Goat Cheese and Herb Popovers

Goat Cheese and Herb Popovers

I mentioned last week that we could start eating healthy again this week … but these Goat Cheese and Herb Popovers are just too good to pass up. What’s another week? Also, it’s just too cold to think about going outside, let alone going outside to the gym.

Since New Year, and actually just a few days before New Year, we were hit with some seriously freezing temperatures. I’m talking highs in the teens, and morning and nights below 10 degrees Fahrenheit. Bomb Cyclone is what they called it – how do they even come up with these names? Seriously. In any case, it’s been miserable.

It reminded me of my grad school days up at Syracuse. I’m telling you, it snowed from October to about April. True story, it was 43 degrees on graduation day. Graduation day was in May. Syracuse days were my favorite days. Despite the fact that it was so cold we couldn’t feel our faces most days, it was a memorable time in my life. I made some amazing friends. The girls I met changed me. They expanded my perspective on life, and I hope they can say I had the same impact on their lives. We quickly learned that cold is not cute, layering is essential to survival, snow boots were necessities, and the shortcut through Clarendon Street was well worth the risk of dying an icy, downhill death.

Because it was so cold, we spent most of our free time at my apartment studying, cooking, or watching whatever the must-watch TV shows were at the time. We made group trips to the laundromat. Of course, since I had the SUV, I went around picking up the girls, and their multiple hampers. It’s amazing how much laundry we accumulated when we basically lived in leggings and sweatshirts. We found the best chips and guac place right behind my apartment. And Wegman’s was life.

When we made it to the Newhouse buildings, we tried not to leave unless we absolutely had to. Luckily for us, Newhouse 1, 2 and 3 were conveniently connected through a series of hallways. I may be a little biased, but Newhouse III is the most beautiful building at Syracuse University. My favorite place was the graphics lab. It was massive and basically encompassed in glass. Oh right, and all the computers were Macs. How amazing is that?

It’s been nine years since we were last together. I often remember my Syracuse crew, and while some of us have lost touch, we’re all connected through one form or another of social media. We’ll have to consider a reunion. 

 

Goat Cheese and Herb Popovers Goat Cheese and Herb Popovers

Goat Cheese and Herb Popovers

Yield: About 12 popover

Ingredients

  • 4 cups Milk, warmed
  • 4 cups Flour
  • 8 Large Eggs
  • 1 ½ heaping tablespoons Salt
  • 8oz Crumbled Goat Cheese
  • 1 teaspoon Oregano, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon Thyme, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon Savory, chopped

Instructions

  1. Put your popover pan in the middle rack and preheat the oven to 350 F. The pan should heat up with the oven. (you can also you a muffin pan)
  2. Meanwhile, warm the milk in a small saucepan over medium heat.
  3. In a bowl, wisk the eggs, then slowly add in the milk, and set aside.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix the flour with the herbs, goat cheese and salt.
  5. Slowly add the dry mixture to the eggs and milk and combine until mostly clump-free.
  6. Remove the popover pan from the oven and spray with non-stick cooking spray.
  7. Fill each cup ¾ of the way and top with the cheese.
  8. Bake for 15 minutes, then rotate the pan half a turn and continue baking for 35 minutes.
  9. Serve warm.
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Date Filled Cinnamon Rolls

Date Filled Cinnamon Rolls

Happy New Year! And Happy Date Filled Cinnamon Rolls! (we can hit the gym next week)

2017 was one heck of a year. I celebrated a major milestone birthday. Then had a magical summer and fall to follow. I did a ton of international travel. 2017 was my year. I felt energetic, brave and empowered; like I could take on the world. I didn’t let life beat me down. Chocolate Cake, may or may not have had the power to pull me out of a pretty brutal disappointment. As I look back, 2017 was good to me, for the most part. I guess there’s no such thing as perfect.

Date Filled Cinnamon Rolls

 

2018 will be the year of me – Me, Zayna, and Me, Measuring Cups Optional. 2018 will be my selfish year. Why? Because it just so happens that if you’re not just a little bit selfish, the world will eat you up alive. Sounds horrible, but also true. See, in 2017 I learned a very valuable lesson: I am the most important person to me. I’m the only person who can bring myself happiness and help myself reach my goals. Yes, family and friends are the best. They provide invaluable moral support. I couldn’t live a day without them. But I was missing something really important—looking out for myself. I was too busy bending over backwards for other people last year that I lost sight of myself. As December came to a close, I realized that for the last year, everyone else was looking out for their own best interests. They made choices. They made decisions. They did things to make themselves happy, to get ahead, to get what they want, despite others, and sometimes, at the expense of others. I don’t condone being selfish at the expense of other people. That kind of selfishness ends up doing more harm than good, hurting the people who matter the most to you — oh yea, and karma has as a way of coming back around.

