It’s fall! Officially pumpkin season. And no, I did not jump on the pumpkin spice latte bandwagon back in September. Pumpkins, in my personal opinion, should be enjoyed once the weather gets crisp and just a little chilly. Sweater weather, if you will. So when we were hitting 90 degree temps in September, I was still rocking my sleeveless tops and French vanilla coffee.
Sweater weather has arrived, and with it everything pumpkin flavored. I may or may not be a little obsessed, seeing that I have a plethora of pumpkin themed recipes on the blog. Some of my favorites include: BBQ and Spiced Pumpkin Seeds, Pumpkin Pecan Cheesecake, Pumpkin Brownies, Pumpkin Spice Pancakes, Pumpkin Cheesecake with Cinnamon Pecans and Pumpkin Jam.
Last year, my mom made a wild rice stuffed pumpkin for a dinner party she was hosting. The recipe was given to us by my friend Raz. She swore by it and when we made the wild rice stuffed pumpkin, it did not disappoint. It also made for a great visual addition to the dinner spread. This time around, I wanted to try something similar — that is, a rice stuffed pumpkin. I ditched the wild rice and went with a mix of something Palestinian and Moroccan. I went with long grain Basmati rice, ground beef and Arabic spices for a Palestinian touch, and golden raisins and fried almonds for a Moroccan feel.
Now… who’s ready for thanksgiving?!
- 2 cups Basmati Rice
- 4 cups water, for boiling
- 3 tablespoons olive
- 1 medium Onion, chopped
- ¼ cup golden raisins
- 1 lb Ground Beef
- 1 Cinnamon stick
- 2-3 tablespoons Seven spice
- 2-4 cardamom pods
- 1/4 tablespoons Almonds, shelled, and toasted in the oven.
- 1 medium pumpkin, cleaned and seeds removed
- Preheat oven to 400F
- Wash 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
- In a medium pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat and sauté the onion until translucent
- To toast the almonds, place on a baking sheet and broil until lightly browned, flip and continue on the other side (about 3 minutes on each side)
- Add ground beef and cook until browned
- Spice with seven spice and salt
- Stir in the almonds until they are golden
- Add the raisins sauté until they are plump
- Stir in the rice, cardamom pods and cinnamon stick
- Add 4 cups water and bring to a boil
- Once boiling, reduce to low, cover and simmer for 20 minutes (this would be a good time to get your pumpkin ready).
- When the rice has cooked for 20 minutes. Adjust seasoning to taste
- Line a heavy duty baking sheet with aluminum foil (you can also use a roaster)
- Place the pumpkin on top in a roaster, or deep baking sheet
- Scoop the rice into the pumpkin and press lid firmly on top
- Cover the pumpkin with aluminum foil
- Bake for about 90 minutes, until the pumpkin can be pierced with a fork
- Serve warm
I’m not a huge fan of Asian foods [and by Asian, I mean far-east Asian]. I’m extremely picky. Not because I’m not adventurous with food, but everyone has different tastes and mine just happens to not be extremely fond of the sauces. I usually have one or two go-to items when I’m stuck in a situation where I have to have Chinese, or Thai, or Japanese food – usually because I’m the minority. And usually, my go-to items are sauce-free or are pretty bland in flavor. Everyone’s entitled to their prerogative and this is mine.
In any case, just because it isn’t my favorite cuisine, doesn’t mean I can’t experiment with it a little bit. I was pleasantly surprised that the finished product tasted like fried rice, but also was something I enjoyed eating. I’m telling you, this is the Asian dish for picky eaters.
