This is a photo of my new favorite snack courtesy of my wonderful fiancé :) He had these growing up and I never did....I am making up for it now! Put grapes in freezer for a day and enjoy! Tastes like you're having sherbet, but you're having grapes! Perfect snack for a wedding diet when you feel like having chocolate cake every day since you talk about cake every day!!!!
Had a wonderful visit with family again this year for Persian New Year, or "Norouz". It falls each year on the first momen of spring, so it is a bit different each year. My fiancé and I go every year to my parents' home and celebrate with fantastic food, wine, laughter and memories made!
This is some amazing traditional engagement rice in Iran called Shireen Polo which translates to "Sweet Rice". It signifies the sweetness to come in your marriage. My dad made this for us while we were there. Imagine the warm scent of saffron, the sweetness of candied orange zest and the earthy crunch of pistachios in yummy, fluffy basmati rice. It was heavenly!
My mom was thoughtful enough to also get my fiance's favorite cake....Carrot!!! In the shape of a hot air balloon to recreate our engagement! It was a great weekend indeed!
As much as we would like to believe that Daylight Savings time means spring is here, all the sore throats and coughs remind us winter has yet to leave! Being entrenched recently in the local Children's Hospital for work, my wonderful fiance inevitably caught something. Sore throat, body aches...blah! Trying to make him feel better today led to a few good eats that I can enjoy as well.
First up....healthy snack chips made from zucchini, salt and pepper.
Easiest recipe ever:
Slice zucchini 1/8 in thick, sprinkle with salt and pepper and dry out somehow. I used a food dehydrator, you can also use a very low oven like 300 degrees until they are crispy.
Next up....hearty chicken soup. I had to make something to entice my not so happy, " I have a sore throat, I don't want to eat anything...." fiance to have some nutrients today.
The recipe for this is pretty simple as well...I have to go to work tonight, so we were keeping things simple today.
Veggies of your choice all cut into quarter sized chunks.
1 cup Yellow Squash
1 cup Carrots
1 cup Broccoli
Steam them or saute them a bit until they are just not raw anymore. ( I steamed the carrots and the broccoli but sauteed the squash with some seasoned salt and pepper for more flavor).
The veggies will cook more in the soup so you don't want them to be mushy. Set these aside and make the chicken and broth.
Ok, here goes....
1 large chicken breast boiled in chicken stock ( 1 box)
2 Tbsp Salt
1 Tbsp fresh ground pepper
1 tsp Cumin
1 tsp Red pepper flakes
Fresh herbs of your choice
2 Tbsp Lemon Juice
Boil the ingredients until the stock reduces a bit and the flavor intensifies and the chicken cooks through (about 12 min).
Remove the chicken breast and set aside until you can handle and shred it or if you prefer you can chop into chunks. Continue to simmer the stock (without any other ingredients in it) to continue to intensify the flavor by reducing it.
Add back the shredded chicken, par-cooked veggies and NOW add 1/4 cup of rice and simmer for 5-10 min until the rice is cooked and serve!
Knock out germs with the power packed vitamins and minerals in this soup!
As we wind down 2012 and welcome in 2013 we have a wonderful start. We had 4 days off in a row together! Not only do 4 days off in row not typically happen for either of us, but to have them coincide to the point that we get to plan out the entire time together is just the best present we could ask for. We did EVERYTHING! We went to a movie (saw Lincoln...so good!), we went ice skating in the Sculpture Garden in D.C., we made tons of food, had a million different cocktails, made puzzles together (a tradition from J's childhood), watched the fireworks at midnight on the waterfront in Old Town Alexandria, had champagne J had bought for our engagement, made mimosas the next morning with it...... It was wonderful. Here is a selection of pics to remember the best New Year I have had in a while.
We found a great recipe online for champagne cocktails using our P&H soda, the Hibiscus flavor, which we looove and use in everything from desserts to drinks to jams and beyond! It also called for Rose Water! Very very Persian ingredient and I happened to have some from our local Persian grocery store called, aptly enough: Iran Sara!
I just love that J got us a candy bar puzzle! Perfect for all the eating we did that weekend!
Justin's favorite: Shrimp Cocktail....easiest way we have ever made it and SOOO flavorful, try this next time:
Take a pot of water and add a few tablespoons salt, some fresh herbs (we used rosemary and thyme, peppercorns, aromatics like onion and celery and bring to a boil. Drop your fresh shrimp in for literally 20 seconds! They turn pink and curl up and then take them out and cool in ice bath for 2 seconds. Chill in the fridge until cold and serve with your favorite cocktail sauce! So simple, sooooo good!
