Creamy Spinach Fettucine

My power flavor combinations : spinach, mushroom and garlic come together in this delicious creamy pasta main that is sure to get anyone raving about how awesome of a cook you are. Super easy to whip up in your kitchen and perfect for a weekday meal. Save some leftovers for your weekend movie marathons and you’ll thank your lucky stars you chanced upon this recipe and actually made it.

You can opt to make this vegetarian, its equally amazing that way. I wanted to add a bit of chicken to it, so I did. I love how the color turns out, it looks really beautiful on the plate and tastes as good!

Ingredients:

  • 5 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli flakes
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 chicken breast, cut into strips
  • 190 g mushrooms, sliced (1 small can)
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 120 g spinach, washed and blanched
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp crushed black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper
  • 1 tbsp mixed Italian herbs
  • 1 packet fettucine pasta – boiled according to packet instructions

 

Start off by warming up the oil in a deep nonstick pan. Add in the garlic and chilli flakes and heat till fragrant. This really adds that extra kick later on! Add the chicken and cook until the chicken is done.

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Add the mushrooms to the chicken and season with salt and pepper. Set this aside. Blend the milk and spinach together to make your super-healthy spinach based sauce. I used a hand blender but you can use a normal one.

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In another pan, start off by making a white sauce (that won’t really be white because we’re going to add a ton of spinach in it! YUM!) Add butter to the pan and once melted, add the flour. Keep the heat to a medium and turn the flour about in the pan till a smooth but crumbly paste. Add the spinachy-milk and keep stirring. Add the stock and keep mixing over heat till the sauce thickens. Add the pepper, Italian herbs and salt to taste.

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Take the biggest pan you can find, ahem. And start off by adding the boiled fettucine to the spinach sauce. Add the chicken and mushrooms and mix well. Ta-da! Your green super healthy pasta is done! I don’t think butter and milk are unhealthy and neither should you!  Go on and indulge!

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So satisfying!

Saucy Plum Noodles

The flavor of Plum goes surprisingly well with noodles, and well, anything asian-inspired to be honest! This was an experiment that turned out ah-mazing! The sauce that is cooked first, lends an amazing flavor to both the chicken and the noodles. A healthy and balanced recipe perfect for this month!

These noodles are tangy and sweet and have that perfect plum-kick to them! If you want to substitute egg noodles, you can do so with spaghetti. But I’m told Pioneer in Lahore stocks the perfect home-made egg noodles so I’m sure you can find them, they’ll be worth the extra effort!

Ingredients:

For the sauce:

  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 2 tbsp plum sauce
  • 1 tbsp plum jam
  • 1/2 cup vinegar
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tbsp hot sauce
  • 1/2 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1/4 cup dark soy sauce

Extra:

  • 1/2 kg chicken cut into strips
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 tbsp extra soy sauce
  • 3 tsp sugar
  • 1 egg, whisked about
  • 1 packet fresh Hokkien noodles – two sachets
  • 1 capsicum, sliced thinly
  • 1 carrot, sliced thinly
  • 1 or 2 cups of sweet corn (I love corn so I added 1 and a 1/2)

Marinate the chicken in pepper, salt and 1 tbsp soy sauce.

Heat up a fry pan and add oil, add garlic and chilli flakes and fry until fragrant. Add all the sauce ingredients and cook until well combined. In a separate wok or pan, cook the chicken till tender.

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After the chicken has cooked, add the whisked egg in the pan with the chicken and turn the heat up, cooking the egg with the chicken should crumble it. Take the chicken out and in the same pan, stir fry up the vegetables for a minute or two.

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Okay now you should have three separate things, the chicken fried with the egg, the sauce and the vegetables, time to mix it all up! Add the noodles first to the sauce so they drink that glorious mix up!

Combine all the three elements and mix well over heat until well combined and heated through.

AAAAND. SERVE!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Make sure that you heat the final ingredients just before you serve because we don’t want to dry up the sauce! Healthy and delicious!

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Crunchy Lettuce Boats

 I needed a quick recipe to entertain and my sister texted me a recipe for lettuce wraps and insisted I make these. As per usual I took one look at the recipe and decided I’ll make something easier. But at the supermarket the ingredients for these cups literally called me from the shelves. I spotted the hoisin sauce in plain view, just mocking me. And a huge bunch of the freshest green lettuce at the entrance looking very hopeful and the noodles that my sister told me to use fell out from a shelf straight into my trolley. It was a sign.

