Yaom Al Watani

Saudi National Day was this past Sunday. The country was filled with decorations, lights, green and lots of flags. We went out the day before and everyone was wearing green and the streets were filled with kids and teenagers hanging out of car windows and waving flags it's a lot worse on the actual day but it's really not fun unless your teenager to be stuck in traffic for hours. I took a few pictures of the decorations around Riyadh to share with you all. If you want to see some other pictures of the day take a look here on my personal blog.

I hope to be back sharing some recipes and reviews soon I have been so busy with my shop Blog Me Pretty completely redoing it as well and a huge list of custom orders that I have. Once I feel comfortable with where I am with that I will be back here posting regularly. You can follow all those updates on my twitter if you have it. I hope your all well I am missing the Autumn season back home which we never get here so those of you who have it enjoy it.

Saudi Fatayer

Fatayer spots are all over Riyadh, they are extremely popular. One type of fatayer is the ones pictured above which is various sandwiches, stuffed grape leaves and such. I love these and sometimes we order a filled platter and serve them alongside mint tea which ends up being the best little meal. My favorite mixture is the cheese and sumac; they are such a perfect combination.

Chicken Piccata Pasta Toss

I tend to think us Americans killed the real dish of pasta loading every dish down with tons of cheese and seeming to think it’s just not pasta without it. In reality many real Italian pasta dishes do not even have cheese and (gasp) are amazing as they are. I have found that real Italian pasta taste so much. Chicken Piccata Pasta is such a savory dish tossed in a simple light sauce that packs a big punch. I love the way freshly diced tomatoes or even arugula garnished on top taste with it.

12 ounce pasta, cooked according to package instructions
1-1/4 pound boneless chicken breast, cut into 1 inch pieces
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 shallots, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons flour
1-1/2 cup chicken stock
1 juice of one lemon
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
salt and pepper
tomatoes and arugula for garnish

1. On medium heat in a sauté pan add half of olive oil. In a small bowl add chicken and coat with salt and pepper. Add chicken into pan and cook until no longer pink, about 10-15 minutes.

2. When chicken has cooked make a well in the middle of the pan and add shallots and garlic. Cook until tender then add remaining oil, flour and chicken broth. Whisk until well combined and smooth. Add lemon juice, cilantro and salt and pepper to taste.

3. Drain pasta and add into the pan, toss with mixture. Allow to completely warm, about 5 minutes. Garnish top with tomatoes and arugula.

Yields: 4 servings

German Pancakes

 I have wanted to make and try German pancakes for a while now and finally an image I saw on Pinterest pushed me over the edge (I swear that site has made me craft and cook so much). My son and I are ecstatic about Breakfast food as it is. I made some sautéed apples out of some fresh green apples I had on hand for a topping and also served powdered sugar and maple syrup so everyone could choose their own topping. This was the most delicious and filling recipe in fact it’s so filling you do not need any other dishes to serve alongside. Please remember that you must beat the eggs as noted so they mixture is airy and puffs up and browns on the edges, this is a must for this recipe.

6 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup milk
1/2 cup butter
1/2 teaspoon salt

1. Pre-heat oven to 350F. In an 11x13 baking dish add butter and allow to melt in oven.

2. In a mixing bowl add eggs and with a hand mixer beat until frothy for 2 minutes. Carefully add flour, milk, sugar, vanilla and salt, mix well.

3. Remove pan from oven and increase temperature to 400F. Pour mixture into pan and bake for 20-25 minutes.

Yields: 6 servings

Arabian Coffees

I first found out about Arabian Coffees on Pinterest. From there I went to their website and was interested to try their coffees. When you visit the site you can see they have several coffees that are prominent to certain areas in the Arabia. I wanted to try the Riyadh blend and after only a week my coffee was in my home, fast delivery. I was surprised to see the blend was indeed true to Riyadh and filled with lightly roasted coffee and broken cardamom pods.

I had never thought to use the entire cardamom as they have done and was mad at myself for never thinking of this idea myself. Here in Saudi we use cardamom and have it ground especially for coffee (the kind for cooking is ground to fine to use for coffee). One of the team members had told me that I would be able to use this coffee in a french press if I desired so I really wanted to try it out.

I just used a 1 cup of hot water per 1 tablespoon of the Riyadh blend then allowed it to sit for 4 minutes like I would any other coffee and wow was I ever surprised. I have to admit that this is the best Saudi qahwa I have ever tried and also the easiest. I plan to turn my family onto this blend and I know they will be as sold as I am. So if you’re looking for the most perfect tasting and easy to make Saudi qahwa then this is for you.