For the STAR of our weekend: Braised short ribs on goat cheese polenta! Predictably another " Pioneer Woman" recipe. So fall off the bone, scrumptious! This was a HIT in our home!
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
What kind of progressive, tolerant Iranian woman would I be if I didn't give equal time and love to Christmas as I have to Chanukah?! I've posted this recipe before and I will post pictures every year I make them.....Aunt Carolyn's Christmas Cookies!!!
Happy Happy Happy!!! Fun to make, ridiculously fun to decorate and a perfect tasting cookie no matter how overboard you go with decorations!
I am sure that anyone who happens to fall in love with someone of another background will support me in this.....MORE FOOD TO EAT !!! I swear, it's the best part of any relationship, exposure to things you never knew existed and now can't imagine your life without! For me, who grew up eating cotelette (Persian potato and meat cakes that are fried and TO DIE FOR yummy)...the prospect of another fried potato food was too good to be true. When I started cooking more Jewish fare I discovered the Latke! Whatever the pairing, whether its apple-sauce or sour cream (or both like us....no time to start discriminating, this is about embracing all the options after all) they are just scrumptious. Oh, and did I mention they are part of a wonderful holiday called Hanukkah where you eat and be merry for 8 days straight?! I could get used to this!
The only tough part of this recipe is honestly all the grating! After that's done, just fun fun frying lies ahead!
2 cups peeled and grated potatoes
1/4 cup grated onion (I used sweet white onions)
3 beaten eggs
2 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon salt
Place peeled, grated potatoes in a cheesecloth and squeeze as much liquid out as possible. Once dry, mix together potatoes, eggs, flour, salt and onion.
Place large spoonfuls of the mixture in a heavy bottom pan with a half inch of your oil of choice (I used olive oil to pretend they were healthy!) heated up to make the mixture sizzle as soon as you dollop it in. Brown on one side (2-3 minutes) and then flip. Place on paper towel to drain extra oil and serve with your favorite sides!
Wait, you've have a wonderfully traditional meal and you want something equally as traditional for dessert? Well, of course! How about some RUGELACH ?!
Look good together, don't they?! I would love to say I used my own recipe...I am a few years away from that level of culinary prowess. I used Ina Garten's wonderful recipe. Here is how mine looked along their path to sweet success! It truly is a wonderful recipe because it turns out perfectly if you follow it step by step.
Pretty wonderful spread. Wonderful holiday and made more special when I get to share it with a wonderful partner in life in our very warm, lovely home. I am a lucky lucky woman!
The other day while we finished up our slow cooker apple crumble (recipe next time I make it as I did not measure ANYTHING I put inside).....I realized we would soon be dessert-less in the home! I don't know about you, but during the holidays, this seems completely wrong and definitely un-necessary with all the wonderful cooking shows on TV. One in particular that I love is " The Pioneer Woman". All of Ree Drummond's recipes are wonderful and simple and scrumptious when you make them. This one is no exception. Blackberry Cobbler #1. Now, my version is using frozen mixed berries instead of fresh blackberries and it turned out FANTASTIC. Really, if I have to be honest, if something calls for blackberries, I cannot help myself from adding raspberries to it somehow, they are just the BEST berry ever! Other than that switch, I stuck to the recipe and we seem to have a new favorite cobbler recipe in the home. I can't wait to do Cobbler #2 and see what debates arise!
You can see all the mixed frozen berries. I promise, they don't make the cobbler too wet or anything.
You can almost taste how the tartness of the berries cut through the richness of this version of cobbler, extra cake-y as the Pioneer Woman intended.
Here is the finished product...Rich warm cobbler peaking out from under a pillow of home made whipped cream
-Whip heavy whipping cream with enough confectioner's sugar to taste, add some vanilla, or in my case, 1/4 teaspoon rose water...Persian Whipped Cream as my family considers it! That reminds me, I need to make some Persian desserts for this blog!
This is BY FAR my most favorite part of the year. From the smells that waft through the home as you use up Thanksgiving left-overs (in our case stuffing balls stuffed with cranberry sauce, home-made turkey stock for the leftover soup) to the spiced warmth of cinnamon in everything, to decorating the home and on and on.