These crunchy lettuce boats pack the perfect crunch, they’re fresh and packed with flavor and guilt-free. Its like a super oriental salad that feels like a meal! I didn’t really follow the recipe my sister gave me and ended up making my own version but you can’t substitute the hoisin sauce. Its what gives these boats the real flavor.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 kg chicken cubed into teeny tiny pieces
  • 1 tsp chopped garlic
  • 1 tbsp oil or more
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 4 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 1/2 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 grated carrot
  • 1/2 capsicum chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped peanuts, fried
  • 1 packet steam fried noodles (If you can’t find these, use maggi noodles blanched in water and then fried)
  • 2 bunches baby lettuce or 1 flower of iceberg lettuce, leaves separated and washed

I used these. They look already cooked and pretty straight for noodles.

So the first thing you need to do is heat up your oil in a large-ish pan and add the chopped garlic and chicken. Fry this mixture until the chicken is well cooked. Add oyster sauce and chilli flakes and push this around in the pan for a bit. Just to boss it around or so.

 

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Add the chopped capsicum, grated carrot, brown sugar and hoisin sauce. Cook until well heated through and combined. We don’t want to mush up the carrot and the capsicum so don’t overdo it.

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Take this mix off the pan and reserve for later. Add the noodles and fry them up in the same pan, you may need to add more oil.

Put them aside too. but don’t mix with the chicken.

Similarly, fry your peanuts and set aside. Don’t mix it in. Peanuts should be the last thing to fry – some people have nut allergies so you want to keep it separately if you’re having guests over so that they can mix it up later if they so desire.

Now just prep your lettuce onto some serving plates and trim off where needed, roughly the lettuce should be the same size so that no one gets upset. Because this is insanely delicious. I used baby lettuce because I like the taste of it over iceberg. Its more crunchier and more ‘alive’ looking. I don’t know what I mean by that but these pictures can show.

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Oh I meant more green and wrinkled and beautiful I guess! ALIVE!

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yummm! These were wiped out in minutes! great to try for iftaris since it tastes like a fresh bunch of yum without being heavy.

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GLORIOUS.

 

Spaghetti Bolognese

This is a typical winter dish because its one of those comfort foods that you make a lot of and then binge eat your way through the whole dish by midnight. A hearty meat sauce covers a bed of warm spaghetti with melting cheese on top – so inviting, no living soul can resist second helpings.

This tastes best with beef mince, I wouldn’t recommend using chicken. Slow cooked beef mince is what makes the sauce so hearty and rich, If you are using chicken though and ignoring my wise words – make your own stock making sure that it is rich enough to counter for the lack of depth. Since I used beef, I used store bought stock. I would recommend using a nonstick pan. highly recommend.

Ingredients:

For the sauce:

  • 1 kg Beef mince
  • 8 cloves garlic
  • 6 tbsp oil
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 4 onions, chopped finely
  • 3 heaped tbsp flour
  • 8 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1/2 tsp zeera/cumin
  • 1 liter chicken stock
  • 2 tsp red chilli flakes

Other Ingredients:

  • 1 packet spaghetti – cooked according to instructions
  • Grated cheddar for topping (optional – oh but you know you want)

 

Foodie 010Saute onion and garlic in oil till onion turns pink.

Add the minced beef and fry this on high heat for around five minutes stirring in between.

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Take the pan off the heat and add the flour, put the pan back on heat and turn this to a medium flame. Stir with wooden spoon until the meat is cooked.

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Add the seasonings, tomato puree and the stock. Bring the sauce to a boil, scraping the bottom of the pan as you do. Cook for 25 minutes on a low flame till sauce has thickened.

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Foodie 014In a large baking dish, pile a layer of cooked spaghetti and blanket this completely with the meat sauce. Pile on some more sauce. YES. do it.

Top off with some grated cheese and in this goes – to the oven. Bake on moderate heat for 15 minutes until cheese has melted and the sauce has trickled down to meet the pasta.

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Caution: You will feel like this when eating this, so its better if you have a loved one with you. Its going to bring out your emotional side, this sauce. Its what it does.

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OH GOD I WANT TO MAKE THIS AGAIN.

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Cheesecake Pineapple Delight

Layers of creamy cheesecakey goodness with refreshing pineapple to amp it all up – this dessert screams summer. Its so easy to whip up and has the perfect balance of richness coupled with the fresh fruitiness of the pineapple. Its the perfect dessert to offset a meaty main course.

