Monday, March 25, 2013

Quinoa risotto with kale and tomatoes

I made this quinoa dish last night and it turned out great. The only other way I've made quinoa is by boiling it like rice. I definitely have to make it more often. I had this with some grilled salmon and it was filling and satisfying.

1 cup organic quinoa (rinsed and drained)
1/2 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
2 cups organic chicken broth
1 cup water
1 tomato, chopped
1/2 bunch of kale, chopped into 1" length
Olive oil

1- In a pot, heat 1 tbsp oil, add onion and garlic. Saute till soft.

2- Add the drained quinoa and stir occasionally and let it get a little toasted and coated in the oil.

3- Now add the chicken broth and water. Cover and let it simmer for 15 minutes.

4- Add the kale and tomatoes and cook for another 10 minutes or until the quinoa is tender and the liquid has been absorbed. Remove from heat and put into a serving dish. Fluff up with a fork.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Club sandwich with a twist

All those of us who have spent considerable amount of time in Bangladesh or any of the GCC countries such as Dubai, Oman, etc. would probably know what a club sandwich is. Club sandwiches  is traditionally suppposed to consist of turkey, bacon, lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise. Now obviously I never had that version, the one I had in Oman were usually with roast beef and chicken and maybe sometimes even an egg was thrown in there. So recently I went on a whim and decided to make a sandwich similar to that and it ended up tasting somewhat like a club sandwich. So here's how I made it.

Ingredients (For 2):
6 slices bread
2 eggs
2 Hebrew National beef franks
1 beefsteak tomato, sliced
1 cucumber, sliced
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 tsp honey
1 tsp paprika

 First, I just cracked two eggs in a bowl, added salt, pepper, whisked lightly and fried them. I then sliced the beef frank as thinly as possible and fried them until slightly crispy.
I sliced cucumbers and tomatoes and set everything aside. My hubby doesn't like raw tomatoes and hence its separation from rest of the ingredients.

 For dressing, I added a little honey and cayenne to mayonnaise and jazzed it up a little. Believe me, sweetness from the honey, combined with the saltiness from the beef franks just does it- for me at least.
Then I just slightly toasted the slices of bread. I used this protein bread which is made of sprouted wheat berries, corn and oats. I guess that lessens the guilt a bit.

 I then spread the honey mayonnaise on all the slices of bread and followed with rest of the ingredients, trying to lay them as flat as possible to avoid spillage. Then just press together tightly, and cut diagonally. A good knife really results in a cleaner cut of the triangles.

Slightly salty, slightly sweet, the cucumber brings in that freshness and the egg makes it merry.They were so, so, soooo good.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Trip to Fort Lauderdale

Hubby and I scurried to Ft. Lauderdale this past weekend for a conference he had to attend. We managed to visit Miami a few hours before our flight. It was hot, sweaty and sticky. The water was a turquoise blue and the famous Ocean drive was full of people, food and drinks. Although I wish I could have stayed longer, I am glad to be back home :)

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Mexican dinner at home

A few nights ago, I was craving some Chipotle (a mexican restaurant). My hubby introduced me to the chipotle burrito bowl many years ago and till date we love it. So, instead of taking the easy route, I decided to get a few ingredients and whip up something similar myself.

That's not all the ingredients, just a snapshot of the main few.

Filling Ingredients:
4 chicken tenders
4 tsp taco seasoning mix
1/2 tsp
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup boiled sweetcorn
1/2 large onion, chopped
1 tomato, chopped
1 cucumber, chopped
Bag butter lettuce
2 cups guacamole (homemade)
1 cup salsa (store-bought)

Cilantro Lime Rice ingredients:
3 cups cooked rice
1 dried red chilly
2 tsp cilantro, chopped super fine
1/2 tsp lime juice
1 tsp salt

For the chicken tenders, steps are as follows:

Wash chicken tenders, pat dry and marinate chicken tenders in taco seasoning mix. As you can see, the taco seasoning mix pretty much has everything you need. I did add some garlic powder and soy sauce to make it a little more juicy. I left it overnight in the fridge.

I pan-fried the chicken tenders, making sure not too overcook, as that's how they become rubbery and lose all juiciness. Once done, cool them to seal in moisture, cut into strips and set aside.

For the cilantro lime rice, add oil to a fry pan. Add the dried red chilly, let it singe briefly and then add the cold rice. Add the finely chopped cilantro and salt and stir everything well. Finish with the lime juice.

