Aloo Masoor Dal

A filling side dish for all lovers of Indian cuisine. Filled with potatoes and lentils this not only a beautiful presentation but also a filling one. 1/2 cup red lentils, picked over for stones 2 tablespoons corn oil 2 teaspoons cumin seeds 1 small onion, finely diced 1 teaspoon ginger, ground 1 green chili, diced seeds removed 4 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed 2 teaspoons sea salt 2 teaspoons cumin, ground 1 teaspoon coriander, ground 1 teaspoon turmeric 1 tablespoons cilantro, fresh and chopped 1. In a small bowl, add lentils cleaning several times until water runs clear. In a small saucepan add 1 cup of water, bring to boil and add lentils. Reduce to simmer, cover and allow cooking 10 minutes. In a sauté pan on medium heat add oil, add cumin seeds allow to cook 1 minute then add onion and chilies, cook 8 minutes. 2. Add potatoes to sauté pan. Add salt, ginger, cumin, coriander, turmeric and cilantro, stir well. Allow to cook 2 minutes. Add 1/2 cup water, reduce heat to medium low, cover and cook 10 minutes. Meanwhile with a hand blender puree lentils and their water. Add lentils to sauté pan, mix. Sauté on low 2 minutes. Yields: 4 servings

Baked Sweet Puffs

This was a nice alternative to the fried doughnuts. While they are still not so healthy every little bit helps, right? Feel free to use any cute muffin pans you may have. I made a batch for my family and I using a heart muffin pan and I thought since I was already baking I would double the batch and give my husband some to take to work. I made those in muffin pans, filling them almost full them cutting the muffins in half, they were still large. The spices just make these puffs have that extra special something. He said no one at his work could stop eating them, so that made me happy. 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour 1/2 cup sugar 2 teaspoons baking powder 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg or cardamom 1 egg 1/2 cup milk 1/4 cup melted butter 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract Topping: 1/3 cup sugar 1 tablespoon cinnamon 4 tablespoons melted butter 1. Pre-heat oven to 350 F. Grease 12-cup muffin pan. In a medium sized bowl add flour, 1/2 sugar, baking powder, salt and nutmeg, mix well. Add egg, milk, butter and vanilla mix well. 2. Fill muffin pans half way, bake 20 minutes or until done, check center with toothpick. In a small bowl, add sugar and cinnamon, mix well. Melt butter. Brush finished puffs with a butter using a pastry brush, roll in sugar/cinnamon mixture. Yields; 1 dozen

Buttermilk Biscuits

I used to love spending the weekend at my grandmothers because I always knew I would be woken up by the smell of her buttermilk biscuits. This is really the best biscuit recipe I have ever tried; I hope you enjoy it as well. After I was married and moved away from home, I would crave her biscuits so she sent me a recipe card. Notice how it only lists the ingredients, as she does not measure. 2 cups all purpose flour 2 teaspoons baking powder 1/4 teaspoon baking soda 2 teaspoons salt 1/2 cup shortening 1 cup milk 1 tablespoon white vinegar 1. Pre-heat oven to 400 F. In a cup add milk and vinegar; allow to sit at least 5 minutes or just use 1 cup buttermilk if on hand. Meanwhile in a medium sized bowl add flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt, mix well. Add shortening and mix until dough is course. Add milk mixture or buttermilk, mix fast not kneading, it is important not to knead or mix this dough a lot. 2. Add dough onto a non-stick baking mat or lightly floured board. Dough should be sticky so do not add more flour. With a biscuit cutter or glass quickly cut biscuits. If you like fluffy biscuits then do not roll the dough to flat. Place biscuits on a cookie sheet and bake 10-12 minutes, until golden. Yields: 8 biscuits

Baked Kofta and Potatoes

1 pound ground beef 3 potatoes, peeled and sliced in half moons 1 onion, finely diced 2 teaspoons salt 1 teaspoon black pepper 2 teaspoons cumin 1 teaspoon cinnamon 1 teaspoon coriander, ground 3 garlic cloves, diced 1 tablespoon butter 3 tablespoons tomato paste Juice of half lemon 1/2 cup water 1. In a medium sized bowl, add meat, butter, onion, salt, pepper, cumin, cinnamon, coriander and garlic, mix well. Shape meat into egg size balls. In a small bowl, add tomato paste, lemon and water, mix well. 2. In a round 9 inch baking pan, add Kofta, in between each meatball place a potato slice. Pour sauce all over the top. Cover with foil and bake in a pre-heated oven on 350 F for one hour, or until potatoes are tender. Yields: 4 servings

