Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Chocolate Banana Raspberry Bread

As you can tell from my previous post, while hubs was away on a work trip I had WAY too much time on my hands. Since he loves dessert I wanted to make him something special when he got back. We also had bananas in the house which were way beyond my liking to eat. Normally I've always made this amazing Banana Walnut Bread which comes out incredibly moist, but since we were out of walnuts but had an abundance of raspberries I thought I'd alter it around a bit. The outcome? Heaven, pure heaven.

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 cups sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) melted butter
2 tablespoons greek yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 ripe medium-large bananas, mashed
1/2 cup raspberries (mashed) and a handful whole to add on top
1/2 cup chocolate chips (to preference)
1/4 cup brown sugar

All the ingredients necessary (one extra egg added by mistake, lets pretend it never happened)
Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9x5x3 loaf pan and dust with flour.
Blend the flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
Mix the egg, sugar, and butter until combined.
Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and when blended, add the yogurt, vanilla, raspberries, and mashed bananas; mix well.
Fold 1/2 cup of chocolate chips and pour batter into prepared loaf pan.
Sprinkle the batter with remaining 1/4 cup of brown sugar and stick in whole raspberries to give it a nice look on top.
Bake for 45 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.

Separate Dry ingredients and wet
Combine everything to a 'thicker than pancake but not as thick as oatmeal' mixture
I had more batter than could fit in my pan so I made my favorite, Muffins!

fluffy gooey fruity goodness

Monday, September 16, 2013

Food Talk... Again

Here I am again with more about our meals.

This week we ate:

Guac Cheddar Burger with sauteed mushrooms on sour dough bread.
Whenever I'm at a loss for what to cook up, I turn to burgers. There's no going wrong there.

1/2 lb ground beef (for 2 quarter pound burgers, you can adjust to your preference)
salt pepper to preference
1 tsp garlic minced
1 avocado
one small chopped onion
one small diced tomato
1/2 cup of fresh chopped cilantro
1/2  a lime
handful of mushrooms
two slices cheddar cheese

Prep: I mixed ground beef with salt pepper (1 tsp each), garlic half of the chopped onions and diced tomatoes and made them into patties. Then using 1 tablespoon grape-seed oil I pan fried the burgers on medium heat. Once you're burgers are done in the remaining oil you can lightly saute the mushrooms, it makes them juicy and flavorful! 
For the Guac: Using a fork mash up the avocado add salt pepper to taste and the remaining chopped onions and diced tomatoes, cilantro and lime juice (can sub with lemon juice too). 

Spread the guac on toasted bread and top with with cheese. Such a yummy easy dinner recipe. Start to finish maybe 30 mins? 
yummy goodness!
Its been three weeks since we've moved here and that meant three weeks since I had mom's home cooking. I was so lucky to have spent my last month in NJ living at my parents place. I thoroughly enjoyed mom's amazing dishes during Ramadan iftars. I was seriously missing some good ol' fashion Pakistani food so I turned to the most basic comfort food. 

Kali Daal Chawal (Brown Lentils and Rice) 
I could tell you how I did it, but this website does it better (I don't use tomatoes, rest is the same). 

I also made a basic Chicken salan that my mom taught me in the early years of marriage. Its a standard Pakistani curry almost always cooked the same way. Here are two recipes I like: One and Two

For snacks I've been trying to give the picky toddler some fruits since he's pretty much never eats fruits or veggies unless I hide them. Strangely enough he even prefers veggies to fruits! Anyway, I'm experimenting with my personal favorite snack, Nutella. I've learned that if I top a little Nutella on anything, Ali is willing to try it. So this week we celebrated that by snacking on raspberries, sliced bananas, peaches and whole wheat pretzels.

I'm also working on getting him to eat healthy snacks like hummus and carrots. Still a work in progress. 

Friday, September 13, 2013

Happy Friday!

