Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Caesar Salad

Easiest and most famous salad.  Can be done as side dish with anything or even as a snack.  You can add chicken, shrimp, anything you want as meat.  Usually chicken is the most asked addition to the salad, but plain is also delicious!

Caesar Salad


Around 10 cups of lettuce cut in slices
1/3 cup of shredded Parmesan cheese
Croutons(I did these homemade, but you can buy ready made ones)


1 cup mayonnaise
3 tbsp mustard
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 garlic clove - peeled
2 anchovies (you may need to add another one) [optional]
around 4 tbsp of olive oil
1/3 cup of shredded Parmesan cheese 


Mix in a bowl the lettuce, cheese. Set aside.

Blend all ingredients of the dressing and they are ready to be mixed with the salad - check if you need another anchovy - the taste should reach the perfect saltiness - adding too many anchovies can lead the sauce to taste like fish!.  Salt is not needed because anchovies are already salty. 

Add the croutons and mix slowly. 

PS: You can do this salad without the anchovies, but these add the secret flavor to the salad itself. 


Thursday, November 29, 2012

Beef Strips with onion and Mashed Potato Balls Gratin

This recipe was invented by a cousin of mine.  She is a genius chef! all her food is so delicious! 

The first thing that caught my attention was the look of it.  Seriously, so gorgeous.  Why ruin it? hehehe, but then again, it tastes amazingly good as well, so it's ok, go ahead, and have a piece!

The dish has beef which surely can be substituted with chicken if you want, and the rest are basic ingredients.  Go ahead.  Do it.  And report back!

Beef Strips with onion and Mashed Potato Balls Gratin


1kg of beef (tender) cut into strips (or chicken)
2 onions - cut into sliced wedges (cut it a little thick because they will shrink)
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 kg of potato, peeled and washed (6-8 potatoes)
Handful of parsley, chopped
Handful of coriander, chopped
1 tsp of garlic in powder
1tbs of butter
Few tbsp of milk
Shawarma condiment (optional) (This is a Lebanese condiment, its ok if you don't have from it)
Shredded mozzarella cheese

2tbsp butter
2tbsp flour
500ml milk
Grated nutmeg
Sprinkle of Paprika
Bay leaf (optional) and half an onion

Method for the beef

Stir fry the onions until golden with little oil.  Set aside.  On same pan, stir fry the beef, sprinkle salt, pepper and shawarma condiment along with the minced garlic.  Once cooked pour on them cooked onion and flip them around.  Turn off the heat once cooked and put them on a rectangular pirex, set aside.

Method of the mashed potato

To cook quickly the potato, slice the potatoes in medium slices and put to boil with little salt.  Once tender, sift them to remove water.  

In a bowl pour in the butter, parsley, coriander, garlic powder, and few tbsp of milk (as per your desire) and put the cooked potatoes on it.  The heat from the potatoes will melt the butter.  Start mashing the potatoes with a potato masher.  Pour salt and pepper and mix them with your hands until well incorporated.  Start making balls and put the balls on top of the beef/onion mixture, one next to the other.  The size of the ball depends on how you like it, can be small, medium or big.

Method for the Bechamel

Melt in a pan the butter, pour the flour and mix quickly it will become as a paste.  Pour in the milk and keep mixing.  If you get pieces like it did not dissolve, just use a hand mixer and keep mixing to boil.  Sprinkle nutmeg, paprika, and salt.  Sometimes in bechamel sauce I put in it a bay leaf plus half an onion (excluding the nutmeg and paprika) it gives an amazing taste, remove them before serving.  Pour in the cream and mix, and set aside to be served.

Pour the bechamel slowly on the potato balls, all around the pirex, and then sprinkle with grated cheese.  Gratin it for few minutes.  Serve hot.


