26 February 2011

A mixed bag this week

It's been a busy couple of weeks, I morphed into a crazy cookie lady, baking and decorating a couple of hundred cookies for Valentines Day. I have to show off my favourites, see!

I also made a bunch of dips to showcase the organic vegetables that The Green Box (www.the-box.me) gets from a local farm here in Qatar, and we went out to see the farm last week - the kids had a great time riding around on bikes, and I loved walking around the farm picking and eating organic cucumbers and tomatoes straight from the vine. Here I am at a Health and Wellness Fair, don't the dips look fab!
Here's the recipe for the beetroot dip, so simple, but absolutely delicious, and great with Arabic bread or chopped veges. You can also make it with drained, canned beetroot as well.
Beetroot Dip 
  • 5 beetroot, washed
  • 1 1/2 cups yoghurt
  • juice of a lemon
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin, ground coriander, paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Boil the beetroot for 45 minutes until cooked, cool and peel (use plastic gloves, unless you like your hands a lovely blush shade of red)
  2. Pop them into the food processor and blitz until smooth
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend well.
And finally...I struggle to find healthy tasty meals that the kids will enjoy, but struck a winner this week with a simple lightly spiced cajun chicken pasta. You can use sundried tomatoes, or in my case, I had some tomatoes in the fridge that I dried in the oven last week (I know...I'm a bit of a girlie-swot when it comes to the kitchen). They're really easy though, so do try them, and they're not slathered in oil like the supermarket kind - cut the top off 20 tomatoes, cut them in half, sprinkle with sea salt and pop them cut side up on a baking rack (with a tray beneath it) in the oven, put the oven on the lowest setting you can, and leave them there for between 6 and 12 hours, mine were quite large, so they took 12 hours. They keep for weeks in the fridge.
And here's the pasta recipe, I used a short pasta, but think it would be amazing over some thick long parpadelle.
Cajun chicken Parpadelle
2 medium chicken breasts, cut into thin strips 
2 cloves garlic minced
2 teaspoons cajun seasoning
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 spring onions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup cream
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons chopped sun dried tomatoes
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped 
ground black pepper
grated parmesan cheese to top
  1. Heat the oil and butter in a pan over medium heat and stir fry chicken for 5 minutes until almost cooked, add cajun seasoning, spring onions and garlic and cook for 1 minute
  2. Add cream, milk, sundried tomato and cook for a few minutes until sauce has started to thicken, add fresh basil and ground pepper and salt, and stir
  3. Serve over cooked long pasta, like parpadelle or fettucine - add the pasta to the pan and toss till all of the pasta is coated in the sauce, serve topped with parmesan cheese

5 February 2011

Little Chef's

I'm not the only one in the house that loves cooking - I have two little chefs who enjoy mixing, stirring, chopping, and most importantly, eating. So this week we spent lots of time in kitchen making cakes and cookies, and I just have to share little chef #1 cooking up some fabulous butterfly cakes. I tried to convince her to make banana cakes - I was thinking about the school lunchboxes the next day, but I couldn't turn those puppy dog eyes down when she wanted to cook chocolate cake.  I'd share the recipe, but really... it's on the box. Yep, I'll admit it, when it comes to kids and chocolate cakes, cooking with Betty (Crocker that is) is the way to go.

So here's little chef#1 breaking eggs, don't you love the chef's hat!

And pouring the batter after mixing

And her favourite part, didn't we all love this bit when we cooked with mum

and the finished product - how cool are these

They didn't last long!  The butterfly pan was my christmas present from the little chefs, painstakingly picked out amongst all the other cooking stuff at my favourite kitchen store - I love how much thought went into it.