Adapted from here
- 3 cups White Rice, already cooked (that’s 3 cups uncooked rice)
- 1 cup Frozen Carrots
- 1 cup Frozen Peas
- 1 cup Frozen Corn
- 3 tablespoons Sesame Oil
- 2 tablespoons Soy Sauce
- 1 teaspoon Ground Ginger
- 1 Onion, chopped
- 2 eggs
- Cooking Spray
- Vegetable oil
- 2 cups shrimp, tail-off
- Salt, to taste
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat
- Spray the skillet with cooking spray and cook the eggs until cooked through, remove and chop
- Add vegetable oil and saute the onion and garlic until the onion is translucent
- In a small bowl, mix together sesame oil, ginger and soy sauce and set aside
- Add the frozen vegetables and cook for 3-4 minutes, until soft
- Then add the shrimp and cook until they start to curl, another 3-4 minutes
- Mix in the rice and chopped egg
- Add the sesame oil mix and stir constantly until the rice is coated – add more if needed
- Serve warm
The last time I made rice, it took me exactly 1 minute and 30 seconds. I basically pulled the plastic wrap off of minute rice, stuck it in the microwave and waited impatiently for one minute while it cooked. Needless to say, rice is not my forte. Even more needless to say, I barely eat rice at home, unless it’s minute rice of course. Despite this, I still decided to try my luck with a healthy, lower-calorie version of a rice casserole. I wasn’t sure. I’ve had too many experiences where the rice was either over (mushy) or under cooked. Trust me, if I can do this, so can you.
Chicken Broccoli and Rice Casserole
- 6 tablespoons Olive Oil
- 3 Garlic Cloves, whole
- 1 small Onion, chopped
- 1 (14.5 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
- 12 Clams
- 1 cup White Basmati Rice
- 1 ½ cups Water
- 3 cups small Broccoli Florets
- Cooking spray
- 1 small Onion, chopped
- 1 stalk Celery, chopped
- 2-3oz Reduced Fat Cream Cheese
- ¼ cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese
- 2 cups shredded skinless, Boneless Grilled Chicken Breast
- Sea Salt and Pepper, to taste
- 1/4 cup Grated Parmesan cheese
- Preheat oven to 375°.
- In a large saucepan, bring 1 ½ cups water to a boil, then add long-grain rice and boil for 5 minutes, then turn to low heat, cover and cook 10 minutes. Remove the rice and drain any remaining water. Set aside and keep warm.
- Coat a large pan with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add onion and celery, broccoli and salt/pepper to taste. Sauté 5 minutes.
- Add the rice and chicken and stir in the cream cheese and cheddar cheese until melted.
- Spoon the mixture into a baking pan, coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Bake at 375 for 10 minutes (until cheese melts).
After spending some time with my mother this weekend, I decided to take some of her advice. Mom suggested I find a hobby to keep me busy since I’ve been getting bored lately. That would have been easy, if I could think of one activity that could keep me interested and entertained for a long period of time. Cooking can’t keep me busy all the time. That’s when I realized, it’s time to get cracking on my “Before I’m 30 List.” Yes. Such a list does exist. It started when I was 15 on a piece of college-ruled paper. When I got my first laptop, I digitized my list and have been crossing things off ever since. Some have heard about this list … not many have actually seen it, or know what’s on it. That’s probably because, I’ll admit, there are some things on there that I should have accomplished by now.
Sunday night, I clicked open my list and found (gasp) that I’m running out of time. I only have a few years, and a little less than half the list has been completed. Time to get cracking. Projects this week include: signing up for a course I’ve been meaning to take for 7 years, donating blood, and working on a puzzle (that I decided to buy at 9pm when I realized Target was open until 10pm on Sundays. Score.) It wasn’t until I dumped all 550 pieces out, that I began having doubts. I’m hoping that moving to a new location – another room – may get my puzzle-solving brain cells to start working. Stay tuned for updates on the puzzle.
Before I got all creative, and courageous, I was able to get in some cooking in. An easy Sunday night dinner; Cilantro-Lime Rice.
Adapted from US-Masala
Cilantro-Lime Rice Recipe
- 1 cup cooked basmati rice, cooled.
- Lime Juice, from ½ lime
- 1 teaspoon Lime Zest
- Salt, to taste
- ¼ cup chopped Cilantro Leaves
- ½ teaspoon Green Chilies
- 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
- In a medium pot, heat oil over medium heat.
- Add the green chilies and sauté for minute.