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Crepe with Nutella and sliced bananas

Crepes are these little thin pancake that are well known everywhere, mainly in France, which is where they come from.  They are good for breakfast or dessert, or seriously, anytime of the day.  They can be filled with sweet ingredients, or savory ones.  They are easier to make than you might think!
You can use jam, peanut butter, or nutella and banana stuffing, or any other fruit you like to use! how about nutella and strawberries? topped with sweetened whipped cream?? AHH!!
Also, this recipe suits well for savory stuffing like ricotta and spinach, and bolognese sauce, sooo delicious - I always make these for lunch.  Let alone it being so tasty just sprinkled with sugar and drizzled with honey.  OMG!
This crepe recipe is what I always use and I personally think its the best!

  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted
  • Nutella
  • Slices banana (or any other fruit)
  1. Mix everything in a large bowl.
  2. Pour 1/4 cup of the mixture into a lightly buttered pan heated at medium.
  3. Tilt the pan and turn so that the mixture evenly coats the entire bottom of the pan.
  4. Cook the crepe until golden brown on the bottom, about 2 minutes.
  5. Flip and cook the other side until golden brown.

Pour nutella on an opened crepe, use a spoon to even it out around it, top if with banana or really, any other fruit you like to.  Fold it, or roll it, or just eat it the way you like it!


Monday, October 1, 2012

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

This upside-down cake is a very beautiful and delicious cake.  This cake is usually made in a pan with a curved bottom in which we place pineapple slices and maraschino cherries. Once baked, turned over and allowed to set, the cake is eaten upside-down along with butter and sugar to avoid it sticking to the pan once inverted.

In Brasil, they do the same process their banana cake, where they place sugar, butter, and banana slices and once inverted the cake looks beautiful!
The cake batter also has a tingle of pineapple juice, which we thought it added a delicious taste to it.  Along with not being at all difficult, this cake takes no time to be done and delicious to be served on any occasion.

Ingredients for topping : 
6 slices of can pineapple (drain)
6 maraschino cherries
4 tbsp of butter
4 tbsp of brown sugar

Ingredients for cake :
3/4 cup of sugar
1 1/2 stick of butter (3/4 cup)
3 eggs
2 1/4 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp of baking powder
1/2 tsp of salt
1 tsp of vanilla
1/4 cup of pineapple juice (from the can pineapple)


1. Pre-heat to over to 350 degree F. Grease an 8" round cake pan. Prepare the topping by melting the butter in the microwave oven and pour it into the baking pan.

2. Srinkle the brown sugar on top of the butter and then arrange the pineapple slices over the brown sugar. Place the cherry in the center of each pineapple slice. Set aside.

3. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

4. Cream the butter with the sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla.

5. Add the flour mixture in three parts alternately with the pineapple juice, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Beat well after each addition. Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan.

6. Bake cake for 45 to 55 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan on a rack for 15 minutes. Run a thin knife around the edge, and invert the cake onto a plate. Serve the cake warm or at room temperature. 


Sunday, September 23, 2012

Chicken Rice / Arroz con Pollo

Colombian-Style arroz con pollo is one of the best recipes you could do! Rice with chicken is one of the most popular dishes in Colombia and South America, but every country has their own variation.

It is somehow like the seafood Paella we know, but instead it is made of chicken, and achiote/annatto powder which will give it a nice orange/yellowish color, and we add to this dish lots of garlic and coriander.  The garlic will not make the dish taste garlicky, instead, it will make it delicious.


Chicken Rice / Arroz con Pollo

1.2kg chicken, assorted pieces
1 tbs achiote powder
1 tbs ground cumin
½ tbs ground coriander
10 garlic cloves, crushed
2-3 tbs oil
1 white onion, diced
2 celery stalks, finely diced
4 tomatoes, peeled and diced
half red pepper and half green pepper, diced
6 sliced hot dogs (Optional)
3 ½ cup water or broth
2 cups rice
2 medium carrots, diced
1 cup peas, fresh or frozen
3 tbs finely chopped cilantro
Salt and pepper

Mix the crushed garlic, achiote, cumin, coriander and salt together.
 Rub the garlic seasoning on the chicken pieces. 

