Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2014

2013 was the year of firsts.

My daughter's first solo dance at a school performance.  

My son's first preschool experience. 

A new role at work. 

A new home project. 

And the first year for my blog. 

So thank you for encouraging me to keep blogging and for a great first year. This blog has had over 20,000 views, or around 50 visits a day - and for me - that's a big deal. 

Hoping 2014 proves to be a soaring source of happiness for you. 

xoxo,
Zain

A Certified Fitologist

suck·er punch
noun
noun: suckerpunch
1.
an unexpected punch or blow

And that is precisely what she did.

New to the fitness scene, she set the bar high - figuratively and literally. 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Wok Works

I am a sucker for easy delicious food. I was craving a rice dish recently and a quick look into my pantry and refrigerator told me I am can cook a serious meal.

This is the easiest dish I have in terms of its full flavor and tummy-capacity. 

Friday, December 6, 2013

I Love My Car - I Hate the Dealer

I know it's been a while and I truly apologize.  I have one word to explain what's keeping me from my blog - life.

However, I don't want you to think I am giving up on my blog because I wouldn't.  I love it and love what it has become, and what it represents. 

Anyhow, I've been cooking up this blogpost in my mind for a while.  Specifically, since last August, when I bought my car.  The terrible experiences with the dealer in Bahrain are not subsiding and I thought I better vent off all my anger before I forget.

Let me start from the beginning.  And this is going to be a long post so please bear with me...

Monday, November 4, 2013

Key Lime Pie

This has got to be one of the simplist, most decadent and refreshing pie recipe you will ever make.
Being a true Texan, my husband was craving key lime pie a few weeks ago and a quick online search at my favorite www.foodnetwork.com came up with a recipe by renowned chef (and character) Emeril Lagasse. The ingredients were dead simple, but you know me - I had to improvise a bit. 

Hijri New Year.

Wishing you all a wonderful Hijri new year. 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Zealous for Zoe's

A few weeks ago I got to try Zoe's new menu with 3 of my best friends.  I am sad to admit that the last time I was at Zoe was yeaaaaars ago.  Walking in, I was taken aback with the rush of memories and tantalizing flavors they resurrected.

The place looks well-maintained and I even saw some familiar faces still working at the restaurant.  Loyal staff only means one thing - they are running a solid business.

We were seated at our booth (hello nostalgia!) and given menus.  Impeccable service so far - but who's surprised?  This is one of Alghalia's first restaurants and although the crowds are different - the quality is still the same.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Hiatus

Hi all,

I apologize for being...so..distant.  Promise I have a number of posts lined up right after the Eid holiday.

But in the mean time, wishing you a blessed eid.




Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Take 2: Burn 100 in 15!

I kid you not!

Don't get me wrong, I am not on a quest to find the fastest workout.  I am not advocating laziness trust me.  But a busy lifestyle means you either have no time to work out, or no energy, no motivation...etc.

So I am still keeping to my 30minute/200calorie workout and doing that every other day, but I wanted to do some light cardio in between.  So I arrived at this: a 15-minute routine that burns 100 calories.

Very simple.  Very effective.  And after it you wish you were dead.


Monday, August 26, 2013

Bold Buffalo

I recently tried Bossy Kitchen's buffalo cauliflower appetizer.  To say it was refreshingly delicious is an understatement.  I loved the simplicity of using cauliflower and the delectable result - bold buffalo sauce with a meaty base - minus the calories. 

The beauty of cauliflower, other than the fact that it's good for you, is that the taste can be easily disguised with other flavors - and this is no exception.

This was my first attempt at making my own buffalo sauce and I was so astonished at how easy it was I looked up over 10 recipes till I got convinced that no - it really is that easy.

All you need is a bottle of your favorite hot chilli sauce, 5 tablespoons of margarine (I used low fat Flora), a dash of Worcestershire sauce, a pinch of salt. And that. Is. It. 

