Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Recipe: Warm Apple Crisp


Eid Mubarak to all my fellow Muslims! For those of you who are well acquainted with this holiday you must know that it involves the sacrifice of a goat/lamb/cow in following the Abrahamic tradition. Therefore, normally, Muslims are found eating lots of meaty dishes post Eid ul Adha with all the fresh meat available everywhere. However, being the lazy American Muslims that we are, we have our sacrifice done overseas and distributed among the poor there. Traditionally  Eid celebrations do involve lots of sweets and desserts but it's usually more 'Eastern' dishes like what my mom makes, Sheer Khurma. I thought about attempting to make something more cultural and traditional to go along with the holiday, but truthfully my husband and I both aren't huge fans of Desi desserts. So instead, I thought about what I wanted most for this holiday. I wanted to be home, to be with my family back in New Jersey. I miss home SO much. Like my mom who probably made Sheer Khurma for us all those years on Eid because she was missing her home in Pakistan. I decided to make apple crisp because I was so desperately missing Autumn in the Northeast.


I also had a jar of caramel sauce, from a gift basket I won at work so many months ago and this was the perfect way to put it to use. 

Soon after pouring it over the apples, I realized they are supposed to be drenched in caramel sauce, clearly this jar wasn't enough.
So I quickly whipped up my own batch of homemade caramel sauce and added it in.

Then I got to making the top layer. Normally this calls for using rolled oats, but the rebellious chef in me decided to use the Granola my crunchy Betty husband bought. 
Some people like to press half of this mixture into the bottom of the pie pan to make a crust, but I used it all on top of the apples. 
Pop that bad boy into the oven and watch your home turn into apple/vanilla smelling heaven!
I have a weird obsession with watching caramel bubble and staring at the gooey rivers that run through
Recipe adapted from  Here
Ingredients
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup Old Fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground Cinnamon
  • ½ cup butter, softened slightly
  • ½ cup chopped nuts (pecans, almonds or walnuts) optional
  • 4 cups chopped peeled apples
  • 1 cup white or brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. In a large bowl, combine first four ingredients. Cut in butter until crumbly. Toss in nuts if desired. Press half into a greased 2-1/2-qt. baking dish or a 9-in. square baking pan.
  3. Cover with apples.
  4. In a small saucepan, combine the sugar, cornstarch, water and vanilla. Bring to a boil; cook and stir 2 minutes or until thick and clear. Pour over apples.
  5. Sprinkle with remaining crumb mixture. Add more nuts if desired.
  6. Bake 60-65 minutes or until apples are tender. Serve warm, with ice cream or Whipped Cream.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Recipe: Zucchini carrot bread with chocolate chips and walnuts


I have a serious problem. I can't stop baking. 

This week I started intense potty training with Ali. He'll be 3 in December and I am hopeful to have him trained by his birthday. We're doing the cold turkey method, no pull ups. It's supposed to be the most effective and quick which it has proven to be, but it also is the most exhausting, mentally draining and is a likely candidate for extreme forms of torture. Let's just say I did NOT need to be baking while trying to accomplish this task. 

So despite a serious backache from all the bending down to clean and jerking out of the way to avoid being sprayed on it's been a decently successful few days. He's learned to keep his number twos in the toilet and number ones are getting better. Enough toilet talk. I know that's not why you came here. 

This recipe is a bit more involved than others I've attempted before, mostly because of the added step of grating zucchini/carrots and that probably took me longer as I did it while running back and forth between the kitchen and bathroom. Nonetheless, it came out tasting pretty delicious and my chocolate loving husband/child have already devoured more than half of it (IN ONE DAY). This is a great way to get picky eaters to have their veggies without knowing it! 

I also used baby carrots not whole carrots (gasp unhealthy I know, I like the taste of chemicals what can I say) and grating those is a torturous task in itself. I would say you could barely taste the carrot so maybe using real carrots is better? Or just use more? You try it and tell me!