Heat the oil or butter on medium high heat in large sauté pan, add the chicken pieces (skin side down) and cook until browned on each side. 

Add the diced onions, tomatoes, bell pepper, and celery, mix well and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

 Add the sliced hot dogs

Add the rice, peas and carrots, mix well.

Add the broth or water, and coriander, also the salt and pepper.

Cover and cook over medium heat for about 20 minutes. 

Reduce the heat to low and cook for an additional 10-15 minutes or until the rice is tender but still slightly firm. 


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Russian Salad

This is a very delicious salad and a very good side dish with everything! Mostly it is made to accompany beef and poultry recipes, specially grilled barbeque.

There are so many variations of this classic potato salad, some even without the potatoes, but this one  is the main one we make at home: potatoes, peas, carrots, and mayonnaise. I like to add a little bit of vinegar, sometimes lemon juice.

Some people add to it eggs, pickles, apples, green onion, depends on the taste.  Add any if you love it!

Russian Salad
2 large potatoes, diced
3 carrots, diced
1 cup and half of frozen peas
handful of chopped parsley
1 cup and half of mayonnaise 
1 teaspoon and half of white vinegar
Olive oil

Cut the vegetables into cubes and cook them in boiled water separately, because each has its own cooking time. The ideal point is al dente.

Place cooked vegetables in a bowl.
Season with olive oil, salt, vinegar and then add the mayonnaise and the parsley.  Mix gently to avoid any veggies from breaking out/mashing.

Serve cold.


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

No Bake Brownie Balls

Looking for a healthy nutritious snack? something to satisfy your sweet tooth but does not ruin your diet?  Then you need to make some No Bake Brownie Balls!

The recipe for No Bake Brownie Balls does not include eggs, butter, or processed sugar but they taste like they do. Why? I think it is the combination of the dates and almonds (sugary and buttery) and trust me no one would ever know they contain dates.

You should make these just because they include chocolate, take almost no time to make, and are super healthy and yummy!

No-Bake Brownie Balls
Makes 15 balls


15 pitted dates
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (plus extra for dusting)
1 cup roasted almonds (no salt added)
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons water


Add almonds to food processor and pulse until ground. Add dates, cocoa powder, honey, and water. Mix until it just forms a sticky mass. Wash hands and attempt to make a ball with the dough (it may need more water to get to the perfect consistency). Put a tablespoon of cocoa or confectioner's sugar on a plate. Roll balls in your hand and then roll in cocoa. Eat! These can be store in the fridge for a week.

For one brownie bite: 109 calories, 6.8 g fat, 12.2 g carbohydrates, 3.6 g protein, 3.5 g fiber


Monday, September 10, 2012

Tuna Pie (Done by using a blender/ food processor)

This pie made by a blender is very practical and very light, and most importantly QUICK!
This is the first time I get to do it, and found that if used by a food processor to do the dough it would be more practical as it got a little thick to allow the blender to work properly.  I tried to scrub the sides and help it blend but didn't work much.  If you have a heavy duty blender I am sure this would work great.

The filling is based on your taste.  Here I used tuna.. I bet it would taste great with chicken, or even only veggie! or you can just use what you have at home.

Worth checking out!

Tuna Pie


3 eggs
1 cup oil
13 tbsp of AP flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/3 cup grated mozzarella cheese
1 cup milk
salt to taste

2 cans of tuna (I believe it can be reduced to 1.5 or even 1 if you don't want it heavy in the filling)
2 tomatoes diced
half cup of canned corn
3 tbsp of mayonnaise
1 tbsp of ketchup
pinch of salt


Mix all ingredients for filling and keep in fridge until being used.

Heat oven to 180 degrees C.

Mix in a bowl the flour, baking powder, mozzarella and salt.