Date Filled Cinnamon Rolls

This year, my small change is to put me first, and MCO, of course! I have so many exciting things coming to the blog this year, I really can’t contain my excitement! I was hoping to launch some of those things today, but they just aren’t ready yet. Womp womp. That’s alright … stay tuned. So many exciting things to come in 2018.

Date Filled Cinnamon Rolls

Date Filled Cinnamon Rolls

Date Filled Cinnamon Rolls

Yield: 12 Rolls

Ingredients

    For the Dough
  • 1 cup milk, warmed
  • 1 tablespoon dry active yeast
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons salted butter, divided
  • 1 egg
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • For the Filling
  • 1 12oz package medjool dates
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • For the Frosting
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/8 teaspoon orange blossom water

Instructions

    For the Dough
  1. Place milk in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle yeast on top
  2. Wait 5 minutes, then add 3 tablespoons butter, salt, sugar, egg and flour
  3. Use a dough hook, and turn the mixer on low speed, slowly increasing the speed as the dough holds together
  4. Add flour to the bowl as needed to keep it from sticking
  5. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl, cover and put in a draft-free place (like a cool oven) for 1.5 hours
  6. For the Filling
  7. Pit the dates, then soak in boiling water for 15 minutes, then drain
  8. Use a stand mixer with the paddle attachment to mash the dates
  9. Add cinnamon, nutmeg and sugar
  10. Continue to mix until well-combined
  11. Prepare the Rolls
  12. Preheat oven to 350
  13. Between two sheets of parchment paper, roll out the dough to about 12in x18in
  14. Melt 3 tablespoons butter, use some of it to brush the dough, set aside
  15. Between two new sheets of parchment paper, roll out the date mixture
  16. Remove the top sheet and flip into on the dough, peel away the remaining parchment paper
  17. Starting on the long side, roll the dough and date mixture together, keeping a round shape
  18. Use unscented/unflavored dental floss to cut rolls about 1 inch apart
  19. Place in a parchment-lined baking dish
  20. Bake for 20-25 minutes
  21. Make the frosting by whisking together the powdered sugar, whipping cream and orange blossom water
  22. Frost the rolls as soon as they're out of the oven
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Middle Eastern Spiced Rice and Chicken

Middle Eastern Spiced Rice and Chicken

I’ll be honest, this recipe was supposed to be “red rice and chicken,” but, obviously, the rice isn’t red. It’s likely due to several factors; the brown spices I used, my not caramelizing the onions, pre-packaged chicken stock. Honestly, I can’t quite put my finger on the exact reason why my rice isn’t red, but I’m not even disappointed. Despite this being a red rice fail, it worked out perfectly as a modified kabsa.

Middle Eastern Spiced Rice and Chicken

Kabsa is a Saudi national dish made of spiced rice and meat, usually served in a giant platter for everyone to enjoy. We used to have Kabsa fairly often when I was younger. I spent most of my childhood with my half Saudi cousins. Like most Arab-American families, my cousins were my best, and only friends, until we started school. Even then, we all went to the same school. It’s for that very reason I’d been exposed to Saudi culture early on — the food, the traditions, the dancing. It wasn’t anything out of the ordinary, I mean, at age 5 you don’t know the difference between Palestinian and Saudi, or American and Palestinian. You have no sense for these things. There were much more important things to worry about, like when we could go outside and play in the treehouse. Or could we actually stay up until midnight to sneak to the kitchen for a “midnight snack?”

I have vivid memories of us all getting together for dinner at my aunt’s house around a giant silver platter filled with spiced rice and meat, Kabsa. The rice was so spiced, I could smell it before I got to the table. There were sides of pickled turnips and olives, as well as a pretty big bowl of salad. P.S. if you’ve never mixed your vinegar and olive oil-dressed salad with rice, you’re seriously missing out!

It was more than just about the dinner. It was about being together, and it was almost always about our parents trying to drill table manners into our heads!