This recipe, as with most of my recipes, makes enough to feed a large family. Its something that everyone loves and I’ve used the base layers with peaches and mango as well. I personally feel that this works best with canned fruit because its always firmer in texture, but even if your’e using the fresh kind, there’s no real harm in experimenting. Since the cheesecake layer is slightly tangy – I wouldn’t recommend pairing this with chocolate. You won’t believe how simple this is!

Ingredients:

  • 3 packets of cream (I used Milkpack)
  • 1 large can of condensed milk (I used Polac)
  • 1 large packet Marie or Digestive Biscuits Crushed into crumbs
  • 1 Can Pineapple chunks, drained
  • 2 packets Pineapple Jelly – made as instructed. (you can use orange if pineapple isn’t available)
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice

Empty the contents of the cream packets and the condensed milk and chill in the freezer for about an hour.IMG_5879

Meanwhile crush the biscuits and arrange in a deep serving dish as the first layer and make the Jelly as directed – putting this into the fridge to chill

Taking the chilled cream mixture out of the freezer, beat this with an electric beater on slow till well combined. Add the lemon juice and beat on slow for half a minute. You should feel the mixture thicken and leave a significant trail, that’s when you’ll know this is done.

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Spread the cream mixture onto the biscuit layer.

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Top this with pineapple chunks and Jelly. You can make jelly and cut it up and use it here, what I did to achieve this even layer is to set it halfway and ease it onto the cream mix so that it ultimately sets as a layer.

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Repeat with more cream and top off with pineapple chunks and more jelly as decoration!

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Can you believe how easy this is? I still can’t. Chill for two hours before serving and don’t freak if this gets downed in five minutes straight.

Oh God i’m drowning in a sea of delicious pineappley goodness.

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Chicken and Vegetable Chowmein with a Twist

Its a good idea to make these when you’re planning on entertaining a crowd. These have a perfect balance of saucy chicken and vegetables mixed together on a bed of spicy noodles that is sure to please ! The chicken and vegetables can be prepared ahead and reheated prior to serving and mixed in with the noodles.

The flavor behind this specific recipe comes from these delicious, slightly soupy noodles that me and my family had in Malaysia. I’ve tried to replicate the taste with the sauces readily available in our supermarkets. If these aren’t in your kitchen you can omit them, but then make sure that you do add a bit more of all the other sauces I’ve mentioned. I’ve seen people use cornflour in their chicken/noodles  – please don’t use cornflour because the noodles are already made of flour and using it results in a sticky mess that you’ll have a hard time putting on your plate.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 kg boneless chicken cut into small cubes
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp ginger garlic paste
  • 1 whole pack of Italian Spaghetti
  • 2 medium carrots, cut julienne
  • 2 medium bell pepper, cut julienne
  • Quarter head of cabbage, sliced
  • 1-2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp Kikkoman’s stir-fry sauce
  • 2 tbsp Oyster sauce
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 2 tbsp chilli garlic sauce
  • 2 tbsp chilli sauce
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp chilli flakes
  • 4-5 tbsp oil
  • Handful of spring onions chopped for garnish

Mix the chicken with the soy sauce and ginger garlic paste and let it rest for half an hour. Transfer to a non-stick pan and cook evenly till all the pieces of chicken are entirely cooked.

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IMG_5800Now add two more tbsp of oil and all the Julienne vegetables, starting with carrots (because they take longer to cook), then the bell pepper and the cabbage. After stir-frying this for a minute or two, add in the broth, all the sauces and the seasonings.Now add two more tbsp of oil and all the Julienne vegetables, starting with carrots (because they take longer to cook), then the bell pepper and the cabbage. After stir-frying this for a minute or two, add in the broth, all the sauces and the seasonings.

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Mix this well, don’t let it dry out because we want the sauce to cover the noodles later. Soy sauce itself is really salty so stay easy on the salt but you can add more later if you like. Set this aside.

In a large pan, add a generous amount of water – almost cover the pan 3/4 of the way up and let this boil. Ease the noodles in, adding a pinch of salt and an extra tbsp of oil. Boil these for around 6 minutes, taking them out as soon as they are soft but have a bite to them. Drain and pour some cool water so the starch in the noodles washes out.

