Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Low Fat Chicken Vegetable Soup: Feel Good Food

Delicious Chicken Vegetable and Vermicelli Soup
When I was a kid I hated soup, when I was in my twenties I did not believe in soups, now that I am in my thirties I find soups as necessary and delicious! My husband often reminds me how I told him "I don't believe in soups. They are trying to be a dish but they are just soups". I started dabbing with soups when we were living in Portland in the Northwest.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Yellow Buttermilk Cupcake with Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Yellow Buttermilk Cupcake with Swiss Meringue Buttercream
I made Yellow Buttermilk Cupcakes with Swiss Meringue Buttercream for Alya's Birthday Party.  They were delicious and pretty to look at. I must say that this recipe is a keeper.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Eggplant Rolls or Eggplant Borek

Eggplant Rolls
Hello! My name is Nadine and I am an Eggplantholic! I am! and there is such a thing! It is a very serious predicament! Eggplant controls your life! You go to the grocery store armed with a detailed shopping list that specifically does not include any eggplant and then you see eggplant! the list goes out the window and you start looking for other items that you need for this eggplant dish! I am always looking for new ways to cook eggplant and showcase it.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Date Maamool or Semolina date cookies: The ultimate Eid cookie

Traditional Eid Cookie: Date Maamool
Every culture has its own version of celebratory desserts and cookies. I find this fascinating! In the Middle East, Maamool is the ultimate holiday cookie...any holiday...whether Christian or Muslim. These days almost everyone opts for store bought Maamool. I find this sad because Maamool making can be a great group activity.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Susan's Chocolate Chips Cookies

I have had chocolate chips cookies before coming to the states but to the be honest with you, I was never impressed and I wondered why this fuss about chocolate chips cookies.  I came to the US and found that there is a chocolate chips cookie cult. Kids adore them, adults go crazy for them. Chocolate chips cookies are the quintessential American treat!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Alya's Birthday Party

My daughter Alya turned 3 almost two month ago! Happy Birthday! I wanted to throw a little birthday party at home. She always asks to have her friends over and I thought that a glorified play date is the way to go.  You probably know that at this age, blowing the candle and the cake is very very important to 3 years old toddlers.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Homemade Pita Bread: Cooking For Julia 100th Birthday

Julia Child would have turned 100 this August and PBS is celebrating her 100 birthday all this summer. I chose to celebrate Julia Child 100th birthday because Julia inspired me like many others.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Cooking Essentials: Grinding and Storing Meat

Grinding meat at home is worth it

Once every month or so, I head to my local Arabic Market and buy a good amount of Halal meat for grinding. Yes, you heard read me right, I grind my own meat. I do so for many reasons.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Easy Avocado Salad and Avocado Handeling Tips

Easy and Delicious Avocado Salad

Avocado! this magical fruit (because they have a seed they are considered as fruit)! I am utterly fascinated by avocados. I love the color, the shape, the smooth texture, the smell! Ok, you got the picture...I love Avocados!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Homemade Hamburger Buns

Beautiful homemade Hamburger buns

You probably think that I have the time of the world, you probably think that I live thousands of miles away from a grocery store and you probably think that I am crazy. To answer you: No, No and No (well may be the answer to the last one is yes). Making your own hamburger buns from scratch is by no means a time consuming task, especially if you have the right tools. Actually, your work will be done in 10 - 15 mins,

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Decorated Mustache and Bow Tie Cookies and Cookie Pops: Part 2

Decorated Sugar Cookie Pops
I hope you enjoyed my last post on how to make perfectly cut sugar cookies and cookie pops. I have to admit that I had way too much fun with those cookies which can be dangerous! The Cookie Pops that I gave to Alya's friends were a hit..some did not want to eat the cookies because they were too pretty to eat! I was pleased with the result since it was my first time ever trying to bake sugar cookies or to decorate them! The decoration process is the same for all the cookies. once you get the hang of it, you will have fun with it and create as many designs as your heart desires.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Happy Fathers Day: Decorated Mustache and Bow Ties Cookies - Part 1