Clockwise from left, brown rice tortillas, fresh-made guacamole, drained and rinsed canned black beans, boiled sweetcorn, chopped onion, butter lettuce, chopped chicken tenders, tomatoes, cucumbers and cilantro lime rice. I probably should have chopped the chicken tenders a bit thinner, but I left em chunky because I was too hungry and couldn't wait.

The picture's missing salsa. I used Trader Joe's Salsa Authentica. Its preservative-free and tastes pretty great. I promise to make my own salsa the next time.

After plating everything--It tasted better than it looked.

I made mine a wrap using brown rice tortilla. I warmed the tortilla before because this gluten-free tortilla is a bit tough as is.
Clearly I forgot the sour cream and cheese, but oh well, this was my first attempt and overall, it was tasty,filling and healthy. Must do this more often. 

Monday, March 18, 2013

Asian-inspired meal

Few nights ago, I whipped up a pseudo-asian meal for me and hubby. I made spicy flat rice noodles and sweet corn chicken soup. I also made green chillies in vinegar to go along with the soup.

Spicy flat rice noodles with shrimp

1 package of medium flat rice noodles
3 dried red chillies
1 onion, chopped
Bunch of scallion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1 zucchini, chopped
3 eggs (fried separately and then cut into strips)
7-8 medium shrimps
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp chilli powder

1- In a large pot, boil water. Once it comes to a boil, turn the stove off and steep the noodles in the pot. I turn the stove off otherwise it makes the noodles too mushy. Let sit in water for 20 minutes and then drain in colander. I pat the noodles dry with kitchen towel to rid of excess moisture. I also chop them roughly for ease of eating.

2- In a saute pan, add oil, dried red chillies, onion, garlic and half of the scallion. Saute for a bit. Add red bell pepper and zucchini and saute. Add the shrimps, soy sauce, fish sauce, chilli powder and cook until shrimps turn pink. Now, add the boiled rice noodles. Mix everything thoroughly. Add the strips of eggs, pinch more soya sauce and fish sauce. Finish off with rest of the scallion.

Spicy sweetcorn chicken soup

1/2 whole chicken, cut into medium size pieces
5 cups of water
2 bayleaves
4 peppercorns
1 inch ginger, grated
2 cloves garlic, grated
1 cup frozen sweetcorn
1 tsp black pepper powder
1 tsp red chilly flakes
2 tsp soy sauce
2 tbsp cornstarch
2 tbsp cold water
2 eggs

1- Pour 5 cups of water into a large pot and bring to a boil. Add the chicken pieces, bayleaves, peppercorns, grated garlic and ginger and salt. Boil until meat falls of bones. Once done, strain the stock and keep chicken pieces aside. Once the chicken pieces have cooled, remove meat from bone.

2-Return stock to the stove and add the sweetcorn, black pepper powder, red chilli flakes, soy sauce and boil. Mix cornstarch with water and whisk well. Add this to the soup, while stirring soup constantly. In a bowl, lightly beat two eggs. Pour in the eggs slowly while stirring the soup in the same direction.

Serve with chillies in vinegar. 

Friday, March 15, 2013

Recipe: Guacamole

Who doesn't love some fresh homemade guacamole? I made some today and it was delicious! Onto recipe.

I bought this guacamole kit at Trader Joe's for $3.49. I'm not one for kits, but their loose avocados were not as ripe. I guess its a trick to get you to buy the kit. The kit comes with two large avocados, one onion, one tomato, one jalapeno, one clove of garlic and one lime.
Check out how perfectly ripe!

1 large ripe avocado
1/2 red onion, chopped
1/2 jalapeno, chopped
1/2 lime, juiced
1 garlic clove, grated
Few bunches of cilantro, chopped (didn't come in kit)

After pitting the avocado, I scooped out the flesh with a spoon. There is an entire post here on how to cut and peel an avocado. I added chopped onion, jalapeno, grated garlic, lime juice,cilantro, salt and pepper and mixed it well with a fork. If the avocado is ripe, all you need is a fork. There is something relaxing about mashing soft, soft avocado. I scraped leftover flesh from the peel and smeared on my face. I hear it works as a stellar hydrating mask.
And voila! For me, the magic ingredient is the grated garlic. I must have been italian in a previous life because I love my garlic (especially raw). Overall, all the ingredients blend together so harmoniously, its like a marriage of flavors. I've heard of people adding things like sriracha sauce, red chilli flakes, sour cream and what not. I tried to keep it simple.
I served the guacamole with these restaurant style white corn tortilla chips. Lightly salted and not too oily, truly restaurant style.

