Thursday, March 29, 2012

When you are too busy...Bloomin' Pizza Bread

Where does time fly? Has it ever occurred to you that you need the day to be 48 hours so you can get few things done? It is how I feel these days. I have so much to do on my list and yet I feel like I am spinning in endless circles and nothing is getting done. The crazy part is that my “to do list” keeps piling up with more and more things to do…sigh!! There are still many things to do for the baby and the kids’ rooms which I have to …I mean have to find time for next week before I start to feel even heavier with the extra weight.

Last week for example was just plain simple crazy, I had to be at more than four family gatherings, one wedding (still have one more to go to tomorrow) in addition to helping my father and brother in managing their new business which required going to the office from morning to noon on a daily basis. Not to mention a doctor’s appointment earlier in the week, my monthly article to Family Flavors Magazine for June and just today a cake I did for a friend for her son’s birthday, my daughter’s talent show in the afternoon and another family gathering at night to celebrate my son’s birthday. I also ran many errands in between during the week including picking up groceries, cheques, going to the hair dresser (maybe just the only thing I did for me this week) and the list keeps going…I can sit here and ramble more but enough already!

 All of this didn’t allow me much time to cook new dishes yet I did cook almost every day including Mansaf (the traditional dish of Jordan), Mulokhia and Maqlooba. All very traditional dishes which I love and were very convenient considering the little time I had to cook.  Another great quick dinner was this Bloomin’ pizza bread which is a great alternative when you are craving Pizza…here is how to make it

Bloomin' Pizza Bread
Inspired from the The Girl Who AteEverything

1 unsliced round loaf crusty bread
1 pack sliced  mozzarella or white cheddar cheese, I used yellow as well
1  package pepperoni or salami
3 Tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasonings
2 Tablespoons Parmesan cheese
pizza/marinara sauce for dipping


Preheat oven to 175 degrees.

Cut the bread lengthwise and widthwise without cutting through the bottom crust.

Place bread on a foil-lined baking sheet and insert cheese slices and Salami between cuts. Combine butter, garlic powder, and Italian seasonings. Drizzle or brush over bread with a pastry brush. Sprinkle bread with Parmesan cheese. (I used some of the chives butter which I featured on this blog before).

Wrap bread completely in foil and bake at 175 degrees for 15 minutes. Unwrap the bread and bake 10 more minutes, or until cheese is melted and salami is a little crispy.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Meat Stuffed Pita (Arayes Bel Lahem)

One of my fondest memories about food when I lived abroad was Arayes bel lahem (Middle Eastern Pita bread filled with a meat and vegetables stuffing). I remember that I didn’t have access to any Arabic store at the time and had all these cravings for this lovely dish which I grew up eating. Yet, this didn’t stop me, I baked my own pocket pita and recreated the dish with great results.

Now that I live in Jordan and I am so spoiled as I have access to the best pita bread from so many bakeries not to mention great produce (vegetables) which I can buy from the near buy produce shop on a daily basis, I can make this dish in a snap. To me it is the burger of the Middle East!! You can also buy it already made from so many restaurants but for some reason I love the homemade version as it is much less fatty, very fresh in addition to the fact that I really stuff the pita so you are enjoying a nice amount of beef and not only some beef and bread. Here is my recipe and I hope you enjoy it!!Happy Cooking!!!
Homemade Arayes Bel Lahem

6 med size loaves of Pocket pita (select the thicker version that opens easily for stuffing in addition to the fact that it holds well and doesn’t dry out when in the oven)
Extra virgin olive oil to brush the bread

½ Kilo of minced lamb and baby veal (I love mixing these up as I get great flavor and a reasonable amount of fat)
1 green bell pepper minced
1 med onion minced
1 large tomato seeded and minced
3 table spoons of extra virgin olive oil
1 table spoon mixed spices (If you don’t have that just use a sprinkle of black pepper, all spice a bit of cinnamon)
Divide your pita into halves and open to stuff. Brush the inside with some oil. Set a side

In a large bowl mix all ingredients very well. Take some of the filling and start stuffing it in the bread (I do this generously)

Line your baking sheet with aluminum foil for easier cleaning. Arrange your sandwiches and brush the outside of the bread on both sides.
Heat the oven to 190-200 degrees and bake for about 20 minutes. You just check them so you don’t have them over cooked and too brown. They should become golden and the meat should be cooked all the way through. If you feel that they are too crispy, just cover them after getting them out of the oven with a piece of aluminum for few minutes and the steam should make them tender. I personally love the crispiness. Serve with yogurt and a bowl of salad.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Red Roasted Pepper Hummus