Blend the eggs, oil and milk. Gradually add the flour mix by scoops, until fully incorporated.  I saw later that the blender wouldn't mix mix anymore so I just moved the mixture and used a spatula to join in the ingredients.  Finally add the baking powder and mix slowly. Place half of the dough in a baking dish, already buttered and floured.  Add to it half of the dough, then add the filling chosen and cover with the remaining dough and bake for about 1 hour or until you stick the toothpick and comes out dry..

Let cool, cut and serve.


Sunday, September 9, 2012

Bruschetta with Tomato and Basil

 Bruschetta (pronounced "brusketta") is one of the simplest things in the world to make.  It is a delicious and easy appetizer. The balsamic vinegar gives it a little bite.

Bruschetta is a fresh, simple and delicious Italian appetizer that can be prepared in minutes and enjoyed any time of the year.   


Bruschetta with Tomato and Basil


     6 or 7 ripe tomatoes
     2 cloves garlic, minced
     1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
     1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
     10 fresh basil leaves, chopped
     Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

     1 large French baguette
     1/4 cup olive oil


Prepare the tomatoes first. Cut an X on the tomatoes and parboil the tomatoes for one minute in boiling water. Drain. Peel the skins off the tomatoes.  Once the tomatoes are peeled, cut them in halves or quarters and remove the seeds and juice from their centers. Also cut out and discard the stem area. 

Make sure there is a top rack in place in your oven. Turn on the oven to 450°F to preheat.
While the oven is heating, chop up the tomatoes finely. Put tomatoes, garlic, 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, vinegar in a bowl and mix. Add the chopped basil. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Slice the baguette on a diagonal direction for slices. Coat one side of each slice with olive oil using a pastry brush. Place on a cooking sheet, olive oil side down. You will want to toast them in the top rack in your oven, so you may need to do these in batches depending on the size of your oven. Once the oven has reached 200°C, place a tray of bread slices in the oven on the top rack. Toast for 5-6 minutes, until the bread just begins to turn golden brown.
Alternatively, you can toast the bread without coating it in olive oil first. Toast on a griddle for 1 minute on each side. Take a sharp knife and score each slice 3 times. Rub some garlic in the slices and drizzle half a teaspoon of olive oil on each slice. This is the more traditional method of making bruschetta.

Align the bread on a serving platter, olive oil side up. Either place the tomato topping in a bowl separately with a spoon for people to serve themselves over the bread, or place some topping on each slice of bread and serve. If you top each slice with the tomatoes, do it right before serving or the bread may get soggy.


Friday, September 7, 2012

Pizza Dip

Looking for a great appetizer recipe? or any good snack idea for visitors? this is a great one!  This pizza dip is creamy, addictive and delicious. It comes together very quickly, and it just tastes amazingly good. 

In this recipe you can feel free to use any pizza topping in it.  Yes, you can! - here I had in my fridge green pepper, beef salami, and olives, and the rest of the ingredients is all cheesy!
It tasted just like Pizza, but with a creamy taste.  I served it with toasted baguette slices, although it would also be great with pizza dough strips or pita chips.  Looking for a dip for your next party? try this! 

Pizza Dip

300 grams of cream cheese (softened)
½ teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon dried basil
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup pizza sauce
2 tablespoons green bell pepper (chopped)
Beef Salami (chopped or sliced) - as much as you like
Black olives (sliced) - as much as you like


In a small bowl mix together the cream cheese with oregano, parsley, and basil.

Spread the mixture onto the bottom of a any glass pie plate (or shallow oven-safe/microwave-safe dish). Sprinkle ½ cup of mozzarella cheese and ½ cup of the parmesan cheese on top of the cream cheese mixture. Spread the pizza sauce over the top of the cheeses. Sprinkle the remaining ½ cup of parmesan and ½ cup of mozzarella cheese over the top of the sauce.  Top with pepperoni, green pepper, and black olives.

Cover and microwave for 5 minutes. You can also place into the oven and bake at 175 °C for 15-20 minutes. 

