Kheer (Indian Rice Pudding)

This year DH’s work had a lovely Eid Potluck for him. He was not asked to bring anything but he asked me to make Kheer for him as it is one of his favourite Eid time dishes. Thought I’d share this yummy recipe with you all.

2 cans of Coconut milk
Milk – Enough to make total liquid volume 4 cups(regular, almond, soy or whatever kind of milk you like)
3 Tbs Sugar
5 or 6 small green cardamom pods cracked open
5 Whole cloves
1 Cinnamon Stick
1/2 cup Basmati Rice
1/4 cup Golden Raisins
water
1/4 cup Slivered Almonds or Crushed Pistachios

Put the coconut milk and enough other milk to bring the total volume of liquid to 4 cups in a large saucepan on medium high heat. Add the Sugar, Cardamom, cloves and Cinnamon (If you don’t want to have to fun fishing out the spices later pop them into a tea ball). Bring the milk mixture to a boil stiring frequently.

While you are waiting for the milk to boil, place raisins in a small dish with enough warm water to just cover them and allow them to plump up.

Once the milk is boiling add the rice. Turn temperature down to medium low and simmer for 20 minutes or until the rice is tender and the pudding thickens.

While the rice is cooking toast your slivered almonds or crushed pistachios in a pan until golden and fragrant. Set aside for garnishing.

Once the rice is cooked take out the whole spices (this is where it is handy to have them in a tea ball :-) Then drain the raisins and stir them into the pudding. Ladle into small bowls, garnish with the toasted nuts and enjoy!

Baby Wearing

When I had Layth in 2009 I had never heard the term “Baby Wearing” and it is amazing how quickly I just knew that this was a good idea without anyone telling me (mother’s instincts?). Now I didn’t do it as naturally as I am now but the idea was there for sure. We started out with the Baby Bjorn

It was great as I could carry him facing my chest or facing out to look around. Then once Layth was too heavy for the Bjorn I got a Kelty back pack.

Both were functional and served a purpose… but neither were super comfortable and were bulky and awkward at times.

When I had Zaara in 2010 I had a girlfriend make me a pocket sling similar to a Hot Sling.

I loved it and ordered a few more slings from Seven Slings.

As Zaara grew I found it harder to get her into the pocket styled slings. Then I ordered a beautiful silk ring sling from Emily over at Joyful Abode and fell in love. It is so stylish and functional!

It is amazing to me how many compliments I get from strangers and people I know when I have Zaara in my sling. It is so practical; especially with two little ones I need to have my hands free.

Baby wearing is a wonderful way to connect with your baby. There have been studies done that confirm that babies who are held more cry less. It seems so common sense but in today’s world we have some many gizmos and gadgets to “entertain” our babies so that we moms can “get stuff done”. But lets think about it!!! There are mothers all over the world who have to work shortly after having their babies so they simply wear their babies to work.

My next baby wearing purchase was a back wrap (again from Emily) and is probably my favorite to date!
Baby back Wrap

It really allows me to get so much done and still carry Zaara. She can even fall asleep for long periods of time!
sleeping baby wrap

I really love how the sling and wrap are a more natural carry compared to the Bjorn or backpack. And I also think the direct contact with my baby Zaara is really wonderful. I feel more connected with her and she settles so quickly as soon as I have her slinged or wrapped up. She gets a really good view of what I’m doing and is able to interact with me and people around me.

I think it is most important to choose a carrier that works for you and your lifestyle. Wearing or carrying your baby should be a joyful experience for you and your baby so make sure you are comfortable! If you are not sure that you can “figure out” how to use a sling or a baby wrap don’t worry there are many videos on YouTube to show you how!

If you are interested in purchasing a ring sling or back wrap from Emily check out her Facebook group here. She also sells super cute baby accessories!

Quinoa Salad

In my effort to eat more healthy I have discovered Quinoa. It is a grain that you can use in a variety of ways. I often use it in place of rice with stir-fry or curry. However I changed it up this week when I cooked a big family dinner for my dad and made and awesome Quinoa Salad.

2 cups Quinoa – cooked and cooled
1/2 Red Bell pepper – diced finely
1/2 Long English cucumber – diced finely
1 tomato – diced finely
1/2 cup grated or chopped Feta Cheese
large handful of chopped parsley
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (or white wine vinegar)
3 Tbs Olive oil (this must be Extra Virgin)
2 tsp Italian herb blend (dried) or fresh basil, oregano and thyme
Salt and pepper to taste

My preferred method to cook quinoa is just like pasta. Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Add quinoa and salt. Simmer until al-dente. Drain through a fine sieve.