IMG_5806After the noodles have cooled slightly, toss them with the chicken and vegetable mixture and mix all this gently, taking care not to break the noodles too much. I use clean well oiled hands instead of spoons – its much easier that way. Adjust the spices if you feel the need to. (add more salt or pepper if necessary)

Finally, top this off with freshly chopped green onions and You’re ready to scarf these down! oodles of noodley yummy deliciousness!

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Ooey Gooey Oreo Delight

There are a ton of oreo dessert recipes out there which i honestly haven’t tried, but this one is pretty simple, self invented, no fuss and it doesn’t require fancy ingredients. Make sure that you’re using good quality cocoa for the custard so it can hold its own against the decadent toffee layer.

I had guests coming over who specifically asked for a dessert which had chocolate in it. Since I was crunched for time, I made this in a hurry – cheating my way out of baking a cake with a store bought pound cake and using previous recipes for the custard and toffee layer. It turned out so goddamn well that I just had to share! Its the perfect cookies and cream ending to a weekend dinner!

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The cornflour I used was Rafhan’s and 2 tbsps didn’t quite make the custard as thick as I wanted to, So if you’re using the same brand, I suggest mixing up another tablespoon.

Ingredients:

For the chocolate custard

  • 4 cups milk
  • 2 tsp cocoa powder
  • 4 tbsp sugar
  • 2 heaped tbsps cornflour
  • A little water to mix in the cornflour

For the toffee sauce:

  • 1 can condensed milk (I used Polac)
  • 1/2 packet cream (100 mls)
  • 2 tbsps butter

Extra Ingredients:

  • 1 pound store bought chocolate cake, thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 packet cream (around 250 mls)
  • 2 large packets of Oreo cookies  (crushed into chunks with rolling pin)

IMG_5783For the custard: Boil milk and sugar together. Dissolve cocoa and cornflour in water and pour into the milk and sugar mixture. Stir till custard forms and the mixture is slightly thickened (it will thicken more once cooled) – set aside.

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For the toffee sauce: Melt butter over low heat and add the can of condensed milk and cream, stirring until well combined. Keep stirring until the mixture starts to bubble and caramelize on the sides of the pan. Once the bubbling begins, this is your cue that the sauce is ready, take it off the heat.

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Now for the assembly. Arrange the slices of pound cake on the bottom of a deep serving dish. Top off with the toffee layer.

IMG_5795Now sprinkle a thick layer of crushed Oreos and let them drink in the toffee sauce. Pour the custard over the top and let this sit in the refrigerator for about two hours.

 

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After this has cooled down, take it out and pour a layer of cream onto the custard, finally topping off with as many Oreos as your heart desires! I added a drizzle of chocolate syrup as well, but that’s up to you!

 

 

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Subway Style Bunwiches

Bunwiches sounds a bit funky, but hey. It’s what they are. I made this today because I was pushed for time and I literally had two hours to squeeze all the preparation in. These sandwiches are very filling and are a healthy option.

I’ve boycotted Subway since I’ve got food poisoning from there plenty of times to understand that the vegetables they use are not fresh at all. Don’t know about the others but eating out has really lost its charm on me because of the crazy prices and bad food. It takes a bit of an effort, sure, but home-cooked meals are healthier and you know exactly what you’ve put in. The bread I used for these was long French bread type buns. They’re usually available in most bakeries but you can use French bread and then cut it up for your subs. The vegetables are mostly up to you, but lettuce is a must because it makes it all crunchy and fresh and dupes you into thinking you’re eating some form of salad.

Ingredients:

For the chicken marinade:

  • 10 chicken fillets
  • 2 tblsp lemon juice
  • 1 heaped tblsp ginger garlic paste
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp flaked chillies
  • 1 tbsp Nandos Peri Peri sauce (if you don’t have this, use any spicy condiment sauce)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil.
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce

For the sandwiches:

  • Around 12 buns (the pictures will give you a reasonable idea of how many this recipe can fill)
  • Honey mustard
  • Mayonnaise
  • Hp sauce
  • Chilli garlic sauce
  • Shredded Lettuce
  • Olives
  • 2 Thinly Sliced Tomatoes
  • 2 Onions thinly sliced
  • 3 tblsps oil for cooking

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Marinate the chicken fillets with this mixture and set aside for an hour. Make sure to mix it well and that each chicken surface is covered.

bunwiches_03After an hour has passed, Cook the chicken with the rest of the marinade in 3 tbsp of oil in a non-stick heavy based pan.