Mustache and Bow Ties Decorated Cookie Pops
Decorated Mustache and Bow Ties Cookie Pops

Happy Father's Day! Here in the USA Father's day is as important as Mothers day and it should be so. In Lebanon, Fathers day is a new trend but really it's fiesta can NOT be compared to that of Mother's Day. Whether it is celebrated or not, in our home, Father's day matters. Alya is a very lucky girl, she has an amazing father. The best part is that he loves taking care of her and she knows it and feels it. Having said so, I wanted to celebrate the occasion by baking cookies with a funny twist.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Handmade Birthday Card for My Nephew Karim

Couple of weeks ago my nephew Karim turned one! Happy Birthday Karim! Karim is just the happiest baby I ever saw. When he smiles, his whole face smiles and especially his blue blue eyes. I love to make handmade cards for my family and friends when time allows and this time I wanted to make sure that Karim will get his special first birthday card.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Homemade Labneh, Yogurt Cheese or Kefir Cheese لبنة

In the previous post, I showed you how to make your own yogurt, which is fantastic by itself, but you can take it one step up by making your own Labneh or Kefir Cheese. Labneh is a staple breakfast or dinner item in the Lebanese pantry. You drizzle olive oil all over labneh and eat it with olives, zaatar (thyme), tomatoes, cucumber and of course Arabic bread.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Homemade Yogurt لبن

If someone told me five years ago that I would be making my own yogurt, I would have laughed hysterically. Five years ago, I was in between planes, working on weekends and the most that I was able to cook was fried eggs. Then, I married and moved to the USA. I was trying to adapt to the new life.
I could have landed a fantastic job, but honestly, I did not really want to go back to a hectic schedule. I have worked since graduate years, working my way up in the Human Resources field. All my life, I was either the youngest manager or the only woman on the management team. I enjoyed working hard, did not mind the long hours, but when I moved here, I felt that I needed to do something else. I didn't want to work for the corporate world, I wanted to do my own thing. I am still finding out what that is, but one thing is for sure... I never thought that I would be making my own yogurt.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Fava Beans and Rice رز على فول أخضر

The in-laws visited us last week and that means our fridge and kitchen counter are full of fresh organic produce and fruits from their garden, including 3 pounds of fresh green fava beans. I love fava beans! They are so versatile... like the

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Mac and Cheese Thank You Bites

It was teacher appreciation week at my daughter's preschool. I volunteered to bring a dish for the lunch potluck.  What dish to bring? I needed something that everybody likes, that looks cute, is easily transferable and can be ready in under one hour. And there you have it... Mac and Cheese Bites! I mean really, who doesn't love Mac and Cheese, and especially when made into cute individual portions that can fit in a tupperware without worrying about car spills. I prefer to buy blocks of cheese and grate them at home because store bought grated cheese is often coated with starch, which affects the texture once melted. Not to mention that you actually know the source of your cheese, and it is economical.

1/2 pound of mini elbow macaroni
1 egg
1/2 cup of finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
4 ounces of mild cheddar cheese shredded
1 1/2 tablespoon of unsalted butter, plus more for brushing the muffin pan
1 1/2 tablespoon of flour
1 1/2 cup of milk (I used 2% but you can use fat free or whole milk)
1 teaspoon of smoked paprika
1 teaspoon of salt, plus more for the pasta water
1/2 teaspoon of ground black pepper
pinch of nutmeg (I like to use freshly grated nutmeg)

Preheat oven to 425°F  (218°C or Gas Mark 7) and make sure that the oven rack is positioned in the upper third of the oven.

Prepare the muffin pan by buttering each muffin cup and sprinkling Parmigiano. Shake and remove excess by tapping on the pan.