Once cooked quinoa has cooled add all other ingredients and mix well. Chill in Fridge for at least and hour before serving. Can be made the day before and keeps well for leftovers :-)

For my dad’s birthday I served this with balsamic marinated BBQ Lamb chops, Black Eyed Pea Salad and steamed Broccoli with Parmesan cheese.

Tzatziki

I always see containers of Tzatziki in the deli section at grocery stores and am temped to buy some as I love this garlicy tangy sauce. But I am becoming a fanatic label reader and do not like all the ingredients I cannot pronounce :-) So I have taken to making it at home and it is sooooooo easy!!

1 cup plain yogurt (I use non-fat Organic yogurt)
1/2 long english cucumber grated
2 cloves garlic minced (more or less depending on how much you like garlic)
1 Tbs fresh dill chopped
Squeeze of fresh lemon juice
Drizzle of Olive Oil (Extra Virgin is a must for this)
Salt and pepper to taste

Put all ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly. Enjoy with veggies, pitas, on Kebab, with Zucchini fritters, on Mexi Rice… pretty much goes with everything LOL

Zucchini Fritters (Mücver)

We have a new roommate living with us who is from Turkey. I always feel inspired to cook when we have new people in the house! So our new friend has been here over a month and is missing home and Turkish food. Knowing what it is like to be away from home and missing comfort food (I lived in Thailand for a year) I have been trying my best to make some food that he will enjoy. Here is a recipe that we made last week that was awesome! (reminds me of my dad’s Zucchini pancakes)

5-6 small firm zucchinis, grated (to make 4 cups)
3 medium eggs
1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
1/3 cup chopped fresh dill
1/3 cup chopped fresh mint
4 green onions, finely chopped
1 1/2 cup feta grated or finely chopped
1 tbsp paprika
salt
black pepper
1 1/2 cups flour
oil for frying

Put grated zucchini in a colander and sprinkle with salt. Let drain for 10 minutes then squeeze out liquid and place in a bowl. Mix all the ingredients except for the flour and oil. Add flour in slowly and mix well. Heat oil in a frying pan on medium/ high. Once oil is hot, drop scoops of mixture in small batches. Fry them on each side until golden brown, 4-5 minutes. Set on paper towel to drain. Serve with plain yogurt or Tzatziki.

Lentil Soup

This past week I made a very fulfilling vegan meal with a hearty Lentil soup with squash. It was so quick, easy and delish!

1 Tbs vegetable oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 Medium Butternut squash (peeled, seeded and cubed)
1 medium onion (diced)
2 cloves garlic (minced)
1/2 tsp chili powder (optional)
Fresh cracked pepper (to taste)
1 Tbs Tomato Paste
1 1/2 cups Lentils
1 can chickpeas (drained)
4 cups vegetable stock
Rind of 1 lemon
Big handful of chopped fresh parsley
Lemon wedges Lemon wedges

Preparation:
In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat; fry cumin seeds for 1 minute. Add squash, onion, garlic, chili powder, pepper and fry, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Add tomato paste; cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

Add lentils, chickpeas, stock and lemon rind; cover and simmer until squash is tender, about 15 minutes. Discard lemon rind. Sprinkle with parsley. Serve with lemon wedges.

I accompanied this soup with some fresh Whole Wheat French bread Yummmy!

Falafel

I made these a few weeks ago and have them on my menu again for this week. They are surprisingly easy and oh so yummy!

1 can chickpeas, drained
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves minced garlic
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon cumin
1 Tablespoon Tahini
1/2 teaspoon salt
Approx 2 tablespoons flour (I used Chick Pea flour but it can be all purpose)
small handful of chopped cilantro or parsley
oil for frying

Put the first 7 ingredients in a food processor and pulse until smooth. Add enough flour to make the the “dough” a bit thicker. Stir in the cilantro. Heat Oil in a large frying pan (should be about 2inches deep) Drop spoonfuls of the mixture into the hot oil and fry until golden brown on both sides in small batches. Drain on paper towel. I served mine in a pita with Lettuce, cucumber, tomato, red pepper and Tzatziki.

I’ll take a video/ photos tomorrow and post them soon!