Cook covered for five minutes on each side and cook uncovered for around 8 minutes until the chicken is well browned.

Throw in some HP sauce once the chicken is cooked but still has a minute or two to go.

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Meanwhile, cut the buns horizontally, and arrange on the tray. Put Honey Mustard, Mayonnaise and Chilli garlic sauce across the lower half of the bun.

bunwiches_05Saute the onion in a tiny amount of olive oil so they become soft and mushy, add some soy sauce to give the onions some flavor. Layer these on the bed of sauces.

Slice up your fillets and lay them on buns ensuring everyone gets a fair share, top with shredded lettuce and tomatoes and olives.

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This serves 7 hungry people. 😛 Hope you enjoy! Till the next round of cooking!

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Creamy Egg and Mint Sandwiches

These sandwiches are light and fluffy and low fat as well, healthier if made in brown bread so if you’re making them, you won’t be that guilty downing more than a couple!

The egg used is pulverized to make a creamy paste so they don’t taste like your typical egg sandwiches. The spread was something my cousin concocted because we don’t like chunks of hard boiled egg in our sandwich, you can put in extra chunks of egg later if that floats your boat.

They’re good paired with any kind of chicken and excellent on their own as well. I sometimes add chopped chunks of sausage or some boiled chicken, but this recipe as a spread is great as a go-to sandwich base. The inclusion of mint gives it a fresh pip – if you want to go all vegetable, you can even use cucumber slices along. Go ahead, go crazy with this.

Why I really love this is that it makes a killer tasting spread and its really easy to make. Just throw everything in a blender and that’s it! If you’re pressed for time, this is your savior.

Ingredients:

  • 4-5 heaped tblsps of mayonnaise
  • 4 heaped tblsps of yoghurt (Go for something slightly thicker such as Nestle)
  • 3 tblsps honey mustard
  • 2 tblsps chilli garlic sauce
  • 5 hardboiled eggs, cut up into parts
  • Handful of mint (washed and leaves separated)
  • 1/4 tsp salt (or you can add more to taste)
  • 1/4 tsp pepper (you can add more to taste)

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Chuck everything into a blender and blend it out. This will take time, you will have to stop the blender and mix it around with a spoon to get the eggs going. After the mix resembles a smooth paste, turn it into a bowl and spread this over slices of bread into sandwiches – don’t get skimpy with this.

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You can chose to cut the crusts or not, here I did cut up the crusts. Cut diagonally to serve.

egg sandwiches_02Note: If you want to keep the sandwiches in the fridge for devouring later, cover them with a damp washcloth. This way, the bread won’t get all dry on you and everything will stay fresh! Happy Eating!

Crispy Sesame Chicken

This recipe is a smash hit. Tender breaded chicken which is fried until its golden till the crust becomes a crunchy layer of awesomeness that is a joy to sink your teeth into. Its a family favorite and I’ve made this so many times now that I’ve literally memorized the recipe.

The recipe itself is pretty simple but the steps make it laborious. Trust me that the fruits of your labor will be worth it. Also, I make it for seven people who eat two pieces each so I have to make a crazy quantity. The chicken freezes well when breaded and can be kept in the freezer for a month or so. The breadcrumbs have to be home-made and whirred up in a chopper, this is non-negotiable because store-bought breadcrumbs suck and have no morals.

Ingredients:

    For the chicken:

    • 1/2 kg chicken – cut into steaks
    • 1 tsp ginger garlic paste
    • 1 level tsp salt
    • 1/2 tsp flaked chillies
    • 3 tblsp lemon juice

For the breadcrumbs:

  • Almost 10 toasts whirred into the chopper to make crumbs
  • 1/2 tsp haldi/turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp dhania powder/ coriander powder
  • 3 tsp sesame seeds
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh coriander

Combine ginger garlic paste, salt, chillies and lemon juice and marinate the chicken steaks for 4-5 hours.

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Meanwhile, add haldi, dhania powder, sesame and chopped fresh coriander into the breadcrumbs and mix well. These lend a lovely flavor to the crumbs and have way more personality than normal crumbs.

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Coat each piece in sifted flour, set aside for ten minutes. Dip in egg and then coat in breadcrumbs (this dipping and coating takes precision). After all the pieces have been coated, deep fry them in a wok with ghee or oil until golden and crisp and a knife inserted into the chicken gives way.
Make sure your oil is not too hot nor too cold, test a small piece first.

Happy eating!
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