The taste of failure

Still on my cooking kick, trying out new recipes, usually healthy-ish….

Today, to prepare for Ramadan, I tried to make something Arabic to impress the husband. It’s actually one of MY favorite things, not so much his…..but I’m pretty sure he likes it.

Maklube, or Maklouba, according to this recipe I found on Pinterest. There are a LOT of ways to make this dish. some with meat, some without. My favorite is with eggplant… It’s a layered dish, with your rice dividing layers of meat/veggies, whatever you put in it.

There is a degree of technical difficulty, as you have to flip the whole thing over onto a plate and end up with a beautiful stack of yummy layers.Garnish with nuts/parsley and I like to eat it with yogurt as well.

That’s pretty much all the information you can trust me for on this one, as I failed in this endeavor on many levels.

But, in the effort  be transparent, lest anyone think I really am as perfect as I seem……

I give you……my failure

eeewwww, oily eggplant

 

Things started out well enough, until I used about 6 cups of oil to fry up one eggplant because the oil just kept disappearing with each eggplant slice I added to the pan. I did salt the slices like instructed, and also rinsed off the salt (which I guess I shouldn’t have) . I patted dry, but didn’t squeeze it dry….apparently this matters.

I didn’t have cardamom, a key ingredient in the “spice mixture” used for the rice. I chose to plow ahead without.

I realized the recipe I used was complete, but probably I needed many more instructions….it was most likely geared to someone who had a clue about Arabic cooking and didn’t need hand holding.

At some point, I decided it must be done cooking…. so I turned off the burner and let it set about 15 minutes. Then I flipped it over onto a serving platter ever so carefully.

Major clue of failure: There is not supposed to be a big puddle of broth appearing around the base of my food tower

Clearly, it was not done….but it was too late to put it back in the pan. I chose to continue on my path of dinner destruction.

First, I drained the broth. Then I added fresh parsley and almonds with pine nuts to  mask the flavor garnish.

It doesn’t actually look too bad…..

How did it taste? Perhaps I needed to remember salt…. and less oil. Hmmm, did I burn the eggplant? Maybe a slice, or two…..

It wasn’t terrible…but it wasn’t great. Or even really good to be honest. The older kids got their dad to take them to dinner, and the poor little ones were stuck eating this with me. They made a valiant effort.

I did save some for the husband, the majority went into the garbage as there was no way anyone is going to be looking for leftovers of this stuff.

Here is what it looks like when made by someone with a clue:

chefosama.com

This is the actual photo from the recipe I used, from Chef Osama. He seems to know what he’s doing.

I’ll try it again, because I love it (when other people make it). I think next time I’ll just ask one of our relatives who not only cooks it well, but is aware of my deficiencies in the kitchen….. so they can give me all the little secret steps that might have saved me from feeding my family a brick of greasy eggplant tonight.

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Thai and peanut heaven

If I had to pick a favorite kind of food, it would be Indian or Thai.

Unfortunately, cooking authentic Indian sauces requires a lot of ingredients and time and patience, most of which I lack. My neighbor is Indian and I once asked her if she knew how to make Matar Paneer, one of my favorites. She actually came over one day with a cute little bag of ingredients and cooked it FOR me. I watched, and wished I could have had the foresight to record her efforts on video because I will NEVER be able to duplicate it.

Thankfully, we have a great Indian place close by that can cater to my cravings and it’s only too spicy about 50% of the time….

Thai is another love. The peanut sauce….. it’s sooooooo good.

With my newfound calorie awareness, I was really excited when I stumbled across a recipe for Thai Chicken Skewers on Pinterest. There is this stuff called PB2. Powdered peanut butter…. it has 85% LESS fat calories than the good old peanut butter that I love eat off the spoon. Two tablespoons of powder has only 45 calories!  It’s just powdered peanuts, pressed to squeeze out the fat and oil. Anyway, that is how the peanut sauce in this recipe can taste so good, and also not kill you with extra calories. I got mine from Amazon, but I guess plenty of health food and even regular grocery stores carry it.

So here are the ingredients from emilybites.com, I highly recommend checking it, and her other recipes out.

Ingredients:

Chicken & Marinade Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil (found by the Asian sauces)
  • Juice from one lime
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon Sriracha (Asian chili sauce found with the other Asian ingredients)
  • 1/8 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 1 ½ pounds (24 oz) raw boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized chunks
  • You’ll also need 9” skewers – if using wooden skewers you should soak them in water for about 30 minutes before use

Peanut Sauce Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons PB2 powdered peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon Sriracha
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon sesame oil

 

It’s so fast just to throw it all together. I double the amounts, using it for chicken, veggies, tofu. Great flavor even without marinating for longer than 20 minutes.

Ready to grill…….

Just off the grill……

Oh, the sauce……. it’s great on everything. You can play with the proportions, make it spicy or more mild to your taste. My kids love it. I love it. Life is good.

 

Lazy and delicious dinner

I wanted to grill something for dinner. Had it all planned in my head, but my kitchen wasn’t producing the quick bottle of marinade or BBQ sauce I required.

Pondered going to the store, decided I was just too lazy to leave the house again, and turned to Pinterest for something I could throw together fast with things I already had in my kitchen.

