shredded chicken from the stock. You can use rotisserie chicken, or boil/bake 2 or 3 chicken breast than cut up or shred.
If you don't want to fry the tortilla strips you can spray them with some oil than bake them until they are golden brown and crispy. Do keep a close eye because they can burn quickly.
If you don't want to fry the tortilla strips you can spray them with some oil than bake them until they are golden brown and crispy. Do keep a close eye because they can burn quickly. Sometimes I end up using crushed tortilla chips or tostadas.
This soup is so delicious served with corn bread.
Author: Shazia
Course: Chicken, Main, Soups
Cuisine: Mexican, Tex-mex