Grandmas Tuna

I do not mean to brag or anything but in the third grade all my friends did love to come over with me to my grandmas and would always ask her for tuna sandwiches, okay so I am bragging but you have to give it up to the woman, she knows her tuna. I myself would have her make three and eat them so fast just to hear her praise me for eating so much. This is a simple recipe so you can make a batch and keep in the refrigerator. 2 cans tuna fish in water, drained 1/4 cup mayonnaise 2 tablespoons relish 1 small onion, finely diced 1 hard boiled egg white, diced 1. In a small bowl, add tuna, mayonnaise, relish, onion and egg white, mix well. Yields: 6 servings

Chicken Buraik

Buraik is a popular Arabic recipe. I have known two versions of Buraik, one being ground beef, eggs, and the other bananas and cream, which is a dessert Buraik. Its fun to make old classics have new twist. This version is so tasty you will have everyone begging you to make it again. 5 chicken breast, boneless and skinless 3/4 cup chunky garden pasta sauce 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded 1 pound puff pastry 1 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon pepper 1 egg yolk, beaten 1. Allow puff pastry to defrost at room temperature for at least 2-1/2 hours. When defrosted divide into two half’s. Cover with a towel until needed. In a medium saucepan on medium heat add chicken breast, cover with water and allow to cook, about 20 minutes or until done. Drain water then shred chicken. 2. In a sauté pan on medium heat, add chicken, pasta sauce, salt and pepper. Mix well, allow to cook 5 minutes. Roll each dough into a thin circle, a circle that will cover a 9 inch pie pan. Lightly butter pie pan bottom and sides. Add one circle of pastry into the pan, covering. Carefully prick dough with a fork. Add chicken mix, and then sprinkle cheese. Add second pastry circle on top, covering meat. With fingers, press edges of each circle together, to form slight mound. With a pastry brush, carefully brush egg yolk all over pastry. Make small slit in top middle of Buraik. 3. In a pre-heated 350 F oven bake Buraik 25-30 minutes, until top is golden. Yields: 6 servings

Southern Sweet Tea with a Twist

In Tennessee, it is unheard of not to have sweet tea in your fridge at all times. I was even remembering how they put tea in our bottles and sippy cups when we were small (no joke), no wonder were all hooked. The fresh mint and orange in this tea give it a little something special. 8 tea bags 8 cups water + 1 cup water 1 cup sugar 1/4 fresh mint 4 orange slices 1. In a small pan on high heat add 1 cup water; allow coming to a full boil then turning heat off. Add sugar, mix well. 2. In a large saucepan add 8 cups water on high heat, allow coming to boil, turn heat off. Add tea bags, steep 15-20 minutes. In a pitcher pour tea mixture, then sugar mixture, mix well. Add mint and orange slices. Refrigerate over night.

Vegetable Pasta

Pasta is a great filling side dish or you can even make this a main dish, its so good no one will ever notice no meat is involved. Add whatever your favorite vegetables are to this fun dish to create a recipe that suits you. 1 cup dried pasta 1 medium onion, finely chopped 3 garlic cloves, finely diced 1 tablespoon olive oil 2 zucchinis, halved and sliced 1/3 cup frozen corn 1/3 cup frozen peas 1/2 teaspoon pepper 1/2 tablespoon garlic salt 1 cup whipping cream 2 tomatoes, diced 1. Cook pasta according to package directions. In a small saucepan add peas and corn cover with water on medium heat and allow to cook, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, in a large skillet on medium heat add oil, onions and garlic, saute until tender. Add zucchinis, pepper, garlic salt, tomatoes, peas and corn. Cook 5 minutes. Drain pasta, add to skillet with vegetables, and mix well. Reduce heat to low add whipping cream, mix well, cover. Raise heat to high, allow cream to come to a boil, then reduce back to low. Cook 5 minutes.