Healthy and delicious! But the winning part was that the chips withstood the weight of the guac! Hubby was ecstatic to find this laid out on the coffee table after coming home from work. 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Product Review: Organix Moroccan Argan Penetrating Oil

After all the hype about argan oil this and argan oil that, I decided to get this Organix Moroccan Argan Oil Penetrating Oil. I got it for $7.99 at ULTA. I haven't been using any leave-in treatment for a while as I feel they weigh my hair down too much. But to make detangling wet hair easier and due to dry and rough ends, I thought of reintroducing something like this into my hair routine once again.

As you can see, Argan oil is the 7th ingredient in the list of ingredients, which means it probably contains relatively less amount of it. I know theres much hullabaloo about the use of silicone in hair products. Well, I've use all kinds of hair products...silicone-free and silicone-laden. I must admit, for my curly, dry hair, silicone does wonders in detangling and providing a nice slip to the hair.
I apply roughly a dime-size amount to wet hair and comb through with my favorite Tangle Teezer.
I let my hair air-dry and the next day, I have really nice waves that are frizz-free and smooth. It has a great scent without being too overbearing. I can see this product weighing hair down if used in excess or if used by people with fine hair. I would recommend this product to people with dry, coarse hair. I can see this working wonderfully for people who have lots and lots of thick, frizzy hair. Overall, not too shabby. I like.

Dinner Last night

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Food we ate in Richmond

 I am ashamed to say that we mostly ate at chain restaurants while at Richmond. We didn't have time to experiment with local restaurants....well, we kind of did with one restaurant. My hubby has to get his bangladeshi or indian food fix couple of times a week and after eating at american diners for 3 days, on the 4th he had to have some. So we stopped at this Indian restaurant called Farouk's House of India in the neighborhood of Carytown. They had the ever popular lunch buffet for the bargain price of $7.99. You know its scary if it is that cheap. Nonetheless, we stepped into the almost deserted dining area. The food looked limpy and dull. It tasted even worse, like it was twice or maybe thrice cooked.  Because we were pressed for time we chose the buffet. I am not one for Indian buffets, I'd rather order from the menu to avoid such disappointments. However, we did have some great meals in other restaurants. I don't have a picture, but on the night we landed in Richmond, we had dinner at Longhorn Steakhouse. They were running their 2 for $25 special. We had calamari for appetizer and for entree, steak and mashed potatoes alongside caesar salad. I love Longhorn Steakhouse's bread. It is soft, pillowy and sweet. With some butter spread on it, I could eat rolls and rolls of them. I didn't get to take pictures because I was dog-tired and my phone was out of charge.

We ate at a Thai establishment the next day for lunch. Hubby recommended this place because he ate here when he visited Richmond last year. We ordered the tom yum soup, which turned out to be a bit too sour for my taste but still full of mushrooms which I love. For main, no surprise here, I ordered the flat glass noodles and my hubby seafood fried rice. My glass noodles were bit too spicy and greasy, which caused me to sneeze more than five times. Hubby's seafood fried rice had a bit too much of the sea as his mussels were gritty with sand. I went to Whole Foods after to get me a cupcake. We plonked on the bed and dozed off with stomach full of carbs.

We opted for Red Lobster the next day for dinner. With their lobsterfest going on, we decided to order the Rock Lobster and Sirloin, known as the Wood-Grilled Sirloin Surf & Turf. I went with ravenous hunger that day (no surprise here) so I inhaled the cheddar bay biscuits they serve you upon arrival. I love how they come wrapped in those towels, as if they are some precious gold. I learned another trick, order salad dressing on the side or you end up eating dressing with a little bit of lettuce. The caesar dressing was so, so, so good. The main course was pretty okay. First of all, I think Maine lobster is probably the way to go when it comes to lobster and secondly, don't order steak at a seafood restaurant. The lobster was sweet but a bit rubbery. I asked for a medium steak and I got well done. Oh well. The melted butter didn't taste like butter, tasted bit margarine-y to me. I know butter from other stuff, so its pointless giving me the fake stuff....Complains aside, we did enjoy dinner. My jacket buttons have been complaining ever since.

Anyway, I still can't believe I'm writing about chain restaurants...but you know, when you are in a new town, tired and exhausted, you really need to turn to what you know. We ducked our heads and ate at creativity there. Surprises can come in a bad way and for trying out local hotspots, I reckon you need at least a week. Overall, our gastronomic experience in Richmond was mediocre.