Easy Dinner · Expat Moms and Kids · Homemade · Homeschooling · Homeschooling whilst Unschooling · Islamic parenting · Kitchen tips · Muscat Mom and Kids · Muscat, Oman · Mushrooms · Muslim Mama · Parenting · Pasta · Quick Cooking · Quick pasta · Unschooling · vegetarian

Mushroom and Spinach wholemeal linguine

After a long day of wrestling with letter sounds and refereeing fights, I almost always hurt my neck trying to look out for Papa Bear to finally get home to tag him, hand over the kids and run off to cook dinner. When that gets delayed, all hope is not lost although I cannot promise the same for my temper.

One such evening, IzGirl and NBoy were still bouncing off the walls and number 3, NBaby, surprises us with an early nap but my migraine decided to make an appearance, I decided to let them help and leave the delayed individual to attack the mess. Surprisingly, my children are very much unlike me in the kitchen. They cleaned up after themselves and actually made my job much easier.

Moreover, what better way to teach them life skills than in our own kitchen, with extra loads of love?

The following recipe is very special to us because it is the first dish we cooked together(without me nagging or micro managing them!). We hope you enjoy cooking it and sharing it with your family too!

Mushroom and Spinach wholemeal linguine

  • Servings: 2 tiny tummies
  • Difficulty: Need the help of a responsible adult
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Look what we cooked! We ate it with roasted (okay, burnt!) cashewnuts. And how pretty are our Eid decorations?!

Ingredients

  • 6 or 7 fresh mushrooms, washed
  • Handful of baby spinach
  • Portion of wholemeal linguine (regular spaghetti would do)
  • 2 Tablespoons of garlic butter(regular butter is fine as well)
  • 1/4 cup of cooking cream (you can add or reduce as you wish)
  • Salt and Pepper

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Directions

  1. Chop the mushrooms into whatever size you like.
  2. Pick the good spinach leaves, wash and drain.
  3. Ask an adult to boil the pasta and drain it.
  4. Heat a pan and add butter.
  5. Add the mushrooms and sauté them with a pinch of salt.
  6. Add the cream and stir well. Once it starts boiling, add the pasta and mix it in, and check salt and pepper.
  7. Leave to cook for a minute or two and then add the spinach and switch off the flame. Stir well.
  8. Enjoy with some yummy toasted bread and help wash up after dinner.

 https://www.instagram.com/p/BZIPramhrRElN8Bs6R2YU1G394MKXkFUhZIxew0/

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Homemade · Homemade condiments · How-to · Preservative free · Quick Cooking · Recipes

Homemade mayonnaise:whole egg

7 years ago, I had no idea mayonnaise could be made at home. 

Mayonnaise was something that came out of a jar and later on, in squeezy bottles. The first time I was introduced to fresh mayonnaise was at a diner when I was pregnant but that was only to learn that I could not eat my sandwich that was slathered with it since it contained raw egg. Since the bottled kind was not off limits, I managed to forget about this “novelty”.

Whilst binge watching 2 seasons of Masterchef after the birth of my second, I learnt mayo-making was a tedious task of trickling oil into a processor; I am more of a chuck-everything-in-one-go-and-hope-for-the-best kind.

And then one day, my interest was piqued again after watching mayo being made with an immersion or stick blender. The blender was lowered into liquids and when lifted out, it became creamy and spreadable; the moment was as magic would be to a completely naive person (or a “godayata magic wagey” moment, in Sinhala).

As easy as it seemed now, the raw egg still put me off, till I found free range eggs from hens that were vaccinated against salmonella. I did not do much of research into it after finding this; when has my incessant googling ever failed to increase my state of panic?

The stamp on the egg box spelt it out for me and that was enough for the moment.

After reading oh-so-many recipes, I was concerned about the wasted whites because almost all of them called for just the yolk. The whites could be stored and used later but I am very aware of a shelf in my fridge where good intentions go to die and end up in the bin, after weeks of sorry chilling.

Then I was concerned by the amount of oil used and fell off the healthy wagon and right into the waiting arms of the bottled kind.

Eventually, gave it a go with olive oil and sunflower oil but was not too convinced.

And then I tried this version and lo behold, it looks and tastes much better than any of the store-bought kind. I have now made a vow to never buy a bottle again and if you ever see me pick a bottle off the shelf in haste, do remind me of all the harmful additives I’ll be adding to my sandwich along with the taste.

