Vanilla Cupcakes

  1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  2/3 cup granulated white sugar
  3 large eggs
  1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  Zest of 1 large lemon (outer yellow skin)
  1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  1/4 tsp salt
  1/4 cup milk
  Confectioners (Butter cream) Frosting:
  2 cups confectioners sugar (icing or powdered sugar), sifted
  1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  2 tbls milk or light cream
  Food colors (if desired)
1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C and line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.
2. In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. 
3. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract.
4. In a separate bowl whisk together the lemon zest, flour, baking powder, and salt.
5. With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and milk, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
6. Evenly fill the muffin cups with the batter and bake for about 17 - 20 minutes or just until set and a toothpick inserted into a cupcake comes out clean. 
7. Do not over bake or the cupcakes will be dry. 
8. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Once the cupcakes have completely cooled, frost with icing. 
9. If you want flat topped cupcakes then slice off the dome of each cupcake, with a sharp knife, before frosting. 
10. If you want to pipe the frosting, I like to use a large Wilton 1M star decorating tip. 
11. Cupcakes are best eaten the same day they are made, but they can be covered and stored for a few days.

Confectioners (Butter cream) Frosting: 

1. In an electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, cream the butter until smooth and well blended. 
2. Add the vanilla extract. With the mixer on low speed, gradually beat in the sugar. 
3. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. 
4. Add the milk and beat on high speed until frosting is light and fluffy (about 3-4 minutes). 
5. Add a little more milk or sugar, if needed. 
6. Tint the frosting with desired food color 

Makes about 12 cupcakes

Chicken Salad Pitas

  1 cup plain whole-milk Yogurt
  2 tablespoons lemon juice 
  1/2 teaspoon ground cumin 
  1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper 
  1 cup chopped red bell pepper 
  3 cups chopped cooked chicken 
  1/2 cup chopped pitted green olives 
  1/2 cup diced red onion 
  1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro 
  1 (15-ounce) can no-salt-added chickpeas, rinsed and drained 
  6 (6-inch) whole wheat pitas, cut in half 
  12 Bibb lettuce leaves 
  6 (1/8-inch-thick) slices tomato, cut in half 

1. Combine first 4 ingredients in a small bowl; set aside. 
2. Combine chicken and next 5 ingredients (through chickpeas) in a large bowl. 
3. Add yogurt mixture to chicken mixture; toss gently to coat. 
4. Line each pita half with 1 lettuce leaf and 1 tomato piece.
5. Add 1/2 cup chicken mixture to each pita half.

Apple Coffee Cake

  1 cup flour
  1 tsp baking powder
  1/2 tsp salt
  1/2 cup of sugar
  1 tsp ground cinnamon
  5 1/2 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
  1 egg, beaten
  1/2 cup whole milk
  1 medium apple, peeled and sliced

1. Preheat the oven to 220°C. Grease a 9-inch square baking dish with or pie pan with a 4-cup capacity.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk vigorously together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
3. In a separate small bowl, mix 1/4 a cup of the sugar with the cinnamon, set aside.
4. Using an mixer, beat the butter with the remaining 1/4 cup sugar. Beat in the egg until blended. Add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the milk, beating after each addition until just combined.
5. Pour half of the batter in the bottom of the baking dish. Lay the apple slices on the batter so they just cover the batter (you may have to overlap some slices). Sprinkle the apples with the cinnamon-sugar mixture, reserving a teaspoon or two to sprinkle on top. Spread the rest of the batter over the apples. Sprinkle the remaining cinnamon-sugar on top.
6. Bake the cake for 25 minutes or until it is golden brown and apples start to bubble at the edges.

Yield: Serves 6.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes

Tomato-Mozzarella Pizza

  1 large refrigerated bread dough 
  2 tablespoons yellow cornmeal 
  Cooking spray 
  1/2 kg tomatoes, thinly sliced 
  1 garlic clove, minced 
  1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  1/4 teaspoon black pepper 
  50 grm pancetta 
  1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil 

1. Preheat oven to 220°C.
2. Place dough on a baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal; press dough into a 12-inch circle. Crimp edges of dough with fingers to form a rim. Lightly spray surface of dough with cooking spray. Bake at 220° C for 8 minutes. Remove from oven.
3. Arrange tomato slices on paper towels. Cover with additional paper towels; let stand 5 minutes. Sprinkle garlic evenly over surface of dough; sprinkle 1/2 cup cheese evenly over dough. Arrange tomato slices on top of cheese; sprinkle with pepper. Top with remaining 1/2 cup cheese. Bake at 220° C for 5 minutes.
4. Chop pancetta. Cook pancetta in a nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp; drain. Sprinkle pancetta over pizza; bake an additional 1 minute or until crust is golden. Sprinkle basil over pizza; 
5. let stand 2 minutes. Cut into 6 wedges.

