Monday, April 30, 2012

Indian Stir Fried Shrimp

This is a recipe I adapted from, years ago - it's in our monthly rotation, and I love that I can pull it together fast!

Indian Stir-Fried Shrimp (Bhagari Jhinga) 

READY IN 30 Min 
Original recipe yield: 4 servings 

1 onion, sliced
1 tablespoon tomato paste 
1/2 teaspoon salt 
1 teaspoon white sugar 
1 teaspoon garam masala 
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin 
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper 
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro 
1 fresh jalapeno pepper, chopped 
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice 
1 cup coconut milk 
3 tablespoons vegetable oil 
3 cloves garlic, minced 
1 1/4 pounds medium shrimp - peeled and deveined 
1 tablespoon cornstarch 
1 tablespoon cold water

In a medium bowl, stir together tomato paste, salt, sugar, garam masala, ground cumin seed, ground red pepper, cilantro, jalapeno pepper, lemon juice, and coconut milk. Set coconut sauce aside. 
Heat oil in a wok or frying pan over medium-high heat. Stir-fry onions until tender, then remove and set aside in a separate bowl. When oil is hot, add garlic, and cook until it begins to brown. Add shrimp, and cook until shrimp is opaque; this should take only a minute or two. Pour the coconut sauce over the shrimp; cook until the sauce begins to simmer. Add onions to wok. In a small bowl, mix together cornstarch and water; stir into the sauce, and continue cooking until thick. 

MODIFICATIONS: I've added up to a teaspoon of red pepper at times, because we like our food spicy! But it's just as good with less red pepper. Served over basmati rice.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Black Bean, Chicken, and Brown Rice Casserole

I literally am going to finish the entire pan of this, by myself, in less than 36 hours. This also makes a fantastic burrito filling, if you throw in some salsa and sour cream! Am still confused why the Picky Pickersons won't eat it, but I should just learn to accept such things . . .

I originally found this on Pinterest, linking to - they in turn had gotten it from Allrecipes, which I looove for all its wonderfully helpful reviews. I made some modifications to the recipe based on those reviews:

Black Bean, Chicken, and Brown Rice Casserole

  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 1 1/4 cups chicken stock (chicken or vegetable broth will also work)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 large zucchini, thinly sliced
  • 1 pack chicken tenderloins, cooked and chopped (mine was about .8 lbs)
  • 1/2 cup sliced mushrooms (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • salt to taste
  • ground cayenne pepper to taste
  • 1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (4 ounce) can diced green chile peppers, drained
  • 1 (10 oz) can Rotel diced tomatoes with green chiles
  • 1-2 cups shredded Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese - depending on how much cheese you like 


Mix the rice and chicken stock in a pot, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer  45 minutes, or until rice is tender.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a large 9x13" casserole dish. Actually, I forgot to grease it, and nothing happened! 

Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat, and cook the onion until tender. Mix in the zucchini, chicken, and mushrooms. Season with cumin, salt, and ground cayenne pepper (I seasoned liberally, esp. with the cayenne!). Cook and stir until zucchini is lightly browned and chicken is heated through.

In large bowl, mix the cooked rice, onion, zucchini, chicken, mushrooms, beans, tomatoes, chiles, and 1/2 the cheese. Transfer to the prepared casserole dish, and sprinkle with remaining cheese.

Cover casserole loosely with foil, and bake 30 minutes in the preheated oven. Uncover, and continue baking 10 minutes, or until bubbly and lightly browned. 

**I had meant to drain the tomatoes, but forgot, and am happy that I didn't - it gave a nice kick to the dish! 

Friday, April 20, 2012

Jalebis - Pakistan's Answer to the Funnel Cake!

Kind of? That's how I sold it to my daughter's preschool, and the kids bought it ;) Like soft-crunchy, orangey, pretzel-shaped funnel cakes. I was presenting at Fun Friday at her school last week - every Friday they learn about a different country, and I went in to teach them about Pakistan, complete with goodie bags, Pakistani decor and jewelry, and of course, Pakistani sweets. I took in mango juice since my people looooove their mangoes, and tried my hand at making Jalebis, which I was ridiculously proud to manage! Am still bragging to my mom about it, trying to slip it into casual conversation: "The girls are cranky today . . .maybe I can make some more jalebis." Although my mother is perfectly aware that neither of my picky pickersons ate them. But, she's my mom, so she then launches into an appropriately gratifying string of praise. 