I used a mix of good quality coconut and sesame oils; the coconut oil is what gives the creaminess that is hard to replicate with other oils. Mustard is the usual stabiliser but in this recipe, I have used a mix of lime and raw, unpasteurized apple cider vinegar (preferably one with the “Mother” floating around) to act as the stabiliser.

Garlic crushed with pink salt was used to flavour it but plain salt would do.
I like to add the things in the same order every time because I am not sure how it would turn out and used eggs both at room temperature and straight out of the fridge too; same texture either way.

Add the salt with crushed garlic
Spoon in the lime juice and vinegar
Add the egg and the oil. Wait for the yolk to settle in the bottom
Notice the used measuring jug and spatula? Although the immersion blender fit into the jar, I had failed to think of the result of trying to whisk a nearly filled jar. Measuring jug to the rescue!

Although people claim to store this for over a week, I would advise to use within 4-5 days and to ensure that utensils are cleaned before use and kept well chilled to prevent contamination. Sterilising the jar is a good idea too. Check out: how to sterilise glass jars

Most recipes call for a cup of oil but using 3/4 cup of mild flavoured oil works with this. I have only used it as a spread but assume it would work well with salads too.

Give it a whir and leave your suggestions below or feel free to send me a message.

Homemade mayonnaise:whole egg

  • Servings: Fills a 7375g jam jar
  • Difficulty: Surprisingly Easy
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Ingredients

1 whole free-range egg

1 tbsp lime juice(fresh,preferably)

1 tbsp raw, unpasteurized apple cider vinegar (you can use a regular kind if you can’t find this)

1/4 cup sesame oil

1/2 cup of coconut oil

Salt

1 clove of garlic, crushed  (optional)

Immersion blender

Measuring jug or deep dish to make it in

Sterilised jar for storing  

Directions

If your immersion blender can reach the bottom of the jar you plan on storing it in,you are good to go. Otherwise, use a measuring jug or any deep dish.

1. Spoon in the lime juice and vinegar, add the salt (and crushed garlic, if using), add the egg and then the oil. The order does not really matter but for some reason, this is how I like to do it. 

2. Wait till the yolk settles at the bottom (takes few seconds) and lower in the blender till it covers the yolk. 

3. Switch it on and just hold it in place. In few seconds, you will be able to see it start emulsifying. Give it 30 more seconds or till its completely emulsified but has a layer of oil on top. 

4. Without switching it off, slowly start lifting the blender with a slight swirling motion. Do this slowly till all the oil is blended in. And that’s it!

5. If you made it in the storage jar, you are done as soon as you pop the lid on. If you made it in another container, use a spatula to transfer it to your storage jar.

6. Keep refrigerated and use within a week.
PS: Homemade mayonnaise is NOT advised during pregnancy.

Easy Dinner · One Pot Recipe · Quick Cooking · Recipes · Undomestic goddess · vegetarian

Cream of tomato soup: fresh and quick

When the clock strikes 5pm, the only cuckoo bird rushing out will be me because it means that I need to have dinner ready in an hour. The temperamental little beings I am nurturing like seeing their hot dinner ready by 6, complain about it till 6:30, pick at it till 7 and start eating it once I turn from Mary Poppins to Professor Snape (I promised them to control my yelling but didn’t make any promises about toning down the glare). This cream of tomato soup is a nourishing but quick recipe that saved one such evening.

Despite their eccentrics, they are kind souls and never fail to give their honest opinions, albeit kindly.

Soup is always a reason for moaning because my eldest does not like certain textures but I knew I was on to a winner when she drank it without a peep. She did tell me not to make it everyday but I’ll take my compliments wherever I can.

Cream of tomato soup with fresh tomatoes

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

• 8 medium size ripe tomatoes (I used Roma but the vine ripened ones will be even delicious),chopped

• 1 medium onion, sliced

• 4 cloves of garlic, minced

• 2 carrots, roughly chopped

• Handful of corriander leaves with stalks, chopped

• 1litre of vegetable or chicken stock (use homemade or  organic stock)

• 250ml thick cream (you can reduce this according to your palate and dietary requirements)

• Salt to taste

• 2 tbsp regular olive oil

Directions

Heat a saucepan with the oil. Add the onions and garlic and let it cook till the onions are golden brown. I let it caramelise a bit because it adds more depth to the flavour.

Throw in the carrots, toss it around for a minute, add the tomatoes and corriander leaves, and pour in the stock. Season it and let it simmer uncovered for 30 minutes.

Take it off the heat and blitz it with an immersion blender, stir in the cream, correct seasoning and heat it slightly before serving.