Chicken Pot Pie

Growing up my brothers and I would always rush home after school and our mom would pop a Swanson’s chicken pot pie in the oven for each of us and we loved it. It’s been years since I have had a pot pie and surprisingly I have never made or ate the homemade version but it’s been on my to do list for quite a while now. I had a pack of chicken breast laid out and I was in the mood for Southern food and this recipe crossed my mind.

After searching the net for a while I finally found a recipe that sounded perfect to me. Making everything from scratch including the crust was something I wanted to do so a lot of the recipes were not working for me. I followed the recipe pretty much exactly although I did add corn I mean what is a pot pie without corn after all?

1 (3 1/2 pound) frying chicken
1 carrot
1 celery stalk
1 small onion, halved
2 teaspoons salt
1 garlic clove, smashed
1 bay leaf

Pie crust ingredients:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, diced into 1/2-inch cubes (best to chill cubes in the freezer for at least 15 minutes before using)
1/4 cup vegetable shortening, chilled
3 to 4 tablespoons ice water

Filling ingredients:
 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large onion, diced (about 1 1/4 cups)
3 carrots, thinly sliced on the diagonal
3 celery stalks, thinly sliced on the diagonal
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
3/4 cup green peas, frozen or fresh
1/2 cup corn, frozen or fresh
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Egg wash:
1 egg whisked with 1 Tbsp water

1.  Cook the chicken and make the chicken stock. Combine the chicken, carrot, celery, onion and salt into a large stock pot. Add cold water until just covered and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 45 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pot and let cool for 15 minutes. While the chicken is cooling, continue to boil the remaining water and vegetables in the pot. When the chicken has cooled enough to touch, strip away as much of the meat as you can. Place the meat on a dish, set aside. Return the chicken bones to the stockpot and continue to boil, on high heat, until the stock has reduced to a quart or quart and a half. Set aside 2 1/2 cups of the stock for this recipe. The remaining stock you can refrigerate and store for another purpose.

2.  Prepare the pie crust dough. Combine the flour and salt in a food processor. Add the chilled butter cubes and pulse 5 times to combine. And the shortening and pulse a few more times, until the dough resembles a coarse cornmeal, with some pea-sized pieces of butter. Slowly stream in ice water, a tablespoon at a time, pulsing after each addition, until the dough sticks together when you press some between your fingers. Empty the food processor, placing the dough on a clean surface. Use your hands to mold into a ball, then flatten the ball into a disk. Sprinkle with a little flour, wrap with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or up to 2 days, before rolling.

3.  Prepare the filling. Preheat oven to 400°F. In a large skillet, melt butter on medium heat. Add the onions, carrots, and celery, and cook until the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the flour and cook, stirring, one minute more. Whisk in 2 1/2 cups of the chicken stock. Whisk in the milk. Decrease the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring often. Add the chicken meat, thyme, sherry, peas, parsley, salt and pepper and stir well. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Divide the warm filling among six 10-ounce ramekins.

4.  Prepare the crust. Roll out dough on a lightly flour surface to a little less than a quarter-inch thick. Cut into 6 rounds, slightly larger than the circumference of the ramekins. Lay a dough round on each pot pie filling. Fold the excess dough under itself and use the tines of a fork to press the dough against the edge of the ramekins. Cut a 1-inch vent into each individual pie. Use a pastry brush to apply an egg wash to each pie. Line a baking sheet with foil, place the pies on the baking sheet. Bake at 400°F for 25 minutes, or until the pastry is golden and the filling is bubbling. Let cool for at least 5 minutes before serving.

Yields: 6 servings

adapted from simply recipes with minor changes

Mahogany Chicken with Roasted Vegetables

I love a beautiful golden and crisp chicken and this recipe fits the qualifications perfectly. This chicken is brushed every 15 minutes with a special sauce for flavoring and color. I have used peach juice but you can substitute that for any other light juice such as apple or white grape. Also you can use any vegetables that you are prone to I personally prefer carrots and brussel sprouts alongside poultry.

4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons peach juice
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 clove garlic, crushed

1 large chicken (cleaned

4 cups vegetables
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt

1. Pre-heat oven to 375F. In a small saucepan on medium heat add butter, soy sauce, juice, pepper and garlic. Mix well and allow cooking for minutes.

2. Place chicken in a roasting pan and brush sauce all over, pouring remaining into the pan. Take chicken out every 15 minutes and brush with sauce. Cook for a total of 1 hour and 15 minutes.

3. In a baking pan add vegetables and toss with oil. Place under a broiler and cook until lightly charred and fully cooked, flipping when needed. Sprinkle top with sea salt.