Again, I like to tamper with recipes online to make my own so this is a blend of 1 2 and 3
Ingredients
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1½ cups granulated sugar
  •  1 cup brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup grated carrots
  • 1½ cups grated zucchini
  • ½ cup walnuts
  • ½ cup chocolate chips



Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Oil and flour 2 loaf pans.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together oil, sugar, eggs, and vanilla until fully combined and slightly lightened in color.
  3. In a medium bowl, stir together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Whisk flour mixture into sugar mixture until fully combined. Add in the grated carrots and zucchini and walnuts. Stir until evenly distributed.  
  4. Divide batter evenly among the loaf pans. Top with chocolate chips and more chopped walnuts, I also like to top with a little brown sugar to give it a crunch. Bake for 45 minutes on lower rack, rotating halfway through if necessary. Turn off stove and leave in oven to cool for 5-10 minutes to ensure it is cooked through.
  5. Cool loaves in pans about 20 minutes before gently and carefully removing. Bread may be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days, or frozen, wrapped in parchment and foil and placed in a zipper bag for 4 months. 


Eggplant Parmesan

Oh and I nearly forgot to mention that I also made Eggplant Parm for dinner. Because I've totally lost my mind. Peeling the skin then slicing and bread crumbing the eggplant, its just all so much more time consuming than ordering pizza, which I probably should have done.  But the end result really was worth it. 

Attempt this when you have a solid 1-1.5 hrs on your hands. 

We bake, not fry, our eggplant slices  which makes me want to believe this is a healthy recipe but it tastes SO darn good to be called that. 

I'm too tired to write out the whole thing, but they do a good job of that HereTo add in more veggies I threw some frozen broccoli and sliced mushrooms into the canned tomato sauce. Also, while I put the eggplant slices to bake I roasted 3 garlic cloves on the side, then crushed and added them into my sauce. Wow does that pack in flavor or what! Hubs better get ready for roasted garlic everything.



I left my dish in for longer since I love me some burnt cheese topping but you can probably pull it out once the cheese starts to bubble. 


And since I clearly cant sit still for an idle moment, I leave you with a depiction of what I did with most of our time spent in the bathroom this week:
Filed under things you discover in the toilet - Ali's momma is a Play-Doh artist!
 Homemade fondant cakes here I come!

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Ali's Big Boy Room Decor


 As I had mentioned here, one of the first things we did after moving in was set up Ali's room. I was so excited for him to finally sleep on his own as he had always been in our room in Jersey, where we had a one bedroom apartment. I knew the best way to encourage him towards the idea of his 'Big Boy' room was for us to decorate with all his favorite items.

Right when I found out I was expecting a baby boy I knew I wanted to do a transportation theme. However, in 2010, when Ali was born, the Jungle Animal theme was huge! Personally I felt that once he grew older he wouldn't be as crazy about animals as most boys tend to gravitate towards cars, planes, and trucks (that held pretty true for my little guy). I didn't want to buy things that wouldn't last longer than just his infant/toddler years so this theme felt right. I did regret it when he was a baby, because you could often find Jungle themed items on sale or easily available, and Ali had a serious obsession with Lion/Zebra/Giraffes (courtesy of Madagascar which we watched on loop for months). But, now that he is Lightning McQueen and Thomas the Engine's biggest fan this room decor works pretty well! 
Without further adieu, Welcome to:
$10 chalkboard found at TJ Maxx, this one happened to be a gift. Excuse my terrible handwriting.
My husband is a big fan of Garage sale rummaging. I personally don't always have the patience for it because usually you have to sift through a lot of junk and imagine the potential in things beyond what you see up front. But, in rare cases we did come upon some great items. 

Fortunately, baby items are one of the top things people like to get rid of at garage sales since kids grow up fast, some things are barely used when you get them. I don't feel comfortable buying clothing or anything personal, but that's why room decor is the perfect thing to look for at garage sales or on Craigslist.   


Transportation bedding: Target online (no longer available) Convertible Crib: Walmart online (not sure what model, just know we paid $99 instead of the ridiculous prices Babies R Us charges and they had a promotion for a free toddler mattress included too!) Toy box: Garage sale $10 (saw the exact item at TJ Maxx/Home Good for $30!) Radio Flyers wagon: Gift Fisher Price Train: Gift Storage Bin: Ikea $5 Bed Canopy: Ikea $15

More garage sale finds! I paid maybe $1 for each, Fire Engine book ends and Truck night light. The hand print decoration was artwork he made in class, but it went perfectly with our primary colors theme. 

Close up shot of his bed sheet, discontinued but it from SkipHop. I'm planning to put up some sort of wall decal or maybe just paint this above his closet. 
love this step-stool found at Home Goods It has space inside to store  small items.
At a price of $25 we decided its just not worthwhile despite how adorable it is!
Maybe inspiration for a DIY project? We'll see. 