Faqa Makbous

Faqa is a new discovery that I have made while living in Saudi Arabia. Faqa means truffle, desert truffle to be exact. The faqa is the best truffle that I have ever tasted, so light. Faqa’s come in black or white, white being the best and most expensive. February is faqa season here in Saudi so get them while you can. If you are not in an area where you can get desert truffles you can replace with regular mushrooms. Are you can even omit the faqa mixture all together and just have a lovely makbous. 1 cup basmati rice, washed and soaked 1 teaspoon saffron 2 tablespoons rose water 1 large chicken, cup into 8 pieces 1 large onion, diced 1 tablespoon oil 8 cardamoms 2 bay leaves 2 cinnamon sticks Pepper and salt, to taste 2 black lemons, cracked 1 can tomato paste Faqa mixture: 6-8 faqa, cleaned, peeled and cubed 1 cup water 2 tablespoons oil 1 onion, diced 1 teaspoon ground cardamom 1 tablespoon mixed spice 1 teaspoon lemon juice 1-1/2 teaspoon salt 1. In a small cup, add saffron and rose water, set aside. In a large saucepan on medium heat, add oil, onion, cardamoms, bay leaves, cinnamon, salt and pepper. Allow onion to cook until golden. Add black lemons and tomato paste, mix well. Add chicken the add water to cover just the top of chicken. Raise heat to high, allow to come to a full boil then reduce heat to simmer, cook for 30-45 minutes, until chicken is done (save broth). 2. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, add water and salt. Add faqa and allow mixture to come to a full boil, and then reduce heat to medium. Cook 5 minutes, until faqa is tender. Drain water. Add oil, onion, cardamom, mixed spice and lemon juice to faqa, mix well. Sauté for 2-3 minutes, set aside. 3. In a stockpot add rice, then pour enough broth from the chicken to cover rice (make sure it is just on top of the rice), cover pot. Raise heat to high until rice comes to a full boil then reduce to low for 10 minutes. Add rose water/saffron mix on top of the rice; add chicken pieces, then faqa mixture. Place the lid back on the pot and simmer on low heat for 20 minutes. Yields: 4 servings

Buttermilk Dressing

Why waste money buying dressing when you can make it home with things we all have on hand? Moreover, it tastes a heck of a lot better, I promise. Go ahead and make a batch of this up and store it in the fridge, you will be glad you did. 3/4 cup milk 1 tablespoon lemon juice or white vinegar 1. Mix milk and lemon juice or vinegar together and allow sitting for 5 minutes, this will make homemade buttermilk. Alternatively, if you have buttermilk on hand use 3/4 of a cup. 1/2 cup low fat mayonnaise 2 tablespoons dried parsley 1 teaspoon dry mustard or mustard seeds 1 teaspoon white pepper 1 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon garlic powder 1. In a small bowl add buttermilk or milk mixture, mayonnaise, parsley, mustard, pepper, salt and garlic, mix well. Cover and chill at least one hour. Yields: 1-1/2 cups

Coffee Reviews

Kruger's is a German brand so we know right there they must be good, right. Those Germans sure know their coffee. I found this cappuccino mix and it is by far the best one I have ever tried, and I have tried a lot. This is a staple in my pantry now. Maxwell House instant coffee is so amazing. I now wonder why I ever bothered grinding and brewing fresh coffee, this taste even better. No one will ever know its instant. Nescafe Red Mug instant coffee is something I thought I liked when I first tried it. Its not a bad cup of coffee, its pretty good actually. But its just not as strong as I like my coffee. I rather have the Maxwell House. Nescafe My Cup is a new little packet that is filled with it all (sugar, cream, coffee). All you do is add hot water and you have an amazing cup of coffee right there. Its a very good cup at that, I love it.


This is my version of moussaka, their are so many out there. I love this filling dish and its a great way to get those vegetables we so need. If your a vegetarian, just leave the meat out. Its really nice that way as well. Just cut the cooking time in half. 7 potatoes, peeled and sliced thick 2 eggplants, thick sliced 3 garlic cloves, diced 2 yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced 2 pounds ground beef or lamb 5 tomatoes, thick sliced 1 large onion, diced 1 (15 ounce) can whole tomatoes, drained 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped 2 tablespoons mixed spice Salt and pepper to taste 1 cup breadcrumbs 1/2 cup parmesan cheese 1 tablespoon garlic powder 5 tablespoons butter Sunflower oil for frying 1. In a large sauté pan on medium heat, add enough oil for frying vegetables. Meanwhile, soak eggplant slices in a bowl of salt water. Place potatoes and cook for about 1 minute on each side, you do not want to cook completely. Place potatoes on paper towel to drain. Add eggplants and cook for about 2 minutes on each side, until lightly browned. Drain on paper towel. Add sliced peppers and sauté for 1 minute, drain on paper towel. Clean pan! 2. In the same sauté pan on medium heat add meat and onions, cook until no longer pink. Drain grease. Return meat back to pan, add can of tomatoes, mixed spice, garlic, cilantro and salt and pepper. Cook on low for 5 minutes. In a medium bowl mix breadcrumbs, cheese and garlic powder together, set aside. 3. Pre-heat oven to 350 F. In a 13x9x12 pan, add eggplants in an even layer on bottom. Add potatoes for next layer, add beef mixture for next layer, and continue doing until all eggplants, potatoes and beef are finished. Add peppers atop then tomatoes should be the top layer. Sprinkle breadcrumb mixture across the top. Take butter and gently place pieces across top of moussaka. Cover with foil and bake approximately one hour to one hour and a half, until potatoes are tender. Yields: 6 servings Here is what it should look like before being dug into. And for dessert well I had to make me something sweet. My toddler is teething (the molars) and well I had a rough day to say the least. After everyone went to bed I made me this and I sat down with a cup of coffee, stick a fork in me I am done. You can find my recipe for pound cake here. The only difference is after you bake the cake and it cools, slice it into thick slices then put it back into the oven to toast the slices, ahh its divine.