One of the best days of my year and one I look forward to all 364 other days of the year is Christmas tree day! My wonderful fiance who is more patient than anything I can understand, takes me an hour away and we cut down our tree. We drive literally over a river and through the woods...but not to Grandmother's house like the song would have you think....to a beautiful orchard of Douglas Firs. Big, small, full, Charlie-Brown inspired, and everything in between! This time our eyes were a bit bigger than our trunk, shall we say?! It was an adventure and a half to get the tree home in the Civic. We usually get the tree netted, fits in the trunk and off we go. This time, it got stuck in the netting machine it was so ... um .... robust! Then it would absolutely not fit in the trunk, so we strapped it to the roof (with the help fo the awesome professional tree strapper at the orchard) and held our breath as we took the hour drive on the highway home!
All dressed up with new LED energy efficient lights. You'd never know the way the reflect....nearly blind you and look at the impact they make in photos! I have got to come up with a cool effect using their brightness....something to think about!
We used every single branch we cut off the tree too! Even made my own garland to surround our mercury-glass votives for some ambiance!
AAAANNNDDDD our own Wreath! I am so proud of this little guy. My first wreath attempt and I think it came out great! Since then I have inserted some other little decorative touches, but somehow I like this photo of it pure and simple the best :)
Now you will notice this is one day BEFORE the actual big day...Thanksgiving. That is because my fiance and I were both working on actual Thanksgiving. While it was just for the two of us, and only the 2nd time I had ever cooked a Thanksgiving meal, we decided to do it all the way! Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, roasted sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, apple cobbler, home-made ice cream... I MEAN ALL OUT !!! While I would love to have been coordinated enough to take pictures of all that while I was cooking....I didn't. I couldn't. Maybe in a year with this one under my belt I can multi-task like that. For now, I could only take pics up until we started drinking our pre-thanksgiving drinks that Justin made us. We call them 'Lime Rickies' . I have no idea why, but the name has stuck. Basically its Hendricks gin (one shot), a teaspoon of lime soda flavor (P&H is our brand of choice), fresh squeezed lime juice, soda water served over ice with a twist of lime zest for garnish. YUMMM! Makes cooking THE DINNER so much fun!
This is now our house drink for me. His is whiskey-rocks. Next year I'll take photos of the feast of roast beast, I promise!
Every year my fiance (SOOO fun to say that!!!) and I go to the orchard a few miles away to take full advantage of fresh fruits and veggies that we have around us. This year we branched out (no pun intended!) and instead of just pumpkins and apples we got beets as well! This is for my beet/goat cheese salad that you might have seen on prior posts which is one of his ABSOLUTE favorites! I love making it because he complements my cooking like I'm on the next food network star or something, but in all reality I just roasted the gorgeous burgundy rounds and let them be themselves, only better!
All the components of a yummy Butternut Squash soup, chopped and ready to go! Justin made this...I don't even know the recipe so I can't pretend to take credit!!
Now for something I DID do.....Yummy Apple-Cinnamon Muffins! I used the Fuji apples we picked, but would be equally great with any firm apple that can stand up to the baking process. In fact, the second time I made it I incorporated Red Delicious and a few Braeburn and Honey Crisp from our harvest and it turned out GREAT !
Every part of this recipe is so rewarding. You get to juice the apples, drink some of the juice as you bake, use the rest in the recipe, use the pulp in the recipe and end up with healthy yummy breakfast/snack/dessert!
Flour: 2 cups
Sugar: 1/2 cup
Baking Powder: 3 teaspoons
Apple Juice: 3/4 cup
Vegetable Oil: 1/3 cup
Salt: 1/2 teaspoon
Cinnamon: 1 HEAPING Tablespoon
Apples: 1 cup peeled, cored, finely diced
Apple Pulp: 1/3 cup
Heat oven to 400 degrees
Line Muffin tin with your favorite muffin cups
In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Mix well. In another bowl, combine apple juice, oil and egg. Blend well. Combine wet and dry ingredients stirring until combined. Stir in the chopped apples and pulp. Fill the baking cups almost full. Bake for 18-20 minutes until toothpick inserted comes out clean. SERVE WARM for the best version of this muffin, cold for breakfast or a snack!
And the two warm, cozy parts of the meal come together. Perfect pairing! Curl up to a Michigan game with a cold beer in a frosty glass and have a bowl of this soup, a muffin for dessert and you are bound to fall in love with fall !