Orzo Mozzarella Salad

OrzoMozarrellaSalad

This recipe is inspired from the salad of my awesome friend Sandrella.

I have a lot of awesome friends but none of them has her get-up-and-go astonishing characteristic. None of them is the gym freak to drive 1 hour in the morning, because this is where her favorite PT trains. None of them travels 4 times a year with 3 kids on different adventurous vacations. None of them runs her overseas business while baking her children sophisticated cake recipe or spending the day driving them from and to activities or play-dates.

I congratulate you my friend, not only because your food has been labeled as inspirational, but also because your vitality is contagious.

I surround myself with friends who have great sense of humor, extraordinary dreams and great ambitious. This helps to focus my energy in a positive direction. Being positive attract positive people, they somehow gravitate toward me.

In Oprah’s book What I Know For Sure, I like her chapter on gossip. She first talked about a truth Maya Angelou passed on to her: “I’m convinced that the negative has power—and if you allow it to perch in your house, in your mind, in your life, it can take you over,” she said. “Those negative words climb into the woodwork, into the furniture, and the next thing you know, they’re on your skin. A negative statement is poison.”

Oprah writes: “We live in a culture obsessed with gossip—who’s wearing what, who’s dating whom, who’s entangled in the latest sex scandal. What would happen if we declared our homes, our relationships or our lives gossip-free zones? We’d probably be surprised at how much time we’d free up to do the work that’s most significant—building our dreams rather than tearing down others’. We’d fill our homes with a spirit of truth that would make visitors want to kick off their shoes and stay awhile. And we’d remember that while words have the power to destroy, they also have the power to heal.

I did this salad on Saturday for some of my beautiful friends. We had dinner, chatted and laughed out loud. No one was making any effort to incorporate humor into the atmosphere, the energy was there, circulating light and carefree.

Always find the best in others, it’s necessary to living the good life.

 And now back to some serious talk of ORZO MOZZARELLA SALAD and this is how I make it!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup uncooked orzo
  • 1 cup red cherry tomatoes
  • 1 cup yellow cherry tomatoes, full or halved
  • 12 mini mozzarella balls
  • ¼ cup black olives, pitted and sliced
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 2 tbsp pesto
  • 2 tbsp pine nuts, toasted
  • Olive oil, to taste
  • Coarse salt, to taste
  • 1 tsp oregano

Preparation:

  1. Cook orzo pasta according to package directions. Rinse with cold water.
  2. In a bowl, combine orzo, red and yellow cherry tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, basil and black olives. Toss with pesto until ingredients are completely coated. Add olive oil, salt and oregano and toss again.
  3. Decorate with pine nuts and serve.

NOTE: I made my own pesto: Slice very thin a quarter cup of fresh basil. Crush basil inside the mortar with 1 tablespoon of pine nuts and 1 garlic clove. Add 3 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of grated parmesan and stir.

 

Fried Caulifower and Tahini Dip

Fried Cauliflower

Nothing can beat this amazing vegetarian appetizer! Served as a snack or as a side dish, it’s crisp, tasty and easy to make. The homemade tahini dip a.k.a tarator is the perfect accompaniment to this straight forward recipe. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 1 kg cauliflower, cut into florets
  • Vegetable Oil for frying

For the Dip

  • ½ cup tahini (tahina or sesame paste)
  • 3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp water
  • Pinch of salt

Preparation

  1. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to boil, and blanch the cauliflower for 8-10 minutes. Remove from water. Drain and set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Place the cauliflower in and fry for 5-6 minutes or until it turns golden brown. Transfer to a plate lined with wax paper or paper towel to drain.
  3. To make the dip, combine tahini, lemon juice, water and salt. Stir until well combined. Taste and adjust seasoning to liking.
  4. Serve cauliflower and dip as an appetizer.

P.S. Can also be served in pita bread as a sandwich.

Tenderloin Strips Easy Version

Beef Tenderloin-MayaOryan

I learned this recipe from my sister Hala. She has a whole repertoire of delicious recipes that can be ready in half an hour. She, like many working women has little time to spend in the kitchen and big concern about giving her family the right healthy food.

When she first gave it to me, I thought it was too simple to be good, but it turned out to be one of the juiciest and most flavored beef strips recipe, I cook.