You can serve it with a dollop of sour cream or regular thick cream on top but we just had it with a side of toasted bread because this mommy was exhausted to even consider garlic bread or croutons.


Bon appetit!

Capsicum · Mushrooms · One Pot Recipe · Pasta · Quick Cooking · Quick pasta · Recipes · vegetarian

One pot Mushroom and capsicum pasta

A love for eating does not necessarily lead to a love for cooking. In that context,a love for cooking does not necessarily result in a love for cleaning up.
My averison to cleaning up is such that I would go to extremes to find recipes that call out for the least number of utensils and pots.
Pasta is a staple in our house for its relatively versatile options that could be covered with just the right amount of bechamel if an experiment of flavours goes awry.
The process of boiling and draining the steaming pot by my clumsy self would be the only drawback, if nitpicking for problems in my current pasta cooking methods.
Keeping an eye out for a solution in the videos flooding the social networking pages brought me to one particular video that seemed to be the answer. Having heard a success story from my lovely aunt who was quick to test it out, here is my version of the one pot pasta wonder.

Do not exclude the capsicum in this recipe because it is necessary to accentuate the flavour. If you are not a fan, I implore you to give this quite overlooked green capsicum a try.

One pot Mushroom & capsicum pasta

Ingredients (serves 4, comfortably)

Half packet of pasta, uncooked(around 2 and half cups)
1/2 cup of cooking cream
Box of fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 large capsicum, chopped
1 onion, chopped
3 or 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
Water
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp. butter

1. Melt the butter in a large pan with a splash of regular cooking oil to stop it from burning.
2. Brown and cook the mushrooms with a pinch of salt.
3. Toss in the onions, garlic and capsicum. Pour in the cream and add the uncooked pasta.
4. Mix well and check seasoning. Add water till it just about covers the contents of the pot. Leave to cook covered for few minutes.
5.  Once the pasta is softened, turn up the heat and cook uncovered till the liquid is fully absorbed.

Tada!
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You could gobble it up as a meal or accompany it with a juicy lamb chop or any protein you fancy. A tangy salad would work too.

Happy Eating!

Easy Dinner · Homemade · Homemade condiments · One Pot Recipe · Preservative free · Quick Cooking · Recipes · vegetarian

Fondue. The glorious bubbling concoction of white goodness scooped up with bits of vegetables and bread. Delicately cut ripe fruits dipped in rich chocolate warmth.

Countless cooking shows and articles later,  I had yet to try it myself.

When I did get to try the chocolate version at a lovely restaurant that I would review about another time, I was not disappointed. This just elevated my yearning for the cheese version.

Remembering that I had a fondue set that was yet to be used, coupled with extreme exhaustion at the thought of cooking up an edible yet nutritious dinner, tonight would be the night.

This recipe might not constitute as an authentic fondue blend but assuming there is no fondue-police on the watch, I can safely say that this would satisfy a craving.

Lazy Daisy Fondue

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Do excuse the hastily chopped condition of the poor vegetables and the lack of any form of skill in photography. The most I can do and have the patience to check is to ensure that everything fits into a frame, which I sadly managed to forget in this photograph.

Heat a cup of cooking cream with a tablespoon of garlic butter.

Once it starts to bubble, add 1 cup of grated mild German cheddar cheese mixed with a tablespoon of all-purpose flour. You could use any kind of cheddar or any other cheese that would melt easily, but I found that the mild German cheddar was less salty and had a more subtle taste to suit the delicate palate of my tiny connoisseur who has taken a slight dislike towards cheese.

The moment you start stirring the cheese into the cream, it comes together almost immediately into a gloriously thick cheese sauce that you can pour into a fondue pot and begin spearing away.

Any vegetable or bread would be fine as I live with the strong belief that even chalk would be edible with copious amounts of good quality cheese coating it. We made do with carrots, cucumbers, blanched broccoli florets and boiled baby potatoes. Since there was no bread and it was obviously too late to make some, I told myself the potatoes would provide the quota of carbohydrates.

Although we used a fondue set, I personally felt that it was not a vital aspect since we had to blow out the candle within minutes to avoid scorching our tongues. A heat proof bowl and couple of forks would do the trick.

However, if like me, you are prone to insisting on all the trimmings to simply feel as if you accomplished a good meal/cuisine, go ahead and get yourself a fondue set. You could always use it to burn incense if you ever happen to start disliking cheese or chocolate.

Happy fonduing!