Snickers Cupcakes


For the cupcakes:
½ cup cocoa powder
½ cup hot water
2 cups all-purpose flour
¾ tsp. baking soda
¾ tsp. baking powder
¾ tsp. Salt
16 tbsp. unsalted butter
1½ cups sugar
2 large eggs plus 1 egg yolk
1¾ tsp. vanilla extract
2/3 cup sour cream, at room temperature
For the caramel sauce:
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 cup sugar
1 cup heavy cream
¼ tsp. vanilla extract
Pinch of salt

For the filling:
24 fun-size Snickers bars, chopped

For the frosting:
16 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 lb. confectioners’ sugar
1½ tsp. vanilla extract
1/3 cup caramel sauce
Pinch of coarse salt
2 tbsp. heavy cream

For garnish:
8 fun-size Snickers bars, chopped

1.To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Line standard cupcake pans with paper liners.  In a small bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder and hot water until smooth.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
2.In a medium saucepan, combine the butter and the sugar over medium heat.  Heat, stirring occasionally to combine, until the butter is melted.  Remove the mixture from the heat and transfer to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.  
3.Beat on medium-low speed, 4-5 minutes, until the mixture is cooled.  Mix in the eggs and egg yolk, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed and beating well after each addition.  
4.Mix in the vanilla and then the cocoa mixture and beat until incorporated.  With the mixer on low speed add in the dry ingredients in two batches, alternating with the sour cream, beating just until combined.
5.Divide the batter between the prepared cupcake liners, filling them about ¾ of the way full.  Bake 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, rotating the pans halfway through baking.  Allow the cupcakes to cool in the pan 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
6.To make the caramel sauce, melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat.  Add the sugar and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar begins to foam a bit.  It will look and smell like it’s on the verge of burning.  Remove from the heat and add the heavy cream.  Stir until the sauce is smooth (you may need to return it to the heat to smooth it out), then mix in the vanilla and salt.  Let cool.  (This can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.)
7.To fill the cupcakes, cut a cone out of the center of each cupcake with a paring knife.
8.To make the filling, combine the chopped Snickers bars in a bowl with 1/3-½ cup of the caramel sauce, and mix to coat.
9.Drop a spoonful of the filling mixture into each cupcake.

1.Add the butter to the bowl of an electric mixer.  Beat on medium-high speed 1 minute until smooth.  Blend in the confectioners’ sugar until smooth, 1-2 minutes.  Mix in the vanilla, caramel sauce and salt until incorporated.  (Note: the caramel sauce should be just warm enough that it is workable, but not warm enough to melt the butter in the frosting.)  
2.Add the heavy cream and whip on high speed until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes.
3.Transfer the frosting to a pastry bag fitted with a decorative tip.  Drizzle the frosted cupcakes with additional caramel sauce and garnish with chopped Snickers bars.

Yield: 20 cupcakes

Baked Parmesan Seasoned Fries

  1/2 kg of medium russet potatoes (approx 3 medium potatoes)
  1 1/2 tbsp of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  1/4 tsp Dried Thyme
  1/4 tsp Dried Oregano
  1/8 tsp Dried Rosemary
  1/4 tsp of Garlic Powder
  1/4 tsp of Old Bay Seasoning
  2 tbsp of Parmesan Style Grated Cheese

1. Preheat oven to 425 centrigrade.
2. Wash and cut potatoes into 1/8ths. 
3. Place on a cookie sheet that has been lined with foil 
4. Mix all of the spices and the parmesan cheese in a small bowl. 
5. Place all of the potatoes into a gallon size freezer bag, add olive oil and the parmesan cheese/spice mixture to the bag. 
6. Seal the bag and shake until the potatoes are evenly coated.
7. Once thoroughly coated dump onto the prepared cookie sheet and spread in a single layer.
8. Bake 30-45 minutes or until tender and lightly golden brown. (Baking times will vary depending on the amount of fries that you make and the size that you cut them). 

Spicy Chicken Shawarma


  • 2 tbls finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/8 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 5 tbls plain low-fat Greek-style yogurt, divided 
  • 2 tbls fresh lemon juice, divided
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced and divided
  • 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, thinly sliced 
  • 2 tbls extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon tahini
  • 4 (6-inch) pitas, halved
  • 1/2 cup chopped cucumber
  • 1/2 cup chopped plum tomato
  • 1/4 cup pre-chopped red onion


  1. Combine first 6 ingredients in a large bowl; stir in 1 tablespoon yogurt, 1 tablespoon juice, and 2 garlic cloves.
  2. Add chicken; toss to coat. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken mixture to pan; sauté 6 minutes or until browned and done, stirring frequently.
  3. While chicken cooks, combine remaining 1/4 cup yogurt, remaining 1 tablespoon lemon juice, remaining 1 garlic clove, and tahini, stirring well. Spread 1 1/2 teaspoons tahini mixture inside each pita half; divide chicken evenly among pita halves.
  4. Fill each pita half with 1 tablespoon cucumber, 1 tablespoon tomato, and 1 1/2 teaspoons onion. 