4. Place chicken in a serving platter and arrange vegetables around.

Yields: 4 servings

Homemade Marshmallows

I have wanted to make homemade marshmallows for such a long time now and I finally got to it last night. You see were hot chocolate fanatics here in my home. I mean hot chocolate is just one of those things that make life better after all right? And what is hot cocoa without some fluffy marshmallows inside melting away? You can make these any shape or color as you see mine are green-blue which my son just had to have. He made it clear that he did not want our marshmallows to be girly. So much for the pink heart shaped ones in my head. 

I found several recipes online and one thing they all had in them was corn syrup which is something I try to avoid so I used golden syrup and I am sure you could also use maple syrup or maybe even omit it all together (not sure but I am going to try in the future). I also cut the size of this recipe down quite a bit who needs hundreds of marshmallows? This is a pretty simple process but the when you add the gelatin and sugar mixture it will remind you of melted plastic. I used a hand mixer since my Kitchen Aid is not usable here (plug issues) and it worked just fine. You have to use a hand or stand mixer for sure though. I used my steel kitchen aid bowl and I would suggest you do the same or use a glass bowl (plastic will melt). You also need a candy thermometer to work with the mix and most of all be careful this stuff is hot.

1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon + 1-1/2 teaspoons gelatin (halal)
4 tablespoons golden syrup
Dash salt
1 large egg white
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Oil (for pan)
Natural food coloring, optional

1. Oil an 8x8inch baking pan (I used silicone). Set aside.

2. In a steel or glass large mixing bowl add gelatin and 4 tablespoons of water. Set aside.

3. In a 2-quart saucepan on medium-high heat add sugar, syrup, salt and remaining water. Mix well, and bring to a full boil (continue stirring from time to time) Allow candy thermometer to reach 245 then remove from heat.

4. Carefully pour the sugars into the gelatin mixture, stir well with a wooden spoon. With mixer beat until mixture turns white, thickens and triples in size. Approximately 5 minutes with a stand mixer and 8 with a hand. Set aside.

5. In a mixing bowl add egg white and vanilla. With a clean hand mixer beat until stiff peaks are formed. Add mixture into the sugar mixture and combine well with a wooden spoon mixing for about 5 minutes. Add food coloring if using and mix well.

6. Carefully pour mixture into baking pan. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of sifted powdered sugar on top and sit uncovered in the refrigerator for 2-1/2 hours.

7. remaining powdered sugar on a cutting board and carefully dump marshmallow square onto. Rub powdered sugar on both sides so sticking does not happen. With a large knife carefully cut into squares. Store in container in a cool area or in the refrigerator.

Yields: 45

* You can find my favorite hot cocoa recipe here.

Homemade Bagels

 Homemade golden bagels are the perfect brunch. You can use regular all-purpose flour but if you happen to have bread flour use it and your bagels will be much larger. Creating a large hole in the center is important since as they bake the hole will close and what’s a bagel without a hole? These bagels freeze great and can even be sliced and toasted. Try kiri and Zatar, kiri and honey or good old fashioned cream cheese on yours.

If you want to add a topping such as sesame seeds, black seeds or garlic just to name a few then brush tops with egg white and sprinkle on pre-baking.

2 teaspoons of active dry yeast
1-1/2 tablespoons sugar
1-1/2 cups of warm water
3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour (or bread flour)
1-1/2 teaspoons of salt
1 teaspoon sunflower oil

1. In a small bowl add yeast, sugar and 3 tablespoons of warm water. Allow to sit for 5 minutes until frothy.

2. In a large mixing bowl add flour, salt, yeast mixture and a bit of water (you may need more or less depending on where you live) until a smooth dough consistency has formed.

3. On a floured countertop, knead the dough for about 10 minutes until it is smooth and elastic. Try working in as much flour as possible to form a firm and stiff dough. Shape dough into a ball.

4. Place oil into hands and cover outside of dough. Place in a large bowl, cover with a damp cloth and allow to rise in a warm place for 1 hour, until the dough has doubled in size. Punch the dough down, and let it rest for another 10 minutes.

5. Divide dough into 8-9 pieces. Shape each piece into a round the size of a tea saucer then carefully make a hole into each center about 2 inches wide. Place onto a baking sheet, cover with a damp kitchen towel and allow to rest for 10 minutes.

6. Preheat oven to 425F. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Reduce the heat. Place bagels (a few at a time) into pan and boil for 1-1/2 minutes on each side.

7. Place bagels onto a baking sheet lined with a non-stick baking mat, parchment paper or oil. Bake for 10 minutes on each side, until golden brown.

Yields: 8 bagels