It’s a family meal! When it’s on the menu: NO complains, everyone is eating happily. I usually add carrots to the mushrooms, too bad this time I didn’t, they would have added some color to the photo. When I was cooking this morning, I had no intentions to take pictures, I decided only when I saw the kids’ friends eating and asking for a second serving. Then I said: “Let’s shoot and share!”

This recipe can be done with rice or mashed potatoes, it can also be prepared as a festive dish, trust me, your guests are going to love it.

Tenderloin Strips Easy Version

Ingredients:

  • 1kg beef tenderloin, cut into strips
  • 1 onion
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 200g mushrooms, sliced
  • ¾ cup Ketchup
  • ¾ cup olive oil
  • ¾ cup soy sauce
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 cups basmati rice

Preparation:

Marinate in the refrigerator, beef strips with ketchup sauce, soy sauce and olive oil, overnight.

Melt the butter in a large heavy bottomed pot and add the onions and the garlic. Sauté for few minutes or until the onion starts to wilt and the garlic starts to turn golden.

Add the meat in batches and cook for 2-3 minutes or until it starts to brown on all sides, add the marinade, season with salt and pepper and let it simmer, with the lid on, until the meat is tender and the liquid is reduced and reaches a thick consistency.

Finally, add the mushrooms and let it simmer on medium heat for about 5 minutes.

Cook the rice according to package instructions and serve hot with beef strips.

Note: Since the marinade has a big amount of soy sauce, which is high in sodium, better not to add too much salt.

A Month to Celebrate

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April is for me a month to celebrate; Kaia turns 11 and Axel turns 6 and my youngest baby Maya’s Ingredients turns 5!

Yes, Five years ago, my baby blog was born!!

Like any child, he needs attention, warmth and care. He kept me awake at night reading him stories. He made me wake up early answering his inquiries. He tested my photography skills and made me follow him with a camera. He became so popular that he made me famous:)

My baby blog has followers and friends from all around the world. He is established on the blogosphere and has a fine reputation.

To celebrate I prepared a giant bowl of fruit salad soaking in orange juice, just by adding a drizzle of honey and a handful of pine nuts, I made it taste like the best fruit salad ever.

No recipe directions to follow! Combine at least 4 to 5 varieties of your favorite fruits chopped. Add fresh orange juice. Drizzle some honey and decorate with raw pine nuts.

Enjoy it fresh and Happy anniversary to Maya’s Ingredients!

Angel Food Cake

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How many of you believe that his mom is the greatest mom in the whole world raise his hand! I agree. Raising my hand too:)

I am blessed with a wonderful mom, who has always been there for me, present at every milestone I reached. She is soft, smart, fun, talented and absolutely patient. In fact, if patience had a face it would be my mom’s.

I love you mom and so proud of you and proud to apply in my life, all the beautiful things you taught me.

My daughters, Axel and Kaia, have been drawing me and making me cards all this week for Mother’s day so cute of them but I need a bigger house now with more walls to hang all their little masterpieces;-)

drawings.jpg

I wanted to bake a cake for my mom and started browsing the net for inspiration when I saw Angel Food cake. I love Angel cakes and I love the name!! Angel Food! Of course ANGELS this is what moms stand for:)

There’s a reason angel food cake is a favorite vanilla sponge cake, it’s fluffy as air, fat-free as it uses no butter or oil and tastes like heaven. It’s simple and best served with vanilla sauce, but can also be consumed with whipping cream and strawberries.

Here below I’m sharing the Angel Food Cake recipe, I found online. I actually found this same 6-ingredients-recipe  almost everywhere. I prepared my cake as per LovetoKnow‘s instructions and turned out to be a success!!. Hope you’ll get the same results and get to bake your own Angel food cake.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Angel Food Cake Recipe

By Cheryl Cirelli

Ingredients

  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 12 large egg whites at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 1/4 cups white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 170 C / 350 F degrees.
  2. Sift flour and salt into a large bowl and set aside.
  3. Using a mixer, beat egg whites until they become foamy. This should take 1 minute.
  4. To the egg whites, add cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks begin to form.
  5. Continuing beating mixture on low and slowly add the sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. This takes about 2 to 3 minutes.
  6. Add the vanilla extract and beat to combine.
  7. Transfer the egg white mixture to a large bowl and begin sifting in the flour mixture.
  8. Gently fold until the two mixtures combine.
  9. Spoon the batter into an ungreased cake pan.
  10. To release air bubbles, run a small knife through the batter once it is in the pan.
  11. Bake for 40 minutes or until cake springs back when pressed lightly.
  12. Allow cake to cool in pan for an hour before removing.
  13. To remove from pan, run a knife along the edges to release and invert cake onto a plate.