So here we go again…it is another rainy day…I know that some of you will just kill me for saying that but I just long for the warmth of the sun…however I thank Allah for his bless all the time…Today will be a very busy one…I have so many errands to run and my kids will be taking their Taekwondo test for the 2nd black belt..I am crossing my fingers and praying for them as they have been working really hard lately…
Yesterday, I had the chance to tackle my freezer and to see what is hidden in there…you know how you keep pilling things up and when you want to cook, you think there is nothing there so you go out and buy more? Does that sound familiar to some of us…well yesterday was the moment of truth for me and I found many things that can help me whip up a nice meal in a snap. So for Lunch, I made lamb stock from a big bag of bones I had in the freezer; the plan is to make a soup today. I found some red roasted peppers and I knew that I had many bags of garbanzo beans (Hummus) in there as I cooked a full bag last week. So to support the leftovers I had for lunch yesterday, I made a nice Red Roasted Pepper Hummus. This dish serves as a lovely side dish in the upcoming summer time where many people like to grill.  
Red Roasted Hummus
1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed and washed (I used dried beans which I cooked at home keeping some of the cooking liquid to help loosen the mixture)
1 medium size red roasted pepper peeled (I roast mine in the oven, usually buy a lot when they are cheap, put them in a baking tray sprinkle with some olive oil and in the oven at 180 degrees and turn them till they have some black spots. I put them in a big glass bowl, cover with plastic wrap to help peel them easily later on. If am freezing those, I keep the peel and wrap each pepper in a freezer bag. Just defrost, peel and use…yum)
1 clove of garlic minced
1 lemon juiced (you can use more if you like your mixture extra tart)
¼ cup tahini (sesame paste)
Minced parsley for garnish

Put all ingredients expect the parsley in a blender or a food processer and mix till you have a very smooth paste. You can add some water if it is too thick and make sure to taste it to check the salt and lemon ratios. Spread in a serving plate, sprinkle with parsley and you can use some whole garbanzo beans in the middle and splash with some extra virgin olive oil. Enjoy!!!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Sandwiches for dinner

It has been a long time since I posted on this blog. It doesn’t’ mean that I have stopped cooking but somehow time is not on my side these days and if I find time on the computer, the last thing I want to do is to type. Yet, I think I have been trying to get many things done around the house including preparing for the new baby…no furniture yet but at least most of the other stuff including clothes…etc. I am blessed with a great family who got me a car seat, a stroller and a small bassinet as their gift…Thanks Mom and Dad. Now, I need to start shopping for a crib and work on painting the room.

My crafts projects are also going slow till a couple of days where I finished some very nice and simple wall art for the children rooms. I shall be sharing this in another post with you. The whole project didn’t cost anything but the frames; which I admit I still have to purchase.
Now back to the kitchen and with my very busy schedule, I found that sandwiches are such a great and satisfying meal especially if you had leftovers for lunch and want to make it up to your family for dinner. These Turkey cheese sliders (you can use any cold cut) just did the trick for me. I hope you can enjoy making them soon.

Turkey and Cheese Sliders
Adapted from the Girl who ate everything


12 white dinner rolls (I used small buns and little loafs)
12 pieces smoked turkey slices
12 slices of a good melting cheese, I used cheddar but you can use any other kind of cheese
1/2 cup mayonnaise
Poppy seed sauce:
1/2 Tablespoon poppy seeds (You don’t have to use them if you don’t have them. These will add a bit of crunch)
3/4 Tablespoons yellow mustard
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 Tablespoon minced onion
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Spread mayo onto both sides of the center of each roll. Place a slice of turkey and a slice of cheese inside of each roll. Close rolls and place them into a large baking dish or heavy cookie sheet. Place very close together.

In a medium bowl, whisk together all of the poppy seed sauce ingredients. Pour evenly over all of the sandwiches or brush. You do not have to use all of the sauce! Just use enough to cover the tops. Let sit 10 minutes or until butter sets slightly. Cover with foil and bake at 175 degrees for 12-15 minutes or until cheese is melted. Uncover and cook for 2 additional minutes or until tops are slightly brown and crispy. Serve warm.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Soda Cupcakes...a recipe for every busy mom!!!

I can’t believe that Feb passed by and we didn’t enjoy one day of really warm weather like we used to…at least if my memory saves me. It has been snowing for the past two days now…no complaints here as I know that we need every drop of water here in Jordan…yet I am a summer person and I can’t wait till summer is here!
And though I have been cooped up in the house, I feel so lazy and not in the mood of doing much… However the kids told me that they have a bake sale at school and they have to take something…so I did this and it didn’t take a minute to whip up and in the oven it went…Soda Cupcakes!!! With only 2 ingredients, these cupcakes are a life savior for every busy mom who has nagging kids or just too lazy to do anything; like me these days…I can’t believe who am turning into ….
And since I didn’t spend much time making them, I thought of dressing them with some butter cream and sprinkles to give them a nice look…viola!!! I hope you enjoy the recipe…And by the way...this is fantastic for all of you with eggs allergies...egg free recipe...
Soda Cupcakes
One box Cake mix of your choice, I had white cake mix
1 can of Soda (the bigger size one), I used Strawberry flavor. You can use seven up, orange or apple if you like.
Note: If you are you are using a chocolate cake mix, use a can of coke
Mix cake mix and soda can together
Line your muffin or cupcake pan with liners. Fill them 2/3 rd and pop it in a preheated oven in the middle rack at 350F or 175c. Use the regular tooth pick test to check doneness. Remove from pan and let cool on a wire rack. Frost with your favorite frosting.