My laziness paid off, in spades. You are welcome. Enter an amazing, delicious, FAST marinade for pretty much anything you want to throw it on.It’s called Easy grilled chicken, and it is really great on chicken…but I also used it on zucchini, red peppers, and tofu.

The ingredients are simple

  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar, packed
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves

This list is literally copied and pasted from the recipe at damndelicious.net. I did take some creative liberties with what I had on hand. Such as Balsamic salad dressing instead of balsamic vinegar. Stone ground mustard instead of Dijon. Dried parsley instead of fresh. I also just eyeballed amount of each ingredient to use, as I was still too lazy to dirty any measuring spoons…. Hmmm, I’m not sure I even used rosemary, I think I used basil instead.

Whatever. It was amazing. You can literally throw these things together and they will come out as a delicious way to season anything you want to grill. Try it!  I didn’t even have to let the food soak up the flavor, stick it all together and let the chicken or veggies sit 15 minutes then BAM, on the grill.

Here’s another gem, if you are into sweet/salty/bitter things.

My husband loves this watermelon salad I make in the summer…. I think there are lots of variations:

You need watermelon, feta cheese, sunflower seeds (I used roasted/salted), and olives. This time I used a mix of green and black. You need the kind that make you pucker when you eat them, pits are usually not removed. Just put it together according to your taste.

Yum!

 

Plodding along

  1. image.jpeg

It’s been a little while since I booked our upcoming vacation…only 3 weeks away!

I’ve surprised myself by actually sticking to my plan to workout daily. I think I’ve missed one day per week, totally acceptable.

Even my diet has improved…despite the Easter bunnies attempts to smother me with carmallow eggs this week…l persevered. And I bought inferior brand chocolate eggs so as not to tempt myself excessively.

Even today, I’m driving and start thinking about taco salads. There is no one to stop me…maybe I should just get one and scarf it down, as if eating it faster will somehow negate the fact that it happened.

But no. This guilt thing is really inconvenient. So instead of calorie laden goodness, I semi-enjoyed my salad. My regular salad.

vegan cancer dilemma

vegan

courtesy of: mamamia.com.au

I have a friend with cancer. This really sucks and we all wish it wasn’t so…. but so far wishing hasn’t done much to change it, so she’s going to stick with chemo, radiation, and then surgery.

She’s got 2 little ones, the same age as my little ones. Right now, with daily treatments she’s pretty tired and wiped out. Can’t stay awake let alone manage the household the same as before.

On the positive side, people want to help. And why wouldn’t they? She’s wonderful, kind, helpful, and would do the same for them.

So what do most of us do when tragedy strikes someone close to us? When we don’t have any special ability to fix their problem, but still want to do something to help….

We bring food.

And here I am wanting to bring her comfort food…putting myself in her place, thinking of all the things I would want to eat to make up for the crap fact that I had cancer. Like anything chocolate, cookies, bread….comfort foods. Whatever really, but an alfredo sauce would probably help, right?

So she says “anything vegan and gluten free”

I’m horrified.

Why??!  is this something to do with the cancer? Thinking this is a crazy and barbaric treatment option…

NO… that’s just her diet.

OMG. and she has cancer on top of it.

that really sucks.

How am I going to comfort her with blueberries and bananas? What in gods name can she EAT?

Well, I’m figuring it out. It’s my mission to find something delicious and open my mind to the possibility of whole meals made without meat/dairy/gluten. I guess it’s possible to find comfort in a salad….with peanuts…..

In the meantime, I’m including a link to her Gofundme page. In case you are feeling charitable, or you think there is a chance donating to a worthy cause might improve your cosmic/karmic standing. I have it on good authority that every person who donates will find themselves richer for doing so… and prayers are definitely an acceptable donation as well 🙂

A new destination awaits

We have toyed with the idea of vacationing somewhere besides Vegas….. then booked our trip to Vegas. This has happened several times as the husband and I both seem to be the “comfortable in our rut” kind of people. Nothing wrong with that!

But, for the sake of the children understanding there are more than 2 points on the map, we are embarking on a new journey.

After our last Vegas trip, in the ARCTIC cold….. we had one requirement, it had to be warm. A for sure kind of warm that won’t ever let you down.

New destination: Mexico.

A patient of my husbands actually brought him a travel guide full of destinations, and recommended a particular resort he’s been to over 20 times. Wow, it must be great.

It’s family friendly…… got tons of swimming things to do, including a big lazy river that goes for like, miles or something. Entertainment at all hours of the day and night, lots of activities inside and outside.

Now the good part. It’s all inclusive. ALL YOU CAN EAT. Even ROOM SERVICE. Yes, I’m yelling this. It’s an amazing and wonderful concept. Makes up for the stupid strawberries and grapes I ate today instead of the bucket of grease I wanted.

So the countdown begins…. and the frantic attempts to work out and get in fabulous shape are conflicting with the desire to find the best sweatsuit/bathing suit and just start training now for my food marathon.

 

I don’t want to succeed

junk

courtesy of superhealthykids.com

This week, I had a plan.

Eat healthy, get back to working out every day.

I’m sabotaging myself, and not feeling guilty enough about it yet.

What do burger king onion rings, chocolate peanut butter brownies, skittles, Starbucks beverages, peppermint patties, and lots of chocolate ice cream have in common???

Equal contribution to my failure and gluttonous satisfaction.

And so, tomorrow…. probably…. I will do better.