First, I steamed a small head of cauliflower. I love my bamboo steamer. Fast. Efficient. And steams to the perfect crunch. 
For the sauce, empty the entire contents of your favorite chili sauce into a measuring cup.  
Recipe called for 3/4 of a cup but this was just right (a notch short of 3/4). 
Melt 5 tablespoons of butter or low-fat margarine. I realize it sounds like a lot but the sauce is double what I needed to feed two. So feel free to half this recipe. 
Stir in the chili sauce and keep stirring until well incorporated. 
Sprinkle in a dash of Worcestershire sauce and a pinch of salt. Toss it in the cauliflower and serve (immediately) with a side of ranch and carrot sticks. 
Perfect as a meal on its own or as a side to grilled chicken. 

Hope you find it as astro-gastronomical as we did!



Note: 
This receipe was inspired by Bossy Kitchen. Read more about her delicious cooking here. Ordering info available on Instagram at @bossykitchen 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Burn 200 in 30.

Working out has become a chore for me.  Taking time away from my family once I'm home after a full-day at the office is something I don't like to do.   Add to the fact that there aren't many options for classes in my area and a gym is just not for me.  Whatever excuse you can think of, I thought of it first and denied myself the workout opportunity.

But lately, I discovered an extremely effective exercise that left me (painfully) excuse-free.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Eid Mubarak ❤

Wishing you and your loved ones a blessed Eid. 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Banana puddin'

I constantly read about an ingredient in online recipes that I never find in Bahrain. So I actually gave up on those recipes and didn't bother look up any alternatives. This ingredient is Nilla wafers. 

I found this box sitting  on a shelf at Al Osra - looking at me. Patiently waiting. So I grabbed a couple. 

This Nabsico product is imported from the States so it's safe to say that it's the real deal. No local knock-offs. 

A good friend makes the most delicious banana pudding and she uses Nilla wafers. Her recipe however needs 24-hour planning and I only had 2 so I had to search for other options. I didn't have to look too far though - Nilla's most popular recipe is on the side of the box. 
I won't repost the ingredients nor recipe. But I will post the pictures and some tips. I used Splenda instead of regular sugar and used more bananas and wafers only because my dish was bigger. I did not change the quantity of the ingredients and found that the amount of custard was just fine. 

The most important step is making the custard (or pudding). You need to set up a double-boiler. Fill up a pot with some water and secure an oven-proof bowl on top. Make sure the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl. 
Also, remember to constantly stir or your pudding/custard will clot. Stir like there's no tomorrow. 
When the custard thickens, cool it briefly before you start layering. 
Also, don't skip the first layer -  custard at the base - or spooning out your dessert will be a mess. 
Cut your bananas approximately half a centimeter thick. This is the perfect amount of banana - not overpowering and not too subtle. 
I managed to get 3 layers. 
For the meringue topping, make sure you whip your room-temperpature egg whites to a stiff peak. This is what a stiff peak looks like:
Over-beating can make the fluff limp so keep your eye on your mixer. 

When topping your pudding, make sure you "seal" the top. Sealing avoids any custard from bubbling over and ruining your meringue topping. 
Bake until golden. 

I cooled mine completely and refrigerated it for an hour. And then...

I dove in. Bliss. 

Bon appetite!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Chinese for f6oor? Yes please!

After a while, the rice, thireed and harees starts to become so routine.  In the back of my mind, a thought is etched in my mind  that it is unheard of to stray away from the traditional Ramadan food.  However a few days ago, I was craving PF Chang's Mongolian Beef and I thought - why not?

So, I pulled out my old recipe and got cooking.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

A Proud Kitchen Moment: My first Biryani

Biryani is pretty big in Bahrain.  Originally a South-Asian dish, it became increasingly popular in Bahrain and surrounding Gulf nations.

Nobody can deny the influence of South-Asian cuisine on ours, and fortunately - spices are in abundance - ever since the days of Indian trade.

So Indian/Pakistani cuisine has become an essential part of our Arabic cuisine, and thank God for that.  Or I would not have been introduced to...

The subject at hand...

The Biryani.

I served it for my family at fitoor a few days back and let me say I had everyone lipsmacking and asking for more.  What a relief.