Couscous with Artichokes, Feta, and Sun-Dried Tomatoes


  • 2 1/3 cups water
  • 1 (14 1/2-ounce) can vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1 3/4 cups uncooked couscous
  • 3 cups chopped cooked chicken breast
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 (6-ounce) jars marinated artichoke hearts, undrained
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper


  1. Combine 2 cups water and tomatoes in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at high 3 minutes or until water boils; cover and let stand 10 minutes or until soft. Drain and chop; set aside.
  2. Place 1/3 cup water and vegetable broth in a large saucepan; bring to a boil. Stir in couscous. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 8 minutes or until tender. Remove from heat; stir in tomatoes and remaining ingredients.

Bar BQ Achari Boti

Eid-ul-Adha is the "Salty Eid" because a larger variety of dishes than those served during Eid-ul-Fitr are savoury, including beef or mutton depending on the animal slaughtered in the house. The presents offered to friends, relatives, and the poor of the society include the meat of the slaughtered animal. A barbecue is a must on first day of Eid-ul-Adha. The fried liver of the animal is used as breakfast and different dishes include different varieties of kebabs (boneless meat that has been meshed and fried or roasted).

Today, I share Bar BQ Achari Boti which gives a different taste to food lovers.

Boneless chicken 500 grm
Oil 2 tbsp
Green chilies grinded 1 tsp
Ginger garlic paste 1 ½ tsp
Onion seeds ½ tsp
Fenugreek seeds ¼ tsp
Fennel seeds ½ tsp
Crushed red pepper 1 tsp
Green cardamom 3
Salt 1 tsp
Chilli powder 1 tsp
White cumin powder 1 tsp (roasted)
Mango achaar masala 1 tbsp
All spices ½ tsp
Pinch of yellow color 1 pinch
Black pepper ¼ tsp
White vinegar 1 tbsp
Yogurt 1 tbsp
Fresh cream 1 tbsp

1. Heat oil in a cooking pan, add ginger garlic paste, green chillies, onions seeds, fenugreek seeds, fennel seeds, crushed red pepper and green cardamom for 2 minutes.
2. Then add salt, chilli powder, roasted  cumin powder, all spices, pinch of yellow color, black pepper, vinegar, yogurt, cream and mango achaar masala,  mix it properly.
3. Marinate chicken cubes in this masala for 2 hours.
4. Put chicken on skewers and BBQ or bake.

Beef Stroganoff

Eid-ul-Adha is the "Salty Eid" because a larger variety of dishes than those served during Eid-ul-Fitr are savoury, including beef or mutton depending on the animal slaughtered in the house. The presents offered to friends, relatives, and the poor of the society include the meat of the slaughtered animal. A barbecue is a must on first day of Eid-ul-Adha. The fried liver of the animal is used as breakfast and different dishes include different varieties of kebabs (boneless meat that has been meshed and fried or roasted).

Today, I share Beef Stroganoff which gives a different taste to food lovers.

Prequisite: Cut thin strips of the beef by putting the meat into the freezer for 20 to 30 minutes first.

  6 Tbsp butter
  1/2 Kg of top sirloin or tenderloin, cut thin into 1-inch wide by 2 1/2-inch     
  long strips
  1/3 cup chopped shallots (can substitute onions)
  250 grm cremini mushrooms, sliced
  Salt and pepper to taste
  1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  1/2 teaspoon of dry tarragon or 2 teaspoons of chopped fresh tarragon
  1 cup of sour cream at room temperature

1. Melt 3 Tbsp of butter in a large cooking pan on medium heat. Increase the heat to high/med-high and add the strips of beef. You want to cook the beef quickly, browning on each side, so the temp needs to be high enough to brown the beef, but not so high as to burn the butter. You may need to work in batches. While cooking the beef, sprinkle with some salt and pepper. When both sides are browned, remove the beef to a bowl and set aside.
2. In the same pan, reduce the heat to medium and add the shallots. Cook the shallots for a minute or two, allowing them to soak up any meat drippings. Remove the shallots to the same bowl as the meat and set aside.
3. In the same pan, melt another 3 Tbsp of butter. Increase heat to medium high and add the mushrooms. Cook, stirring occasionally for about 4 minutes. While cooking, sprinkle the nutmeg and the tarragon on the mushrooms.
4 Reduce the heat to low and add the sour cream to the mushrooms. You may want to add a tablespoon or two of water to thin the sauce (or not). Mix in the sour cream thoroughly. Do not let it come to a simmer or boil or the sour cream will curdle. Stir in the beef and shallots. 
5. Add salt and pepper to taste. 
6. Serve immediately over egg noodles, potatoes, or rice. 

Serves:   4 Persons
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes


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