Update: We made some changes to the room. I finally got a chance to put up the wall decals. They came out looking great and gave the room a more fun playful feel! We also made another trip to Ikea and got another storage bin since something had to be done about the endless stuffed animals! They had this bookshelf on sale for $20 regularly $50. Ali played with the cars themed rug while we shopped and he enjoyed it so much we had to bring one home for him even if it was a bit of a splurge. He's definitely spent more time playing in his room this week than watching TV, so guess its a worthwhile buy! Lastly, I fell in love with these cute wall hooks which fit perfectly behind the door just high enough for little man to hang up his own clothes! I wish.

Above the window we put them a little higher to leave space
for curtains eventually 

Wall Decals: Target  In store $10





Rug: Ikea $13
Bookshelf: Ikea $20 


Wall hooks: Ikea $4


 His room is still missing a bit more lighting. For now I got an $8 floor lamp from Walmart. Again, I'm just not ready to pay major $$. So I've been searching to find the right stuff and being picky about it. Advice or ideas would be greatly appreciated :)

I'm totally in love with this airplane lamp, so in love that I've spent hours on Craigslist trying to find something like it. For some insane reason people have a real attachment to their kid's room airplane lamp and believe that it's totally acceptable to price it higher than a new one! I recently got a huge mosaic mirror at pier one for cheaper than this dinky lamp! sigh, so there's my rant on that as I continue to search. Ali's dad thinks this is a great DIY project for me, but I'm not creative that way. Mostly, I'm lazy and I'd rather have someone else do the work. So maybe you all can do some garage sale searching for me? Or just gift one to my little cutie. His birthday is December 27th, but we don't mind celebrating early :)

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Life lately through my IPhone

I know I've been MIA lately. I had all time these elaborate plans of how I'd constructively spend my time once I was a SAHM. I had thoughts of meal plans, cleaning charts, fitness routines, extreme organizing and finally focus on budget focused themed decorating (DIY projects). But mostly I end up staying in my PJs til 5pm while Ali watches way too much TV. I'm stuck in a bad rut of missing home, of missing life that was so familiar to me. Not sure why I didn't think this would happen to me. I know so many girls who go through this when they move out far away from home, but I was so sure it wasn't going to be me.  Everyone kept reminding me how proactive I am and how I would have so much fun being home utilizing my time so much better than I did before. Never say never huh. What bothers me most is how I love writing and reading, and I want to get back to it so badly but I'm just stuck in a rut. So while I'm here and still figuring my way back to being a normal non-useless human being, this is what life looks like: 
Finally got around to organizing my jewelry armoire. 

I realize I love the idea of accessorizing more than I actually do it.

First time using markers and play dough with the toddler, mostly a success since he makes me do all the work and it keeps him distracted away from TV time for a good hour. 

Weekly trips to B&N for story time always end in us spending an extra hour there doing this. I don't mind, glad my boy loves to build! 

Took a trip out to Downtown Disney. I love this picture of Ali terrified of the Dinosaur, he's like RUN BABA RUN!

Free admission day at the children's museum. Semi fail- museum was over crowded and outside it rained A LOT. but luckily in Tampa the rain lasts maybe 15 minutes so afterwards we hung out near the spray park outside. Ali loved it!

Beautiful mural at the museum gift shop


Silliness

afternoon tea has become a must cuz Ammi's energy level runs pretty low chasin' crazy little man all day
This picture would've been epic had that kid on the right not barged into it. My Green monster was so into that pose!

More excited than most little girls  to get a shot with it. Sigh, that castle never ceases to take my breath away. Even in a souvenir shop

Attempting to potty training Ali, guess who I found on the seat last week?

Whipped up a super easy super quick beef enchilada dinner using chapati roti not tortillas (improvise!) using this recipe

My crazy kid yelling "I Like to Move it Move it" riding the whale. So strange. So much like his Ammi.

Fearless monkey

Obsessed (is putting it mildly) with Thomas the Engine

"Look I'm Oscar!" (from Sesame street)

Ali's toys join us every week for Story time 

Trip to Lowry Zoo in Tampa


First time seeing a manatee

Found Baba sleeping on the sofa and thought he'd join in. (this was not posed, he actually did this)
So while I miss home immensely life here isn't so bad. Me and the little man get some wonderful moments together I know I'll cherish dearly. I'm trying hard to pull out the creative Sania that I know is hiding deep inside, she's just being the stubborn one that she is and letting Lazy Whiny 'Why cant we go back to Jersey already' Sania have her moment.