Jalebis (cobbled together multiple recipes found on the web):

All-Purpose Flour – 1 cup
Cardamom Powder – 1/8 tsp
Instant Yeast – 1 tsp
Cornstarch – 2 tsp
Oil – 1 tsp
Yogurt – 1 Tbsp
Warm Water – 3/4 cup
For Syrup:
Sugar – 1 1/4 cups
Water – 1 cup
Saffron – pinch
Lemon Juice – 1 tsp
Cardamom Powder – 1/4 tsp

1. In a mixing bowl, add Flour, Cardamom Powder, Instant Yeast and Cornstarch. Mix thoroughly.
2. Add Oil, Yogurt and Water and mix well until there are no lumps.
3. In a larger bowl or pot, add very warm water and place the mixing bowl with the batter inside the larger bowl (be sure that the water does not fall into the batter). Cover the larger bowl and allow the batter to rest for 30 minutes.
4. After the batter has been resting for 15 minutes, start on the syrup and start to pre-heat oil for frying the jalebi.
5. Syrup: In a heavy bottom pan, add Water, Sugar and Saffron. Cook for 15 minutes on medium heat.
6. Reduce flame to a low simmer and add Cardamom Powder and Lemon Juice. Mix.
7. Mix the fermented jalebi batter well and put it in a ketchup or mustard bottle with a spout.**
8. Squeeze out the batter into the hot oil in approximately 8 small circular motions. Jalebi should about 2-3 inches in diameter.
9. Fry until the bottom side looks golden and flip once to cook the other side.
10. With tongs, remove jalebi, shake off excess oil and place directly into sugar syrup.
11. Allow jalebi to remain in the syrup for just about 15 seconds (flipping to coat both sides), shake off excess sugar syrup and place onto a plate lined with paper towels.
12. Continue frying remaining jalebis.
13. Enjoy them hot for optimal taste or allow them to cool and store in a container with a tight fitting lid. Jalebis will remain fresh for 4-5 days unrefrigerated.
NOTE: About mid way through the frying process, turn off the stove for the sugar syrup so that it does not become too thick.
**I had a hard time getting the thick batter into the ketchup bottle using a funnel - it was too thick. I ended up putting it into a ziploc bag, cutting a corner, and then piping it into the ketchup bottle. By ketchup bottle I mean the red ones at restaurants, with the thin spout - I had some leftover from making and storing paints, and had purchased them from Wal-Mart. 

Friday, April 6, 2012

Orecchiette with Mini Chicken Meatballs and Grape Tomatoes

I love this addictive dish - it's a non-saucy Italian dish, but with great flavor. Definitely nice for dinner parties, since it sets itself apart from the typical lasagna/ziti dishes.

Adapted from Giada de Laurentiis (

1 pound orecchiette pasta
1/4 cup seasoned Italian bread crumbs
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon whole milk
1 tablespoon ketchup
3/4 cup grated Romano
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound ground chicken
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken stock, hot
4 cups grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
12 ounces bocconcini mozzarella, halved
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves (I left this out this time, since my daughter currently has an uncontrollable fear of all things green)

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes.
In a medium bowl, stir together the bread crumbs, eggs, milk, ketchup, Romano cheese, garlic powder, and the salt and pepper. Add the chicken and gently stir to combine.
Using a teaspoon measure, form the chicken mixture into 3/4-inch pieces. With damp hands, roll the chicken pieces into mini meatballs. Should make around 50 mini meatballs.
In a large (14-inch) skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add the meatballs and cook without moving until brown on the bottom, about 2 minutes. Turn the meatballs over and brown the other side, about 2 minutes longer. Add the chicken stock and tomatoes. Bring to a boil. Using a wooden spoon, scrape up the brown bits that cling to the bottom of the pan. Reduce heat to low and simmer until tomatoes are soft and meatballs are cooked through, about 5 minutes. Drain the pasta, reserving about 1 cup of the pasta water. Transfer pasta to a large serving bowl and add the Parmesan. Toss to lightly coat orecchiette, adding reserved pasta water, if needed, to loosen the pasta. Add the meatball mixture, mozzarella cheese, and 1/2 cup of the basil. Gently toss to combine. Garnish with the chopped basil.

Disney's Absorbing Artwork Craft

Lani had a short day of school because of their Easter party in the morning, so we filled in the afternoon with the Absorbing Artwork craft from Disney's Family Fun magazine - we're trying to introduce science concepts to her regular art projects, and this is a good one for the early preschool years!

The original craft:

Card Stock
Elmer's Glue
Salt (I used a liberal amount of sea salt)
Eyedroppers or straws
Colored water (a few drops of food coloring in about a tablespoon of water)
Rimmed Baking Sheet

Set the card stock in the baking sheet, and let your child draw a series of webbed lines/pictures using the glue. Liberally sprinkle salt over the glue, then tap off the excess. Have your child use the droppers/straws to tap a drop off color on different parts of the paper, and then watch as the colored water travels along the salt/glue formation to create a web of color. Beautiful, quick, and fun!