Brussel sprouts to the rescue!

Brussel sprouts to the rescue!

We are definitely in the “seriously how is it not summer yet” phase of life.  Isla actually cried about having to do her Arabic homework the other night, which if you know her at all is a pretty obvious clue that she’s done for the year.

When I’m in a good rhythm I plan our meals for the week and by Monday night have most of them prepped, but these days I find myself staring at our sad pantry shelves bemoaning the fact that my family just ate yesterday and now I’m supposed to feed them again.  Nothing sounds good, I don’t feel like cooking, and even our go-to’s just sound blah.

Then I discovered this recipe for a skillet dish that I thought sounded promising.

Promising doesn’t even begin to describe it.  Of course in true Nicolette-style I changed it quite a bit, so I can’t technically vouch for the original recipe.  But my version?  It is so so so so good.  And I didn’t even think I liked brussel sprouts.

The key is in the meat.  The original recipe uses chicken and bacon.  We don’t really get bacon that often and the first time I made it with chicken, it didn’t add much.  Chicken is expensive so when I do use it, we wanna at least know we are eating it.  So instead of the chicken and bacon, I used some random frozen Tesco sausage I found at Spinneys a few weeks ago.  Super flavorful and really the star of the dish.  So find some (sausage I mean) and make this:

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I know, I know, it’s not much to look at.  But I guarantee you will like it.  Even if you think you don’t like brussel sprouts.

First cook the meat in a little oil in a skillet.  How much?  I don’t know, however much you want.

Remove the cooked meat but leave the juices and add two big chopped sweet potatoes (we have the white ones here),  2 handfuls of brussel sprouts (you can cut them or throw them in whole), and a chopped onion.  Cook until the potatoes start to get soft, stirring occasionally.

Add a chopped apple, 2 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp oregano, and a cup of water.  Stir until the water evaporates.  Add the sausage, cover and cook until the potatoes are cooked through.

Then eat it.  All of it.  Because you won’t be able to stop.  It’s that good.

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Dreamsicle ice cream: an almost summer’s treat

Dreamsicle ice cream: an almost summer’s treat

Winter is officially over, and I’m pretty sure we skipped over spring.  But the seasonal fruits and veggies didn’t get the message.  Strawberry season is just ending, so we’re stuck eating unripened almonds and plums (which for some odd reason, Lebanese love) while we wait for the bounty of summer fruits… peaches, cherries, watermelon… I’m drooling at the thought!

Oranges are pretty much on their way out.  So I grabbed a few kilos for one last batch of this super fresh ice cream I discovered this winter when oranges were pretty much the only fruit we had on hand.

It’s light and fresh and reminds me of childhood summers in California for some reason.  And it’s ice cream, so on that basis alone it’s a winner.

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2 cups fresh squeezed orange juice
2 cups ice cream base (I used half milk/half cream)
2/3 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla

Mix well and churn in an ice cream maker.  If you don’t have an ice cream maker, I’ve read you can put it in the freezer and stir it every 15 minutes, but I’ve never actually tried that.  Enjoy!

Thin Mint ice cream

Thin Mint ice cream

I gained a lot a lot a lot of weight when I was pregnant with the girls.  With Luka, I gained about half as much as I did with Ruby.  No clue why, but hey, I’ll take it!

Most of the weight has melted off pretty easily, but I’m still hanging on to that last 10 pounds or so, and I’ve decided that I blame my sister entirely.

I mean, she’s the one who gave me the ice cream maker for Christmas last year… so it’s completely her fault that I’m making up amazing batches of ice cream… and then eating it!

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Our newest creation is one of my favorites yet!

2 cups milk
2 cups cream
2/3 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbl cocoa powder

Mix well and add to ice cream maker.  Once the ice cream is starting to thicken, add one sleeve of Thin Mint cookies… and unbutton your pants, because you will probably eat it all in one sitting.  It’s just that good!

Horchata ice cream

Horchata ice cream

My new ice cream maker has been one of the best things ever this summer!

For about two years now, we’ve been trying to eat clean… basically no processed foods which leaves out white sugar, flour, oils and basically anything that comes in a package.  But we aren’t crazy strict with it.  When we go out to eat, which is usually about once a week, we enjoy whatever we want.  And we definitely indulge in the occasional treat now and then.

Problem is, I love ice cream.  And there is a dukan across the street that sells decent ice cream sandwiches for less than a dollar.  The occasional treat becomes the several-times-a-week-after-the-girls-are-asleep treat when summer time rolls around.  So the ice cream maker has been awesome because it allows us (okay me) to indulge in sweet treats that we know aren’t filled with all sorts of junk!

I’ve had a hard time getting fresh cream here, so it’s been lots of experimenting with different bases – milk, coconut milk, yogurt, kefir…  Some have been better than others, but the creamy the better in my opinion.