Hawayil, Kholengan and Shaiba Leaves

I just love spices and since I have been in Saudi Arabia, I have been learning about spices that I never even knew existed. My mother in law gave me some and I bought the rest at this cute little outdoor souk last week. A. Hawayil Spice blend from Yemen B. Kholengan C. Shaiba Leaves also from Yemen D. And the last picture is called Habek Mint. Saudis put this in their tea, it is amazing. I have heard mixed opinions about this. Some say it’s from the mint family while others say its from the basil family, either way its really good in your tea.


This is a popular Middle Eastern dessert and every country you go to you will find a different version. Muhallabiya is a very simple yet satisfying custard like dessert. The coolness and light taste of flavors is delightful after any meal. 2 tablespoons cornstarch 1/4 cup ground rice 4-1/2 cups milk 1/2 cup sugar, or more to taste 1 tablespoon orange blossom water 1-1/2 tablespoon rose water 3 tablespoons clear honey 1/3 cup blanched almonds, coarsely chopped 1/2 cup pistachios, coarsely chopped 1. Mix the cornstarch and ground rice with 1/2 cup cold milk, making sure to break all lumps. In a large non-stick pan, bring 4 cups of milk to boil. Add cornstarch mixture, stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon. Keep heat on low, stirring constantly, until you feel a light resistance. Continue to cook 15-20 minutes, or until cream thickens. 2. Be careful to not scrape bottom of pan, so mixture does not have burnt taste. Stir in orange blossom water and 1 tablespoon of rose water, cook for a few minutes. Let the cream cool, place in serving bowl then chill in refrigerator with top covered with plastic wrap, the longer you chill the better it taste. 3. When the pudding is cold, prepare honey syrup in a small pan by bringing honey and 1/2 cup water to a boil. Stir well and add remaining 1/2 tablespoon of rose water. Let cool, and then pour over chilled cream. Allow to sit a few minutes then sprinkle almonds and pistachios over the top. Yields: 6 servings Adapted from Arabesque

Al Bukhari bil Dajaj

1-1/2 cups basmati rice
1 whole chicken, cut into 8 pieces
2 cups water
2 teaspoons mixed spice
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
2 shaiba leaves
1 teaspoon coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 teaspoons corn oil
6 whole cardamoms
6 whole cloves
2 medium onions, sliced
3 garlic cloves, diced
2 medium carrots, sliced
2 carrots, grated
6 cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 bay leaves
2 shaiba leaves
2 cinnamon sticks
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup mixed nuts, fried
2 tablespoons olive oil

1. Clean and soak rice in warm salted water for 30 minutes. In a small bowl add mixed spice, salt, pepper, cardamom, cloves, coriander and cinnamon. Marinate meat in spices, set aside.

2. In a large sauté pan on medium heat add oil. Add onions and garlic cooking until golden. Add spiced meat, stirring. Add grated carrots, shaiba leaves, tomatoes, tomato paste, bay leaves and cinnamon, stirring well. Add water, stir. Raise heat to high and allow mixture to come to a full boil then reduce heat to low. Cook for 30 minutes. Removes shaiba and bay leaves.

3. Add rice and raisins to mixture making sure rice is covered with broth, add more water if needed. Raise to high heat until a full boil, cover and simmer on low heat until rice is cooked about 25 minutes (do not open the lid what so ever). In a small pan add 2 tablespoons olive oil, carrots and nuts; cook 5 minutes on medium heat.

4. Places rice and meat in a serving dish, arrange sliced carrots and fried nuts on the top of the mixture.

Yields: 4 servings