It's finally here! This was a tough/tiring week with the hubs gone out of state for a work trip. Ali and I missed him a lot. It was a bit scary being home alone in a new place too, and Ali's elmo toys randomly singing in the middle of the night didn't help that either!! Needless to say, we're thrilled he's back now and we have some fun activities planned for the weekend with a pool party and a trip to the zoo being a few of the highlights. Hope everyone has a great weekend :)

Also, I found this great new app for FREE at the App Store called Rhonna Designs.  

Thought I'd give you a view of what it looks like when I step out of my place:

This little guy and his buddies love hanging around outside our door. We call him Kermie. Or maybe just I do.

Since it rains almost daily here, we see a lot of rainbows. It's hard to tell but this was a double rainbow, my first time seeing one!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

In this moment, I have it all.

Meet Florida's most adorable gator

I'm sitting at a cafe/kids' jungle gym as I write.

It goes without saying this is pretty much what I always imagined "stay at home mom life" to be.

Today: I prepared breakfast and cleaned while Ali watched Word World. Then after lunch there was every mother's savior: Nap time, where I cooked dinner as well as had a much needed phone call with the bestie about potty training and preschool. Post nap we headed to the library for an afternoon of story time and arts/crafts. And because I know my child has insane energy to burn, I found out about Family Night at an indoor jungle gym, Monkey Bizznizz. $5 to play from 5 pm til close.

We've been here two hours and I don't see any signs of Ali's energy running out. This place is great and what a fantastic idea! Parents get to have coffee/snacks and stare at their phone without whining in the background. Meanwhile, kids tumble, slide, jump, climb and do everything but stare at a screen for hours. Best $5 ever spent! 

Earlier this week a friend posted an article on Facebook about the concept of 'having it all' and how society has brainwashed women into thinking that we must have it all while also warping our definition of what it means. It got me thinking about the fact that I left a pretty promising career to be doing this. No pay, managing finances to live/save off one income, not to mention diaper duty (soon to be potty training duty, which Ali seems more ready for than I am!), booboo kissing, cheering him on to climb higher or celebrating his little victories.

Some days its really exhausting and everyday is harder than a day at a 'real job'. Yesterday I found Spider-Man stickers on the bum of my sweatpants (who knows how many ppl I met or stores I went to where no one thought to tell me!) and today I had to smudge finger-paint off my new KS purse (thank god for washable paint). Both those instances made me smile. It meant my son was exploring and growing; and most importantly I was there to be a part of it. I know people without kids don't get it, they and sometimes even we parents see children as a hindrance from 'living it up' or 'having it all'. But, I still remember not too long ago (1.5 months to be exact) sitting behind a desk staring at my kid's pictures on my phone as I ate lunch feeling depressed about missing out on his childhood. I had many things then, but I felt I didn't 'have it all'.  

I'm not knocking down working moms, I was one for 2.5 years. I have tremendous respect for women who continue to succeed with a career and duties of motherhood. And I know there are days you feel like everything is balancing just right and days where nothing is. I made a decision to leave work and spend time with my toddler, because I realized that for me, doing both simultaneously did not make me happy. And right now, that's a decision I'm SO glad I made. Tomorrow my thoughts may change or maybe I won't have the opportunity and choice not to work, so today I'm swimming in SAHM's blissful pool. This is what I define as a job I wouldn't trade for anything in the world. I truly love the feeling that I'm not missing a single moment of watching him grow up; tantrums,tears and all.

So now for your viewing pleasure, the memories we made this week:
Favorite exhibit at Glazer's Childrens Museum
Cutest cashier Publix ever saw!

Sliding down the big boy jungle gym
Weekly Wednesday morning balloon and face painting at the mall
Tough guy coming through!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Life lately


It's been two weeks since we moved in. Now I realize what 'settling in' really means. It involves unpacking endless amounts of boxes, hours of organizing/sorting/cleaning only to break for eating ramen noodles until you make a real grocery trip.

Sort of still feels like we are on an extended vacation away from home, but as more nails are put into the walls and more lamps are added to rooms it actually somehow starts to feel like 'home'..I guess.