- Add cilantro (if frozen, sauté cilantro before adding rice)
- Add rice and mix well.
- Cook for 5 minutes, then add lime juice and lime zest.
- Stir well and cook for 2 more minutes.
- Nutrition Information: Cals 404. Carbs 77g. Fat 11g. Protein 8g.
Measuring Cups, Optional http://www.measuringcupsoptional.com/
Let’s face it, Arabic food takes forever to make. There are lots of steps and long cooking times, time I don’t have when I’m working full time and trying to conserve my culture simultaneously. That’s why I’ve decided to start a recipe series featuring traditional Arabic dishes, made much easier for those of us that have full time jobs and prefer to keep weekday cooking to 30 minutes or less. This is the third installment of the series. Don’t forget to check out previous posts in the Arabic Food Made Easy Series.
Mjaddara pronounced EM-JADARA isn’t really a hard dish to make. It’s quite simple, actually and is perfect for those “vegetarian days.” You know, at least once or twice a week when you have dinner sans meat. The last time I made mjaddara it turned out great, despite my issues cooking rice. I had a small problem though, mjaddara is usually served with plain yogurt. The last time, I had picked up nonfat vanilla yogurt instead of nonfat plain yogurt. It was a small disaster — but now I pay extra attention at the grocery store.
1 cup Brown Lentils
2 cups Basmati Rice
1 medium Onion
Salt, to taste
1 tablespoon Cumin
1 tablespoon Cardamom
1 tablespoon Seven Spice
Go through the brown lentils, picking out any stones or dirt then wash them and boil them in a pot until they are soft and edible (15 minutes on medium heat.)
Wash the rice three times, then soak in hot water until the lentils are done.
Cut the onion into long strips and fry in vegetable oil until golden brown. Remove half with a slotted spoon.
Drain the water from the lentils and from the rice as well. Place the rice on top of the lentils in the pot and mix together.
Add a teaspoon of vegetable oil, and mix the ingredients together over medium heat for two minutes.
Add salt, pepper, cumin, and cardamom and seven spice.
Cover with hot water (1 cm above the mixture). Once it boils, cover and let simmer on low heat until the water evaporates (about 25 minutes).
Turn over (like a cake) in a big plate, and cover the top with the fried onion stripes.
Serve with plain yogurt.
Nutrition Information: Cals 352. Carbs 46g. Fat 14g. Protein 12g.
I don’t do much cooking with rice, which is kind of ironic considering most Arabic dishes are stews that require rice on the side. I should be making more stews like Bamiya (okra and meat in tomato sauce), Fasoolia (string beans and meat in tomato sauce), and Sabanekh (spinach with rice) but those dishes take way too long on weeknights.
When I came across this Chicken and Rice Chile Verde recipe by Cooking on the Side, I was excited to try something new. Actually, it was delicious. I would definitely make it again.
Recipe adapted from Cooking on the Side.
Chicken and Rice Chile Verde Recipe
1-1/4 cup Chicken Broth
4 large Chicken Thighs (about 1-1/2 lb), skin and excess fat removed
1 medium Onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 clove Garlic, minced or pressed
3/4 cup Calrose Rice (short-grain sushi style rice) If you use other rice, you may need to adjust chicken broth accordingly
1 (4 oz) can Diced Green Chilies
1/2 teaspoon Oregano, dried
1 cup Frozen Peas, thawed
1/4 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese
Heat a large frying pan over high heat.
Lightly coat the inside of the pan with cooking spray.
Add chicken in a single layer.
Cook 3 to 4 minutes on each side, or until browned. Remove from pan.
Add onion and garlic to the same pan; sauté 30 seconds.
Mix in rice, chiles, oregano and chicken broth. Arrange the chicken, in a single layer, over the top. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to low.
Cover and simmer 25 minutes.
Sprinkle the peas over the chicken.
Cover and cook 5 minutes longer, or until the liquid is absorbed.
Remove from heat; let stand covered 10 minutes.
Sprinkle cheese on top.
Servings = 4