I had a bit of cream left over from a dish I made for the baby shower last week so I thought I’d use it to make some ice cream for dessert tonight… and came up with this creation which was absolutely amazing: horchata ice cream.  The idea was inspired by Caleb’s comment earlier that cinnamon toast is a comfort food and my growing annoyance at Cinnabon (seriously, it’s the one American chain here that actually tastes like the real deal… and they NEVER have cinnamon rolls ready to buy!!!  I mean really, all you do is make cinnamon rolls… and yet you are out of cinnamon rolls?!?)  So back to my ice cream:

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Technically it’s not horchata, because it doesn’t have rice or any nuts in it, but it sure does taste like it!  I may or may not have had seconds and thirds and not even blamed the baby for it!

 

Horchata Ice Cream

1.5 cups cream

2 cups milk

2/3 cup honey

2 tsp cinnamon

1.5 tsp vanilla

Whisk all the ingredients together until the honey is broken up and the cinnamon is (mostly) dissolved.  Add to your ice cream maker, wait not so patiently, and sa7tein!!

 

Fall in Beirut

Fall in Beirut

Sietske has some great posts showcasing the amazing colors of Lebanon in the fall.

But in the middle of Beirut, the changing of the seasons is much more subtle.  The wind off the sea is no longer hot, but a cool, refreshing breeze.  The AC is no longer necessary and we leave our windows and doors open all day long.  Wearing pants to walk through the city is only slightly uncomfortable, not unbearable (temperatures are, after all, still in the 80’s!) and moms tell their kids “no more ice cream until spring” as we walk by the temptation that is gelato right next to Isla’s school.

To the non-native-Beiruti, it doesn’t feel much like fall, although it is one of the best times of the year to be in Beirut… but just because it doesn’t feel like fall doesn’t mean it can’t taste like it!

And to me, nothing screams autumn like pumpkin.  I actually never liked anything pumpkin until moving to Lebanon, believe it or not.  But there is something nostalgic to me now about the flavor.  It’s like a taste of home, even though I never actually tasted it at home.  Especially when mixed with chocolate or cream cheese frosting.

And thanks to my previously blogged about pumpkin hoarding, there is always pumpkin in the house when I crave fall.

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I’m not much of a baker, but I’m quite impressed at how this turned out.  Tastes just as good as it looks and was the perfect way to usher in the season (even though it is already the middle of October!)  Here’s where I got the recipe for anyone drooling right now.

All it needed was a good chai latte to go with it…. but I guess that would be pushing it!  :)

 

Freezer meal recipes

Freezer meal recipes

Since my last post, I finished stocking the freezer… thought I’d share some of the recipes for the meals currently overflowing from our not-super-large freezer.  :)

I had to make some changes… no pork, for example, and I actually don’t really follow measurements very exactly… so these are more like guidelines.  :)  But maybe you’ll find a new favorite dinner amongst them!

Sausage and Rice Casserole

Pioneer Woman’s Chicken Tortilla Soup

Lentil Soup

Poor Man’s Gumbo

Burghul Bedfeen  (this one I actually just have the chicken prepped and frozen, because the rest is pretty quick and easy)

Molokhia  (also just the chicken)

I don’t have recipes, but I also have Chili, Meatloaf, Sloppy Joe meat, and Arabic rice ready to defrost and eat.  A couple of the recipes I made double batches, so I actually have 13 meals prepped for when the baby gets here.  Should last us quite a while!

As we say in Lebanon, “Sa7tein!”

engryah recipe…. sahtein!

engryah recipe…. sahtein!

I recently confirmed my long suspected love of eggplant. Thought I’d share the recipe with you in case you want to try something different for dinner tonight.  It’s not technically a Lebanese dish, I think its Iraqi actually, but we have something similar.  It’s super yummy!

Ingredients:

1 lb. stew beef or lamb (I used lamb :)), cut into cubes

1 onion, chopped

beef stock or water

1 large eggplant

salt

1 tomato, sliced

1/2 c. fresh lemon juice

2/3 c. tomato juice

3 tbl. sugar

olive oil

Heat olive oil and brown meat cubes and onion.  Add boiling beef stock or water to cover meat.  Reduce heat and simmer for 1-2 hours, until meat is tender.  Occasionally add more water to keep meat covered throughout cooking.

Remove half the peel of the eggplant in strips.  Slice the eggplant into circles – about 1 inch thick.  Sprinkle with salt and re-stack the slices.  Allow to dry on a paper towel until the meat is finished.

Heat olive oil in a skillet and brown both sides of the eggplant.  Layer on top of cooked meat.  Add tomato slices on top and then lemon juice.  Sprinkle with sugar and add the tomato juice.   Simmer for 20-30 minutes until the eggplant is soft.

Serve with white rice…. and enjoy!

posted by: nicolette