We still have a lot more to do; we're still sleeping on a mattress on the floor until I can figure out which box has the brackets to assemble our bed. 

One bit of good news is that Ali's room is all set up and my big boy 2.5 year old is sleeping all through the night (most nights) in his own room! Major mashAllah to that. 

So without further delay, here is how life looks lately: 

Before shot of my kitchen.. still a work in progress but we did finally buy groceries yay!
Before shot of Ali's room
And after
that bike is Ali's current obsession
made a first obligatory trip to Ikea and got some cute decor for the 'big boy room'
Bought Groupons for a halal restaurant, Tazza Cafe we've been to twice already! That Louisiana pasta was dee-licious!
 Took Ali to a really nice children's museum in downtown Tampa. He absolutely loved it and my Grouponing found a deal on getting annual membership so lots more trips back here soon!
Right outside the museum is this great park with a lovely view, splash pad and a big playground. 
discovered that 'SAHM' duties require coffee and since I hate the taste, this dollar store find makes it something I look forward to each morning. 
Spent time poolside right across from our apartment..can't say I mind free amenities!
Enjoyed the evening summer activities at Clearwater beach: street performers, craft stands and a gorgeous view of sunset.
Free movies at the beach all year! Ali wasn't a big fan of Babe so we didn't stick around very long.
Attended a massive Food Truck festival, sounded ideal in our minds but in extreme heat/humid weather hour long lines got tiring real fast. 

The best part: rock shrimp tacos and truffle fries at this Portuguese truck BemBom. seriously spicy and amazing.
Planned a trip out to Downtown Disney since it's free and would've been nice as Ali's first Disney experience. He fell asleep in the car and we didn't get to Orlando til 9 pm so we went to the outlet malls instead, so whenAli awoke to ask about Disney, we showed him the next best thing. Disney Store. He loved it. Win Win.
Wajih's coworker threw his daughter a birthday party at Chuck E Cheese, another 'first' for Ali. Poor kid didn't know how to contain himself, he was so excited by all the rides and games he would run off to the next one before I'd even drop a token in one.  So it wasn't entirely my fault that I used up all his tokens at whack a mole by myself. 
Started adding some room decor and my mom's beautiful Islamic calligraphy art was the first thing up! 

And the part that makes my days complete:

Friday, September 06, 2013

Food talk

SAHMhood has brought me to the one thing I love most: Food.

The first week we got here there wasn't much in the fridge to welcome us. Hubs had been living off canned sardine sandwiches (SO disgusting I have no idea how he can tolerate the stench let alone ENJOY it!) and ramen noodles. So, the first night he made me his 'gourmet' version of shrimp ramen noodles. It was great, but eventually I needed real food.

The second night did get better, we have some pretty amazing neighbors (parents of a friend) who sent over homemade biryani which definitely hit the spot. Once we ran out I started cooking. And it hasn't quite ended.

Here's what was on our plates this week:
Colorful breakfast of all my favorite fruits. We found this delicious Peach Butter at a rest stop in Georgia. It claims to be from a local farm, regardless it tastes amazing when drizzled on top of fruits.
I do love my friend Pinterest for all the overeating it inspires. I find most my recipes there, but they all end up altered as I have trouble following directions.
This is Spinach stuffed chicken in a garlic sauce topped with sauteed mushrooms over egg noodles.
My alteration: I seasoned the chicken like a blacken chicken recipe (tons of cayenne and paprika, hint of basil and thyme) and added cheddar cheese
Another breakfast favorite: spinach and broccoli omelette topped with grilled shrimp and cheddar cheese 
  This here is Stuffed Eggplant.  Yes I have an obsession with foods that have the word "stuffed" in them and also with cheese topping on everythingggg.
my alterations: no breadcrumbs or parmesan cheese (because we didn't have any), add in cumin powder, coriander powder, cayenne pepper to the ground beef , not necessary but I added in diced mushrooms and tomatoes to the mix too.  I love me a side of sliced avocado just because. 

Hope you enjoyed the pictures! :)