Middle Eastern Spiced Rice and Chicken

Middle Eastern Spiced Rice and Chicken

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup vegetable
  • 1 6oz can Tomato Paste
  • 1 Black Lemon
  • 4 chicken thighs, skin on
  • 4 tablespoons Seven Spice, divided
  • 4 Whole Cardamom Pods
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 cups basmati rice
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper
  • Salt, to taste
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • Blanched almonds for topping

Instructions

  1. Prepare the basmati rice by washing the rice 3-4 times, discarding the water every time. Cover with lukewarm water and set aside for 30 minutes. When ready to use, drain the water
  2. Prepare the chicken by keeping the skin on and using your hands, rub the chicken generously, back and front and all over, with 2 tablespoons seven spice and olive oil
  3. Heat a large skillet with two tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat and place the chicken, skin down in an even layer. Cook the chicken for 2-3 minutes on each side, until the skin is crispy, then remove and set aside
  4. In a large pot, heat 1/4 cup vegetable oil and sauté onions until translucent, add garlic and sauté for another minute until fragrant
  5. Add tomato paste to the onions and stir, add in the rice, hot pepper, cardamom pods, black lemon salt and seven spice
  6. Stir until combined, and cook for 1-2 minutes
  7. Add the seared chicken pieces and cover with the rice mixture
  8. Add the chicken stock and bring the rice to a boil
  9. Once boiling, reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for 20-25 minutes
  10. Use a fork to fluff the rice, avoid breaking the chicken, and place in a large serving platter
  11. Top with fried almonds (fry 1/2 cup almonds in vegetable oil until slightly browned. Remove immediately)
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Nutella Hazelnut Hot Chocolate

Nutella Hazelnut Hot Chocolate

It’s starting to get super chilly! I’m not complaining, I love sweater weather. I have made it my life’s mission to find a way to wear sweatshirts to work every day in the winter and pass it off for professional attire. I’m not talking a hoodie. I’m talking a pullover with embroidery, or some sort of embellishment, or just a plain black or grey — my absolute favorite winter color — sweatshirt. So it’s not an impossible feat. I’m dedicated.

Nutella Hazelnut Hot Chocolate

There’s nothing better than a steaming mug of hot chocolate on a chilly winter day, add snow or rain for an even cozier feel, and make it a weekend-day. Because workdays are not cozy. Oh right, and let’s upgrade that hot chocolate to Nutella Hazelnut Hot Chocolate. Now that sounds like perfection. Now that I’ve set the scene, you’re probably going to need that Nutella Hazelnut Hot Chocolate recipe, and the perfect chilly weekend-day to make it your reality. I have you covered on the recipe front. The perfect weekend-day, on the other hand, you’re going to have to find that for yourself. I’d say, any day is perfect to be lazy. I mean, you’ve worked all week long and you totally deserve this! Especially since all the holiday festivities have kicked in and you’re low on sleep, money, and patience.

So sit back, relax and sip your holiday anxiety away …

Nutella Hazelnut Hot Chocolate

Nutella Hazelnut Hot Chocolate

Nutella Hazelnut Hot Chocolate

Yield: 2 servings

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup Chopped Hazelnuts, divided
  • 1/3 cup Nutella
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • 3 cups Whole Milk
  • Marshmallows or whipped cream for topping

Instructions

  1. In a saucepan, heat milk over medium heat
  2. Once milk begins to steam, stir in cocoa powder and Nutella and whisk until smooth
  3. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes before serving
  4. Prepare two mugs by putting half the chopped hazelnuts in the bottom of each cup
  5. Pour in the hot chocolate and top with marshmallows or whipped cream
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6 Ingredient Fresh Mushroom Soup

Fresh Mushroom Soup

I’ve been fueling my soup obsession with every kind of vegetable soup imaginable. My goal is to make soups that require little ingredients, little time, and little (okay fine, lower) calories by leaving out the cream. A few months ago, when I featured videos on my Instagram Story of my mushroom soup, a few friends reached out asking for the recipe. At that time, I had sent over a rough recipe of my soup. But the more people asked for the recipe, the more I realized I needed to get it up on the blog. This Fresh Mushroom Soup has just 6 simple ingredients, and while I prefer my soup pureed, a chunkier soup would also be delicious.

Fresh Mushroom Soup

I love simple recipes. Recipes that are straightforward, healthy and easy to throw together on a weeknight. As a matter of fact, I like recipes I don’t really need to think about. Because, let’s face it, there are so many other things taking up space in our brains. As a woman, it’s especially true that our minds can be thinking about multiple things at the same time. Not once have I felt myself thinking about absolutely nothing. I read a book years ago that explained that a woman’s mind is always thinking about more than one thing at the same time. For example, we are perfectly capable of having a conversation at a restaurant, while simultaneously thinking/worrying about whether or not we parked our car illegally and will have a parking ticket waiting for us when we leave.

Fresh Mushroom Soup

Men, on the other hand, I’ve been told, have something called a “nothing box.” If you’re anything like me, you have no idea what the nothing box is. Apparently men’s brains are divided into boxes that never touch each other; and their favorite box is something of a mystery to women–it’s the  “nothing box.” Don’t believe me? See this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SZ6mVumHY9I. Although humorous, it does drive the nothing box point. 