Stuffed Vine Leaves

MayaOryanIMG_8508-RPhotography Serge Oryan

Stuffed vine leaves are as easy as a salad to make! It has to be easy since this recipe was among the first ones I learned. In fact you combine all the ingredients same as you do for a salad, drizzle the olive oil and the lemon juice and start the stuffing. The rolling is not that complicated!

An authentic traditional recipe, prepared just like my mom and her mom before her. Stuffed vine leaves are really moreish, these juicy little bites, melting soft in the mouth are best consumed as an appetizer or as a main dish.This dish is one of the essential plates in Lebanese mezze. Because it’s vegetarian, it makes it a popular staple during the Lent period.

Full with nutritious ingredients, this meal is a heart-healthy choice for almost anyone. According to the nutrition data, Grape leaves are low in Saturated Fat, and very low in Cholesterol and Sodium. They are also a good source of Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Niacin and Iron, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Riboflavin, Vitamin B6 and Folate. They can provide your body with beneficial nutrients, from Calcium, Magnesium, Copper, Manganese to omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants. What’s not to like about that!

 One last note, if using canned grape leaves, rinse the leaves gently with warm water and use, while fresh grape leaves have to be soaked in hot water for 10-15 minutes before using.

Ingredients

  • 250g grape vine leaves
  • 1½ cup uncooked short grain rice
  • 4 cups parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 cup white onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cups tomatoes, diced
  • 1 cup chickpeas, canned or cooked
  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • 2/3 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sweet pepper
  • 1-2 Potatoes, sliced in circles
  • Water
  • 2-3 tomatoes slices in circles

Preparation

To prepare the stuffing, combine uncooked rice, parsley, mint, onions, tomatoes and chickpeas in a bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper and toss gently.

In a heavy bottomed saucepan, layer the potatoes slices as one layer.

Open flat the grape vine leaf, shiny side down, spoon inside the parsley rice mixture and roll tightly, closing the sides first. Arrange in pan placing the rolls closely one to the other. To finish, top with a layer of tomato slices and strain the reserve stuffing liquid over all.

Place a large plate on the top of the rolls to keep them holding together. Cover with water and cook over low heat for about 40 minutes.

Let cool and serve with yogurt. Garnish with lemon slices and mint leaves.

Note: You might finish the stuffing before the leaves, or the leaves before the stuffing. I tried to be as close as possible to the quantity of the ingredients, but it varies from one size of leaf to other and depends on the amount of stuffing you use in each roll.

 

Pomegranate Moscow Mule

Moscow Mule

Photography Serge Oryan

When I think of a refreshing and light drink to sip while watching the clock countdown to midnight, I make myself a red Moscow Mule.

Pomegranate juice is a brilliant addition to the classic recipe. It’s a fantastic compliment to ginger beer while pomegranate arils make it pop up with Christmas colors. Holiday heaven!

Mules has definitely been my favorite cocktail during 2015, it’s traditionally served in copper mugs, but apparently customers can’t stop snatching them from bars, that a lot of places are replacing their attractive cups with glasses.

Still cool for me:) I love the ginger-spicy and pomegranate-sweet mixture and here I am celebrating tonight in style. Cheers everyone to a fresh beginning!

And this is what to mix
Makes 2 drinks
Ingredients
• ½ cup vodka
• 1½ cup ginger beer
• ½ cup pomegranate juice
• Juice of 1 fresh lime
• Pomegranate arils, to taste
• Fresh mint, for garnish

Directions
Combine vodka, ginger beer, pomegranate and lime juice. Stir. Top with ice cubes or crushed ice if desired. Garnish with pomegranate seeds and mint and enjoy.