I am also proud to say that not one drop of oil was used in the making of this biryani.  Healthy-meal: check!

I also used to dread making it for fear it was too complicated, or worse - would come out uneatable.  But it was so delicious there was hardly any rice particles left in our plate.

The recipe is off the Nestlé website

Basically you need the following: 
2½ cups basmati rice, washed
3½ cups water
Spray oil 
1 medium white onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon grated ginger
500 g skinned chicken breast fillet
2 cubes Maggi bouillon 
2 medium tomatoes, peeled and pureed
½ cup low fat yoghurt (equivalent to one Almaraie container)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1½ tablespoons ground garam massala
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
2 tablespoons coriander leaves, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped
Pinch of saffron, soaked in ¼ cup water

Cook the 2 1/2 cups rice with 3 1/2 cups water in a medium saucepan and cook with stirring until it boils. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until rice is cooked. Set aside.
Meanwhile, spray a large saucepan (I like to use a wok), cook the onion until golden brown in color. Add garlic and ginger and stir. Add chicken and stir until it’s cooked.

Add the Maggi cubes, tomato, yogurt, lemon juice, tomato paste and spices. Bring to boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
In a medium pot, place half the quantity of the prepared rice and the chicken mixture on top. Sprinkle the chopped coriander and mint over the chicken mixture and cover the top with the remaining rice.
Pour the saffron water on top. 
Cover firmly with the pot lid and cook over low heat for 30 minutes or until rice is completely cooked.

When serving, try to scoop out the white rice and later on the bottom of your serving plate. Follow with chicken on the very top. 
Sprinkle nuts and fried onions. Serve with yogurt (mixed in with sumac and fresh mint) and a side salad of tomato and cucumber with lemon. 

Now turn around and pat yourself on the back. 

Bon appetite!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

I'm on DimaSharif.com!


I am THRILLED beyond believe to be featured on Dima's kitchen blog - www.dimasharif.com

I frequented her blog back when it was just starting and to be a guest contributor now is an honor.

Dima is featuring daily posts on Ramadan recipes and rituals from all over the GCC - if you haven't seen her blog yet do so now - I am  certain you will find something that captures your undivided attention and make you come back from more.

Check it out!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Delicious Yemeni Chicken

One of the most popular dishes in my house is Yemeni Chicken. I got this off the Nestlé website and it is so delicious that my usual modifications were not necessary.    

More importantly, it is super healthy. No oil, no frying, no kidding. And for those who don't want the stench of cooking to permeate their hair/clothes, then this recipe is for you. 

My kids love the lemony taste of this chicken, cooked to perfection - crusty on the outside, juicy on the inside. And the potatoes are just the vegetable to accompany this meal. 

The ingredients are pretty straight forward, you will need:
  • One whole chicken, cut into 8 pieces (I use Altanmia
  • 4 potatoes, sliced
  • 2 and a 1/2 cups water
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed 
  • One bunch fresh coraniander, chopped
  • 2 Maggi cubes (I use low-sodium chicken bouillon)
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom (yes)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (trust me)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon corn flour dissolved in a dash of cold water
  • Juice of 2 lemons (I squeeze 3 or 4 because I like it the tang)
  • Canola oil spray 

1. Preheat your oven to 200C. Spray the bottom of a baking dish. Arrange potatoes and then arrange chicken on top. Set aside. 

2. In a saucepan, add water, spices, coriander, garlic, corn flour mixture and Maggi cubes. Stir until it simmers. 

3. Pour the mixture on top of the chicken.  
4. Bake for an hour to an hour and a half. As the chicken cooks, spoons some of the sauce on top to maintain juiciness. 
5. In the meantime, squeeze some fresh lemon juice (or get your daughter to help out). 
6. Once the chicken is ready, pour the squeezed lemon juice on top and serve with brown rice.  How good does this look?


Notes:
- You might find it odd that this recipe contains cinnamon and cardamom, but trust me - the 'smell' of chicken is destroyed with these two spices. 
- Add lemon once it's done baking and not before - lemon juice goes bitter when baked for long. 

Bon appetit!