Serve with toasted baguette slices, pita chips, or tortilla chips!


Friday, August 31, 2012

Sfouf - Semolina Tumeric Cake

Sfouf is a Lebanese almond-semolina cake. It is made from semolina flour flavored with tumeric, sugar, and pine nuts or almonds.  This recipe calls for ground aniseed, which I was skeptical about at the beginning but it does add to the cake itself a very nice taste.

This is the first time I bake this cake, and I was surprised it does not contain eggs! So it is an egg-less cake which people that do not eat cake can do!  

Also, something different about this cake is the use of tahini to “butter” the tray or cake tin. It gives the edges a beautiful crunch and nuttiness. For an authentic experience, do not substitute the tahini with butter, trust me, it tastes great!

Sfouf - Semolina Tumeric Cake


2 cups semolina flour (ferkha in lebanese)
1 ½ cup all-purpose flour
1 cup vegetable or olive oil
1 tsp Turmeric (Curcuma)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp aniseed (ground)
1 ½ cups sugar
1 ½ cups milk (or water) - I used milk
2 tbsp Tahini (sesame paste)
Sesame seeds, sliced blanced almonds or Pine nuts, to garnish


Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC)

In a bowl, mix semolina, flour, turmeric, baking powder, and aniseed. Add oil and stir to make a paste.

In a separate bowl, melt sugar in cold milk. Add gradually to the flour and spices paste and mix using an electric cake mixer.

Grease the baking dish with Tahini and pour batter. Make sure it’s flat. Sprinkle with sesame, pine nuts or decorate with almonds.
I used almonds here.

Bake for approximately 30 minutes, or until golden-brown. Allow to cool for 15 minutes. Cut in pieces. Serve with tea or coffee.


Sunday, August 26, 2012

Sweet and Sour Chicken

Who doesn't love Chinese food? We do.  I am sure you do as well, maybe not all (like us) but some!.. How about some Sweet and Sour Chicken? The tangy flavor that lays in between sweet and sour, just as its name says, is a delicious dish! the added pineapple makes it taste tropical and exotic.  I love fruit in main dishes..

This was the first time I tried this recipe, including the sauce, which I thought at first to buy it ready, but then I was like I should try it!  I was skeptical at first for the quantity of sugar it takes in, now we know why it is sweet, and was surprised that apple cider vinegar was used to brake in the sweet taste.  

Forget take-outs or even going to a Chinese restaurant and try this quick and effective go-to recipe for when you want to enjoy this classic at a fraction of the cost.


Sweet and Sour Chicken


4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (cut into bite size chuncks)
Salt and pepper
2 cups flour
5 teaspoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons baking soda
3 eggs (beaten with a fork)
oil (for frying)

1 ½ cup sugar
1/2 cup ketchup
3/4 cup cider vinegar
2 Tablespoon soy sauce
2 Tablespoons garlic powder

1 red pepper, sliced
1 yellow pepper, sliced
1 orange pepper, sliced
1 onion, cut into wedges/sliced
1 can of cut pineapples


In a bowl mix flour, baking soda and 1 teaspoon of cornstarch. In another bowl beat the eggs. Dip chicken pieces first then the flour mixture, then in the egg mixture and then again in the flour mixture.

Fry in oil in a wok or in a deep fryer at 350 degrees in batches until golden brown. Drain on a tray, if you want use kitchen paper towels.

Place chicken in a single layer on a baking sheet. Mix sauce ingredients together and pour half of  it over the chicken and toss to coat. Bake for about 10 minutes at 200ºC, flipping them every 5 minutes. 

Meanwhile cook your veggies. Put a little oil in a pan and stir fry them. Bring the remaining sauce
to a simmer in a small pot and let thicken about 8 minutes. Pour the sauce over the vegetables. Mix the chicken and veggies together and add the pineapple and stir slowly so that the chicken pieces don’t break.  Serve over white rice. 


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