What Does Your Kitchen Look Like?

I subscribe to several different blogs, and I see some amazing stuff that people are making. This always leaves me wondering what do these people’s kitchens looks like? Are they stocked to the brim with every cooks dream tools?

We’ve recently moved to a new place. When we first looked at our apartment, I was a little concerned that the kitchen was going to be too small and kind of cramped. It was definatly smaller than my kitchen at our condo. After being here and cooking in it for two weeks, I now realize that I love this kitchen. It is laid out much better than my last kitchen, and it is a better use of space. In fact, I still have cupboards that are empty!

I don’t have fancy equipment. Most of my stuff is hand-me downs, bought second hand or Christmas gifts. Of course if I had all the money in the world there are things I would purchase, but I have made due with what I have quite nicely. Someday thought, I want to have a six burner gas range.

Here are some photos of my kitchen. If you post about your kitchen in your blog, send me a link so I can snoop!

Pantry/Storage Closet

Looking into kitchen from dining room

Standing in dining room looking into kitchen



I have always wanted to try tamales, and to be honest I used to be so intimidated to order them off a menu somewhere because I was unsure if you ate the corn husk too. I certainly know a lot more about tamales now, in fact I have made them a few times from scratch. I got this great low-fat recipe from my friend Jessie over at Little Calorie. She talks about how they are a labor of love, how right she is. Making tamales from scratch are extremely time consuming, especially if you have a 2 1/2 year old and 11 month old who want to “help” you in the kitchen. These are definatly a “plan-ahead” kind of meal; plan to spend the majority of your day making them. But what a sweet, er-savory, reward.  Remember, you DO NOT eat the corn husk! 🙂

TIP FOR FREEZING: Once the tamales are done steaming, cool, the place in a zip top bag in the fridge. The next morning take the bag out and place it in the freezer. When tamale fever strikes, reheat (with husk on) in the microwave at half power for 2 minutes, or until warmed through. ENJOY!

Banana Walnut Cornmeal Pancakes

The other day I was shopping at Aldi’s, where I picked up a bag of ripe bananas on the cheap. I thought a good use of these bananas would be to take some and make them into pancakes. Sasha loves bananas, so I made these tasty pancakes for her for breakfast. I found the recipe at epicurious.com. It called for pecans, which would have been wonderful, but I only had walnuts in the cupboard. I followed the recipe exactly, except for changing the type of nut. They were quick and easy to make. Give them a try, find the recipe here.

A Naan-Traditional Meal

In July Alex and I traveled to Phoenix, while we were there we ate at a delicious Lebanese restaurant in Tempe, called Layalena. Before we ate there my middle eastern food experience was extremely limited; in fact I think the only thing I had previously eaten was hummus. Since neither of us knew what to order we decided to order a sampler mezza (appetizer) and the king’s feast for dinner and share it.  The appetizer included: Hummus, baba ganouj, falafel, labneh, m’hammara, and grape leaves. The king’s feast was huge and included: A skewer of kefta kabob, shish tawook, and shish kabob plus a lamb chop. It was a wonderful meal. Since we aren’t on vacation anymore, I had to figure out how to satisfy my craving for that meal at home.

My inspiration for this meal came after we took a trip to the library and I checked out several cookbooks; one was this beautiful book entitled “Home Baking: The Artful Mix of Flour and Tradition Around the World“. As I flipped through the book (several times) I saw a recipe for Silk Road Non; after reading it over and over I thought I could at least give it a try. What fun it would be to make handmade non (also spelled nan or naan), and a whole middle eastern meal to accompany it. I did a little research and completed my menu with muhammara and shish tawook.

Everything turned out so beautifully, in this case my hard work really paid off.  Alex was presently surprised with a delicious meal when he came home from work, and he requested it becomes part of the meal rotation. So shake up your recipe collection and try something naan-traditional!If you need inspiration, head to your local library. Many libraries are stocked with recipe books from around the world.

Silk Road Non
Makes 12 round breads
From: Home Baking

2 tsp active dry yeast
3 c warm water
7 to 9 c AP Flour (or 2 c whole wheat flour, plus 4-6 c AP flour)
1 T salt, plus extra for sprinkling
1/4 c rendered lamb fat melted, (or 4 T unsalted butter, melted)

In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in the water. Add 3 cups of the flour (if using whole wheat flour, add it and 1 c AP), a cup at a time, stirring well until a smooth batter forms, then stir for another minute, always stirring in the same direction. If you have the time, cover your bowl with plastic wtap and let stand for 30 minutes, or as long as 3 hours, if more convenient.

Sprinkle on 1 T salt and stir in. Add 3 T of the lamb fat or butter and fold in. Continue to add the flour, a cup at a time, stirring and folding it in until dough becomes too stiff to stir.

Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, 8-10 minutes.

Place the dough in a clean blow, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until at least doubled in volume, about 2 hours. (For more flavor, set in a cool place to rise for 8 hours, or overnight.)