It’s extremely difficult for me to compartmentalize. As a matter of fact, it’s almost impossible. How the heck can you not be thinking about everything at the same time?! This is why — looping it back to my mushroom soup — I love these kinds of recipes. No thinking required.

Fresh Mushroom Soup

6 Ingredient Fresh Mushroom Soup

Yield: 4 Servings

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons Salted Butter
  • 1 Onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1 lb sliced Mushrooms of your choice (I like to mix it up)
  • 4-6 cups Chicken Stock (or vegetable stock)
  • 1 tablespoon dry Tarragon, or 2 tablespoons fresh tarragon

Instructions

  1. In a medium pot, melt the butter, then add the onions and sauté until soft and translucent
  2. Stir in the garlic and cook for 2 minutes
  3. Add the mushrooms, stir and cover. Cook for 15 minutes until the mushrooms soften
  4. Cover the mushrooms with chicken stock, stir in tarragon and bring to a boil
  5. Once boiling, simmer for 15 minutes
  6. Use an immersion blender to blend to your desired consistency
  7. Serve hot
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No Such Thing as Too Much Chocolate Cake

No Such Thing as Too Much Chocolate Cak

This week is a chocolate cake kind of a week. One of those weeks, post vacation, where I feel like I just need another vacation. I just need to wrap my head around everything happening in my life. Tell me I’m not the only one who when you have no idea what to do, you do something completely unrelated to anything that needs resolution … you know, like baking an extravagant chocolate cake for no reason, and for no one. I’m not worried though, my brothers will happily inhale it.  

I have a lot of work to do on the blog, and I’m hoping to launch a very special addition to MCO in 2018. More to come on that closer to launch date. Additionally, I am juggling my day job, some side projects and kinda-sorta–obviously not with this chocolate cake– trying to go to the gym. Just to make it really fun, in true “welcome to being an adult” fashion, Life went ahead and threw me for a loop (see #1)

No Such Thing as Too Much Chocolate Cak

Chocolate cake is never a bad idea. Neither is bread, but let’s not get off track here. This chocolate cake is my absolute favorite, and it’s a fan favorite as well. I’ve used the cake portion of the recipe for cupcakes, Oreo Cakes, and chocolate caramel cakes and it’s always a winner. Although it’s based on boxed devil’s food cake, I also add in a box of chocolate pudding mix and semi-sweet chocolate chips. It’s really for the chocolate lover, because aside from three kinds of chocolate in the cake batter (yes, I licked the paddle. It’s THAT good), there’s also cocoa powder in the frosting, and you can top it off with chocolate ganache (optional).

No Such Thing as Too Much Chocolate Cak

So when life’s got you down, I hope this chocolate cake makes you smile again, and realize that at least when everything else is out of your control… there’s certainty in chocolate cake! 

No Such Thing as too much Chocolate Cake

Inspired by this recipe

No Such Thing as Too Much Chocolate Cake

Ingredients

    For the Cake
  • 1 package Devils Food Cake
  • 1 chocolate pudding mix
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 2 cups Dark or Milk chocolate chips
  • For the Frosting
  • 3 Sticks Unsalted Butter
  • 1 tablespoon Vanilla Extract
  • 4-5 Cups Powdered Sugar
  • 4 tablespoons Cocoa Powder
  • 2-3 tablespoons milk (if needed for loosening up the frosting)
  • For the Chocolate Ganache (optional)
  • 1 lb semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream

Instructions

    For the Cake
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F
  2. In the bowl of your stand mixer, mix together the cake and pudding mixes, sour cream, oil, eggs and water.
  3. Stir in the chocolate chips and pour batter into 2 well-greased cake pans
  4. Bake for 30-45 minutes, until wooden toothpick inserted comes out clean
  5. Cool the cake completely in the pan, then remove and place on a cooling rack. If you plan to frost the next day, wrap the cakes in plastic wrap and refrigerate
  6. For the Frosting
  7. In the bowl of your stand mixer, with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and vanilla extract until light and fluffy
  8. Add sugar one cup at a time, beating for eat least 1 minute between adding the next cup
  9. Add cocoa powder and beat the frosting for another 3-4 minutes. Add milk, by the tablespoon if you feel it needs to be loosened up.
  10. For the Chocolate Ganache (optional)
  11. Place chocolate chips in a medium bowl
  12. In a small saucepan, heat heavy whipping cream until just before boiling
  13. Pour whipping cream onto chocolate chips and whisk until smooth and creamy
  14. Pour the ganache over the top of the frosted cake, and use a frosting knife to spread evenly and slightly spill over the edges for a dripping effect
  15. Refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving
  16. NOTE: Be sure cakes have cooled completely before frosting.
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