Bring water to boil in a big pot, add a generous pinch of salt to water and add the mini elbow macaroni - cook according to directions. Strain in a bowl and let it cool down a bit, then add the egg and smoked paprika and mix.

In a pan, melt the butter and add flour. With a wooden spoon, stir the mixture to cook the flour (this is called roux and it is the base of Bechamel sauce), add the milk gradually, while stirring the mixture. As the temperature of the sauce increases, you will notice that it thickens. This signals that it's time to add the nutmeg, salt and pepper. This is the famous french Bechamel sauce. At this point add the cheddar cheese and stir until it is melted and fully incorporated.

Add the cheese sauce to the pasta mixture and stir until fully incorporated.

Spoon the mixture into each muffin cup and gently pack it. Sprinkle the rest of Parmigiano on each cup.

Bake the Mac and Cheese for around 12 minutes until bubbly and crispy. If you feel that it needs more color on top, set the oven on broil for 1 minute or until the desired color is reached.

Remove the pan from the oven and let it cool down. Step away from the pan... yes you heard me. I know that you are impatient and you want to remove the heavenly bites from the pan but no... step away. I can tell you from experience, I didn't step away and I tried to remove one before it cooled down and the thing fell apart. (Needless to say, it didn't go to waste, it was the chef's reward)


This recipe was adapted from Food and Wine magazine.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake: it will turn your world upside-down

Pineapple Upside Down Cake
My parents visited me when I delivered my daughter Alya back in 2009. After the birth of Alya, my life changed upside-down. My sleeping schedule ceased to exist, taking a shower was a hard core wish and brushing my hair was an absolute impossible. It was a major event in my life and I had to adapt to this new reality but I still wanted to retain some of what is left of one day, I decided to bake my parents a dessert. My original plan was to make something that I already tried as to refrain from embarrassing myself in front of my parents. I opted to make Tarte aux Fraises (strawberry tart). I made the crust and baked it and while I was trying to place it on the serving dish, it broke and shattered to many pieces on the serving dish.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Sfoof: A Lebanese Semolina Turmeric cake that tastes better than it sounds

Soof or Turmeric Semolina Cake
Soof is a Lebanese dessert that we used to eat when we were kids. My dad used to get it from the dessert shop and I was utterly fascinated by those yellow squares. I could not understand how these squares were so yellow, as if a painter colored them with a swift brush stroke from an Easter color palette. Getting older, I lost all my desire to eat them, I mean I was busy discovering other fancier and more complicated desert. Sfoof did not seem that intriguing anymore. After moving to the US, a strong nostalgia of everything middle eastern and homemade took over and I finally decided to make Sfoof.

Welcome to Reinventing Nadine

Hello and welcome to my blog and my life. Well you know by now that I am Nadine and I am reinventing myself or at least trying to. I am born and raised in Lebanon and moved to USA in 2007 to marry my fiance. I am now a mother which entails being a cook, driver, secretary, housekeeper, gardener, seamstress, clown, crafter , warm up artist and many many other professions. I realized the need to reinvent myself within 3 weeks of coming to the is a process that starts with Disbelief; as in "who am I and what I am doing here"...then Denial "noo...things will change...I am the same person", to Anger "What in the world was I thinking? " to Acceptance "well I have to cook anyway, might as well make something delicious and pretty"and finally Bargain "Ok..pretty will come later, let's start with edible and not burning the house down" (these stages are greatly inspired by the five stages of grief but in different order (Kübler-Ross model).

And thus my reinventing journey started. I always loved food, design, paper, calligraphy, arts and making things from scratch and by myself. This blog will allow me to document my journey and share it with my friends and family (who often ask for my recipes) and may be strangers who share their love for the above too. I must say that blogs in general helped me a lot to refine my skills and inspired me daily to translate my ideas to reality (sometimes convinced me that my ideas simply don't make sense and must remain in that busy brain of mine).

Welcome to Reinventing Nadine