Place rack in upper third of oven and place a large baking stone or unglazed quarry tiles, if you have them, (or baking sheet) on it. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Cut it in half and set one half aside, covered. Cut the remaining dough into 6 equal pieces. Shape each into a ball and then flatten with the floured palm of your hand. With a rolling pin, begin rolling it out into thin rounds about 8 inches in diameter. The dough may resist stretching, so work with 2 rounds at once to give the gluten in the dough time to stretch and relax. Roll out 1 round as far as it will easily go, then work on a second before coming back to the first to roll it out a little more.  As you complete each round, set aside on a lightly floured surface, covered with a towel or with plastic wrap. Let rest for 15 minutes before baking.

To shape the breads for baking, warm the remaining 1 T lamb fat or butter until very liquid and place by your work surface, together with a pastry brush and salt. Lightly dust a peel with flour. Place a dough round on the peel, then stamp or prick with center of the round thoroughly and vigorously with a fork, leaving a 1 inch rim. Brush lightly all over with lamb fat or butter, then sprinkle the center with a generous pinch of salt. Transfer to the baking stone, placing it to one side to leave room for another bread. Prepare the next bread, and slide into the over beside the first.

Bake for 5 1/2 – 7 minutes, until well flecked with gold. Place on a rack to cool for 5 minutes or so, then wrap in a cotton cloth to keep warm.

As this post is already incredibly long I will just include links to the other recipes. Mahammara is a red pepper and walnut dip. It is delicious with naan. Mahammara link is here. Also I recommend you roast your own red peppers; I couldn’t believe how easy it was, click here for a how to roast your own peppers tutorial.

Shish Tawook is a marinated and grilled chicken. It is so easy to make and tastes wonderful with muhammara. I used a combination of recipes. The original recipes can be found here and here.

Shish Tawook

1/2 c Plain yogurt (I used sour cream)
1/4 c white vinegar
1/2 c fresh lemon juice
2 T ketchup
2 T yellow mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon curry powder
2-3 lbs. boneless/skinless chicken breasts (cut into strips)

In a medium bowl, stir together all ingredients. Stir in chicken pieces, coating all sides with marinade. Cover bowl, and refrigerate overnight. Skewer chicken onto kabobs, grill until cook through.

Fettuccini and Roasted Tomato Cream Sauce

1 T EVOO (I used 1/2 T bacon grease and 1/2 T EVOO)
2 T shredded onion
2 cloves minced garlic
1/2-3/4 c dry white wine
1 tsp white wine vinegar
1/2 c chicken stock
1 pint roasted grape tomatoes
1/2 c cream
10-15 basil leaves julienne

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Toss tomatoes with EVOO and salt. Pour onto a flat baking sheet. Roast for 30 minutes, or until tomatoes are shrunk and shriveled, but not dried out.  *If you are pinched for time you could do it quickly under the broiler… just make sure you keep your eyes on it.

Heat a skillet over medium heat. Shred onion with a cheese grater. Add EVOO, onion and garlic to the pan, saute for 1-2 minutes. Do not let garlic get brown, it will have a bitter flavor if it does and you must start over. Add wine and allow to reduce to about half. Stir in chicken stock and vinegar. Simmer 3-5 minutes. Add roasted tomatoes, and stir in cream. Remove from heat, stir in basil leaves.

Toss with fettuccini. Top with crumbled bacon or pancetta and freshly shredded Parmesan cheese.

Pumped Up Mac & Cheese

Whenever I am in the kitchen, Sasha always asks me if I am cooking mac ‘n cheese. I am sure most toddlers could eat this meal morning, noon and night; Sasha would be tickled pink if I place a plate of mac ‘n cheese in front of her for breakfast. Although nothing beats homemade mac ‘n cheese, at times it is just easier to use the boxed variety. Now I know that mac ‘n cheese isn’t the healthiest lunch option, but it is quick and easy, and perfect for a mom with lots to do. I’ve tried to healthify (cut some calories) the boxed variety by adding a fraction of the requested butter and using low-fat or non-fat milk.

Awhile back I saw Jessica Seinfeld on Oprah, talking about her new cookbook Deceptively Delicious. I do not own nor have I read her cookbook, but the idea of getting kids to eat healthier foods is something I want my kids to do. Luckily I don’t have to be so deceptive with my cooking right now, my kids are excellent eaters and I hope they remain that way.  Mrs. Seinfeld “sneaks” vegetables into her recipes so her children get the added benefit of extra vitamins and nutrients.  I didn’t have to sneak any vegetables in to my mac ‘n cheese, I just stirred in a can of peas and carrots, and pumped up my mac ‘n cheese with additional Vitamins A, C, and K, along with additional fibre (which we could all use). My girls loved the chunks of veggies in their mac ‘n cheese and I was happy to know they were getting the additional vitamins and nutrients they wouldn’t have had with plain mac ‘n cheese.  So peas have another helping! 😉

Pumped Up Mac & Cheese

1 box Macaroni and Cheese
1 small can peas and carrots (drained and rinsed)
Butter or MArgarine

Prepare macaroni and cheese according to directions on box. A few minutes before the macaroni is tender stir in peas and carrots. Strain macaroni, peas and carrots. Stir in milk and butter. Enjoy!

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